SOL18: Found Poetry

Last week, my lovely and talented friend, Robyn Hood Black, invited her Poetry Friday friends to find a poem in a passage she shared from Cassell’s Family Magazine. The passage reminded me of a collection of cut outs I have that my grandmother and her sister used as paper dolls that date to 1916 or so. A little digging revealed that most of these came from The Delineator, “an American women’s magazine of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, founded by the Butterick Publishing Company.” (from Wikipedia) I searched my grandmother’s collection for styles that matched the description in the passage Robyn shared, but it’s from the 1890s, so fashions had changed. But I was able to find a few stylish dresses that have some similar features.

Because I live in spring-deprived New England, I found all the weather words to create my poem.  Thank you, Robyn, for this fun exercise!


The long cloak savors of SPRING; it opens at the neck and TRIMS with close feather bands, instead of fur. It is composed of ribbed silk AND EMBROIDERED velvet, the velvet is cut as a Bolero jacket, elongated into panel sides over which fall the long pointed sleeves, embroidered on THE OUTSIDE of the arm, and edged like the jacket with ball fringe in character with the hat. It is a mantle that completely covers the dress. The muff matches the hat, and I notice

women are wearing them WELL ON TO SUMMER, partially because they are so infinitesimal. The floral muffs are often carried by bridesmaids; they are made of satin and COVERED WITH FLOWERS so that little but of the foundation is seen. They let the odour of the flower be easily enjoyed by the holder, and are more to be DESIRED than BOUQUETS because they have a raison d’être.  (From Cassell’s Family Magazine)



Inspired to try found poetry with your students? Don’t miss Linda Mitchell‘s terrific work with her eighth grade library students!

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL & Poetry Friday: Finding Poetry in The Birchbark House

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Earlier this week, I wrote about a piece in The New York Times that asked columnists 51-KqWtjyaLto consider which books they read over and over again. There are many books I’ve reread, but one of the best by far is The Birchbark House (Hyperion, 1999), Louise
Erdrich’s middle grade novel about Omakayas, a young Ojibwa girl, and her family. Erdrich’s depiction of their life on the shores of Lake Superior in the mid-1800s, which was a National Book Award finalist, offers readers a window into a culture that has essentially disappeared.

When I taught third grade, I read The Birchbark House to my students every year. But it’s been almost ten years since the last time I read this book. This week, I revisited Erdrich’s lyrical prose and “found” this poem in the final chapter, “Full Circle.”

Although spring,
with all the force of tender new buds,
opening magically,
touched her heart,
there would always be
a shadow to her laughter.

The ground harbored sunshine,
spread warmth beneath their feet.
Omakayas felt the calm sweetness of the earth
and tears burned.
Where was Newoo?
She missed him.

There were birds,
little birds with white throats,
sweet spring cries.

“I remember their song;
their song was my comfort,
my lullaby.”

Piercing spring music.
White throated sparrows
calling out to one another.

Their delicate song surrounded her,
running in waves through the leafless trees.

Omakayas heard something new in their voices.
She heard Newoo.

She smiled,
as the song of the white-throated sparrow
sank again and again through the air
like a shining needle,
and sewed up her broken heart.

You can learn more about The Birchbark House here, and find out more about found poetry here.

Please be sure to visit Laura Shovan at Author Amok for the Poetry Friday Round Up.

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each day during the month of March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.