Friday, October 22, 2010

in case anyone has never

What is it about pumpkins? We went to choose pumpkins at a local "patch"--no time for a trip to an actual farm this week, and my kids know very well how pumpkins grow--but even just being in a large sunny yard strewn with pumpkins gave us all a rotund feel of earthy well-being.

At school today, following the kindergarteners' visit to a pumpkin farm yesterday, we'll celebrate our first Poetry Friday together by carving a pumpkin while simultaneously reading the following tour de force by the great Valerie Worth. To me this poem (with many of hers!) serves as a definition of "poetry" for kids: a piece of writing that distills experience into a handful of words that work musically together. (Want to watch me try to explain that to 5-year-olds?) In any case I think it will make a fine complement to our work with "Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate" next week.


After its lid
Is cut, the slick
Seeds and stuck
Wet strings
Scooped out,
Walls scraped
Dry and white,
Face carved, candle
Fixed and lit,

Light creeps
Into the thick
Rind: giving
That dead orange
Vegetable skull
Warm skin, making
A live head
To hold its
Sharp gold grin.

~ Valerie Worth (1933-1994)

You can dig in to more at a wrung sponge with Andi this week.


  1. "rotund feel of earthy well-being"
    We all need more of that in our days! I think I'll pull out this VW poem with my own children when we carve this year! (Oh - here's a quick one your K students might like - I had it in LADYBUG years ago -

    Jack O'Lantern
    Pop the top.
    Scoop the goop.
    Carve a funny nose.
    Stick a candle in his head.
    Giggle while he glows.
    -Amy LV

    It's sure not Valerie, but it's a how-to, anyway. Happy carving, Heidi!

  2. Yes I love this one! We are carving pumpkins this weekend, after the kindergarten trip to the farm and a hayride, and I'll read this to my boys. Thanks for posting it!

  3. my favorite part of making jack-o-lanterns was (and still is) running my fingers through the wet seeds and strands. it feels like connecting with something earthy and yet very raw.

    also, agree with you about valerie worth. so simple and yet so hard to capture things the way she did, seemingly with ease (but we all know better).

  4. Thanks for this post. I was not brave enough to try to carve a pumpkin with my two girls (a five-year-old and a three-year-old) this year. We just got the plastic kind of jack-o-lantern, with a light inside. Maybe I should reconsider while there is still time before Halloween. Either way, I will read the poem to the girls!

    (Amy, we have a subscription to Ladybug, and I think they might have rerun that poem in the last couple of years? I know I have read it before. It is really cute!)

  5. Love Valerie Worth. She uses the strongest, most definite words. Easy words, but the way she puts them together--aaaahhh.

    Amy, enjoyed your poem, too! It's so cute--bet the little kids (ok, and the big ones) love it:>)


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!