A Morning with Constance Levy, Poet Extraordinaire

I had the great fortune to attend a workshop today given by Constance Levy, St. Louis’ own children’s poet guru. She spoke to OASIS reading tutors for the Rockwood School District on ways to interact with children using poetry.
“Poems don’t have to rhyme,” she said. “But they do need to flow and to have rhythm.” She explained that children should be encouraged to “write in a natural way.” She cautioned that teachers and tutors shouldn’t “squeeze the juice out of creativity” by restricting children’s poetry to a set subject or style.
“William Stafford (another Midwest poet) said a poem was ‘talk with a little luck in it’,” Ms. Levy said. She suggested reading several poems to children and asking them which one they liked best and why. Discuss with the children “who is talking in this poem, and who are they speaking to?”
Ms. Levy encouraged the OASIS tutors to help children take chances in poetry by using wild and crazy words–to have fun. And for elementary students, she talked about helping them learn “to break lines.” At school children are taught to write sentences and fill up each line, only breaking for paragraphs. But when writing poetry, the children must be re-taught to listen for phrasing and how to construct a poem.
Ms. Levy had all of us brainstorm for a few minutes on FOG, jotting down words and phrases which came to our minds. We were encouraged to be inventive, to think in colors and metaphors. To be open to the senses. Later after briefly discussing haikus, we were encouraged to try one–but not necessarily strictly limited to the 5, 7, 5 syllables in each of the three lines if that didn’t quite work for our poem.
Here is my morning haiku created with help from the earlier brainstorming session
FOG
A shrouded ghost mist
swallows me up as I walk
into its mystery.
Give yourself a treat and visit your local library where you’ll find copies of Constance Levy’s poetry books: A TREE PLACE,
WHEN WHALES EXHALE
A CRACK IN THE CLOUDS
SPLASH!
I’M GOING TO PET A WORM TODAY
THE STORY OF RED RUBBER BALL
To find out more about Ms. Levy, you may visit this biography link at Pennsylvania State University, compiled by Pam Goldberg. http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Levy__Constance.html

0 thoughts on “A Morning with Constance Levy, Poet Extraordinaire

  1. Wow, Cynthia. This is good Information. You must of had a wonderful time. I loved your Haiku. I clicked on Allyn Johnstons link. I would love to write something I could send her!I am going to read Roller Coaster. I spent an hour or so in Borders this week reading picture books. (Madonna wrote 3 and I likeed them which surprised me. My favorite was a book called Dream Town. It was a glorious marriage of writer and Illustrator

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