Thursday, October 10, 2013

Poetry Friday: Writing Pantoums with Friends

When Liz suggested reviving the dormant Poetry 7 Collaborative by writing pantoums around a common line, I said: "I'm in." 

Then I went to look up a pantoum.



Writing this was like turning myself inside out. 

The best part? Getting to read all my poetry sisters' beautiful efforts, which Laura Salas has collected here for Poetry Friday.  

A Pantoum

With thanks to Ani DiFranco for the line “I’ve got better things to do than survive"

I’ve got better things to do than survive
Like bread, I’m buttered to the edge
Slathered in riches, I’ve
congealed, a manicured hedge

Like bread, I’m buttered to the edge
I roll my socks in pairs; nothing should be
congealed; a manicured hedge
bitten back to nubs; still---wood, tree.   

I roll my socks; in pairs, nothing should be
alone in the dark; I reach for matches
bitten back to nubs; still! Wood! Tree!
I call out names, stick knives in latches

Alone, in the dark, I reach for matches
made in heaven; thus, a poem is braced, stave by stave
I call out! Names stick knives in latches;
Turning wood is soft as butter on the lathe

Made in heaven---thus, a poem is! Braced, stave by stave, 
Slathered in riches, I’ve 
turned. Wood is soft as butter. On the lathe,
I've got better things to do than survive.

                  ----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Laura Purdie Salas has the Poetry Friday roundup today.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Clear Thinking about Mixed Feelings": A Guest Post at Teachers Write

I'm guest posting about poetry and inspiration at Kate Messner's fabulous virtual writing camp, Teachers Write, today.

You may recognize some of the themes I talk about (and even the actual words!) as drawn from this blog---but then, I see this blog as a kind of notebook in which to gather my thoughts for both now and later.  It turns out there is a cumulative effect of reading, writing, and believing. 

 Come join me!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Poetry Friday: Renku

Poetry ought to be taught in schools as a game.  I mean it. All the way up to high school and beyond.

We start this way---with hand clap rhymes, or raps, or silly jingles which we make even sillier, or perhaps, (gasp!) off-color.

And then...the bell rings and recess is over and poetry gets made "a subject."

PHOOEY on that!

In contrast, there's  an old Japanese game called renku* in which poets build a linked chain of haiku together on the spot. Apparently, in ancient times, it used to get quite rowdy---even a little PG-13 here and there, perhaps like some modern day bouts of Pictionary tend to do...

It was about pleasing the crowd with a sly twist on theme. Or throwing in a tricky word. Or slipping in an allusion that tickled your brain until you had time to look it up and say: Oh, right! I should've gotten that!

So, in the spirit of going back to poetry's roots, the Poetry Seven are at it again with a pickup game of renku.  Liz and Andi threw us the idea a week ago, and presto! by today, we have something that weaves and jinks and laces us all together.  We have a game. Play with us.

*Renku: alternating verses of three lines, two lines (could be 17, 14 syllables) with a linked theme and a shift. Below, the initials at the end of the lines indicate which of the poets wrote it. lps=Laura Purdie Salas, aj = Andi Jazmon (Sibley), tsh=Tricia Stohr-Hunt, kf=Kelly Fineman, sh=Sara Holmes, td=Tanita Davis, lgs=Liz Garton Scanlon

fall leaf in April
wearing last season's fashions--
shunned by the green crowd lps

nature’s first green is gold
progeny emerge in flame aj

white melts into green
gardens blush Crayola proud  
blooming shades of spring tsh

strolling down the pebble path
rose-cheeked dreamer lost in thought aj

palest pink dogwood
April breezes whisper by
petals flutter down kf

ink dries on palest pages
garden rows plow down sillion aj/sh

Brash green garter snake
Hoe laid beside June daisies
Book and tart limeade sh

serpent jewel, puckered words,
work abandoned, glory claimed aj

afternoon drifts by                            lps
wispy clouds, half-closed eyelids
distant playground sounds

cloud congestion, dully pewter
petrichor from distant patters td

tapped on leaden skies                    td
rain’s persistent percussion
arrhythmic ad lib

a morse-code chicken scratch          lgs
a fresh start too hard to resist

the rain leaves its mark --                   lgs
such an inscrutable plot
begs to be re-read

red again so soon and down
persimmon fingers shiver aj

Visit the player's posts today for more about the game:

Tanita Davis (wow! love what she says in the last paragraph about finding April's purpose)
Andi Sibley (took this to a whole new level with her "rules of the game")
Liz Garton Scanlon (chief instigator and rabble-rouser)
Tricia Stohr-Hunt (she recounts the conversations among the poets that led to the chain. Behold the chaos!)
Laura Purdie Salas (started us off with that evocative first haiku)
Kelly Fineman (I followed her in the chain, trying to link her palest pink dogwood to ink on book pages)

Elaine at Wild Rose Reader has the Poetry Friday Roundup today.

Monday, April 30, 2012

April is Poetry #30

 The orange truck moves from block to block.  Sometimes, kids watch.  A cat slinks by.  During the next storm, we'll be glad of the branches trimmed to limits.  But sometimes, I want to tear down the signs that go up overnight: No Parking. Tree Service. Monday 8-5.

Last day; last haiku
A tree dies in sawdust smoke
Who will I tell now?

---Sara Lewis Holmes

Thank you to all my friends who wrote beside me, and to those who commented here.  You made April poetry.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April is Poetry: #28 and #29 (Citizen Science)

Oh, April is speeding by!  This weekend was gone in a flash, but that's because any time I have with the fabulous Loree Griffin Burns is always too short. Loree was in town for the USA Science and Engineering Fair, and I caught her presentation on Citizen Science.  After writing about scientists who track trash and scientists who investigate honeybees, Loree decided to write about something powerful and simple: how any human being with alert senses and a willing heart can participate in the grand adventure of scientific discovery.

Citizen Scientists
by Loree Griffin Burns
photographs by Ellen Harasimonwicz

From listening to frog calls to hunting for lost ladybugs, each citizen scientist is asked only to be an expert in their own local community, and to observe and share the data he or she collects.  It's a bit like Twitter science.  (I hope Loree won't object to that description!)  Just like Twitter has enabled millions of people to be on-the-spot reporters, observing and relaying what they see and hear, citizen science empowers kids, families, scout troops, classrooms, 4-H clubs, nearly anyone--- to take what they see and hear in the small square of their backyards and add that knowledge to the vast earth-wide pursuit of scientific knowledge.

Cool, huh?  You can read more about citizen science and Loree's fascinating path to writing the book here.

Loree and I also talked about haiku----since she knew I was writing some for Poetry Month--and because she believes science and haiku have a lot in common. By focusing on the very small and the very particular, we gain access to the profound.  She even recommended a poetry book to me that I can't wait to find: Seeds From a Birch Tree. For now, though, I'm paying attention only to what I heard and saw and learned from Loree today.

Shh! I'm listening
Spring peepers caught on iphone
shared sound grows louder

Red binoculars
Held breath, sharp eyes, open ears
One sky; many wings