Hello, beautiful readers! My morning and workday went smoothly. I spent time reviewing data with my students and reviewing skills for an upcoming test. We've just finished a unit, and now the students must show they have learned the skills we have been practicing for the past several months. I'll share more about what I teach tomorrow, but today I'd like to focus on my after-school club.
I sponsor a poetry writing club called Writer's Ink. Every Wednesday, students meet in my room after school for an hour to read, discuss, and write poetry. It is a competitive poetry club. They write poems and submit them to various contests. One contest is run by Creative Communications. This contest chooses the best poems submitted to them and publishes them in a book, which allows my students to have the title of a published poet. It's a great motivator for them to continue writing and exploring the publishing world. I've had many of my poets published throughout the years.
Another contest we participate in is called Piano Slam. This contest combines a piano concerto, science and mathematical terms/concepts, and poetry. Every year, the piano music and theme changes, so it allows students to explore different science topics and music while using both to inspire them to write a poem. This year's music was Chiaroscuro by John Paul Corigliano. We listen many times to the music and analyze the tempo and changes within the music, focusing on what emotions it creates within the listener. The students use that tone to write their poems. This year's science theme is climate change, and the theme of the poem this year is "Hot Music. Hot Miami. Chiaroscuro: The Unevenness of Light and Shade." The top poems are chosen to perform their pieces in a show at the Adrienne Arsht Center with the music being played at various times throughout the show. None of my poets have ever made it to the finals. The competition is fierce, but they keep trying.
My poets also participate in the local youth fair creative writing contest. There are ribbons for first, second, third, and honorable mention. My students always place in the top three with their poems. They love having their poems displayed with ribbons for the duration of the youth fair.
But our favorite competition is Dynamite Slam, hosted by the Jason Taylor Foundation and Bluapple Poetry Network. This poetry contest is all about slam poetry, or spoken word poetry. It's an art form where poets speak their truth using poetic and literary elements. My nephew is a rising star in this form. He has a few of his poems on YouTube, so if you want to see a few of them (and follow him), click here. (Yes, it's a shameless plug; I'm quite proud of him.) Now, back to my club...
Because we are a middle school, we compete against other middle schools in Dynamite Slam. The high schoolers compete in Louder Than a Bomb (although my nephew performed as an indy artist in LTAB while he was a middle school student). There are four rounds: three individual poets perform their poems and then a group performs a poem together. My club has won first and second place in previous competitions. This year, I have a whole new set of kids who have never written spoken word poetry, but they are excited to learn.
So, during today's meeting, we worked on our Piano Slam pieces and discussed our new club shirt designs. We are a small club with only ten members. Still, that's the biggest group I've had. It isn't easy to find middle school kids who enjoy writing poetry and can stay after school.
I love writing all types of poetry, but I've never written a true slam poem. I can teach it and help students revise their own, but my poems don't have the grit that slam poetry tends to have. Eventually, I'll put a piece together (you know, with all that free time I have).
I finally got home at a somewhat decent time (5:30 pm) so I threw on my walking gear and headed out to absorb the beautiful weather we are having. It was 75 degrees while the sun was still out. It will drop into the 60s tonight, which is cold for me. After my walk, I stretched, cooked dinner, and watched a show with my son. All in all, it was another great day!
Do you write poetry? Have you every participated in a contest or published your poems? I'd love to hear about it. :-)