Friday, December 7, 2018

SPARK: Painting from Writing





Endless Treasures

Students - If you read my post last week, you read these words: 

Once again, as I have several times before, I just participated in SPARK: ART FROM WRITING, WRITING FROM ART, an online opportunity to write or make art inspired by others' work.  This community of ever-changing writers and artists is gathered up by Amy Souza, who since 2010 has matched folks to write and create within a ten day time period, each from a traded-on-Day-1 inspiration piece. Any adult is welcome to sign up for a pairing, and I can imagine a school doing this same exercise, matching writers and artists with each other for a set period of creating-time. 

And today, you see the second half of my pairing with Jan Irene Miller.  You may have noticed that my poem comes in this post before her poem.  This is because I sent her the poem at the beginning of SPARK 39, and she created the painting from her thoughts and feelings about the poem's words. So in both posts, last week's and this week's, you are seeing the works in the order created: one inspiration piece and one response piece.

I asked Jan Irene about her process in creating this magical painting.  She wrote:


I read your poem and “sat with it” for several days. I was musing on nature and forever and the countless items of beauty to wonder at. The poem made me think of children, how they find wonder and magic in all the shapes, textures and sizes before they get too bogged down in understanding science. This sense of wonder and magic apparently produced a color scheme to the liking of the child within me. 

I began with four pieces of heavy paper, and filled them with acrylic colors and water. I lined them up and down until I felt what I was working with. I played with the media. On day 7 I got out a piece of paper I had gessoed and put the color flow onto the paper and let the process unfold as a child might. And that’s that!

One of my favorite parts of being a writer is the connections I am lucky enough to make with others.  It is an honor to have my small collection of words interpreted by Jan Irene in such a beautiful and whimsical way, and I am grateful to Amy Souza and to Jan Irene herself for this round of SPARK!  Jan Irene's work brings new life to my own, and her painting helps me to understand myself somehow.  That's art for you.

Liz is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup today at Elizabeth Steinglass with her beautiful poem "The Menorah." Please know that every Poetry Friday, we gather together to share books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  Everyone is always welcome to visit, comment, and post.  We invite you!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 30, 2018

SPARK & Letter Poems


Cow



Students - Once again, as I have several times before, I just participated in SPARK: ART FROM WRITING, WRITING FROM ART, an online opportunity to write or make art inspired by others' work.  This community of ever-changing writers and artists is gathered up by Amy Souza, who since 2010 has matched folks to write and create within a ten day time period, each from a traded-on-Day-1 inspiration piece. Any adult is welcome to sign up for a pairing, and I can imagine a school doing this same exercise, matching writers and artists with each other for a set period of creating-time. Ten days ago, Artist Jan Irene Miller sent me this fabulous painting to write from, and I sent her a poem.  Above you find the poem I wrote from her art.

Cow eyes are soulful, and Jan Irene's painting made me imagine spending time with this cow, learning more about the world and quietness...all with no words.  I knew right away that I wanted to write about a stare; at first I even considered writing about a staring contest!

Like most makers, I find many ideas in the ideas and books of others, and for this poem, I found myself rereading a bit of GETTING THE KNACK: 20 POETRY WRITING EXERCISES by Stephen Dunning and William Stafford, published in 1992.
Image result for getting the knack stafford

Dunning and Stafford introduce the idea of Letter Poems in their book, and since I knew that I wanted to write about connection, this felt right.  As per their suggestion, I titled my poem with Dear...., 

This poem is sonnet-like, with fourteen lines, the first twelve alternating rhymes, and the final couplet rhyming as well.  Why a sonnet?  I am not sure, but I think it happened this way because my son and I were talking about sonnets in the car very recently.  Writing spies and sneaks up on you, it does!

Many of you may know that I write drafts of poems by hand.  This process is very different for me than typing.  I do move to typing once a poem is on its way (and once I cannot read through the crossouts), but this movement of idea from head through arm to hand to pen and at last to paper is a different process than flying my fingers across a computer keyboard.  See how messy this draft of today's poem is?  I read aloud as I write and change words as I go, reading aloud and crossing out, again and again, like a person doing cartwheels over and over again.


Draft of Dear Cow,
(Click to Enlarge)
Photo by Amy LV

A few things to consider this week:

  • You might try writing from a piece of art by a friend or stranger.
  • You might try a letter poem with a title Dear...,.
  • You might try a bit of rhyme.  But not forced rhyme. In The Poem Farm's opinon, one strong rhyme in a poem is better than ten weak ones. Rhyme should go unnoticed.
  • You might read an old book to give yourself new ideas.
  • If you don't already, write by hand. Read aloud and cross out as you go.

Next week, I will share my inspiration piece poem along with the art that Jan Irene
created in response.  Thank you to Jan Irene for allowing me to share this delightful wise cow, and for playing SPARK with me in this 39th round.

I am very happy to host Miriam Haefner over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks this month. She keeps track of the moon and sky, and I recommend a visit to see and inspire yourself.  Too, I am holding a giveaway for a moon journal...to go to a commenter on that post.  Please comment by day's end today to be entered into the drawing.

Carol is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup today at Carol's Corner. Please know that every Poetry Friday, we gather together to share books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  Everyone is always welcome to visit, comment, and post.  We invite you!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Ideas Live in Objects & Emotions


A Page from Great Aunt Tom's Notebook
Photo by Amy LV




Students - I am in Houston, Texas right now, at a conference for English teachers.  Tomorrow I will be speaking a little bit about keeping a notebook.  (You may know my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.)  And so, of course I am thinking about notebooks.  And one of my family members who kept notebooks was my Great Aunt Tom.

My grandmother's sister was my Great Aunt Tom. Her real name was Edythe Toebe, and she was a flapper.  Folks called her 'Tom' because she was what they called a tomboy, which at the time was a nickname for girls who liked what were considered more boy-like things back in 1910.  Here she is, below.

Edythe Toebe, My Great Aunt
Photo by ??

Great Aunt Tom really did keep a handprint notebook, and she really did write out her palm reader predictions for some of the handprints in the book.  And she really did tell me that when strange things happened, she stopped reading palms.  And I really am sorry that I did not ask more questions.  I was there when Great Aunt Tom died, and in 2011, I wrote about that day in an essay titled What Can I Do?

So today's poem is about an object.  It is about a sentence I recall from many years ago. And it is about a feeling too.  I did not know what the feeling was until I got to the end of the poem, and then I knew.  And then I chose the title.  One word - Regret.

Which family objects do you wonder about in your home? Allow objects to inform your feelings and allow feelings to help you think about objects. And listen.  Always listen.  Notebooks are wonderful for gathering snatches of conversation.  We never know when we'll need such snatches.

Here is a snip from another one of Great Aunt Tom's notebooks.  This one is full of poems she loved (some by my Great Grandfather) and quotes such as this one from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

From Great Aunt Tom's Typed Treasures Notebook
Photo by Amy LV

The time to ask your curious questions is now.  It is always now.  Yesterday I met a man whose parents are both Holocaust survivors, and his time to ask is now.  Do not wait.  We are all walking story books, and no story lasts forever.  

I feel so lucky to host Miriam Haefner over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks this month! She keeps track of the moon and sky, and I recommend a visit to see and inspire yourself.  Too, I am holding a giveaway for a moon journal...to go to a commenter on that post.

Linda is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup today at TeacherDance with her gentle generosity and a giveaway for  new book and print by Rosemary Wells. Please know that every Poetry Friday, we gather together to share books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  Everyone is always welcome to visit, comment, and post.  We invite you!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Pretending and Remembering...


Ghost and Jack
Photo by Amy LV




Students - I often think about the days before and after holidays.  Today found me thinking about the sheet I still use on a bed sometimes, the sheet with eye holes cut into it.  See, four years ago, I was a ghost for Halloween, back when our black cat Fiona was small.  And I haven't had the heart to throw the sheet away.  You can see it in the picture (taken today) above, with Jack and in the picture below, with Fiona.

Amyghost & Fiona, 2014
Photo by Someone LV

I so like pretending to be other things, and today, as I sit beside a lit pumpkin after the holiday, I like thinking about how special days come and go and how our memories remain.  This is not the first time I have done this...perhaps I am a wistful and nostalgic gal.

Not sure what to write? Think about the days before or after a big holiday or event.  Write from your point of view or from the point of view of someone or something else.  Switching perspective helps a writer understand something in a whole new way.

And I have a question for you to think about.  Just when did you realize that the speaker in this poem was a bed sheet, anyway?  I considered using the word sheet in the title...but then, instead, I chose to preserve a bit of mystery until a few lines in.  Remember this: as author, to a certain degree, you control when readers make various realizations.  These decisions are in your hands, my friend, so have some fun with them.

I very much look forward to the Rochester Children's Book Festival tomorrow! It is always a treat and an honor to attend this wonderful event in Rochester, NY.


Jama is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup with a wise and beautiful call to vote and a poem by Judith Harris. Please know that each Poetry Friday, we gather together to share books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  Everyone is always welcome to visit, comment, and post.  We invite you!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Let's Write from Museum Postcards!



Iran, Public Domain
Draft by Amy LV




Students - This week I had the good fortune to visit two schools in Glen Rock, New Jersey.  At Coleman School, I led two assemblies and loved meeting the children and teachers.  And at Hamilton School, where I have visited before, I did some notebook keeping with second graders and wrote about art with fourth graders.  Delightful!

Librarian Lisa Tomaselli asked if I would do this art writing with the two fourth grade classes as she had fallen love with Lee Bennett Hopkins's beautiful WORLD MAKE WAY: NEW POEMS INSPIRED BY ART FROM THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART (Abrams.) My poem, Young Ashoka Sundari, lives in these pages.


So we did!  I spread out all kinds of art postcards, each depicting a piece of art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We looked at several postcards, we each chose one, we took some notes...and we wrote.  I chose the STORAGE JAR DECORATED WITH MOUNTAIN GOATS, and as I wrote about it, I fell in love with it more and more. I now feel connected not only to the goat and the pot...but to the potter.

Poetry about art is called ekphrastic poetry.  Writers and artists of all kinds are often inspired by each others' work, and sometimes when I do not know what to write about, I turn to art.  Many writers do.

If you choose to write about art, consider the point of view you will take in your writing. In this poem, I chose to be the potter, someone you do not even see in the piece.

Grey shared her draft with me at the end of class, and she was kind enough to allow me to share it here with you. Note how Grey clearly chooses which girl's voice to use in her poem. Note how specific she is with her descriptions and imaginings, offering us a possible insight to this young pianist's thoughts. Thank you, Grey! I have invited all of these young poets to all share poems here when they are ready.

Untitled Poemdraft by Grey
Postcard of TWO YOUNG GIRLS AT THE PIANO 
by Auguste Renoir, Public Domain
(Click to Enlarge)

                                                    Father's watching in the parlor,
                                                    Sister's helping read the notes,
                                                    I'm looking for the last note G,
                                                    black keys white keys candle hooks,
                                                    I cannot find the last note G,
                                                    I make do with B instead.

                                                    by Grey, 4th Grade Poet, Hamilton School

If you wish to read many wonderful poems inspired by art, I encourage you to visit Irene Latham's Live Your Poem, where each April, she writes and shares ekphrastic poetry under the project heading ARTSPEAK!

This weekend I look forward to the New York Reading Association Conference, where I will speak twice about POEMS ARE TEACHERS.  Will any of you be at this conference?

Kay is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup today at A Journey Through the Pages with lovely words inspired by today's morning - chicken feeding - sunrise. Please know that each Poetry Friday, we gather together to share books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  Everyone is always welcome to visit, comment, and post.  We invite you!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Monarchs and Math: A Kyrielle


Mark Releases a Monarch at School
Photo by Liz L.




Students - Sometimes you might read something...and you love it!  When this happens, as a writer, you might say to yourself, "I want to try that."  I had such a moment last Poetry Friday.

Last week, when I read Robyn Hood Black's enchanting Mural Compass from J. Patrick Lewis's new THE POETRY OF US, I found the poem delightful and the form interesting too.  I learned that form is called a kyrielle.  On her blog, Life on the Deckle Edge, Robyn explained it this way:

"This poem is a kyrielle - a centuries-old French form with eight syllables per line and a repeating end line in couplets or quatrains, with a minimum of three stanzas. (Its origins are liturgical; the name comes from Old French kyriele, literally kyrie eleison, from Late Latin, according to Miriam Webster."

It is a lovely thing, indeed, to fall head over heels in love with words and forms and others' writing.  We love it for itself and too, for what we learn by reading.  Thank you, dear Robyn, for your openhearted poem and for introducing me to this new form too.

This week, let yourself adore the WAY something is written.  Say, "I am going to try that."  And then...do.

Or, to go in a completely different direction, allow yourself to find a writing idea in mathematics.  As we raised and released monarchs this summer, I found myself amazed again and again at the truth of only one in ten (possibly fewer) monarchs making it from egg to butterfly.  You can follow this equation from stanza to stanza in this kyrielle.

For those of you who know how I love and collect words, of course I just added kyrielle to my word list.  Magnificent!

Tabatha is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference with a Goethe poem about friendship....and an opportunity to take part in a one time winter poem swap!  Each week we gather together, sharing poems, books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  All are always welcome to visit, comment, and post.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Turn Yourself Into a Place


A New Book Edited by J. Patrick Lewis!

From THE POETRY OF US edited by J. Patrick Lewis
(Click to Enlarge)



Students - It is always a thrill to be part of an anthology, and I could not be happier to share this new poem from this new book edited by J. Patrick Lewis and published by National Geographic Children's Books.  THE POETRY OF US: MORE THAN 200 POEMS THAT CELEBRATE THE PEOPLE, PLACES, AND PASSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES is a stunning volume full of poems old and new laid over spectacular photographs.  If you are familiar with J. Patrick Lewis's NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY or NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF NATURE POETRY, this is the same gorgeousness.

My poem takes the voice of a place, and I enjoyed imagining I was the Appalachian Trail itself.  What secrets and wonders this trail witnesses, holding people on journeys both external and internal.  

If you do not know what to write about today, try making a list of places.  Then choose one. Become it.  Write.  Did you know that writing in the voice of something else is called a persona poem...or a mask poem?

Some of you a St. John's School in Houston, Texas might be wondering why I am not writing about the mouse.  Well, sweet mouse will appear next week instead. As THE POETRY OF US celebrates its entry into the world this week, I decided to invite this poem to hike its way onto the blog today.

Jone is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Deo Writer, where she shares Janet Wong's title poem from her new collection with Sylvia Vardell, GREAT MORNING: POEMS FOR SCHOOL LEADERS TO READ ALOUD. Each week we gather together, sharing poems, books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  All are always welcome to visit, comment, and post.

Please share a comment below if you wish.