Friday, November 4, 2016

Find Ideas In Your Reading, Your Friends' Writing, Everywhere!

Students - I have been reading the book atop this post, THE SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL EATING, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.  It is a very beautiful book, all about a snail that keeps a Elisabeth company when she is very ill. Of course, the snail does not realize that it is good company...but it is.

This is an amazingly humble book, very gorgeous in its writing...yet about the smallest of creatures.  One we do not often think about.  The book is in my bloodstream now; I keep thinking about it.

So when it was time to write this week, I knew I would write about a snail.  But how?

Then, last night, I visited Laura Purdie Salas's Poetry Friday roundup, up early, to see what was going on.  I saw that she had written a terza rima, a form of poetry I have never attempted, one invented by Dante Alighieri, which he wrote in the 1300s.

All night long, I dreamt of rhymes, mostly "gastropod" and "odd."

All day long, I was busy doing not-writing things.  But the back of my mind kept thinking:  SNAIL...TERZA RIMA...

So, tonight, Poetry Friday Evening, I tried a terza rima myself.  And you just read it - "Snail."

You can read more about this form at The Poetry Foundation, but in short, notice these things:

1.  The poem is written in tercets (three line stanzas).
2.  Each line is in iambic pentameter (da DA da DA da DA da DA da DA).
3.  The first and third lines of each stanza rhyme..and they also rhyme with the second line in the next stanza.
4.  The final stanza is a couplet, with these last two lines rhyming with the second line from the second to last stanza.

This was a fun exercise, and I am so happy that I peeked ahead at Poetry Friday on Thursday evening as doing so gave me this idea from Laura.  I love trying new forms.  It feels like a brain stretch.

Do visit Elisabeth Tova Bailey's website to learn more about her experience.  You can even hear recordings of a snail eating!  And here is the book trailer for her magnificent book.

Remember, ideas for writing are all around us. This week I am especially grateful to Elisabeth for offering a content idea (snail) and to my friend Laura for offering a structure idea (terza rima).

This month I am glad to introduce you to artist and art teacher Tim Needles over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.  I've admired his work on Twitter for a while, and it's a delight to peek into his fabulous notebooks and to learn about his faith in process.  Don't miss - and please leave a comment to be entered into a book giveaway.

Laura is hosting today's Poetry Friday party over at Writing the World for Kids. Enjoy all of the poetry fun over there. All are always welcome to all Poetry Friday parties!

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. Well done! You can rhyme and get a giggle at the same time! Bravo!

  2. I don't see snails here at all, too dry I think. You've included the observations in a fun poem, Amy. I love the rhythm of the terza rima, but am not sure it's as easy as you make it! Happy Saturday!

  3. Great poem, Amy. I love the last rhyme, and hearing that your process involves dreaming about it. I do that, too. The sound of the snail eating on the book trailer is hypnotic. Sounds like a great book.

  4. Amy, this is fabulous! I especially love the repetition of "I like." So glad you joined the terza rima party, and I agree--poetic forms are such a fun way to stretch ourselves.

  5. That's great that you gave the terza rima form a try, Amy! (I can see why you wanted that odd/gastropod rhyme!) I'm going to have to look into that book. xo

  6. Fascinating, Amy! I can't wait to read this book. I've been thinking about snails lately, as I'm hoping to set up a snail habitat on my classroom. I marvel at the different perspective on the world that snails have from us! A bonus to learn about terza rima and it's creator. I'm married to an Alighieri descendent! -- Christie