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The Box of Poetic Possibilities

Quite some ago I purchased an old wooden box from shop called Quirky Interiors. the shop specializes mainly in antiques pieces. The inside of the box was divided into eighteen compartments, equal in size.  I knew the box had potential for my writing, but I was not completely sure how I would use it. So I waited patiently for inspiration. 

Last week, the inspiration arrived!

I decided I would use the box to encourage brave young poets to explore poetic possibilities.

I labeled the box 'Poetic Possibilities.' Into each of the compartments I placed words and phrases I harvested and typed onto cards. The words selected were from poems previously published. 



Students were offered the challenge of selecting a card from the box. With that card, they were further challenged to use the word or words in a poem of their own creation. They could place the word or words anywhere within the poem- beginning, middle or end. They could also repeat the word/words.
However, once chosen the selected card could not be returned to the box. They were allowed however, to swap the card with a fellow writer if they so desired.


In a group of 34 writers, 28 took up the challenge. This pleased me. I watched them closely as they talked about connections to the card they had chosen. They discussed possibilities, made lists and began to compose their poetic responses. Fresh, raw words began to emerge on the blank pages of their notebooks. They paused to think and they persisted. No one gave up. No one said this is too hard. 

During share time they did admit it was challenging to begin, but they also liked grappling with the task as presented. They were brave writers. I reminded them that writing a was 'problem solving.' process.  I will return in two weeks time to see their polished pearls of poetry.


Apart from the poetry connection, this task extends vocabulary, the use of poetic devices and writing stamina. 

I see the potential for students to contribute their own words to the box. Words arising from their own reading. Words from Read Aloud sessions and words from their writing. 

For this activity I used an old wooden box. It could have just as easily been a jar, a tin, a small chest, a paper bag, and envelope- any container that arouses, mystery and curiosity among learners and brave poets alike.

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