June 3:  Casey at the Bat Day

Today is the anniversary of the publication of one of the most popular of all American poems. Casey at the Bat was first published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888. The author of poem was Ernest L. Thayer, a college friend of Examiner editor William Randolph Hearst. Thayer had worked with Hearst in college as a member of the staff of the Harvard Lampoon. When the poem was published it did not have Thayer’s name; instead, his Lampoon nickname “Phin” was used. This lead to future disputes about the actual author of the poem.

While Thayer was certainly the writer, another man should probably be given credit for popularizing the poem. The actor William De Wolf Hopper first performed the poem to an audience that included members of the New York and Chicago baseball clubs in August 1888. Hopper’s recitation was met with enthusiastic reviews, and he continued to share “Casey” with audiences around the country until it became not just America’s favorite poem about baseball, but one of America’s favorite poems period.

Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his
    shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the
    air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled
    roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his
    hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, “Strike two!”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered
    “Fraud!”
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles
    strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children
    shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

Today’s Challenge:  Strike Out for a Good Story
What are some examples of good narrative poems?  “Casey at the Bat” is an example of a narrative poem, a poem that tells a story.  Like any good story, a narrative poem should have characters, a plot, a setting, and a conflict.  Some of the oldest known poetry is narrative, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and Beowulf.  These poems existed in the oral tradition long before writing was invented and were sung aloud.  Whether short ballads or long epics, these poems celebrated heroes and passed cultural values, ideas, and knowledge from one generation to the next.  Research some narrative poems, either long epics or short ballads.  Select one narrative poem that you would recommend, and write a paragraph explaining some of the background of your selected poem.  Identify what details from the poem make it a narrative, and why you feel it is an important story. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  The most powerful person in the world is the story teller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come. – Steve Jobs

1-https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/ernest-lawrence-thayer

December 9:  Narrative Poem Day

On this day in 1854, Britain’s Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson published his poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”  The poem recounts a horrific episode at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.  On October 25, 1854,* the British Light Brigade rode into battle against Russian forces.  Following an ambiguous order to attack, the soldiers of the British cavalry were mowed down by Russian field artillery as they charged across a treeless valley.  Of the 673 British horsemen who made the charge that day only 198 survived (1).

Tennyson is said to have written his famous narrative poem in just a few minutes after reading an account of the battle in the newspaper.  The six-stanza poem immediately became popular, and even today its famous lines capture the plight of common soldiers, nobly and courageously following the orders of their superior:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die:

Into the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

Narrative poetry is probably the oldest form of poetry there is.  A narrative poem is a poem with a plot, a plot which centers around characters, conflict, and setting.  

The most common forms of narrative poems are the short form known as a ballad and a long form known as an epic.  According to Edward Hirsch in his book A Poet’s Glossary, these poems are some of our oldest forms of storytelling:  “Both ballads and epics originated in prehistory as forms of oral poetry.  They were sung aloud, created — and re-created — by individuals performing with a participating audience” (2).

Today’s Challenge:  Muse Meets the News

What event from today’s news is worthy of immortalizing in verse?  Read Tennyson’s poem carefully, noticing how he tells the story of The Charge of the Light Brigade (3).  Then, like Tennyson, read a story in today’s newspaper, and write a short narrative poem that captures the key elements of the story. (Common Core 3 – Narrative)

*See October 25:  History Into Verse Day

Quotation of the Day:  If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. -Rudyard Kipling

1- March, W.B. and Bruce Carrick.  366: A Leap Year of Great Stories. Cambridge, UK:  Icon Books, 2007: 342.

2-Hirsch, Edward. A Poet’s Glossary page 397.

3-http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/45319

12/9 TAGS:  narrative poem, Tennyson, Alfred Lord, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Hirsch, Edward, news story, narrative,

October 25:  History Into Verse Day

On this date in two different years, 1415 and 1854 , a historical battle was immortalized in verse.

Schlacht von Azincourt.jpgThe first was the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 in which the outnumbered English army defeated the French in a major battle of the Hundred Years War.  The battle took place on Saint Crispin’s Day, a feast day honoring the Christian saints Crispin and Crispinian.  The English were lead by King Henry V who joined his soldier in hand-to-hand combat at Agincourt.

Though history does not record exactly what Henry said that day, William Shakespeare, in his play Henry V (Act IV, Scene iii), imagines what Henry might have said to spur the undermanned English to action.  In a speech of 49 lines, Henry expresses his confidence that they will win and that each year as they near St. Crispin’s Day they will look back and remember their glorious victory and the bond they share with their brothers in arms (1).

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.  

More than 400 years later in 1854, Britain and France joined forces against Russia in the Crimean War.  On October 25, 1854 the British Light Brigade under the command of General James Cardigan rode into history.  Following an ambiguous order to charge into a treeless valley surrounded by Russian field artillery, hundreds of British horsemen were mowed down as they swept across the open ground.  Miraculously some of the horsemen managed to temporarily disable the Russian guns and return under fire across what would become known as “the valley of the shadow of death.” The charge, although courageous, resulted in senseless carnage.  Of the 673 British horsemen who began the charge only 198 survived (2).

The British cavalry’s charge was immortalized in verse by Britain’s poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson.  The poet penned the narrative poem on December 2, 1854 after reading an account of the battle in the British newspapers.  On December 9, 1854 the poem entitled “The Charge of the Light Brigade” appeared in The Examiner.

The six-stanza poem immediately became popular, and even today its famous lines capture the plight of common soldiers, nobly and courageously following the orders of their superior:

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.

Today’s Challenge:  Make History in Poetry
What historical event would you immortalize in verse?  What makes the event worth remembering?  Brainstorm some events from history that are worthy of being immortalized in verse.  Select the one you like the best, and compose a narrative poem (a la “The Charge of the Light Brigade”) or a speech in verse (a la “The Saint Crispin’s Day speech”). (Common Core Writing 3 – Narrative)

Quotation of the Day:  
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
-William Shakespeare, Sonnet 55

 

1-March, W.B. and Bruce Carrick.  365: Your Date With History. Cambridge, UK:  Icon Books, 2004: 526-7.

2- March, W.B. and Bruce Carrick.  366: A Leap Year of Great Stories. Cambridge, UK:  Icon Books, 2007: 342.

October 20:  Adopt a Literary Character Day

On this day in 1833, the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) completed his great dramatic monologue Ulysses.  

The voice of the poem, or persona, is Ulysses, the Latin name of the epic Greek hero Odysseus.  In writing this poem, Tennyson adopts the character Ulysses from Homer, the author of the epic Greek poems The Iliad and the Odyssey.  The Odyssey is the epic narrative that follows Ulysses’ 10-year struggle to return home after the Trojan War.  Once home on Ithaca, Ulysses faces another challenge to out wit the suitors vying to win the hand of his wife Penelope.  Displaying brawn but also brains, Ulysses defeats the suitors in a contest, slaughters them, reunites with his wife, and once again becomes king of Ithaca.

Alfred Lord Tennyson 1869.jpgThe poem Ulysses imagines the hero years after he has returned to the throne.  In the tradition of the dramatic monologue, we hear only the voice of the old king as he reflects on his past, on his relative idleness as King of Ithaca, and on his desire to once again set out on a bold adventure.  The understood audience of the poem is the crew of his ship, the men who will join him on his new journey.

In the poem’s opening lines we hear the voice of a king, weary of his kingly duties on Ithaca and restless to return again to sea:

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;

Willing to give up his throne to his son Telemachus and to leave his wife, Ulysses looks forward once more to bold adventures and seeing “a newer world.”  Rather than staying put and rusting, Ulysses wants “to shine in use!”  It is appropriate then that the poem ends with a string of parallel action verbs:

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Like much of the verse of William Shakespeare, Ulysses is written in blank verse, unrhymed iambic pentameter.

Today’s Challenge:  Write a SPAT Monologue
What fictional character from literature or film would you adopt for a dramatic monologue?  Brainstorm some interesting characters from either books or film.  Like Tennyson did for Ulysses, imagine the life of the character after the work you know them for is over.  What would he/she be thinking about and what would he/she be saying — and to whom would he/she be saying it.  Write a dramatic monologue using the mnemonic SPAT:  the Speaker, a Problem (or dramatic situation), the Audience, and the Tone (or attitude).  Try to capture the distinctiveness of your character, impersonating his/her voice so that it can be understood by your reader. (Common Core Writing 3 – Narrative)

Quotation of the Day:  A monologue presents a single person speaking alone, but a dramatic monologue presents an imaginary or historical character speaking to an imaginary listener or audience . . . . -Edward Hirsch

October 15:  National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day founded in 1994 by British philanthropist and publisher William Sieghart.  Although this “National” day is celebrated primarily in Britain, there is a definite case for making it a global celebration.  The primary reason for this is that it is the birthday in 70 B.C. of the classical Roman poet Virgil, author of Rome’s national epic, the Aeneid.  Virgil influenced the great Latin poet Ovid, as well as Dante, major Italian poet of the Middle Ages.  In Dante’s epic poem the Divine Comedy, Dante features Virgil as his guide on his travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.

Vergilius.jpgIn his own epic, the Aeneid, Virgil traces the travels of the mythical hero Aeneas, a Trojan prince, who becomes Rome’s great hero and father.  Before his death in 19 B.C., Virgil supposedly left instructions for the Aeneid to be burned.  Emperor Augustus, however, wouldn’t allow it to be destroyed; instead, he ordered two of Virgil’s friends to edit it, and two years later it was published (1).

The purpose of National Poetry Day is to encourage the reading, writing, publishing, listening, and teaching of poetry; it’s also a nice day to plan ahead for spring when Poetry Month is celebrated.  Each year organizers select a theme.  This theme is not meant to be prescriptive, but it can help spark one’s memory of poems from the past as well as ignite imagination for creating new poems.

Here is a list of some of the themes from past years:

Song Lyrics, Fresh Voices, Journeys, Celebration, Britain, Food, The Future, Identity, Dreams, Work, Heroes and Heroines, Home, Games, Stars, Water, Remember, Light (2)

One excellent way to celebrate National Poetry Day is by putting together a thematic anthology of poetry or poetic prose.  The word anthology in the original Greek meant to gather flowers:  anthos “a flower” + logia “collecting.”  Today we use the word metaphorically, the flowers being samples of the best verse by various writers gathered into one beautiful bouquet of a book.

Today’s Challenge:  Beautiful Words Bound
What are some themes that you might select if you were putting together an anthology of prose or poetry?  Brainstorm a list of possible themes.  Then, select the one theme you like the best.  Using word association, generate a list of words and phrases you associate with your theme.  Use this list to identify some titles of published works you might include in an anthology or to generate some ideas for new works you might create for your anthology.  Finally, write an introduction to your anthology, explaining why you picked your theme, why your theme is relevant and important, and what kinds of works you plan to put in your anthology. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  A well chosen anthology is a complete dispensary of medicine for the more common mental disorders, and may be used as much for prevention as cure. -Robert Graves

 

1-http://www.britannica.com/biography/Virgil

2-http://www.forwardartsfoundation.org/national-poetry-day/what-is-national-poetry-day/

 

October 2:  Thirteen Ways Day

Today is the birthday of American poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955).  Wallace won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955 even though he never worked as a full-time poet.  His day-job was as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut.

Wallace Stevens.jpgOne of Stevens’ best known poems is “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”  The poem captures the essence of poetry, a form of writing that challenges both the writer and the reader to “look” at the world from different perspectives and to see it in new ways.  In the tradition of Imagism, a poetic movement that emphasizes precise imagery and clear, concrete diction, Stevens presents thirteen numbered stanzas, each featuring a different way of seeing the ordinary blackbird (1).

As you can see in stanzas 1 and 5 below, Stevens’ language in influenced by the haiku form, combining concrete descriptions of nature with philosophical contemplation:

I

Among twenty snowy mountains,   

The only moving thing   

Was the eye of the blackbird.   

V

I do not know which to prefer,   

The beauty of inflections   

Or the beauty of innuendoes,   

The blackbird whistling   

Or just after.  

Today’s Challenge:  Ways of Looking – the Seven “Sees”
What are ways you can see the world in a new way and from different perspectives even on an ordinary day in an ordinary place?  Writing itself, in its various forms, is an excellent way of looking at the world from different perspectives.  The different modes of writing described below mirror the various ways our brain organizes and processes information.  Select one topic — a person, place, object, or idea — to examine; then, explore that one idea in at least 7 of the 13 ways listed below:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Writing Topic

  1. Description:  Create a picture in words of what it looks like, sounds like, feels like, smells like, and/or tastes like.
  2. Comparison and Contrast:  Explain what is it like and what it is not like.
  3. Cause and Effect:  Explain where it came from and how it impacts the world.
  4. Definition:  Explain exactly what is it called, what it means, and what makes it distinctive from other things.
  5. Narrative:  Tell as story related to it that involves real people in conflict.
  6. Exemplification:  Make a generalization about it; then, support the generalization by giving specific examples that illustrate and explain it.
  7. Argumentation:  State a claim related to it, and provide your reasoning and evidence to prove your claim is valid.
  8. Problem and Solution:  Explain conflicts that arise because of it, and how those conflicts can or might be resolved.
  9. Process:  Explain how something happens related to it by giving a step by step sequence.
  10. Division and Classification: Identify its different parts and its different types.
  11. Poetry: Explore ideas related to it in verse, imagery, and/or figurative language.
  12. Fiction:  Create a story about it that has a narrative point of view, characters, conflict, climax, resolution, and themes.
  13. Drama:  Create a dramatic situation around it, with characters, conflict, and dialogue. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  It is not every day that the world arranges itself in a poem.  -Wallace Stevens

1-http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/wallace-stevens

September 20: Recitation Day

Today is the birthday of Donald Hall, American poet and the 14th U.S. Poet Laureate. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1928, and when he was only sixteen, he attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. In his 50-year career as a writer, Hall has published poems, essays, letters, children’s books, and literary criticism (1).

Donald Hall.jpgIn 1985 Hall wrote a short essay for Newsweek‘s “My Turn” column entitled “Bring Back the Out-Loud Culture” where he challenged readers to return to reading and reciting aloud:

Good readers hear what they read even though they read in silence: speed reading is barbaric. When we read well, in silence, we imagine how the words would sound if they were said aloud. Hearing print words in the inward ear, we understand their tone. If we see the sentence “Mr. Armstrong shook his head,” the inner voice needs to understand whether Mr. Armstrong disapproved or was outraged — before the inner voice knows how to speak the words.

If when we read silently we do not hear a text, we slide past words passively, without making decisions, without knowing or caring about Mr. Armstrong’s mood. We might as well be watching haircuts or “Conan the Barbarian.” In the old Out-Loud Culture, print was always potential speech; even silent readers, too shy to read aloud, inwardly heard the sound of words. Everyone’s ability to read was enhanced by recitation. Then we read aggressively; then we demanded sense (2).

Although written in 1985, Hall’s words are as true today as ever.

Today’s Challenge: Out-Loud Renaissance
What is a passage of prose or a poem that you feel is worth reading out loud and is worth committing to memory?  What makes it so exemplary and so worth remembering? Challenge yourself this week to commit a favorite poem or passage to memory. See if it helps you pay more attention to the written word.  Sponsor a “Recitation Day” in your class or community, challenging people to share their poems or passages out loud.

Quotation of the Day: We must encourage our children to memorize and recite. As children speak poems and stories aloud, by the pitch and muscle of their voices they will discover drama, humor, passion, and intelligence in print. In order to become a nation of readers, we must again become a nation of reciters. — Donald Hall

 

1 – http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/264

2 – Hall, Donald. “Bring Back the Out-Loud Culture.” Newsweek 15 April 1985: 12.

 

September 14: Anthem Day

On this day, “by the dawn’s light,” Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the United States’ national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  The inspiration for Key’s great words was the British fleet’s shelling of Fort McHenry, which guarded the harbor of Baltimore, Maryland.  The year was 1814, and the war was the War of 1812.  Key watched the bombardment from an odd perspective.  An American lawyer, Key had boarded a British ship prior to the battle to negotiate the release of another American being held by the British.  Once on the ship, Key was detained by the British until the battle ended the next morning.  Key’s vantage point was from the enemy’s side, where the British fleet aimed its guns at the flag flying over the American fort, a flag that at that time had 15 stars and 15 stripes.

Francis Scott Key by Joseph Wood c1825.jpgA few days after Key wrote his poem, it was published in American newspapers.  Soon people began singing the poem’s words to the tune of an English drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven.”  The song did not become the national anthem immediately, however.  More than one hundred years later, in 1931, the U.S. Congress made it the official anthem.

Key’s words so familiar that we seldom examine the remarkable picture he illuminates with his imagery.  Read them again paying special attention to how he evokes both pictures and sounds:

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Today’s Challenge:  An A+ Alternative Anthem
An anthem is a rousing, reverential song of devotion or loyalty to a group, a school, or a nation.  While the “Star-Spangled Banner” is certainly reverential, many have criticized it as a song that is too difficult to sing. What would you argue would be a good alternative national anthem?  Identify the specific song, its composer, and your specific reasoning for making this song the alternative national anthem. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quote of the Day:  
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream;
‘Tis the Star-Spangled Banner! Oh long may it wave

-Words from the 2nd stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

1-Bennet, William and John Cribb.  The American Patriot’s Almanac. New York:  Thomas Nelson, 2008: 350.

 

 

September 5:  Two Voices Day

Today is the birthday of children’s author and poet Paul Fleischman.  Born in 1952, Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, California.  His father, Sid Fleischman, was also an award-winning author of children’s books.

Fleischman graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1977, and before he became a full time writer, he worked as a bookstore clerk, library shelver, and proofreader.  His work as a proofreader led to the founding of two grammar watchdog groups:  ColonWatch and The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to English (1).

Fleischman won the most prestigious awards in children’s literature in 1989, the Newbery Medal, for his book Joyful Noise:  Poems for Two Voices. In Joyful Noise, Fleischman popularized a new poetic genre, the poem for two voices. Written to be read aloud by two people, each poem is written in two columns. Each reader is assigned a single column, and the two readers alternate, reading the lines in turn from the top to the bottom of the page.  Reader’s join their voices whenever words are written on the same line in both columns.

How to Read a Poem for Two Voices

I’m the first reader. I’m reading

only the lines in the left column.

                                                                 I’m the second reader.

As you can see, I waited my turn to read.

If words appear on the same

Line in both columns,

 Both readers read them aloud,        Both readers read them aloud,

Simultaneously.                                 Simultaneously.    

One voice on the right.

   Plus another on the left

Makes two voices                                Makes two voices

Today’s Challenge:  Compose, Collaborate, Compare, and Contrast
Given poetic license, what two people, places, things, or ideas would you like to see hold a conversation?  Write your own poem for two voices.  Begin by brainstorming some contrasting ideas:  people, places, ideas, or things.  You have poetic license to give voices to anyone or anything.  Here are some ideas to get you started:  father and son, dog and cat, protagonist and antagonist, summer and winter, success and failure, noun and verb, football and baseball. Craft your poem in the two column format, and when you have a solid draft, work with a partner to bring the poem to life by reading it aloud.  Revise and practice until you have a poem that’s ready to be shared with a larger group.

Quotation of the Day:  A picture tells a thousand words. But you get a thousand pictures from someone’s voice. – Paul Fleischman

 

1- http://www.paulfleischman.net/events.htm

 

September 3:  Postcard Poem Day

On this date William Wordsworth (1770-1850) wrote his sonnet Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802.  Instead of taking a photo or painting a picture, he crafted an image made of words, vividly describing the city of London and the Thames River.  Like a postcard, his poem is permanently postmarked by its title, providing both the time and place it was composed.

Westminster Bridge and Palace of Westminster.jpgThe original manuscript of the poem bears a note that provides more details on the circumstances surrounding its composition:  “Composed on the roof of a coach, on my way to France” (1).

Unlike the typical bucolic scenes of his romantic verse, in this poem Wordsworth describes an urban scene:

This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;  (lines 4-10)

Today’s Challenge:  Vivid Views in Verse
Follow Wordsworth’s model by painting your own picture in words.  What are the most unforgettable scenes that you can remember witnessing? What made them worth capturing in descriptive words?  Select your single most vivid, memorable scene to immortalize.  Then, craft your description of the scene in a postcard poem. Select from your rhetorical palette the best devices to paint your scene:  metaphors, similes, sensory imagery, and concrete diction.  Strive to show rather than tell.  Try to evoke the scene in your reader’s imagination, and postmark it with your title:  the place and time of composition. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  . . . imagery does not occur on the writer’s page; it occurs in the reader’s mind.  To describe everything is to supply a photograph in words; to indicate the points which seem the most vivid and important to you, the writer, is to allow the reader to flesh out your sketch into a portrait.   -Stephen King

1- http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/manuscript-of-composed-upon-westminster-bridge-september-3-1802-by-william-wordsworth#sthash.0iX28xHH.dpuf