Site icon ELA Brave and True by Marilyn Yung

Headline Poetry and Serendipity

It’s okay to go with the flow… or not


Concrete Prayers

Concrete prayers

Repel, repel

A doomed self-regard

& remake common children

into Hydrangea tides.


When creating a headline poem, it’s okay and good to let the words find you. Another way to say it: don’t insist on finding the word you think you need.

Be open to the poem that will surface on its own.

Be open also to the poem that may surface in response to its background. When you forego a blank background and arrange your poem onto an image (like I did with the vintage photo above), you may wish to exert some control over happenstance.

For example, my original poem included the words “common mistakes,” instead of “common children.” However, because placing the word “mistake” near the little girl’s gaze seemed incongruous and dismissive, I opted to find another word. I knew I had seen “children” somewhere in the scattering on my desk, so I searched until I found it.

When I took control and opted for “children” over “mistakes,” this poem transformed into one about motherhood and parenting and trusting that the children you raise will flourish with the confidence that prayer brings.

As for those Hydrangea tides… I do love headline poetry’s capacity for metaphor. If I had been searching only my mind’s eye for the words for this poem, I never would have compared children to tides of flowers.  But it works beautifully… for me, anyway.

The metaphor speaks of the generations of children, which follow one after the other, — a ceaseless tide of humanity, if you will — that rise, recede, and rise again to bear, influence and assume the course of humanity.  


Headline poetry is my jam. I love its possibilities and its artistic potential. I love how it makes me think. Check out my headline poetry resources here. Leave a comment to let me know how I can help you use headline poetry to reach and engage student writers. For more ELA teaching ideas and lesson plans, sign up for my mailing list below. Thank you!

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