Today’s post is from one of the newest members of the Youth Development team, Lesa Sexton!
I dislike poetry
Even when recited delightfully
It makes me feel fidgety
I would rather watch water drip, slowly
Than subject my thoughts to such tedious verbosity
Let’s be honest. Poetry is not exactly the favorite literary form of kids today. And who can blame them? In a society where we tend to say what we mean, poetry does just the opposite. Poems use allegories and metaphors to communicate hidden messages, and even after analyzing a stanza for a half hour we may STILL walk away scratching our heads about what we just read!
(And don’t even get me started on iambic pentameter-thanks a lot, Shakespeare!)
But precisely because it isn’t straightforward, poetry opens itself up to a variety of meanings and interpretations. Ever heard someone say, “There are no right answers”? Well, that’s poetry in a nutshell! There’s not usually a way to know what the author really meant, so you can interpret their poem however you please – everyone can be right!
Poetry is also great because there’s no “one” way to write it. Sometimes there’s punctuation, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes it’s structured, sometimes it’s free verse. Sometimes there are complete thoughts, sometimes it’s full of run-on sentences. In other words (and to quote a delicious steakhouse chain) – No rules, just right!
Poetry is a perfect option for youth who like to think outside the box, who prefer not to be confined by grammatical rules, and who have something to express – but want to do it on their terms.
While poetry might seem a daunting art form stuck in the olden days, there are a lot of ways to modernize it and make it approachable for our members today. Try out some of the poetic styles below and let us know how they go!
A poem where the first letters of each line spell out a word or phrase. A super easy warm-up activity!
Put some words
On each line
Easy if you
Make it rhyme
I Am Poem
A template that can be used to describe a person-whether the author or a character from a movie or story. This could be used as an introductory activity or an add-on to a reading module. Get the template here!
Concrete Poems aka Shape Poems
Simply put, a poem in the shape of the topic. Here’s a fun one!
A performance art where poetry is recited aloud. Sometimes called poetry readings or poetry slams, it’s a great chance for youth to share their work! One of my personal favorites is Prince Ea, a spoken word artist with a lot of great videos on YouTube. One that always give me goosebumps whenever I watch it:
Do you have any ideas for fun, introductory poetry activities? Do you have any favorite poems that leave you in stitches? Do you know of any poets that kids just seem to love? Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org to share!
Lesa is a new recruit to the Movement but has previously worked in after-school programs with the Cesar Chavez Foundation and Strong City Baltimore. She also taught abroad in both the Dominican Republic and Malaysia. In her spare time, she loves traveling to faraway lands, reading the latest best-selling novel, and hiking in the great outdoors.