Friday, October 15, 2021

Save Space for Thoughts


Small Fish
by Amy LV

Students - When I want to write a poem, two things are most important:

1. Selecting an idea
2. Deciding how to shape the poem

Sometimes we might think that deciding how to write the poem is most important, and yes, I do spend lots of time crafting my poems.

But most important for me is choosing an idea. And the trickiest part about this for me is that sometimes, my brain is so full of things I am reading and watching and listening to that I do not leave space for my own ideas. Or if I do, I am so busy DOING that I am not THINKING. So choosing an idea is hard because my head is full of a cluttery mess.

Save some space in your life for thinking this week. Let yourself just think without watching a show at the same time, listening to music, playing a game. Just think. Let your thoughts fly around like kites in your brain. This counts as writing.

And it's important.

Sometimes, when the idea is right, the poem will find its own shape. Especially if you read lots of poems and your mind is familiar with the different kinds of containers (forms) that poems live in.

Lunch is not just lunch. 

Happy thinking!

Bridget is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at wee words for wee ones with a poem about the letter 'J' and announcement about her new book. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Moon Visits a Triolet

Silver Button Moon for Everyone
by Amy LV

Students - Ah, the moon! She guides all of us, no matter where we are. And many young children can count moon among their very first words.  Of course they can. In a deep, dark sky, Moon shows us the way. The way she looks changes, and on clear nights, we can always find her. On bright moonlit nights, we do not even need a lantern or flashlight to find our way.

Many people look up at the moon and think about things: faraway friends and family, beauty, quiet secret thoughts. When we look at Moon and think, we are finding our way in a different way. She is for all of us, and so this poem is for Moon.

One decision I made while writing these lines was to write in the first person plural or we voice. My first draft of the poem was written in second person singular, speaking to you, not about we and us. Line 1 sounded like this:

The moon will always call you home.

instead of...

The moon will always call us home.

Try reading this whole poem to yourself substituting the word you each time you see we or us. What do you notice?

As I read the poem that way to myself, I realized that I - the speaker - wanted to share this experience with the reader. We all share the moon, and so this poem wanted to be more of a community (we) poem and less of a singular person (you) poem.

Choosing a point of view is an important job of a writer. I ask myself, "Do I want this poem to be ABOUT something, TO something, AS something, or WITH something?" This time, I chose WITH.

Today's poem is written in a particular form called a triolet. You will note that it has 8 lines and lots of repetition. In a triolet, lines 1, 4, and 7 are the same. Lines 2 and 8 are the same. And the rhyme scheme goes like this: A B a A a b A B. In poetry language, this means that lines 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 end with the same rhyming sound as do lines 6 and 8. Notice the matching capital letters for the lines which match each other.

It is true that the word whole does not rhyme with the words home and roam. However, it is a near rhyme, and because making sense matters more to me than rhyming, I went with it.

If you are interested, here are a few other triolets from past Poem Farm posts:

Wintertimes - December 20, 2019

Triolet for a Stone - May 24, 2019

I do not always write in special forms, but sometimes I enjoy the fun of it. Forms feel like puzzles.

Irene is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Live Your Poem with Pablo Neruda's "Ode to Autumn," her own "Autumn puzzle," and an announcement about a new class Irene will teach titled Wild and Precious Writer. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Look First. Wonder Next.

Shaggy Parasols in Our Yard
Photo by Amy LV

Students - This is a very small poem. Perhaps it is a haiku. Maybe it is just a little nature poem. Whatever it is, it is a bit of writing about one thought I had this week. 

My husband Mark and I were walking through our yard looking at the mushrooms of the day. These shaggy parasols (Isn't the name great? Mark always teaches me the names.) were hanging out underneath some spruces in our yard. Sometimes they grow in rings, and people call these "fairy rings." It is thought that fairies or elves or pixies dance in such places. The ones in our yard were all lined up. My first thought was that they looked like they were waiting together, like children at school, or adults at the grocery store.

I kept thinking and wondering about those mushrooms all week.

My friend, poet, artist, and blogger Robyn Hood Black is a haiku expert, and she generously shares a lot about haiku here at her website and blog. I wanted to write a small haiku-ish poem about these mushrooms, and so I turned to Robyn. One resource she shares that I read and found very helpful and inspiring is The Bare Bones School of Haiku by the late Jane Reichhold.

At times, it feels good to write with just a few words. At these times, the tricky part is choosing just the right ones. Considering the mushrooms, what I have learned about poetry, and what I have learned from Robyn and Jane, here are a few things took into my brain as I wrote these few lines:
  • A poem can be short.
  • A poem does not need to rhyme.
  • A poem does not need capital letters.
  • A poem does not need punctuation.
  • A poem can include an observation.
  • A poem can include a thought or question.
  • A poem/haiku can have two parts. (This poem includes a statement and a question.)
  • A poem's title can give extra information. (If a reader doesn't know what shaggy parasols are, the title will help.)]
  • A poem can play with sound in small ways. (The short 'u' sound in the title repeats.)
I welome you to play with any of these ideas this week. For starters, you might do these three things:

Go outside.

Look at something.

Think and wonder about it.

Write a poem with those two parts - your observation and your thinking/wondering.

Be free in your writing!

And remember: do not eat mushrooms that you find. Only mycologists (mushroom experts) can do this without getting sick...or even dying.

Close Up of Shaggy Parasols
Photo by Amy LV

Catherine is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Reading to the Core with an abecedarian about writing poetry. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Something Small (& A Sonnet)

A Little Friend
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Isn't this snail I found this week so cute? Earlier in the week, I was making concord grape juice (easiest recipe ever, see HERE), and as I washed the grapes, we met. I did exactly what the poem says the speaker did: I brought the snail outside, set her (him?) in the weeds by the shed, and said goodbye. Then, I kept thinking about the experience.

This Week's Concord Grape Juice
Photo by Amy LV

One thing about writing is that when you do so regularly, you see your life in new ways. When something interesting happens to you, you think, "Oh! I might write about that!" You might not aways write about it at that moment, but it's like you put a bookmark in your mind, remembering that you have an idea to write about later.

Later, I went to my trusty Ron Padgett book, THE TEACHERS & WRITERS HANDBOOK OF POETIC FORMS, and once again I fell in love with sonnets. Some of you may know that I have shared many sonnets here.

An Old Favorite
Photo by Amy LV

There are different kinds of sonnets. Often sonnets are written in iambic pentameter, which is a meter that sounds like DaDUM DaDUM DaDUM DaDUM DaDUM (10 syllables, accents on every other syllable). A Shakespearean sonnet rhymes like this:





Each letter above stands for one line (14 lines), and each letter stands for one rhyme. So, line 1 (a) rhymes with line 3 (a), line 2 (b) lines with line 4 (b), line 5 (c) rhymes with line 7 (c), line 6 (d) rhymes with line 8 (d), line 9 (e) rhymes with line 11 (e), line 10 (f) rhymes with line 12 (f), and line 13 and 14 rhyme with each other (g). Go ahead and check my poem above!

You should notice that two lines of my poem break the traditional sonnet pattern - lines 9 and 11 (e) do not rhyme, and this is aok. Poets get to decide these things about their own poems. Feel free to play with a form and then when it does not work for yourself from it!

Photo by Amy LV

One thing I most like about sonnets is how the last two lines often give the meaning, or the big thought. And I do can something as tiny as the snail I met feel at the same time so big and magestic and important?

This week, consider paying attention to the small things that cross your path. These may be living creatures or they may be small objects or they may be a mix of both. What do you wonder about them? What does what you notice mean? What meaning might you make?

Laura is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Small Reads for Brighter Days with her poems in response to the Poetry Princesses Challenge. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Words Live Inside of Words


Make Your Own License
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Every piece of writing has a story, and I love finding out why you write about what you write about and why you write about it in a certain way. The journeys are often surprising and roundabout, and these stories show how we each approach ideas in our own way. This is what makes the world neat!

Today's poem has a story too. Yesterday, I visited the blog Dare to Care, and in her post, Denise explained a new-to-me type of poem called an In One Word poem. Denise shared her own poem, and she referred readers to a blog post by April Halprin Wayland over at Teaching Authors.

Here is how April explains this form, in her May 22, 2020 post:

I wanted to try this out myself. What fun, to find words in words and then just play with them like piles of stones! So I chose the word SILENCE and entered it into Word Maker. This website will show you all of the words that can be made with the letters in the word you choose. It looks like this:

(I will correct when it is back.)

I looked at the many words that can be made from SILENCE, and I copied the ones that interested me into my notebook.

Drafting from Words in SILENCE
Photo by Amy LV

Then, from those words...I just played around and finally decided on the arrangement of words above to be the poem.

Here you can see the SILENCE words that chose to include:

Circled Words from SILENCE
Photo by Amy LV

I was most fascinated by the fact that LICENSE is an anagram (word made by rearranging the letters of another word) for SILENCE. That fascination formed the basis of today's whole poem. I mean, I really DO want a Silence License. 

Wordmaker is a very interesting site, and once it's back up again, I look forward to visiting it again. But of course, as April said, we can find words within words ourselves as well.

If you do not yet keep a collection of favorite words in your notebook, you might wish to start. Then, one day when you're not sure what to write about, you can choose one and see what grows from it.

Denise is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Dare to Care with her post-inspiring In One Word poem inspired by the word TESTITUDINATE and also by April Halprind Wayland. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

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.