Sunday, October 13, 2019

Child Poets

It has been such a joy to explore haiku in my 4thgrade music classes. A few posts ago, I shared “My Life in Haiku” and now get ready for more! These from the children (though three from me), written during a class when I sent them out in the school yard to sit quietly and see if a poem came their way. To use their senses, noticing what they hear, they see, they smell, they feel and in one example below, what they taste. To try out the challenge of the 5-7-5 syllabic structure, to consider a seasonal reference, to bring their poem home with a punch line. (All of which you can find in this first example below.)

The kids have fallen in love with haiku. One bought a book of Basho’s poetry and journals (a 4thgrader!), all effortlessly turned inward to some silent space within when we sat on the benches on Pier 23 in our city walk to write yet more haiku. How their tender souls need this kind of silence and space! How we all do! Mindfulness is gaining traction in schools and this is a good thing, but like so much of the way we Americans do things, it is a “thing.” The cool thing du jour to do and yes, better that than a thousand other things it could be. To hear the peace bell and habitually stop and breathe. Lovely!

But this haiku tradition offers yet more. First off, it’s a centuries-old practice and that means it has weight and history and many ancestors to draw from. Secondly, it demands the mindful moment but also invites artistic expression, the art of capturing the flavor of the moment in the net of language and then sharing back with the group. And paying mind to a mathematical structure. Soon we will also try re-writing in a Chinese/ Japanese brush-painting style and illustrating with watercolors. And they’ve already enacted some in drama and accompanied with percussion instruments. Integrated arts, people!!

At any rate, here are some first-drafts from our class at the school. It might help to know that the school looks over the 280 freeway, so the many references to the roaring river of traffic is better understood if you know that. Enjoy!

The warm breeze of Spring
The cold breeze of the Autumn
Two seasons at once.

Pigeons in the air
All the trees with fluttering leaves 
It is quiet now.

Whoosh! The wind swarming
Vrooom! The cars on the highway
Ha! The children laugh.

Leaves crunching underfoot
The fresh smell of pumpkin
A leaf falls to the ground. 

The hot summer
Nothing but heat, the cold glass of water
Quenching my thirst.
-       Sasha

There is not one cloud
The Autumn wind blows the trees
Yet I sit so still.
-       Vedant

Trees swaying in wind
Growing bigger every year
Standing tall. Like us!

A blade of grass
Tastes bland and bitter
The texture is strange.

-       Lily

Birds chirp in the trees
They rustle the leaves and sing
Tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet. 

-       Nola

The sky is blue
The leaves are green.
Yellow is the sun.

The grumbling highway
Yet we are in Nature’s peace
Trees swaying back and forth.
-       Jane

The wind is blowing
Rustling the leaves on the trees
Fall is the best time.
-       Julien

Smell the smell of
Smoke coming from the cars out there
Bye, Antarctica!        

The roar of traffic
The children’s screaming voices
Drown out the bees’ buzz.
-       Doug

Hot in the bright sun.
Then cool in the leafy shade.
Which one should I choose?

-       Doug

Pen and paper poised
Two flies land on the table
Waiting for my poem.
-       Doug


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