Friday, February 16, 2024

Coaxing Poems 6: Give it Space

 

Greetings to you dear and funny Poetry Friends! Welcome to the sixth of ten poetry visits here at The Poem Farm. In each of these short videos, I will share a small something about poetry, and you will always be able to find the poem(s) I read below the video. If you wish, you may watch the earlier videos linked below:

COAXING POEMS VISITS:

Please make yourself comfy for Visit 6: Give it Space.

Students - Line breaks and stanzas create the space in our poems. They are the air our poems need to breathe. See, to not make space inside of a poem is to stuff the poem into an airless jar, and we do not want our poems to live inside of airless jars. 

Pinecone Treasures
Photo by Amy LV


You may have noticed that I played even more with the line breaks - and the words - of this poem between recording the video and typing it up here. I decided to break this poem into two stanzas...one about the pinecones without the boy and one about the boy and his pinecone plans.

Below you can see some of my drafting for this poem. Messy, isn't it? Real work often is, so please do not worry about neatnes in your first drafts. Allow the messy thinking part of writing to be part of your work.

Now, notice the slashes. Those idicate where I chose to break my lines. If you ever write a poem that looks like a paragraph, or if you do not like the line breaks you first choose, know that you can change them. Simply draw slash marks to show where you will move to new lines in your recopy/typing of the work. 

Some Messy Pinecone Drafting
Photo by Amy LV

Here again, as in the video, you can see thre ways I considered breaking up that first sentence of the poem. You may have made choices than I did with these words, and this is one part of what makes writing interesting: we each do it our own way based on who we are.

A Few Line Break Possibilities
Photo by Amy LV

Consider breaking a line (going to a new line) in your poem if:
  • You wish for your readers to pause for a moment
  • You wrote line you wish to repeat exactly the same way
  • A new voice is speaking
  • You want the words and motion of your poem to match each other
  • One line - or word - is very important, deserving of its own line
If you wish for a greater pause or to show a more important change or shift as I did in today's poem, you might move to to a new stanza to help your readers feel this change as they read.

The space in a poem matters. As you write a poem, say this to yourself: Give it space.

Margaret is hosting this week's Poetry Friday over at Reflections on the Teche with two poems that span the human experience from love to grief. Each Friday, all are invited to share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship in this open and welcoming poetry community.

I wish you - and your poems - the healthy beauty of space in the week ahead.

xo,

Amy

Please share a comment below if you wish.
Know that your comment will only appear after I approve it.
If you are under 13 years old, please only comment 
with a parent or as part of a group with your teacher.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Coaxing Poems 5: Tell Us a Story

 

Hello again, you sweet Poetry Friends! Welcome to the fifth of ten poetry visits at The Poem Farm. In each of these short videos, I will share a small something about poetry, and you will always be able to find the poem(s) I read below the video. If you wish, you may watch the earlier videos linked below:

COAXING POEMS VISITS:

And now I invite you to join me for Visit 5: Tell Us a Story!

Students - Today, as we think about about story poems - narrative poems - we simply think about all of the elements of story and mix them elegantly with all of the elements of poetry. Think of it this way:

Plot, Characters, & Setting + Line Breaks, Pattern, & Metaphor... = Story Poem

Story Poem Still Life
Photo by Amy LV

In this first free verse story poem, I invent a character related to a character we all know. I invent the problem and the setting for this character. The poem also has a problem, solution, beginning, middle, and end. 

You may notice the repeated words and the places where I chose to move to a new line. As (mostly) always, I drafted this poem by hand. In the revision, I experimented with my line breaks. The enter key is very helpful for poets who do some revision at the computer.


The below poem is about characters who usually do not talk at all - Rain and a flower. When we write story poems, we can include dialogue, just as we include dialogue in our prose (not poem) stories. Can you find the places where characters speak in this poem?

This poem and the next do include a bit of rhyme, rhyme that makes sense. I am not striving to rhyme with this series, but truth be told, sometimes...like a baby fox, rhyme sneaks in under the wire fence of my free verse intentions.


This next poem is in the I (first person) voice. A reader might assume that the speaker is actually me, but as writers, we can use the I voice as ourselves or we can write in the I voice pretending to be someone or something else. I have been thinking about the idea of a "word bouquet" for a couple of weeks now. Sometimes a thought needs to live in our notebook and mind for a while before finding its way into a poem or story.

What do you notice about the line breaks in this poem? What do the short lines do for a reader?


As you read and write story (narrative) poems, talk with each other about the following:
  • Who are the characters?
  • What is the setting?
  • Is there a problem? If yes, what is it?
  • How does the problem get solved?
  • What happens at the beginning, middle end?
  • Do the characters change?

Talk about these too:
  • Does this story (narrative) poem feel like it could really happen?
  • Is this a fiction story?
  • Might this story be a blend of fiction and truth?
  • Is this poem based in history?

And these:
  • What do we notice about the line breaks?
  • Does the poet repeat any lines? Why so?
  • Do we find any interesting repetition?
  • Are there metaphors? Are they fresh?
  • What language dance moves do we admire in this poem?
  • What makes this poem "poem-y?"

As you think and talk about these questions, you will discover ideas for your own poems. When writers read, we learn new writing ideas, especially when we try.

One reason I enjoy writing poems so much is because the words simply surprise me on the page. If I did not write poems, I would never have met Little Red Riding Hood's younger brother or heard a conversation between Rain and a flower or written the words "jam jar vase." An afternoon of writing offered me these gifts.

Poems cannot be wrong. Yes, if we read and write many poems, there will be poems we prefer...but poems are not wrong. Experiment! Play with your life and with your words. We each get one life and as many words as we wish - we can choose joy in our lives and in our words.

Mary Lee is hosting this week's Poetry Friday over at A(nother) Year of Reading with thoughts and a poem about secrets. Each Friday, all are invited to share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship in this open and welcoming poetry community.

Happy story-collecting, my dears...

xo,

Amy

Please share a comment below if you wish.
Know that your comment will only appear after I approve it.
If you are under 13 years old, please only comment 
with a parent or as part of a group with your teacher.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Coaxing Poems 4: Abracadabra!

 

Hello again my dear Poetry Friends, and welcome to the fourth of ten little poetry visits starting off the New Year at The Poem Farm. In each of these short videos, I will share a small something about poetry, and you will always be able to find the poem(s) I read below the video. You can find the earlier videos linked below and you may wish to watch those first:

COAXING POEMS VISITS:

And now I invite you to join me for Visit 4, Abracadabra!


Students - The whole world feels more interesting when we practice comparing various objects and feelings to different things we know in life. We find one way that two things are alike, tap our magic writing wands, and we turn one thing into another, right on the page. In this way, writing is magic. We see things anew, and we pass these surprising images on to our readers.

Here you can see the notebook page where I remembered some metaphors I have written before and came up with some new ones too. I have never written such a metaphor list in my notebook, but I think do this more often as I found it quite helpful.

Metaphor Notebook Page
Photo by Amy LV

Enjoy these two short, non-rhyming poems centered on metaphor, each comparing one thing to another. As a writer, it is my hope that each poem, even without a matching photo, will give readers a new way to see a familiar object.

When I was a little girl, I used to suck on lemons. Perhaps this is why I wished to write about citrus fruit. 

Orange Snack
Photo by Amy LV


The below poem, about my kitty Claude, focuses on just one object that I compare him to - a throw pillow. But truth be told, I compare Claude to many things. He is fast and quiet and hazy-furry, so sometimes I call him a ghost, and sometimes I call him a cloud. Perhaps I should make a page in my notebook for all of the different things I compare Claude to in the world.

Claude on the Couch
Photo by Amy LV


One last note to you about metaphors. You will read many metaphors in books and hear many people use metaphors in speech. Sometimes these are used so often that they lose their freshness. When I write in metaphor, I try not to use metaphors I have read or heard often, such as "He was a quiet mouse" or "Her anger was a thunderstorm." The work of a writer is to dig into our own strange and beautiful selves and find brand new ways of seeing old things. And when we come upon such a comparison...it is joyously surprising for our writing selves. We don't want our metaphors to be stale like week-old doughnuts.

In travel news, thank you so much to the Heights Elementary School community in Oakland, NJ for inviting me to visit this week. It was a joy to share some writing with you and to see the photographs of all of the projects you made with your own hands. I wish you much happiness in your own writing journeys.

Author Visit to Heights Elementary School
Photo by Librarian Stacy Contreras

Susan is hosting this week's Poetry Friday over at Chicken Spaghetti with a new year pi├▒ata poem inspired by a news article. Each Friday, all are invited to share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship in this open and welcoming poetry community.

Remember that you are a writing magician, and with a brilliant flash of your pen, you can turn one thing....into another. 

Poof!

xo,

Amy

Please share a comment below if you wish.
Know that your comment will only appear after I approve it.
If you are under 13 years old, please only comment 
with a parent or as part of a group with your teacher.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Coaxing Poems 3: Make & Break a Pattern


Hello, Poetry Friends, and welcome to the third of ten little poetry visits starting off the New Year at The Poem Farm. In each of these short videos, I will share a small something about poetry, and you will always be able to find the poem(s) I read below the video. You can find the earlier videos linked below and you may wish to watch those first:


And now...today's visit. Visit 3!


Students - Just as animals often wear patterns on their fur, feathers, and fins, poems often wear patterns in the way their lines are organized. As readers and writers, we can notice and admire the patterns of others' poems and try these out for ourselves. Below you can look at the lines of the three free verse poems that I read in the video above.

In Year After Year, the first six lines go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. You can see that the south lines are represented by white Legos and the north lines represented by blue Legos. The last line of the poem breaks the pattern, and this change is represented by a red Lego.


In Two Kitties, the first four lines tell about Winnie and are represented by green Legos. The second four lines tell about Claude and are represented by gray Legos. The ending, revealing a way that Winnie and Claude are alike, twists and breaks the pattern and is thus represented by a red Lego. (Yes indeed, I could have used two Legos to represent these two lines!)


In Why I Don't to Finish My Book, each of the first seven lines of the poem list something that the writer WON'T do once they finish reading their current book. These lines are each represented by one yellow Lego. The last line tells something the speaker WILL likely do when they are finished with the book - feel lonely. This change, twist, break in the pattern is once again represented by a red Lego.


While I chose to use a red Lego in each of these examples to show how the endings break the pattern set up in these poems, I could have chosen a different color to show this break. If you choose to draw or form models of the patterns you notice in poems you read or in poems you write, of course you should choose any colors you wish. 

If you are looking for an interesting exercise to try, find a patterned poem in a book and play with drawing colorful Legos to show how the pattern works. You might do this with a friend. Then, you might try to write your own poem that follows the same pattern. The more we read and discover...the more writing ideas we have for ourselves. Reading is an endless river of clear and brilliant gifts. We simply need to dip our hands into the water.

Thank you to our son Henry, for sharing his Legos with me for this visit.

Educator Friends: I would love to hear if you are writing along with me during this series. Please comment below, email me at the contact button above, or tag me on social media if you wish to share.

Robyn is hosting this week's Poetry Friday over at Life on the Deckle Edge with a joyful and poetic tea party. Each Friday, all are invited to share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship in this open and welcoming poetry community.

All joy to you in reading and writing and living...

xo,

Amy

Please share a comment below if you wish.
Know that your comment will only appear after I approve it.
If you are under 13 years old, please only comment 
with a parent or as part of a group with your teacher.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Coaxing Poems 2: Eat the World

 

Hello, Poetry Friends, and welcome to the second of ten little poetry visits starting off the New Year at The Poem Farm. In each of these short videos, I will share a small something about poetry, and you will always be able to find the poem I read below the video. You may find the first visit (January 5, 2024) linked below and you may wish to watch that one first:




If you wish, enjoy a few seconds of the wood fire that heats our home! Each autumn when I stack pile after pile of firewood, I think about the trees who once offered shade, homes for creatures, and various nuts and seeds. In these trees' second lives, they keep our family snug and warm. (Our kitties especially like warming up on the floor nearby.)



Students - It is fascinating to look around wherever we are, to think about what we see and smell, hear and feel. And we are able to see, smell, hear, and feel more when we are not constantly looking at phones, tablets, and video games. One writing tip is to be sure to eat the real world, friends....not just the digital world. The real world will offer you many ways to learn and be. 
We are changed by our surroundings, and through making poems and other art bits, we bring new meaning to these surroundings.

From today's visit I hope you will remember that a poem can live in the empty space between you and any image or object. You create something new in that space. It may be a poem, or it may be another piece of writing or music or art. What you make is a bit what you observe...and a lot what you bring to it.

Remember, too, that a poem need not rhyme. It can fall down the page in lines broken up as we choose. A poem might include a bit of repetition (orange hands) and personification (waving leaves like a human's waving hands.)

So, what will you eat from the world before writing this week? You might
  • Look around the space you are in now
  • Go someplace and look around that space
  • Select a book and write from any picture or words you read in it
  • Write from an object you are wearing or in your bag
  • Find inspiration in a piece of art
  • Watch people to unlock ideas
  • Find new ways to pay attention

Educator Friends: I would love to hear if you are writing along with me during this series. Please comment below, email me at the contact button above, or tag me on social media if you wish to share.

Tracey is hosting this week's Poetry Friday over at Tangles and Tails with such an interesting timeline about the history of Monopoly tokens ending with a delightful poem for Thimble. Each Friday, all are invited to share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship in this open and welcoming poetry community.

xo,

Amy

ps - Claude asked me to show you this photo of him all toasty by his favorite fire....

Cozy Claude
Photo by Hope LV

Please share a comment below if you wish.
Know that your comment will only appear after I approve it.
If you are under 13 years old, please only comment 
with a parent or as part of a group with your teacher.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Coaxing Poems 1: We Are Libraries


Greetings, Poetry Friends! 

It has been almost four years since I have shared a video series, and with this new year, it feels like time again. I welcome you to ten little Friday visits we'll call Coaxing Poems. This week and next we will focus mostly on discovering ideas for poems, inside the libraries that are us. As the weeks roll on, we will talk a bit about possibilities for setting up poems and sculpting language like clay.

Below this video visit, you will find the poems I share within it.


This poem about my Great Aunt Kay came to me when I held my palms up toward the sky and let my inner invisible librarian place a topic in my hands.

An Aunt Kay Sweater
Drawing by Amy LV


And this poem idea, about a cloud friend, arrived the same way!

New Cloud Friend
Drawing by Amy LV


Students - You will notice that these poems do not rhyme - none of the poems I will share during Coaxing Poems will rhyme. But notice the short lines. Notice the words. Notice the space. Pay attention to what is description and what is feeling. Feel free to try out what you notice, breaking up your own lines to slow a reader down, repeating words, and helping your readers sense...and feel...your words.

Marcie is hosting this week's Poetry Friday over at Marcie Flinchum Atkins with her 2024 word and plans for great adventures in the year ahead. Each Friday, all are invited to share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship in this open and welcoming poetry community.

Have fun in the stacks of your inner library, coaxers!

xo,

Amy

ps - Educator Friends, I am trying to think of a way to celebrate this series when it is complete. If you have any ideas for this, please let me know in the comments. Thank you!

Please share a comment below if you wish.
Know that your comment will only appear after I approve it.
If you are under 13 years old, please only comment 

with a parent or as part of a group with your teacher.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Begin with "Somewhere a"

Solstice Sun Gingerbread Cookies
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Here where I live in Western New York, yesterday was our shortest day of the year - the Winter Solstice. My family celebrated with a few friends, many candles and a big bonfire, welcoming the return of the sun and thinking together about the new year ahead. Of course today I am thinking about animals, how they too may mark our longest night and this shift in light.

If you wish to take your brain on a little adventure, just write these words on the next page of your notebook:

Somewhere a

You might write it once and see what appears next. You might write it many times, each time completing the sentence with a surprise from your own heart. Then, if you wish, you might choose one of your Somewhere a ideas and let it offer you a poem.

You can learn a bit more about the Winter Solstice here at CBC Kids News.

Jone is hosting this week's Poetry Friday over at Jone Rush MacCulloch with a joyful solstice post. Each Friday, all are invited to share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship in this open and welcoming poetry community.

I wish you laughter, love, and light as we begin a new year together. See you again here on January 5, 2024!

xo,

Amy

Please share a comment below if you wish.
Know that your comment will only appear after I approve it.
If you are under 13 years old, please only comment 

with a parent or as part of a group with your teacher.