POEMS ABOUT A SPECIAL PLACE developed by Judith Steinbergh and Elizabeth McKim, Brookline, MA An expanded version can be found in Beyond Words, Writing Poems with Children, McKim and Steinbergh, Talking Stone Press, Brookline, MA. www.troubadour.org/shop
This organizer works well with students in grades 4-8, in writing about a memorable place, a historic place, or a place related to a curriculum unit such as a tea house in Japan, a pottery shop in Egypt, or an explorer arriving at a unidentified coast.
Your Name_________________________________Date_______ Class_____ Some Ideas Do you have a place that’s special to you or your family nearby? In your home, in the kitchen, outside, a trolley, in a park, by a beach, a river, a pond, at a camp, at your grandma’s? Did you ever have a place you liked to hide? Do you like to visit some place special in a city near you? Do you have a favorite place in your neighborhood: a shop, a café, the school, or your library. How about the earth from a plane? or the landscape as you whiz by in a train? What specific place might you want to remember, care for, preserve, or protect?
What is this place? __________________________________ Where is it? _______________________________________ Now close your eyes: Let a picture of your place rise up in your mind. Brainstorm and make notes to describe your place using your senses:
Smells or Tastes _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ ____________________________________ _____________________________________ What are your feelings or mood when you are there?
How might the place change you?
Can you think of a simile or metaphor to show this change?
Suggestions for opening lines: Can you invite the reader to your place? Or instruct the reader on how to arrive or see through your eyes List some words or phrases that invite or instruct. (for example: “ Follow me to…..” “Welcome to…” “ Step quietly through...” " Open the door to..." "Climb up with me..."
or start with a vivid image: ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________
First draft 1) Begin your poem with a vivid image of the place, or an invitation or instruction to the reader. 2) Describe your place as if you were painting a picture. 3) Weave your ideas together choosing words that are very specific and thinking about how words sound together. Develop the sense images using simile, metaphor, or personification. i.e.:” In the park, cherry trees bloom pink as clouds at sunset.” Suggest the season and time of day. 4) Be an outward observer and in inward observer. Let your writer’s eye record outward details and the changes that happen to you inside. 5) Whisper your draft poem to yourself, add color, detail, stronger verbs. Listen to its sound. Are there sounds or words that echo each other? Is there rhythm or repetition that creates a pattern? Will the opening engage the reader? Will the closing provide insight about the significance of your chosen place? Revise and Rewrite 6) Revise over several days. Read to classmates and friends. Consider suggestions from others. Think about the form of the poem on the page, line length, line breaks, stanza breaks, and how they guide the reader in hearing your language the way you'd like. 7) Make a final copy (hand written or typed). Integrate art work if you like.
EXAMPLES BY STUDENTS
My Basement by Sebastian, grade 4 Come, come my friend come. To the place Where history confronts the present, To where battles have been fought, To the room of chaos. Where beauty faces raw aggression. Dusty smells of the past Blend with the enticing smells of the present. Photos merge with paintings, Video games encounter books and poems. Come, come my friend to my basement.
The Bookstore by Sylvia, grade 4 Come read with me In the place where muffled footsteps Are clanging swords Where dusty bookshelves are magic rainbows The turning of a page like a rumbling volcano Where the smell of brand new books Is the smoky smell of a burning fire If you look up long enough All the knights, wizards, rainbows, and dragons will disappear And reality will appear around you But who wants that? Visit me in this magical place.
Special Place Poems (Please contact me, Judith Steinbergh for other appropriate Place Poems by adult poets.) THE PASTURE by Robert Frost I’m going out to clean the pasture spring; I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away and wait to watch the water clear, I may): I shan’t be gone long. – You come too.
I’m going out to fetch the little calf That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young, It totters when she licks it with her tongue. I shan’t be gone long. – You come too.
Student Examples MY ATTIC by Jahkari Seymour, Boston Follow me where my second room is. See my lizards, one is green like Go and one is blue like the sea. Grasshoppers wait for the predator to attack in my hiding spot where nobody can find me. See my dog watching Scooby Doo. Hold old books with dust all over them. Spider webs hitting my face, dusty windows feel like dusty mites in the sky. My dog is barking and my sister is crying. What’s that noise! Feel the dust in the air. I think this is my second room. Welcome to my World.
THE WINTER FIELD by Andrew M. grade 5, Topsfield Please come with me or I shall be lonely to where the world is like vanilla ice cream. So if you fall, the snow will comfort you. If you trip, the wind will pick you up. It's quiet, except for the birds. The evergreens are buoys in a white ocean. The mountains look like mounds of vanilla ice cream with streaks of mint, the smells of leaves can travel miles on the wind. Please come with me or I shall be lonely.
TRINIDAD by Catava Franklin Come with me to where the air is sweet, Full of tropical scents of mangoes, papayas and curried coconuts, Come with me to where the pebbles and sand are beneath your feet,
Where the trees gently sway in the summer breeze, Where the trees are covered with minty green leaves, Where the sun shines brightly in the morning light, Where the crystal clear oceans twinkle in the evening light, Like scattered crystals in the night, Come with me to where the air is sweet. Photo below by Cary Wolinsky. Garden and landscape by Barbara Emmel Wolinsky