Category Archives: National Poetry Month

Learning from Writing: Reflections on the Poem-a-Day Challenge 2019

After 60 days of daily writing, it’s time to reflect on all I’ve learned from writing every day.  My first 30 days were entries classified as “slice of life,” vignettes and stories from life as I lived it. The second 30 days were poems, one each day of April as part of my classroom poem-a-day challenge.

The first and most important lesson learned is that daily writing makes daily writing easier. The more I write, the more I have to say.  That is not to say that writing is easy.  In fact, writing is work.  Every. Single. Day.  I have my share of “writer’s block,” but when I expect to write every day, I look for strategies to push through it.  Throughout my day I find myself paying attention to words, images, interactions…everything I encounter is potential fodder for my writing.

A tiny, furry caterpillar scurrying across the sidewalk grabs my attention and I stop to take a photo or two, knowing that there’s a story or a poem or a musing about life somewhere in that fuzzy body.  I’m reminded that attention to tiny, perfect things primes me for daily writing.

img_0727

I’ve also learned that my students need me to give them tips, techniques, and inspiring mentor texts to nurture them as writers.  They need to see me as not just their teacher, but as a fellow writer who also experiences challenges and successes, who starts and stops, and even stalls sometimes during the composing process.  My scribbles and scratch throughs show that writing takes effort and that it is worth the effort.  Being a writer in a community of writer breathes wind beneath our writerly wings.

lrg_dsc03017

I’ve learned to see revision as a gift rather than a chore.  Writing doesn’t have to be perfect as you lay the words on the page.  Revision invites opportunities to revisit and re-see, allowing for new ideas to reshape that thinking on the page.  I especially love what revision offers my students.  Once they push past the idea that “done” is the goal, they are willing to rework their writing, especially when they have specific techniques to experiment with and concrete feedback to focus the reworking.

The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say a brain surgeon.  You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.  Robert Cormier

I leave this post saying now what?  60 days of blogging challenges have kept me accountable to my daily writing.  Will I write tomorrow without a challenge to motivate me?  Will I invent a new challenge to keep myself going?  Can I keep up a daily writing practice without posting publicly?  And what will keep my students writing?  They will spend time over the next week or two curating their poems: selecting and revising to create a book that showcases ten of the poems written in April.

Habits are hard to form and easy to break, so I’ll be working to keep this writing habit alive…for myself and for my students.

 

 

Temporary: NPM 2019 Day 30

30 poems in 30 days…poof, April is done.

Today’s poem was inspired by the art I saw carved in the sand on my walk today and the power of fleeting experiences.

img_0718

Temporary

 

Swoops and swirls

scratched in the sand

transform the expanses of low tide

into a canvas

 

The view from above

reveals a seascape

nautilus shells and giant kelp

dwarfing people who mill around

brushstrokes along the shoreline

 

Like voices spoken into the wind,

laughter shared between friends,

the magic is elusive

rising tides erase each mark

washing the canvas

into the sea

 

Though seemingly temporary

art experienced,

laughter shared,

words spoken

leave trails in our brains

and on our hearts

 

A canvas wiped clean

makes space

for reimagined creations

interactions with

space, time

sand and sea

 

Temporary

is time enough

to make a mark

 

©Douillard

Searching for Blue: NPM 2019 Day 29

A weekend with a horrific shooting at a local synagogue and today’s unexpected downpour created a feeling of gray that seemed to seep through the bones into the soul.

On the second to the last day of National Poetry Month, here is my poem for the day.

Searching for Blue

 

Some days feel like

crawling through a tunnel of gray

sides pushing in

narrowing vision

muffling sound

restricting each breath

 

breathe in, breathe out

 

I search for a crack

a break in the tunnel

a space where light

threads through

brightening the sky

where streaks of blue open paths

to hope and possibility

 

©Douillard

lrg_dsc03227

Wavy Turban Snail: NPM 2019 Day 28

Wavy Turban Snail

Wearing an elaborate castle

the wavy turban snail

pushes out its foot and sticks it to a rock

while salty waves splash

and then recede

exposing

the spiral  staircase

that reaches to the sky

embracing spring sunshine at low tide

wearing a feathery cap

or just bringing red algae

along as a friend

the snail pulls in

preserving the wet

and keeping the drying sun out

in its castle

on the rock

©Douillard

img_0685

Texture: NPM 2019 Day 27

img_0672

Impressions

My eyes trace the curves

filigree curlicues

etched

into what was once a smooth sheet

Blue peeks through

adding a pillow of soft

to the sculpted edges

Shadows cast on concrete

echo as sunlight

passes through

cooling the midday rays

Texture tap dances

on my heart

rhythms as reminders

that life takes place

in the spaces between

touch the raised surfaces

the dips and cutouts

the places we feel

leaving impressions

imprints

of life lived

©Douillard

 

Royal Terns: NPM 2019 Day 26

Though it’s still April, we’re already dealing with what will soon become May gray.  It’s that pervasive marine layer that characterizes spring and early summer here in Southern CA.  But we really can’t complain.  The weather is mild and the ocean always welcomes.

Today I noticed the royal terns hanging out on the beach.  Before I knew what they were, I called them Groucho Marx seagulls.  They have big dark eyebrows and a bright orange beak. Distinctive, distinguished, comical.

lrg_dsc03187

Today poem is a Haiku…short and sweet.

Groucho Marx eyebrows

atop orange beak and white wings

shore birds entertain

©Douillard

lrg_dsc03189

 

Lifeguard Towers: NPM 2019 Day 25

lrg_dsc03144

Lifeguard Towers

 

They rest on their haunches

waiting out winter

tucked away

in suspended animation

until the warmth

of summer’s sun

(along with the the assist of a tractor or forklift)

entices them to water’s edge

 

Spring teases

with bright skies

swimmers tiptoe

into chilly seas

but the towers know better

and will wait

for the border of

May gray and June gloom

to make their way

to their perch

along the shore

©Douillard