T&W writers’ in-class writing prompts and exercises inspired and generated the adapted poem found in A Poem as Big as New York City. From this imaginative, diverse, massive, and multi-faceted material, an adapted work emerged. Here’s a peek at one of the lessons that served as the raw clay to shape young writers’ minds. All lessons were taught in New York City classrooms, but could be adapted to suit your own community and place.
“The dictionary defines the word origin as ancestry, or derivation of source. This exercise asks students to go backwards in time, going all the way back to the inception of something. Sometimes the opposite of a thing will be at the end of a trail. Think of the image of a film running backwards, retracing evolution to the seed of an idea or an object.” — “Origins Poems,” Poetry Everywhere by Jack Collom & Sheryl Noethe
Young writers can break down the subway to its essence by writing its origin. In fact, any New York City place or moment can be “broken down” to its essence with the origin poem.
Student writing might sound like this:
The subway was once a mound of silver metal
That woke up the morning New York was born.
It shaped itself into a snake that
slivers through the ground making a buzzing sound…