creativity, imagination, learning, poetry, summer solstice, wip, work in progress

Summer Solstice

It’s official. The solstice is here. There’s only a few days left in the regular school term. It’s summertime in the northern hemisphere.

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On this summer solstice day, I hope to use the extra sunlight to explore and make varied attempts at poetic word play.

To say that poetry is difficult is an understatement. It’s a wordy challenge to write it right. All those stresses and unstresses, not to mention those lines of metered feet.

I dabble at writing poetry, which is a vague way of saying I’m not very good at it. I don’t do it often enough, the reason being is that its not easy. I know I said that before, but it begs repeating.

Will anything come of my attempts today at poetic word play? Maybe. Maybe not.

But I’ll give it a shot and will hopefully learn from my attempts (thank goodness for erasers).

What are you doing with the extra sunlight of today, the longest astronomical day?

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Feeling the Pull

What is it about the draw of books?

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Not everyone recognizes, or feels it to the extent that some do. But among those who do feel the intense draw of books, it is definitely a shared experience.

Walking into a place where books reside is like walking into a space where magic is at your fingertips. Book stores, libraries, second hand bookshops, anywhere there’s a stacked pile, or a shelf lined with books, spells are waiting to be conjured. Forget about window shopping. Shelf scanning, or stack perusing, is an otherworldly way to spend a morning, an afternoon, or an evening.

First, you might notice the titles on the spines, or the authors’ names. You might pull a book from the shelf just to view the image on the cover and then slip it back in its spot. But, when the cover catches your eye, you, if you’re like me, will read the first paragraph, and then maybe more, most probably more.

Holding the top right edge of the cover of the book between your fingertips, you sense its possibility.

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What world will you enter? Where will you go within that world? With whom, will you travel?

How will your perspective be challenged, or changed?

Will it be challenged? Will it be changed?

There’s a book out there waiting to weave its spell.

It might be among a stack, or wedged between its neighbors.

Find it and invoke its powers. You, and most especially your imagination, will feel all the better for it.

“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.” – Jane Smiley

acceptance, amwriting, children's books, contemplation, differences, imagination, mindulness, perception, picture book author, picture book manuscripts, picture books, poetry

A different angle

What do things look like if you have different vision than me?

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What I see is normal to me and what you see is normal to you,

though we see differently, it’s how we each know the world.

What do sounds sound like to you?

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What do textures feel like to you? What images

do they bring to your mind?

Shared differences open up a whole new perspective,

lead to good conversations and creative thoughts.

Stretching your mind to understand,

what you at first didn’t perceive,

feels, to me, akin to poetry.

As a teacher for visually impaired students,

I try to see from each student’s perspective.

I want to get a handle on what and how they may see.

I think about how the world is reflected back to them.

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I do my best to mirror for them their infinite potential, their priceless beauty.

Thinking those thoughts led to a collaborative project that I’m presently working on.

When done it will reflect a beautifully different way of seeing.

This project, my students, have me contemplating the myriad ways to be.

And that’s a good thing.

amwriting, children's writing, creativity, critique groups, Jane Yolen, poetry, What is a Poem?, wip, work in progress

Verse in Progress

I wrote a story in verse, and then tried the same story in prose. My critique partners suggest that the tale plucks the heartstrings more aptly in verse.

Back to my notebooks I go .. .

They are littered with words: stressed, unstressed, alliterative; some rhyming with a meter that’s consistently three beats and rising.

As much as I worked the words, they’ve worked me twice over.

I felt a little bit better with my efforts at verse when I read the insights of the poetic Jane Yolen.

If you’re like me, and you’re working with verse, take a moment to read.

What is a Poem?

by Jane Yolen

What is a poem?

Hard work.

A single great line.

What we see and hear the moment before sleep takes us.

The pause between heartbeats.

The first touch of the drumstick on the tight stretch

of drum

and the slight burring after.

A word discovered after an afternoon of trying.

An emotion caught in the hand, in the mouth.

Two words that bump up against one another

and create something new.

Hard work.

What is a poem?

Hard work.

Literature’s soul.

A touch of lemon swab on a parched mouth.

A son who smells of sweat instead of cigarettes.

A new word, like frass, which is what the caterpillar

leaves behind.

A story compressed to a paragraph,

a paragraph squeezed to a phrase,

a phrase pared to its essence.

Hard work.

What is a poem?

Hard work.

Emotion surprised.

Throwing a colored shadow.

A word that doubles back on itself, not

once but twice.

The exact crunch of carrots.

Precise joys.

A prayer that sounds like a curse until

it is said again.

Crows punctuating a field of snow.

Hard work.

What is a poem?
Hard work.

The space between a hummingbird’s wingbeats.

A child’s meddlefurs.

A whistle too high for a dog to hear.

One bloody word after another after another.

The graceful ellipse of memory.

The graceful collapse of memory.

The graceless lips of memory.

Hard work.

What is a poem?

Hard work.

Hard work.

Hard work.

Hard work.

Back to my notebooks I go . . .

2020, choice, choice, Dory, Finding Nemo, life paths, meditation, memories, Moonstruck, pandemic, poetry, remembering, Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken, writing journey, writing journey

Where are you going?

When the day doesn’t just take over, when your mind can wander over things you need to consider but have pushed aside for one reason or another, do you know where you’re going?

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Do you contemplate your future path? Your present? Your past?

In the movie Moonstruck, Rose Castorini asks her husband, “Where you been?”
Cosmo answers. “I don’t know, Rose. I don’t know where I’ve been
or where I’m going. All right?”

I can relate. I think we all can, especially this year.

In Finding Nemo Dory says, “Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming.” Because of a short-term memory loss Dory doesn’t know where she’s been, but she knows she has a place she’s working toward getting to; every day she works towards getting closer and closer until eventually she gets to where she’s meant to be.

Another great line from Moonstruck occurs when Loretta goes to confession and the priest tells her with great expression,”Reflect on your life Loretta.” This made me think of the popular poem by Robert Frost.

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Frost’s poem can seem to be about the need to choose a path that different, perhaps better, from another but that’s not the point of view of the poet as he writes, And both that morning equally lay, In leaves no step had trodden black. Frost, right there, tells us that one path was just as good as the other.

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It’s all up to you; follow the path that best suits. As Frost says, way leads on to way, which to me echoes Dory. “Swimming, swimming, just keep swimming.”

Enjoy the trip.