2018 KidLit Progressive Poem–Day 1!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy National Poetry Month!

In 2012 Irene Latham launched the first Progressive Poem to celebrate the month, poetry, and community. Every day in April, a different poet adds a line, and together we compose a poem. It’s a mysterious and surprising process that results in a beautiful and unexpected piece of writing. (You can read all of them here.)

I was surprised and honored when Irene asked me to write the first line this year. I was also a little nervous. I wanted to write something poetic and unique but also open-ended, something that offered a solid first step along a path that could head off into the woods in any number of directions.

You can read more about Irene’s inspiration and my agonizing at Heidi Mordhorst’s blog My Juicy Little Universe. Last Friday, as host of Poetry Friday, Heidi posted an interview with Irene and myself. She also suggested we add a little twist this year.

New for Progressive Poem 2018:  Participants, when Liz posts her Line 1 on Sunday, April 1, please take a minute to record your first impressions of how the line strikes your imagination and what you think the poem might become.  A few lines should do it, and that’s Step One.

Step Two is to hide this reaction/prediction from yourself until your day to add your line arrives.  : )

Step Three is to bring it back out and include it in your post  that day, with a little commentary about how your initial expectations have to be adjusted now that each person has altered the trajectory of the poem. 

 

Are you ready? With great thanks to Irene and Heidi and to all of our participants, and without further ado (drumroll, please) …

 

Nestled in her cozy bed, a seed stretched.

 

Jane, you’re up!

I hope you’ll all follow along for the rest of the month to see where this poem takes us.

Happy National Poetry Month!

Liz

 

 

April

2 Jane at Raincity Librarian
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
Jan at bookseedstudio
6 Irene at Live Your Poem
7 Linda at TeacherDance
Janet F. at Live Your Poem
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
21 April at Teaching Authors
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
28 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
30 Doraine at Dori Reads

Golden Triangle Haiku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now here’s something that doesn’t happen everyday. Each spring the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District runs a haiku contest and then prints the winning entries and many, many honorable mentions on signs and posts them in tree boxes all over the neighborhood. They are literally beautifying the neighborhood with poetry. I love that they are putting poetry out in the world where people can see it during the course of their day. I love that they do this in March just before spring really arrives. The haiku are like the earliest flowers, helping us wait just a few more weeks for the daffodils and tulips. I want to thank the Golden Triangle BID for celebrating the city, spring, and haiku. I encourage you to follow the link to read the wonderful haiku. I also want to thank the store Shop Made in DC for having my haiku on their window. I love being part of a store that celebrates local makers by selling their work and hosting their events. The store sells fabulous jewelry, ceramics, clothing, cards, etc. And chocolate! Did I mention the chocolate? I’m feeling super appreciative!

For more Poetry Friday fun, visit Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty.

Welcome to Poetry Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Here

I’m here to make pancakes
when it’s hard to go to school.
I’m here to save the crossword
and talk about the day. I’m here
to be calm when others can’t,
to hug and find what’s lost.
I’m here to listen. I’m here to cry.
I’m here to make a warm chair
for a spiraled, sleeping cat. I’m
here to walk in the woods and find
the purple crocus hiding in the snow.
I’m here to pet the ancient pug
and say hello to the gray-haired
woman who lives across the street.
I’m here to sit at my desk and stare
at a blinking cursor on a white page
and tap, tap, tap the keys to make
letters, images, melodies. I’m here
to tinker and reshape, to follow
unintentional leads. I’m here
to share my words and hope
someone will understand.

 

I hope you all know George Ella Lyon’s beautiful poem “Where I’m From.”

I love that poem. I love the powerful connection between the intimately concrete, her heritage, and her identity. I know many schools use the poem as a model for student writing. I’ve used it as a model to write about my family and identity too.

It’s also a model and inspiration for the poem above. In our busy rush-rush world where we’re all racing to get through our lists of things to do, I think it can be hard to remember why we’re here. It can be hard to connect to the important things that give our lives meaning. I wanted to take the time to think about why I’m here. As with George Ella Lyon’s poem, I’ve tried to use the particular and the concrete to connect me to my deeper commitments. I was hoping to connect the things I actually do to the why I do them.

I think I’ve wanted to write this kind of poem ever since I saw this TED talk by the artist Candy Chang. In mourning for a loved one, she got some friends together to paint an abandoned building in her neighborhood in chalkboard paint. She then stenciled the phrase “Before I die I want to __________” all over the building. By the next day the building was covered in answers: some humorous, some concrete and manageable, some tender, and some hugely ambitious. She doesn’t say it in her talk, but I saw the building as a poem written by a community. Other communities, inspired by the project, have made their own versions.

With all of this in mind, I wrote “Why I’m Here.” I hope maybe some of you will want to write a “Why I’m Here” poem too.

Please share your links below, go visiting, leave lots of comments, and have a wonderful Poetry Friday!

Liz

 

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iPhone Epitaph

 

 

Rose Gold

Here lie the shattered remains
of Liz’s iPhone 7.
It succumbed to the weight of her minivan
and now it rings in heaven.

 

As always, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes has a wonderful interview and inspirational challenge on her blog this month. This time the interview takes the form of a mock Newly Read Game featuring the ins and outs of writing partners J Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen. The end comes too early with a challenge from their featured book, Last Laughs Prehistoric Epitaphs.

My epitaph may not be prehistoric, but I hope it’s humorous. It’s been a tough month for technology around here. I spilled an entire cup of tea on my laptop and dropped my phone face down on the sidewalk. Fortunately all my data survived.

For more Poetry Friday fun, visit Jone at her blog Check It Out.

Learning from the Best Haiku Teachers

Some of my favorite haiku books and journals.

 

 

chapstick and nail clippers
all that’s left
in my father’s dresser

 

For almost twenty years, the Haiku Society of America has hosted The Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition for students in grades 7-12. I hope you’ll take a moment at some point to read the winning entries. The students’ work is beautiful and moving and impressive. Over the years an outrageously disproportionate number of students earning honors have come from classes taught by two teachers at opposite ends of the country: Tom Painting and Arlie Parker.

In the most recent episode of the podcast Haiku Chronicles (a podcast I could not recommend more highly) Teaching Haiku, Tom and Arlie discuss haiku and senryu, how they teach it, prompts they use, and why they think the form is so valuable for students.

I’ve already listened to the interview twice this week, and I am quite sure I’ll want to listen to it again. As a writer and someone who has taught a few haiku workshops and would like to teach more, I value their suggestions about what examples to share, how they think and talk about the form, the limits they give their students, and when they bend them. I had thought of haiku and senryu as two broad categories of poetry, but Tom and Arlie break these categories into smaller ones–such as meaningful moments, painful reminders, and things that don’t go together. These categories can be used as prompts, which is how I came to write the senryu above.

In some ways I think haiku is quite different from other poetry, especially in the way that the writer is supposed to get out of the way and allow the reader to have a direct experience. On the other hand I think haiku is poetry distilled to its essence–strong imagery, strong feeling, and an abiding belief in the power of a few, carefully chosen words.

Happy Poetry Friday! Donna JT Smith has the roundup at Mainely Write.