Activity: after you have read this page, write your own Carnivale poem.


Carnival Poetry arose because the Schumacher Gallery held an exhibition about Carnival (Mardi Gras) around the world. Education 214 students went to the exhibit and discovered that rules are broken during Carnival--people party together across sociocultural differences. We then created a genre of poetry that breaks the rules. After we wrote our own carnival poetry, we invited students from Park Street School to the exhibit and to write poems. We were able to add the experience of singing a Cajun song in French on the day they came. This page has information about the original carnival poetry and the visit with Park Street School students.
The original Carnival Poetry project
Rule breaking and poetry
Examples of Carnival Poetry from Education 214
Visit from Park Street School
Mardi Gras song, includes words and a Youtube video



Carnivale Poetry With Park Street School


Park St. students had been scheduled to visit Capital University to see a theatrical version of a Lois Lowry story (The Silent Boy). They wanted another activity at Capital to fill out their day, so we suggested the Carnivale show at the Schumacher Gallery. This is the record of the day they spent as well as our planning process and our reasons for the choices we made.
Six Capital University students were available to be part of the planning for the visit.

The play got out at approximately 11:15, so our first order of business was lunch at the Capital University cafeteria. One reason why we wanted to do this was to get students to imagine themselves as college students and to have that in mind as they move through the rest of their public schooling.

The Capital University cafeteria is impressive, particularly when compared with a school cafeteria (or a university cafeteria thirty years ago). The children had a wonderful time choosing their food, eating ice cream, and getting endless glasses of pop.

After lunch, we moved to the Huntington Recital Hall for an opportunity to learn a Cajun Mardi Gras song. The Schumacher Gallery was able to be opened fifteen minutes early (12:45), so we had some time for a Carnivale-related experience.
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The Cajun Mardi Gras song is in Cajun French (the part we sang):

Capitaine, capitaine voyage ton flag,
Allons chez l'autre voisin
Demander la charité pour vous-autres,
Vous venez nous rejoindre
Vous autres vous venez nous rejoindre
Oui au gumbo ce soir

Cajun Mardi Gras song sung by the Balfa brothers

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Words to the whole song:

La Chanson des Mardi Gras

Les Mardi Gras se rassemblent une fois par an
Pour demander la charité.
Ils se rassemblent une fois par an
Tout à l’entour du grand moyeau.

Refrain:
Capitaine, capitaine, voyage ton flag,
Allson aller chez nos voisins.
Capitaine, capitaine, voyage ton flag,
Allons se mettre sur le chemin.


Les Mardi Gras demandent rentrée
A chaque maître et chaque maîtresse.
Ils demandent la rentrée
Avec toutes les politesses.

Refrain

Donnez nous autres une petite poule grasse,
Oui ou bien un peu de riz,
On vous invite de venir ce soir
Manger du bon gombo.

Refrain

Voulez vous recevoir ces Mardi Gras,
Cette grande bande de grands soulards.
Les Mardi Gras vous remercient bien
De votre bonne volonté.

Refrain

Les Mardi Gras viennent de tout par tout
Pour demander la charité.
Ils se rassemblent de tout par tout
Mais principalement de Grand Mamou
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We gave each student a copy of the song on paper with room between the lines and asked students to find English cognates. I chose the Cajun French song because students' self-esteem is raised when they succeed at doing something difficult and I knew I could get them to sing the song. After we went through the words the students could figure out, then we spoke the song in the rhythm for the song, translating lines as we went along. A challenge of this is that Cajun phrasing is different from English phrasing in a song, so it took me quite awhile to be able to sing the song independently. However, the kids were soon able to speak the words and then we went over the melody.
I had my fiddle and my p'tit-fer (Cajun triangle). Because we had plenty of time to work with the music, I was able to explain some of Cajun culture specifically and Mardi Gras in general. We also sang the song and I played the Cajun fiddle part for the song. A Capital student played the Cajun triangle.
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After the song experience, we went to the art gallery. Our goal was to have the students really look at the exhibit, so we gave them a task of writing down ten words that they thought of as they looked at items in the exhibit:
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carnival_visit_004.jpg
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After they wrote their words down, we wanted them to write a poem. But we wanted the experience to be fun, so we had tubs of art supplies available for them. We had okayed this with the director of the art gallery--we did not have any form of paint but did have confetti, streamers, feathers, beads, and other stuff that could be glued to construction paper.

One of the things about Mardi Gras we had discussed with the students is that social rules got broken during this period of time. So, in writing poems, they were encouraged to break the rules of writing.

A couple of boys looked a little resistant to the whole project until I suggested breaking the rules. We discussed how they could do so--writing words randomly, writing them upsidedown, and so forth. The idea of breaking rules seems to have motivated them to write because I saw a great deal of enthusiasm about the poetry after our dicussion. I believe kids need an opportunity to get out of some of the routines of writing and I believe that for students who don't enjoy writing, breaking the rules can be a liberating experience.

Here are some of the groups working on their poetry:

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carnival_visit_019.jpg


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carnival_visit_018.jpg

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When it was time to go, the children cleaned up from their project and left the art gallery floor as shining and spotless as it was when we came in. The Capital University students worked hard to help the children have fun and do the project.
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]What is Carnivale Poetry??

(the original Carnivale poetry project at Capital)

We didn't know so we figured it out.
It can include:
bright colors
jazzy
Cajun French
beads
any language because Carnivale is celebrated all over the world
mask shapes


Carnivale includes breaking the rules. Here are the poetry rules we can break in writing Carnivale poems:
It has to rhyme
Stanzas consistent in length
Has to be about a coherent topic
Has to have metrical patterns
Has to have metaphors
Deep philosophical meaning
Abstract
Poetic devices
Organized
(Look at what students know about poetry as a result of making this list of rules that can be broken. This is truly an assessment and a teacher could plan a number of different next steps to refine these understandings.)
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See if you can figure out how we broke the rules:
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Picture_007.jpg

-The mask is a disguise because Tobie is not really sick
-We wrote the script in an nontraditional way
-We disguised the authors' names just as the mask serves as a disguise
-The stanzas are not of consistent lenghts





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Picture_002.jpg

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carnival_projects_001.jpg

-We wrote the words on the streamers instead of the mask
-Words are sprinkled randomly
-Title is at the bottom
-Words do not rhyme
-No pattern to any of the colors
-Flowers are on it and they do not have anything to do with Carnival
-Mask is not usable
-Concrete





Picture_001.jpg
Picture_001.jpg

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carnival_projects_002.jpg

- We did not use full sentences using correct punctuation
- The poem does not rhyme
- We did not begin each line with the next letter of the word; we spread it out over the lines
- We did not use all upper case letters
- We did not include a set number of syllables in each line
- It is pretty much the most amazing thing ever created and raises the bar for things created in the future

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carnival_projects_004.jpg


-I listened to my ipod while i worked on this
-i used slang in my poem
-I miss spelled words in my poem
-I used capital letters and upper case letters randomly through the poem


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carnival_projects_007.jpg

-Acrostic non conventional
-stanza length
-no punctuation
-no upper case letters

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carnival_projects_003.jpg


-We used pictures instead of words
-We didn't always rhyme
-We used slang
-We used materials vs pen to write with
-We told a story
-No deep meaning
-Created words (jokles) :)




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Picture_005.jpg

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carnival_projects_006.jpg

-We created an asymetrical design
-We used clashing colors
-We added our own personal flavors.
-We used random lines of poetry about ourselves.
-We told riddles
-We used numbers in place of words

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more_carnival_projects_001.jpg



Carnivale Sign
Spelled wrong
Letters of different types
Colored outside the lines
Look at each letter for more details
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