Monday, January 4, 2016

Poetry Windows

If you’ve ever been to the Williamsburg Northside Library, then you’ve no doubt noticed that we overlook the BQE. If you’ve never been… we overlook the BQE. It’s literally right outside my library window and provides an endless source of inspiration/distraction.  We decided to take advantage of this during poetry month last year and the project proved so successful that I’ve extended it for a full year.

Last April, classes from Kindergarten through Grade 4 each composed a group haiku for commuters on the BQE.  Each class read haiku (from Bob Raczka’s frustratingly-named but totally awesome Guyku: a Year of Haiku for Boys to Hi Koo!, Jon Muth’s sublime haiku-adjacent poetry) and then spent one class creating a poem. Our inspiration was to create a poem to help commuters stuck in traffic.  The results were surprising, funny, and exciting.  We weren’t sticklers about the haiku format, especially for younger grades and that really opened up the creativity.

Grade 4:
traffic will end soon
do not worry about it
just hang out and chill

There’s traffic
Look at this window and you’ll have a nice day
Like magic

I hashtagged the window and listed our twitter handle. It was great to hear from commuters (I hope they were the passengers, not the drivers) and we got reports that we lifted spirits!

This year, I've extended the project and have declared our Grade 2 class to be our school poets. Throughout the year, we’re studying various forms of poetry and composing a group window poem. Their classroom teacher is coordinating with the project as well and I’m finding that it’s been enhancing work both in the library and classroom. Here’s the current offering and I think you’ll agree that it’s a corker:

Feathers pretty
Flying, tweeting, swooping
Flying up with the sky

I think this project could work well in any library that has public windows. I'm certainly in a very specific situation but I can envision fun poetry for an office building across the street! If you do this project for your community, please let me know how it goes. I'm sure you'll entertain and enlighten your neighbors.

-Karen, Williamsburg Northside

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