Wild & Wonderful World of Words
Playing with Words:
Poetry that POPS!!!
Part 1: Tools for Your Creative Toolbox
By Molly Anderson-Childers
Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of words! In this two-part article, you will discover a lot of different ways to get inspired, create a poem, edit your work, and make your own book to fill with poetry and artwork! This month, I’d like to inspire you and help you find new ways to write; I hope to give you some tools for your creative toolbox. Next month, we’ll explore editing and book-making! Let’s get started…
Maybe you already have some ideas for a poem… if you do, write them down now. If you’re not sure what to write about, there are a lot of ways to get inspired!
Take a Poetry Walk!
Walk around your neighborhood, and take your favorite notebook and pen with you. Walk ssssssllllloooooooooooowwwwwwwlllllyyyyyy, and keep your eyes peeled for interesting people, places, and animals to write about. Animals can be especially fascinating. If you spot two hummingbirds fighting over a feeder, or a big black cat sunbathing, stop to watch and write it all down. Describe every detail you can think of.
Create a Word-Pool … dive in!
What is a Word-Pool, you ask? Let me tell you how to make one, and then you’ll know what it is. Cut a few pieces of construction paper into a bunch of small shapes. Take a blue circle or a red square, and write down an interesting word or an idea for a poem on each side. Get some friends to help you — sharing ideas with other poets is an excellent way to become inspired to write more poems! Find an empty fishbowl, a hat, or some other container to put them in. Mix your ideas up, then pick a few at random and use them to create a fabulous poem! You can add more ideas to your Word-Pool anytime you hear a cool new word! Become a rare-word collector, and add exotic words like frangipani, whippoorwill, and saffron to your Word-Pool. Look inside of cookbooks, phone-books and dictionaries for more fabulous, sizzling, enticing words. Keep it on your desk, so it will be nearby when you’re writing. Some of the words in my Word-Pool are: marvelous, magnificent, bubbling, fabulous, and joyful. I’ll happily share them if you like them. If you don’t, go find some words that YOU love!
Free-Writing is simple, and a lot of fun. You can really surprise yourself with this technique — always a valuable skill for any writer! Sit down in a comfortable place with your trusty notebook and a couple of pens, crayons, and pencils. Then, write down the first thing that pops into your head. Keep your pen moving quickly, capturing your thoughts like wily wildebeests. Write without stopping to check for the correct spelling of a difficult word. Don’t worry about commas and question marks, just write down each thought as it occurs to you. If it doesn’t make sense or “look right,” who cares? No one ever has to see this but you, so don’t worry about it. Now is the time to create something new. Editing comes later, so worry about spelling and proper grammar then, not now! If you’re not sure how to spell something, just do the best you can and keep blazing away with your pen. This is a 100-yard dash, not a marathon. Write just as fast as you can, until your hand is too tired to keep going! Then, do the same thing with your OTHER hand. You’ll write more slowly, true… but you may discover some interesting things about yourself when you write with your non-dominant hand. It can bring out the voice of your younger self, just learning to write! Writing with different instruments can also help you let your creative side out to play!
Play with words in the kitchen!
Alphabet cereal or pasta can make a fun snack — use the letters to spell out your favorite words, or write a haiku! Steal words for your Word-Pool from different packages, menus, and recipes, and write them down. You can also use your refrigerator or a cookie sheet to display your poetry. Magnets shaped like letters or words are fun to rearrange and playing with them can lead you to discover delicious combinations of words! Magnetic Poetry Kits for kids can be found at your local bookstore. You can make your own word-magnets using a thin sheet or a strip of magnets from a craft store. One side is a magnet, and the other is sticky and covered with white paper. Just write on the paper side with a marker, then cut out the words and go play!
Take a break from writing and read some poetry.
You can also listen to someone reading poetry live, or on CDs — most libraries have a few to choose from. Lots of authors write poetry and stories just for kids — Silverstein, Seuss, and Sendak are three of my favorites! Reading poetry will inspire you and help you become more familiar with different types of poems. This will help you decide what types of poetry you’d like to write!
Now, you’re ready to make the leap — create a poem of your own! You have lots of ingredients… a cool blue Word-Pool to swim in, tons of ideas and interesting tidbits and details taken from the Free-Writing and Poetry Walk pages in your notebook. Then, decide which type of poem you would like to write… a haiku? Free verse? A limerick, or a sonnet? Then, start writing!
A haiku is a short poem — it has only three lines, and a mere seventeen syllables. Five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five syllables in the final line. Here is the haiku I created:
On this cloudy day
I search for signs of spring and
Find a lonely blackbird’s nest
After you have created a poem, it is wise to put it aside for a while before you try to edit it. I call this “letting the poem ripen.” Sometimes it is difficult to edit something right after you create it — you’re too close to the work, and can’t see its true worth. You might end up changing everything, or over-editing it; you might even decide the whole thing is no good and throw it in the trash. Stop right there! You’re trying to edit the poem before it is fully ripened, delicious and sweet!
Instead of editing now, write another poem, then another, and another. Keep wandering around your neighborhood on Poetry Walks, and hunt down new words for your Word-Pool. Allow your poems and scribblings to ripen for a month… then, join me here at the Creativity Portal Playground for excellent editing tips and some cool book-making projects in June! •
Next: Polishing Your Poems »
© 2006 Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.
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About the Author | More by Molly Anderson-Childers
Molly J. Anderson-Childers is a wildly creative soul living in Durango, CO. She is a writer, artist, and creative arts instructor. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Fort Lewis College with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and successfully completed their Elementary Teacher Education Program. Her work has appeared in various publications, including The Durango Telegraph, Southwest Colorado Arts Perspective, Images, Voice Be Heard, The Four Corners Business Journal and On the Wings of Poetry. To contact Ms. Childers, please email her at: stealingplums[at]yahoo.com or send a snail mail to P.O. Box 4281, Durango, CO 81302-4281.