19 April 2007

Teaching Poetry Spring 2007: Lesson #4 — Revision

Aside from crushing one girl, today's lesson went well...considering we discussed the dreaded revision process. I called several of the students to the front of the room to read their sense poems, and after each read, I asked the class to answer the following:
  1. Did the poet only use a simile twice?
  2. Could you taste, touch, or smell the item the described?
  3. What words or phrases make it so you can taste, touch, or smell the item?
  4. What's another word or phrase that you could use to really make me taste, touch, or smell the item?
Now, it was the fourth question that crushed the girl. I made the mistake of using the word "better," which in a way, proved my later point about the necessity of avoiding vague words.

Overall, the class provided some good feedback to their peers, like naming a specific candy. My example was how plum trees smell like Pez when in bloom. Most of them knew the smell of Pez. We also discussed how to convert similes to non-simile lines while retaining the same essence:
My dog's fur feels like silk
is easily converted to
My dog's silky fur...
We ended with a roundhouse of revision suggestions for my son's, Baylin's, poem about the flavor of his new chapstick. Most specifically, they suggested that he name the two fruits it tastes like. Their assignment for the weekend is as follows: circle all the vague words they find in their poem and make them concrete. They then need to revise their sense poem for Tuesday's lesson, which will launch into alliteration ala tongue twisters.

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