Friday, March 3, 2023

Awe...and Line Breaks Too

Fingerpainting of an Eggshell
by Amy LV

Students - Today I have a definition for you, a definition of the word awe from GREATER GOOD MAGAZINE.

Awe is the feeling we get in the presence of something vast that challenges our understanding of the world, like looking up at millions of stars in the night sky or marveling at the birth of a child.When people feel awe, they may use other words to describe the experience, such as wonder, amazement, surprise, or transcendence.

You have likely used - or heard someone use - the word awesome, and this word comes from having a feeling of awe. (The word awful was once clearly connected to the word awe as well, but it took a dark turn.)

Many people experience a feeling of wonder, surprise, amazement...awe...when they spend time in nature. Earlier this week, I listened to an episode of the podcast Hidden Brain, all about the science of awe. If you have never listened to a podcast, the ones I enjoy are like educational television programs (I have never had a TV as an adult) without the pictures - I listen on my phone. I listen while cooking or driving, cleaning or walking on my dad's old treadmill. Anyway, this one about awe got me thinking about times when I have experienced such a sense of wonder. And yes, I too am often in nature when I have awe fills me from toe to nose.

This week, I also shared the below photo of our chickens' eggs on social media, and my friend Linda asked if I would save blue and green shells for her so that she can turn them into watercolor paints. Of course I said, "Yes."

Splendor from the Hen House
Photo by Amy LV

The combination of these two experiences - a podcast and a friend's request - mixed in with my interest in birds and finding natural treasures, brought today's poem into the world.

Only at first, it had shorter lines. 

Experimenting with Line Breaks
Photo by Amy LV

The other week, my friend Heidi of my juicy little universe complimented the longer lines of one of my poems. As I admire her writing, this has me thinking about how I might play around more with the lengths of poem lines. And so, while the first draft of this poem had shorter shifted to longer lines. Thank you, Heidi!

Here are a couple of things you might try out this week:

1. Go outside. Let something fill you with wonder or surprise. Feel awe. Write. 

2. Experiment with your own line breaks, drafting the same words in a different way by simply changing where you go to a new line. Read your poem out loud each way and see which works best for you. I think that the longer lines work best in today's poem because fewer breaks make the poem feel more like a whispered conversation with a friend, somehow more casual and real.

Tanita is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at {fiction, instead of lies} with a mighty cactus poem and painting along with some inspiring (and much needed by me) words about writing and goals. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Look around, my friends. It is a beautiful world out there.



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  1. "just half a shell of turquoise sky..." Oh, so lovely. And I adore the idea of a robin "child," for some reason. I so enjoy seeing other poet's process, thanks for sharing yours and this gorgeous bit of Spring.

  2. Amy- your turquoise sky and imagining the eggshell as a bedroom for a robin chick filled me with the awe you speak of. Somehow you manage to capture a child's voice so well. I am often awed by nature, and when the words of writers and poets give me that same feeling, well, that is something. Thank you.

  3. Love that line breaks were so up front in your process here Amy. They should never be underestimated. Loved your notebook image and being able to see how the words that first appeared were able to be reconfigured. This is the vital process 'stuff' that kids need to see, not just the final product. The use of metaphor -'tiny bedroom' was something I enjoyed like Irene. To be in awe of things in this world is such a wonderfully fulfilling experience. Here's to more awe!

  4. Lines 2, 3, and 4 contain such language surprises! I'm in awe of your writing!

  5. In addition to giving us a wonderful poem, every post is a prompt and a look at process, Amy, and that's why I love stopping here. ❤️

    I love the wonder in, "Why, then, do I feel so small?"

  6. "Why then do I feel so small?" is such a perfect way to help us feel the awe you sensed. Your poem also made me feel my own bit of awe, as I considered that sweet robin now out flying on its own. Such a lovely poem. I'm going to take your challenge this week. Thank you, Amy.

  7. Sweet! So much in this much in an egg. A match made in the heaven of a turquoise sky.

  8. Such a lovely poem from start to finish. Knowing all the thoughts and wonder behind it enriches the experience of reading it even more. Oh, that "half a shell of turquoise sky"!

  9. Love that 'just half a shell of turquoise sky'. But also love reading how you were inspired to play with longer lines. We are always learning new things.

  10. And please tell us or SHOW us what your friend will do with the shells that become paint!

  11. I love this website so much, just poems and art. Thank you. <3