Saturday, May 21, 2016

Emulation as Inspiration: A Student's Poetic Response to My Poem

     On my other blog, "Writing Memorable Words," I published a poem titled "View from Another Bench," which I recently used as a writing prompt with one of my previously featured middle-school students, eleven-year-old Aashi. I was greatly impressed with her apt emulation of my theme about how the assumptions we make about others often lead to our misguided actions, which, in turn, lead to our embarrassment. I proudly present to you here Aashi's poem, born of her response to mine: "Tied." Feel free to leave your comments for her below (and if you want to read my poem, the prompt, just click on its title, above, and the link will take you there).

by Aashi M.

The little girl bends down                          
to tie her shoes,
with a pout on her face.

My mother would tie my shoes for me
when I was her age.
But her parents are busy.
So instead, I walk over to her,
untying my own shoes,
to show her how to tie them.

"First, make bunny ears," I tell her,
making two loops with my own laces.

"I know how to tie them," she cuts me off.
I stare at her, shocked, 
as she finishes tying her shoes with perfect loops.

Making me look like a fool,
tying my own purposely untied shoes,
as she breezes past me.

     Emulation exercises provide an excellent launching pad for creative writing; having an actual poem or prose piece to model as a prompt can spark ideas much faster, in my experience, than a conceptual prompt. For instance, if I had given as a prompt only the description of my poem (written above), merely telling her the theme of "View from Another Bench," I guarantee that my student would have not experienced her "aha moment" before my delighted eyes. If a writing teacher provides vague or purely conceptual guidelines, young writers end up toying with possible ideas and false starts for a while before venturing, tentatively, to create a first draft. I have found that by offering my students a first line to launch their original works (and then they can modify that given line later in the final revision), or by presenting them with another poem or piece of fiction to emulate, their inspirations arrive quickly and the resulting written works generally have depth and clarity. Furthermore, the young authors have more confidence that they have fulfilled the goal of the writing prompt.