Friday, June 10, 2016

Poetry Friday: Tod Marshall Visits IMS!

Head over to Beyond Literacy Link
for today's round-up of poetic goodness!
Thanks, Carol, for hosting this week.

For a quick peek inside Tod's visit to Islander Middle School, check out the padlet I created.   For the longer version of his time with one group of sixth graders, read my post.  

I stride down the hallway to Room 104, eager to grab a few moments in my former classroom with Tod Marshall, a visiting poet and our WA state poet laureate.  When I reach the door, it's way too quiet!  I open the door to see two classrooms squeezed into one classroom and sixty plus students writing in their notebooks.  I go back to the office to grab my notebook before returning to soak up poetry molecules with Ms. Gaffney's and Ms. Moore's students.  

I'm amazed to see "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by William Butler Yeats projected on the screen. It's not a poem I would have chosen to share in a sixth grade classroom.  Tod explains how poetry creates a ripple effect.  We think about an image and the world seems a bit different.  I listen in as students share their thinking about the image " in your head..."  The discussion switches to connotative and denotative meanings of words.  

And then Tod shares a quote by William Wordsworth:  "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling..."  The discussion returns to the projected poem and a search for clues that indicate the poem was not literal, images that introduce a magical element into the poem.  And then a discussion of the call to the writing of poetry, the magic of metaphor, the magic of making music that is poetry.  

That idea leads us to song lyrics and a discussion of why they stay with us.  Poetry and music were incredibly combined until the invention of the printing press.  And then the words on the page had to make their own music in order to remain memorable.  

Sprinkled throughout Tod's presentation are recitations of memorized poems.  He shares Willam Carlos Williams, "The Red Wheelbarrow" and mentions that it is a poem to live with.  He introduces the term assonance as he discusses the delicious sounds in the phrase, "glazed with rain."

And then it's time for a quick introduction to Japanese haiku and the beauty that can be discovered in its imagery and brevity of words.  We learn about The Poetry Foundation and the image of Pegasus, a symbol for artistic inspiration.  Tod utilizes the resources of The Poetry Foundation page and explains a bit about the history of the Poetry magazine.  

The final poem I hear recited by Tod is "Harlem" by Langston Huges.  He provides context for the poem by explaining the time period and setting for the poem.  Are you surprised that all of this happened in less than 30 minutes while I took a quick break from my sub position in the front office of our school?   I still wish that I had asked for a sub (for the sub) so that I could have spent the entire morning trailing our visiting poet.  

Several weeks ago, Laurie Raisys, owner of Island Books, handed me a flyer about Tod Marshall's visit to Mercer Island sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Council and Island Books.  As soon as I saw that he would be visiting schools in the morning before the community events, I immediately wondered if it would be possible to invite him into some of the middle school classrooms.  We are grateful to our Schools Foundation for providing the honorarium so that six sixth grade classrooms and one eighth grade classroom could be enthralled and inspired by our state poet laureate, Tod Marshall, on June 2.  


  1. I love that he recited poems. I love that he told the time and trouble to give the cultural context of poetry. Classes that combine history and literature provide both with added depth and interest that segregating the subjects cannot get back.

  2. Sounds like a very valuable visit!

  3. Ramona, the children must have been in awe. I know I would have been. Thanks for sharing the power of poetry through a poet laureate's eyes.

  4. This sounds like such a rich and wonderful learning experience - and I'm still in awe of the fact that your state has its own poet laureate. Wowsers! I tried to click across to the padlet, also, but there was no linky. Is that just me?

  5. Sounds like an amazing visit. Those kids are fortunate to have such an experience.

  6. Sounds like poetry just oozes from him. Would love to have been in that class!