Friday, June 2, 2023

Lean on a Song & Welcome Guests

Sky After Poeming
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Can you believe that I took the above sky photograph just moments after writing this poem? Well, I did! This week has been so beautiful, so summery in Western New York.

Today's poem leans on the meter of the 1936 song "Dona Nobis Pacem" ("Grant Us Peace" in Latin). If you listen to the recording above, you will hear me read the poem and then sing it to the tune of the song. "Dona Nobis Pacem" lives in my mind this week as I have just joined a newly formed threshold choir (Raven's Call) here in Buffalo, NY, a small choir that will sing at the bedsides of seriously ill and dying people who wish for music. This is but one of the songs we are learning, and I am singing it to myself inside and outside.

I do like to think that this is a true equation: topic + structure + wordplay = poem. Sometimes I begin with a topic, sometimes a structure, sometimes some wordplay. Today, structure (the meter of "Dona Nobis Pacem") guided my way. This and my recent thoughts about how we speak to ourselves in our own minds. 

I've suggested this several times before, but here it is again. If you're not sure where to begin with a poem, choose a song you like and then write words that can fit in the lines perfectly (or well enough!) I like to count the syllables and then match syllables and stresses as perfectly as feels right.

HERE is a beautiful voice and piano recording of "Dona Nobis Pacem," a round that is often sung in three parts, here all sung by Julie Gaulke.

And a happy honor to welcome Fourth Grade Teacher Cheryl Donnelly and her poets from Tioughnioga Riverside Academy in Whitney Point, NY who took on the April 24 HOURS Challenge. My goodness gracious! How this school takes poetry on. I was lucky enough to visit these writers in mid-May, and feel grateful to them and to Teacher Cheryl Donnelly and Intermediate Literacy Coordinator Dr. Kristie Miner for all of their joyful sharing.

Enjoy this joyful slideshow of poems, one poem from each poet, and know that each poet wrote many poems as part of their own 24 HOURS project, choosing a favorite for us here at The Poem Farm. Do take notice of the many different voices and poetic techniques these writers chose.

Click the three dots and ENTER FULL SCREEN to enlarge.

Thank you again to this poetic community from Tioughnioga Riverside Academy for joining us today.

Tricia is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Each Friday, all are invited to share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship in this open and welcoming poetry community.



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  1. Amy, Dona Nobis Pacem is one of my favorite hymns to sing. I've been in choirs forever and love this idea of taking music to those near death. My brother is a musician and he was summoned by a friend to sing for his dying wife. What a blessing! I wrote a song for my newest grandchild to the tune of Little Green by Joni Mitchell. I haven't sung it beyond my own mind yet, but I'd like to record it for June to have someday.
    Thanks for being such an inspiration!

  2. Thank you for this beautiful post. And thank you for so generously sharing the poems from the young writers at TRA! You are an inspiration indeed!

  3. What a meaningful endeavor you are joining, Amy - and wonderful to hear your voice reading and singing! Thanks for sharing, and best wishes to all the young writers represented this week, too.

  4. Amy, Sorry--I'm distracted from your poem by the idea of your joining a choir that sings to those ill and near death. What a gift of love and voice and deeply meaningful words. That is incredible. Thank you for your poem and also for these fourth graders who embarked on a 24 HOURS project. You're a beacon for teachers, I know. xo

  5. Love that you are singing from a special song, Amy, and of course, writing the song, too!

  6. a threshold choir! what a beautiful gift to be part of - and what a gorgeous song to inspire your poem. Thank you so much for sharing this, Amy.

  7. I love poetry that is spare, crisp and clear, like your lovely poem which packs a punch with so few words.

  8. What a gift you are; what gifts you give the world.

  9. Thanks for sharing these lovely poems and your poetry writing process as well. I recently heard about musicians playing for those dying in hospice. What a wonderful gift. I wish I had a voice or played an instrument well enough to contribute in that way, but do not. :)

  10. I love your poem and always love your inspirational ideas, Amy. And this week, I'm especially struck by the beauty of that choir you've joined. Wow, that is just wonderful and powerful.