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Six-Word Poetry: Writing, Lakota Values, Generosity

Six-Word Poetry: Writing, Lakota Values, Generosity

Authors warm up to write in different ways. Some take a walk to refresh their observations and senses. Some brainstorm using a web or a list. Some free write. And some begin by playing with words. Poetry is a great path to use to jump your writing and I’m going to share with you the process to write Six-Word Poetry: Writing, Lakota Values, Generosity.

Lately, I’ve been starting my writing sessions with poetry prompts and have been intrigued where they have taken my WIP. Today, I’m taking you back to one of my favorite word play tasks – the Six-Word Poem.

How to Write a Six-Word Poem

First, choose a topic. I’m selecting Lakota Values because this topic is included in my published book, but also plays a part in my current WIP.

Next, spend 3-5 minutes brainstorming a list. Write quickly and generate 40-50 words. All answers count. No judgement.

Here is the list I generated:

Then, read your list again and choose 2-3 words that grab you and make you want to write more.

I chose:  generosity giveaways sacrifice

Now, set the timer for five minutes, and free write using the chosen words as Word Tickets, or vocabulary you try to embed in your writing during this time. The idea is to write quickly and not worry about mistakes right now.

Here’s what I wrote:  Note: I’m leaving it as is…mistakes and all…I’m trusting you…No judgement, please  🙂

I remember when I went with my family to visit our cousins on the SRST Reservation. I was 16 years old, and had been out to South Dakota before, but I guess at 16, I was more aware of things in life. It was on that trip I experience the generosity of the Sioux Culture. I had not idea what the values really meant, I just knew generosity meant to five of yourself or an item to another person. I didn’t know how it worked there.

We went into the Tribal Offices to see where my cousin was serving on the Tribal Council. I remember thinking how amazing- she was a woman raising a large family, but sacrifice to serve the people of the Tribe. We walked into the office building, and walked right into the huge buffalo head mounted on the wall. I had seen deer heads mounted before (mine is a family of hunters) but a buffalo head is like looking at the front end of a car mounted on the wall. Huge! After we stared at the size of the buffalo up close, we went ot see where Maxine had her desk.

We entered the council chambers and looked round. There was I saw name plates, sat in comfy chairs which were set around the room in a circle. Very professional looking room. I was in awe that she worked there.

Then, Maxine wanted to introduce us to the Tribal Chairman. He happened to be there and my mom ad Maxine introduced themselves and me. I looked around – he had so many handmade decorations on the walls, and a large hanging star quilt behind his desk. I stopped to study this one piece of artwork- a painting inside a wheel- and complimented how intriguing it was, starting to ask questions-

He said, “It’s yours.” My head spun around, my eyes wide open, ready to say, “Thank you but I couldn’t take it-“ when Maxine grabbed my shoulders and took the artifact from the wall, whisking me and the wheel out the door.

My mother said, “Thank you” as we left- quickly.

Once outside, the two of them giggled and laughed. I didn’t understand what happened. Mom and Maxine explained that in the Lakota Way, when you compliment something or express that you like an object, the person will often giveaway the item to you. “We left so quickly because we didn’t want you to compliment anymore of his artwork on the walls!”

I still have the medicine wheel. It hung in my classroom for years and now I that I have an office, I need to find a place to hang it.

The last step is to write your six word poem that captures a sense of what you wrote. You could think of it as a central idea or even the theme. It took me a few minutes to create mine:

Leaders give away generous gifts
Generous leaders sacrifice donating to others
Generous leaders giveaway, sharing their…
Generous leaders giveaway, honoring Lakota Values

And there you have it, a Six-Word Poem about Lakota Values. Use this a fun tool to jump start your writing session.

Feel free to share your Six-Word Poems in the comment section! I’d love to read them!

Author Resource Ideas

Use Six-Word Poems to:

  • write a new scene
  • rewrite a scene
  • write the theme of your current WIP
  • get to know your character better by identifying traits, wants, needs, goals, etc.

Teacher Resource Ideas

Use Six-Word Poems to:

  •  kick off the new year by having students introduce themselves by writing about their likes and dislikes, their pets, their family, etc.
  • write about the protagonist in the story
  • describe the setting of the story
  • zero in on the main conflict in the story

Related Posts:

3 Quick Writing Lessons CLICK HERE (one of my first posts, but cute ideas!)

Fantasy Writing with MS Students CLICK HERE 

Six Word Memoirs website (not mine, but has lots of ideas, examples, etc.) CLICK HERE



Children's Author and Educator

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