Friday, January 9, 2015

Whittle a Little - Pick Up an Object & Write

Hope's Spoon
Photo by Amy LV

(I will include audio for this poem as soon as my voice returns in full!)

Students - One of my New Year's resolutions is to do more exploratory writing in my notebook.  This means that I plan to write more pages, even when I don't have any idea what I will write.  The purpose of the writing has been and will be to discover what is rattling around my skeleton and head.  What exactly am I thinking and wondering and hoping?  So often we don't know this until we write it down. Donald Murray called such writing, "writing for surprise."  For me, this feels like magic!

The best part of writing for surprise is when my mind makes a small leap into playfulness.  This happened the other day as I looked around my desk for something to write about and found the small handmade spoon you see atop this post.  Our daughter Hope whittled this spoon a couple of years ago at summer camp (see Ricardo demonstrate this at Hawk Circle Camp here), and she made the bowl part of the spoon (see how it is dark?) by placing a coal on the wood and letting it burn out that perfect curve.

I picked up the spoon, turned it around in my hands, and wrote.  You will notice repetition of one of my favorite-sounds-in-the-alphabet - short i.

You might wish to try this technique for idea-finding.  Just look around, pick something up, and go.

(Another one of my New Year's resolutions?....Learn to whittle!)

Tabatha is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at The Opposite of Indifference. Visit there, and you will find links to many other blogs hosting poetry and poemlove today.  For those of you who are new to Poetry Friday, all are always welcome and invited to travel around from blog to blog, making new poetry friends, commenting and adding your blog into the week's menu if you like.  We are a happy band of poetry-celebrators, and we are glad that you are here!

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. I can see you whittling, Amy! I'll take a little whittled horse, please. :) Here's to continued magic in your writing (and other!) life... and the return of your voice!Thank you for this poem. xo

  2. My brother's son, an artist, now has my mother's whittling tools. She did many artistic things in her life, painted, quilted, etc., but a later-in-life joy was whittling. She mostly did folk-art people & I have the pleasure of seeing them on a shelf now at my house. I hope you give it a try, Amy. What fun your poem is, speaks of happiness.

  3. Delightful! I love the sounds of this poem--and whittling and whistling seem to fit perfectly together!

  4. I was thinking the same things as JoAnn! Delightful sounds : ) Can't wait to share it with my kids.

  5. The combination of whittling and whistling make this such a happy poem, Amy! I'm working on "writing for surprise" this year, also. Thanks for sharing where your thoughts took you!

  6. Beautiful sounds and song in this poem, Amy. I only tried whittling once (taught by my Eagle Scout dad). I still have a scar in the crook of my thumb.

  7. I like how the song gives the sense of time passing & when something "emerges" from our work, whether it be a spoon or a writing surprise!

  8. I feel like I should jump up and dance to this poem or at least kick my heels together. I hear music and so will my students. Plus whittle is just fun to say. You made me think about my Girl Scout jack knife and now I have a poem idea. Thanks Amy!

  9. Now THAT is a happy poem. Thanks for sharing. And nice whittling, Hope! My hubby Jeff does some woodcarving - makes great little "worry birds." And your post reminds me that one of my new year's resolutions is to come get caught up on your "Sharing our Notebooks" series....
    Hope your voice comes all the way back soon! xo

  10. What a cheery poem! The words feel so good in my mouth!

  11. Whittling and Mary Lee said, cheery!

  12. What fun it is to read your whittling poem aloud! Learning to whittle sounds like fun. I can't wait to see your creations!

  13. That's a darned cute whittle poem you've got there, Amy! Love the rhythm.

  14. Such a fun, bouncy, whittling kind of poem! And I can hear you whistling!

  15. Love the whistling, whittling sounds of your poem--and the ending!

  16. Wonderful whittle poem, Amy! I love that a song "emerged" from your poem. =)

  17. A special poem about a special object with special memories.

  18. "We are a happy band of poetry-celebrators" - so happy to be a part of this band. Whittling and whistling - wonderful words for happy times.

  19. This must be one of my favourite poems from you, Amy. Love the rhythm, the sound, the joy of it.

  20. Lovely playful concrete active! And I adore Hope's arty-fact. You'll see I wrote about it this week, sort of, but I want Hope to know that her spoon is NOT "crude"--that's just the word I needed for the spoon that appeared in my poem.

  21. Whistle a tune while you whittle! Love your whittling tune and the idea for a surprise poem.

  22. Because of your wish for us to go one a idea-finding exhibition, I decided to write about my pen. Thank you for the invitation, Amy!


    I twirl my pen, I tap my pen,
    Thinking of something to write;
    How about bears?
    Or sliding down stairs?
    I’ve been racking my brain all night.
    As I started dozing off
    A thought slammed into my mind
    It’s perfect, it’s grand,
    (I high-five my hand,)
    I’m no longer in a bind.
    I’ll write about a loyal friend:
    This non-fighting, ink writing,
    Cerulean streaked pen,
    Who I once thought had let me down –
    I won’t make that mistake again.

    (c) Charles Waters 2015, all rights reserved.