A Cento for National Poetry Month

My children’s poets group chose to write cento poems for our National Poetry Month project. For those who don’t know, a cento is like a poem collage. The poet takes exact lines from existing poems and arranges them to make a new poem. I want to particularly thank my poet-friend Judy Gamble for exposing me to a yet another poetic form that I have come to love.

For my cento, I limited myself to poems by children’s poets who have inspired me and whose work I have particularly enjoyed either during my childhood or as an adult. This meant that I got to identify who those poets are for me and take a new look at their work–a very satisfying activity for National Poetry Month.

As I picked out lines I liked, a theme of children’s imaginative play emerged. I began to seek out lines that fit that theme. Soon I had a large group of potential lines from the poets I’d identified. I decided that I could use multiple lines from the same poet, but not from the same poem, and began the exciting process of choosing, arranging, and rearranging to create the new poem, “Play.”

“Play” has 25 lines from 25 different poems by 18 different poets. The poems are all referenced below, so you can check out the wonderful and fun poems that make their little cameos together.

Tomorrow is Poetry Friday, so soon you can also visit ellenleventhal.com for even more poetry. Thank you, Ellen, for hosting! (For now, Poetry Friday links are here: readingyear.blogspot.com/2015/05/poetry-friday-emotional.html. Thank you, Mary Lee, for temporarily hosting!)

Play

A Cento in Celebration of Children’s Poets and Children’s Play



We burst forth,1 

Lost in cloudy hallways2

Into the hammock and wound round the stairs,3

i twirl in rhythm to the dance4

Behind the beat, around the beat5

we leap into the wind,6

Down and around and up on the crest of a breeze7

Up in the air and over the wall,8

For there’s no more UP to go.9

are you grinning10

There are no rules.11

Perhaps I am a Postman. No I think I am a Tram.12

Resemblance to both mud and lace.13

and onion ring fryers—14 

Pieces out of picture puzzles,15

spitting papaya seeds!16

Where ferns uncurl17

Whispers18

     like

          bright

               chips

                    of sunlight19

These are my two drops of rain20 

These jewels of color!21 

I really hold a million million rocks here in my hand22

Let the rain kiss you.23 

the sun is where the sun should be—24 

There’s laughter and smiles galore.25

© Karin Fisher-Golton, 2015

“Play” includes lines from 25 different poems by 18 different poets. Each line appears in 
its entirety and unchanged except one minor punctuation change as noted. Author, poem, 
and collection sources are below.

1. Joyce Sidman, “The Season’s Campaign,” Song of the Water Boatman and Other 
          Pond Poems
2. Leland B. Jacobs, “E,” An Alphabet of Girls (period at end of line omitted)
3. Shel Silverstein, “Spaghetti,” Where the Sidewalk Ends
4. Nikki Giovanni, “November,” The Sun Is So Quiet
5. Walter Dean Myers, “America’s Music,” Jazz
6. Kristine O’Connell George, “Tree Horse,” Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems
7. Alice Schertle, “A Silver Trapeze,” A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic 
          Forms
8. Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Swing,” Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child’s Book 
          of Poems
9. John Ciardi, “How to Tell the Top of a Hill,” Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child’s 
         Book of Poems
10. Paul B. Janeczko, cinquain that begins “Oh, cat,” A Kick in the Head: An Everyday 
          Guide to Poetic Forms
11. Ogden Nash, “The Mule,” A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms
12. A.A. Milne, “Busy,” Now We Are Six
13. Joyce Sidman, “The Lichen We,” Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors
14. N. M. Bodecker, “Sing Me a Song of Teapots and Trumpets,” The Random House 
          Book of Poetry for Children
15. Shel Silverstein, “Hector the Collector,” Where the Sidewalk Ends
16. Janet S. Wong, “Mountain Gorilla,” National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry
17. Margaret Wise Brown, “Green Stems,” The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
18. Valerie Worth, “Crickets,” The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
19. Joyce Sidman, “Always Together,” Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow
20. A.A. Milne, “Waiting at the Window,” Now We Are Six
21. Valerie Worth, “prism,” Peacock and Other Poems
22. Florence Parry Heide, “Rocks,” Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child’s Book of Poems
23. Langston Hughes, “April Rain Song,” The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
24. N. M. Bodecker, “Good-by My Winter Suit,” The Random House Book of Poetry for 
         Children
25. Shel Silverstein, “The Land of Happy,” Where the Sidewalk Ends
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4 Responses to A Cento for National Poetry Month

  1. What a wonderful celebration of poetry! You’ve included many of my favorite poets, and I love the way you’ve arranged these lines. Poetry is the place for “laughter and smiles galore!”

  2. maryleehahn says:

    Wow! You had a month of writing AND reading! What a fun project!

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