Ingrid Wendt--Poet/Teacher/Editor

To order any of the following books, please click on the titles and, again, below the cover images.

1. Poetry
"These poems, full of feeling, reward the reader with their musicality and wit. ... The first and last poems are capstones of a rich collection. -- Maxine Kumin
"There is such a bounty of startling grace and wisdom in Ingrid Wendt's new book, that the reader can only be stunned by, and grateful for, this abundance." --Maurya Simon
"These poems, shaped by tender and exacting labor, have the heft of hewn stone and the lift of blown glass."
-Marilyn Krysl
"This is wonderful poetry--moving and unforgettable.
-Janet McCann
"Ingrid Wendt has a powerful, womanly feel for the intertwinings of love, pleasure, grief."
-Alicia Ostriker
Selected by William Stafford for the New Poets of America Series, BOA Editions
2. Magazine Articles
Read Ingrid Wendt's article published in the March, 2011, online newsletter of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
3. Teaching guide
Now in its 5th printing, this teaching guide for grades K-college has been adopted by teachers and school districts nationwide and abroad.
4. Anthology/Textbook
“An important contribution to the resurrection of the lost history of women in the arts.”
-Publishers Weekly
5. Anthology
“... confirms Oregon’s place as a powerful outpost in Northwest literature.”
-Paul Pintarich, The Oregonian

Starting with Little Things: A Guide to Writing Poetry in the Classroom

from Starting with Little Things: A Guide to Writing Poetry in the Classroom

from Chapter 5, “Turning Abstractions into Concrete Images”

Exercise: Images of Feelings

Make a list of emotions on the board: love, hate, jealousy, embarrassment, fear, courage. More. Beginning each sentence with one of these words, write similes or metaphors so that these feelings appear as something you can see, hear, taste, touch or smell. Avoid comparing one feeling to another (love is like happiness). Write a poem about one feeling, using several similes. Or use a different feeling in each sentence. Another possibility of to begin each sentence with “When”; for example, “When (something happened), I was as (happy, sad, angry) as (image).”

Jealous is like a planet watching
a shuttle go swiftly past it.
Jealous is like a American bomber looking
at a jet speeding away.
Jealous is like a broken down car
watching a future car in a race.
                  -Jeff Lewis
                  Washington Elementary

When my goldfish died
I was as sad as a mixedup
word trying to get spelled right.
                  Awbrey Park Elementary

from Chapter 6, “Self-Image”

Part of our self-image, the picture we have of ourselves, comes from our sense of place: where we were born, where we’ve grown up and explored, places we dream about. We feel comfortable in some places; in others, we don’t. Even within a fairly small place, such as a house, we may identify more with certain rooms, or corners, or objects – the individual parts of a scene. Such subjective feelings are important to our sense of individuality, as well as to our sense of community with people who share our feelings. Learning to recognize ourselves in the world around us is a step toward self-knowledge and maturity that has always been important in literature.

Exercise: Identification

Thinking of your own “roots,” write a poem titled “Born in (California, New York, Chicago, Bend, Redmond).” Begin each sentence with “I am.” Pick out images that come first to mind. Expand sentences; let the reader see as much as possible. If you are the Golden Gate Bridge, what else can you say about yourself? The bridge boats pass under on their way to China? The bridge always choked with traffic? The bridge shining golden in fog? Tell exactly what you see.

Or make a list of different things you might be. If you re an animal, what are you doing? (If a cat, are you sleeping by the fire, chasing a bird, running from a dog, climbing a tree and getting stuck?) If you re an object, where are you – in a kitchen, a bedroom, street, hospital, factory, gutter, cave? What element of nature, time of day, or day of the week? Students should sense a wide variety of possibilities, and should try for different opening words: Yesterday I was, Today I am, Some days I am, Once I was.

I am a mountain
very snowy and waiting
to be climbed.
I am a big white horse
waiting to be ridden.
And I am the wind blowing
all the seeds.
I am just now being born.
                  – John Bard
                  Twin Oaks Elementary

I am the clock that is never wound.
I am the fish that is out of the sea.
I am like a frog that is out of order.
I am the sun that is rain.
                  – Stuart
                  Gilham Elementary

You look at me
I melt like snow in the golden sun
When you talk to me
I’m closed like a door in a jail
But deep inside I want to tell you
all my wishes and fears
You have to realize that I’m like a book
You have to read between the lines.
                  – Yvonne M.
                  High School

Exercise: Parts of the Body

If your heart were not a heart, what might it be? Could it be a lilypad? A basketball? A basketball bouncing in its dark chamber alone? What about your pomegranate head, your fingers rooted like grass, your knees? If something besides thought were in your head, what would be there? What is in your heart? What are you made of? When we are scientists, we say we are filled with blood; when we are poets we say more: instead of “blood” or “muscles,” you could be made of marbles and chalk dust, shoelaces and popcorn.

My head is made
of lead and is my bed for my
brain. My arm is like an army of
muscles that have just caught my feelings.

My tongue is like a whip.
It moves so fast
Sometimes it may hurt
And sometimes it can make
somebody proud or happy.
Sometimes it moves too
My heart is a happy
leap frog.
It jumps from and to
people as if they were lilies.
                  Crest Drive

from Chapter 7: “Character Description; Irony”

Exercise: Direct Address

Imagine you are telling someone things that might be hard to say out loud. Tell them your sad, secret, irritated or angry feelings about something they’ve done, or you’ve done together. Use figures of speech, if possible. As with the self-portrait exercises, begin each sentence “You are” or “Your Voice,” “Your hair,” and so on. This assignment is doubly fun at special times of the year, and can be turned into birthday cars, Valentines, Mother’s or Father’s Day or even April Fools’ Day cards.

Dear Mr. Easley,

You are the wind
and we are the trees.
And we will bow
whatever way you want
us to. Your are the ocean
and we are the rivers
flowing into you. You
are the earth and we
are the people.
                  Fox Hollow

Exercise: Reverse Compliment: Irony

Students enjoy saying one thing but meaning another (irony). Write a letter to someone you don’t like. Pretend to pay them a compliment, but then take it away. Imagine you are writing a contemporary greeting card, the kind that is nice on the front and cutting inside. Use the first line of the poem to begin the compliment (“You are as beautiful”), and the second line to take it away (“as a muddy tire”). Avoid the direct insult (“You’re as dumb as ...”). Remember to start out with a compliment: “You’re as smart as” (“a rusty computer”). Try writing to a teacher, the dentist, the barber, or even a place or thing.

To a Teacher

Your voice is as soft as a nuclear explosion.
Your assignments are as easy as diving off
the high dive.
Your schedule is as easy to follow as a snake.
You’re as nice as a thunderstorm.
You’re as neat as a garbage truck.
Your jokes are a funny as an elephant
falling on me.

from Chapter 12: “Musical Language”

Exercise: Harsh Sounds; Gentle Sounds

Make lists on the board of the harshest-sounding words students know, and another list of the gentlest. Notice that gentle things may have harsh sounds (“kitten”), and vice versa (“thorn”). Notice which consonants and vowel sounds appear regularly in each list. Write a sentence or two, using at least six harsh words, and not many additional words. Write another sentence from the “gentle” list.

Harsh Poem

The hard tight shark bites in the
dull brick. He swims toward the
coughing black water.
                  — Sarah
                  Crest Drive

Gentle Words

The blue and yellow moon melted
in the reflection of the orange
and green mirror followed me
                  – Dara

This book can be ordered directly from the author by e-mailing idwendt@​