{National Poetry Month} On 5th Grade Obsessions & Poetry

On Combining 5th Grade Obsessions and Poetry by Natalya Lawren {guest writer}

nate cootie catch 1

You may call them Fortune Tellers or Cootie Catchers, but ultimately, they’re the 5th grade obsession. Recently, I and a group of students led a workshop for some elementary-students, and we made cootie catchers as prompts.

I wondered if I could do the same thing for poetry. The origami was the easy part (surprisingly). It was what to put on each flap that was difficult. Each different one I made was on a different scale– one on subject and overall imagery, another was a series of lines, one was a series of words. I did not try to break up the parts of the word, although I was tempted.

The design was a challenge because ordinarily, poetry is not mix and match. But what I did find out was that the difference a single line makes is extraordinary. Poetry is versatile enough to have so many different meanings and interpretations that change with a line is truly amazing. I am not trying to demean the poet’s craft in saying that any mix of lines creates a good poem– I struggled to find the ways it could work in insuring a good result. But I think that it is important for poetry to be something interactive, hands-on and accessible. This, as well as acknowledging how each part contributes or mutates the poem, is an often-unexplored approach. Well, at least as far as it comes to cootie catchers.

nate cootie catch 2

I asked several people to help me test them out, and people’s amusement was good. That is the appeal of choose-your-own adventure after all– you get to decide for yourself, with mixed results.

What I encourage others to do is make some of their own. You can find tutorials of how to make cootie catchers online (I used WikiHow), and from there you can put first lines on the outside, the middle lines on the inner section, and the final lines on the innermost. It is far more difficult than I expected initially, and requires a good deal of thought, but the byproduct is always amusing.

I also found this poetry generator, which isn’t as hands-on and fun, but is also an interesting experience. We’ve been talking about how poetry is part of everyday and how it questions everyday life, and this is literally putting it into your (the readers) hands.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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