The Slice of Life Poem

Elevate everyday moments with this creative poetry idea

“Slice of Life” writing is one of my favorite genres. You take an ordinary moment — one you commonly do on a regular day — and elevate that moment by honoring it with about 250 words of prose. I first learned about “slicing” at Two Writing Teachers, where every Tuesday, writing teachers from all over the country post some personal writing of their own on the TWT blog.

Slice of Life writing logo from Two Writing Teachers website
Visit twowritingteachers.org for more information about slice of life writing.

I’ve enjoyed writing and posting several slices over the past couple of years, and have enjoyed even more sharing this genre with my middle school and high school students. (Read about slice of life essays for both middle school and high school students in these past posts from my blog.)

Recently, it occurred to me that slice of life prose writing would work equally well in poetic form. In fact, if generating a page of prose seems daunting for some of your students, perhaps suggest the option of writing a free verse poem instead.


Side note: Two Writing Teachers hosts a month-long slice of life story challenge every March for teachers and their students. Visit this site for more information. I haven’t tried it yet, but I keep mulling it over every year. Maybe in 2022?


Try these ideas to guide your students to awesome slice of life writing in poetic form:

  • For structure, suggest to your students that their slice of life poems should be from ten to twenty lines in length. Yes, that’s a fairly broad range, but it also differentiates for varying ability levels.
  • Remind students to write about an ordinary moment or task. An ordinary moment can be anything they do in the course of an ordinary day, such as feed a pet, grocery shop with a parent, or suit up for practice.
  • Steer them from the tired topic of “my morning routine.” The solution? Have students take one task from their morning routine and focus on it only. (If I don’t challenge students away from their morning routine as a topic, one-third of the poems I receive will start, Buzz!!! My alarm goes off and I hit the snooze button... blah blah blah.)
  • Ask students to title their poems. If they struggle thinking of titles, suggest they search within the lines of their poems for interesting phrases that would make provocative titles.
  • Provide a mentor text of a slice of life poem. Feel free to use the one below I wrote recently about handwashing Tupperware… or better yet, write one with them!

Tupperware and Diligence

Last night,

I washed a collection of

knock-off Tupperware:

ovals, squares, rectangles,

all the annoying, ill-fitting lids.

Now,

after sleep and as coffee brews,

I lift the geometry

from the drying rack.

Icy threads race from

wrist to elbow,

sloughing off water

that had secreted away

into plastic frontiers…

crouching inside peripheral grooves

and shallow recesses, lying low

within raised feet that harbor

capacity specs, country of origin logos,

washing instructions, recycle-me threats.

Now:

to dry fully with a cloth

or simply toss, still dripping,

into the designated drawer?

Diligent-but-not-too-diligent,

I toss and move on

to the next

kitchen task.

M. YUNG
Male students writes a poem in a library.
Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

In the Missouri Learning Standards for ELA, writing slice of life poems satisfies standards (W2A) that require students to craft narratives about real or imagined experiences. Skim through your state’s standards to see which ones you’ll meet with these engaging and very personal poems.

I’m sure it won’t take long to see that slice of life writing — whether prose or verse — helps you do your job, while showing your students another way to express themselves creatively.

Thanks for reading! Click like and feel free to follow my blog for future posts!


Need a new poetry lesson?

Enter your email below and I’ll send you this PDF file you can use tomorrow to show your students how to write Treasured Object Poems, one of my favorite poem activities. I know your students will enjoy it!

Image shows readers the paper I'll send for signing up for my email list. The handout gives instructions for a Treasured Object poem.
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Published by Marilyn

Writes | Teaches | Not sure where one ends and the other begins.

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