Look Ma, "Hands" on Poetry

Adele Steiner
MFA, 1990
Dog Ear Publishing, 2008

The workshops in Look Ma,"Hands" on Poetry are designed to help teachers and poets familiarize elementary through high school students with a variety of creative and fun ways to engage their imaginations and write poetry! They do so by encouraging teachers and students to explore, together, the art of poetry; i.e., the art of employing the five senses to capture experience in language. The workshops also introduce young writers to a wide range of poets and the poetic techniques and styles that they have incorporated in their writing. As a result when students complete a series of workshops from this book, they will know how to write a poem! They may enjoy reading more poetry, too, because they will have a solid understanding of how poetry works. Finally, there are exciting ideas in Look Ma, "Hands," on Poetry for ways in which young writers can exhibit and perform their poetry. The workshops in this book run from 45-60 minutes with the time divided into three segments. In the first, the teacher reads and discusses poems that are examples of the types of poetry students will be writing. In the second, the teacher introduces the writing assignment and has students begin writing. Finally, students who finish poems are invited to share them in the remaining class time. Because poetry is the art of capturing experience in language, the workshops are structured around sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. Each of the workshops in the first five chapters is geared toward exploring one of these senses, and the two later chapters contain workshops that require students to use all five to write their poems. As a result, workshops from each chapter may be used individually or in sequence to create one or twoweek poetry units that teachers and students can enjoy. Workshops in the book include the Sleight-of-Hand and Animal Mask Workshops wherein students use metaphor, simile, and personification to create imagery in poems. They use music and musical instruments to help them create sound and rhythm in the Native American, Chant, and Rap Workshops, and then they literally play with words to write Bingo and Multiple Voice Poems. Young people have opportunities to express their feelings through poetry in the Blues, Love Potion, and Ode Workshops; and finally, they use their five senses simultaneously when writing Bubble and Rainbow Poems and when they interpret paintings, sculpture, and music in Echphrastic Poems. The book's final section presents creative ideas for poetry readings, books, and displays. Suggestions for readings include the Poetry Café, which can incorporate any of the Coffee House, Tea Room, 1950's Diner, and/or Greco-Roman Garden venues discussed in this section. Student poetry books and chapbooks complete with student art and photos are described here, too, along with plans for poetry rainbows, sidewalks, mobiles, and poetry word collections.