Wednesday, February 11, 2009

unpacking a poem

If you're looking for new ways to teach poetry, get to a Baron Wormser workshop! Wormser was Maine's Poet Laureate in 2005. He's taught poetry for years and knows what works. In a recent "green" workshop (no handouts!), he helped participants "unpack" a poem - look at the poem's ecology or its many aspects.

Word choice was the first step. We spent 45 minutes discovering the richness in the connections among words in a seven-line poem. Step-by step, it was easy, fun and led us to figure out what the poem was about. Not what it meant because distilling a poem to a one-line meaning reduces its impact. Better to ask, "What is this poem about?" so that we can discover its expansiveness and find our way into relationship with it.

After exploring a John Haines' poem, "The Long Rain," I wrote a poem about a place dear to me.

Lincolnville Beach

Under gulls’ cries and a blinding sky,
sparkles shimmer on the bay
while pebbles shine in shallow water.

Toes grip the stony shore,
but waves suck the stones away
and there, bathed in salt

and caressed by tides
waits a heart-shaped stone.

Check out Baron Wormser's website.

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