Sunday, April 17, 2022

Pick a Proverb - Day 17


Happy Poetry Friday, and Happy Day 17 of National Poetry Month! April always brings poems, vases full of poems. And over at Jama's Alphabet Soup, Jama always generously shares the various projects happening around the Kidlitosphere during this time. Enjoy!

For National Poetry Month 2022, I have been sharing a daily poem inspired by a popular proverb. defines a proverb as "a short, popular saying, usually of unknown and ancient origin, that expresses some commonplace truth or useful thought." A proverb might also be called a saying, an expression, a maxim, or an adage, and Merriam Webster notes that proverbs are "nuggets of wisdom" which often have popular opposites. Some of you may know the word Proverbs from the book of the Bible, but proverbs are not all from the bible - many come from daily life.

My suggestion is that we write from proverbs in many ways:
  • Write a true story poem inspired by the proverb
  • Make up a story poem connected to the proverb
  • Write a poem agreeing with the proverb
  • Write a poem disagreeing with the proverb
  • Connect a fact or historical moment to the proverb
  • Take any one word or bit from the proverb and write from that
  • Anything else!

Each day of April, I will share a proverb, the meaning of the proverb, and a poem inspired by that proverb. I will also share the the proverb which will inspire the next day's poem. I invite to you write from proverbs of your own choosing or to write proverb poems along with me. You can read some examples and learn a little more about this projects and my 2010-2020 poetry projects HERE.

Here is the PICK A PROVERB LIST that I will write from throughout April 2022, and I will add to this as I discover more proverbs. As school districts block outside Google docs for student access, I welcome teachers to "Make a Copy" of this document and to share it with students from your school district accounts.

And now, today's poem!

Students - Today's proverb - A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are for - illustrates the idea that we should do the things we wish to do. Life is meant to be lived, and waiting around is not what we're built for. 

There are many directions one might take with this proverb (as always), and I followed one that's come up in my life lately. I used to save my nicest notebooks and prettiest dishes and now am not saving them. Instead, I am using them. When my father died in 2020, I was the person in charge of clearing out his home. I came across many things I had never seen before; they had been hidden away in boxes for at least 50 years. I decided to use things. Or to let them go.

Friends have told me that they are using things they own more than they once did too. I wonder if this has anything to do with COVID and spending a lot of time at home.

Either way, today's poem is a list poem. It is a list of items that want to be used in life. And the list is recited by a dead person. I considered making the dead person a neighbor or a nameless attic ghost and in the end chose to have it simply be a warm voice on a cold breeze.

One last thought. My hope was that when reading the last line, readers will be surprised that the speaker is a dead person. That's why I didn't title it "Voice from the Grave" or some such. If I wouldn't have been surprised.

Always keep the door open for the possibility of a surprise - for your readers, and you too. I certainly didn't know that I would be writing from underground today. A surprise for me!

Tomorrow I will share a poem inspired by this proverb:

Laughter is the best medicine.

I invite you to join me in writing about the above proverb using the suggestions listed above today's poem or in choosing your own proverb from the list linked above and in the sidebar here throughout April 2022. If you have a proverb to add to the list, please write to me with a parent or guardian or teacher through that adult's account.

And if any classes of students are picking and writing proverbs along with me (or doing any connected work), I invite teachers to email me through my CONTACT ME button above. If you'd like, we can talk about publishing your students' work here at The Poem Farm. Please note that I do not respond to emails from students as I do not encourage writing to strangers online, but I do respond to students who correspond through parents, guardians, and teachers. It has been a joy to read the proverb poems that folks have shared, and I thank you for letting me peek into your interesting brains, just as you peek into mine!

Maybe see you tomorrow for Pick a Proverb, Day 18!


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