Thursday, April 26, 2012

V is for VULTURE & Very Special Guest

V is for VULTURE
Photo by Amy LV

Well, we're back on track now after our little W/V mix-up.  And what a great word for today!  Today's word, the very last in the V section of my dictionary, led me to the Turkey Vulture Society, some good learning, and a greater appreciation of scavengers.

Today's poem is a villanelle.  I once again turned to that great Paul Janeczko book, A KICK IN THE HEAD, to help me puzzle out form, and the villanelle is a tricky one. You'll see the 5 tercets followed by a quatrain as well as the rhyme scheme: aba, aba, aba, aba, aba, abaa.  You will notice that the first line of the poem repeats as the last line of stanzas 2 and 4 as well as the third line of stanza 6. You will also see that the third line repeats as the last line of stanzas 3 and 5 as well as the final line of the poem.  You may also notice that each line has 10 syllables.

If you are familiar with John Milton's poem On His Blindness, you will know the line - "They also serve who only stand and wait."  That line went through my head as I wrote about vultures.  There is something powerful in waiting, in patience.

When I told my daughter Hope that I was going to write a villanelle about vultures, she said, "Wouldn't it be neat to do a Dictionary Hike where each poem type had to begin with the letter of that day?"  Hmmm... Here we go: Acrostic, Ballad, Cinquain...

And now for our guest poster!

Georgia LV
Photo by Amy LV

Today I am most excited to welcome my eleven-year-old daughter, Georgia, to this space.  She is a frequent photographer of Poem Farm photos, and she has been taking her own Dictionary Hike this month, right through the letters of her name.  So far Georgia has written poems from:


And today, she writes from REDWOOD.  Last night after I came home from a school meeting, Georgia met me at the door with her poem, and I asked right away if she would allow me to share the poem and her process.  I am so grateful that she agreed.  Below you can read Georgia's poem, see her draft, and read her thoughts.

By Georgia LV

The first thing I did was to Google REDWOOD tree facts. I didn't know I would write about any particular tree. I found that the largest Redwood tree was 379 feet tall and that it had a name. I became enthralled (my second word) by this tree character and decided to find out all I could about him.

I jotted down any facts that I found interesting and then crossed them out if I changed my mind. I was also very intrigued by the name. What does it mean? Why was he called that?

I looked HYPERION up in the online dictionary and found it was a name for a titan (Greek giant). Then I looked at my facts and added a couple in.

I formed my poem around the facts and not the facts around the poem. This is the first factual poem I have ever done. It was a lot of fun. Try it sometime!

Thank you to Georgia for her openness in sharing her fourth poem of this month and her thinking process too.  Writing ABOUT our thinking helps us understand it even more.

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day to all!  Today I have a poem in my pocket. The poem is Candles by Carl Dennis.  And since I will not see many people today, I will send in copies to my children's teachers.  Here it is for you!  What poem do you have (or would you like to have) in your pocket today?  Please share in the comments as we're all always looking for more beautiful poemfriends.

In case you are new to The Poem Farm, this month I am walking, letter-by-letter, through the dictionary, (closed-eyed) pointing to a letter each day, and writing from it. You can read poems A-W by checking the sidebar, and you visit Lisa Vihos and read her accompanying daily haiku at, Lisa's Poem of the Week. In today's comments, watch for Lisa's Haiku and also Christophe's haiku.  It is has been grand to poetryhike with new friends.

Do not miss this week's funny and informative post at Sharing Our Notebooks. Author and poet Suz Blackaby is sharing her notebooks as well as a clever writing exercise. Stop by to read her words and to enter the giveaway for her book, NEST, NOOK, & CRANNY.  The winner's name will be drawn TONIGHT!

Remember, tomorrow is Poetry Friday, the last of this year's National Poetry Month.

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  1. Thank you Amy and Georgia, both! I love the Redwood poem and seeing your process Georgia. Great job! And your vulture villanelle Amy! Fantastic. This weekend, I will go to a reading in Milwaukee where we are reading from an anthology of villanelles. I have one in there. Anyway. I don't have my vulture haiku yet. I need to think about this. I will come back later! Lisa

  2. Two terrific poems! I especially like Georgia's last two lines, which grow slowly themselves, with a fine air of gravitas.

    I take it you grow poets as well as poems at the poem farm! :)

  3. Aiyiyiyi!!!! Look out, world - the poem gene has clearly been passed on! Georgia's poem is LOVELY and restrained and mature, as is her thinking. Brava!

    And who knew all that about vultures? I will look at them differently from now on, thanks to your celebratory poem. The villanelle is a form that was my undoing as an undergrad working on my final poetry project. Perhaps, a few decades later, it's time to try again!

    Thank you for "Candles" - beautiful!

  4. I really like your vulture villanelle. It flows and soars. We celebrate so much today. And Georgia, her Redwood poem is inspiring. Lots of good ideas to share with other kids, so thank you Georgia. Explaining your process is very helpful. Perhaps I would be able to be sprinkled with poetry at the poem farm. It seems you have some pretty magic water there in those parts. I would put Mary Oliver's "In Blackwater Woods" in my pocket today. I like to think of the trees as pillars of light. I had never read "Candles" but I like thinking about all those who came before us and wandering what we have to thank them for, that we don't have a clue about. So thanks to you, too, Amy.

  5. I so enjoyed the Redwood poem and also reading about the process of creating the poem too. I like the idea that the Redwood is talking so it feels as though it is telling you about itself.

    This is a very clever and well crafted poem -- please thank Georgia for sharing it.

  6. First of all, to me, Georgia is a special name because it is that of my best friend nearly all my life, since middle school! We are lifelong friends & don't get to see each other often, so we e-mail instead. We have giggled & had fun together for 50 plus years!
    Thank you for both poems which are great. I especially like that they incorporate facts so smoothly into the poem (or the poem around the facts as Georgia said). I like that final line about Hyperion, "Loyal, strong steadfast." I have seen the redwoods, & they are just that, Georgia. Today I shared your poem "White Fields" Amy from my pocket, so thanks for that & for "Candles" too. Happy poetry in your pocket day!

  7. Oh my gosh. I got lost in my day. I nearly missed "V" the first letter of my last name!

    Where Was I?

    I almost missed you
    vulture. You were circling.
    I was someplace else.

  8. Amy and Georgia,
    I loved both of your poems. How special that you share a love for poetry. How wonderful that you are both willing to share it with all of us. Once again there are so many things I love about this post. There's the poetry, the peek into the process, the links. I have been a bit on a nonfiction poetry quest and both of these poems tell us a little something about the topic (vulture, redwood).


  9. Amy & Georgia,

    Yes, poetry is in your blood. I love both of your non-fiction poems and the way you weave the facts in with beautiful words. My students will soon be working on mask poems related to our current social studies and later in science. I will be sure to share this post with them.

    We stuffed our pockets with poems today. Many students shared poems that they had written. I will be posting about the events of the day on my blog.

  10. First, Georgia - what a wonderful poem! You are a gifted writer and I'm sure you'll have many things published as you grow up. Thank you for sharing.

    And, Amy - a villanelle for vultures - brilliant! I love vultures. And I love your poem.


  11. Look what I found in my pocket!
    Sky Spy
    Turkey vulture
    is scavenger hunting
    overhead in the sky,
    a carnivorous kite
    on the fly
    for a bite.
    By smell,
    not by sight,
    It can tell
    where it's dinner date
    No reservations,
    no special menu,
    just fate.
    Whatever has died lately
    will do.
    And once it comes in view,
    On wings
    five feet wide,
    for the chew.

  12. Both of your poems were exTREEmely well done! Georgia, your family tree is bearing sweet fruit!

  13. Lisa - This one gave me a real smile! The question title is great too. Aren't some of these weird to use in poems? It's a cool stretch, I think.

    Michele - "a carnivorous kite/on the fly/or a bite" I love this!

    Vultures everywhere feel honored today.


  14. This was a true treat. Thank you, Georgia, for sharing your poem and your notebook. Your poem is wonderful and I love how you researched to come up with poetic perfection!
    Amy, I loved the vulture poem!

  15. Amy, I promise to appreciate vultures, but I can't quite get to the celebration stage just YET. (hah! see how it works?!? leaves possibilities open, eh?) Also, I just realized that my goal to try new poetry forms this year this month have sort have slipped by the wayside...)

    Georgia, I LOVED reading about your process for R is for Redwood. That's what I did for my poem using the word stigma. Good ol' Mr. Google! Hyperion is such a cool word. I'm glad it found a place in your poem!

  16. Mother and Daughter Vanderwater showing how it's done!

    Georgia, I'm SO impressed, not only of the poem but also the thoughts BEHIND the poem's creation.

    Amy, your daughters' got game!

    Uncle Charles is proud!!!!!!!

  17. Hello Poem Farm and Miss Georgia VanDerwater,

    searching for Redwood Poems i found and read several, including by Whitman. They were all so grand that they seemed to try and match the grand trees themselves and fell short. "R is for Redwood" on the other hand took the "let the words point to the beauty rather than try and "make" it. This is such a successful poem my friends that I am left with an image of a great tree and fondness for the words that map the way. I do have one question: dear miss VanDerwater, have you been lucky enough to see this tree? I would love to do that, I first read of it in The Wild Trees by Richard Preston. If you are a lover of these trees, this book is a good friend. But let me thank you for your work, I totally loved it. I am currently working on a novel in which these trees are a character in the story and, later, when i have reached the point where it is more real i will ask to use the poem in my work - giving of course, full credit for it. Now, though, I am going to post in my faceboook page, the poem and the link to the Poem Farm. I trust you do not mind.