Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sometimes Poems by Judith Viorst

The text in the small textbox is hard to read; however, a typed version is located below. The poem was printed on two pages, with this section at the bottom of the page, emphasizing "short and fat." The following page in the poetry book reflected "tall and skinny!"




























Module 3

POETRY BREAK: UNUSUAL FORM-- A poem written in an unusual poem form (and identify the form)

Viorst, Judith. 1981. If I were in charge of the world and other worries: Poems for children and their parents. Lynne Cherry, illus. NY: Aladdin Books. 36-37.

Sometimes Poems

Sometimes poems are
Short and fat
And have a
Double Chin

The
Poems
I
Write
Don’t
Look
Like
That.
My
Poems
Are
Tall
And
Thin.
Except
The
Day
I
Sat,
Then
Looked;
Instead
Of
Looked,
Then
Sat:

And squashed one flat.

This unusual poem, titled Sometimes Poems, by Judith Viorst, is a free style poem, the poem itself personified, first with a double chin, then sporting a tall, skinny, pencil-thin shape. It is whimsical and funny, with an unexpected ending, especially where text is concerned. It could be considered a shape poem. This poem would be great to use to surprise children with its shape and ending. It is a “must see” visual poem.

In junior high, use this poem as a poetry break to present the many faces of poetry to introduce a poetry unit. For junior high students, “poetry unit” has a dry connotation. This poem, however, would help them understand that poetry is not dry, can be fun, and can be written in many forms.

Do not read the poem first, but pass out a “fat,” or thicker pencil than a number 2 to every student. Direct the students to use an ink pen and carve (or simply write) each word from the second stanza onto the pencil, beginning at the top of the pencil. Call out each word one at a time. It might not be possible to write every word on one pencil, but this would create anticipation. After the activity, read the poem aloud, slowly emphasizing the last few lines. Before reading the very last line, be prepared to sit down hard in a chair on a whoopee cushion! After laughing, pass out a copy of the poem to each student and project the poem onto an overhead screen so they can actually see the poem written on paper. Then discuss the many faces of poetry and talk about Judith Viorst and other modern-day poets. Explain that poetry does not have to be “dry.”

For an extension activity, introduce poetry terms, pointing out the personification of the poem itself in Sometimes Poems, along with the imagery. Instruct the students to create their own version of personified items and write a free-style or shape poem about the item. Challenge them to transfer their poems to a concrete form, as they did with the pencil. Spread out a large number of poetry books and ask the students to browse them for unusual poems.

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