For the past few years, I have been writing in the shadows of Bud Hunt, as he spends April posting images at his blog designed to spark poetry in his readers. I’m not sure why I am always obsessed with writing a poem at his site every single day … but I do, and I did. Some of the poems are just junk — throw-aways that I composed in minutes as I start my day and best left forgotten as digital debris. Others … have some potential, and that is the reason why I like writing every day.
Sometimes, something sparks, and a poem in particular might grab hold — some line, some word, some sentiment — that might be developed later on. I tried to podcast my poems with Cinch as much as possible this year, although I suspect I was mostly the only one listening to my voice. Which is fine. I did it as a way to archive my inflection as I was writing — where is the stress of the line, and maybe, what is the emotional underpinning of the poem itself. (What I didn’t do so much this year is archive each day’s poem in Google Docs, which I usually do, so now I will need to spend some time at Bud’s blog, grabbing my words back.)
I love writing poems because they are so different from much of the other things that I write on a regular basis. I’m not sure I always succeed in what I am trying to do with my poetry. I don’t have enough discipline all the time. But the writing of verse taps into something interesting, and it reminds me that poetry for my students can often do the same thing. The poets who emerge when we write poetry in the classroom are often the unexpected students — the ones who struggle with the essays and the longer stories and other pieces of writing. There are poets hidden in all of our classrooms. We just need to find them.
Here is the last poem I wrote for April with Bud. He showed us an image of a car, from inside the dashboard. Somehow, I had this idea of being pulled over by the police for writing poetry too fast (I do).
The cop pulled me over and asked:
why so many poems in so many days
and where the hell do you think you’re going, anyway?
He demanded my poet’s license and writing registration
so I dug into my pocket for my papers and my pens
and assorted ideas,
shoving them into his outstretched hands,
and watching him shuffle back to his cruiser,
deep in thought.
Out of his sight line,
I secretly pulled out the scrap of paper
where I had been dabbling with rhythm and rhyme for some time,
thinking of how this might work here
or how I might just save that for some other line
when I heard his boots scraping against the pavement,
and saw his face peering in at me.
He let me off with a warning
of writing too fast in an overly connected world
and later, I noticed, in the margins of my poems,
he had jotted down a few ideas for an unfinished piece
and it all worked perfectly.
Peace (in the poems),