Kicking off a unit on poetry, Craig Middle School teacher Gay Shellhorn looked to spark her eighth graders' creative instincts last week in the initial class assignment.
Shellhorn called for haikus, which are non-rhyming Japanese poetic forms including 17 syllables arranged in three lines, containing five, seven, and five syllables. The teacher threw open the assignment's topic to all things Craig America, including the upcoming Grand Olde West Days.
Eighth grader Jacquelyn Kinder chose inbreeding.
where everyone's related
watch for inbreeding"
"I thought it was kind of funny," said Kinder, who crafted the haiku along with her friend, Melissa Ellgen.
Kinder said she didn't look too far for inspiration.
"I actually read in the paper about family reunions at City Market after church every Sunday," she said, adding that her family occasionally meets relatives at the store on Sundays.
Shellhorn last week taught haiku structure and used texts such as "Redneck Hiaku" to tap funny bones and creativity.
Still, getting students' poetic prowess on paper isn't easy, she said.
"They all dread it," Shellhorn said. "It makes them think, and the boys particularly see it as something girly for some reason."
"Some were very creative and for others it's exciting when they put something on paper."
Tyler Sherman said his offering was borne out of frustration over hearing classmates' refrain of "nothing to do" in Craig.
"The children of Craig
complaining of being "bored"
aren't really made of wood"
"I really don't like poetry," Sherman confessed.
Others finding plenty to do around town, such as Loretta Hoyt, said she struggled to get the structure right.
has really cool Grand Olde West Days
and hot cowboys too"
"I had a hard time thinking of words that go with the syllables," said Hoyt, who was working on a separate assignment Tuesday with her friend, Shasta Martinez.
Bo Boatright also looked to his own local experience for his haiku.
"Ever rode a horse?
The beautiful animal
of the western world"
"That's my life," Boatright said. " It was kind of fun to figure out what would fit, like a puzzle."
Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org