Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sidewalk Chalk Poetry

Today, I took my honors English class out to the front of our school and we wrote poems on the sidewalk.  It was a guerrilla art project, in that we only alerted the Principal, the Building Supervisor, and a few key faculty members we were going to do it.  Waiting until after everyone had settled into class, we snuck (sneaked) out with our poems and chalk, spending the remainder of the class period writing poems on the sidewalk.

What impressed me most was the wide range of work my students chose to copy out.  A week ago, I pulled a bunch of my poetry books off my shelf and let my students explore them, looking for poems which caught them off guard or made them think.  Here is a partial list of the poets they chose:

William Blake
Edgar Allan Poe
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Robert Frost
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Linda Pastan
Etheridge KnightDylan Thomas
Pablo Neruda
W.S. Merwin

Kelli Russel Agodon
Charles Jensen
Peter Pereira
Kathleen Kirk
Steven Schroeder

See those names at the end, there?  Who says contemporary poetry is dead? 

The kids had fun and I had a blast watching them work around each other, doing their best to work next to each other and modify their writing to circumnavigate the cracks in the sidewalks.  Some students chose multiple poems and others worked on single, long passages, and everyone helped everyone else.  After we had filled out all of the available space, we went back and drew lots of little pictures to go with the poems and then invited the office staff and other 'free' faculty members to come out and take a look at what we had done.  At the appointed hour, the students left for the day and were met with dozens of poems and fragments of poems, courtesy of the WWHS English III/IV Honors Class.

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