by Glen Downey, Comics in Education, www.comicsineducation.com
I'm always looking for things to inspire my students--to get them to think about the ever-more-visual landscapes they inhabit and how they can successfully negotiate them. Over the past week or so I've come across three that can inspire any educator to encourage similar things in their own classrooms.
Book Spine Poetry
As a lover of both found and concrete minimalist poetry, I think this would make for a great library activity, provided of course that you have an open-minded librarian who's cool with short term book loans for a purpose other than reading in the traditional sense. The students could even do such an activity at home and photograph their creations for presentation or display.
Here, the poet, Karen Massey, has taken a page -- literally -- right out of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and created a found poem through a process of erasure. It strikes me as a kind of variation on visual note-taking and visual brainstorming, not by virtue of furious addition but liberal subtraction until the essence is arrived at and the poem is born.
Shape poetry is nothing new--the tradition has been around for centuries--but it's good to be reminded that some of our finest poets have appreciated the possibilities of the visual rendering of poetry--of the marriage of the textual and the visual.
Dylan Thomas didn't avoid bringing together these two things, and we should encourage our students to see the possibilities afforded in the above examples to foster their creativity and visual imagination.
Dr. Glen Downey is an award-winning children's author, educator, and academic from Oakville, Ontario. He works as a children's writer for Rubicon Publishing, a reviewer for PW Comics World, an editor for the Sequart Organization, and serves as the Chair of English and Drama at The York School in Toronto.
If you've found this site useful and would like to donate to Comics in Education, we'd really appreciate the support!