Memento Cento

Last week, we wrapped up our remote residencies at Skinner West. I announced that for their finale, students would be contributing to a cento, or collage poem, explaining that it’s an ancient form with a name meaning “patchwork” in Latin. Centos traditionally are composed entirely of lines from poems by other poets, so we started off looking back over the residency, thinking about favorite poems students wrote or read, as well as figures of speech and other literary devices we studied. It’s been a short but intense ten weeks, with many inspiring discussions and terrific texts resulting from them. The poem this time was one of my own, called “The Saddest Ice Cube Tray Ever,” and after hearing two student readers’ interpretations, I also recited it, giving everyone the chance to ask questions directly to the author about any of its aspects. There was no prompt this time, based on the poem (which is our usual approach), but the students seemed to enjoy it and take away some final thoughts about elements specific to poetry, such as line and stanza breaks and how inspiration can come from anywhere, even something as mundane as ice cubes from a freezer.

For their parts, students were asked to brainstorm about words and emotions they associated with poetry, then to describe, in a single line—ideally using simile and metaphor—how poetry makes them feel. Those lines were then collected randomly per class and assembled together to create these incredible summations of the residencies. I had a wonderful time and will miss all the Skinner poets! Write on!!

Poetry Is…
By Mrs. Rosenzweig’s 4th Grade Class

Poetry is like a fun roller coaster you can ride, made from other people or make your own fun roller coaster.
Poetry is a parade of emotions, sometimes happy, sometimes sad.
Poetry is words that fly up to the sky.
Poetry is like a pound of diamonds when you are poor.
Poetry is as beautiful as a fairy.
Poetry is like a lion sitting down for a fancy spot of tea.
Poetry is a big library.
Poetry is a ladybug with all of its different spots.
Poetry is as fun as being on a ride at Disney World.
Poetry is as big as the sky, with lots of possibilities.
Poetry is like drinking a delicious root beer or coke float: awesome.
Poetry is joyful for poets.
Poetry is like the sky’s horizon, bright and full.
Poetry is a joyful house of happy words, thoughts and feelings.
Poetry is as good as a bubblegum rapper.
Poetry is saying goodbye to us.
Poetry will be very much missed by me.
Poetry is a waterfall of words.
Poetry is as fancy as your royal highness.
Poetry is as relaxing as meditation.
Poetry is as meaningful as a great apology.
Poetry is like excited words dancing with a happy monkey.
Poetry is like ice breaking then putting itself together again.
Poetry is a ray of sunshine.
Poetry is a thoughtful process.
Poetry is like a hand picked bouquet.

Poetry Is…
By Mrs. Johnson’s 4th Grade Class

Poetry is good as a big balloon.
Poetry is like a cage opening up.
Poetry is a whole new world of imagination.
Poetry is like dancing, but with words.
Poetry is as hard as a stone wall.
Shattering can make you feel very shocking or upsetting.
Poetry is as fun as a Bouncy Castle.
Poetry is as peaceful as a gentle breeze.
Poetry is as cool as The Matrix.
Poetry is as cool as Van Halen.
Poetry is cool as 65 degrees outside.
Poetry is the bomb but not my mom.
Night the core of the night.
Poetry is like the sky, it never ends; when it is over you can still see what happens next.
Poetry is a flower that earth creates with effort.

Poetry Is…
By Mrs. Barnes’ 4th Grade Class

Poetry can be as fragile as a teacup, or as exciting as a bolt of energy.
Poetry is a playground for imagination.
Poetry is like cars.
Poetry is like baking, mixing words together and putting it in the oven and waiting for it to come together.
Poetry is like a breeze that carries you from reality.
Poetry is like a mountain, it has its ups and downs.
Poetry is like juggling words.
Poetry is like a blooming flower, hard to manage for some people but easy to keep for others.
Poetry is like a book but in 1 page.
Poetry is as wise as a man in the cave.
Poetry makes me feel happy.
In poetry I can’t make mistakes; it’s like doing everything wrong but doing everything right.
Poetry is as fun as Roblox.
Poetry is like a flowing river.
Poetry makes leaves swirl.
Poetry is happy as a dog.

Poetry Is…
By Mr. O’Brien’s 4th Grade Class

Poetry is like a way to express yourself; it is something you can do, it is a thing that makes people happy.
Poetry is as big as a dinosaur but not as small as an ant.
Poetry is like cake: fun to eat but takes time.
Poetry makes me as happy as a pig in the mud.
Poetry is like a rose.
Poetry is original.
Poetry is like a seed being planted in the ground and growing into a life with all different emotions.
Poetry is cool as a cat wearing sunglasses at the beach.
Poetry is as delicate as a snowflake.
Poetry is awesome.
Poetry makes me happy; all I think about is poetry when I’m taking a nappy.
Poetry is like if my heart could speak.
Poetry is the heart in the human the body; lines are the body parts to support the brain which is the stanza.
Poetry is our class: Diverse.



“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.