Monday, August 27, 2012


Summer has always been my favorite season.  I’ve never quite overcome that feeling of slight melancholy that for me accompanies the final countdown to Labor Day.  One way I’ve learned to console myself, though, is to conjure some pleasures of fall: striding briskly through crackling leaves, curling up with a cozy throw and a good book, watching steam curl from a bubbling pot of vegetable soup, savoring the cinnamon scent of a browning apple crisp.  Fall brings Halloween and Thanksgiving, my two best-loved holidays, plus my wedding anniversary and this year, my daughter’s wedding.  Lots of beloved rituals and new delights to savor!

These thoughts lead easily to the development of a template for a poetry workshop. The goal is to have students write a seasonal Goodbye-Hello poem.  It will follow the list poem format mentioned by Jacqueline Jules in her most recent post.  The students will craft their poems as a send-off to summer and a welcome to fall.  This exercise is equally applicable to other changes of season.

As a preparatory activity, you could share the seasonal poems in Douglas Florian’s charming little collections, Somersaults and Autumblings.  Florian’s simple rhyme scheme presents puns and fun invented words such as "autumnatically" and “owlphabet."   Many of his poems are list poems.  Along with his simple watercolor and pencil illustrations, the poems present a delightful childs-eye view of the seasons.    

Now each student should be ready to create a 12-line Goodbye, Hello poem.  Encourage the students to use richly descriptive verbs and nouns and even to invent their own words following Florian’s examples.  Lastly, although Florian’s poems do rhyme, I would advise having the students stay away from forcing these poems into a rhyming scheme.

Goodbye, Hello

Goodbye to (a place), (a place), and (a place) associated with summer
Hello to (a place), a (place) and (a place) associated with fall

Goodbye to (an activity), (an activity) and (an activity) associated with summer
Hello to (an activity), (an activity) and (an activity) associated with fall

Goodbye to (a summer food), (a summer food), and (a summer food)
Hello to (a fall food), a (fall food), and a (fall food)

Goodbye to (a summer scent), (a summer scent), (a summer scent).
Hello to (a fall aroma), (a fall aroma), a (fall aroma)

Goodbye to (a summer sound), (a summer sound), and (a summer sound).
Hello to (a fall sound), (a fall sound), and (a fall sound)

The students can be given carte blanche to devise the last two lines on their own.

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