Poetry Friday: The Round Up is Here for 8/20/21

Welcome to Poetry Friday! I am so happy to have the opportunity to host the round up for this week. If you want to know what Poetry Friday is, click here for a great explanation!. After reading my post, don’t forget to leave a comment and then add your link! Fingers crossed this works. It is Monday night 8/16/21 and I am making the draft now for publishing the post later this week! I even remembered to open the round up on Thursday for our “down under” friends! A friendly midwestern welcome to all!

Image by Esther Merbt from Pixabay

Introduction to Famous American Poets

As many of you know, I’ve been working with a few students this summer in an enrichment group called Creative Writer’s Circle. We just had our seventh, one-hour session this afternoon. Next week is our last meeting. Today we worked on “I am” poems. I was specifically looking for something with a middle school bent and this came up as a possible topic. While looking at examples, several famous poets were cited as writing I am poems. So, I thought I would combine a lesson on writing I am poems with an introduction to famous American poets.

I read from Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins, and Maya Angelou. Only one of these poets was named officially as poet laureate! I know, I know! I was surprised too that Maya Angelou, while winning many awards for her writing, did not officially hold this honor. She did, however, read her poetry at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Billy Collins served as the Poet Laureate from 2001-2003. These famous poets all had examples of I am poems that I shared with my students today, along with a brief history of “who” these poets were/are.

From Maya Angelou’s work I read, Still I rise (1978). I read this last to let her words resonate with my students. It is a powerful poem that spoke to them regardless of age, gender, or race. They understood she was speaking from her life experience and that nothing would stand in her way. She did rise. And, we are so inspired by her writing. Even today, her words are especially applicable.

Billy Collins offered a more abstract and lyrical approach to the I am poem, Litany (2002), where he compares what “he is” to what someone else “is” or is not, as the case may be. I think this poem was harder for my students to grasp but still they were able to deduce that Collins is sometime different than whomever he is comparing himself to. I got the sense his friend was quiet and he was more noisy from the stanza about raindrops on the roof. I do not know if this is one of the correct literary interpretations of this piece, but it was my assessment after reading. For an analysis of the poem Litany that compares two people who obviously know each other well, check here.

Lastly, but read first, was the short poem by Emily Dickinson. I am Nobody! Who are You? This was an “I am poem” recommended especially for middle school aged students. It is short and we talked about who the frogs of today are – the consensus? Politicians!

Following these introductions to I am poems and famous American poets, we wrote some of our own “I am” poems using templets I found online. I have not obtained permission yet, but I hope to be able to share some of my students’ summer poetry work with you in the coming weeks. They’ll be back in class by then, and I? I will surely be missing my time with them!

I am thrilled to host Poetry Friday for the first time! Please link your blog and then leave a comment below! I look forward to hearing from many fellow poets this week! And, thank you!

Fungus in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in August. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021.

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54 thoughts

  1. The link works! Good job on hosting Poetry Friday for the first time. Well done, too! I so enjoy your description of poems to read to middle-grade students. It’s such a great time to introduce just a bit more complex and contemplative verse. I love your photo of the mushroom. When I was very young I drew hundreds and hundreds of mushrooms. It was my “mushroom phase,” I guess. I remember distinctly that my grandmother was ill and I gave drawing after drawing. I wonder what on earth that means? Perhaps there’s a story poem in that. Thanks for the prompt.

    I have a short post of thanks this week for poetry gifts. The air conditioning has been “out” in my house since Sunday and just as I was ready to hit “send” on my post, it was repaired. AMEN for air conditioning!

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    1. Linda, Thanks is for letting me know my link works! It’s much better than hearing that it didn’t!!! If I had my druthers I would have been a TAG teacher. I love to push the envelope on kids that are highly intelligent to begin with. We had been doing some “easier” poems and I wanted to stretch the 7th grader, especially. I was pleased that I was the one to introduce them to these three poets and I learned about them myself on the process!

      There were many types of mushrooms in the forest at our cabin last weekend. The photo shows one of them. I love how you drew lots of mushroom 🍄 pictures for your grandmother. A true act of love, sharing your interests and talents with her! I’ll look forward to reading your post. Glad to hear your AC is back on. We’ve been hot too!

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  2. Intriguing post Carol—what a mix of “I am” poems you offered your students! Loved the powerful reading of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” and I’ve always been fond of Emily Dickinson’s, “I am Nobody. And Billy Collin’s, well he gets us thinking… Wonderful Northwoods fungus you have there, along with your other lovely nature gallery images! Thanks for all, and for hosting the roundup!

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  3. Thank you so much for hosting today, Carol. It sounds like a rich poetic experience for the students you are working with. “I’m Nobody, Who Are You” is my favorite Emily Dickinson poem. I bet the kids loved it!

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    1. I really liked all the poems I shared with the students today, Laura. But, the Emily Dickinson poem had us all examining her meaning. And, we’re we were all on the same page about the frogs! It was relatable for their age given that we all feel like nobody once in a while. I’m not sure which poem they liked best.

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  4. Hi Carol! Your session sounds great — “I am” is a rich topic. Have you seen the YouTube video of a little boy reciting “Litany”? Your students might get a kick out of it. Thanks for hosting!

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    1. Hi, Tabatha – I did not watch that video but will have to go back and find it today. It did come up in my search when I was constructing my lesson. Thanks for the tip. I wonder what the students would think!

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      1. Hi Carol,
        I saw your post on Friday but the grands were here for over a week and I had barely enough time to breathe and I loved it. I am a big fan of Litany as done by Daniel. I created a poetry program in 3rd grade that ended up with kids loving poetry and WILLINGLY memorizing lots of poems over the school year. Anyhow I was so excited to see what this little guy had done and wondering how it happened. I contacted his mom and got lots of info from her that I loved. In Billy Collins’ poem he is actually being satirical which I did not get from Daniel’s version. I felt his was so charming, so heartfelt etc. Then I read it from the other perspective….just goes to show how tone and words and reading and analysis can differ. Despite learning that Billy’s original poem was meant as a “joke” about flowery greeting card writing etc. I am still able to enjoy the earnest love that comes through in the little boy’s recitation. His mom told me he had enjoyed listening to a podcast version and this was the first time he actually recited it all by himself (she really did not realize he could do it). She almost did not post it because her house in the background was messy, but I am SO glad she did. I watched it many times and share it a lot. She got some negative comments but there are so many wonderful ones. Anyhow I will be back to read more of your post. I am trying to catch up!
        Janet Clare F.

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      2. Janet F., Thanks so much for your extensive comments! I have yet to check out the boy’s rendition of Billy Collin’s poem but I will be sure to do so! I, like you, am trying to catch up!

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  5. Carol, it is wonderful that you are enjoying your summer class and students. I look forward to seeing their work at a future time. Thanks for hosting PF this week. I will post as soon as I can. My little granddaughters are with me for the weekend. The mushroom photo makes me think of magical creatures hiding under the mushroom as their umbrella during the summer rains.

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    1. Hi Carol! How wonderful you get to spend all this time with your young granddaughters! No worries! I’ll be glad to read your post when you get to it. I always find them valuable! Thanks! (And, I love how many seem to have liked my mushroom photo choice. There has been many interpretations of it.)

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  6. How wonderful you’re hosting for the first time, Carol! Thank you for hosting and for this post. I love that you did “I am” poems and, serendipity rules, I love that you included Billy Collins whose latest book I’m sharing today.

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    1. Oh, I cannot wait to read that post, Linda! Billy Collins’ work was introduced to me last year by another Slice of Life/Poetry Friday participant and I have drawn on it frequently since then. It was a stretch, even for these gifted students, but that was what I was aiming to do! Thanks!

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  7. Thank you for hosting Carol. I enjoyed reading your post regarding I Am poems and their various representations. Some famous names to call on and some interesting possibilities. Most poets, as you mention gravitate to this poetic form at one time. I have used it with middle school poets and they have blown me away with their reflections. Thank you for reminding me of this engaging poetry form. I shall also seek out the poems you mentioned. A post of quite some value…

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    1. Thanks, Alan. I usually teach elementary students in my Writer’s Circle. This group was small and varied in age. I felt my middle schooler was “bored” with what I had been offering – haiku, clerihew, nonets, diamante, and pourquoi stories (not poetry). So, I searched for poetic forms to use with middle school students and the I am form emerged – the rest of the lesson – possibly the best part of including the famous poets and their versions of an I am went from there. It was a good lesson that just fell into place. I am so grateful that you think my post had value. That is a high compliment and makes me feel great! Thank YOU!

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  8. Thank you for hosting, Carol! “I am” duly impressed with your I am lesson and highlighted American poets. I look forward to reading your students’ work in the coming weeks. Your mushroom looks like a “fun-guy”. 😉

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  9. In my many years of teaching young students about poetry, I have learned as much or more than they have. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I’ve never connected the poems you mentioned with the I Am form. I’ve always used the George Ella Lyon I Am From poem. I’ve also done persona poems using I Am. Thanks for stretching my thinking to include these poems.

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    1. Margaret, Thank you for sharing how you would teach an I am poem. My lesson turned out but I have to admit that it was somewhat thrown together. One thing just led to another in my search after looking for something appropraite to write for the middle school age student. I did introduce them to a couple other forms of I am – including one that sounds like what you mentioned. They used templets to write their poems and I was pleased with the results. I will look up the poem you referred to and add it to my arsenal for this lesson! Thanks so much!

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    1. Thanks, Irene! While preparing this lesson I delved into what the title Poet Laureate meant too. I always try to think about what the students will ask during a lesson. I was surprised that Maya Angelou never held the title. But, it was an interesting aside. “Who knows” is right!

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  10. What a delight for these students to read and write poetry together and with you this summer. The voices of the poets you shared – and the voices of each other – will live in them forever.

    Thank you for hosting Poetry Friday today. It has been so rainy here in Western New York…a good summer for mushrooms like the one in your great photo.

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    1. Amy, thank you for your kind words! I very much enjoyed spending time with these students this summer. We’ve gotten a lot of rain here in Wisconsin too. I saw so many mushrooms in our woods where our cabin is that I took a ton of photos last weekend! My parents live outside Rochester NY and I know it’s been very rainy there this summer. I hope you have a beautiful fall in return!

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  11. What a wonderful collection of poems you shared with your students. I love how after hearing various examples of a form, they then wrote their own poem in that form. Thanks for hosting today!

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    1. Thank you! I try to do a lot of modeling with my students and always have – even before the term “mentor text” was popularized. I think it really helps them to hear the work of others and even emulate it with their own words. It takes some of the fear of writing away, in my opinion.

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  12. Thank you for hosting today, Carol! It sounds like you and your students had a great time exploring and writing poetry together this summer. How lucky for them to dive into poetry with such a wise teacher!

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  13. Thanks for hosting, Carol, and for bringing us into your poetry workshop with kids. I bet you did stretch them, and your selections of important poets and their identity poems are perfect. I love Billy’s poem because it does three things spectacularly well–it is a tour de force of metaphor, it makes relentless fun of people who think they are writing well by using a tour de force of metaphor, AND it also manages to convey true knowledge and fondness of a beloved. I don’t think you can do more than that in a single poem! Will you be sharing some of your students’ work?

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    1. I couldn’t agree more, Heidi. Thank you! Billy Collins is rapidly becoming one of my favorite poets! He is so accesible for all with his language but manages to include depth and talent as well! He makes you think and I love that! Yes, I hope to get permission to share some of the poetry from my students! Thanks!

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  14. Thank you for hosting today. Your summer work with this poetry group has, I’m sure, changed their lives as writers. Probably as readers, too, judging from the diverse mentor texts you’ve provided. Hurray for you! Hurray for them!

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  15. Carol, I enjoyed reading all the “I am” poems by these three greats. What a super lesson you have outlined here. I love how each of their poems are so different. It really lets the students know that anything is possible and acceptable if it tells about them. I am bookmarking this one to go with the Praise Poem I learned from Marilyn last week.

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  16. Carol, what a marvelous mix of “I Am” poems you chose for your students. Way to bowl them over! 🙂 Fantastic choices. You inspired me to share an “I Am From” poem that I recently wrote. Thanks so much for hosting!

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    1. Thanks, Karen. My mix of I am poems from famous poets was a good introduction to what can be done and in different ways. I wanted to challenge them this week, and I think I accomplished that! I enjoyed your poem very much! Thanks for sharing it!

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  17. It was such fun to read about the “I am” poems and poets you explored with your students. What a wonderful selection you shared! Writing “I am” poems is a great way to introduce students to a variety of poets/poems and simultaneously get to know those students better. I’m now thinking about how to tuck this into my first few days with students. Congratulations on your first time hosting and thanks for doing so!

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, I told the 7th grader that she might walk into an ELA class when school starts and have to write an “I am ” poem. She’ll be all set if that’s the case! LOL. Good luck with this school year! I hope you can squeeze in this poem form early on!

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  18. Carol: I love the “I Am” exercise that you did with your young writers. The poems you chose were fabulous! If you do this again (and if you have room for an extra poem) you might try adding my poem “Today I Am.” I wrote in the voice of one of the characters (Paz) in YOU JUST WAIT: A POETRY FRIDAY POWER BOOK. One thing that I want kids (and us all) to do remember is that we are able to change who we are—even daily! You can see the poem here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/361625045072539950/. (Read about the book here: http://www.weewordsforweeones.com/2016/10/you-just-wait-powerpack-poem-1-today-i.html)

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