Friday, September 21, 2007

Poetry in Place

The sixth graders in my school are doing something the teacher calls "Poetry in Place". They have chosen poems they enjoy and they are posting them all over the school in what they feel are appropriate places. In the library, near the check out desk is Myra Cohn Livingston's Quiet. On the fish tank in the lobby is Aquarium by Valerie Worth. Next to the elevator is Sara Holbrook's Paths to Peace.

The sixth grade teacher found this project idea in Georgia Heard's book Awakening the Heart; Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School. I have mentioned this book before when I was posting about Nanci Atwell's Lessons That Change Writers. Heard tells about how she first encountered the New York City Poetry in Motion Project when she found a poem posted on a public bus. She also found poems posted in the women's rest room at the Columbia University's Teachers College. A secretary started doing it at the Teacher's College. Every week she posted a different poem. She had women from all over the college coming in to her office and asking for copies of the poems she posted. Once a man came in and when she asked if he had been in the woman's restroom he admitted that he was the window washer and he was reading the poems through the window as he worked. He wanted a copy of one for his daughter.

In Awakening the Heart Heard tells a story of when she was teaching a poetry class to a group of third graders one day. She says:
"Instead of collecting poems we love and putting them in a book, we'll make an
anthology out of the walls and spaces around the school. It will be our jobs to
make sure poetry is all around the building so other students and teachers can
have a chance to read some poetry. in a few minutes, we'll take a tour of the
building to search for good places to put poems. To start with, we'll look for a
place where people wait in line with nothing to do, a place where they could
just as well read a poem that's right there on the wall."
They gather clip boards and search the school for likely places to post poems. Then they choose poems, make posters and stick them up all over the place. I think this is a fabulously exciting exercise for school children to do. It reminds me a lot of bloggers doing Friday Poetry every week. Have you ever printed out a poem and hung it up somewhere? What if we all started doing that In Real Life, in print as well as in blogs? Extend the movement people!

Friday Poetry is being rounded up at Sara Lewis Holme's blog Read, Write Believe today. Go read!


Ten Lessons

Awakening the Heart

Teaching Poetry Ideas


Elaine Magliaro said...


I love that idea of "Poetry in Place!" I think it's one way to get kids excited about poetry--and gets them to think about what poem would be best to post in a particular spot. I'll have to read AWAKENING THE HEART again. I think I'll take the book to Maine with me

Liz in Ink said...

I just love this idea and I'm vowing right now to discuss this with my class next week. Yes.

Kelly Fineman said...

I love this idea. I believe I'll share it with M's English teacher, who wants to use me as a resource for poetry anyhow. It's the sort of school that would likely go for it, too.

jama said...

Love love love this idea! Thank you so much.

Sara said...

I'm thinking even high schoolers might go for this! They could do Poetry Hit and Runs. (approved, of course)

What about if you hosted a themed Poetry Friday: Poetry in Place, and we each reported back on a place and a poem?

Great post. I'm bookmarking it for further thought.

Susan said...

I like this idea, too, and wish my son's class could do it.

Lisa at Passionately Curious has written about this book, too:

jone said...

I really like this idea. I am starting a "Poetry Thursday" at lunch for my students in the library. We just may do this activity.

literary safari said...

This is such a great idea. I would love to see a public art project like this in a small town, neighborhood, community too - not just in a school. We adults are in need of poetic inspiration too in our daily lives.