Friday, April 23, 2010

More, More, More...Mask Poems!

Recently, I did an extensive post about how much I enjoy writing animal mask poems. Click here to read it.

You don’t have to limit yourself only to “animal talk” when you write mask poems though. You can speak in the voices of many different things: a tree, a flower, the ocean, the sky, the sun, the moon, stars, a volcano, a river, a hurricane or tornado, elements of nature. Even inanimate objects like scissors, a pencil, an automobile, garbage truck, kite, or toaster make great subjects for mask poems.

Here’s Sole Song, a mask poem I wrote for Tricia’s Monday Poetry Stretch--Shoes at The Miss Rumphius Effect this week.
Sole Song

We’re the well-worn soles of shoes
reading all the sidewalk news.
As we go along our way
we broadcast headlines of the day:
dots of rain
wad of bubblegum
bright stain
of cherry popsicle
that bled
its sticky sweetness
cool and red
concrete cracked
by root of tree
telltale clue
of injured knee
ghost of ant
whose remnants lie
flattened from a passerby
Our bugaboo!
We just stepped in doggy do!

I thought I’d take some of my “things to do” poems that I had posted previously at Wild Rose Reader and rewrite them as mask poems for my Poetry Friday post this week.
Things to Do If You Are a Bell

Ride on a reindeer’s harness.
Tinkle in the icy air.
Jingle across the milk-white snow.
Sing with a silver tongue.

Rewritten as a mask poem:
I ride on a reindeer’s harness.
I tinkle in the icy air
And jingle across the milk-white snow.
Listen to me sing with a silver tongue.

Things to Do If You Are a Pencil
Be sharp.
Wear a slick yellow suit
and a pink top hat.
Tap your toes on the tabletop,
listen for the right rhythm,
then dance a poem
across the page.

Rewritten as a mask poem:

I’m sharp!
I wear a slick yellow suit
and a pink top hat.
I tap my toes on the tabletop,
listen for the right rhythm,
and then dance a poem
across the page.

Things to Do If You Want to Be a Snowflake

Fashion yourself:
a bit of lace,
spun in space
of silken ice,

Rewritten as a mask poem:
I fashioned myself:
A bit of lace,
spun in space
of silken ice,

Mask Poem Resources

1. Paul Janeczko’s book Dirty Laundry Pile: Poems in Different Voices is an excellent anthology of mask poems for children. Click here to browse inside Dirty Laundry Pile where you can read the following poems:
Shell by Deborah Chandra
Winter Wind by Judith Pacht
Scarecrow’s Dream by Nina Nyhart
Prayer of a Snowflake by Cynthia Pederson
I’m Up Here (a kite poem) by Karla Kuskin
Being a Kite by Jacqueline Sweeney

2. Let’s Pretend: The Mask Poem—This is an excellent poetry lesson on writing mask poems with children created by children’s poet Laura Purdie Salas. It’s in pdf format—easy to print off for classroom use.

3. Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems—from award-winning poet Kristine O’Connell George’s Teacher’s Guide. Kristine includes an exercise for writing tree poems.

4. Volcano Wakes Up!: A Teacher’s Guide—from poet Lisa Westberg Peters. Peters is the author of Volcano Wakes Up!, a book of mask poems. She provides suggestions for writing mask poems and poems of address—as well as suggestions for science activities.

5. Ubiquitous: Reader’s Guide—from award-winning children’s poet Joyce Sidman. Sidman is the author of Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors. In her reader’s guide, she includes suggestions for writing mask, letter, and diamante poems. She also includes suggestions for reading her book aloud and for discussion topics.
Note: I'll be posting reviews of Volcano Wakes Up! and Ubiquitous in the coming week.
6. Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes by Alice Schertle—from Wild Rose Reader. This is my review of Button Up!, Alice Schertle’s award-winning book of mask poems. Button Up! contains fifteen point-of-view poems in which the author speaks in the voices of shoes, shoelaces, galoshes, a soccer jersey, bicycle helmet, jammies, dress-up clothes, and undies—all of which have their own personal stories to share. The post contains excerpts from several of the delightful point-of-view poems in the book.

7. Poetry Book Review & Videos: Our Farm by Maya Gottfried
At this post, you’ll find my review of Our Farm, a lovely book of paintings and point-of-view/mask poems that Gottfried wrote from the perspective of some of the farm animals—including sheep, pigs, a donkey, cows—that live at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York.


At Blue Rose Girls, I have one of my favorite Billy Collins poems: The Trouble with Poetry. The post includes a video of Collins reading his poem.

At Political Verses, I have an original poem entitled A Chicken for a Checkup: A Poem about Sue Lowden.

Anasatasia Suen has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Picture Book of the Day.


jama said...

I love love "Sole Music." The concept of "reading all the sidewalk news" is brilliant. Funny ending that kids will surely giggle over. Thanks for all the resources, too :).

Tricia said...

Thanks for sharing all these great mask poem resources. I'm always looking for good ideas to share!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I have no idea where the idea for Sole Music came from. It just popped into my head. I was trying to figure out how the poem would end--and then...stepping in doggy do seemed like the right way to go.


I don't always get around to participating in your weekly Poetry Stretches every week. Still,
I enjoy the challenges--and I love reading other writers' poetry stretch submissions.

My second grade students really "got into" writing mask poems. They wrote some fantastic point-of-view poems in the voices of animals, trees, the sun, the moon, stars and planets.

Bridget R. Wilson said...

Elaine, I love how easy it was to change your list poems into mask poems. I'll have to try that. Thanks for the resources!

Laura said...

Hi Elaine,

Nice work on Sole Song!

Laura Evans
all things poetry

Janet Wong said...

I have always loved your "Things to Do" poems...but I especially love the way the tone of them changes in their mask poem forms. You go from sounding like Valerie Worth to sounding like Eve Merriam! I'm not sure which versions I like better, but I think it's quite striking how different they are. What a great example of revision, Elaine!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Elaine! I love both versions of the pencil poem. Really wonderful!

Mary Lee said...

In Sole Song, I love how you combine a mask poem and another of your favorite forms, a list poem!

Anonymous said...

poem came to me when shakespeare was introduced to me.. then there's tattoo designs.. then came music.. now i am writing poems about tattoos relating to music..

Linda said...

Thanks for sharing your revision process changing from one poetry form to another. I know my students will enjoy "Sole Music."

Anonymous said...

Sole Song is so fun. I need to try the mask poems with students. I like the idea of taking a poem and turning it into a mask poem. Thanks.

Jess Stork said...

Wonderful resources! I'm doing a paper mache mask craft at the library where I work. Your resources and poems will be a big help to pull this together.