Ask students what do words sound like? In other words, what sound do words inspire? What feelings do we associate with certain words? What sounds do we associate with certain words? The sound of the word "depressed" is different from the sound of the word "gloomy". The sound of the word "cloud" is different from the sound of the word "blue". It is necessary to have a discussion of the sound of words in order to begin to use sound as a tool in poetry writing. Students must carefully select each word they include in a work; therefore, understanding the sound connotation of a word is an important conversation. It is essential here to take a moment in the form of a mini-lesson to hear how someone says certain words. Partner students in pairs and provide them with a list of words. Ask students to say these words to each other. Ask students to add words to the lists and say them aloud to the class. Have students create a "Sound Wall" instead of the usual word wall. Add categories of words to the wall like loud words, soft words, nasally words, etc.
While on the subject of sound, what would "Noise" poems be without sounds? DO NOT call it onomatopoeia, but instead motivate students to write what they hear. Create different sounds in the room and ask students to write what they hear. Koch suggests crumpling up paper or hitting a ruler on a chair. Ask students to close their eyes and say what they hear as you create the sound. When students come up with a sound, create the same sound again and ask students to say what actual words the sound sounds like instead of the sound word. The idea is to create an association between words and sounds. Working in groups, ask students to make a list of various words on charts such as wet words, rocky words, bouncy words, slow words, fast words, etc. Put up the charts around the classroom so students may use them in their poems.
In Koch's example, he hit a chair with a ruler, and students said it sounded like "tap" and when he repeated the sound and asked students to listen for words it sounded like but did not have anything to do with "tap", they responded with "Hat, snap, trap, glad, badger"
. Each of these words elicited their own sounds and had their own relationships with the chair. When students recognize the sound of words and the impact it can make on the poem, they begin to scrutinize each word and become more selective and descriptive. Koch explains "Before they had experimented with the medium of poetry in this way, what the children wrote tended to be a little narrow and limited in its means – but not afterwards. Their writing quickly became richer and more colorful."
Using these brainstorming activities, students should write Noise poems.
Several poems in Koch's book provide excellent examples of the sounds of words such as Ana Gomes' poem called "Sounds."
An unknown author writes "Form a circle with your mouth" providing beautiful analogies of sounds.
In one example in the poem, the author notes, "A baby's cry/ Will warn of disaster/ It sounds like an air raid/ So you better be aware!"
This is an excellent example of how sounds connect to feelings or emotions.
An excellent model poem to use here is Lewis Carroll's poem "Beautiful Soup". The poem plays with the sounds of words and even takes sound to the next level by giving visual queues to the reader. Adding a quick mini-lesson on some of these visual queues such as capitalization and the impact it makes in this poem is quite helpful to students. Notice in line 1 the word "BEAUTIFUL" is in caps. Ask students why the author chose to do this? Also, note in latter lines in stanza 2:
Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!
The author extends certain sounds. Ask students about the impact of such directions. What connections might it inspire? What sounds emanate from the poem adding to the sense and bridging to the words? For instance, "Soo-oop" adds a slurping sound referring to eating.
Another great model here is "Someone" by Walter De la Mare. His lines "Only the busy beetle/ Tap-tapping in the wall" and "The screech owl's call" really demonstrate the sounds of words well. His final lines "So I know not who came knocking/ At all, at all, at all" mimic the knocking sound without really using sound words at all.
While students practice writing "Noise" poems, they may also consider the metric patterns in the poems; however, it does not need to be a focus. These poems should most definitely be shared with the class.
In much the same way as words have sounds, they have colors as well. Ask students what color is the sound of the ruler hitting the chair or the color of days of the week. Ask students to write "Color" poems. Each line of the poem should contain a color or the same color. Koch especially encouraged students to write one color poem where everything in the poem was the same shade of a color or the same color
. Ask students what are the sounds of different colors? Can the two, color and sound, be intertwined?
One poem that works well as a model here is Walter De la Mare's poem "Silver". His vivid images haunt the reader with a visual and sound element – "Slowly, silently, now the moon/ Walks the night in her silver shoon". The poem has incredible use of imagery, alliteration, sound, and personification (which can be discussed now or later while reading Wordsworth's "Daffodils").
In Koch's book, one excellent example of a color poem belongs to Charles Conroy. Conroy's poem "What Shall I Chartreuse Today" provides vivid images that bring each color to life. He masterfully uses personification, sound, and metaphors to thread colors and their meaning. For instance, he writes, "Or I could red John in the nose" and "I put a green croak in Pinky's bed."
This poem is full of discussion opportunities for the classroom.