This month’s issue of The Council Chronicle had several articles about literacy but the article about poetry resonated with me.  Though it was commentary about college students and I work with elementary students, there were perspectives worth sharing.

Encourage Poetry Writing

I do frequent poetry writing with the 2nd- 5th grade students in Creative Writing Clubs.  There is a broad unison of ” I can’t” until I convince them that they can, they will and they are going to!

Most students equate poetry with rhyming. I explain the choice is theirs to rhyme or not and then  I zap them with the beauty about poetry- NO rules!  NO punctuation rules, NO run-on rules, NO capitalization rules…

That’s when I catch the spark of interest in their expressions!

Time to move in for the kill!

Poetry Engages an Inner Life with the Image

Presenting an image is a solid starting point for young writers to begin a poetic piece.  The above article spoke of moving from description of an image to an inner connection with the image (emotional expression).

The author stated at the college level, students have been “conditioned” to look for the symbolism and the meaning, which is more a search and define mission.  The untapped component we look to develop in poetry writing is the ability for students to express original thought that uses description AND emotion.

The magic of words is they create relationships,  identification, ownership, and attachment between writer and subject. It’s a tangible expression of something that often feels intangible.

So much academic writing centers around logic, reason, steps, explanation and supporting details.

The beauty of poetry is it gives voice to one’s inner self that RARELY has opportunity to express on paper.


If you are a teacher, parent, or grandparent reading this,  one way to exercise the intuitive  emotional expression in poetry is ask the child, “What does this remind you of, how does it make you feel, can you imagine touching/smelling/ holding the image, close your eyes and imagine this picture- what comes to your imaginaton?”


This was a trip with my daughter to Joshua Tree National Park in California, a rock climbing mecca-  You can uncover confidence or shakey ground when it comes to climbing rocks.  To use the images for writing exploration, I begin asking: Do you like to climb? Why or why not? What have you climbed? What would it be like for you to climb those rocks?   This can lead to a discussion of confidence learning to climb.   We discuss the size of rocks, the smoothness or not of rocks, the colors, the cracks and crevices  (Description part of color, shapes and textures).  We discuss the expressions in the pictures and what might the expressions and emotions be of those faces not visible.  The poem could go into the direction of confidence.

Solid ground

Rocks jut with rudeness
as if to say, I’m the biggest, I’m the best, step on me.
I believe I can climb to the top
Fear tries to interrupt
I push it out, concentrating on each step
The rocks are solid, stationary, set
My feet approve.  Each step says, “Go on, take another step, take another rock”
What am I thinking as my foot squeezes down a tiny crack?
I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it.
Guess what?  I did it!