A brief note before I get to my topic: the Fall edition of The Laurentian is out! Stop by the Student Center and pick up your very own copy, free of charge. You know you want it.
And now onto my main point: the always-surprising world of children’s creative work. Art class, whether you were good or not, was one of the best parts of elementary school. You grabbed a handful of markers and go to town, the wilder the outcome the better. But not all creative subjects come so easily to kids–children’s poetry often sounds like a forced imitation of an adult’s or a singsong collection of rhymes. But it doesn’t have to be.
I’m reading Kenneth Koch’s Wishes, Lies, and Dreams, a reflection of his experience teaching 4th through 6th graders poetry in 1969. He wanted to see the joyful innocence and creativity, so prominent in children’s artwork, come out in their writing. He did, no question about that, and the results are thought-provoking, funny, and all-around entertaining.
I’m planning a similar project for the summer and coming fall, and while Koch’s reflections are useful for my planning, it’s the poems themselves that are making me excited to start. Dreams, wishes, and funny noises were among the inspiration for the following poems. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired too.
New York City
New York, N.Y. is a busy city
You have to run to catch your show
You walk the black cat’s eyes
You breathe the pollutioned air
You catch a bouncing bus
You bounce all the way home
You open the cat’s eyelid with your key.
You walk inside the cat’s tail.
You catch a house
In your hand and swallow it down.
I hate New York and every book
Because when you open a book,
Here it is you catch the world and
Roar, Roar, Roar, and Roar
Socorrito Caballero, 4th grade
Once I had a dream that my friend was a carrot and I was a cucumber.
I was never eaten neither was my friend.
We sat in a store ready to be bought.
So one day I ran and ran until I got out of the store. But I forgot about my friend.
So I ran back and tried to call my friend
And tell her to come but she couldn’t hear me
So I ran back in the store and I almost got stepped on but the lady with her shoe kicked me. I feel right back in the
carrot pile and I learned if you’re a fruit don’t run away
or you’ll get eaten anyway.
Ilona Baburka, 4th grade
The following is a noise poem. The kids were asked to think about everyday noises in a different way, with none of our usual descriptive words. If this kid had been in my 4th grade class, I like to think we would’ve been best friends.
The bigness of my brother goes flought
And he slips on some water kaslashel
He falls down the stairs fink fankel fump
But when he’s asleep hok sssss hok sssss
He experiments with powder ka-pla ka-pla
And he works at Con Ed cack cack cack cack
He goes to the bathroom gra gra gra
But that terrible noise hok sssss hok sssss
-Charles Conroy, 4th grade