Thursday, March 31, 2005

Labor of Poetry

Smartmom edits Pandamonium, PS 321's poetry magazine, and it's mostly a labor of love. But it's also a bucket-load of work. Since 2001, she's headed up the team of parents who type, design, scan, proof read, edit and fundraise for the 70-page magazine, which features one poem from every child at the school; 1300 poems in all. It's nothing if not inclusive and that's what she loves most about it.

From pre-K to fifth grade, there's a wide range of subject matter, quality, and style. You can learn a little bit about the teachers through the poems their students write. Some classes produce lots of poems about "rain going pitter pat." Other teachers help kids dig deep for content and forms of expression.

There are so many interesting poems, it's hard to pick a few to mention here. Smartmom enjoyed a vivid poem about an asthma attack, a humorous piece about a boy not wanting to "practice, practice, practice" his horn, a sad poem about the divorce of a girl's parents, and one called: "When Alliteration Hits Me:"

When Alliteration hits me / I/ Marvel at Monkeys maliciously/Mashing Mangos making/Metropolitan Museum Mummies/Melancholy/When Aliteration hits me...

The end of March is always crunch time for Smartmom. She's been holed up in her office for the last five days doing a final proofing before sending the file to the printer. She feels like she's going blurry-eyed making sure that students' names are spelled correctly and that there are no typos or punctuation errors.

Much as she can't wait for this laborious task to be finished, she does enjoy these long days spent sitting on the floor in her office, reading the poetry of children. It is a rare chance to get inside their heads and find out what makes them tick. Like this excerpt from a poem by a fourth grader:

Me


Violet purple
sleeping flamingo pink
pony-tailed brown hair
dirty sand brown eyes

My hometown Brooklyn
Florida, I come from
Jamaica, I come from
Barbados, I come from
Africa, I come from

but love is what I have

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