Ars Poetica? You Betcha!

Great to be back in-person with the 4th graders at Skinner West! After being remote by necessity last year, the energy was unmistakable among students and teachers in each classroom as we settled in for our initial poetry sessions.

Kickoff classes always encompass a plethora of details about the program and what to expect over the ensuing weeks. As I laid the groundwork for everyone, the students were curious and eager participants in a general discussion about the residency—including some basic poetry terminology, such as line and stanza, which will come in handy every week—as well as terms specific to this week’s poem, in this instance simile. As we delve deeper into the macrocosm of poetry over ensuing sessions, our vocabulary will expand and understanding of poetry writing and appreciation deepen and intensify, but there was already a general air of excitement brewing as we read and discussed our first poem, “Ars Poetica” by Archibald MacLeish.

The poem incorporates a number of similes but also rhyme and repetition. I asked if it mattered if the rhyme wasn’t always consistent, which segued into questions as well as observations regarding why the poet packed the first two-thirds of the poem with similes, only to abandon them in its final four stanzas. We decided that it could be to surprise the reader, alter expectations, or perhaps because MacLeish didn’t want to let those poetic devices or features take away from the language itself, such as opening couplet, “A poem should be palpable and mute / As a globed fruit,” which sets a definite tone for the twenty-two lines that follow. We also thought about the poet’s decision to say “globed fruit” and what that brought to mind—why not be more specific and write apple, coconut, orange, or melon instead? By being abstract, instead of concrete, MacLeish lets his readers imagine whatever fruit they want. If “Ars Poetica” means “the art of poetry,” poems are open to interpretation for us to contemplate as we see fit.

For their first writing prompt, the students wrote their own “art of poetry” variations.

Ms. Kawa, 4th Grade

The Art of Poetry
Myra B.

Poetry is as beautiful as a peacock
showing its feathers.

Poetry can be as abstract as a mosaic
glistening in the light.

Poetry is very surreal like melting clocks
in a farm.

A poem can be wordless
a the same time you talk.

Poetry opens up a portal
that can be great and true as you.

A poem can be memorable
like a great fable.

Poetry is and
at the same time is not.

A poem can be frustrating
but be as patient as you can be.

A poem can be true
as long as it’s you.

Poetry Can Be
Siddesh G.

Poetry can be crazy
with life turned into dreams

scary can fit into poetry
like nightmares real

poetry can be anything
from depressing to exciting

poems can make you feel
as deep as the ocean, or high as the sky.

Glittering in the moonlight,
poetry can shine

poetry can be anything
poems can be.

Past the Paper
Aadhya H.

Poetry is . . .

As iridescent as a cloudless sky,
With rainbow sundowns of peace.

Though tastes are of wind or barely,
It is juicy inside, like a dragonfruit,
Subtle, to represent flame.

At times of black and white with only,
Paleness and shade tell our tale,
Like a monochromatic image.

Even at dark times, every word we take back,
Is a light, a star in the night sky,
Of effort and bliss.

Every culture tells us their confusing way,
A labyrinth, a maze, flapping out words amok,
Like a tongue twister.

Every moment we made in the past,
Compressed onto paper.

About Poetry
Michael L.

Poetry can be as soft as a marshmallow.
It can also be scary

When people are feeling
gray as a granny’s hair
poetry can make people bright
as the sun

People can feel hungry
even if it’s weird

Poems are as beautiful as a flower

No Limits
Chloe M.

Poetry can be anything you want
Poetry can be free as a bird
Poetry can be beautiful as the sunset

Poetry has no limits

Poetry can be as expressive as a
piece of art
Poetry can be as long as a hallway
Poetry can be as short as a flower

Poetry has no limits

Poetry can be anything you want

Make It Be
Charissa N.

is anything you want it to be

as tall as an endless tree

as short as drooping leaves

will see

Lillian Q.

Poetry is . . .
Poetry be . . .
Is poetry me, we, she, be?
Poetry us
Poetry is the enlightenment in our souls
The whipped cream to our strawberries
It’s we
As fun as can be!
Is this poetry? Poetry be me
This is poetry

Mine to Keep
Olivia W.

This is my poem, mine to keep.
I can write that I need, mine to keep.
Watch it soar through the sky, as the wind roars,
mine to keep.

The sun is bright and high, the water flows
smoothly, like a puzzle that has a missing piece,
mine to keep.

My poem is like a whale calling through the sea,
like a parrot soaring past the sky, it will always
be mine to keep.

Poetry can be confusing, strange, mysterious, but it
will always be what you express and it will be yours
to keep, just like this is mine to keep.

Poetry Is Anything
Eytan W.

Poetry is a howling wolf
Loud and beautiful in the night sky

Poetry is a purple sky
Strange, yet so amazing

Poetry is 1 in a million
Unique, but in a good way

Poetry is a cold ice cream cone on a summer day
Relaxing and tasty

Poetry doesn’t have rules
Anything you want squashed into words

Pictures forming in your mind
From very simple words
So many possibilities
No one can tell you what to write in a poem

Poetry is like a community of people
Everything is different in poetry

Poetry is a noodle
It can be as long as you want

Poetry is amazing
Poetry is anything

Ms. Ball, 4th Grade

Basia B.

A poem should be like a balloon
that has no way to go
lost in space

Balloon round like a ball
trying to call
but not heard

Seeing the moon move
the sun too

Poems can come in different sizes
but always a poem

Justin D.

A poem should be as funny as a clown
as bright as the sun
as quiet as a mouse.

A poem should flow like a river
cool as snow
long as earth to space.

A poem should be as still as a statue
as nice as watching the sunset.

Space Poetry
Kristoph G.

Poetry is like space
going on like riding a bike in
the mountains.
Poetry is like the fluid of a river
as unknown as space can be.

Poetry should be calm and focused
like palm trees in Hawaii.

Poems should be abstract
like the mind of an artist.

The Art of Poetry
Matthew M.

A poem should be as bold
as pressing down on a marker,

as a feather falling from the sky.

A poem should be an explosion of words
like a water balloon,

weird and

It shouldn’t be true but
should be true.

A poem should not mean—
but express

Arts and Crafts
Dakota O.

Poetry is just like arts and crafts. Art inspires me.
Art is a good thing to do flowers and

Crafting is just like art but with more

Arjun R.

Poetry is the
heart of a beat.
Poetry is like the sky in
your mind.

Poetry is a magnificent

Poetry is like
your memory mind.
Poetry is as beautiful
as a flower.

Poetry is as beautiful as
the sky.

Poetry is your sky.

Poetry is your mind.

Mr. O’Brien, 4th Grade

A Poem Should Be
Emmy B.

A poem should be fun
have a party.
you are loved by your family.

as cool as a block of ice.

A poem should be calm
just have fun with it
don’t stress.

don’t try to hurt people.

Zoey G.

Poetry is strange
But crazy

Poetry is like
A story but mysterious

Poetry is fun
Poetry is like a moon having fun.

Haley K.

Poems have deep meanings like an ocean.
Beauty lies in poems.
Releases light and feelings.
Tangled in writing.

Moonlight shines.
Creating beautiful lights.

John K.

Poetry should be
as wild as a mammal in the depths of the sea

it should be crazy
also amazing

a poem is creative
as it is native

Carys M.

A poem should be funny and weird
silly like a cow
different like a fox.

Loved like a baby bird
sad like an emoji

silent and warm as a leopard

free like a free bird

thoughtful and nice as an angel.

The Meaning of Poetry
Olivia M.

A poem should be meaningful like a memory
it should never be temporary

You should make it have a beat like a song that
you wrote

A poem should have different meanings
and should have some different readings

It should be a mystery of understandings
and be free

Denym P.

A poem should be fun and delightful
delightful as a bird

Fun like a park

A poem should be interesting & nice
interesting like school, nice like her hair

A poem should be amazing

Emily R.

Poetry is
like a growing tree
and can bloom like a flower
and can keep on growing
like a never ending tree

Sydney S.

Poetry is like a soaring bird.
Fly through the sky—
Poetry is a shock in your body
it flows
Poetry flies in your heart
Poetry is an art.
Poetry is awesome

Mrs. Johnson, 4th Grade

A Poem Should Be
Veda B.

A poem should be like a lonely
wolf howling at the moon,
a wolf pouncing at the night sky.

A poem should be as happy
as a new
baby entering the new world, oh all the sights
that will be new then
just a dark empty belly.

A poem should be as empty as
a graveyard, all those ghosts rising from the
dead, hissh.

After all a poem could be
empty as a belly, happy as a monkey, or
even lonely as a wolf.

A Poem Should Be
Aidan B.

A poem should be made of gold
As hard as silver

Like a monster

200 millions pounds,
Like a maze
Like a world with only happy kids
Flowing as water
Open as the universe
Or closed as a small safe

A poem should make you feel safe
As safe as a panda
White as a panda.

A Poem Should Be
Raina D.

A poem should be like
art on a wall.

A poem should be as
colorful as a rainbow.

A poem should be as
precious as gold.

A poem should be like
a world of color.

A Poem Could Be
Maya J.

A poem should be water in a twisted flowing
A poem could be a leaf it comes and goes and
comes and goes.

Like a horse’s mane, elegant, free.
A poem could be anything you see like that tree
at the bottom of the sea.

A poem could be free a poem can be
anything it wants to be.

A poem is a tree in the middle of the sea.
A poem can be anything it wants to be.

Alina L.

A poems should be
free and unlimited,
like a bird flying
high, high, high.

A poem should be a sweet melody
in the air.
The melody rings, singing its soft call
filled with words.
Like a poem.

A poem shouldn’t be just
It should be meaningful,
like a poem.

Like a poem.

A Poem Should Be . . . .
Maansi S.

A poem should be
crazy, weird, a poem.
It should be
like a star in a jar.
It should be
like a diverse world.
Like you an amazing world!

A Poem Should Be
Clyde S.

A poem should be silly as a monkey
with its banana

as if you’re in the sun

sneaky as a tiger gonna pounce
until you fall on the ground

as mad as a gorilla
like a burning sun.

What a Poem Should Be!
Harshil S.

A poem should be a
Fun activity
Just like doing karate.

A poem is like . . .
Making an adventure that
Is full of courage,
And of course . . .

That is why a poem

Is gold.

A Poem Should Be
Millen S.

A poem should be colorful
and artistic.

A poem should be
like a book in a library.

A poem should be

A poem should be a

A Poem Should Be
Alexandria T.

A poem should be

Like a quiet tree

Quiet but steady

1 2 3

1 2 3
BOOM! All the words flow out

That’s what a poem should be

A’marius W.

A poem should be great.
Poetry is like great students.

Poetry is helpful
it makes you do great things.

Poetry is like a rockstar
playing a guitar.

I like poetry I have
done it since I was 5.

I am good at poetry.



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.