On this last day of National Poetry Month the weather dawned gray and damp–not unusual for May and June, but less usual for April (seems to have been re-named “gray-pril” by local meteorologists lately). But gray doesn’t keep us indoors–and to be honest, it’s not miserably cold–just gives out the “blah” vibes.
One of the things that I discovered about my own poetry by writing a poem each day this month is that I like to write nature poetry, science-focused poetry, eco-poetry. And on this last day of April that remains true. Kelp beds are a feature of our coast, a forest under the sea. I took this photo of Macrocystis Pyrifera, also known as giant kelp, looking down from a pier into the ocean below and let it inspire my Haiku.
Today as I wandered, looking for inspiration for a poem for day 29, I turned to the Moving Writers blog and found this post by Brett Vogelsinger, which led me to the poem I Need to Live Near a Creek that became my mentor text for today. I knew I wanted to write from this photo that I took today on a walk at the beach–the curlew flying out of the frame of my photo as I clicked the shutter.
Today’s #verselove prompt was all about expressing the abstract through concrete details. I’m not so sure I approached this in the right direction. I started with my feelings of irritation with yet another gray day–the kind of day that seems to wring out the energy and makes you want to curl up and take a nap–right in the middle of the day! But then when I turned to the concrete–pulling on my favorite sweatshirt, the one with the Linda Christensen quote on the back and our writing project name and logo on the front, something unexpected emerged. (I do wish my stanza breaks would stay where I want them on wordpress–but that is something I will take up some other day!)
When I saw Chea’s invitation over at #verselove this morning, I knew that I would need to do a photo walk and create a photo essay poem about this place where I continue to spend so much time–UCSD. I combined my lunch break with walking and taking pictures, not quite sure what would speak to me once I sat down to commit words to a page.
Today’s #verselove prompt asks us to borrow a line from another poet and use it as inspiration for our own poem. I decided to use the poem-a-day poem from the poets.org. I read the poem: Throwing Children by Ross Gay and selected the line:…for a minute she notices the ants organizing on the bark…. Here’s my poem for day 26.
With Poem in your PocketDay coming up on Thursday, we studied Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem by the same name. In her poem, Amy sees a bird out her window and wonders, “if this bird had pockets, if this bird could write, would it scribble poems about nectar? humming?flight?” The poem comes from her book, If This Bird Had Pockets: A Poem in Your Pocket Day Celebration where she includes poems written from a variety of different animals’ point of view. So after reading a couple more poems from this book, of course we had to write our own pocket poems. While I suggested writing about a favorite animal, and after yesterday’s success with 16-word poems I encouraged students to try another short poem…students went in their own directions. And in a short period of time, pocket poems began to emerge from the pencils of the first graders in my class. Here’s a taste:
E who often writes about wolves and dogs, today wrote her pocket poem about friendship
You and Me
we walk to my
a tornado of
just you and
C took me up on the animal invitation
a spiky prickly ball
of sweetness uncurling
to its burrow
going to its mother
to eat breakfast
And G explored one of our favorite ocean animals
Dolphins are Amazing
dolphins zip to
leap up up
and back down
caring considerate and
My own poem featured a hummingbird
If this iridescent
had pockets they’d
from wings blindingly
Maybe we’ll tuck these poems in our pockets tomorrow to share with those who cross our paths. How will you celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day?
I love short form poetry, especially when working with young children. Today we read 16 Words: William Carlos Williams and “The Red Wheelbarrow” by Lisa Rogers and learned about a poem made up of a mere 16 words. When my first grade students studied the text of the poem, they immediately noticed that there were four stanzas (awareness built of studying a poem each week). They also noticed that each stanza contained four words (how had I missed that detail?). They noticed the lack of capitalization and punctuation (“he broke the rules!”), something we have noticed with other poets and other poems.
Of course, we had to try our own 16-word poetry. And in a mere five minutes, students expressed their ideas following Williams’ text as their mentor. Here’s a few examples from 6 and 7 year old poets:
outside the stable
a field of grass
waits in the sun
for horses to run
A Bee Poem
buzzing in the
is a little
sipping nectar from
to make yummy
white blue and
sad and mad
calm purple and
pink exciting brown
And one by a student who is my unexpected poet–if I say the word poem, his entire body lights up…and he can’t wait to hear the poems and write his own!
The Yellow Bee
i sing with trees
i flew with clouds
i feel the breeze
i saw the earth
And mine, composed while writing with my class, inspired by looking out the window of my classroom.
Yesterday we drove to the far reaches of our county to see and appreciate the diverse natural beauty San Diego is known for. Today we went local and visited a place nearby–Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve. We frequently walk the beach there, but today we decided to hike the trails of Torrey Pine groves and cliffs above the beach. Drought and beetles have devastated these special trees that only grow here on the cliffs above the beach and on Santa Rosa Island (one of the Channel Islands). Today, after the abundant rains we had, the trees looked happier than I’ve seen them in a long while–and the native wildflowers were in full bloom. The #verselove prompt for today was to bring a historical figure to life in a poem. Instead, I chose to focus on the Torrey Pine tree in an etheree-ish form (a poem that grows from one to ten syllables). We’re lucky to have this Reserve that is focused on protecting natural places so that future generations can also enjoy them. Maybe a poem and photo can help too.
On this Earth Day, the #verselove prompt was inspired by a shower curtain with a map of islands. My own poem was inspired by a trip to the desert to get an up close look at the superbloom that has been all over the news here in California. It’s hard to take photos that capture the glory of the earth in bloom–and I’m not sure my words do either, but it was fun to try.