This year it’s building blocks and poetry. Not in the form of stanzas, rhyme schemes or metaphors, but creative ways to inspire, actual physical ways to randomize words, create sequences of ideas, and give poetry a visual heft that matches its presumptive mental and emotional ones.
I’m not a huge fan of concrete poetry in general, because I’m not always convinced by the whole form/function connection when it comes to text. However, if you’re looking for a new way to *present* a poem and hand written calligraphy is not your top choice, you might want to try Festisite, which has a handful of pre-selected forms you can use to plunk any text into for a graphic twist, as I did with ee cummings’ ‘i carry your heart’ above.
Story stones of all sorts are fun, assembling petroglyph-like images and then inventing the connections between each concrete object depicted. Over at Kitchen Counter Chronicles one family used pre-created stones as poetry starters while outside on a nature walk: I think with older kids it could be as much or more fun to collect stones and decorate them along the way, to help spur further writing once back indoors.
Book spine poetry
I love Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books Project, and so do the folks at the Association for Library Service to Children, who recommend this as a great way to get kids to explore a library during National Poetry Month. Sign me up!
Eugene Parnell describes his “Wheel O Matic Haiku Calculator” as ‘pure cogs-n-wheels fun, a machine-age Nirvana of Modernist production-line assembly techniques applied to to the emerging meta-industry of cultural production.’ That’s a little wordy, but it is, in fact, a fun spin-the-wheel-get-a-random-poem-bit, and could be easily recreated in an analog version. The digital version was a little buggy when I tried it–precreated wheels of poetry options didn’t seem to be loading, but you could create your own easily enough.
Assorted other National Poetry Month resources:
Lesson plans for K-12 on ReadWriteThinkLesson plans, videos, and printables on Scholastic
NaPoWriMo (write a poem a day challenge)
Interdisciplinary resources for teachers and parents on Reading Rockets
Check back in a week or two for a sneak preview of May MA Poetry Fest activities at PEM, as well!