Tag Archives: poetry

Flanerie and a Doodle

I’ve been around the edges of CLMOOC this summer, connected to the planning through Slack and google docs and twitter and Facebook, but mostly staying on the sidelines–watching makes rather than making.  I can come up with excuses, but maybe this is my summer of peripheral participation or lurking as some call it.

But in some ways, I would say I’m making on my own terms this summer.  I’ve made time for babies–joyously playing with those sweet boys who know me as grandma, rolling on the floor, scooping them up for hugs and kisses just because, reading book after book after book until I know (and I suspect they do too) all the words by heart, crooning very old songs in my off-key sort of way and relearning all the Raffi songs I have long forgotten (have you sung “Apples and Bananas” lately?).  I’ve made time for reading–sucking in words: light fiction, mysteries, kid’s novels and graphic novels…I just finished The Handmaid’s Tale (scary), I’m diving into Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and at the same time hanging out with an old favorite author Natalie Goldberg through The Great Spring (a find from a wonderful bookstore in Mendocino, CA).  And I’ve made time for walking–sometimes long aimless walks on the beach, some days of hikes deep into the redwood  forests of northern California, exploring the nooks and crannies of the amazing place I live, of course taking photos all the while.

Yesterday I just had to go to the local beach…that place most of you are familiar with if you read my blog even semi regularly.  I hadn’t been in more than two week, having been out of town exploring other parts of California.  It’s summer, our weather is hot, especially in areas away from the coast so the beach was crowded.  The parking lot was jammed as were the streets nearby.  So I cruised the nearby neighborhoods until I found a parking space, beginning my walk from there.

I walked from the crowds towards the beach space less frequented by visitors, my space, the space I feel called to explore and wander.  As I walked and wandered (using my new word flanerie), I found myself “doodling” with words in my head.  Worrying that I would forget the words at the end of my walk, I stopped and sat on a rock and typed some of the words into my phone to play around with later.

Here’s my word doodle, a poem of sorts.

She’s calling my name in cools

blues, greens, frosted white

singing tunes that synchronize with my breath and heartbeat

inviting me to soak my toes in her earthy tea with each step

Yes, she’s calling my name

And to top it off, I found a face in the cliff.  I walk here all the time and this is the first time I have seen this face.  Maybe she was calling my name.

bde65fcd-e6e1-42f4-b1d7-11b2d165546d

#haikuforhealing

It’s so easy to break a good habit, even after it has been well established. When I started this blog, I wrote daily for months on end.  Of course, I did it because I knew if I stopped (and I was afraid to stop for even one day), I would have a hard time getting back on track.

I guess I was right.

This week, my friend and colleague Kevin posted a prompt on the NWP iAnthology, inviting some short-form writing in the form of Haiku, 3 line poems, for the purpose of healing the spirit.  #haikuforhealing is a hashtag where people are sharing these poems meant to raise spirits.  I noticed Kevin writing them in December, making posters of them with inspirational images as their backdrop.  I enjoyed them…and thought about writing some of my own.

So when the prompt came up on Saturday, I decided to try my hand at it. I started with a photo I had taken and posted on Instagram.  I imported it into Canva and added my words. My first #haikuforhealing was born.

img_4860

On Sunday my schedule didn’t allow for a long photo-taking walk. Instead, I snapped a shot of the moon through the trees in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.  I messed with it a bit in prisma, amping up the color. Hmmm…a Haiku about the moon?  I could do that.

img_4868

It rained quite a bit on Monday, but it had stopped by the time I left work. Knowing rain was in the forecast later in the week, I decided to take a walk on the beach on the way home.  The clouds were sitting low, hugging the horizon, as the sun tried its best to peek through.  Inspiration for another #haikuforhealing?  Why not?

img_4882

Should I go for four days in a row?  One of the things I love about living near the coast is the proximity to the trains. I hear them as I walk on the beach, I hear them as I teach, and they frequently hold me up at intersections as the guards lower, the lights flash, and the train barrels past.Today I was walking toward my car when the rail guards dropped, giving me just enough time to snap a few shots…and think about a Haiku…

img_4892

I don’t know if I have re-established a habit of daily writing, but I am four days into daily #haikuforhealing writing.  I’m enjoying it.  I like creating the poster with my photograph and words…and sharing it on Twitter (@kd062) makes me feel accountable (at least to myself).

Join in the healing, let Haiku shift your perspective and help you find inspiration, beauty, meaning…  And if you have other ideas to keep the daily writing fresh and doable, I’d love to hear about them!

 

The Power of Community

Our students are writers, but even a few short weeks ago many didn’t see themselves that way.  They were worried that they didn’t know how to spell, that their writing wasn’t “right,” that others knew something that they didn’t about this mysterious practice called writing.

Like we do every year, we’ve been working to build a community of learners and writers in our multiage class of first, second and third graders. And like Margaret Simon reminds us all in her #digilit post this week, that requires practice, patience, and persistence. Margaret was talking about the use of digital tools–but I would argue, it is the same with or without the digital tools.  But I want to remind us (and myself) that practice doesn’t mean drudgery.  Instead it means establishing a practice, regular opportunities to write in meaningful ways.  It means low stakes opportunities to explore the possibilities of writing, to play with words, to share your attempts with others who are also trying on and experimenting.  And it means knowing that your first attempt is not your only attempt, that writing takes time and multiple iterations that come from layering inspiration, mentor texts, and supportive instruction.

A week ago, we were inspired by the life and poetry of e.e.cummings.  (If you have not yet read the picture book biography of cummings by Matthew Burgess, Enormous Smallness–you should.  It’s quite a treat!) Burgess’s description of cummings exploring the world with “his eyes on tiptoes” made an impression on our young writers.  After studying love is a place by cummings along with a few other poems by various authors as mentors, our students set out to compose a poem about something they love.

They wrote these poems in layers–a little each day over the course of a week–and in a community of other poets (including their teachers) working to express their thinking and visions about something they care about. We read our works-in-progress, noting language we loved, noticing techniques we could borrow, and learning how to “fit” something into a page already full.  (A major impediment to revision for young students…we continually work to show our writers how to make changes without erasing or starting over!)

The resulting poems are magical…and incredibly varied.  From the one that begins, “Shall I compare winter with a magical place…” (inspired by her own knowledge of Shakespeare and her love of snow and ice) to the one that ends, “Time doesn’t exist on a boat on the ocean when fishing,” my heart swells knowing that the power of our writing community has taken hold.

And sometimes you get the piece that feels momentous, a powerful expression from a student who previously didn’t claim writing as something he even wanted to own.  But he is feeling the magic of his words and wants to share them, giving me permission to share them with other writers and learners.  Surrounded by a community of writers and learners and inspired by the mentor text, Trouble, Fly by Susan Marie Swanson and the story, The Waterfall by Jonathan London, B knew he had something to say about writing that is worth sharing with others.

screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-1-19-28-pm

B’s effort shows the results of practice, patience, and persistence.  But this didn’t come from a single lesson.  Instead, it is the result of cumulative effort now in its third year for this student.  B expects to write for many reasons and in many ways on a regular basis. That’s what we do in our learning community.  On Thursday, the National Day on Writing, students put some of those reasons for writing in print to express #whyiwrite to the larger community of writers on Twitter.

img_3788

As I think about myself as a writer and as a photographer, I know that practice, patience and persistence also apply to me and my own learning. I wrote last week about writing with light through my photography.  This morning as I walked the beach in a light rain, I wanted to capture the quality of light and feeling of expanse I experienced.  As I poured over and thought about the photos I took, my mind wandered back to one of my photographic mentors, Ansel Adams.  And I found myself inspired by his words…and by his use of black and white to express nature’s powerful beauty.  I took my photo and used a filter to transform it from color to black and white, capturing the mood and expansiveness…and the quiet I was looking for.

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.   Ansel Adams

img_3827

 

 

Poetry Play

We challenged the SDAWP SI folks to transmediate their own writing by adding sound and/or animation.  And that meant that I had to figure it out too!  I know I am most comfortable with still photographs and words, so this pushed me out of my comfort zone.  After some frustrating attempts at other applications, I turned to iMovie for my make.  I used my original photos along with a couple others had taken of our group, added a poem I wrote on yesterday’s writing marathon around the UCSD campus, and then recorded my voice.

Here’s my first attempt:

I am wishing that I had taken some video on the writing marathon to add some other texture to the piece. What suggestions would you make to improve this piece?

Doors

Sometimes it’s hard to find openings, ways to get in and get out.

Not all doors look like doors—heavy wooden slabs with handles to turn or pull to open and close. And they are not all found on traditional structures like houses and office buildings.

Sometimes the walls that hold you out are made of reeds growing along the shore,

IMG_6009

and frame your view of the world.  You are bound by your idea of wall instead of freed by the open door.

Other doors aren’t doors at all, they are signs warning you of the rules, enter at your own risk,

IMG_6036

marking boundaries of beginning and ends.

Some doors are small, requiring you to duck low, risk the muck and slime

IMG_6037

as you get a glimpse at the light on the other side.

Some doors are bridges to go over or under or through, marking sides, taking sides, allowing access to both sides.

IMG_6039

There are doors on platforms, high enough to see above the fray, watchtowers of protection,

IMG_6041

hope, and possibility.

Doors can be wide angles, opening to vistas

IMG_6042

But you have to find them, recognize them

as openings

as doors

ways in and ways out.

Getting Ready for #CLMOOC

While I haven’t participated in #rhizo15, I have been intrigued by the ideas behind rhizomatic learning and the thinking that learners can direct themselves, learn from one another, and transform learning in the process.  (If I have that wrong…someone please correct me!)  And the Connected Learning MOOC, known as the #CLMOOC (massive open online collaboration) is starting up in a few weeks!

So instead of cleaning my house or working on report cards last week, I started playing with some photo apps, creating some photo art.  And then yesterday Margaret Simon initiated a #digilit challenge…with the first week being focused on creating #photoart.  How could I resist?

So I started with the image I had created using the app Waterlogue, creating a watercolor version of the photo I had taken.  Then, because Margaret modeled adding poetry to hers, I decided to create a haiku to express why I had stopped and snapped the photo in the first place.  I shared this image with her on Facebook yesterday.

Preset Style = Natural Format = 6" (Medium) Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Medium Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = Natural Paint Lightness = Normal Paint Intensity = Normal Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Medium Water Bleed = Average Brush = Natural Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Narrow Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Light Options Faces = Enhance Faces

And then today I decided to do some exploring and mess around with Thinglink to add some other media to the image.  I started by adding a link to the original photo I had taken before turning it into a watercolor painting.  I also decided to add a favorite piece of music, so I linked a YouTube video of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World.  And then, just for fun, I added the link to Margaret’s Pinterest page where there are examples of other’s #photoart.  Here’s my result:

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/659592420828119042

I hope you will also join in the fun…create some #photoart…and join us at the CLMOOC starting in June!

Enormous Smallness: April’s Photo a Day Challenge

Photography reminds me to appreciate moments, to slow down and notice light and shadow, a fleeting smile, the graceful curve of a limb and the reflection in a mirrored wall.  Another blogging photographer I admire, Joy of Joyfully Green, just today said, (photography) “…literally lets me stop time for a split second.”

There is something enormous about capturing the smallness of moments–making time stand still–so we can look more closely, study the details, and savor what is often unnoticed.  Paul Strand (among others) did that with his photography.  A friend of mine recently gifted me with some Paul Strand photo postcards from the recent exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art…and I am inspired by the simplicity and grandeur of the everyday moments he captured.

IMG_4865

And I borrowed the title of this post from the title of a picture book I ordered today about the life of ee cummings–a poet who captured enormous smallness through his poetry.  It seems fitting to celebrate the special qualities that photography and poetry share during April…typically a month that celebrates poetry (at least in schools).

Just this afternoon I was mesmerized by the buds on the orchid plant that nearly didn’t survive some time outdoors during our recent kitchen remodel…and the afternoon sunlight highlighted the enormous smallness of these emerging blossom.

IMG_4921

And this tree that grows near my driveway often appears in photos when the sky catches my eye…like this sunrise a week or so ago.

IMG_4698

Sometimes the enormous smallness is found in places where I share experiences–and food–with friends and family.  And the people who accidentally appear in them serve to enhance that quality, like this photo of the Shake Shack in Washington DC…

IMG_4857

or this from the inside looking out from Milk and Honey in Baltimore.  (I like the way the words are reversed since I was photographing from the inside rather than the outside.)

IMG_4924

Sometimes it’s in the grandeur of the mirrored high-rise that I notice the reflection of the neighborhood…

IMG_4925

or the durability of historic architecture that reminds me that there is much to be learned by reading the world rather than solely depending on books.

IMG_4897

Then there is the interplay of past, present, and future in our nation’s capitol–the place where government resides, but doesn’t live.  Our laws and values are enacted in our neighborhoods and cities, but there is something about buildings like the capitol building that remind us that what is national is also local.

IMG_4870

And in my local community where this historic movie theatre still hosts first run films, a place where people gather in the shadows of those who settled this area before the streets and infrastructure that we take for granted existed, we see that our lives interact with those who came before and will influence those who come after us.

IMG_4917

So April’s photo-a-day challenge is to seek out enormous smallness, the beauty in the everyday, the complexity in simplicity, making meaning of seeming chaos.  If you need them, here are some prompts to get your started:

1. April Fools

2.  history

3.  place

4.  outdoors

5.  new

6.  family

7.  work

8.  poetry

9.  laughter

10.  inside

11.  misery

12.  in front of

13.  behind

14.  tears

15.  life

16.  tired

17.  energetic

18.  writing

19.  fear

20.  house

21.  wheels

22.  doors

23.  nature

24.  advocate

25.  old

26.  near

27.  eyes

28.  food

29.  small

30.  enormous

So for April, find the poetry in the everyday…be on the lookout for enormous smallness. Pick a single photo to post each day or create a gallery of your efforts. Post a photo or gallery each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts. If you would like to expand your exploration, write the poem or the story of the photo, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, or make a video or slideshow. You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section. It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life. You can post your pictures in the order of the prompts or post the one you find on the day you find it–or make up your own prompt for the day or the week! You get to make your own rules as you seek out your own enormous smallness. Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!

Appreciate those moments…and be on the lookout for instances of enormous smallness in your life.  I can’t wait to see what you capture through your lens!