something for the kids

when asked to do this workshop for the 8th graders i asked the teacher what the focus would be and she responds- “i want them to believe they can be poets”

ok, i can roll with that. so i came up with a few useful and realistic tips for the kids, take a peek, see what you like.

ps- the big omission of the list is to schedule a specific time every day to do your writing. a key piece of advice that i agree with but have never been able to practically apply to my own life and it felt hypocritical putting it in.



TIPS ON WRITING POETRY

-keep a journal

-write in different colors

-never throw anything away

-copy everything to computer

-set up a special email that you can access anywhere

-find five people that you really trust

*show them all your work

*accept all their suggestions

*do not explain your poem to them

-read everything you can get your hands on

*magazines

*poetry books

*comic books

*fiction

*non-fiction

-find heroes

*study their work

*read their biographies

-never be afraid to not like something

TIPS ON READING POETRY

-read the poem in your own voice

-do not guess the intent of the author

-respect all commas, period, line breaks and stanza breaks

-be as loud as the room is

-memorize your favorite poems

-use your whole body when you read

-no introductions, no explanations, no apologies

-forever isn't as long as it feels

-pause for breath

-if you get stuck- repeat it till you get it right

-there is no need to apologize if you make an error

-if you forget a line

*pause till you remember it

*repeat the last line till you remember it

*go to the next line

-if you totally blank out, end it right there

-always take a bow

-always thank your listeners

RECOMMENDED READING

-Aloud : Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café

-Burning Down the House : Selected Poems from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe's National Poetry Slam Champions

-Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam

-Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social & Political Black Art & Literature

-The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

-Smoking Lovely by Willie Perdomo

-The Latin Deli: Prose and Poetry by Judith Ortiz Cofer

-Rose by Li-Young Lee

-Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002 by Martin Espada

-Martin & Meditations on the South Valley by Jimmy Santiago Baca

-Something to Declare by Julia Alvarez

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2 Comments

  1. “the big omission of the list is to schedule a specific time every day to do your writing. a key piece of advice that i agree with but have never been able to practically apply to my own life and it felt hypocritical putting it in.”

    Just because you have trouble implementing it in your life doesn’t make it bad advice, nor does it make you hypocritical to share it with others.

    In some ways, it might be useful to be able to share with others your own difficulty with “the process” so that, when they hit their own particular snags (which might be the same snags as yours, or not) they can know that it’s possible to move beyond them.

    Just a thought. Man, I’ve got to start thinking about getting into teaching. What you’re doing sounds fun!

    Scot

  2. “TIPS ON READING POETRY -read the poem in your own voice -do not guess the intent of the author -respect all commas, period, line breaks and stanza breaks “

    Wow Oscar,
    This is awesome, like seriously really good.
    I’m always trying to find simple ways of explaining
    the importance of reading for comprehension, this helps

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