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

Alternate Activity 2: Recipes And Equations

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Journals and pens or pencils

Preparation for Activity

  • Post the list of poet's tools from Workshop 1, Listening and Speaking with Poetry, where it can be seen by all:
    • Figurative Language
    • Form, Line, Stanza
    • Sound, Rhythm, Repetition
    • Tone and Form

Description of Activity

Participants use metaphor to describe how a poem is made.

Introduce the two types of metaphor participants can use to describe how a poem is made.

  • In the recipe metaphor, a poem has certain ingredients and is made in a step-by-step process.
  • In the mathematical metaphor, a poem is the sum of an equation. Math is very precise.

Ask youth to each choose one or the other type of metaphor and jot down either the recipe or the equation for a poem. Participants may refer to the poet's tools from Workshop 1. Allow several minutes to complete the assignment, and then ask if people need more time.

When the group is finished, invite volunteers to share by either reading aloud or writing on the dry erase board their recipe or equation for a poem. To keep the activity cohesive, share all the recipes first, and then share the equations. Lead a discussion in response to each recipe or equation. Ask:

  • How would a poem "taste" if it were made this way?
  • Does a poem always add up the same way?
  • What happens to a recipe or equation if you change an ingredient or a number? Given this, how well does your metaphor for making a poem hold up?
  • Look at your own poems in your journal. Can you identify a poem that follows a recipe or an equation?

Does either type of metaphor work completely well to describe how a poem is made? Why or why not? Does this mean that there is no single way to make a poem? Is there another metaphor that could do the job? What techniques of poetry writing have you used successfully during these workshops? What techniques of reading and understanding poetry have you found useful?