Poetry Friday: Sharing pages of a student’s poetry notebook entry about e.e.cummings

Poetry Friday is hosted by Anastasia at Booktalking
Every Thursday is “Poetry Day” in my classroom: we explore poems and share our thoughts about them and then, if inspired, we write poems in response.  Another awesome thing about sixth graders is that they are both fearless as well as opinionated – they are not afraid to dive into a poem and make the most of it, whether they liked it or not.  They love the way poets play with words on a page – and I’m always keen to see how they’ve responded in their notebooks after that “first read,” when their thoughts are fresh and spontaneous and true.  I always find the unexpected in these poetry notebooks….such as the time I shared the following poem with my class:

who knows if the moon’s
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky—filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it,if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we’d go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody’s ever visited,where

                   Spring)and everyone’s
in love and flowers pick themselves


I love the exuberance of cummings,  the way his words dance on the page, and wondered what my kids would make of him.  Richard seemed to share some of my enthusiasm, and this is how he responded in his notebook:

“I enjoyed this poem a lot.  It was weird, but in an entertaining sort of way.  Even though I don’t know what the name of this poem is, it sounded very serene and calm and tranquil.  I like the part of this poem in which the author uses a different pattern than just writing line to line.

is a lot more fun to read than just to keep reading boring lines one after the other after the other.  I think e.e.cummings was feeling very happy when he wrote this, he’s sort of floating with happiness really and that is why it’s so great.  Either that, or he’s insane.
…and then he went on to scribble this:
well  this
know  that
      aliens appear from places
when (if you know when)
can’t   be   better 
being   where   they
and you may think
But this is what I say:
Am I crazy or are you crazy
because you
 I’m still trying to figure this one out, Richard…but you certainly found a way to make words dance on a page!

9 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Sharing pages of a student’s poetry notebook entry about e.e.cummings

  1. I love it when a poet "finds" a student… will a little help from a teacher. 🙂 Love Richard's response. To answer the poem-question: I sorta thing we're BOTH crazy. In the best possible way!

  2. I love the student's commentary on that poem. I wish, when I was a teen, my response to e.e. cummings had been as clever and witty. Instead I met with my teacher after class and told him that "in just spring" was a terrible poem, the worst poem I had ever read, and it wasn't really a poem at all. He graciously lent me a book of e.e. cummings poems to read over the weekend. To my credit, I read most of the book over the weekend and fell in love with e.e. cummings. My teacher let me keep that book. It is dog-eared, tattered, and one of my favorite books.

  3. Wonderful. Cummings is my favorite poet and I love Richard's response. Great sense of exhiliration, lightness and liberation. And he had fun with it. 🙂

  4. How marvelous! The poem is gorgeous, of course, but Richard's response is priceless. Kids are so intuitive…never ceases to amaze me. And I love his poem, skipping down the page like that.

  5. Oh the joy of teaching students like Richard! Their riposte is always so fresh, so candid, so filled with exuberance. My favorite lines from Cummings:always it’s Spring)and everyone’sin love and flowers pick themselvesand my favorite lines from Richard: wordscan't be better atbeing where they should be)Yes, words should never sit still, they should jump and squeal and leap off the page!

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