Rose, Where Did You Get That Red

Kenneth Koch's 1973 book Rose, where did you get that red? is subtitled "Teaching Great Poetry to Children". It's a teacher's guide, but it's also a collection of enthusiastic poems. Many of Koch's guinea pigs, youngsters at PS 61 in New York City, produce little gems like sixth-grader Lisa Smalley's:

Come with me to the world of secrets.
Do you know how a mind grows? I do. Do you? If you don't, you won't find it on a piece of paper, you'll find it on the dark blue sky.
Do you know how to get to the end of the universe? I do. If you don't, you won't find it in the almanac, you'll find it in the number nine.
Do you know where fish came from? I do. If you don't, you won't find it in a book about fish, you'll find it on the earth's equator.

A Peace Corps worker in Swaziland, Mary Bowler, used Koch's poetry ideas with her students. They came back with sparkles such as:

I wish to have a black cat with long broad ears so that when it walks the ears could touch down and hear when the ants sing.

Koch (1925-2002) tried to set poetic fires burning in a wide range of places (cf, Lying Verses and Never Told Anybody). If these little kids can do it, why can't I? Good challenge!

^z - 2008-12-08