Imitating a Mentor Text to Create a Poem

January Rides the Wind
by Charlotte F. Otten


  By Charlotte F. Otten

February turns everything to gray:
gray lakes, gray fog, gray sun.
Gray squirrels lose their bearings
hunting for acorns buried
beneath thick gray snow.

Text Box: What do you notice?  Write your ideas in the space below.




Maybe you noticed the poem has five lines but only two complete thoughts. The poem focuses on describing a month through one color. The first line ends in a colon, and a list of three items follows. Each list item begins with the color word and is followed by a noun. There is no connecting “and” used in this list. The third line also begins with the color word. Lines 3, 4, and 5 are part of one sentence. You must read all the way to the period on line five. The last line also includes the color word and a new noun follows. The last line is a prepositional phrase. The poem uses effective repetition – gray is mentioned six times. Why do you think the poet chose to do this?

By Lynne Dorfman

August turns everything to yellow:
yellow skies, yellow grass, yellow roses.
Yellow bees buzz busily
between tall sunflowers
that reach for the yellow sun.

By Lynne R. Dorfman

            January turns everything to white:
white sidewalks, white roads, white rooftops.
White frozen lakes mirror the cold moon
smiling at her dreamy reflection
on these wintry-white nights.

Notice how the following poem moves away from the scaffold. We no longer are highlighting a color or a month of the year. This process is part of using a mentor text. At first, we imitate closely. Then, when we have more confidence, we move away from the scaffold or craft move to make the writing our own.

By Lynne Dorfman

            Grandmas turn everything to fun:
fun card games, fun stories, fun day trips.
Fun rides on the big Ferris wheel
at Dorney Park in the middle of July
are fun days of summer with Grandma.

Music makes every day a celebration:
soft blues, country ballads, hard rock.
People start toe-tapping their feet and
clap, clap, clapping their hands and
dancing to the beat – fast or slow.

Grade 5 (Shared writing experience)

Popcorn makes everyday a movie:
happy endings, oh-so-sad endings,
getting-ready-for-the-sequel endings.
One hand reaches for the bowl and
the other wipes away the tears,
then give up a round of applause.

                    Grade 5, Sarah

4 thoughts on “Imitating a Mentor Text to Create a Poem

  1. “At first, we imitate closely. Then, when we have more confidence, we move away from the scaffold or craft move to make the writing out own.” Perfectly stated! I love how you included your own poems and then shared the students’ pictures and poem. Using mentor texts is powerful and this is a great reflection of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for visiting. When we make the writing our own, we have reached a place where we can return to this craft we have imitated again and again, often across types and formats of writing. Mentor texts have taught me many things and have nudged me to take risks with my writing.


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