Thursday, April 24, 2014

Picnic Basket - Poem #24 for April 2014 Poetry Project

Learn about this, my April 2014 Poetry Project, HERE!

Picnic Basket
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Today's poem is a mask poem, written in the voice of an object or person.  Each day of this month, I have decided whether to write TO an object, ABOUT an object or AS an object speaking.  It is fun to mix it up, and in writing a collection of poems, it is important to mix it up too: stances, rhymes and meters, topics.

Below in today's draft (I wrote this poem this morning, not the day before as I have done the rest of this month) you can see how I began by first looking back at the poemobjects from all month, tallying the types of objects I've already written about.  As the month winds down, it feels important to create a balance of objects: toys, housewares, clothing, and more.

You can see that I went back and forth a few times about the word "gazing" in line 7. This is because "gazes" appears in another poem this month.  I find myself realizing over and over that I do have favorite words, but in a collection I don't want to overuse any words, even favorites.  For now, I'm keeping "gazing" because it is really the word most used when discussing stars.

You may have noticed that in the move to today's typed version, the last few lines are spaced out like steps.  This was not something I thought about when writing longhand, but somehow in typing new ideas for line breaks often appear.  

I suggest trying this out for yourself.  Do lots of revision on one of your poems in longhand, reading it aloud to yourself, crossing out unnecessary words, trying out new lines.  Get it just how you like it.  Work hard; be ruthless.  Then, type the poem.  As you type, consider other possibilities for line breaks.  You may surprise yourself.  (If you are an older student and do not type well, I highly recommend learning to type quickly and mindlessly.  This allows you to think about your WRITING and not your TYPING.)

Picnic Basket - Draft Page Spread #1 
Photo by Amy LV

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day!  Which poem do you have in your pocket?  I am carrying Notice by Steve Kowit (in honor of a friend's husband who died this week) for my grownup friends ,and for my child friends I am carrying Shell by Myra Cohn Livingston.

(This morning, to my science teacher husband, I gave many copies of Wendell Berry's The Peace of Wild Things and to our children I gave There is a Land by Leland B. Jacobs!)

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. Hi Amy,

    Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day. Once again you poetry journey has been such fun to follow and offers so much for students and their teachers :) Today a couple of your poems are traveling around in our pockets. My second graders love "Drawing" and "Dusk", as well as the entire collection from Forest Has a Song!

    ~ Theresa

  2. Amy,
    What a lovely old basket. I'm glad it still remembers what to do and says so.

  3. Oh, this is so sweet. I love "I don't mind the ants. I'm not scared of bears." And I think it fits a mask poem just perfectly! Thanks, Amy.

  4. Cannot wait to see this venture in a living, breathing book. How delightful and I love the flow of this poem and your explication of the process. Wonderful advice to students. Thank you, Amy.
    Janet F.