Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Haiku Mobile

Posted: December 19, 2015 in Uncategorized
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So, I’ve been thinking about mobiles in my Digital Fabrication class recently. Our first project was a catapult using 3D printed pieces and other pieces of this and that. Our current project is a mobile using either 3D printed pieces, laser cut/engraved pieces, or a combination of the two.

My mobile is also a haiku writing game. I have been on a creating-with-words kick lately. Lots of blackout poetry, some playing with words in other art projects, etc. So, for my mobile I decided to make a twist on the game Haikubes. My personal family received this game from cousins a few years ago. Briefly, you roll the dice and get a selection of words as well as a topic and style for your haiku. Then you create the poem.

Here’s how I adapted the game to a mobile.

  • Instead of the dice, I used the laser cutter to make cardboard rectangles with words cut into them–I’ll call them tiles from now on.
  • The tiles are painted different colors based on the number of syllables in the word: orange for 1 syllable, green for 2 syllables, purple for 3 syllables.
  • Each tile has a hole at the top so that it can hang from one of the bars that hold the three, individual lines of the haiku
  • There are 4 arms on my mobile–3 for the lines of the haiku, 1 for the “Haiku Mobile” sign.


Here are some early attempts.

Wild logical girl,

Finally here dripping light,

sleeping under love.





Our melodic boy,

to her a parallel life,

a brother embraced

IMG_5197  IMG_5198  IMG_5199 IMG_5195

Things to consider for version 2:

  • The look of the tiles hanging from the nails is what I was after, but the balancing is hard. I may need to have some sort of curve to the nail/hanger/etc to hold the tiles on more securely.
  • The font is too tight so it is hard to read a lot of the words. I thought that it would be easier once they were painted, but for a lot of them, it’s really hard to tell. Either a different font, a space after each letter, or raising the bed on the laser cutter for a tighter cut.
  • The soot on the cardboard from the laser cutter just does not go away.
  • I like the “natural color” of the cardboard in some places, but the soot on the edges means it is not an option. What to do there?
  • Better word list
  • A more thoughtful combination of colors. This combination was based largely on a combination of what was in our house and what was at the local hardware store the day I went.

Any other suggestions? What else could I do here?


So, I’ve been thinking about some of the work my 9th grade English class did this past year. I am quite new to teaching 9th grade English, so there are a lot of new assignments. However, one totally new assignment this year was blackout poetry. (Read about how Austin Kleon began writing these poems and check out his new poems and posts.)

My students had read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NightTime for summer reading. We talked about it at the beginning of the year, wrote a short essay, moved on. Then it was time for some poetry. I wanted students to write as well as read poems. And, I thought blackout poetry might be less intimidating as a place to begin. So, I distributed copies of a slightly shortened review of an autistic friendly performance of the play in New York. I explained the basics of writing the poems, shared a video explanation on my course page on our learning management system, and then I waited.

In case you are not familiar with the average level of enthusiasm that is generated by poetry writing assignments in 9th grade, I will tell you. In my, admittedly limited experience, not much excitement gets turned in with those poems. There are those few students who are excited, but the mood is hardly festive. So, imagine my surprise when the class spilled in talking and bubbling about their poems. Of course, we had to put other plans on hold.


We put the desks in a big rectangle, spread the poems out, and walked around the room reading all the poems. Each student got 5 paperclips to “vote” for poems they found interesting (not necessarily good, but interesting). I don’t always like picking favorites like that, but there was so much commenting about what they liked, that this seemed a good way provide some time to read and “comment” quietly before we talked as a group.


Here’s what I liked about the assignment:

  • It created a real buzz–other teachers did the assignment because their students heard about it and requested it!
  • Students had obviously spent time thinking about the words and playing with language–VICTORY!
  • Many of the poems looked interesting as well.
  • We had a great conversation about student-written poetry.
  • Did I mention they entered the room talking positively about the homework?!

Here are a few images of particular poems and the text. I have taken some liberties with line breaks.


He cannot stand the way everyone thinks

Because they don’t

People are too busy talking to look closely

He said the big difference between me and them

Is that I like know exactly what time it is




He watches his beloved house

On Sunday afternoon

The inviting houselights dim, soft

The landscape is an ideal setting

A quiet space on the road


He cannot stand loud noises

His father has betrayed him

One of his beloved

I covered my ears

The big difference I saw in the house on Sunday afternoon

The young man was there

Sound and light have been toned down for Sunday

No changes

Sound and light

Dim lighting allows for easier opening

Slashses of light framing the dog of darkness

On Sunday the dog will come

The world, you don’t want that lost

Families dealing with the emotional lives of others

On Sunday

He said, “the only think I can do is bring life

On Sunday people may groan and bark, stand up and walk out

It’s ready. This is Shakespeare

Knowing exactly what to be


And, once we were finished I decorated my office with them for a while.


Anyone have any experience with blackout poetry to share or suggestions to extend the work?



So, I’ve been thinking about paper circuitry recently.

A colleague shared a post from Instructables called”Conductive Poetry”.

I adapted the idea to poetry with my circuit scribe. I wanted to be able to pull out words and change the poem–to play with the language. I started with Billy Collins’ poem Introduction to Poetry which I always read with my class. Personally, I find that it makes for a good starting poem, takes a not too serious attitude, and has some great imagery. Plus, it then gives me a reason to show some of the short films that were made of some other Billy Collins poems. Three videos are in his TED talk. Really great stuff in my opinion.

Back to my take on conductive poetry. First I wrote a number of lines, but that was too much for the current to get around. I settled on a line or so with interchangeable nouns. I made a little cover for the lights with images on them, just like the Instructables example. Here’s a prototype.

keep a poem light

This line is keep a poem in your pocket from the poem of the same name by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers. I changed it to keep a lightbulb in your toolbox. I have some other examples, but this gives you the idea.

I thought this would be a fun way to play with language. Physically moving the words in and out of the sentences and phrases appeals to me, and I think helps make poetry seem less like a rarified persuit and more like a building trade. This might not be completely accurate, but it is interesting to consider, plus is fits nicely with Billy Collins’ poem.

I have yet to do anything with this in class, but I’m planning. Since we will be working on some poetry when winter break is over, I’ve got time to let the idea roll around in my head. I think it’s got some potential. Having a few light colors for options and being able to draw different images for the words injects a little visual literacy into the situation without getting as involved as movie making. When you are the poet laureate you get movies made of your work. When you are a random English teacher and Ed Tech coach you make your own little circuits and feel pretty pleased with yourself.

Another reason this visual connection is at the front of my brain at the moment is that the 12/1/14 #EngChat was on the topic of visual literacy (archive here). I have some other plans for incorporating visual analysis as a bridge to literary analysis also, but no electronics there. All of these idea are really coming together nicely, yes?

Finally, I’ve been obsessed with Chibitronics, Hack Your Notebook, and related projects lately. I made this little notebook with a light up cover.

I really had no idea for this relates to poetry or English class, but maybe I will make this little notebook a place for great phrases and sentences that we find as we read poetry in class. Although I am often in favor of a digital storage space for collaborative collections, I think there is something to having a special place for special work or words. I am thinking this out as I type and wondering about having a shared, digital collection place to start off with and then using my little light up notebook as a final tangible “best of” collection.