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, April 5, 2008

Ekphrastic Poetry

For one of our last classes together we looked at four paintings and responded to them by writing poems. This is called writing Ekphrastic Poetry = meaning you respond to another piece of art. We read a poem called, Girl at Sewing Machine by Mary Reder, based on a painting by artist Edward Hopper.

The paintings we looked at: (we suggest you look for them via the internet!)

From the Lake No. 1, 1924
Georgia O'Keeffe

The Blindman's Meal, 1903
Pablo Picasso

Jasper Johns

Frida and Diego Rivera
Frida Kahlo

Our responses in forms of poems.
(Take a look at how well we have mastered line and stanza work!)


Gabriel G.

A blind man touching what he has

to eat. Reminds me of Helen Keller.

Being amazed by the blind man

eating. Why did you draw this picture

he was in the crowd.

Lake of Dreams

Michael E.

This lake is

not an ordinary

lake. It is the

lake of dreams

it has a soft pillow

in the middle of it

that we like to

call a cloud. Rain’s

tear drops startles

the lake. The

lake changed

colors yellow,

blue, green and

red. Now the waves

of silk splashes

upon the streams

for if this lake

will change colors it will always be

the lake of dreams.

Frida the Confusing Girl

Lizbeth C.

Frida likes her friends

she draws them on paintings

she wants to show her culture.

She is very famous.

Her drawing shows how she

feels around Diego Rivera.

It looks like Diego is

a painter like Frida.

Frida might work with Diego.

They are really close friends

they might even be more

than friends at this time.

Is Frida sad, happy or mad

You can barely tell about

her because she is confusing.

Jasper Johns –Periscope

Sebastian O.

I see words, I see letters. I see

a hand. The hand is growing

a word.

From the Lake

Brittany W.

The lake is

a tough storm

howling like a


whispering like

the wind

there is a

ship a

fox a

whale and

a storm

with huge waves

there was a

crash, boom, and

then a storm

the people on

the ship



From the Lake

Ahmad I.

a lake with

a killer whale

and a meteor

about to

fall but

the whale

tires to call

and the skies

shining like

a newborn

sea of beautiful

colors but

not a rainbow

a beautiful

color you cannot

miss and a

bird flying

as the

banana is



he lost his


peal and

a fish


off the sea

as the giant

stays on the



Deanne A.

I love how made dark to light

on the waves and when you look

very close I see a birds head and

storm clouds of night.

why, because

when, now

where, there

how, image

what, river

who, a friend.

Blindmans Meal

Osvaldo R.

I was lonely

no one with me

but the scent of the soup

is with me

I know I am blind

but the scent stays with me.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Monika B.

Why is the dove pink and holding a ribbon?

Is it because they are married?

Why is he holding many brushes and a plate to

hold his paint? Is it because he will

paint Frida? Why are they standing doing

nothing? Is it because they are being

painted. Why is she wearing a crown?

Is it because she will become a

Queen. What are the words on the

ribbon? Are they vows they

wrote to each other?

From the Lake

Tracy L.

It seems so

colorful like

a rainbow exploded

and turned into

a river by a

mountain. Red, yellow,

all kinds of blue,

green, white, and


The Wave

Annie K.

The colors go in

like a wave,

it makes it so nice

like a person being quiet,

it looks like you can

put a boat right there.

So the colors all blend in.

Sunshine Lake

Ben Groth

It looks like a

lake or

maybe an eel

very colorful

aqua to white

with very bright