If you want to teach me to write, first you have to love me. ~AVI

Friday, July 30, 2010

Poetry Friday!

I wrote this poem modeled after Elaine’s fabulous mask poems. Visit Elaine at Wild Rose Reader and you too will be amazed by the offerings at her blog. This technique appealed to my fourth grade writers who were extremely talented poets. We pretended to be animals, colors, school supplies and more. It is a fun challenge to write in another voice, be it an animal or nonliving object.
This summer I am working with an incoming fourth grade girl. We have been reading about sea giants, pausing often to say WOW that is amazing or I wonder about… So of course we grabbed the laptop and signed on the National Geographic for Kids site to learn more about ocean life. Like any publication by National Geographic, you will find breath taking photography and mind boggling video clips that complement the written research. Since our time together is limited, I wanted to go through the writing process on my own first. (I am currently reading What You Know by Heart by Katie Wood Ray. This book along with the support of my blogging friends is giving me the nudge to “experience” writing. ) As I wrote the poem below I thought about the tendency to spit the gathered facts back out in pretty much the same way they were taken from the text – difficult to teach young writers this skill. I think that an “aha” moment for me was incorporating facts into a more creative venture. I was concentrating on word choice, imagery, alliteration, and other techniques that we often notice in fiction writing. Here is my slightly revised version of “The Giant Squid.”

I’m the biggest invertebrate,
massive and maneuverey.
I’m the giant squid
enormous, yet elusive.
No one knows for sure
where I may turn up,
But scientists are certain
I have lurked in all the world’s oceans.
With beach ball size eyes
that never close,
I am a deep sea hunter who is second to none.
My eight arms and two whip-like tentacles
serve up seafood platters of fish, shrimp, and
maybe even an occasional squid or small whale.
It’s true.
I’m beasty.
I’m bold.
Yet mysterious and sometimes even shy.
By Theresa Annello

Be sure to visit Live Love Explore for this week's Poetry Round-up. Thank you Irene for hosting this week.


  1. Nice poem, Theresa! I'm also a big admirer of Elaine's list poems. I like the ending -- going from beastly to bold, and then surprising us with mysterious and sometimes shy.

  2. Theresa,

    Thanks for telling me about this post. I LOVE writing mask poems--and so did my elementary students. My students and I found that it was fun "taking on the personality" of an animal, a tree, an object in space--anything--and speaking from its perspective. We usually wrote our poems at the end of a science unit--so the kids had plenty of knowledge of the subjects they wrote about.

    Like that second line in particular: "massive and maneuverey."

  3. Theresa,
    What a funny and informative poem! You have become a giant squid, and while reading, I learned about him and came to like him too! It reminded me of how Nicola Davies makes us think her bat is adorable in BAT LOVES THE NIGHT. I like ending nonfiction units with poetry as it helps students play with and synthesize what they have learned. You might want to check out David L. Harrison's site where he has posted information about found poems and how to write them - Georgia Heard is seeking them for her upcoming collection. This would be a neat project to take on with your tutee or students next year - http://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/announcing-a-new-challenge/
    Happy PF!

  4. Well done, Theresa! Keep em coming. :)

  5. Jama, Elaine, Amy, & Irene,

    Thanks for the feedback. I am loving Poetry Friday. Amy ~ I recently started A Place of Wonder by Georgia Heard & Jennifer McDonough. I am a big fan of hers and will look into her project and David's site well. Thanks for the info.


  6. Theresa, you won THREE RIVERS RISING in my giveaway!! You are going to LOVE!. Please send me your snail mail address to irene at irenelatham dot com, and I'll get it right out to you. :)