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

 

 Loading InLinkz ...

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.

Tired Trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wrote this cinquain in response to Carol Varsalona’s invitation to contribute to her gallery Autumn Ablaze. Carol’s galleries are always full of gorgeous images and provocative language. Thank you, Carol for your inspiration and for your regular celebrations of poetry, community, and life.

For more Poetry Friday visit Linda at TeacherDance.

Someone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Someone

Someone has to.
Someone has to go.
Someone has to go down
in the dark, musty basement.
Someone has to.
Someone has to tip toe
along the concrete floor.
Someone has to.
Someone has to listen
for the quiet, steady snores.
Someone has to.
Someone has to slip aside
the hulking creature’s
big behind.
Someone has to.
Someone has to sidle by
before the giant
roars awake
its eyes alight
with raging flames.
Someone has to.
Someone has to run
for her life
and bring back
a roll of two-ply soft, white
toilet paper.

I’m so happy to be here! I’ve missed you all. Life has been busy and distracting. Thank goodness for Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ wonderful blog. Her spotlight interview with Carrie Clickard and Carrie’s challenge to write a poem about something that spooked you as a child were just what I needed. Wishing you all a happy Poetry Friday! Leigh Ann has the roundup at A Day in the Life.