Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Recorded Raindrops Drumming in a Gutter: A Poetry Prompt that My Students Loved

After a downpour of rain during a group lesson, I walked my students out the door and noticed sounds emanating from our rain gutter--the sounds of a raindrop percussion section. I'm not exaggerating; the beats sounded like a jazz drummer playing in a nearby studio. I ran and got my phone so that I could record the rain's "gutteral" music. The recording awed my musician son who thought I must have doctored the recording to make it sound so much like a drummer. I decided that the recording would make a great writing prompt for my students (ages 10-13), who would listen to the music and write metaphorical poems about it.

Once they had listened twice to the recording, I provided metaphorical models to help them get started. I read them my own poem about fluffy clouds as "mashed potatoes on blue gravy,/ stirred by wind"("Cumulus Potatoes"), as well as a poem by Frederick Morgan, "The Busses," in which yellow school buses stopping from house to house on a rainy street become "a stream/ dark and serene in China,/ down which sleek goldfish dart and gleam." Then I told them to start writing. Here are some of the amazing results I got today (so proud of my students!):

The Gods' Party
by A.Y., age 11

The gods must have had a party with tap-dancers that whirled about in the heavens,
A drummer stood nearby pounding out a fierce beat,
The sweat of the dancers and the drummer poured down onto the Earth,
Tapping out a beat just like the beat of the dancers and drummers,
As night fell, the gods partied harder and harder and harder,
The dancers danced faster and faster and faster as the gods partied,
The sweat of the dancers poured down faster and faster,
The sweat pounded harder and faster,
Creating a fantastic beat on the metal tube.

Man of Raindrops
By D.S., age 10

Walking home,
a rainy night,
running from awning to awning
I hear distant drums,
out here
tapping out a rhythm
No one is here,
but still
a drum beats on
I run
to another dry spot
the sound is louder,
beckoning for me to come closer
metallic ringing notes
I turn
and see
in the sheets of rain
a shimmering drummer
He walks to me,
then disappears into
the gutter.
I realize that
he, a raindrop, is the one
speaking to me
through his music.

Dancing in the Gutter
By K.G., age 11
(This poem is supposed to be indented to form a raindrop, but Blogger wouldn't allow me to paste it that way!)

tap dance shoes
On the cold, metal tube
Tappity-tap-tap, tappity-tap
Tap tap tappity-tap, my watery feet
Coming down to the ground, to create
A beautiful rhythm, tappity-tap-tap
Tappity-tap, the last beat comes out
loud and quick, as I strike my
finishing pose, TAP

Nature’s Drummer
by B.C., age 13

Nature’s drummer
Plays with a steady beat
ts tss
ts tss
His drumsticks rain down
On his hi-hats
With perfect rhythm
And they start to get faster
Ts ts ts
Ts ts ts
Ts ts ts
But suddenly
The sound starts to mumble
Plob plob plob
The gutter is now full.