Writing poems can be serious business. The first day back after spring break I asked my students to think hard about poetry. We read together a poem from the Teaching Guide for the River of Words Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things. (Handout 4:Writing from film) I highly recommend this guide for great poetry lessons written by my friends Harriet Maher and Connie McDonald.
The poem spoke in an ominous tone about the destruction of our earth. Students picked out these word, demented, shattered, purged, and monsters, as negative tone words. They noticed that the poem was a sad commentary on what we humans do to our earth home.
Then I played the first 8 minutes of the documentary of Ansel Adams.
While we watched the video, we collected words and phrases. We all wrote poems. Many of the students’ poems reflected the negative tone of the poem we read together. My favorite student poem is from Erin. She wrote how the silence was too loud. You can read her poem here.
Ansel Adams, 1902-1984
The artist transformed
moments into wild majesty
exalted language of photography
how small we really are.
Among the tall trees
or the great mountains,
our humanness is separate–
a communion in the presence
Even in the absence of color,
in shades of black and white,
fragments are shattered
into a mosaic of truth.
We understand the fragile nature of things.