Friday, August 22, 2008

How My Heart Works, Plus Postcards and Prehistoric Thesauri

Writers in the Schools is a non-profit organization that engages children in the pleasure and power of reading and writing. Their blog features writing by kids, including this wonderful bilingual poem by Susan.

Mi corazón como es (How My Heart Works)
By Susan, 3rd grade

Mi corazón es como un borrador.
Puede borrar las cosas malas
y mejorarlas y perdonar con cariño.
Mi corazón puede que sea una bolsa con amor,
y las personas que me quieren y juegan conmigo
las metería adentro.
Adentro de mi corazón,
yo tengo mi familia. Son muy buenos conmigo.
Mi corazón es como un huevo pequeño,
y cuando abre, estoy contenta.
Mi corazón es como una máquina trabajadora.
Hace que me mueva. Si puedo moverme,
puedo jugar y conocer la amistad.

My heart is like an eraser.
It can erase all the bad things,
make them better,
and forgive others with kindness.
It could be that my heart is like a pouch full of love.
In this pouch, I could put
the people who love me and play with me.
In my heart, I keep my family.
They are good to me.
My heart is like a small egg,
and when it opens, I am happy.
My heart is like a hard-working machine.
It makes me move. And if I can move,
I can play and get to know what friendship is.


I heard about a terrific poetry project called the Poetry Postcard Fest, which was initiated in 2007 by poets Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers. This fun idea seems reproducible in various settings (at school and in writing groups, for instance).

To do this project, each participant needs a postcard for every day of your event. The Poetry Postcard Fest takes place during August so it is 31 days (and they use 31 postcards). You can make your event last just a week, though. It's up to you.

Each participant collects their postcards from wherever -- book stores, thrift shops, online, drug stores, antique shops, museums, gift shops -- (or you hand them out) and then during the event, each person writes a poem and sends it to the person whose name is below theirs on the event list.

The next day, each participant sends one to the next person on the list (if your name is on the bottom, you start at the top and work your way down). If you want, you can send postcards to more than one person the same day.

You can pick a theme for your event or a theme for each day or you can leave it up to the participants. Instead of a theme, you could also pick a form (such as haiku or limerick) for each day. Some artist-poets might even like to illustrate their poems on their postcards. You can really do what you want with this idea!


One last bit for this week! Billy Collins creates some great images, such as this first stanza of Thesaurus:

By Billy Collins

It could be the name of a prehistoric beast
that roamed the Paleozoic earth, rising up
on its hind legs to show off its large vocabulary,
or some lover in a myth who is metamorphosed into a book.

You can read the rest here.

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