Text combined with other materials allows sound and sense to interact with color, texture, shape and a host of interactive, playful possibilities.

Poetry Unfolding

Poetry Unfolding is an eco-art and poetry project I have developed for middle schoolers. We go outdoors and engage the five senses through a series of simple mindfulness exercises. The students jot responses in journals, do a drawing exercise, and assemble material for a poem. I provide a grid to simplify crafting the interconnected parts of the “fortune teller” or “cootie catcher” poem.

Then I give a quick lesson in paper folding and how to make a cootie catcher. Students can decorate, draw, paint on the paper before or after folding it, and write their finished poems onto the flaps to create a haiku-like series of 16 different poems based on concrete responses to an outdoor setting and their direct perceptions. Here are some of my published cootie catcher poems.

Fortune Tellers: Poems of Possibility

These origami shapes allow for 16 (or more depending on how you divide the flaps) possible combinations producing short poems. The text can interact with patterns or images on the paper. The “game” of trying different combinations can be played solo, or with a friend. An adult version of the workshop described above explores this hybrid form and its different disruptive possibilities.

Large Format Cootie Catcher Poems

During the pandemic I had time to work on large 24″ paper and to play around with using leaves and natural objects to create the design scaffolding for some cootie catcher poems. One of them, called “Cookery in the Time of COVID,” published with 2 others in ANMLY, used a wire whisk and other kitchen implements rolled in paint or on an ink pad.

Other Hybrids: See Eco Art for more

Amelia L. Williams

Metaphors Be With You!