A Visit with Ted Scheu, the Poetry Guy

Image of Ted Scheu, the Poetry GuyDo you have a favorite poet? Poem? Well, the fourth grade had an opportunity to work with Ted Scheu, the Poetry Guy, for April, poetry month! For three days, April 29, 30 and May 1, each class met with him three times, and twice as a whole grade. At our first meeting as a whole grade, he told us a little about himself.

“… [I] taught for a bunch of years, grades K through 5, in Shelburne, Vermont. And I loved it…mostly. But I was so busy as a teacher that I wasn’t able to find time to do any writing. So I left my full-time teaching job in 1998, so I could express my kid-voice in my writing.”1

He’s published 5 books of poetry and shared his love of poetry with us.

The first time he visited our classroom, he showed us how couplets work. Couplets are two lines that rhyme. For example,

Lion without teeth
Sword without sheath


Clouds without rain
Shots without aim

Below is a poem using couplets by one of our classmates.

Can You Imagine?

A flag without a pole
Soccer without a goal

Stars without night
Sanyah without light

A hamburger without meat
Music without a beat

The sun without being sunny
Easter without a bunny

Lemon without tea
You without me

         by Sanyah

On his next visit, we learned about non-rhyming poems. We had all brought things from nature to class with us. Nothing alive or recently alive though. Everyone was going to write a non-rhyming poem about their object. They were “What Am I?” or “What Is It?” poems. Shells were “boats” or “cinnamon rolls”. Rocks were “rocket ships” or “drills driving down into the earth”. For instance, “I am a cinnamon roll melting in your mouth.” Some people thought it was easier not to rhyme, and others thought it was easier to rhyme.

Which am I?  

Am I an old man’s mouth?
Or a necklace to royalty?
A speckled slug sluggishly rolling
as slow as a rock.
A fairy earring
A clam
dotted with a leopard coat.
A small sea creature am I,
burdened with the heavy thought of the sea.
I am the feeling of music,
the smell of salt.
The empty spaciousness of everything.
A mouth puckering at
the thought of death.
A disapproving cave with the mouth turned
I am here.
I am there.
Which am I?
Which am I?
         by Anissa  

The last time Mr. Scheu visited our classroom, he explained to us how descriptive poems give the reader an image of what you are writing about and how you feel. In our writer’s notebooks, he had us write a descriptive poem about a hobby or sport, anything, that you thought you were the best at, far past anybody else. Your poem had some specifications: the first was that the name of the poem had to be “When I…” and the rest would be the subject of your poem. The other thing was that the title had to be one of the lines in the poem. One example is,

When I play the piano,
my hands are limitless and free

This gives the reader an idea of how the writer feels when they play the piano.

When I Play Soccer

When I play soccer, before the game starts, I warm up.
My muscles turn to lions ready to attack.
Before I know it the whistle blows and the game has now begun.
I leap into attack mode and charge after the ball.
I trip, get hurt and fall over but I still do not give up.
Then my muscles feel clumsy, my heart feels strong and that’s when I begin.
The game turns upside down, the opponents are tired and there is nothing they can do.
We both don’t know what is going on as I shoot and pass the ball.
I feel the freedom inside my veins as I come to a one versus one.
My brain is tired, my muscles are tired, but my heart is what I trust.
         by Enrique

At the end of his third day, he met with the whole grade again in the library. At least 5 students in each class were invited to share their favorite poem they wrote with him. Following the sharing, he read a poem for two voices with one student. The poem contained an unexpected twist at the end. This is one of many that he’s working on for a new book of poems for two voices. The students enjoyed their time with him, and their newfound love of poetry. And how appropriate for his visit to be during Poetry Month!

Reported by Anissa and Esme

1″About Ted.” < http://www.poetryguy.com/about-ted/#q20> 22 May 2015.

11 thoughts on “A Visit with Ted Scheu, the Poetry Guy

  1. I am so impressed with your writing! I absolutely love that you incorporated the poems from your friends – they are wonderful. And I learned a lot about different kinds of poetry from reading your blog – well done girls!

  2. This is such an excellent blog Esme and Anissa….and an important way to draw together your experiences at school with all of the parents and grandparent….so well written, such great poetry, astonishingly talented. Write some more because we love reading!!

  3. I have written many many pieces for play and work for 70 years but I have never written a poem. These poems, all so good, inspire ME to write one and I will though I have doubts it will be as good as these!)

  4. There once was a girl with a dog,
    who new how to write a great blog.
    Her parents were proud,
    her friends shouted aloud
    While the dog barked more like a frog!

    (I think I need your help Esme and Anissa)

    Well done you two. I think you are wonderful!

  5. Another piece of wonderful writing by these two talented young girls.It was nice of you to include some poems written by your classmates. I like them as well as the one written by you Anissa.I am sure you two will never stop amazing us with your wonderful writing!
    Thank you Anissa and Esme

  6. Well what enthusiasm in the composition of your blog Esme and Anissa, please give me some lessons ! Poetry is a wonderful medium of writing that shouldn’t be hurried….as it can touch the very beat of ones heart and stir emotions we never thought we had. You are both growing into wonderful young ladies, I send my congratulations and love to you both, from Nanna x x

  7. Thank you, Esme and Anissa for sharing this informative article about Ted Scheu and for sharing the poetry selections!
    It is a wonderful treat for our fourth graders when Mr Scheu visits.
    I wonder if you will write more poetry,

    Dr. Reinemann

  8. Anissa and Esme, you did a superb job mixing the information of Ted Scheu ‘s visit with some great poetry that shows the skills you and your classmates learned. It must have been a wonderful experience and your words really bring that across to the reader. Keep up the colorful reporting!

  9. Words are so powerful, so inspiring and what better way to use them than in poetry. Ted Scheu has clearly made an impact on the both of you.

    Anissa, thank you for sharing your beautiful poem about a seashell, “Which am I?” Sometimes envisioning an object through words can be even more powerful than feeling the object itself in your hands.
    Anissa and Esme, I hope you keep writing and sharing. It’s been wonderful reading your posts!

  10. “Thanks for … sharing this wonderful report. It’s very accurate and I love the poems that Anissa and Esme included. Fabulous stuff. Please thank and congratulate them if you happen to see them. Fun memories, as my Chickering visits always seem to build.”

    Quote from Ted Scheu in an email to Mrs. Chase, 27 May 2015

  11. Wow Anissa & Esme,
    Both of you did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of Poet Ted Scheu’s visit. I have met Mr. Scheu many times as he visits my Elementary School in Eastchester, NY every year. I know just how inspiring he can be because he is so passionate about his writing and he has such a creative spirit…just like you two girls! 😉

    Anissa, your poem, “Which Am I?” was incredibly deep. Your use of figurative language was quite powerful. We are very proud of you-:) Congratulations on another blog well-done!

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