Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems

Raczka, Bob (Author)
Macmillan 2016. 44 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781626722361 (hardcover)
9781626722378 (e-book)
Original language: English
Dewey: 811
Book type: Anthology
Book genre: Poetry

Text Elements:

figurative language, recurring patterns

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

The visual nature of concrete poems offers an exciting way to address words and meaning. Simple themes encourage readers new to poetry; puzzling out the visuals sparks another layer of mental activity.

The poem “Clock” displaces the “L” to form the hands on the clock-face “O”. The circular poem must be read clockwise: “The clock on the wall says it’s five ‘til three but the kids in my class say it’s five ‘til free.”

The evocative “Dipper” uses white text on a black background, in keeping with its astronomy theme. Perched high on the page, the poem’s shape mimics a constellation in the night sky: “Way down there on earth you hold firefly jars, filled up to their lids with light. Up here in the sky, I’m a vessel of stars, my brim overflowing with night.”

Ingenious layout choices, poem design and letter treatments all provide rich opportunities for discussion on form and meaning. The final poem, “poeTRY”, issues an invitation for readers to make concrete poems of their own: “poetry is about taking away the words you don’t need/poetry is taking away words you don’t need/poetry is words you need/poetry is words/try.”

  •  Practise reading the rhymes with a friend. Identify unfamiliar vocabulary and make new sentences using these words. Note and list the rhyming words.
  •  

    Choose an object that interests you. Write a list of descriptors and phrases that highlight its key characteristics. Choose an appropriate object/shape and write a shape poem in the same style.

  •  

    Organize a poem into a verse for two voices. Add sound effects and/or instruments and record it as a podcast. Explain why you like it.

  •  

    Add on to one of the poems. Work with a partner to create a dramatic reading, using gestures, volume and expression, to engage your audience and present to the class.

  •  

    Why do you see a cement mixer on the cover? What is the pun intended with concrete poems? Discuss this question with your classmates.

  •  

    Practise reading the rhymes with a friend. Try to identify the link between the pages on the right and those on the left (i.e. the word that stands out in bigger letters and the illustration made with words).

  •  

    With a partner, choose an object. Write a list of words (adjectives, nouns, verbs) that highlight its key characteristics. Choose an appropriate shape and write a shape poem in the author's style. Present it to your classmates at a poetry reading event.

  • Visual Arts