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Poetry: A Life in Transition

Updated on August 3, 2012

On Being a Writer

"You fail only if you stop writing."

~~~~~Ray Bradbury

Between Two Passions

I am sandwiched between two passions, my love of writing and that of developing curriculum. Oftentimes, I commingle the two because they appear to happily act in concert with one another.

Playing with a profusion of words and pouring them on to a page, delights my spirit in much the same way that I enjoy summoning up my muse of academia, by painting vicarious learning experiences for my students.

To that end, I will present an exemplar (model) of a poem I wrote and guide you through a literacy strategy that will assist your students in opening up in order to create their own prose. Of key importance, the navigational tool (literacy strategy) of "Quickwrites" should be implemented along with you [the educator] writing side-by-side with your students.


Essentially, "Quickwrites" are impromptu writings that students use to explore a topic. They write for a few minutes to allow their ideas to flow. The focus is on generating ideas and honing writing fluency (Thompkins, 2009).

You can use quotes, parts of relevant songs, other poetry (like my exemplar) or place artwork in front of them. For this example, we will be using my poem because providing students with a model helps to break down tension, particularly with this genre.

After the students have responded to the piece read aloud, they move on to meet in groups and share their "Quickwrites" with one another. Ideas begin to flow in the brainstorming process and this becomes the genesis of their own composing.

The Light (Poem)

Where is this light I follow? It is blinding, yet inviting and for all I know, it is an invitation to a place greater than the place I now reside, a place cramped, barren and cold,rendering me lifeless, a cadaver drained of its living fluids.

I am drawn to this radiance above the mountains. I am taken in by its magnetic field into an existence unknown, a higher ground, I suppose, but who knows? And so I follow as if inebriated, consumed by the luminosity, in search of abundance, some known truth, painfully aware that I may never reach its summit.

Yet, I travel on, clinging to the belief that I will arrive, that the knowledge will somehow be revealed to me and I will be resurrected, healed, whole once again, united with the powers of the universe, with eternal consciousness, having the courage to open my heart to love.

I now see myself seeking lost pleasures and reacquainting myself with the glittering constellations and kindred spirits dancing melodically like an opus across the blue sky. Yes, I long with eyes wide-open to embody this truth, to arrive at this province in deliverance of happiness to a soul fractured and lost, floating aimlessly in absentia.

Robin Grosswirth, 2012

Open Mic

After the students create their own textual meditations, they should be provided the opportunity to showcase their work through an "Open Mic" just like authentic poets. Hopefully you will be able to cajole the crowd into sharing. This too is a literacy strategy called, "The Author's Chair."

This lesson can configure to any type of poetry you need to deliver in your instruction (acrostic, limerick, diamonte, free verse, etc.).

In sum, the key is to break down barriers to writing by donning a pen with the students, and by implementing important literacy strategies that scaffold the learning.

Student as Author
Student as Author


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