Abandoned Farmhouse by Ted Kooser

Origami Home Project
Querencia is a Spanish word that means affection for the place one calls home and the sense of well-being that place gives one.
It is an offshoot of the verb querer, desire, and can be applied to the contentment of a wild animal in its haunts as well as to the
comfort felt by a person in familiar surroundings. It means the sense of being nourished by a place in which you belong. It
means needing that place and having it. Narrowly defined, the word applies to the immediate environs in which a person lives,
but one can apply it to home in a larger sense without vitiating its meaning…
We live in a world awash with people torn from their querencia who face the enormously difficult task of cultivating another. A
person might find querencia in more places than one, but not in many more. Once found, it cannot be lightly discarded,
because lack of querencia is a type of starvation. Querencia nurtures…
Strictly speaking, querencia describes the satisfaction of a groundhog surveying his domain in the evening from his customary
post outside his burrow. It describes the tender serenity of the people on the porch once again noticing the groundhog in the
familiar field beyond the porch. Immediacy is its essence. Yet there is a genius in the word which makes it almost infinitely
expandable, as long as the meaning is fed by that instinctual experience. Separation most effectively enlarges the meaning.
Away from neighborhood, away from region, away from nation, we become aware of neighborhood, region, and the nation as
objects of this feeling…
But the engagement from which all these larger attachments flow is a personal, specific affection for one’s own place which is
insignificant by any abstract standard – the finite, almost sensual feeling for some little corner of the world; the affection that
connects us to the world to begin with.
For this project, you will describe and illustrate a place that is very special to you; a corner of the world where you
find comfort, safety, fun, and familiarity. You will have time in class to work on the origami home, but you may
need to complete the project on your own time.
As you begin this project, think about the following questions:
 What does this place represent?
 What is the symbolism of this place?
 What is its significance for you?
 What are the physical characteristics of the place? What does it look like?
 What memories are evoked by this particular place?
 How do you feel about this place?
Writing: Write a poem about yourself modeled after Kooser’s poem – you must follow his syntactical patterns, his
use of personification and concrete imagery, etc. While writing the poem,
 pay attention to the agreement of subjects and predicates. Notice the trickiness when a verb precedes a
noun. Note “and” and “or”: they can cause subject/predicate problems. Notice the contrast in stanza
one; imitate it.
 note the specific (concrete) description. Think of your reader attempting to paint what you describe.
 use stanzas that point out separate things that you identify with your place. Center on one idea, welldeveloped in each stanza. Really pay attention to the punctuation of Kooser’s poem.
 include 3 stanzas with 8 lines each. Give your poem an appropriate title.
 write the poem in the middle of the origami home between the creases.
Origami/Illustration: Fold an origami home as directed in class. On the outside of the home, draw your special
place; then open the flaps and draw the specific details. Anyone should be able to walk into the scene and
recognize its significance from your visual rendition. While creating your illustration,
 Use scenes and details that directly relate to your poem.
 Be neat and colorful in its creation.
 Show thought and reflect your personality.
Due Date: September 9(A-day), September 10(B-day)
Abandoned Farmhouse by Ted Kooser
He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house;
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.
A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall
papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves
covered with oilcloth, and they had a child,
says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole.
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames.
It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.
Something went wrong, says the empty house
in the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields
say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard
like branches after a storm-a rubber cow,
a rusty tractor with a broken plow,
a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.
Ted Kooser, “Abandoned Farmhouse” from Sure Signs: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 1980 by Ted Kooser.