What is a Poem?

by Rachel Kessler

I have the pleasure of spending Fridays exploring poetry with the 3rd through 5th grade students at B.F. Day Elementary. I love reading and writing poetry with this age of writer because they have such quick, brilliant minds. And hopefully, no one has instructed them to pull apart a poem looking for symbolism – instead they react truthfully to the poems I read them (“This is very silly, Ms. Rachel” and “I like when all the words tumble together” and “I underlined everything in this poem because I love all of it!”). We read a picture book This Is a Poem that Heals a Fish by Jean-Pierre Simeon where a boy goes looking for a poem for his goldfish that is dying of boredom. He asks everyone in his neighborhood what a poem is, and takes all his answers back to Leon, the fish. My students discovered that this boy makes a poem by asking questions and then putting the answers together for his fish. Before I had even closed the book, the third graders were exploding with their own answers to the book’s question – what is a poem?

They quickly noticed that a poem looked different from other forms of writing – the boy’s collected answers used white space on the page – line breaks and stanza breaks – and that this space made the phrases sound different when read aloud. The answers the boy gathers are tangible sensations, which B.F. Day’s young writers responded to by laughing, questioning the logic of, and then leaping into metaphor and simile and comparing “a poem” to all kinds of things.

Here are some 3rd graders thoughts about poems:

A poem is something you can take from other people and put into a poem.
A poem is when the world is very bright. – Sumaiyo
A poem is the stars at night.
A poem is cold air. – Ruby
A poem makes your heart better.
A poem has your heart inside of it. – James
A poem is a horse in the black shadows – Odette
A poem can turn dead grass into fresh grass – Hashem
A poem is not a dead rat – Peter
A poem cannot play outside in the park – Amanjeet
A poem can make a flying donut appear! It is a real life dream. – Will
A poem is something to eat. – Ahmed
A poem is your feelings in the wind. – Asher
A poem is not your face. A poem is a way to express your emotions and connect stuff that’s happening to you. – Kaleb

After some rapid-fire brainstorming on the board, the 3rd graders were itching to write their own poems about being a poem. Here are a few:

Poem Sheets

by Peyton, Ms. Johnson’s 3rd grade class

A poem is not nothing.
A poem is something.
A poem is when you add words to form a system.
A poem is not you need to rhyme.
A poem is something fun to do.
A poem is when you can, or cannot, rhyme.
A poem is not something to play with – it is to read and write and have fun.
A poem is something you can see anywhere.
A poem can be a dog, hut, or sky.
A poem can be the earth.
A poem can be a planet.
A poem can make sense.
A poem is part of history.
A poem is not nothing.
A poem is something you can feel.

A Poem Is a River of Words
by Joshua, Mr. Agrellas’ 3rd grade class

A poem is a river of words.
A poem is a rainbow that comes from the sky.
A poem is nature that comes from your heart.
A poem is a stream of words that comes from a star from the moon.
A poem is a dream from the moon.

Short Song
by Jett, Mr. Agrellas’ 3rd grade class

A poem is a short song.
A poem is something that can wonder your mind.
A poem is not a bad thing.
A poem is a lake of letters.
A poem is when you put together words.

A Poem Is a Golden Line

by Zoe, Mr. Agrellas’ 3rd grade class

A poem is when you can make it yourself with your imagination.
You always know when a poem is coming cause you feel that
feeling in your heart it just bumps
like you are running.
A poem is a golden line.
A poem is a song.
A poem is the sky.
A poem is a stream of water.
A poem can make a hole.

A Poem Is Not a Video Game
by Kenzo, Mr. Agrealls’ 3rd grade class

A poem can make a cut into skin.
It can make dead things come to life.
It can purify water.
It can help you win.
It is not a video game.

Birds Picking Up Words
by Andre, Mr. Agrellas’ 3rd grade class

A poem is the birds picking up the words.
A poem can help you understand something better.
A poem is like your heart pumping faster.
A poem is a rainbow coming from your heart.
A poem is a pattern of words.
A poem can make the sun brighter.
A poem could make a heart turn into two.
A poem is a whale turning into a heart.

Bunch of Words
by Tyler, Ms. Johnson’s 3rd grade class

A poem is a bunch
of words
bun ched
together
and sometimes
they rhyme.
I don’t know what it is
at all
but I
do
know
one thing:
It is
not
just
words.
It sometimes expresses feelings
and it is made by words.
They are sometimes sad.
Happy, stressful
or mad. Sometimes
they hold
history.


A Poem Is Something Like

by Mohamed, Ms. Johnson’s 3rd grade class

A poem is something
like the wind. A poem is something like
feeling.
A poem is a bike. A poem is sometimes
like a boat.
A poem is like home.

It Is Also Words
by Zoe, Ms. Johnson’s 3rd grade class

A poem is
the light of the moon.
A poem is words that rhyme.
It is also words.
A poem is a pattern
and your imagination.
A poem is not
cupcakes, money, or waffles.

Tornado Spits Out Poem
by Maya F, Ms. Johnson’s 3rd grade class

A poem is something you can see anywhere.
A way you can express your inner self.
A poem has feeling. A tornado spitting out a poem.
A poem can rhyme sometimes.
A poem is something you can see in the clouds.
A poem is not cotton candy.
A poem is a piece of art.
A poem is part of history.

A Poem
by Emma, Ms. Johnson’s 3rd grade class

A poem is something you can see
anywhere! It could be
in the sky, earth, water, country, city,
market, store, classroom, trees,
animals, or even a blade of grass.
I know a poem can be written anywhere. Like on a tree, paper,
or even the sky!

A Poem Can Rhyme
by John, Ms. Johnson’s 3rd grade class

A poem is a forest on a snowy night
with nothing that bites.
A poem is a jungle with rain
where nothing is in pain.
A poem is a desert with a sandy beach
and on the beach there are no leeches.
A poem is a lake
with a shore with a man with a rake.
A poem is a city
with a bad man – what a pity.

A poem is when the moon goes down,
the sun comes up –
a poem is a huge tree
that grows a lot of food.
A poem is a poet’s game.
A poem is a bird singing.
A poem is a book with so many chapters
that you find you can’t stop
reading.

A Poem IS What You Want It To Be
by Ruby, Ms. Johnson’s 3rd grade class

A poem is the stream passing by.
A poem is a holiday.
A poem is the lightening striking.
A poem is you going biking.
A poem is the sun starting to rise.
A poem is the echo in a canyon.
A poem is a snake hissing.
A poem is the school bell ringing.
A poem is what you see in the fall.
A poem is what you see in the spring.
A poem is the planets.
A poem is your cursive.
A poem is how tall a tree is.
A poem is mysterious.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “What is a Poem?”

  1. This rocks. Nice work!

  2. I love this! What a great way to start the year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: