Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth

Activity 3: Building A Poem

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint and markers
  • Current newspaper article or excerpt

Preparation for Activity

  • Find several short newspaper articles that have an emotional/human dimension. You will need one article for each small group of three to five youth.
  • Decide how you will form small groups: participants can self-select, you can assign youth to groups, or you can choose another method of random selection, such as counting off.
  • Make sure the list of poet's tools is posted where all groups can see it.

Description of Activity

In this activity, participants manipulate supplied words to make poems.

Form small groups of three to five participants. Provide a sheet of newsprint and a marker for each group. Direct the groups to transform the article into a poem. To do this, group members decide how to lay out the words to achieve a poetic form. They may not change any words, yet they should strive for maximum emotional effect. Allow five minutes for groups to write their poem.

When everyone is finished, have one person from each group read the group's poem aloud. After each presentation, ask the group why they decided to break lines and stanzas where they did. When all the presentations are complete, ask the participants:

  • What does the poetic version of the article give you that the newspaper version does not?
  • Do you consider the new versions of the newspaper article "poems"? Why or why not?

Next, have the groups create another poem using the same newspaper article as their raw material. This time they do not have to use any words from the article. Their only directive is to write about the same subject, using the poetry tools you discussed earlier. Point out the list of tools that you have posted and encourage youth to refer to it as they work. Provide additional newsprint as needed.

Allow at least ten minutes for participants to write the poems. Then invite them to read their poems aloud. Ask them to identify which tools they used and to describe how. Provide support during the discussion, referring to the list of tools as needed.