Poetry in Motion – Cortado Style

Poetry has been a solid course of study onboard the Cortado.  Over the last two years I modified a very basic poetry curriculum from our Calvert School studies to incorporate a larger appreciation of the art of poetry. We read a lot of poems! We search for poetry that resinates within and we each continue to maintain our personal anthologies.

oli school

Oliver studying in the salon on a rainy day.

As I researched various poetry lessons in books and online, I found them to be quite dry. They reminded me of the poetry lessons I slept through in grade school and I realized that they were as B-O-R-I-N-G then as they are boring now.

Thinking there must be another way to get kids excited about poetry, we talked about lyrics to our favorite songs and how these were, in fact, poems set to music.

So we looked up song lyrics and read them as poems.

We read poems and then sang them as music.

We copied favorite limericks and drew pictures to accompany them.

However, writing original poetry was still daunting. We wrote simple Acrostic and Diamond Poems with ease, but we wanted to compose something deeper. To do this, we went back to the original lessons to study the formulas, stanzas, verses and the rules, rules, rules.  Rules which sucked the life out of our creative process. Then we noticed many of our favorite poems defied rules. They did not necessarily rhyme or punctuate and sometimes the beat was off. Was this OK?

So we decided to do as a painter does… we studied “the masters”. We collected poems by Robert Louis Stevenson and David Frost, Rachel Field, Carl Sandburg and Langston Hughes. Auden, Cummings, Kipling, Milne, among many others… even the wise and elusive “Unknown”. How did they use their words to define a perfect moment in time, or paint a picture so exact that one is sure to know just what emotion was intended? These are the masters of the art of poetry.

Once we selected poems we identified with, we created our own poetry in the style of that poet. We adopted the cadence, or the motion of the poem, yet changed the words to modernize or apply a new theme. Using existing templates, we wrote new poetry by explaining details we knew in our own hearts as the great poets had done in theirs. 

This was a breakthrough in our learning.  In this creative process, we have been able to write the most beautiful poetry. Sharing a vision, an experience, or a feeling while assuming the style of a master has given us the wings to find our own voices in our poetry. The exact way an artist studies the “masters” in painting, we are studying the masters in poetry.

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One poem we love and often refer to is “Keep a Poem in Your Pocket” (below). In our opinion, the best thing to read before bed (to ensure the very best dreams and a good night’s sleep) is poetry.

Keep A Poem In Your Pocket
By Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Keep a poem in your pocket
And a picture in your head
And you’ll never feel lonely
At night when you’re in bed.

The little poem will sing to you
The little picture bring to you
A dozen dreams to dance to you
At night when you’re in bed.

So – –
Keep a picture in your pocket
And a poem in your head
And you’ll never feel lonely
At night when you’re in bed.


Some of our poems are brilliant and worth sharing. I feel that two school years of “Poetry Appreciation” has had a quiet and meaningful affect on all of us. We are no longer intimidated by poetry and feel open to writing original poems in many different styles.

Down the road, we will revisit the important, whitebread rules of poetry. But for now our voices are confident and souls, comforted by our new-found art!

Enjoy –


Rain is raining all around,

It falls on buildings and docks,

It rains on our windows here,

and on the racing yachts.

by Sophia Rey (*in the style of Robert Louis Stevenson)

January 15, 2016 (written during Key West Race Week)


Horses running fast,

Splashing in the dirty water.  

Disruptive, energetic. 

Cold and scared.  


by Oliver Rey (written to describe a painting)


Cortado Rain Song

Let the rain kiss us.

Let the rain beat softly upon our boat with silver liquid drops.

Let the rain sing us a lullaby.

The rain paints gentle dots in the ocean flats.

The rain makes still pools in the aft.

The rain plays a little sleep-song on our rocking boat at night – 

And I love the rain.

– Lynne Rey   (for Tony Rey, Valentines Day)   2-14-16. (*in the style of Langston Hughes)


The rain stopped pouring

The clouds move along their day

Out of no where pops…..

A rainbow of all colors

All slowly fading away

by Sophia Rey January 2015


Wave, Story,

Swiming, Balance, Us,

Cozy, Sleeping, Birds, Chirping,

Stars, Fishing, Family,

Sounds, Cruising,


(diamond poem) by Oliver Rey

I’d Like to be a Boat

                       I’d like to be a boat;

                           All wood and painted blue.

                       I’d like to be a boat;

                          And sail all day and night.

                       I’d keep my bow steered towards

                           All the great adventures.

                      I’d like to be a boat;

                              With a crew that is my family.

By Sophia Rey,  2-17-16:  (*in the style of Rachel Field)

My Heart Leaps Up

My heart leaps up when I behold 

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when you were born;

So it is now that I am a Mom;

So be it when I shall grow old.

You light up my world!

(*in the style of William Wordsworth)

A Valentine for Sophia, Oliver and Sydney by Lynne Rey   2-14-16

This poem I adapted from a works originally written by Sharon Hudnell. It was the poem we used to Christen CORTADO in November of 2014:


Let this be our quiet place,

Our small haven from the noise and bustle of everyday.

Let us find within these walls of wind and sky

The joy of family togetherness

As well as individual moments

Of reflection, clarity, and inspiration

To rejuvenate our souls.

Let us cherish the beauty of the natural world beyond our doorstep,

Respect and delight in the sea creatures

Which will be our new neighbors.

And let the memories we create here,

The peace we find here,

Give us heart’s ease whenever we’re far

From our safe, sweet Huckins home.

We Christen thee,


Some favorite poetry books onboard Cortado are:

Piper, Pipe that Song Again: Poems for Boys & Girls Selected by Nancy Larrick

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

Poems to Learn by Heart by Caroline Kennedy

The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Caroline Kennedy
One Hundred Years of Poetry for Children by Michael Harrison and C. Stuart-Clark
A Child’s Anthology of Poetry by Elizabeth Hauge Sword
sophia girl

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