It has been a real treat to work with the Louis Armstrong Middle School this year. During this five-week residency, I decided to focus on the basic goal of the Teachers & Writers Collaborative—exercising the imagination. Yes, we used time-tested effective poetic devices like simile, metaphor, alliteration, onomatopoeia, personification, and repetition. We re-visited the five senses and how one might utilize them to create dynamic imagery in a poem. But perhaps more importantly, we focused on seeing the world around us in a fresh, creative and exciting way; we also explored ourselves in new ways. We wondered what it would be like to be animals or to go inside of various objects. We felt spring through our fingers, feeling it, sniffing it, hearing it, tasting it, and seeing it from an ice-cream fresh perspective. We twisted letters with our imaginations, turning them into things like mountains, snakes, mice, chairs and half-hearts. We acknowledged the diversity inside of us, considering all of the elements that make us unique individuals. We also experienced poetry together from poets such as e.e. cummings, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rainer Maria Rilke, Charles Simic, and May Swenson.
Thank you to the students, the teachers, and the teaching assistants who helped generate this work. I loved being in your classrooms and experiencing your diversity, your exuberance, your curiosity and ultimately, the poetry you were brave enough to put on the page and share with the world.
Amina Henry, Teaching Artist