Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Poem a Day #4

Here’s a letter poem for the fourth day of National Poetry Month.
This poem’s for you, HipWriterMama!

by Elaine Magliaro

Dear Lion,

I’m tired of doing the hunting, the preying
While your only job is to watch the cubs playing.
I’m tired of stalking the zebras and gnus
While you lie around on the grassland and snooze.
I’m tired of running, and pouncing, and killing.
I want a career that is much more fulfilling.
I’m tired, so tired. I’m spent to the core.
While I’m hard at work, you just eat, sleep, and snore.
I fetch all the food. You grow stronger…I thinner.
For the next seven days you can catch your own dinner!
I’m going away for a well-needed rest.
I’ll be seeing you soon.

All my love,

If you are in the mood to read some more letter poems, you may want to go looking for the following books in the library:

Written by Arnold Adoff
Illustrated by Lisa Desimini
The Blue Sky Press/Scholastic

From the book summary: “A collection of twenty poems written by kids and klutzes, secret admirers and detractors, friends, enemies, and skeptics to the objects of their affection—or aversion.” Most of the poems are written from one person to another person—but there is a letter poem written to a dog and one to a cat. There's even a letter to Once Upon A Time from Your Happy Ending.

LOVE LETTERS received a Blue Ribbon from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and was a Riverbank Review Children’s Book of Distinction. The author, Arnold Adoff, was the 1988 recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. You can read the NCTE profile of Adoff here.

Lisa Desimini was winner of a New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award for MY HOUSE. Her multi-media illustrations for LOVE LETTERS are playful, inventive, and add touches of humor in all the right places.

Written & Illustrated by Takayo Noda
Dial/Penguin Putnam

In DEAR WORLD, Takayo Noda focuses mostly on the natural world with letter poems written to apples, the dawn, the sun, snow, trees, the stars and to a turtle, a bird, and fish. Her watercolor and collage illustrations are colorful and visually stunning. They absolutely add a whole other dimension to her text.

Here are a few snippets from her letter poems:

dear snow

I see you
spinning and dancing
just like angels in white…

dear sun

I know
when you are happy
because you shine
and bounce
on everything

I know
when you are sad
because you become
hazy and fuzzy
as if you had
tears in your eyes

What do you do with books like these?

  • First, you share and discuss poems from one of the books with your students in class.

  • Next, you talk about reasons why people write letters to each other.

  • Third, you ask students to think about the persons, animals, or things to whom they might like to write letter poems.

  • Fourth, you write their responses on chart paper.

  • Then you and your students choose a letter recipient from the list you made and write a collaborative class poem to that recipient. As the students dictate the poem, you copy it down on the chart paper—modeling the process for them.

  • Finally, after reading the collaborative poem aloud with the class, you ask students to write individual letter poems to the person, animal, element of nature, or object of their choice.
It is always important to have a class sharing session--and maybe some kind of creative project--planned as a follow-up activity when your students finish writing the final drafts of their letter poems. One suggestion: Using the artwork in LOVE LETTERS or DEAR WORLD as an example, have students illustrate their poems with collages or mixed-media pictures. Then make a bulletin board display of the poems and pictures or compile them in a book to keep in the class library.


alvinaling said...

Love it!

Greg Pincus said...

Hee hee! But I must lodge a complaint. I'm barely able to get up my poem a day, and you post yours AND all this other great stuff, too. You're eating into my time, I tell ya!

But, uh, don't stop.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Thanks, Alvina!


Here's my little secret: I have a stash of old moldering poems that I have been rewriting. It's been a great exercise for me. I can look at the poems I wrote years ago...and tweak them here and there to make them better. Sometimes, though, it can take just as long to "tweak" a poem as it does to write one from scratch!

Vivian Mahoney said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your poem. Hmmm. I think I might just have to show this one to my husband.

You know, I'll have to point people your way again, just so they can see this dedication for a very cool poem.

Tricia said...

Having just finished preparing three different dinners (Dad and son didn't want what I was cooking and Dad didn't like what I chose for son), I am going to hang this one over the stove and take a well needed break!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I'm so glad you love the poem! I read it to MY husband last night over the phone...and he thought it was funny.

Elaine Magliaro said...


Sounds like you spoil the men in your life! Fortunately, my husband is a great cook and doesn't mind taking over kitchen duties when I'm too busy blogging!

Mary Lee said...

Thanks for two books that somehow made it under my radar and for the fun classroom connections!

Elaine Magliaro said...

Thanks, Mary Lee!

I may not be teaching elementary school any longer--but nearly every time I read a children's book the gears in my brain start thinking about ways to extend students' experiences with a work of literature through creative classroom activities.

Grace Lin said...

I love "Dear World"!

You are putting us all to shame with your posts, by the way.