Today, we discussed how titles are as important to a poem as the poem itself. It can draw an audience into reading a poem. After giving students a worksheet with an assortment of nouns and adjectives, students spent time creating several “Crazy Titles” for poems.
After sharing some of the “Crazy Titles”, students listened as I read an excerpt from Octavio Paz’s "Blanco". I told the students to listen carefully to the description that Octavio Paz has put into his poem. He grew up in Mexico and experienced the devastation of war. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his poetry.
As I read, I ask students to focus on the powerful verbs and figurative language. I explain that when I am done reading his poem, they will write for 15 minutes non-stop about using one of their “Crazy Titles” to focus. They must write continuously. I will not answer any questions once I begin to read the poem, so for one last time, are there any questions?
I turn the lights low, so the students can appreciate the author’s words. (This activity is taken from Teaching Poetry, Yes You Can! By Jacqueline Sweeney).
Students are then given an opportunity to read over their writing and either add ideas to their poem or delete lines that are not effective. After 10 minutes, I offer students a chance to share their poem or part of their poem with the class. Students write their final copy for homework.