About Hands on Stanzas

Hands on Stanzas, the educational outreach program of the Poetry Center of Chicago places professional, teaching Poets in residence at Chicago Public Schools across the city. Poets teach the reading, discussion, and writing of poetry to 3 classes over the course of 20 classroom visits, typically from October through April. Students improve their reading, writing, and public speaking skills, and participating teachers report improved motivation and academic confidence. You can contact Cassie Sparkman, Director of the Hands on Stanzas program, by phone: 312.629.1665 or by email: csparkman(at)poetrycenter.org for more information.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Poems of Apology: This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams

We are often made to feel like we should be sorry for something we've done, especially children. They sometimes apologize because they are told to, not because they feel bad about what they have done. The students enjoyed this lesson so much that many of them wrote several confessioinal apology poems!

Grade 3

I’m sorry for
Jumping on the
Which you were
Probably going
To clean tomorrow
But I’m not that sorry
Because it’s
So much fun

Edgar R
Grade 3

I have called
Jovany a pimple face
He probably felt
Really mad

Sorry, I can’t
Tell lies if he
Really has pimples

Fernando S
Grade 3

I am sorry
Because I
Put on a mask
And I put
Blood on my face
And I put
On a cap
And I scared
My sister
And it was
So funny
And I think I am
Going to
Do a trap
And put water
In a bucket

Aileen J
Grade 3

I am sorry
To my brother
I open my
Brothers room
When my brother
Was sleeping
I get his money
He had $52.59
I went to the store

Freddy L
Grade 6

She got on my nerves
She kept on doing it
I hit her
I said sorry to her
But I really didn’t
Mean it

Christian E
Grade 6

When I was hiding
From my sister
All the lights were off
She was looking
For me
But she didn't find me
Then I came out
And screamed at her
Then she started
Crying so I
Had to say
But I told her
Then she started

Andrea B
Grade 6

I am sorry that I
Broke the chair

I am happy that I
Fixed it
I am happy that I
Told Luis to sit on it
I am happy that he
Fell down

So what I am saying is
Forgive me Luis
For doing this to you
Even if I loved it
And laughed my head off
And you stopped talking
On the phone

Christian G
Grade 7

I never felt it
Never saw it

I never want to feel it
I never want to see it

But I heard it
Hurts and when

It comes out your
Life changes and it will

What I heard is that
You push with

All your might first
You don't feel it, but

Then it comes so bad
it hurts so bad

But it's all worth it
It comes

And you feel good
Because it's your baby

Jessica Y
Grade 7

I am not sorry
For hitting my sister
I am sorry for disobeying
My mom
By hitting my sister
Although it feels great
Hitting them
I should not disobey
My mom
Because it might
Break her heart

Alondra G
Grade 7

I hit you
On the face
With a big heavy ball
Forgive me very much
It was very
Funny looking
At you and
Your big purple funny

Jasmine Washington
Grade 8

I am sorry for tha….
I have slapped
Your daughter
My hand

Her face turned
Red slightly
She held her
Tears back

Forgive me
She looked so
Sad her
Face was
Cherry red

Jovany C
Grade 8

I’m sorry for
Breaking the window
But I was
Playing outside
If you opened the window
It wouldn’t be cracked
Sorry for breaking
The dumb window

Poems about Color: Voyelles by Rimbaud

This was a really fun lesson! I brought in paint sample cards from Home Depot and passed them out to the class. We had a good time reading the names of colors such as "peanut butter," "carrot," "peacock feathers," "mermaid treasure," and my personal favorite, "squirrel." After reading the poem, we discussed the unusual ways Rimbaud described color and how he assigned colors to something that doesn't visually exist. The students wrote poems in which they chose to describe the colors of things like letters, numbers, feelings, months, days of the week, or school subjects in an interesting way.

Giselle R
Grade 3

Spring is for the color gray
Of cloudy

Summer is for color blue
Of sky and lake

Fall is for color orange
Of the plants and trees

Winter is for color white
Of the snow

Ethan Ramos
Grade 3

The color of July is blue as the sky
The color of September is as red as the apple
The color of January is white as the snow
The color of march is green as the grass
The color of February is pink as the heart
The color of October is orange as the jack-o-lantern
The color of april is red as the rose

Alize V.
Grade 3

October is as black
As a spider in the shade
To have your heart
Torn in two
To be in the blackest place

June, being in June
Is as blue as tears
On the ground
A blue pond is June
Or maybe
A Midway Academy shirt

November is
As white as hearts
Thursday in November
Is very white
Or a white sundae ice cream

Mirella R
Grade 6

Sad is like as blue
As the blue sky

Mad is as red
As red lipstick

Joyful is like bright yellow
As the yellow sun

Confused is as gray
As a gray quarter

Sick is as green
As the green grass

Happiness is as pink
As the pink in a rainbow

Jose L
Grade 6

Saturday I think
Of the color red
Like fire
Monday I think
Is for gray
Because it is boring
I think of Wednesday
I think of sad
Like white clouds
I think of Friday
Like green as grass

Ruth C
Grade 6

January- white
Tiny ball
Falling down the sky

February- Red
Big heart over me
With a message
That someone loves me

March- Blue
I’m in the ocean
With white birds flying
I’m with the person I love

April- pink
Thinking about Easter
Pink bunnies
Running with me

May- yellow
I’m thinking day 29
Thinking in my father
And sister
At the same time

June- purple
Watching spongebob
With a jelly sandwhich

July- green
Like the tree
Flying in the sky

Bianca N
Grade 7

A is for green
For Christmas
Because Christmas
Has green trees

E is for white
For Easter
Because the bunny
Is white

I is for red
For Valentines day
Because it is love

U is for black
For Halloween
Because it is night

O is for yellow
For Thanksgiving
Because it is bright

Tony V
Grade 7

Monday: Gloomy, dark street lights
Lighting up the sky
Dark gray for laziness and tiredness

Tuesday: Dark green for the trees
And the leaves
The afternoon still green
Because of the green lights on the street

Wednesday: Yellow because of the sun
And the buses
Happiness is also yellow
Because it’s close to the weekend

Thursday: Black because
Of the madness in my eyes
Can’t wait til it hits Friday

Friday: Orange, bright, happy, exciting
Out of school
And in with the fun

Carlos A
Grade 7

Monday’s are gray
Because we are starting the week
I feel like the sky is dry
And it has not rained for days

Tuesday’s are blue
Because the birds are chirping
And the sky is baby blue
The dogs are barking
At the people

Friday’s are yellow to me
Because I wake up happy
It is the last day of school
I get two days off
Friday is yellow
Because I get to play
With my friends
When I get home from school

Saturday is red
Because my mom
Cooks breakfast
Happy Happy red
Gets up in the morning
And sees cartoons

Alexis C
Grade 8

The number 16
Reminds me of green
Like when trees move
With the air
And green grass fields

The month of December
Reminds me of white
Because it gets cold
And snow falls

The day Friday
Is a bright color
Like orange or yellow
Because it’s a happy day
And a brighter sunshine
In the sky

Angelica R
Grade 8

August- Baby blue
Like the sky
On a nice early
Summer morning.
And green
Like watered grass

24- the special day
of a happy girl
nice light pink
and black like balloons
there’s going to be
on my birthday
pink like a beautiful
freshly picked rose
and black
like the dim lights
of sadness

14- the age of a girl
pink like hello kitty’s color
and a favorite color
of a happy
cheerful girl
a dozen roses
of my favorite color

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Poems about Others: Roethke's My Papa's Waltz

Since we concentrated on ourselves for the first poem, I wanted to have the students look outside themselves and focus on someone else. I wanted them to think about the more unusual quirks and details of a person that sets them apart of others, that makes them special to the poet.

Cashmere G
Grade 3

I love my dad
When he gently
Pulls the blanket
over me at night
and kisses me
on the forehead
and I love him
I wouldn’t want
To let him go
And I’d cry
If he left.

I love my mom
And I love
When she sings to me
And she always smiles
When I come through the door
My mom is so nice
And we play games together

My Family
Veronica M
Grade 3

My sister uses
A lot of make-up
She knows she is
Too little for make-up
I think when she grows up
She is going to be
A supermodel
She likes to wear
Beautiful things
But I am so different
I like to wear pants
And not fancy things
Like my sister
That’s why everyone
Is different
She’s 5
But to me
She’s 15
When she goes to my room
She makes a mess
And my mom thinks
It was me
And I get mad
But when she’s asleep
She’s like a little angel
And I love her so much.

Ivan G
Grade 3

My brother likes
To play video games
He hits
And when he cries
The tells my mom
That I hit him
Then I get in trouble
He likes to take stuff
Then when I buy new toys
He takes it
Then breaks it
His favorite shirt
Is a Shrek shirt
He likes to eat junk food
Too much
And he eats fruit
And when I don’t
Let him play with my toys
He cries.

Grade 6

My mom
She old
Gray haired
She don’t have no
Rhythm or beat
She thinks she all that
She can’t dance
She think she fly

Nancy G
Grade 6

My brother’s phone
Goes off every time
Because he talks a lot

I call my brother
He’s on the phone
I need help on my homework
He’s on the phone
I tell him to do his chores
He’s on the phone
It’s time to eat
He’s on the phone

He talks and talks
Time goes by
When he says a word
He talks and talks
I feel it never ends
He talks and talks
He has so much to say
He talks and talks
Because he’s talking
To his girlfriend

My cousin
Mario C
Grade 6

He is tall
He takes me to the mall
His mom is short
His computer’s on the porch
He is cool but
He acts like a fool
One year has passed
And he still doesn’t
Drink beer
He has a Mohawk
But is afraid of hawks
He likes driving
But never diving

My sister
Mirella R
Grade 6

My sister is a nice girl
She has light brown hair
Her name is Jennifer
I call her Jenny
She likes to go shopping
Jenny is 18 years old
And she works
In a retirement home
Whenever she gets home
We go to the movies
She is a great dancer
She will dance to anything
She likes playing volleyball
Jenny likes to talk a lot
She especially talks about
Haunted houses in October
Now she is planning
To take me to different
Haunted houses
Jenny’s great
She always buys me stuff
But sometimes she thinks
I’m taller than her
And she gets mad
When we get mad
We don’t talk to each other
But then we get
Happy with each other.

My Sister
Kimberly T
Grade 7

My sister is mean
My mom tells me to clean
And sometimes eat
Icky beans
My sister is short
In the night she snores
All day long after school
She walks
And talks
My sister is lazy
And sometimes crazy
My sister tells me she’s bizzy
Turning and turning
And just getting dizzy
My sister likes watching Tyra
But I think it’s boring
When I look at her
She’s already snoring
My sister likes watching T.V.
Her favorite thing
To watch is crime
And I tell her
To look at the time
I tell her I’m going to go
And she tells me
Don’t leave me alone

My Mom
Jessica Y
Grade 7

My mom is nice
She hates little mice

She tells me not to fight
And to turn off the lights

She loves pink
And hates to think

She tells me to be good in class
And not to brake a glass

She washes dishes in the sink
And likes to hear people sing

She likes to wear a dress
She reads the sign that says “press”

She likes to dance
With my uncle Lance.

Raquel S
Grade 8

The smell on your shirt
Is so odd John
The way you talk
Is so odd John
The way you look
Is so odd John
What isn’t so odd
About you John?
The way you talk to me
The way you explain things to me
The way you make me feel
But at the end
I guess I’m odd
Because I’m the one
Saying what is
Or isn’t
Odd about you.

Korina A
Grade 8

The smell of your clothes
Makes me fall in love
The sweetness in your heart
Makes me wonder inside
The smell of your breath
Makes me think of sweet cake
Your lips bright red
Remind me of big red apples
On a summer tree
Your thoughts and feelings
Expressed to me
Make me feel special
In a certain way
Your heart
And my heart
Make the world
A better place

My Brother
Xavier Cruz
Grade 8

He likes to sing
He likes to dance
He likes to wear pants

Pants in the summer
Pants in the fall
He likes to play basketball

My Grandpa
Lance P
Grade 8

My grandpa is the man
Who helped raise me
He also helped
take care of me
I loved him like a father
but I already had one
He was getting robbed
and had to use his gun
He used to be rich
And had a candy store
He said he would keep it
That he swore
It’s like he’s near
Not too far
Till the day he died
In the front seat
Of my cousins car
Everyone was very sad
But he will always be
My Grandad

Miguel A
Grade 8

My stepfather
I and him
We are more than friends
We trust in each other
He loves me like a son
And I love him like a father
When I have a problem
He helps me
When he has a problem
I help a lot
And I love my stepfather
Because when my mother
Is in the hospital
Or at the doctor
My stepfather
He brings me to
And picks me up

And when we go home
He cooks me something to eat

One time he tell me
He live for his son
And for me
That is why
I love my stepfather
That is why
I appreciate
Him everything

Introduction Poems

For the first day, I thought it would be appropriate to have the students tell me a little about themselves. Just telling your name doesn’t give much information about a person. To really get to know someone, we need to know more. What they like, what they think, how they feel about certain things, about their family, what kinds of things they do when know one is looking, etc.

We read William Carlos Williams poem Danse Russe. We discussed what (and how) we learn about Williams’s personality? About his family? Williams uses poetry to reveal a private (maybe embarrassing-like getting caught singing in front of the bathroom mirror) moment. It is a moment when he feels the most free, the most “himself.”

The students were asked to write a poem dedicated to them. I asked them to reveal something about your position in their family, their desires, their dreams.

Ivan G.
Grade 3

I hate cleaning the house
Because it’s boring
and takes all day
I don’t feel along with my brothers

I like to play videogames
Because they’re cool
And they’re awesome.
I like summer

I like to take showers
When I get out
I like to write on the mirror

Veronica M.
Grade 3

When I get in the shower I sing
When I’m ready to pick my clothes
I like to wear all pink
But not everyday
And when I’m ready
I dance funny when nobody is looking
When it’s time to eat
I spill my milk
And said it was my sister
But my mom knows
And I get mad and hit my pillow
In the night
When everyone is sleeping
I go to the kitchen
I eat chocolate all night
The next day my mom said
“Do you want to eat?”
I said no because
I ate a lot all night

Mirella Royna
Grade 6

I like kids and babys
Because I admire
Seeing how they grow
I like seeing their first steps
I like how they talk for the first time
I like kids because with kids and babys
I don’t feel alone.
I actually feel happy.
There are some things I don’t like
About kids
Because they cry
And if they don’t get what they want
They get mad
Kids can make me feel protected
I am really sensible when it comes to kids
I have a baby brother
That makes me laugh all the time
These are the reasons I like kids
And baby’s
I like them to eat Mexican food
So they can get used to Mexican culture
I’m shy to read out loud
I don’t know, I’m just shy

My Blue Sky
Ruth Casillas
Grade 7

In the night
I wake up
Think if it’s spring
Waiting for march 8 again
To feel like I am big
My eyes are brown
My skin is light
Mixed all and make
Light brown
I love my friends
I love my family
But most of all me
I like to run
But sometimes I get so shy
I’m bigger than my sister
But sometimes I feel like
My sky is gray
But really my sky
Is always blue
Because I have you

By someone special

Jesse Hurtado
Grade 8

A boy hat has no boundaries
A boy that has no limits
A boy who is frightened
By spiders who are calm
I am someone who’s big
I am someone who’s nice
Other people only see me
By my physical size
Others see me by what’s inside
I am boy who loves animals
Yet I am the kind
Of person that stores
Everything inside

Raquel Saucedo
Grade 8

My name is Raquel
I am picky
I’m only 13
People say I have an attitude
People say I can be a real pain
I’m only 13
People judge me
People don’t like me
I’m only 13
Yes, I’m picky
Yes, I have an attitude
Yes, I can be a real pain
Yes, people judge me
Yes, people dislike me
Yes, but I’m only 13