Poetry in Motion
By Jeanette Larson
Length of Program
Teens love poetry, especially when it is not required for a school assignment. Teens will enjoy combining poetry and sports, especially poetry that shows movement and action such as concrete poetry. Invite the teens to share a favorite poem from one of the books displayed or to create their own poetry using one or more of the suggested activities. Invite them to “publish” their poetry by displaying it in the library or on the library’s web site. Give teens a small prize or memento for participating.
Provide inspiration by displaying poetry, especially poetry written by teens, around the library. Consult books like Outside the Lines: Poetry at Play by Brad Burg or A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems by Paul B. Janeczko for examples of concrete poetry. Ask a few teen volunteers to prepare to read aloud from some of the suggested books or another source of their choosing. If possible, set up the program room or teen area like a coffee shop. Cover the bulletin board or a wall with long sheets of craft or butcher paper. Provide paper and pencils for teens to write their own poetry.
Books to Display
- For the Love of the Game: Michael Jordan and Me by Eloise Greenfield.
- Hoop Queens: Poems by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
- Opening Days: Sports Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins.
- Sports Pages by Arnold Adoff.
Books to Booktalk
- The Basket Counts by Arnold Adoff.
- Becoming Joe DiMaggio by Maria Testa.
- Jump Ball: A Basketball Season in Poems by Mel Glenn.
- Rimshots: Basketball Pix, Rolls, and Rhythms by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
- Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge.
Cover the bulletin board or an area of the wall with white or light colored paper. Start the poem with a single line. As each teen comes up to the board, they add a line of poetry. The line should end with a word that rhymes with the last word of the previous line, or should extend the poem in a new direction. Start a new poem when the current poem gets too long or the muse strikes.
Serve coffee drinks. If you are not able to provide hot beverages, offer cold lattes, frappuccino drinks, and bottle tea. Provide biscotti or an assortment of almond, lemon, and other cookies.
Dover Publications sells inexpensive blank books that make great prizes for young poets.
Rhymes and Poetry
Select some of the poems from the suggested books. Read them aloud, invite the teens to read some aloud, or photocopy a few of your favorites to display around the program area.
Games and Activities
Divide the teens into groups of three. Spell out the letters for several sports activities. Print the letters for several sports vertically on a large sheet of paper, such as flip chart paper, or on a white board. For example:
Provide colored pencils and paper and ask each team to come up with a poem for one of the sports. Each line must begin with a word that starts with corresponding letter.
Reaching for my opponent.
To win the match.
Energy is high!
Challenge the teens to write poetry that has shape. This form is called concrete poetry. For example, a poem about football or golf would be written out to appear like a picture of a football or a golf club. Instructions and an example are on-line at NASA Quest.
Provide a few examples of sports-related palindromes, words, phrases, or sentences that read the same forwards and backwards. For example, racecar and kayak are palindromes. Sports-related palindrome phrases would be My gym and Was it Tim’s mitt I saw? Give prizes for the longest palindromes or the most original. For examples of a variety of palindromes, visit NIEHS Kids Page at www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/palindromes.html
Magnetic Poetry: The Game for Kids
This favorite poetry-producing product is now available as a board game. Purchase a set for the teens to play. If the game is not available locally, you may purchase it on-line from Wonder Brains.
Web Based Activities
Teens can write poetry on-line at this web site. The High School Kit has lots of school spirit and there are other options, like Horse Lover, that fit the sports theme.
Invite a local poet to share writing techniques and read some poetry aloud. Check local writer’s groups and college English departments for contacts.
- Teen Voices.
- The Academy of American Poets
- Find poetry on-line, listen to selected poems, and learn about America’s poets.
- The Center for Sports Poetry
- An on-line source for sports-themed poetry written by young people.
- Kids Write
- Check out the teen sections for writing submitted by other teens. Submissions are welcome.
- Outside the Lines: Poetry at Play by Brad Burg.
- A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems by Paul B. Janeczko.
- Dover Publications
- This publisher offers a variety of inexpensive blank books to use as incentives.
- NASA Quest
- NASA provides a teaching guide and examples for concrete poetry.
- NIEHS Kids Page
- The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences provides a variety of kid-friendly activities, riddles, and word games.
- Wonder Brains
- This on-line store sells the Magnetic Poetry game and other games to encourage players to think.