Poetry Friday: Writer’s Circle This Summer

My new writer’s circle has been going well. It should really be writer’s triangle because there are only three of us. Myself as the instructor/mentor/coach and a soon to be seventh grader and fourth grader. If I had more students, I would have broken the grade levels up from 3-5 and 6-8. But, it is my first year of doing this in a community setting rather than a school based setting. and I probably need to be more vocal in my advertisement. Hopefully, the group will catch fire and I’ll have more students in the future.

Image by Dmitriy Gutarev from Pixabay

Our setting this summer is the library. Our library is new, being built only a few years ago and is a beautiful building. I reserved the community room for our group which holds 190 people when at capacity. I wasn’t sure they’d let me reserve it due to the small size, but I asked and they seemed thrilled with the idea. It’s been a very hot summer, so I’m glad I have a comfortable room in which to hold our meetings. Obviously, there is room for expansion, too!

Our small group has met for the last three weeks and we have five more to go. We meet for an hour once a week. After years of doing this as a volunteer, I decided to charge for participation in the group this year. It is a nominal fee. Twenty-five dollars per student covers all eight meetings, materials to write with, and a small token (a book on poetry) at the end, as well as my prep time and printing of handouts, meeting notes, and feedback. It could be more, but I was satisfied with the amount I chose. The participants did not have a problem with paying the fee.

Both student writers are talented, and that is fortunate for me because those are the students I aim to enrich and meet where they are for extension of knowledge, creativity, and enjoyment in their pursuit of writing. It has not been without challenge however. There is an age difference that might be critical in this situation. Therefore, I’ve tried to pick writing topics for my mini-lessons that they can both use to create a piece that is age/grade appropriate for them. Poetry is very amenable to that quest. I explain things that might not have been encountered before the time in our group – such as simile and metaphor, flow verses rhyme, and poetic structure for specific types of poetry.

So far we have written haiku, nonets, clerihews, and are now working on sibling poems using a methodical approach – word gathering, extracting, revising, and finalizing. The first two steps are finished. We (because I write alongside them) finished a rough draft yesterday in class. Their instructions are to let it “sit” at home for a few days and then re-read it, out loud, making any revisions they feel necessary. This is a free verse poem, so rhyming is nil to minimal. Word selection and brevity of each verse was stressed, while still creating a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. The poem had a structure or organizational outline instead of a rhyme scheme. The lesson included tips on poem creation that they can use in the future. We shared what we had written at the end of our time together this week. Let me just say I’m proud of their efforts.

My draft, below, is alright, but I know I’ll make some changes for final draft before we have class next week.

Sisters

My sister, Pam, two years younger,
teaches nursing at college, 
as I once did 
but stuck with it longer.

When we lived closer,
years ago, as young adults,
we enjoyed eating, shopping, and 
going to church together.

Among my fond memories is 
walking to church on Sundays 
to attend services or staff the nursery room,
having coffee afterward at the Bella Bean Cafe.

While we share the commonalities 
of being sisters daughters, mothers, and friends,
we still view life through different lenses -
especially when it comes to our aging parents.

Our relationship is like a blizzard,
rare, intense, cold but also cozy 
at the same time,
covering everything! 

Pam works hard and 
I like that. She is generous and kind,
while I am honest and dependable.
Sisters, sharing common bonds of history and interests.

Unfinished rough draft, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

The students finished their work, while I did not. There are two more stanzas that I need to write, one telling of the things we do not like about each other and one describing how I’d like our relationship to be in the future. The last stanza serves as a natural conclusion to the piece. I will check with the students’ parents to see if I can share their work on my blog in the near future.

My collection of pourquoi stories. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

After exploring one more type of poetry, we are moving on to write Pourquoi Stories. I intentionally picked this due to its difficulty. This is a creative writing project I did with my former writer’s club students. We’ll see how it goes, but again, the type of story lends itself flexibly to creative expression and student ability. I’ll be excited to see what these two talented students come up with. One thing that both shocked and concerned me was the neither student had been exposed to this type of story before, going as far to tell me the books I brought as examples were not available in schools. Myths? Stories about why something occurs in nature? My response? The books and types of stories are there, unfortunately, they are probably overlooked. That realization made me sad, very sad, indeed.

In addition, the students’ revelation also made me very glad I’m holding this group!

Enrichment – yes, that’s the reason.

Our host for Poetry Friday is Kat at https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog/. She is a poet and author from down under and writes about some unusual pets today! Thanks, Kat for hosting Poetry Friday!

13 thoughts

  1. I always enjoy writing beside young writers. What a service you are doing for a mere $25. I thought $25 an hour would have been more like it. Your students are blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have not heard the term Pourquoi Stories before – but Google enlightened me and I am definitely familiar with the form! They have a distinct place in the Australian curriculum. What a wonderful gift you are giving these children.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am glad this type of story has a specific place within the Australian curriculum. My students had never her of the Pourquoi either and even after reading one and explaining their nature-myth synonym, they still claimed they had never been exposed. I felt that was so sad – that we become so prescribed in our teachings that we miss out on something so creative and imaginative!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Carol, writing and learning with a large group is fun, but small groups have their appeal as well. It sounds like this is a fantastic experience for everyone involved. Thanks for sharing your story as well as your poem!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tim! I have to get back to my poem tonight to finish the rough draft before our group meets tomorrow. I like small group work best, but I do wish I had just a few more students in each grade level to make the group more interactive. I think it will grow. The librarians are fully supporting it and I think will help me to advertise it next year, one of them even calling my work with students one of my “gifts.” She worked in the school in which I had the group before so I am honored she said this about me!

      Like

  4. Carol, what fun reading the news about your writing group. It is important work to provide enrichment. I’m happy that they get to participate! Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

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