Poetry Creates the World Anew

“A poem
is words turned upside down
and suddenly!
the world is new.”

From This Is a Poem that Heals Fish

 At our youth gathering on Palm Sunday, I was wondering how to talk with youth about the resurrection as something multi-layered. I often think we are able to say the words, “Christ is Risen!” without really engaging with the fullness of what that means in our own lives. Each time we encounter the greatest and most mysterious story of our faith, it strikes us in a new way. Poetry has this way of transforming often-heard words into insightful, fresh phrases that invite us to sit with wonder.

Black out poetry is a way to extract new meaning from an existing piece of writing. Using an article or longer passage, the poem is made by crossing out words with a marker. The words that remain become a poem of sorts.

For youth group, we began with warm up with questions about changes we had experience in our own lives. Then, we thought of words that reminded us of the resurrection. Together, we read The First Time Resurrection Mattered to Me.* Several youth nodded their head at the writer’s words, “This year, I realized resurrection and I’m not exactly sure why.”  In less than 15 minutes, youth were able to create their own poems and share them with the group. They were meaningful, “I’ve realized how transformation never was sad. Because the first time I shared my light, everyone was smiling.” And, at times, humorous (trying to use the word zucchini mid-poem.) You can read a few examples on our church website.

I’ve used poetry in another youth lesson, “God says yes to me.” While not an every week activity, creating poetry is one way to find words for expressing complex things. I’m interested to hear how others have used poetry in youth ministry.

It turns out April is national poetry month. Check out my colleague Hanna’s post about one of my favorite poetry books for younger children, In Every Grain of Sand: A Child’s Book of Prayers and Praise.

*Another Easter piece that would work well for black out poetry is Rachel Held-Evans Holy Week for Doubters.

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