Abstract Poetry

We had an elementary school poetry carousel this morning.  I was planning to do something based on sounds and rhyming fake words (like Dr. Seuss), but last night I changed the whole thing.  I was reading a book about creativity and I came across an interesting anecdote that made me grab my computer and change the whole plan.  It was a story about William S. Burroughs, and how he used to cut words out of the newspaper and arrange them into interesting sounding sentences (David Bowie later copied this strategy).  He would do this when he was out of ideas or suffering from writers block.  It was like abstract art with words.  He would focus not on the meaning of the sentences, but rather he would build words that form an interesting shape, sound, or feeling.  After he was done creating, then he would analyze the words.

I needed to try this.  I had different ages from Kinder up to Grade 6.  Each class had slightly different constraints put on them.  I asked them to look through a pile of old National Geographic and Newsweek magazines I had sitting in the corner of my class and cut out words that they think sounded interesting.  Next, we put all the words into the middle of the group and choose our favorite ones and then tried to put them into some kind of interesting order that sounded interesting or made you feel something.  The only other rule I put it was that each class had to insert one word that is related to the current Unit of study.

It was an interesting morning, and our final product is quite interesting:


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