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2019 Post #28 -- A Concrete Clock Poem

by Brett Vogelsinger

When it comes to concrete poetry, students are often impressed with its combination of simplicity and cleverness.  And that's the thing about concrete poems: like masterful acrobats or skateboarders or dancers, they make artful maneuvers look easy.  As some people work on movement to play with gravity, the concrete poet plays with negative space, the blank page, and the shape of words in original and sometimes humorous ways. 

One of my favorite concrete poets is Bob Raczka and his book Wet Cement contains a poem that will ring true to students and teachers everywhere.  It is called "Clock" and the picture below comes from the Kindle preview on Amazon:  

Why not challenge your students to create a smiple clock poem that sets the hour and minute hands at a different time: wake-up time,  lunch, bedtime, game time.  Or you might challenge them to change the form and still write about time: a sundial, an hourglass, a digital clock, an iPhone.  This quick introduction to a sub-genre of poetry in a shape that students of all ages and artistic abilities can handle may do more than just inspire them to create a concrete poem.  Poetry is about moments, and this exercise moves them to think of a poemworthy moment.  Maybe the following day in class, that same moment can be crafted into a poem with line breaks and stanzas.  

The writer's notebook awaits!

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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