Tag Archives: ordinary

Poem in Your Pocket Day: NPM 2019 Day 18

Today is Poem in your Pocket day…and I wasn’t in the classroom with my students today! But, they were all prepared.  Yesterday they picked one of their own poems (they had quite a selection since they’ve been writing a poem a day since April began), revised it, and copied it on a piece of paper to put in their pocket today.  And lucky for me, my teaching partner encouraged students to share their poems…both in the classroom and beyond.

I did collect a few poems yesterday so I would have some to share with you today.  Alice wrote a poem about a crummy old nail…maybe inspired by some of the ordinary poems I’ve written and shared.

Crummy Old Nail

Crummy old nail

served many

purposes

Crummy old nail

dented and

bent

Crummy old nail

proud and

historic

Crummy old nail

brave and

cautious

Crummy old nail

old with

wisdom

upon a

shipwrecked mast,

red

like a

cherry covered

in

rust.

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Her brother, Luca, also played around with the ordinary–using the still life structure we explored the other day.

Stool: Still Life

That small stool

standing in the corner,

sulking throughout the day.

It’s surprising when someone

comes his way.

He stops sulking and stands up straight

and if he is lucky,

they sit.

When they leave

he straightens up

and waits for others.

When the sun sets,

he stoops and sits

and lets sleep overpower him.

Snoooooooooooooooore!

I’m not sure what inspired Caleb’s poem…he wrote it on the still life day after he tried a still life poem.

Rocket

Getting ready for launch

fueling the tank

cold on the outside

warm on the inside

a big heart driving

not a robot!

5…4…3…2…1…blast off

you jump into the sky

like you’re on a trampoline

from day to night

in a single flight

in the starry sky

time to attend to dreams

And I’m still fooling around with paint chip poetry.  I pulled out some in the orange/yellow family today: fresh squeezed, chamomile tea, and yellow brick road.  Here’s today’s attempt:

Oz

I follow the yellow brick road

or in my case

the sandy sidewalk

that leads to the Oz I treasure

Blue skies and blue seas

are a canvas

for the fresh squeezed

dabs

dancing in the breeze

I breathe in and exhale

salt air and wildflowers mix to conjure

the soothing comfort

of chamomile tea

I feel it pulse through my veins

Aaaahhhhh!

©Douillard

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This is Just to Say: NPM 2019 Day 2

Today we turned to William Carlos Williams for inspiration.  Using the book A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, I introduced my students to William Carlos Williams.  I wanted to continue the focus on the ordinary as well as show a poet who continued his writing while working as a doctor.  I’ve been working to dispel the myth that poetry has to rhyme…and this book definitely helped make that point!

Once we learned a bit about Williams, we studied two of his poems to use as mentor texts for our own poems.  The Red Wheelbarrow surprised my students.  It seemed so short and so simple at first glance…and then they started to notice.  The word glazed really caught their attention…and made them think of doughnuts rather than rain coated wheelbarrows.  Then we started to play around with how to put our own content into a poem like The Red Wheelbarrow.  My third grade students could hardly contain themselves…they were so excited about writing!  Here’s a couple of their efforts:

With Caleb’s you can see the influence of living by the sea

The Colorful Afterglow

So much depends

upon

a colorful

afterglow

swarming with

bright colors

beside the turquoise

ocean

Luca captured the beauty of the ordinary

The Tree Full of Leaves

So much depends

on

a tree full of

leaves

being a home to

animals big and

small

standing tall over

the dirt path.

And Sloane turned her attention to a rock and strayed from a “so much depends” first line to create her own version of a poem inspired by WCW.

The Rock

So much pressure

is on

the rock by the river

feathered in river water

beside the ringing sound

of the river

We then turned our attention to Williams’ This is Just to Say.  They noticed right away that it seemed like a conversation–that the poet was talking to someone in this poem.  And that he seemed sorry…but not really sorry.  This poem seemed to give them permission to be playful…and even try out teasing their teacher!

Sagan knew I would appreciate this one (can you tell what conversation we have over and over again?):

Oops…

I forgot to show my thinking

in my math homework

again

even though it said to

show your thinking

I’m sorry

but at the same time

it’s way faster

and way more efficient

And Piper stretched to see use how far she could take a bit of teasing, making me the subject of her poem

This is Just to Say

Mrs. Douillard

I have destroyed

your classroom

which you were probably

going to use

to teach kids in

Forgive me

I was just trying

to have a good time

Some students played around with different foods, inspired by WCW’s refreshing sounding plums

Nathalie tried cherries

This is Just to Say

I have eaten

the cherries that

were in the bowl

and which you

were saving for dessert

tomorrow

Forgive me

they were so sweet

and delicious

While Aspen imagined ice cream

This is Just to Say

I ate your ice cream

that was in your lunch

which you were probably

saving for after your

chicken

please forgive me

it just tasted so creamy

and so refreshing

We had so much fun on this second day of National Poetry Month!  Here’s my poem for the day:

Feeding Time

So much depends

upon the sea pulling back

revealing shallow

pools

teeming with tiny fish

and crustaceans

beside the hungry white

egret

©Douillard

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Garden Poetry

My students are lucky.  They spend a half an hour in our school garden every week, growing vegetables, learning about bugs, noticing what grows well and what struggles, and tasting!  I often don’t get to go out with them, but today because of a shift in my schedule due to conferences, I joined them…and turned it into an opportunity for poetry writing!

I was drawn to the artichokes, purple and green knots growing strong and tall.  When my students sat down to write, so did I.

artichoke

Artichokes

Globes

like dinosaur paws

clenched

holding a tender heart inside

tiny swords

protect that meaty center

purplish green

beckons…attracting me

and spotted ladybugs

When will they be ripe?

Douillard 2018

I know that photographs and visual images inspire my writing.  It’s true for many of my students as well.  During yesterday’s search for the ordinary, I noticed one of my students arranging jumpropes on the ground and photographing them.  And then this sometimes reluctant writer sat down to write.

Color Brain

Color strings sewing

my brain into thoughts,

ones about madness,

ones about fear,

ones about happiness,

ones about sickness,

ones about coldness,

and ones about love.

On the string of fear

the purple hides

with red,

next to blue and turquoise.

Leah

Leah's photo

How’s your poetry writing coming along?  What inspires your words and thoughts?

Ordinary Inspiration

The weather was gray and gloomy today, but that didn’t stop us from venturing out with our iPads and poetry notebooks in search of inspiration for continuing our poem-a-day challenge. Students were excited about the prospect of exploring the playground as a source of inspiration.  They had 5 minutes to explore and take one photo.  The next 7 minutes were spent drafting a poem.  After some sharing back in the classroom, they had 7 more minutes to revise.

Our school yard is filled with trees, palm trees and pine trees, and the kids love to play under them and around them.  And some were inspired to write a poem featuring a tree, like this one:

Tree

A tree that I’m looking up to

I see it in the distance

I call it my wishtree

It’s as high as the bright blue sky with big bushy leaves

Shining down to me

Calling me

Brayden

My poem for today also features a tree–the iconic palm that stands in the center of the playground.

cardiff palm

The Cardiff Palm

Tall against the thick gray blanket of clouds

that blocks the sun.

Your crown of green fans out:

a home for birds

shade on sunny summer days.

An ever-present sentinel, standing watch

over generations of school children

listening to their playful shrieks

a backrest for tired athletes

a symbol of our coastal community.

Tireless palm

standing tall.

Douillard 2018

Some kids are still refining their poems inspired by William Carlos Williams.  Here’s one inspired by the Red Wheelbarrow:

The Rocky River

So much depends

upon the river.

The fish slither through

the river.

Tadpoles turn into

frogs.

And birds fly over all!

Stone

And this one by This is Just to Say:

Easter Candy

 

I have stolen the Easter candy

that you hid in the cabinet

 

that you were probably saving

for after dinner

 

Forgive me

They tasted so good

 

The chocolate wafers

gave it away

 

Kalani

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Staycation

Sometimes I long for exotic vacations, opportunities to explore places I have never been.  I imagine wandering through iconic museums, looking up at skylines made familiar through movies and artwork, and a peek at a way of life different from my own.  And then I remember that I live in a pretty special place–one that is exotic for others!

Today I had a rare day off and set off with my mother, my sister and my niece to enjoy a wonderful staycation day.  We headed off to Coronado–best known for the Hotel Del Coronado (a historic, high-priced beachside hotel), a naval station (North Island), and miles of exquisite beaches.  Locals call it an island and mostly access it by driving across the iconic Coronado Bay Bridge, a curving stretch with breathtaking views of the bay and the San Diego skyline, but it is actually a peninsula.

We walked and walked, feet in the cool water while the sun (even pretty early in the morning) warmed our shoulders.  We noticed some posts in the distance and found the fence that separates the public beach from the Naval Air Station.

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We also found that this far end of the beach was designated as a dog beach and the dogs were loving the water today.  They chased and retrieved balls and chased and played with each other. There were dogs of all shapes and sizes, and like people, they seemed relaxed and happy as they played along the shore.  They were obviously enjoying their own staycation!

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After lunch at El Indio, a favorite San Diego Mexican restaurant, we decided to head to Old Town.  I can’t remember the last time I explored this part of our city.  It was HOT today, so the cool greens of the beautiful botanical art sculptures were soothing to the eye.  I love the way the plants were a growing changing part of the art piece.  (This is a full body, taller than me piece…but I was drawn to the face and the juxtaposition of light and shadow.)

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Earlier in the week, as a part of our Summer Institute, we took folks out around the UCSD campus for a writing marathon.  This University of California campus is a jewel, filled with natural beauty and with interesting art installations called the Stuart Collection.  As we visited different parts of the campus, we took time to study the art, consider it in relation to our own thinking after nearly four weeks together, and wrote.  We started with this piece by Michael Asher.  As often as I have been on this campus (weekly for years) and have walked past this piece, I never knew it was an art installation.  This ordinary looking water fountain is made of polished granite to look (and function) exactly like the metal ones we are used to seeing.  I find myself still thinking about its placement, its ordinariness, and wondering how it ended up in the UCSD collection–and I know I will never look at it in the same way as I did in the past.

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And then we headed off to another piece in the Stuart Collection–the whimsical, enormous engineering feat that is Bear by Tim Hawkinson. Made of local boulders, this bear stands more than 23 feet tall in a courtyard formed by three engineering buildings. This piece is a favorite of our young writers, an enormous reminder of childhood.

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So consider a staycation in your place.  What sights and sounds will capture your imagination?  What might others see as exotic?  Or how might you see your local place in new ways?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #staycation for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Share your place with us this week, taking us on a #staycation journey with you.  What hidden treasures will you uncover when you vacation (even for a few minutes) right at home?

Making Writers

Sometimes writing feels like standing all alone in the fog–shivering in the damp–uncomfortable and vulnerable, waiting for the worst.

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But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Writers write best in a supportive community, in a place where attempts are celebrated and seeds are planted–some intentionally and carefully like those meticulously cultivated gardens and some flung far and wide like dandelion seeds floating in the wind.

dandelion seed

And writers also need to play and break the rules, find their own voice in the cacophony of others.  Occasionally they need a nudge to take those carefully stacked plates and push them over, flinging the words here and there, then gathering them again to make meaning of the shards of ideas uncovered in the process.

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Sometimes writers need to lean in close, breathe in the sweet scent of what it means to create new life as ideas emerge from words rubbed together.

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At other times, writers need to step back and take in the long view.  What new understandings reveal themselves when you look from the heights, from places you hadn’t dare stand before? Writing can be a process of discovery, exploring new territory or old territory from new perspectives.

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Writers need inspiration, sparks that send them on wild chases and deep digs.  And to be inspired, writers must open themselves–listen carefully, look widely, pay attention to the mundane, and seek out the ordinary. Nothing is too lowly to inspire words and ideas. Consider even the cat, asleep, with its head in a box.

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But mostly, writers need to trust that they have something to say–to themselves, to their neighbors, to readers and other writers.  They have to trust that words matter, thoughts matter, and the world matters.  They must want to write, and need to writer, but most of all, they actually have to do that thing that so many resist, and WRITE!

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If you want to make a writer.

***Note:  This piece was inspired by the article Hey Matt by Molly Toussant where she writes about her beliefs about teaching writing.  This piece was created as a “found photo essay” inspired by a peek at my media library as a way to think about writing and writing instruction.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Appreciating the Ordinary

Some weeks just don’t lend themselves to extraordinary photography. Now I’m not complaining about my week–it’s been fun and busy, with lots of writing and thinking as we complete week two of our 4-week SDAWP Summer Institute.

Sunsets are not always a sure thing here on the coast–night and morning low clouds can interfere with sun sightings.  Last weekend, we decided to risk it and headed to the beach near sunset.  We were treated to some pretty orange as the sun dipped low.  If you look closely you might noticed the pelicans in the upper left corner flying through the frame.

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It’s not unusual to see these flying billboards–banners attached to small planes that buzz the coastline mostly advertising alcoholic beverages.  I noticed these two different planes flying by and saw that they would cross paths right overhead.  They were not dangerously close, but I’m glad they were paying attention to each other!

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We’re pretty fortunate that the beach we frequent is mostly free of garbage in spite of the heavy usage, especially in the summer.  Balloon trash is pervasive though.  This balloon looks to have been around for awhile–with most of the words worn off.  The #Litterati movement (and my friend Janis) reminds us to pick up trash where we find it and dispose of it properly.  I love the sky and the sea in this unfiltered photo, there’s something about the clouds and the sea foam of the waves that creates a texture and an echo.

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The walk from the parking lot to the building where the SI takes place each day can be both ordinary and interesting.  I noticed these two small orange birds as they perched on the sign near the sidewalk where I walk. Using the app Colorsplash, I turned the photo to black and white and then allowed the bird color to remain in my hopes of highlighting them.

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I was reminded of the power of nature…even just a tree in a parking lot…to affect my mood.  Rachel Carson’s quote captures the jolt of strength and sense of oasis that I experience when I look up through the leaves of the tree.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
— Rachel Carson

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The practice of noticing makes an incredible difference in my life.  The photos I take capture only a fraction of what I notice, and noticing helps me appreciate the little things in the ordinariness of my life. So take a look around, how might you view the ordinary in new and more appreciative ways?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #ordinary for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

What will you find when you pause to appreciate the ordinary?  I can’t wait to find out!