Friday, January 31, 2014

"Once Somebody Asked Me" - Beginning With a Line

Choosing Water
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Yesterday, I went to the big Buffalo library and very much enjoyed reading David Elliott's book illustrated by Holly Meade, IN THE SEA.

Perhaps this is why I wrote about the sea yesterday.  Or maybe it is because we had the good fortune to have Allan Wolf stay at our home this month, and he acted out some poems from his fabulous book-in-many-voices, THE WATCH THAT ENDS THE NIGHT: VOICES FROM THE TITANIC.

Or perhaps it was just time for me to - once more - feel fascinated by the fact that a human being has never seen a live giant squid (though they have been recorded).  

It could be that this week of coldcoldcold weather has me dreaming of the ocean.  I do not know the reason why this poem appeared yesterday.  But as soon as I wrote the first line, "Once somebody told me..." I just followed the line on and on until the end.  

It can be interesting to take a line from someone else's poem, sometimes a first line, and follow it for yourself, creating a whole new poem from the same first few words as someone else.  You might wish to try this strategy if ever you feel stuck for an idea.  You could try my line, "Once somebody asked me..." or you might choose a line from a poem you have always loved or a poem you just open up to in a book right now.  It is always good to have a multituide of ways to get writing, even when it seems tough to begin.  

In giveaway news: Margaret Simon is the winner of last week's giveaway of Jeannine Atkins' beautiful, autographed book VIEWS FROM A WINDOW SEAT: THOUGHTS ON WRITING AND LIFE.  Margaret, please just drop me a line at amy at amylv dot com with your address, and I will mail your book next week.

Tricia is hosting today's Poetry Friday extravaganza over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, so you can head on over to her place to see what's brewing poetry-wise all around the Kidlitosphere this week. And do not miss her delightful book review and interview with Joan Bransfield Graham from yesterday.  And while you're there, scroll on back to check out some of Tricia's "Poetry Stretches", her regular Monday feature inviting writers to work their poetry muscles.

Happy Poetry Friday to one and all!

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. I've been collecting some poetry ideas for an older class Amy, & this will be a good one. I have piles of poems for them to read, so they can find one they like & go from there. Thank you, and I love the poem, love snorkeling, but I'm not so sure I'd want to find a giant squid! Your voice comes through so beautifully in the poem!

  2. This is a beautiful poem, Amy. Love the idea of borrowing a first line, and diving deep to see where it takes you.

  3. I love the ocean-rhythm here, the thoughts on one wish, and choosing ocean over sky.

    And, wow, to hear Alan Wolf read those poems! I love that book.

    Thank you again for hosting a contest with my book. I hope Margaret enjoys it!

  4. I jumped into the ocean of your poem. Love the prompt idea. I think I'd like to try to fly and see where it takes me. I seem to have a bird in many of the nature poems I write.
    Thanks so much for the give-away. I am blown away!

  5. Lovely poem. I love the ebb and flow of it. I like the idea of borrowing a first line from somewhere and using it as a starting point. I'll be trying that.

  6. When we do our 15 Minutes on Friday writing, the children and I often begin our writing without knowing exactly where it will go. After 15 minutes, we share our surprises. This week, I started with something my literacy coach said just before we started writing (love that she joins us for this), and wound up with a short story that I really love!

  7. Your poem makes such a case for the ocean over the sky -- especially the shipwrecks, such an intriguing underwater adventure!

  8. I like the new blog design, Amy! Nice fonts, especially.

    This poem, besides being whimsical and surprising, is opinion in poetry: "here's my choice and here are my reasons for making it."

    There are just some lines that open up a world of possibilities...

  9. I love your poem, Amy! Oh, to be able to "dive so deep...between majestic coral reefs." And I love the idea of using a favorite line of poetry as a starting point for your own poem. This is definitely something I'm going to use with my students. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I love the image "drinking sips of sky." Fun poem, Amy.

  11. I just love your poem, Amy! I've always wished to fly but you sure are making a case for water!