Thursday, 30 June 2016
PF tag

My good friend  Tabatha Yeatts is hosting Poetry Friday this week. Head over to THE OPPOSITE OF INDIFFERENCE to join the poetry party.

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today, I’m sharing a concrete poem written by a poet named Jackie Kozell. Let’s take a look at it first, and then I’ll share the story behind this poem.

Jackie is a talented artist, which you can see in the shape of the poem. But her artist’s eye also makes her observant — a skill poets rely on.


Concrete Cat Poem

Poem by Jackie Kozell. Shared by permission of the poet.


I love “A small shadow     running to a corner” with the pause for white space in the middle. The “razor filled mouth” is a great visual and sensory image. Then there are details like the mouse and the bold letter W for the cat’s nose. Notice that the words “back legs” fall on the cat’s haunches and the words “claws grip” lead our eyes down the front legs.

Ready for the back story? Before the school year ended, my cousin gave a copy of THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY to her daughter’s 6th grade teacher. The class was doing a poetry unit and tried some of the writing prompts in the back of my book. Jackie, as you guessed, is my cousin’s daughter.

I love the pacing in this poem as we wait for the cat to pounce on its prey. Awesome job, Jackie!

If you liked this poem, I recommend Betsy Franco’s book, A CURIOUS COLLECTION OF CATS: CONCRETE POEMS. Back at my old blog, Author Amok, you’ll find a classroom workshop in concrete poems, based on Betsy’s book. The link is here.

betsy franco

Find out more at the Penguin Random House website.

18 responses to “Poetry Friday: Concrete Cat”

  1. Diane Mayr says:

    I think concrete poems are such fun when done right! This one is brilliant. The manipulation of the image with the font sizes must have been a real challenge. Brava to Jackie!

  2. Tabatha says:

    Good job, Jackie (and her teacher, who let them try fun exercises)! Having a good sense of pacing and attending to the details are excellent traits in a poet. Maybe Jackie will combine her art and poetry in the future — hope so!

  3. TS Davis says:

    Ooh, I really like this — these are the best, when they work! I am now intrigued to try one…

  4. Doraine says:

    What a fun connection! And a wonderful concrete poem.

  5. Oh my! Jackie is amazing! Thank you for pointing out all the nuanced details of the poem/form relationship, Laura. I will have to check out Betsy Franco’s collection. =)

  6. Kat Apel says:

    Gorgeous! I love that this is written by a child. Sooooo clever! (For an adult!)

  7. Tara says:

    Wow…this is a stunning example of a concrete poem. So clever! I shall have to get this book, as well – my students will love it.

  8. Donna Smith says:

    I love cats and poems anyway… but even if I didn’t like cats and poems, I’d like this… what a treasure!

  9. Wow, Jackie (and Jackie’s teacher)! This does show a very fine eye for the shape of a pouncing, bounding cat. The mouse stood no chance…

    Thanks for sharing, Laura. Concrete poems are so, well, concrete!

  10. Wow! This poem is amazing in many ways. First, I am always struck by how they manage to make it into a shape. I guess it is the complete lack of artistic ability on my part. Second, the description is fantastic. It captures a cat’s actions perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

  11. So much tension and “story” packed into this arrangement of words – Hats off to Jackie, and thanks to both of you for sharing!

  12. Bravo, Jackie! A great job with a challenging form. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Sally Murphy says:

    I love this concrete poem so much and was amazed to realise Jackie’s in sixth grade. Wow.

  14. Mary Lee Hahn says:

    Fabulous poem, Jackie!

  15. Very artistic cat. I like that it tells a story, and I imagine the cat being entertained, and the mouse getting away. 🙂

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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