Photographic Poetry

Age Range: 7 - 11
By: Sarah Coraggio

Objective: Students will bring in photographs from their personal lives and write a poem about it, or write about a photograph they wish they had, and why.

Materials: Photographs supplied by students and teacher, Writing supplies, Poem on overhead transparency (Encarta)

Visual Resources: Photographs, Poems

Procedure:

  1. Assign students to bring personal photographs to write about for the next day.
  2. On the lesson day, pass around teacher’s photos to cooperative tables. Ask students to look at the photos and comment on what they see as well as what they don’t see. Students brainstorm, with the teacher writing responses on the overhead. Written down on the overhead is a record of things seen as well as unseen.
  3. The teacher next puts the following poem on the overhead. Students listen to the poem and brainstorm what is being directly shown in the poem and what is not. The poem follows:

I have a photograph of my mother

standing on a hill, San Francisco

lying beneath her. She is facing

the sun. Her white suit coat is open

and flaps in the wind, filling

the space between her raised arms

and her body like the wings of an angel.

Her hair is shimmering, one blond hunk

of it flying skyward. Her thin hand is

a shadowed awning above her eyes

and she stands straight: a tall

golden stalk in a growing field.

Today she called from Florida

voice slurred, spilling commands

that I tell her about my separation,

my job, my life. Threatening, between

bouts of coughing, to fly here in

just two hours. And I could see her,

hunched over the phone, dried up and

shrinking like a root torn from the earth

and long forgotten. And when I said "No"

and then "Good bye," I knew that I would look

for her photograph to remind me to be gentle

to this person who once stood on the edge of life

and soared ahead faithfully to meet it.

  1. Next students write their own poem about a photograph they treasure or one they wish they had. Students need at least 20 – 25 minutes to write.
  2. When done, students may share with the class if they wish.

Assessment: Based on formally assessing "voice" in poetic writing.

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