Edgar Allen Poetry Contest

Halloween Edgar Allen Poetry Contest Lesson Plan
Poetry Starters
Recommended Time: 1 Workshop
Students will create a Halloween poem.
Journals and Pencils
Creepy effects for the Author’s Chair
Weathered “letter” from Edgar Allen Poe (try soaking it in coffee or tea
and then leaving it in the sun)
Literary Moment :
• Start the class by quoting from the Raven, as if it happened to you.
For example: “So you guys, last night, ‘upon a midnight dreary,
while I pondered weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious
volume of forgotten lore. While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly
there came a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at
my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door Only this, and nothing more.' “
• Tell the students that, when you opened the door, all you found was
this letter- and read the letter from Edgar Allen Poe. Explain that you
started the class by quoting from one of his most famous poems,
The Raven.
Writing Time
• Ask students to think of what Halloween reminds them of: animals,
monsters, other scary things, candy, their personal Halloween
memories, etc. What about modern-day Halloween do they want
to share with Mr. Poe? Have a volunteer write a few ideas on the
• If your students need more help getting started, feel free to read a
few of the supplementary Halloween poems.
• Choose a few key words from the board and model writing a short
poem about Halloween- focus on the use of descriptive language
to create atmosphere.
Guided Practice
Ask the students to choose a few words from the board or their
notebooks and free-write scary, eerie or creepy images to go with
• Rotate around the classroom to encourage and give ideas, while
also watching out for overly explicit imagery.
• After five minutes, have a few volunteers share their images.
Independent Work
• Give students approximately 15 minutes to write their poem.
Remind them the students that they can tell a story, re-count a
Halloween memory, describe a creepy Halloween characteranything goes, as long as it’s somehow connected to Halloween!
• As they write, rotate through the classroom giving feedback,
encouragement and helping students who might be stumped.
Author’s Chair
• Now is the time for students to present! You can help create a safe,
encouraging environment by reading a poem yourself, and always
giving the students the option to pass.
• If possible, try to give the Author’s Chair a creepy atmosphere by
dimming the lights, throwing on a few spiderwebs or giving the poet
a flashlight to hold under their face as they read!
• After a student presents, have the other students provide positive
feedback: an image or rhyme they found particularly scary,
disgusting or funny, or something that reminded them of their own
• You may want to write down “golden words” or phrases on your
Word Wall of Fame.
• Remind students of any upcoming events or projects for the week.
Encourage students who felt successful with this to consider
submitting their poem for the Halloween contest.
Hello dear reader,
If the person reading this letter is a teacher of many young
poets, then it has fallen into the correct hands. If not, please
hurl it to the wind and let the rightful owner find it.
My name is Edgar Allen Poe. You may be surprised I am writing
you, seeing as I have been dead for more than 160 years. No
I write with a simple request. While I lived, I tried to survive
with one and only one career- that of a writer. I created the
detective story, was a literary critic, and a poet. Many of my
poems and stories, like “The Raven,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,”
were well known for having a certain scary, spooky quality.
Because of this, my favorite holiday has always been Halloween.
However, for more than 160 years I have missed this haunting
night of trickery and terror. Each October 31st, I have been
buried in the ground, forced to content myself with only
listening to the shrieks from above.
That is why I have come to you. I want to know what Halloween
is like now- the sounds, the smells, the scares. As I am a poet, I
think the most fitting form to learn about what I have been
missing would be through a poem.
Please ask your young poets to create a poem with their vision
of Halloween. I will read all of them, and select that which best
speaks to my tortured soul. On the eve of the eve of Halloween,
the poet who has written the best poem will receive a spooky
prize package- and perhaps, if I can dig myself out, a visit from
My one and only hope is that, after reading these poems, I will
finally rest in peace.
Hauntingly yours,
Edgar Allen Poe
By Harry Behn
Tonight is the night
When dead leaves fly
Like witches on switches
Across the sky,
When elf and sprite
Flit through the night
On a moony sheen.
Tonight is the night
When leaves make a sound
Like a gnome in his home
Under the ground,
When spooks and trolls
Creep out of holes
Mossy and green.
Tonight is the night
When pumpkins stare
Through sheaves and leaves
When ghouls and ghost
And goblin host
Dance round their queen.
It's Halloween.
Haunted House
by Jack Prelutzky
There's a house upon the hilltop
We will not go inside
For that is where the witches live,
Where ghosts and goblins hide.
Tonight they have their party,
All the lights are burning bright,
But oh we will not go inside
The haunted house tonight.
The demons there are whirling
And the spirits swirl about.
They sing their songs to
"Come join the fun," they shout.
But we do not want to go there
So we run with all our might
And oh we will not go inside
The haunted house tonight.
Witches’ Stew
by Gareth Lancaster
Bubble, blubber, squirm and
Boiling broth of bat's tail soup.
Wobble, slobber, liquid goo,
Add the sole of one old shoe.
Spooky shadows dance around,
Of frogs and rats and snarling
Steam swirls rising to the roof,
Add one small ear and one old
Gnarly, scratchy, tickle and itch,
Stir round and round to make it
Mushy, sticky, sizzle and stew,
They're making mischief just for
T he other day, we had a particularly odd visitor at the America SCORES
office. His clothes were old-fashioned and smelled musty, his hair was
disheveled and his mustache was slightly uneven. He looked like he hadn't
seen the sun in a few years- 160 years, in fact. His name was Edgar Allen
Poe, and he needs your help!
He left a letter meant to reach our young athlete-poets, in which he
requests that the students submit Halloween poems for the America
SCORES Halloween Edgar Allen Poetry Contest.
The steps of the contest:
1. Please read the letter from Edgar Allen Poe to your class. Have fun with
it! Make it look weathered, add details to your story, dress up, whatever!
2. Dedicate one class to writing and performing Halloween poems (see
attached lesson plan for a clear outline).
3. Submit Halloween poems
to [email protected] byThursday, October 27th.
4. Edgar Allen Poe and some of his spooky friends will visit the October 29th
game day to perform the winning poem and award awesome prizes to
the winners.
With your help, we can get some great, spooky poems for our Halloween
game day!
Thanks for all you do!
Marty Mannion
Education Director