Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • The sun dipped westward --
    a great ball of flame
    belonging to the prairie skies alone.
    Shadows of the grass grew longer.

    At last the sun reached the horizon.
    Over the vast wilderness,
    a peculiar silence lingered
    with the strange orange light.

    Like a wild creature stealing from its lair,
    the night wind sighed along the grass.
    Night deepened.

    found by Bonnie Despain
    from Where the Buffaloes Begin
    written by Olaf Baker

    Note: Some time ago, I got an interesting tip in a class for teachers of reading. The technique was to help young students recognize good writing in the materials they were reading, with the hope that that would, in turn, lead to better use of language in their own writing.

    The idea was to take a piece of prose and look for little “golden nuggets” - short phrases that appeal to the reader, call up vivid imagery, use interesting word choices, whatever. Once identified, such a list can lead to discussions of both the piece of literature and the skill of the author.

    Taking it a step beyond, students might be asked to select some of those phrases and weave them into a piece of poetry. The poetry is theirs, but the words are attributed the author and are a lovely reflection on and an internalization of the original prose. This is called “found poetry”.

    Not wanting to make an assignment that I had not tried doing myself, I experimented. I enjoyed delving more into the literature and had fun finding the poetry. I even used a reprint of a religious sermon with fair results.

    My young students met with varying degrees of success. There were nice spots in their poems, but few were able to sustain an idea long enough to create a complete piece. It may be that high school students would have better luck.

    In any case, I have had fun tinking with the idea.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.