In the winter of 2017, Brewster 5th graders participated in a 5-week poetry residency, working with Methow Arts teaching poet Kelleigh McMillan. Students became familiar with “painting pictures with words” and with relating their emotions to the natural world. Each week they experimented with a different poetic concept: simile, metaphor, free verse, stanza, etc. Students wrote poems about their bedrooms, about particular months, about the seasons, and about favorite colors.
“Autumn feels like raking leaves,” writes one student.
“Yellow is a bee, busy in your ear,” writes another.
As students explored expressing emotions through poetry, they crafted lines like “Under my heart is the soul of a bear” and “I am a tiger, strong and free.”
Some used poetry as a means of expressing sadness, anger, or frustration. Others wrote poems of love and hope. The final project involved writing a poem collaboratively, based on US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poet laureate project, La Casa de Colores.
Says Herrera, “this is a house for all voices, [where we] will feed the hearth and heart of our communities with creativity and imagination.” By writing collaboratively, students become a part of each other’s creative families, sharing the challenge and joy of creative expression.
After the poetry was complete, students worked with artist Bruce Morrison to draw pictures of their poems using oil pastels, then covered their pictures with a watercolor wash–a “resist” technique, where the oil pastels are impervious to the watercolors and thus “resist” absorbing the watercolors, creating interesting texture and color. The poems were collected and put into small books, and a copy of each book was given to each classroom, with the artwork used as covers.
Read the poems of Mr. Miller’s class here.
Read the poems of Mrs. Johnson’s class here.
Read the poems of Mrs. Tollfeldt’s class here.
This residency was created by Methow Arts Alliance and is sponsored by the Community Foundation of North Central WA, Webster Furniture, the Brewster School District, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ArtsWA.
CONTACT: Methow Arts Alliance, 509.997.4004, firstname.lastname@example.org