The Coast Union High School library celebrated National Poetry Month by creating spine label poetry. Each year I let the students utterly destroy my library constructing poetry using the titles on the spines of books.
Students rip obscure titles from dusty spots, scatter and pile books up like cairns marking trails trough the stacks. It reminds me of the Island of Misfit Toys as I watch students select books that have not been touched for years. The dilapidated old books get all excited and hopeful — “pick me, pick me!”
It’s a sad and joyful occasion. Books escaping their confines and running free, the supreme delight on the face of a student who realizes that there are books with naked people in the library, the smoke emanating from ears as the cogs in cobweby brains start to slowly grind out a clever turn of phrase. Lots of giggling, goofiness and brilliance.
National Poetry Month highlights mastery in vocabulary acquisition among students and is a tremendous opportunity to initiate the unenlightened to the radiance of words. You think an F-bomb says a lot — wait until you drop an “addlepated” into a conversation.
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The creation of a poem demands that the author rummage around for, and agonize over, just the right word; the expression that produces the luscious garden of diction. Obviously I am trying to decide where to go with this particular article; I am meandering down a garden path overgrown and riotous with exquisite flowers of vocabulary, attempting to create an aura of poetic effect.
Every word being deployed with an eye to how each acts upon the imagination, accomplished through the intricate mingling together of many forms of speech, the alternation and complicated crossing of salient points with phrases, behind and beneath them the shaded references and decaying grammar. Providing a banquet of meaning that reflects a spark of awareness and illuminates the visceral sensations words produce.
Stop by the library if you would like to try your hand at spine label poetry or come see what the students produced.