Dadaism: Paper Bag Poems


While the 6th graders wrapped up poems for Mom, the 7th graders tacked “Cut Up” poems, said to have been created by Tristan Tzara in the 1920s, during a movement call Dadaism. In Dadaism, writers expressed themselves by utilizing: Avant-garde ideas and techniques…meaning they were experimental, radical and unorthodox, Passion – they selected topics that they really cared about, or think strongly about, Irrational construction – think about making things completely different than they are usually made, Nonsensical approaches – reject reason and logic, think about creativity and intuition, Artistic anarchy – The only rule is that there are NO RULES!

Although I gave the students a few rules: to take a handful of pre-cut words (I took ten words from each student’s favorite poem from their individual portfolios printed them multiple times and cut them out) from a paper bag and arrange them on the page as they pleased, and to identify and display some pattern or “story”, and use the words they were given to make something unique, I quickly saw the students finding their stories amidst the randomness and in the effort to enhance them, requesting words from their classmates. I began to recycle the unused and unwanted words from students who had made their identifications and giving them to others who had not, repeating the paper bag process many times over. Mixing poetry and visual art was a fun and enriching activity.

Because of the experimental nature of the project and technological limitations, you are unable to “read” these poems, but as you view them, notice the unique construction of each one. The students made some very deliberate choices about what they wanted to make and the visual appeal that they wanted to achieve. Use your  imagination and recall the students’ past poems, their themes and their word choices. I will clue you in that there are identity poems,  dedications to mothers and symbolisms of doors and colors. My students…they continue to impress me. Please enjoy.

 7th Grade

May2017S8 097 May2017S8 108May2017S8 066May2017S8 099May2017S8 098May2017S8 100

May2017S8 077May2017S8 105    May2017S8 106 May2017S8 112



“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.