Reflecting on the Sound of A Poem as Big as the City

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.



Reflecting on the Sound of A Poem as Big as the City

Young writers can imagine listening to the poem as a character, hearing how it sounds. Encourage writers to keep in mind how enormous a poem as big as the city would be, and to play around with the idea of sound and volume reflective of its size and variety. Is it a rap or a hip-hop song? Is the poem a French lullaby singing a baby to sleep? Does it sing in Spanish; does it sound like the hum and buzz of taxis, trains, and sirens?

Have young writers play with sounds, listen to sounds, and create a song of the poem. Have them turn up the VOLUME for dramatic and climactic effect!


            I listened to the poem as big as the city.

            It sounded like me singing in Spanish in the shower

            It sounded like my feet hitting the street!

            It sounded like a reggae beat!

            It was so big—and it got LOUDER, and LOUDER, and LOUDER!!!

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