The Color of Poetry

February 2, 2017

Who can play?  This poetry game can be played by anyone at any age, at any writing level, and may be done alone, with a friend, or in a group.
 
What you need.  A box of crayons or a bunch of paper “paint chips” (the kind you can get at paint stores.)  Paper to write on and a pencil or pen to write with.
 
Pick a color.  Choose a color crayon or a color paint chip.  You may pick it randomly or you may pick a color that you find yourself drawn to, even if you're not sure why.  If you are playing with someone else, you may each choose your own color or you can try picking the same color.
 
Look and think.  Before you start writing, spend a minute or two looking at your color—you can consider the name of the color on the crayon or paint chip if you want, but you don't have to.  Think about whether the color reminds you of anything.  Once you've come up with something, close your eyes for a minute and try to remember all the sensory details you can and any feelings associated with your memory.
 
Begin writing.  If you feel ready—flooded with details, images and language—you may begin writing your poem.  If not, start by listing the details you remember about a particular memory.  If that seems murky, begin by jotting down as many associations with the color (or its name) as you can, and then go back to pick one association to work from.  When you feel like you've got some images and words to work with, begin writing your poem. 
 
What kind of images or memories?  Here's what some kids have come up with: a brown summer camp cabin, the color of the kitchen walls at a friend's house that was very different from the writer's house, the kinds of things a pen with green ink would write, the “Carolina blue” sky on a football Sunday. 
 

Don't hog it.  Share your ideas and your poems!
 

Hey, this is cool!  If you like this activity and you like poems inspired by color, check out Color Me A Rhyme, by Jane Yolen (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press  2000).  The book includes magnificent photographs of nature to accompany Yolen's poems inspired by the colors in nature.

 

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