A writer whom I admire wrote, "Poetry presents itself unannounced." I read that this morning from his Rumpus email, where I also learned that before becoming a much-admired novelist, essayist and editor he started writing as a poet.
This is striking because, I had found it a bit funny that Bear's class of first-graders were asked to try their hand at poetry. At age 7? What can come out of that? Their Writer's Workshop started with units on drafting How-To's, writing about Small Moments, then moving onto Personal Narratives, Fiction and Non-Fiction. These all made total sense to me. But Poetry?
Poetry presents itself unannounced. Writers really just have to let it out. Unleash. Abandon self-consciousness. It is, indeed, the most basic, most important aspect of stringing words together to express thoughts and emotions, and spin stories. Even young writers can, as Bear's Teacher Tina explained to her students, "look at something and describe it in a different way." Instead of the usual, try the unusual. Bear's first attempts...
It's like a knife
with black blood
in the hands of a thief
crashing to Earth
Like a knight's shield
Defeating a dragon
Looking at his first attempts at poetry and his own imaginative metaphors, the whole poetry-at-age-7 thing really makes sense. I get paid for my writing, but I could still learn something from first grade Writer's Workshop. Even Stephen Elliott confirms this. Time to pay attention to my inner poet and write better than usual!