I start off with asking students frankly, "Tell me what you think about poetry." I ask them to be honest, and to tell me if they hate it. When the few tell me they don't like it, I press again and ask why. They're response is usually the same: "I have nothing to write about."
And so, I start off with our first poetry writing assignment: The Six Word Memoir.
For those of you that don't know, the Six Word Memoir is a project which asks:
One Life. Six Words. What's Yours?
If you had only six words to say about yourself, what would you say?
What my kiddos are able to write in six words always astounds me. Some are lighthearted and witty, and others are the very reason that I stay awake at night.
These students are only 13 or 14 years of age, and yet here they are embracing some of their biggest woes.
Most of our poems are nameless, I ask the students to not include their names on their work and yet often they still do. They take pride in their work. But our Six Word Memoirs always stay anonymous. The anonymity in the Six Word Memoir allows them to take the biggest risks.