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2019 Post #25 -- Make Your Peace

by Brett Vogelsinger

Anna Grossnickle Hines is a poet who brings a beautiful blend of poetry and quilting expertise to her books for children.  Since I am a poetry enthusiast, and my wife is a professional embroidery artist, we were thrilled to discover her picture books this year!

Her 2011 picture book, Peaceful Pieces, contains a poem that will speak to younger and older writers alike.  It is called "Peace: A Recipe," and the picture under the poem shows how the quilting complements the words.

Peace: A Recipe

Open minds -- at least two.
Willing hearts -- the same.
Rinse well with compassion.
Stir in a fair amount of trust.
Season with forgiveness.
Simmer in a sauce of respect.
A dash of humor brightens the flavor.

Best served with hope.

Click to enlarge!

After reading the poem twice aloud in my classroom -- first a teacher reading, then a student read aloud -- I ask my students to think of someone that they need to make greater peace with in their own lives.  I invite them to ponder: which of the "ingredients" in this poem could help lead to greater peace.  In their Writer's Notebooks, write for a few minutes about what action they could take using this "ingredient" to create greater peace in their relationship.

This activity welcomes students to see poetry not just as literature or a collection of images or a weaving of words.  Of course, it is all these things.  But it can also be a motivator, a catalyst for change, an invitation to an epiphany.

As teachers, we cannot manufacture epiphanies.  But we can give students the chance to take a message from a poem and look for ways to apply it in their lives.  This deceptively simple poem may give them just such a chance.

Further Reading:

Brett Vogelsinger is a ninth-grade English teacher at Holicong Middle School in Bucks County, PA.  He has been starting class with a poem each day for the past six years and is the creator of the Go Poems blog to share poetry reading and writing ideas with teachers around the world. Find him on Twitter @theVogelman.


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