Thursday, July 10, 2008

Written Book Responses: Narrative Poems

The final written book response of the year is always the greatest writing challenge for my students. Their assignment is to write a rhyming or free verse narrative poem based on the books they read. This requires that they draw on the poetry-writing skills they have learned throughout the year in order to tell their stories.

I got this idea from a colleague of mine, Mrs. Vicki Callicut (Swinger), several years ago. It is a perfect way to integrate the disciplines of reading and writing.

My students worked very hard on their poems, writing several drafts and participating in conferences with me. The poems published below are some of the best written this year. I selected these poems with input from students in both AM and PM classes. The poems are positioned in no particular order.

“Alias, ‘Uncle Ricardo’”
Ten True Stories of World War II
By Paul Dowswell
(a free verse narrative poem by Ian)

Adolf Eichmann...
Such a cruel, cruel man
He thought the right path
Was to kill...
Kill Jews.
That’s all he wanted to do.

Simon Wiesenthal...
The opposite of Eichmann, matter
Of fact, he hunted Eichmann

A deceiver...
Simon sends a deceiver named Heymeck Diamont.
Diamont finds a picture of the culprit.
He visits Maria Messenbacher.
She is as cruel as Eichmann
All of her words are lies.
So cruel in fact, she reports her own husband dead.
But wait...
What’s this...?
His name is still on the wanted list
Mixed emotions run through Simon’s head
Isn’t Eichmann supposed to be dead?
Oh, no!
Eichmann is far from dead
In fact he lives in South America
Argentina to be exact
On the corner of Garibaldi St.
Under the name of Uncle Ricardo
8 years...
8 years have passed until Eichmann is
Tested in court...
What do you think the outcome will be?
Condemned to death by hanging
I think such a man deserves a sentence as such
Don’t you...?
Or do you...?

Stuck in Neutral
by Terry Trueman
(a free verse narrative poem by Aramis)

I am paralyzed. I can’t move any part of my body
People think I’m a retard, but I remember everything I hear
Even though my Dad can’t stand my seizures . . .
I love them . . . it’s then when my soul leaves my body
I hear my dad is planning to kill me
And I can’t tell him if I’m ready or not
He says he wants to kill me because . . .
He loves me

My Dad believes you can’t teach retards
I too agree, but can’t he give them a chance?
Even though we are unteachable . . .
Crackle-crackle-crackle . . . red light, blue light
My Dad hears about Earl Detraux
He killed his two-year old retarded baby
He said it was because he loved him . . .
Yes, because he loved him
I always thought there was no reason for me to live
So I really didn’t know if I wanted to die or not
But now I know there is a reason . . .
And I want to live

My sister Cindy has a new friend spending the night
Her name is Ally Williamson
She is perfect; she has blondish-brown hair and all I do . . .
Is dream about her

I remember when my brother Paul saved my life
Bullies were going to set me on fire
But then Paul came to the rescue . . .
And he saved me
My mom is leaving for Spokane with Cindy and her friends
They will watch Spartans take on the Fighting Knights
But before they leave they yell.
Go Spartans!
Since I can’t take care of myself
Whenever I’m home alone
A girl comes to babysit me . . .
Her name is Vonda

Suddenly there is a knock on the door
It is Dad
Since Dad is here, Vonda leaves
It is the first time my Dad and I are alone . . .
I’m afraid he’s going to kill me

My dad comes into my room
He came to talk to me
He talks to me about when I was born . . .
And how he prayed

Words are starting to fade from my Dad
Red light, blue light . . .

Deep Down Popular
by Phoebe Stone
(a free verse narrative poem by Hannah)

Jessie Lou, not your average girl
Gets to walk Conrad home from school
He hurt his knee, so he wears a brace
He needs help to and from school
He keeps talking about this dumb doctor
“Oh, he’s going to fix my knee!”
I want to be able to walk with him.

So, snip, snip, snip, my hair is to my shoulders.

My sister Melinda is in a beauty pageant
So of course she gets all the attention
Everything she wants, everything she needs
Melinda this, Melinda that.
I’m glad she didn’t win, real glad
But she was so sad we didn’t go to the carnival.
It’s so not fair. I hate her.

So, snip, snip, snip, my hair is to my chin.

My on and off friend Tiny Bailey
Is making a plane for the parade
He’s been sneaking into the old barn
I think I’ll use him for the discovery project
His plane idea wasn’t a huge hit for the parade
I thought it was good, though no one else did

So, snip, snip, snip, my hair is at my eyes.

Its raining outside, its such a
Slow and gloomy day
Until Conrad’s a-knockin’
On my door, asking to be my date
I run upstairs, jumping into clothes
So he won’t have to wait
We go to the dance, laughing and playing
At the end he kisses me

And I feel Deep Down Popular.

War of the Rats
by Paul Dowswell
(a rhyming narrative poem by Jeff )

In Stalingrad war rages on
Can the Germans be withdrawn?

Both forces will fight through and through
Who do you think withdrew?

The German Sixth Army arrives alive
Can the battered Russians survive?

The battlefield, like a vision of Hell
For the Nazis it's not going well

The most lethal soldier of all, the sniper
The best one of all, Zaitsev, a deadly viper

Zaitsev got forty kills
Due to his amazing skills

Zaitsev takes on another sniper
Which one will need a body diaper

At the end of the battle
The Nazis are rattled

For the F├╝hrer, their boss
Has suffered his first major loss

Waiting for Anya
by Michael Morpurgo
(a free verse narrative poem by Cristina)

German soldiers invaded my town
They destroyed Jewish families
Then I met Benjamin
He trusted me
Told me he was Jewish
Had a daughter named Anya
Waiting for her to come
Benjamin took children to Spain for freedom
I knew I had to help
They gave me money to buy supplies
German soldiers multiplied
Like cockroaches
Checking every house
We had to hide the children
Dad came home from war
And helped Benjamin
They took the children to Spain
To be free
Like a bird
They made it safely
Every child
Then something went wrong
German soldiers found Benjamin
My dad and I could do nothing
That hurt my heart
Like a big empty hole
They took him to a camp
A concentration camp
Soon the German soldiers left
Left the town
They can't hurt Jews
And make more rules
German soldiers who hurt Jews
Made Jews' lives like hell
Then the day came
She was here
She is here
But her dad gone
All this time he waited for her
But now he is gone, probably dead

A Friend Called Anne
by Jacqueline Van Maarsen
(a rhyming narrative poem by Calista)

When war started in Amsterdam
That's when Jacqueline met Anne

She walked with Anne to her house
All dressed up in a nice blouse

On the day of Anne's party
A few people arrived tardy

Jacqueline called Anne to play
This is what Anne had to say

I am busy, I can't talk right now
But I'll call you later somehow

Jacqueline wondered where Anne went
Because she left without a hint

Jews started to leave the town
Then the population went down

On the day of liberation
The biggest problem was starvation

Anne's father came home with news
That would make them both blue

He said Anne and Margot died
Then later Jacqueline cried and cried

Jacqueline got to read Anne's diary
That made her very merry

Mr. Frank decided to publish it
Then it became a big hit

Mr. Frank was a good guy
But then cancer made him die

by Louis Sachar
(a rhyming narrative poem by Tyler)

Stanley Yelnats has a horrible curse
It takes him to the worst place in the universe

The place is called Camp Green Lake
Digging all day just makes him ache

Only the warden know why they dig
Maybe she is looking for something big

He meets a kid named Zero
Can he help Zero read and be a hero?

One day Zero runs away
People thought he was going to decay

In the desert, Stanley found him
Their chances in the sandy oasis were dim

They decide to climb God's Thumb
While the pair are climbing, they become glum

After resting on God's Thumb for a while
The pair walk back over a mile

A couple of hours before daybreak
They are digging around Camp Green Lake.

While the pair are digging for treasure
Stanley falls into a hole with displeasure

There are toxic lizards in the hole
At least they aren't out of control

While lying in the hole with the blues
Stanley's lawyer comes with good news

"You're leaving Camp Green Lake,
and it looks like you have a suitcase to take."

Right before Stanley's very eyes
There is a suitcase with his name on it nearby

Stanley and Zero open the suitcase
They meet a lot of money face to face

Zero goes with Stanley to his abode
Off in a nice car they rode

Most students and I agreed that the best poem of the year was written by Ismael. His poem was written in quatrains and was based on the book
A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. Because of the mature nature of the book and poem, I elected not to publish it on our class blog. Congratulations to all my young readers and writers for a job well done!


Sydney said...

Hey Mr.B.,
I just wanted to say i really liked Hannah's poem about Deep Down Popular. I really liked her ending.

Ron and Pam said...

For Paul Dowswell...
We just returned from Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad!) I have pictures of one of the only buildings that survived the battle - and a picture of the sniper's rifle from the museum we visited there. Also, we visited the Mother Russia statue which commemorated this battle - I will send Mr. Blount the pictures to share with you. :) Have you watched the movie, "Enemy at the Gate"?

Fidelis said...

to many poems no patience lol

Your former student,