Poetry Smashing

   A few weeks ago, I was teaching a writing lesson on brainstorming. I was asking the students for ideas of things they could write about, and they came up with a pretty impressive list. One of my students mentioned that they could “poetry smash.” When I asked her to elaborate on this, she mentioned that she would like to take all the poems that they’ve memorized this year and combine them to write a brand new poem. She wanted to use every word.


 She began writing that day and took her poems and began playing around with how they were structured. What she ended up forming was actually a found poem. I remember hearing her say, “My hand’s getting tired. These are a lot of lines!” I began thinking that this might be why she stopped short of truly using every word in every poem. I thought this idea was so unique, and I wanted to see what she, and the rest of my class, could come up with, so I ended up typing the poems up and cutting them apart line by line. This ended up removing the handwriting component, and allowing her, and the rest of the class, to create. I broke my class into groups and had them work collaboratively to create a new poem. They were allowed to cut the strips of paper up even more to arrange words. 

While ideally, I would have loved my students’ poems to make sense, I realize that the poems they had memorized thus far were all on different topics. Given these limitations, I was impressed to see how my students really tried to make their poems make as much sense as possible. I was excited to see them play around with language and realize that language can be manipulated, and that they can create rules for their writing and poetry–that writing does not always have to be the five paragraph essay or the ABAB poem. 

I was impressed by their poems and enjoyed watching my students work collaboratively. While most of my students enjoyed this, a few got particularly frustrated that it didn’t make sense, and decided to first rearrange the lines for each poem and then stack the poems. However, most groups really tried to smash the poems together by having a line from one poem followed by a line or two from a different poem. Even in instances where students used two lines from a poem back-to-back, the majority of the time, they had rearranged the lines. The lines typically did not go in that order in the original poem.

I shared this with my cohort last week, and the feedback that I received was helpful. They suggested in the future finding poems that have a similar theme, such as giving the students several haikus on winter to poetry smash.

Here is the poem that my student, the one who coined the term “poetry smashing,” created with her group. The lines are color coordinated by poem, to highlight how this group “smashed” the poems together. Many of the words for the lines in red are bit originally on the same line. They cut apart the strips I had given them to manipulate the poem even more.  I loved how they thought to do this. I hope to do this activity again with poems that have the same theme. I can’t wait to see what new poems my students create as they smash words together!

Happy poetry smashing!



4 thoughts on “Poetry Smashing

  1. leighahall October 16, 2016 / 8:49 pm

    I think you already know what a HUGE fan I am here. 🙂


  2. brennalche October 18, 2016 / 3:19 pm

    I love this idea, I have never heard of this. It’s awesome how the students were able to be so creative with this, along with having them put so much thought into it. It really gets the students involved in poetry and allows them to be poets as well.


  3. susanedu450 October 19, 2016 / 8:46 pm

    I totally love this idea too, although when I first saw the post i thought it was something some other students did but read on and realized it was different 🙂 I read one of the student’s poems and thought that is awesome. Thanks for sharing.


  4. rachaelhyaduck October 25, 2016 / 11:52 pm

    This seems like a really cool idea! This is something that I have not thought of before. I’m not sure what age students you have but I feel that this activity could be used for almost all ages. I also feel that it really engages students when learning about poetry. I feel that poetry is one of those things that students either really like or they really hate. But I feel that through an activity such as this one, more students may end up enjoying a poetry unit. I also feel that this could be used in different subjects such as Social Studies as well! As a future teacher, this is something that I will have to keep in mind as an activity to use with my students. Thanks for sharing!


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