Monday, April 16, 2012


by Laura Krauss Melmed

The ancient art of poetry and the much, much newer art of composing the Tweet both aspire to pack lots of punch into few words.  Sometimes these forms of communication intersect.   This was illustrated recently in an NPR story by Steve Inskeep about Nigerian writer Teju Cole.  Mr. Cole, who lives in New York City tweets at his Twitter account @tejucole.  His subject matter of late is (very) short stories based on small news items, those unattributed little articles found in metro sections which describe freak accidents and odd happenings.  Mr. Cole calls these stories “Small Fates.”  His first Small Fates project used items culled from researching a novel about Lagos.  Currently, his Tweets are based on items in New York newspapers of exactly 100 years ago. 

Mr. Cole’s tweets are often tragic or poignant and are obviously meant for an adult audience.  But at this time of year, having young students Tweet about how the world is springing back to life around them could provide a perfect structure for writing a poem.

The goal is for students to write a series of “Tweets” based on observations of springtime changes.  They will then put the Tweets together to form a 6-line poem.  These observations could take place either independently or following a short daily class walk or garden visit.  Show the students how to count the 140 characters allowable for each “Tweet.”  Stress that they will be using a different sense each day of the week to make their observations.  Make sure they know not to try to make these poems rhyme. 

Assign a sense to be explored for each of the five days of the school week. Students should then write a tweet a day for five days. Each should evoke a vivid picture, scent, sound, etc. through the use of such poetic devices as metaphor, simile, and personification. Daily Tweets can be written on index cards and displayed on a magnetic board for review and discussion. “Tweet” number six should summarize the student’s feelings about springtime. 

The students could illustrate their poems for a Spring Tweet display.    

Here is my own Spring Tweet poem:

Agreeable tulips nod heads together
ACHOO! A sneeze flies from an open window.
The scent of lilacs floats over me like a purple chiffon scarf
The breeze that tickles my bare arms also lifts a kite
If spring had a taste it might be asparagus
Somehow the world feels new.

No comments:

Post a Comment