Liz Garton Scanlon (liz_scanlon) wrote,
Liz Garton Scanlon

Poetry Friday -- Metaphors

I did a writing workshop with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders yesterday morning. 
It was at a lovely school with the most enthusiastic principal, teachers and librarians, all of whom seemed to think it was important that kids belive writing can be fun! Isn't THAT a novel idea?

We had such a good time together, the kids and I did, talking about metaphors and similes and making things vivid. I had them do one of my all-time favorite exercises:

1. On one little slip of paper, each student writes down an emotional state (lonliness, happiness, jealousy, worry...) 
All of these get popped in one basket.

2. On another little slip of paper, each student writes down a noun (and I got everything from tennis shoe to mountain, tree to xbox 360). All of these get popped in another basket.

3. Each student picks one slip of paper from each basket and, voila, you've got the makings of metaphor. 
They have to tease out how lonliness is like a tennis shoe, or jealousy is like a tree. 

There are always a few writers who raise their hands and say, "My two words don't work together." (And this is even -- or especially -- true if I do this exercise with adults.) But after we work together to think of everything we know about lonliness and everything we know about tennis shoes, they're almost always able to find some lovely little meeting spot -- the center of a ven diagram. And therein lies the poem. It's a beautiful thing. And, dare I say, fun.

So today, in honor of all that, here's Metaphors by Sylvia Plath. I've always loved this little ditty:


I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils. 

(Read the rest here...)
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