About Hands on Stanzas

Hands on Stanzas, the educational outreach program of the Poetry Center of Chicago places professional, teaching Poets in residence at Chicago Public Schools across the city. Poets teach the reading, discussion, and writing of poetry to 3 classes over the course of 20 classroom visits, typically from October through April. Students improve their reading, writing, and public speaking skills, and participating teachers report improved motivation and academic confidence. You can contact Cassie Sparkman, Director of the Hands on Stanzas program, by phone: 312.629.1665 or by email: csparkman(at)poetrycenter.org for more information.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Concrete isn't Murky

PS: Murky means that you can't really see through it, it's dirty!
This week we discussed concrete detail. After reading the Poem, The Artist by Charles Simic we wrote our own, do you remember poems and attempted to include an element of make believe and also several concrete details. Concrete Details are details that are specific and cannot be changed!

We are discovering that poems are really short stories but they should have Concrete Details so the poem can create a clear picture for those who read them. For example: If you read a poem and the horse is white, the horse cannot be green - at least in the poem!

Read some of the poems we wrote this week and see if you can pick out some
Concrete Details

The Amazing Sky
Daniel J.

Do you remember the
car was pink and and i was in it
it was like the sky
the sky was blue, green, red and pink
the color was changing all the time
i was amazed and then something happened
there was a bike and candy falling out of the sky
then I choked because one candy fell in my throat
and then the bike fell on my head.

The Weird Dog
Mario Z.

Do you remember when
my dog past through a
gold car
he turn gold and he
was in asia and it
was night time. I
was waiting for him
to bring me a piece
of ham.

Lejla A.

Do you remember our
black and white cat?
the day he died, the day
we cryed? Every day or
night he’d go outside, play
on the roof, fight with a cat,
He comes inside with a bloody
lip, and the other cat goes walking
like a human,
but limping,
and a pipe in

his mouth.

That Old Man
Zayra U.

Do you remember that old man
he had his clothes dirty and his
shoes were all with dirty and he always
could stream for no reson and was
mad at kinds and tried to make
kids cry. Well we never went to
that store and he had no money
but he was helping the animals cook
breakfast and the bunny had two phones
in his hand. Then a fish was talking
with a little baby I got scared. Then
the two bird were throwing snow at
all the parents.

Evil Car
Samantha S.

Do you remember when my car ran away, at midnight.
It ran away because it didn’t like my mom.
The car was mad so it didn’t start.
The car drove to Poland and was never seen again.
But we bought a new car and the other car
came back.

Summer Time
Aleyah E.

Do you remember when we went to
Lake Charles Louisiana? After lunch
My dad and I went to the pool but we
Always had to wait 30 minutes before
we will jump in. My father I will
stay at least for two hours hoping the blue
dolphins will rescues us! But of course
the purple mermaids would sit there
for 30 minutes and talk! Finally good



Claire D.

Do you remember the time when we had those stupid dresses
and played with our moms makeup
cherry red lipstick and hot pink eyeshadow
we scribbled all over our face.
We got in so much trouble,
but we just danced our way into another world.

Stephanie H.

Do you remember the time when
we went flying across the
beautiful pink sky
and sleeping on the cotton candy cloud
so puffy and soft

Timothy S.

This reminds me of when day
meets night making purple skies
a place where dogs are wide
awake trying to attack me
all I have is chewing gum
I blow it up like a balloon
and fly away then disappear
into those purple skies.

Now I wakeup in the real world
as scared as can be because
my mom got me a little doggie.
But eventually I got used
to him now he doesn’t
even look like a doggie

at least in my dreams.

Ciaran G.

Do you remember the time I crashed my blue ATV
In Wisconsin at the evening. And a airplane nearly hit me.

Kim T.

Do you remember the time I was running
away from my brother screamed with
fright when he threw a big pink
teddy bear in front of me? Alone
at home with my brother, with
bright sunshine shining through the
window, screaming wildly for my
mother, until I collapsed on a
white sofa, fell asleep and had
a dream about a eagle with
a lion’s head, and woke up
screaming again.

The funny old man with the gas tank.
Amy A.

Do you remember a funny old man riding a red
dragon. He came to an old magic jungle
with gas in a tank. He found me inside a
tree trunk. He took me by the hand
and tryed to put me inside the gas tank
but I ran away to my secret place
in the jungle where nobody knows. I
was sleeping there until I was safe.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Writing a poem within a poem?

This week we talked about something called
We learned that in poems you can take a big topic like one of the seven continents and break it down to a smaller topic such as if it is day or night or even if you're busy running from animals in a jungle!

We read the poem, Two Poems and a Half by Frank O'Hara. What was exciting about this poem, is that the entire poem is created using only three main words!!

His words were: Europe, Night and Venice.

What made this poem fun was that we looked at maps of the world to get some ideas about where we could be in our own poems! Come and see where we went!

Vincent W.

I think I need more boats and more people to

We floated down but hikers are faster as they walk

I hear the water splash on me but feel it more

Lizbeth C.

I think we need big hats, boots and gloves.

I am swimming in the cold water but a penguin
doesn’t let me swim.

I am touching the igloo and it freezes my hand
and it turns blue like ice.

Alliyah L.

Where do you get the chopsticks?

This is a really nice place for

Can I see the Great Wall?

Odysseus M.

North America
50 states all around

Amazing animals all day long

Small town with no pigeons anywhere

Matthew K.

I think I need to were shorts.


I jump down the waterfall in a splash.

The Piranhas really hurt.

Allen L.

I think we need more hot chocolate.

I am going to swim in the freezing water.

My body is cold as metal.

Kiana S.

“I think we need to drink” because of the hot warm sun

Ever more warm. “puppy your thirsty”

“Come pup” sleep little puppy

Jennifer J.

I am going to see the elephants
in the morning

The elephants were taking
baths really cool with there

Gabon is so hot that I need
shorts and a lot of water too.
And the cheetahs were running
for there food.

Devin T.

I am in France it is day in France
I am visiting the Paris Eifel tower and I am

having tea with the Queen

Adrian F.

United States
The place of the red, white and

Eat my pancakes and eggs and the
cooled orange juice

Know I am going to Chicago to

Connie P.

West Newbury Massachusetts
I think John Cena will fight the Great Kalie.

I will hear lot of sounds and effects.

I will go back to my hometown
Washington D.C. to meet Batista.

Mark K.

Is very hot
and makes
me sweat


I can’t see
in the narrow
alley dark and
cold that’s all
I feel and

Now I’m
in Cairo
a city in

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Do you know what Metaphysical means?

Metaphysical = magic.
How? Well:

not real + real = magic! That is why!

We read the poem, Fairy Tale by Miroslav Holub, whom was also an Immunologist (a type of doctor, just like William Carlos Williams was a doctor and a poet ((which we learned about two weeks ago!)).

We learned that you can write a poem by writing a simple list. But lists are normally kind of boring. So to make them fun to read, you should add something surprising or impossible or metaphysical to the end!

Here are some of our list poems with unexpected endings!

How to eat a chicken
Daniel M.

do you know How to cook a chicken?
you clean
you cook
you taste
you look
you eat
you clean the table
and finally The chicken is
eaten and dead

The Pet Store
Kuba S.

Today I went to
a pet store,
and saw many creatures I liked
There was a
a cat,
also, a
bird and
a frog.
Then I looked to the right,
and gasped at the sight
of a 322 ft. long whale.

My World
Daniel G.

I will make my own world with
when i finished it flew away
because i did not put air in it and going
to the sun and yelling for help.

Make a Book
Alejandra T.

Pictures you will need
Paper you will need
Covers you will need
Story’s you will need
Imagination you will need
Title you will need
Staplers you will need
And then read it in the
clouds while you are in
the grass.

How to make video game
Sebastian O.

you need a tv and wires.
you need Halo 3 for XBOX360
you need call of Duty 4 Playstation3
you need marvel vs capcom Nintendo 64
you need Ghost rider playstation2
the video games
have a party with
mario party game.

Tyra B.

I built myself
a studio, I used
a recording machine,
instruments,sound proof walls
and a gold tooth for
rockstar wanna be friend

How to build a snowman
Robert C.

He needs lots of snow
He needs a hat
He needs sticks
He needs lots of rocks
He needs a carrot
and a car ran
him over.

Timmy P.

if I made a pinsel box
it will walk it does
not have eyes and
it have sizzers legs
it runs and it
can play football

An Ocean
Albert P.

I need lots of water
I need tons of real fish
I need plants seaweed and more
I need 50 million buckets of salt.
it turned all the
colors of the rainbow.

Ciaran G.

He built himself a robot
I would need wires metal electricity and last a
atomic ray gun. and then he blew up Venus,
Jupiter, mars, and uranus.

Cooking Robot
Victoria R.

i saw some plastic,
i made a cooking robot,
cooks food for people,
i tried him out,
he did great then
he said goodbye and
flied to china.
(never saw him again.)

Baseball Field
Annie K.

If I made a baseball field
I will need…
Then the field went to
Space and grew green hair.