Archive for April 11th, 2016


Last week I led myself and my students into image poems.  We imagined a scene in nature (or on water) and wrote to this list of line prompts from the River of Words Teacher’s Guide. 

Prompts for the Teacher:

~ Think about this spot. Sketch it if you like.

~ Picture yourself in this location.Write a line or sentence that describes what you are doing and exactly where you are: “Sitting on a sandbar on the banks of the Calcasieu River in IndianVillage, Louisiana.”

~ In your imagination, look up.What do you see? Begin this line with “Above me” or “Over my head.”Try to use a simile in this line.

~ Now look into the distance, as far as you can see.Write what you see.

~ Describe a sound you might hear in this place.

~ What is on your right?

~ Hone in on a single detail in this scene.Try to describe it, using an unusual or vivid verb in the line.

~ Shift your perspective and your position—stand up, flop down, walk away—and notice another detail in the landscape: the quality of light, the time of day, a seasonal plant or animal,for example.

~ Finally, read over your images and see if you can conclude with a reflective line that somehow captures how you feel about being in this place.(You might caution students not to rush this line; it may occur to them later as they compose their poem).

rope swing

Swinging by the bayou on the grandmother oak,
legs curled around knotted rope,

Above me branches drape like outstretched arms
holding strong,

Sky opens up to a flash of egret flickering through the trees.

The echo of a far-off motor drums the quiet.

The holding tree is the oldest oak I know.
Hanging moss twirls in a wind-dance.

Jumping from the rope-grip,
my feet fall on fronds of greening fern.

My swinging is a brief sparkle in this grandmother’s eye.

–Margaret Simon

Here is Vannisa’s poem.  She pointed to a postcard from Marjorie Pierson’s collecting of wetlands photographs as her inspiration. Click here to view the image.

Standing in the shade,
on the edge of a swamp
where there are cypress trees
with snakes and alligators
lurking within the waters

Over my head,
thick branches and leaves
sway over me as a roof,
with moss dropping down
like the strings of balloons
that fly to the ceiling

In the distance
more trees and gators are
still creeping underneath

Insect buzzing
filling my ears,
the tweets of birds
travel from above

On my right,
a tree trunk
with bugs crawling in a line
making their way up and around

Mother duck and her ducklings
swim all over
yawing around places where
mother knows it’s unsafe

Moving away from the shade,
the water reflects
the afternoon sun into my eyes,
glistening in the light

This artistic landscape
won’t be able to stay forever,
you won’t notice it,
but the wetlands are quickly washing away.

–Vannisa, 6th grade

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