3/3 -Beyond Autobiography + HW for Monday

Daily Warm Up: For today’s warm up, you can choose one of these three options:

  1. Write a fiction scene where a character finds a bag of cash.
  2. Answer this: Would you rather win the Nobel Prize or be a rock star? Why?
  3. Write about a person’s morning routine from the point of view of his/her pet.

Sharing: Then we’ll share our concrete poems and our erasures, as folks would like to or find that helpful.

Homework: I will ask you to do some work on your own for MONDAY I’d like you to find some “mentor texts.”

A mentor text is a text you read and study for the purpose of learning how to write more effectively.

Your jobs are:

  • I’d like you to find three (3) poems you could consider “mentor texts” for the work you want to do. Choose these poems from current, contemporary works only. This guideline means that old standbys and classic favorites are not appropriate.
  • Print the poems out and paste them in your writer’s notebook (or copy them down by hand if you prefer).
  • Annotate the poems by
    • Pointing out cool things you notice the poet doing with their poem
    • Identifying any “green lines” (lines so good you wish you had written them)
    • Pointing out literary tools you think work really well (literary tools might be things like metaphors, imagery, sound, etc).
    • Identifying elements of craft that you admire in the poem. By “elements of craft” I mean things we’ve talked about this week (like playful language or suggesting vs. stating)
    • Pointing out other things you notice about how the poem was built (how the poet handled line length or punctuation or stanzas, grammar, word choice, sentence structure, etc.)

You can see an example below.

Sample annotation of a poem in your writing notebook

Your annotations will be due on MONDAY. Be prepared to talk about what you found with the class. I will initial the annotations, and then we will have a round table discussion about what you saw and any remaining poetry questions you have before we start our contract writing.

I’m providing you some links to journals and lists of journals (linked at the top of the blog under “Journals”). It’s not exhaustive, but it is a list of journals that are reputable and reliable. You may NOT use Google.  I don’t want light verse or children’s poetry for this particular assignment–not that those things don’t have their place.

READER BEWARE: The issues of magazines change constantly, and these are professional journals–so the chances that you will happen upon some artwork that may/may not be school “appropriate” is high. If you need a “vetted” list, please let me know.

Focus of the day: For our focus skill today, there isn’t much to TEACH, but just a nudge: poetry does not have to be “confessional.” It doesn’t have to be something true about your life, it doesn’t have to be personal, and it doesn’t have to be pretty.

Experiment: To help us tackle this, I’m going to ask you to create an EKPHRASTIC poem. Ekphrasis is when we respond to one art with a different art. In this case, I’m going to give you some visual art and ask you to write a poem in response to that art. You’re not trying to “tell the story” of the art, but rather respond to how YOU interpret it or how YOU interact with it.

We’ll look at some examples in class, which I can’t put here because of publication issues. However, you can see other examples

  1. At Rattle, where they have previous winners posted (both the visual artist’s choice and the poetry editor’s choice)
  2. At The Light Ekphrastic, an online journal of ekphrastic poetry/art pairings.

As for images, let’s tackle an actual ekphrastic challenge that’s actually out there in the world, this one comes from Rattle (see link above), one of the most widely read, premiere poetry journals in the US:

There’s a long tradition of poetry responding to art (and vice versa), and we thought it would be fun to post a challenge. For the first, Judy Keown, cover artist from issue #45, donated a photograph of an argiope spider. We gave poets a month to respond to this photograph in verse, and received 266 entries. Judy Keown and Rattle’s Timothy Green each selected their favorite poem from the submissions and published them online at Rattle.com.

Given how many people seemed to enjoy the Ekphrastic Challenge, we’ve decided to make it a monthly series, using open submissions of artwork when necessary. This means that we’re looking for a new image to inspire poems periodically. If you’re an artist and would like to participate, keep an eye on this page, as we’ll occasionally add information about how to submit.

If you’re a poet, come back to this page every month to find a new piece of art to inspire your poetry. You’ll have one month to write and submit your poems. Two winners—one chosen by the artist and the other by Rattle’s editor—will receive online publication and $50 each month.

For the month of February, our image is the collage below, “Metamorphosis” by Thomas Terceira. You can find more of his work at his website, but only write your poems responding to the image below. Good luck!


If you are interested in submitting this work for the contest, please let me know. I’m happy to facilitate that! The entries are due by March 31st.


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