Sunday, May 24, 2015

OLW 2015 Check-in

I saw a post on this blog encouraging people to report on how they are doing with their OLW (One Little Word).  Mine this year is "Unafraid."  How am I doing with it?  I have good days and bad days.  There are days when I really am unafraid, trusting, living in the moment.  There are other days when I dwell on the goodbyes to be said at the end of the summer, all that could go wrong, how we will all adjust next year with my daughter gone, in college, and how she will adjust.  Who will she be, living without us in a different country?  (How exciting/terrifying to think about!)  Who will I be without her?  (Not as high a percentage of exciting in that one.)

I've written on this blog before about how I actually worry less since the earthquake than I used to.  This transition so far has been more about grief than worry or fear.  But there is, I confess, a certain amount of fear of the unknown.  It has helped me to focus on this word, and on the kind of person I want to be, that completely unafraid person who is now mostly a figment of my imagination, but who may become more of a reality as I go along. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Poetry Friday, The Fear Factor

Yesterday I read Sara Holbrook's poem "The Fear Factor," from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, with my seventh graders.  In the poem she addresses Courage, who always whispers, "Okay.  Okay.  It's going to be okay."

My favorite part is where the persona lists many things to fear, and then confesses (speaking to Courage) that the greatest one is: "I fear you will abandon me, / evaporate / and not return."

You can read the whole poem here, on Sara's own blog.

Today is my daughter's last regular day of high school.  Next week she has finals, leading up to graduation on Saturday.  I'm clinging to my own Courage, knowing (and yet sometimes doubting) that it's all going to be okay.  She's ready, we're ready (or faking it as well as we can), it's going to be okay. 

Here's today's roundup.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Poetry Friday

Another post-less week.  It's just that time of year.  But look at all the other great Poetry Friday offerings!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Poetry Friday

What with a bake sale today with my seventh graders and catching up on grading, I never got a post done.  But lots of others did, and you can see them here.  Happy Poetry Friday!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Poetry Friday: Another Open Mic and the Progressive Poem, Premiered

Yesterday afternoon we had another Open Mic event at school (here's my post about the one last week), and there's talk of making this a much more frequent occurrence next year.  There was a lot of interest among teachers and students alike, and it will be interesting to see if that could be sustained with a more regular schedule.  I think it could; the chance to perform your work is a great motivation to write more, and you also start to see people responding to what other people have done, so that we're having our own little part of the Great Conversation.

But what I wanted to tell about is that I performed the Progressive Poem for the group.  I think maybe it was the World Premiere, right there in our little library in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  It stood up very well to being read out loud, and got appreciative laughs at the end. 

I tend to be a private writer, not showing anybody my work until it's finished (and often, not even then).  I don't generally collaborate.  I find that writing for me is often about working out what I'm thinking about and putting it into a manageable form, creating something I can control in a world where I can't control much.  The Progressive Poem, however, is about giving up control.  It's about "living without a net," as our opening line put it.  And it's oddly exhilarating.

Thank you to Irene for organizing this every year.  Thank you for letting me participate.  And thanks to everyone who contributed a line.  See you all again next year!

Go here to Matt's blog to read the poem in its final form and - fabulous bonus - to hear Matt read it aloud! 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Progressive Poem, Line 30

“Ocean Dreams”
(The 2015 Poetry Friday Progressive Poem)


She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder,
on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.
Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms.
Her hair flows, snows in wild wind
as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,
pulls out her grandmother’s oval cuffed bracelet,
strokes the turquoise stones,
and steps through the curved doorway.
Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide…splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,
listens to the ibises roosting in the trees of the cypress swamp
an echo of Grandmother’s words, still fresh in her windswept memory;
Born from the oyster, expect the pearl. 
Reach for the rainbow reflection on the smallest dewdrop.
The surface glistens, a shadow slips above her head, a paddle dips
she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy and turquoise eyes.
Lifted high, she gulps strange air – stares clearly into
 Green pirogue, crawfish trap,
startled fisherman with turquoise eyes, twins of her own, riveted on her wrist–
She’s swifter than a dolphin, slipping away,
leaving him only a handful of memories of his own grandmother’s counsel:
Watch for her. You’ll have but one chance to 
determine—to decide.
Garner wisdom from the water and from the pearl of the past.
In a quicksilver flash, an arc of resolution, he leaps
into the shimmering water
where hidden sentries restrain any pursuit
and the bitter taste of impulse rushes into his lungs.
Her flipper flutters his weathered toes – Pearl’s signal –
Stop struggling. The Sentinels will escort you
He stills, closes his eyes,
takes an uncharacteristic breath of…water!
Released, he swims, chasing the glimmer of the bracelet
Gran gave the daughter who reveled in waves.
Straining for fading incandescence, flecks of silver,
his eyes and hands clasp cold silt,
flakes of sharp shale seething through fingers – crimson palms stinging.
A sea change ripples his shuddering back.
With a force summoned from the depths, her charged turquoise eyes unsuffer his heart
And holding out her hand to him, she knows. He knows. She speaks,
as his hand curls ’round her bracelet-clad wrist,
“Papa, just a little longer in the pool! One more time down the slide! Please!”
He nods; she won’t be his little mermaid much longer.



It's hard to explain how much fun it was to work on that poem!  Can't wait till next year!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Progressive Poem, Line 29

I like where the poem went today.  This seems to explain much.  The formatting, on the other hand, has gone away completely, and the lines are all morphed into each other.  Oh well!  Can't wait to see how this ends!



She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder,
on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.
Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms.
Her hair flows, snows in wild wind
as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,
pulls out her grandmother’s oval cuffed bracelet,

strokes the turquoise stones,
and steps through the curved doorway.
Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide…splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,
listens to the ibises roosting in the trees of the cypress swamp
an echo of Grandmother’s words, still fresh in her windswept memory;
Born from the oyster, expect the pearl. 
Reach for the rainbow reflection on the smallest dewdrop.
The surface glistens, a shadow slips above her head, a paddle dips
she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy and turquoise eyes.
Lifted high, she gulps strange air – stares clearly into
 Green pirogue, crawfish trap,
startled fisherman with turquoise eyes, twins of her own, riveted on her wrist–
She’s swifter than a dolphin, slipping away,
leaving him only a handful of memories of his own grandmother’s counsel:
Watch for her. You’ll have but one chance to 
determine—to decide.
Garner wisdom from the water and from the pearl of the past.
In a quicksilver flash, an arc of resolution, he leaps
into the shimmering water
where hidden sentries restrain any pursuit
and the bitter taste of impulse rushes into his lungs.
Her flipper flutters his weathered toes – Pearl’s signal –
Stop struggling. The Sentinels will escort you
He stills, closes his eyes,
takes an uncharacteristic breath of…water!
Released, he swims, chasing the glimmer of the bracelet
Gran gave the daughter who reveled in waves.
Straining for fading incandescence, flecks of silver,
his eyes and hands clasp cold silt,
flakes of sharp shale seething through fingers – crimson palms stinging.
A sea change ripples his shuddering back.
With a force summoned from the depths, her charged turquoise eyes unsuffer his heart
And holding out her hand to him, she knows. He knows. She speaks,
as his hand curls 'round her bracelet-clad wrist, 
"Papa, just a little longer in the pool! One more time down the slide! Please!" 









1 Jone at Check it Out
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
17 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
23 Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme