Plum Good Poetry
Archives, April - May 2000

Plum Good Poetry!

Plum Good Poetry

William Carlos Williams Poetry in the Class

This monthís lessons are adapted from from the Teacherís and Writerís guide to William Carlos Williams edited by Gary Lenhart . This is a wonderful classroom guide to one of the most accessible American Poets.  Iíve been having fun with this book all spring.  Here are a few of my favorite activities.

K-2 Have you seen???  Finding Magic in the ordinary

This is a simple lesson that can generate remarkable results.

The point is to young writers to see something, as if for the first time.  Williams poetry makes the everyday extraordinary.

The guidelines are,

No rhyming (Williams didnít)
No making things up for this activity
Zoom in with specific detail to make the thing you want us to see shine


Have you seen?
the bright red apple
sitting in the tree
way out of reach
Have you seen?
        Dareaux Dyson

Have you seen?
my dead fish at the top
of the pot
floating around in circles
Have you seen?
        David Johnson 2nd grade

Have you seen
a dogís eyes lighting up
like black and green jewels
Have you seen?
          John Green 3rd grade

Have you seen
the paintbrush blooming
splashes of red amongst the rocks
announcer of spring
popping up where water collects
early paintbrush brighter than the rest
Have you seen?
          anonymous teacher Utah

3-8 The Plum Apology Poem

Williams most famous poem is about a false apology.
Read it to your class and ask them if they have ever apologized in an insincere manner.    Try writing your own apology poem.

This is just to say
I have eaten the plums
that were
in the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

            William Carlos Williams

Student Examples

This is just to say
that the dog
tore your
shoes in
to little pieces
and I let him
do it. It was quite amusing.

            Rafael Camacho

I just want to say
I have seen
the flowers
that were
on your head
Which you
were probably
saving for
A funeral
Please forgive
I liked to say
You looked great
In a coffin
Iíll bury you
For what I did
Please forgive me.

           Rafeal Camacho

This is just to say
I have eaten the plums
that were
in the ice box

then wrote a poem
that was
and read
by millions,

You were so
at Divorce court

so sweet
so cold

        Barry Lane

9-12 Breughalís Paintings and Short poems

Get a print of Brueghalís famous painting Hunters In the Snow and read the poem Williams wrote about it.  Ask your students to notice how Williams simply describes the painting, but in his choice of details creates a mood and interpretation of the work.    You can do the same.  Try writing your own poem about the same or different painting, or photograph.

The Hunters in the Snow

The over all picture is winter
icy mountains
in the background the return

from the hunt it is toward evening
from the left
sturdy hunters lead in.

their pack the inn-sign
hanging from a
broken hinge is a stag a crucifix

between his antlers the cold
inn yard is
deserted but for a huge bonfire

that flares wind-driven tended by
women who cluster
about it to the right beyond

the hill is a pattern of skaters
Brueghal the painter
concerned with it all has chosen

a winter-struck bush for his
foreground to
complete the picture.

            William Carlos Williams

Write a poem with a downward motion like Williams Poem


As the cat
climbed over
the top of

the jamcloset
first the right

then the hind
stepped down

into the pit of
the empty

down the
and merged
into another
to form
a solid
at the frame

Write an Under Poem like the one beneath which ends up the same place it starts.

the sky
is the

the clouds
is the Earth

the earth
is the dark
the dark
is the dust

the dust,
is the

the wind
is the

             Barry Lane


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