Landon’s campus served as the muse for Grade 9 students studying and writing their own poetry. The assignment called for boys to grab a pen and paper and get outdoors for some creative inspiration in nature.
It is called “Jabberwalking,” an activity designed to have students observe the world around them, write down words and phrases, and then put them together in a poem.
English teacher Tom DiChiara said the project is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem “Jabberwocky” . The poem is famous for its use of nonsensical words that, despite being largely unintelligible, set the mood of the poem.
They also watched a video by Poet Juan Felipe Herrara explaining “Jabberwalking.” The boys learned how to become poets on the move.
“We strolled through Miniter Quad, past the majestic and mammoth bear wood carving by the Bradley exit, and into Perkins Garden, which was just hitting its spring stride with blooming azaleas and blossoming flowers. There, the boys grabbed and bench and took in their surroundings,” DiChiara said.
They were instructed to write down everything they saw using descriptive language, as well as any nonsensical words that came to mind. Afterward, they each took these seemingly unrelated words and phrases and assembled them into a poem that makes—or appears to make—sense.
The poems had to be at least 10 lines long, in any format, and include imagery and figurative language.
The goal was to hone the boys’ ability to show rather than tell, one of the cornerstones of strong writing. They were challenged to employ imagery, to find beauty—and perhaps meaning—in the natural world around them, and to use their own distinct voice as a writer.
“The results were vivid, funny, and at times deeply insightful poems that gave me and their classmates a peek behind the curtain and allowed the students—whether they realized it or not—to make their voices heard,” DiChiara said.
April was National Poetry Month, and teachers also included other activities to inspire creative writing like ‘poetry cafes,’ in which students read poems aloud to each other.
Read Matthew Guo's '25 poem below.
The Sun is Going to Disappear
Its full of pink, purple, and white flowers
Like a colorful wildfire
With a scent of Florida citrus
Trees waved at us from above
Scattered around, there are white rocks
With a red fire hydrant standing next to one
But the flowers only appear for the spring
And maybe they will eventually die
There trees are covered in scars and vines
The mark of age and wear
Eventually, the paint of the rocks and fire hydrant will wear off
But inside all of this fading beauty
There is chatter
Clinking for forks
Scratching of chairs and chaos
Might be something that will never disappear