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Lipswitch? Whittlepeg? Spoodle?

December 3, 2008

December 1, 2008, Greencastle, Ind. —  

Last spring, the students in Mrs. Hayes' 2nd grade class at Ridpath Primary School in Greencastle were treated to a poetry Joe.JPGworkshop thanks to DePauw University Associate Professor Joe Heithaus.  Joe began his workshop by reading “Kitchen, Smitchen,” a poem that he had written for the class using words he had created to describe some unusual utensils he had found in his kitchen. 
It begins:

What do you call that thing my father
uses to spartle spaghetti out of the pot?
What’s sister scarping the sauce with?
What’s mother got in her hand
to burpon butter to the bread?

Lipswitch?  Whittlepeg?  Spoodle?


(The entire poem is included below).

Using humor to engage the 2nd graders was a hit, and the students were eager to write their own poems to share with the class.  Joe passed out some of the kitchen utensils and asked the students to write down as many words as they could think of to describe the objects.  They each picked a favorite word to share.  Joe asked them to use at least seven of those words to write their own poems.  The results were fantastic! 

One student poet wrote “Cookin’ Bookin’”

What is that thing on the counter
That looks like a snagglehammer?
It looks like it has smooth wood.
Can I use that snagglehammer?  I asked
But brother said no.
There’s a stringstick on the masher.
It looks like it’s swirly.
It’s hard naming all those things!

Mrs. Hayes states that children are often intimidated by writing poetry, but Joe taught them how to construct their own poems with their own words in a comfortable and familiar environment.  In the end, everyone had written a poem.  Mrs. Hayes continues, “I appreciated his expertise.  He had such an ease that he made the students feel at ease which made it a fun experience.”

When asked what motivates him to volunteer his time to share poetry with kids, Joe states, “Poetry is an excellent way to learn.  It’s a way for kids to be creative who might not otherwise have that opportunity.  Writing poetry allows kids to be successful in a way that’s not necessarily conventional.”  He continues, “Having grown up where teachers were afraid of poetry, I am happy to promote it and let kids have fun with it.”

Joe has given several poetry writing workshops at Ridpath Primary School and Tzouanakis Intermediate School in Greencastle.  He teaches creative writing at all levels at DePauw, specializing particularly in poetry writing.

 

Kitchen, Smitchen
By Professor Joe Heithaus
April 2008

What do you call that thing my father
uses to spartle spaghetti out of the pot?
What’s sister scarping the sauce with?
What’s mother got in her hand
to burpon butter to the bread?
Lipswitch? Whittlepeg? Spoodle?

When Dad pours the water
and pasta into that holey holey pot
the kitchen smells like the sun
in July after a rainstorm, the bread
tastes like sweet tea and cheerios,
and the butter melts like gold gold snow.

I curlyup the noodles on my big fat fork
and slurp them down my throat
and crunch and munch the crusty bread,
then dip and lap and lip
the sauce.  Then one cold gulp
of milk and I call
this meal Forkfullavalous! Tomatistic! Spaghettirffic!
I declare this kitchen mine.

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