Tag Archives: poetry

SOLC Day 14: Finding a Poem

My face-to-face meeting with directors of California Writing Project sites all over the state became a Zoom meeting in light of the Corona virus pandemic. I was not looking forward to hours in front of my computer screen, I knew I would miss all the informal opportunities for conversation and camaraderie. But I was wrong. Today’s meeting was energizing and comforting and brought much-needed connection and shared experiences with others who can relate in a world that is suddenly so filled with uncertainty.

Our rich conversations had me jotting down phrases, words I couldn’t forget. And during my beach walk this afternoon, they started to become a poem of sorts. So here’s the early draft…not quite done, found in the words of my colleagues.

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Just Wait

 

In a roiling cauldron of virus brew

we swim

blindly dodging infection

unwilling to get out

sure if we can’t see it, it’s not there

 

The pandemic spreads

morphing from fear of illness

into a pandemic of disappointment:

canceled events, weekend plans, the coveted spring break

we resist–just this once, I’ll be okay

wash your hands, pump the hand sanitizer

 

It’s time for each of us to listen loudly

to hear voices of those at risk

each of us is a single brick, interlocking, interconnected

whether we want to be or not

 

Distance physically

but not emotionally

wash your hands, cough into your elbow

cancel your plans and check on your neighbor

find ways to inject an inoculation of connection

without passing the virus

 

Write more, read more

Facetime with Grandma, phone call to Dad

and wait…

®Douillard

 

(And an image from this afternoon’s trip to the grocery store. Empty shelves are so unexpected!)

SOLC Day 3: Writing Under the Influence

Yesterday’s photography foray into the garden was still on students’ minds today.  I always seem to be living (and teaching) on borrowed time, so after finishing up some other work I was able to give students time to go back and look through the photographs they took yesterday.  I asked them to select their three “best” photos…thinking about the categories/compositional strategies they had tried yesterday.  Then of the three, figure out which one would be best as a black and white image.  I showed my own process, talking through the three photos I selected and showing my black and white image (you can see it on yesterday’s post). They were excited…eager to select, eager to edit, and I smartly limited the time to minutes in the single digits.  I called them together, iPads in hand, and had them all hold up their images.  Stunning, striking, interesting, and sometimes surprising…all words that described those photographs.

And with a few minutes until recess, I reminded students about the poem we had read and studied yesterday: Peeling an Orange  by Eve Merriam.  I started my own poem in front of my students, thinking aloud as I talked through what I saw in this mentor text and writing my poem’s first lines.  I knew they were ready as they suggested ideas for my writing, questioned my decisions, and started asking questions about their own writing-to-be.

There is something magical about writing under the influence.  EVERY SINGLE STUDENT in my class had a title and an path forward for their poem in less than 5 minutes…and were asking when they would have time to return to this writing as we walked out to recess.

Just enough structure and lots choice meant students took photos of what caught their eyes. Being outdoors, wandering through the garden felt more like play than work–offering opportunities for creativity and exploration.  Selecting meant making some intentional choices–but choices again.  And nothing makes my students happier than messing with filters in editing mode!

We read and study a poem each week, so my students are familiar with poetry as a mentor text.  They know me well, expecting to write any time we do something creative and artistic. And there is something wonderful about writing short.  Small poems invite students to try something new, explore language, and still know the end is in sight.  The lift is somehow just right.

Here’s a tiny taste:

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And on some crazy whim, I decided to have my students create a slide deck of their small poems and photographs this afternoon.  (Reminiscent of something we did for #writeout and #clmooc)  So here they are:  first draft small poems and Ansel Adam-inspired photos from the garden.  We were definitely under the influence:  of nature, of photography, of freedom and choice, of a mentor text, and of a community of writers composing together.

 

 

 

 

Collaboration: Learning from a Mentor Text

Have you ever written an etheree?  I hadn’t–and hadn’t even heard of this particular poetic form until I came across the book Thanku: Poems of Gratitude by Miranda Paul.  As I read I came across a poem–an etheree-All This by Liz Garton Scanlon.  A poem that begins with one syllable and builds one syllable at a time until it reaches ten syllables in line ten.  In All This, Scanlon shows appreciation and gratitude for a small pleasure (or maybe a collection of small pleasures)…the snow, a book, a bubble bath, a cat…

Coming back from our winter break in early January, this seemed like a perfect alternative to resolution making and would ease us all back into writing and reading and thinking and planning.  So, in #collaboration with Liz Garton Scanlon, my students and I embarked on some etheree writing…and finally…today, I got their finished Postcards to Myself up on the classroom wall!

It feels like serendipity that this culmination coincided with the #clmooc poetry port invitation #collaboration!  I love that I can celebrate my students’ poetry and the power of a mentor text…and my own poem too.

postcard to myself

And here is a a closer view of a couple of student creations (8 and 9 year olds)…the first by H:

Bone

 

Skull

Fossil

Dinosaur

Bones in the ground

Brushing off the dust

Prehistoric fossils

Putting on the soft plaster

Breaking the hard rock to find bone

T-Rex has a small name but it’s huge

Fossils are everywhere in the world.

Bones

And another by B:

The Art of Folding Origami

 

Fold

sharp ends

crisp paper.

Origami

the art of folding

take your time, be precise

make sure you use square paper.

I can fold cranes, swords, hats, and more

fold until your run out of paper

origami is hard, so keep trying.

origami

And my own:

Inhale

 

Beach

with sand

bright sunshine

cool frothy waves

and perky sea birds.

I walk and watch and shoot

camera ready, focused

helping me see the world clearly.

I have so much to be grateful for

and I breathe in: inhaling sea’s bounty.

 

®Douillard

egret with reflection

Now it’s your turn to join in the collaboration!  Will you try an etheree?

 

 

02022020: Palindrome Day

As I walked in the #warmth of the Sunday morning February sun, these numbers and their connections to Groundhog’s Day wandered through my mind.  With each step, I contemplated dates and years and those inevitable Facebook and Instagram memories that show up reminding you of a post you made a year ago, five years ago, etc.  Eventually a poem began to form and I was able to hang onto some of the pieces and write them down once I returned home.  Here’s my first draft.

02022020

On Groundhog’s Day

it’s Palindrome Day

02022020

patterns suggest

going backwards and forwards

tripping over the same stones

social media memories

mirror life lived “on this day 5 years ago”

that sometimes feel like a snapshot of today

 

A shadow determines

the arrival of spring

Does a rodent in Philly

really understand

Southern California winters?

Stretches of spring preceding spring’s arrival

sparsely punctuated

with points of weather

months that look like other months

seasons only natives feel

deep in their bones

 

As we mark this day

02022020

know that patterns

recognizable by their well-worn paths

by the muscle memory that leads the way

can also open possibility

inviting us to forge new trails

pick up the smooth flat stones to skip over

summer-like ocean waves

Let’s start now to create the tomorrow

we envision today

®Douillard

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Celebration: Entering Poetry Port

I awoke yesterday morning to a tweet from a #clmooc and #nwp colleague.  I was gifted a poem that celebrated my photography!  (Thanks Kevin)  I’d love to share it here, but I’m not sure how to display the video of the poem.  Right away, I was inspired to write my own poem…you might hear echoes of Kevin’s poem here.  I am also inspired to spend some daily time in the Poetry Port.

Celebrate through the Angles

 

The curveballs

are inevitable

volleys come in clusters

raining down in torrents

forcing you under

take cover

 

Celebrations are there too

waiting

hidden among the curveballs

waiting

                           for you to raise your head

to life your eyes

to open your heart

It’s all in the angles

finding the slant

that lets the confetti pour in

that lets light in through the cracks

that shifts the weight of burden

from your tired shoulders

so giggles and squeals pour out

 

Protect yourself

when the curveballs burst through

AND

stay alert

search out the diagonal

find the obtuse

embrace the acute

find the beauty

 

There’s always room

for

celebration

®Douillard

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Things and Places: #writeout

An email subscription led me to a podcast called Everything is Alivewhere inanimate objects are interviewed.  (Full disclosure, I only listened to a few minutes of one podcast–but did read the transcript linked above.)  But, this idea of the personality and alive-ness of inanimate objects got me thinking about inspiration for writing.  And, in the serendipity sort of way I often experience when thinking and writing and lesson planning, I came across an old favorite poem I have used with students called Pencils by Barbara Esbensen.  (You can read Esbensen’s poem linked above.)

I have this idea that students will pick an object that matters to them and create their own inanimate object poetry inspired by Pencils.  Should I have them write about pencils?  No…let them choose something that matters to each of them.  What would I pick? My camera, of course.  So, here’s my try:

Cameras

The rooms in a camera

are a tight fit

but forests seascapes classrooms

crowd right in

 

In a camera

nature’s colors riot, drawing your eye

and dim light shifts the world

to black and white

 

From a photographer (experienced or not)

an unexplained photo may emerge

framed by the untold story

living in the stillness, frozen in time

 

Every image in your camera

is ready to

dance on rays of light

ready

to focus and expose

ready to come right out

and save that moment

so that you can explore

and experience it again and again

®Douillard

Will my third graders be able to animate their inanimate objects?  I think so…and I also think that the objects will connect them to places they love and spend time at…so #writeout it is!  I’ll share the results later in the week!

Here are some of my favorite places that crowd right into the rooms in my camera!

sand art

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A Place I Love: #writeout

When I learned that the National Day on Writing, the National Park Service, and the National Writing Project would join forces to celebrate writing through #writeout in October, I was all in.  #writeout is meant to help writers focus on stories of place…particularly if there is a national park nearby.  I don’t happen to live near a national park, but I do live by spectacular outdoor spaces where I spend lots of time walking…and that inspire my writing.

As October began, students read and studied the poem, City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  The rhythms and patterns of the poem were friendly to students, they were able to notice many techniques Hopkins employed.  And better yet, they were eager and ready to write their own versions using this poem as their mentor text.

City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins

 

In the city

I live in—

city I love—

mornings wake

to swishes, swashes,

sputters

of sweepers

swooshing litter

from gutters.

 

In the city

I live in—

city I love—

afternoons pulse

with people hurrying,

scurrying—

races of faces

pacing to

must-get-there

places.

 

In the city

I live in—

city I love—

nights shimmer

with lights

competing

with stars

above

unknown heights.

  

In the city

I live in—

city I love—

as dreams

start to creep

my city

of senses

lulls

me

to

sleep.

With this poem as a mentor text, I wrote my own version, focusing on a favorite place of mine.  Of course, I had to write about walking on the beach!

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Beach I Love

 

At the beach

I walk on

The beach I love

Seagulls hover

Squawking and flapping

Searching for treats

In unattended 

Beach bags. 

 

At the beach 

I walk on

The beach I love

Salty waves

Curl and break

Tossing swimmers 

And tempting surfers

Into the cool, refreshing

Depths. 

 

At the beach 

I walk on

The beach I love

Squishy sand

Sucks at my toes

Tiny grains sanding 

My soles smooth

And sheltering 

Tiny frisky crabs and 

Multitudes of bean clams. 

 

At the beach 

I walk on

The beach I love

Rhythmic seas

Slow my breath

Warm my heart

And clear my mind. 

 

Kim Douillard 

So in honor of the National Day on Writing and #writeout, I let the outdoors inspire my writing.  I will include my students’ writing in days to come!