The inspiration for Russell’s poem came from a prompt I borrowed from Janine Joseph, a fellow WITS writer. The lesson is called “Re-imagining the Alphabet.” The lesson asks students to re-imagine letters as objects in their everyday world. We practiced doing this as a class, looking at the letter “M” and noticing how it could be imagined as a mountain or a crown and so on, and we also read and discussed e. e. cummings’ poem, “i.” Students were then asked to write poems of their own with letters we gave them (it was a coincidence that Russell received the letter “r,” which he used very cleverly in his poem).
Who Are You r
r is a diving board, hanging over a pool.
r is also a ladder,
helping people to
climb out of the pool.
r is both sides of a spear
or a battle-ax
and a soldier’s hat.
r is the targeting scope of a gun,
and the gun itself.
r is also the first letter of my name,
by Russell, 3rd grade
Listening to the students read the wonderful poems inspired from this lesson was one of the high points of camp for me.
by Michelle Oakes, Creative Writing Camp faculty
Michelle Oakes is a poet pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Houston whose work has appeared in The Laurel Review and RHINO. She is a poetry editor for Gulf Coast: a Journal of Literature and Fine Arts and an instructor for the 2012 Boldface Conference. Michelle earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Missouri, where she was also Associate Editor of Pleiades: a Journal of New Writing. She taught at the River Oaks Elementary campus during Creative Writing Camp.