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, May 11, 2008

Creation Myths -- James Weldon Johnson's The Creation

Creation myths are stories about the origin of man that all cultures from the beginning of time have attempted to explain. We discussed myths from ancient Africa, Asia, Greece, Middle East, and Native America. Many of these myths had similar themes and symbols of life. The students wrote their own version of the creation of the Earth and Man.

Vivian M

Today the world is created
By a war between two gods
But an angel helps God win
Then he became a God
Then he made
Trees out of wood
He made the sky
By water
A moon
Can be made by clay

How The World Was Made
Veronica M

One day God
Wanted to go down from the sky
He didn’t see anything
He decided to make a lot of things
But first he needed a place
To put all of the stuff
So he created a big place
And called it the World.
Every time he moved
A thing appeared
But he couldn’t make anything
So he cried so hard
That with his tears
He made lakes
And seven seas
But all he saw was water and dirt
So with the dirt
He decided to make mountains
He said this world
Doesn’t have color in int
So I am going to create flowers
And grass and a lot of trees
He made the world a better place
But nobody lived there
So he decided to make a lot of animals
Like deers, and dogs, and so much more
He said it is perfect
But something is missing
He said “I’ll make someone
And I’ll call it a person
A human”
He made two humans
One was the man
And one was the woman
And it was perfect
The man and the woman
Helped him with his world
By gathering the wood
From the trees
And made a house
But there was no light
So with the power
He made the Sun
And when the sun is out
He would call it Day
He created another one
This one was the Moon
But this one wasn’t hot
And when the moon was out
It was Night
And everybody has to sleep
To rest
And the Day is to work
To play
One day the woman was sick
She felt bad
And months later
Something came out of her stomach
It was another human
We said we would call it a baby
The world was great
But the bad thing was
That I needed it to go
Home on the blue sky.

Andrea C

When the world was created
I thought about light in the sky
I started creating stars
They shine like diamonds
In the sky
The moon came from
A white dream I had
In white
The trees were for
The animals to hide
The flowers remind me
Of the shirt I had the other day
The wind was made
When I sneeze
But after all the work
I felt lonely
So I decided to make a friend
Who would help me
And be my friend
But I could think
How he would look
Like a person
That could fly and talk
So I decided to create
An angel
He and me
Created the water
From tears
When he was not there for me
On cold, cold winter
I wanted to snow
And from the tears I cried
This is how the snow was made
And hard, hard wind
Came from my sneezing
The animals came
From my dads snorings
The turtle is as slow
As when I am sleepy
I walk slow and bump my head
And fall
The bunny is as soft
As my pillow
I don’t understand
Why I didn’t make
The cat that barks
And the dog that meows

Edwin N

I am God
I always flap my wings
In my tears
And make water
I made the sun
Out of mirrors
Held against the sky
And there is light
The sand made people
The sun made the moon
I made the animals
The same way I made people
I made the mountains
Out of saliva
The trees come from my hair
All I do is make my hair
Really really hard
And I am God
So I am beautiful
And I’m going to be around
For a really long time.

Fabian J

The god Eethline
He fought with Chrome
As they stepped
Mountains were made
Plains were flattened
When they hit each other
Blood flew out
Hit the floor
And turned to people and animals
One drop of blood
Flew up so high
It turned to sun
And a bit of saliva flew
Oh so high
It turned to moon
Without a lie, son
The earth was made
With people, animals, and life

Silverio G

What I think
The world was
Created by God
I think he created land
I think water
Came from a god
From Egypt
I think in a thousand years
The world is going to rise
The land is going to rise
The water and the fire
The angels are going
To blow the horn
When it’s time
For the world to end

Jasmine W

As God makes a man
A man wants a woman
He calls up on God
And asks can he get one

He pulls out a rib
And points it to the sky
Then God reaches down
And grabs the tiny rib
He said a few words
And a beautiful woman appears
God thought they both were beautiful
So he had to give them a name
He thought to his self
What about Adam and Eve
And that’s when the first
Humans were made

As God thought to himself
Since there are humans
Where will they live?
So he started to think
Of all these wonderful ideas
With grass, animals, plants and rivers
Now they were happy
But everything was flat
And now no one was happy

So God picked up the earth
And spun it around
Put it in space
And that’s how the Earth got round
Now the humans are happy once again
And that is the story
Of woman and man

Jesse H

It started with a bird
It was a simple eagle
Placed on earth to fly
Yet she was lonely
So she asked God
“please give me the power
to create life”
and so it began
the life of human beings
animals and dinosaurs
now the world was
a peaceful place
until the dinosaurs rebelled
they said “we shall rule
this land, for we
are the strongest things on the planet”
then God responded
“You are the stronges
in this planet
but not in the heavens”
And with this
God sucked the life
Out of the big reptiles

Odes- Pablo Neruda's Ode to Clothes

What do Shakespeare and Beyonce have in common? Odes. Love poems honoring a person or a place, or a time, or object. Pablo Neruda wrote many odes to unusual things. Things we love or appreciate, but take for granted, like clothes, or fruit, or a large tuna. Here are some lovely odes to unusual things

Ode to a Pencil!
Karina A

Day and night
You’re used all over the world
Writing letters and notes
Telling secrets,
And myths.
Creating new words
Making someone feel
Or get mad
If you ever wonder
Without you
There’s no expression
And no life

Jesse H

Luck, why do you hide?
When we need you the most
You vanish
And now you laugh at us
But please don’t leave us
At our time of need
Have you teamed up with death?
You always were a pesk at times
But know you are neutral
Since you have been gone
Death has taken your place
I’m tired of this game
Of hide and seek
Yet I don’t want to lose
But give me a hint
Of where to find you

Ode to washing dishes
Erica H

The sound of the water
Coming out of the faucet
Sounds smooth and relaxing
It takes me to another place
Where there are no conflicts
Only peace
The soap between my fingers
Feels smoothly
When the dishes get clean
They look so bright
And makes me feel good
When I’m washing dishes
I doze off into my own world
Thoughts pop into my head
And I feel happy and relaxed
You drift me away
Into a peaceful place

Ode to Stars
Ruth C

Every night I look up
To see you Stars
You all are the ones
Who are with me all the time
In the night
You all are pretty
You all are shine
You all are the pretty
I always wanted
You all have been
In my past
For a long time
I have shared my life
With you all the time
You all are the only
Ones who make my wish come ture
You all are the ones
Are in my dreams
Every time I don’t see you all
I have a nightmare.
I hope you never go
My beautiful stars

Andrea B

Ooooh how I like
My gum
So chewy
And tasty
Oooh how I like
My gum
Some people say
I say that I just like it
Oh I say
That I am a gumoholic
I confess I am I am
Oh how I love gum

Oh my…
Tony V

To wear you is an honor
You keep me warm during the day
You can be stylish
Or blah
But you are loved anyway
When I take you off
It’s like a sad movie
I wait and wait
Til the next day comes
And once again
We are reunited

Macaroni & Cheese
Jocelyn Brito

That smell like roses
And pizza
That tell me
Sleep in my bed
Is soft like a pillow
And when my mom
Cook macaroni and cheese
Makes me wake up
And when I eat it
I feel soft on my mouth
And is hot also
I always say to my mom
“I want more Macaroni & Cheese”
I wonder if my mom
Will do me Macaroni & Cheese
On my birthday
When my mom does not do
Macaroni & Cheese
It’s a bad thing
My mom is a little tired
Because I tell her to do
Macaroni & Cheese
And then do more
Macaroni & Cheese
And then she does
And now I like
A little bit.

Veronica M

Reading books
Books with words
Books with poems
Books that are small
Books that are big
With lots and lots of words
Books of non fiction
Fairy tail
And lots more things
Reading books
with experiments
And history
And even books
with mysteries
when I read
I want to laugh
I want to cry
Or sometimes I feel angry
But every book
Has it’s feelings
Books with new technology
Or inventors
Books with things
That have never been invented
Books with people
Who remind me
Of someone I know

Edgar R

Hair-the Big Thing
Growing hair
Bald people feel bad
Probably they want it
Like a flowing river
Sweep the floor
With big hair
Lasso a cow
Paint with your hair
Cut your hair
Make a pillow out of hair
Make a sculpture out of hair
Grass is jealous of hair

Giselle S

I’ve had my blanket
Since I was a baby
I hide it from my mom
So she can’t take it
And give it to my baby sister
I hide it in my special closet
Under my clothes
I have it now
And I won’t give it to anybody
That blanket belongs to me
And I would keep it
Until I’m 15 years old
Or more
I would love it
Until my blanket is little

Perverbs- Harry Mathews

Proverbs are such an integral part of language, of how we communicate. Clever phrases and important lessons are timeless and have been threaded through cultures all over the world for hundreds of years. In Perverbs, Harry Mathews uses 46 well known proverbs and twists them into new life lessons. Below are some new "perverbs" written by the students.

I van G

Time makes one worth two in the bush
Time makes one wait for no man
Time makes one come down
Time makes one take warning
Time makes angels fear to tread
Time makes one stop digging
Time makes one fix it
Time makes one try again
Time makes one being nice
Time makes one go to the mountain
Time makes one expect the worst.


Money talks with a loved one
Do not dwell with another man’s poison
A loved one is another man’s treasure

Edgar R

Ideas are where the heart is
Two ideas are better than one
Unveil the road to hell
Ideas are mighter than the sword
Ideas is cheap
You can’t make an omlete
Without breaking a few ideas
The best ideas come in small packages
Ideas goes around
Ideas makes perfect

Mrs. Cantu/Mrs Rawls- 6/7th grades

Mario C

It’s your luck time
To set your sights high
And go for it
It ain’t broke, try again
Hope for the best, go with the flow
I think, I came, I saw
Therefore I am
One good turn deserves
Another money talks
A friend in need
Is a friend in pain
Cry me a river,
And make lemonade
A watched pot never boils
And ends well

Mirelle R

Treat yourself to speak louder than words
A snitch in time, especially this week
Prevention is better, especially this week
Treat yourself to stolen fruit
Variety is the spice to something special
Practice makes something special
Seize from every moment, it’s worth a thousand words
Something special is ruined by a drop of poison

Jose L

Life is a series of spilt milk
Life is a series of book by its cover
Life is a series of eggs in one basket
Life is a series of mountains out of mole hills

Christian E

A new relationship is a virtue
A new relationship is paved with good intentions
A new relationship makes you stronger
A new relationship comes around
A new relationships awaits no man
A new relationship comes before the storm
A new relationship wasn’t built in a day