Friday, September 10, 2021

Make a Line & Follow It


Drawing Lines
Photo by Amy LV

Carving Lines
Photo by Amy LV

Stamping Lines
Photo by Amy LV

Students - I am back at an old hobby: eraser carving! A while ago, I carved one eraser each day. And this week I decided to get back to that. There is something very pleasing about working in such a small space, and stamping the repeated pattern is simply a joy.

Today I have two tiny pieces of writing advice, and I invite you to try either or both or neither of them:

1. Take the advice of this poem. Make a line. Do not worry (fret) that you need to know where your line will lead. Just make a line. Or make many lines. In one color. Or in many colors. Enjoy the process. Or don't enjoy it. But make a line, and see where it goes. Maybe you will have a drawing. Maybe you will have a poem. Maybe you will have a mess. All are good.

2. If you ever feel stuck about what to draw or write or make, go outside. Take a walk if you can. Look out of a window if you cannot actually go outside at this moment. Breathe in. There's a lot of beauty and a lot of neat stuff out there.

There are many kinds of lines to make, and your own lines will help you know who you are now...and who you might wish to be next. Your line might even help someone else know who they are.

Tricia is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect with an honest and sad poem by Barbara Crooker. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Look Outside, Note the Date


Apple Morning
Photo by Amy LV

Students - It is September 3, and here in Western New York, fall is upon us. For me, fall is all about bonfires and sweaters, cool mornings and apples baked and squished into cider. This morning I went out to have a look around, and I smiled at our bowing apple tree. (I am not picking those apples because my nephews are visiting, and I want to let them do it.)

Any day that you are unsure of what to write, try going outside, looking around, and making yourself notice something new. This apple tree was easy to notice, but yesterday I sat in the driveway with our cat Fiona, and within minutes, a hummingbird was zipping all around the Rose of Sharon next to me. We can notice ants, weeds, the way the sun shines on our faces. You might even include the date in your poem. Or, you can write about a date you remember.

The first part of today's poem is true. The second part of this poem is not true. I do this a lot. Start with truth...and then off into make-believe!

And, when in need of more inspiration, I always read. Today I read some pages from this book, and it got my brain chugging along. 

Read Before Writing
Photo by Amy LV

Heidi is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at my juicy little universe with a ghazal (and information about ghazals) and a climate action poem (and important information about climate). Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Back to School & Wee Secrets


Rock Friend
Photo by Amy LV

Students - When goldenrod blooms in our pasture, I think about back to school time. And here in Western New York, the roadsides are all golden glory right now. Our own college student children headed back to different cities and school and school supplies are on my mind.

Back to school time requires paper and pencils and crayons. But it also requires courage to begin something new. Sometimes a rock in my pocket gives me that kind of courage, and no one needs to know a thing about it.

Have you ever carried a secret lucky charm? Do you know someone who does? Is there an object that gives you strength? If so, you might wish to write about it.

If you wish to share your writing with someone else, go ahead.

If you wish to keep a secret, go ahead.

It's up to you!

I wish everyone going back to school - in whatever form - the joy and courage of new beginnings. We cannot know everything about how things we will go, but we can take care of each other and look for the good where it is and make it where we are able.

Elisabeth is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Unexpected Intersections with an original poem titled "What the Marmot Knows." Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.


This Morning's Goldenrod Glory
Photo by Amy LV

Friday, August 20, 2021

Look, List, & Have a Thought


New Suncatcher
Photo by Amy LV

Students - I love the way that suncatchers toss rainbows all around a room, and so this past week I hung a suncatcher in a window here at home. There they were: rainbows everywhere! I wanted to run around and touch them all!

Today's poem is a list poem. You will notice that the first stanza is simply a list of where the rainbows are.

The second stanza is a thought I have about all of these rainbows.

You can try this type of poem too. Simply look around until you find something interesting. Feel free to DO something to MAKE something interesting. Look carefully, making a list in your mind of what you see. If you want, write this list down now. This list can be your first stanza.

Then, have a thought about what you see. Make a leap from what is there to what is in your mind. You might connect what you see to something else, ask a question about it, have an opinion about it. Let this be your second stanza.

Now that you have the bones of your poem, play around with the words to get them just right. This part takes me quite a while as I try to figure out whether to use plurals or singulars, the word the or the word a, adjectives or no adjectives, and on and on. As always, read your poem aloud to yourself as you revise. This is how you will know if it sounds right to you.

As for titles, your title can add a wee bit more to your poem. In today's poem here, the only way you know the poem is about a suncatcher is because I use that word in the title. Titles can bring information to a poem.

Back in 2010, the first year of this blog, I wrote a poem about prisms and bending light and rainbows. It is titled "Science is like Writing," and you may read it HERE if you wish.

Here are a few of the rainbows that my suncatcher set free!

Cupboard Rainbow
Photo by Amy LV

Bookshelf Rainbow
Photo by Amy LV

Closet Rainbow
Photo by Amy LV

Knee in Nightgown Rainbow
Photo by Amy LV

Carol is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at The Apples in my Orchard with some news about an enrichment group she has been teaching. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.


Update on August 27, 2021 - A few people asked about a photo of a rainbow on a kitten or on a rocking chair. When I wrote this poem, I had not actually seen a rainbow on each of the things listed...some were imagined. But, later in the week, my daughter Hope snapped some kitten-rainbow pictures, and here they are!

Tuck & Rainbows
Photos by Hope VanDerwater

Friday, August 6, 2021

Write as One Entranced


Morning Maze
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Earlier this week, I took our dogs Cali and Sage for an early morning walk. Usually my husband does this, and admittedly, I started the walk a little bit sleepy and a little bit grumpy, wearing big tall boots (ticks) and tying my red plaid nightgown up in a knot so that it would not get all dewy.

Well, all of my sleepiness and grumpiness went away when I saw this spiderweb. First I saw it from the angle you see above. Then, from the other side, I saw it with the sun making rainbows from dewdrops, from the angle you see below.

Rainbows from Dewdrops
Photo by Amy LV

I was entranced. 

I took the photos and let them sit for a few days, thinking about them from time to time. See, spiderwebs do not last, so I had only my memory and these pictures.

Sitting to write later, I chose not to write as me entranced...but as the sun entranced. For it was Sun who lit this web up for my eyes. The beauty came through spider and silk, dew and sun and dogs needing walks. Through sleepiness and grumpiness, Beauty found its way.

You might want to try this. Look around (outside is good, when you feel grumpy is good) and find yourself entranced (yes, you can make this happen). Take or draw a picture if you wish, with a camera or phone or pencil or your mind.

Later, come back to write about it. As you if you wish. Or as another who might be entranced by this same sight.

The world surprises, even (especially?) early in the morning.

Mary Lee is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at A(nother) Year of Reading with a thoughtful villanelle with a theme that surprised Poet Mary Lee herself. Poems do have a way of showing up at the door with lines we never expected to meet. Happy Poetry Friday to one and all! And remember: all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.


Friday, July 30, 2021

Follow a Book Title


A Book Off the Shelf
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Sometimes a writer is unsure of how to begin. The more I get away from writing, the harder it is for me to begin. This is where keeping a notebook can be very handy - it keeps you in the groove. Just as jumping into a swimming pool or lake can shock you with its coldness, the water of writing can feel scary if we stay out too long.

Today's poem grew from a book title. I snagged a few books from the living room shelf and brought them out to Betsy the Writing Camper. I said to myself, "Something in one of these books will get me started." Well, I never even opened one of the books. The title of Thich Nhat Hanh's book pictured above got me off and running.

My Writing Camper, Betsy
Photo by Amy LV

I started just by jotting about gratitude for our wedding anniversary (26 years! Yesterday!) Then I began writing about how I do not want to waste my life. I looked up, saw this book, and began poem-ing. Somehow the old phrase, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride," popped into my head. The idea of wishes blended with the idea of being here and too, the idea of now-ness.

Lots of scribbling and reading aloud later, these words ended up on the page. They are a good reminder to is all we know to be.

Rebecca is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Sloth Reads with a spotlight on today -  International Friendship Day. Remember: all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

I wish you now.


Friday, July 23, 2021

Be the Flower: List Five Facts

Queen Anne's Lace in Our Pasture
Photo by Amy LV

Students - I have been writing a lot in my notebook this week, about everything and nothing. My notebook is a place to spend time with an old friend -- me. And sometimes when I write, I think that maybe, just maybe, I don't know myself as well as I thought.

Well, while I was up picking blackberries, I was taken by the Queen Anne's Lace. Big hand-sized doilies of flowers looking up at the sky. They were begging me to write about them. 

I got an idea, walking Cali and Sage around the pasture, eating blackberries, thinking about flowers. My idea was this: I will find five facts about Queen Anne's Lace before I write any poemlines. Googling around, I found these facts, though there was a conflict about which Queen Anne...England or Denmark? 

Five Facts
Notebook Photo by Amy LV

The only thing I knew going into the poem was that I wanted to write about how Queen Anne's Lace looks like fireworks to me. I liked that idea of silent fireworks.

Many scribbles, cross-outs, and drafts later, here is where I chose to stop for now. Today's version is written in the voice OF the Queen Anne's Lace, but earlier bits were written ABOUT the flower, simply describing it. This is one way you can always revise your writing: try a different point of view.

As for five facts, I think I will play with this idea all week long. I plan find topics that interest me and search for five facts about each. Then...I will see what comes of it. Of course I know that sometimes five facts will lead to fifty facts...the secret is that the five will get me started and invite me in. Sometimes a kind and simple door is all a writer needs.

Feel free to try anything I try here. It's all play. 

If you think you see some Queen Anne's Lace growing near you, be sure that it is not Poison Hemlock. These two plants do look alike, and Poison Hemlock is very poisonous. Never eat something you are not sure about. Check with an expert.

Kat is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup from Downunder at Kathryn Apel with some delightful pet poems and inspiration for poets of all ages to photograph and write about the animals in our lives along with the hashtag #petpicpoem. Remember: all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

I'm off now to watch Cali and Sage and Firepaw and Fiona and Winnie and Tuck and the chickens and some butterflies and ants.


ps - Update! I had read and then someone on Instagram shared with me that you can put Queen Anne's Lace in a jar of colored water and watch the flowers turn the color of the water. I tried this later today. If you look closely, you will see pinkish petals!

Pink Queen Anne's Lace
Photo by Amy LV

Queen Anne's Lace Five Days Later
Photo by Amy LV

And here, you see why Queen Anne's Lace is sometimes called Bird's Nest. When the flowers dry out, they look like birds' nests!

Please share a comment below if you wish.