Everyday Poetry

“When we observe things calmly we notice that all things have their fulfillment.” -BASHÕ

Poetry is not something we read or think about every day in our schedule. If truth be known, poetry is rarely the topic of our conversations. However, over the past 12 months, poetry has become much more interesting as we’ve studied with Classical Conversations and shared in a unique event called, “Poetry Tea.”

We were invited to the home of a friend where each guest was challenged to memorize or read a selection of poetry. The children varied in age from early elementary to high school. Each one took turns presenting before the group – passionate and joyful in their recitation or reading. Afterwards, the students and parents shared refreshments and exchanged reference material for their selections. It was an infusion of knowledge to all of us! By the time we left, we had a list of books and poems to read over the coming weeks. My favorite suggestion of the day was a book called, The Harp and Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum.

God’s Poetry

In scripture, the Greek word used for “masterpiece” or “workmanship” is poiema. From this Greek root word, we derive our English words for “poem” and “poetry.” Poetry is art, and in scripture we are reminded that we are God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) Translation: God created us to be His divine poetry. With this new appreciation for poetry, let’s look at how to weave it into our everyday.

National Poetry Month

T. S. Eliot remarked, “April is the cruelest month,” in his poem entitled The Waste Land, published in 1922. Today, April is known for creative poetry celebrations and the resurgence of spring. Nearly seventy-five years after this publication, the creative art of poetry is celebrated each April with National Poetry Month. This celebration was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 to celebrate poetry and its power in the culture of America. However, poetry is powerful throughout the world and the power of self-expression crosses all boundaries and age levels.

Poetry Teatime

Teaching children to appreciate poetry begins by simply reading poetry aloud. Julie Bogart, creator of Brave Writer, realized that she wanted to instill a love of poetry in her children. So, she began the gentle practice of pairing tea and treats with poetry reading. As the tea bags slowly infused their flavor into the water, she was infusing a love of words and rhyme into her students. She writes on her blog:

“It dawned on me that the joy of (tea time), paired with a dressed-up table, could be a platform for sharing my love of Shakespeare and poetry with my children. I tested that theory with just one child – Johannah, age 8. I read to her from a book of Shakespeare Stories while she sipped her cup of tea and milk. We watched the light of a candle flame dance. She felt grown up and special in the presence of a centerpiece and table cloth. She declared, “I love Shakespeare!” (poetryteatime.com)

Julie began her first teatime in 1997, just one year after the creation of National Poetry Month. She discovered that the creative afternoon pause made space for rich learning and “greater awareness of the power of language, the apt word, linguistic musicality, the impact of a metaphor, and the joy of creativity.” (poetryteatime.com) She offers a free quick-start download from her website, as well as a book called, Poetry Teatime Companion.

Poetry: Haiku

On April 17th , the world celebrates the art of Haiku poetry. National Haiku Poetry Day was registered by Sari Grandstaff in 2007. Haiku poetry challenges writers to express their message in 17 simple syllables. These syllables are arranged in three lines with a ‘5-7-5’ pattern. This poetry is treasured for its simplicity while conveying depth and meaning. Haiku poetry appeals to one of the five senses and usually contains a seasonal word, which indicates what season of the year the Haiku is set.

Standing Tall

By: Denise Leak

Winter tree standing,

No trace of green leaves in sight,

Waiting on sunshine.

Just in case-English Haiku

English Haiku does not usually follow the strict syllable count. You will often see English Haiku poems with 10-14 syllables. Once your students embrace the traditional concept of ‘5-7-5’, you might branch out to an English Haiku. Your “wordy students” will enjoy the freedom.

Haiku Poetry Tea

Take some time to focus on the culture of Japan and allow your students to learn the creative art of Haiku poetry. Create a quiet space with matcha tea. Include Haiku poetry and you’ll create a memorable tea for your dear ones. We’ve put together some PDF resources to help you host your very own Haiku Poetry Tea and they are completely free! Just enter your name and email below.

Additional Resources for Purchase:

*Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons, John J. Muth

*The Cuckoo’s Haiku: And Other Birding Poems, Michael J. Rosen

*Haikubes

*The Harp and Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum

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