Finding a Poem Among the Words of Others

Piece by Piece Comes a Poem

This week’s call for Creativity via E-Learning 3.0, coming on the heels of considerations of distributed communities, had me thinking of heading back into the words of others, and maybe finding a poem. What the poem would say, and how it would look, I couldn’t say. But I hoped a deeper and closer reading, with poetic eyes, might bring to the surface some connections and themes.

This is the poem:

And, in an ongoing effort to unpack the making of things in different learning spaces, I want to share the process of how I did it (if only for my own memory sometime in the future).

I went back to the handful of blog posts from fellow El3.0 participants and read their reflections a few times. As words, phrases and sentences resonated with me, I pulled those pieces into a Google Doc as working space. It’s sort of a messy place, with words scattered in the document. Maybe I should have noted where the words came from there, but I didn’t, and now I don’t quite remember. One could make the case that it doesn’t matter, since the found poem is supposed to be taken from words across distributed spaces anyway.

Once I had the Google Doc littered with words, I began to read through what I had there — through the lens of disparate parts in search of a whole. I opened up another document on Board.net, and began to create stanzas from phrases in the Google Doc. (Board is collaborative document platform). I resisted adding too many of own words — only those connector words between phrases. I was trying to avoid my own voice, for now, in order to surface the collective voice of us. I didn’t even use anything from my own reflective blog post.

Finding a Poem

Once I had a flow of a poem going along the seams of our discussions —  community and consensus, distributed web effects on learning, technology as a problem in search of a solution,  and more — I circled back around, and began adding my own thoughts here and there — minimally, at best — in order to find some consistent voice across the stanzas and theme. Interestingly, the process flowed rather naturally, and the Found Poem emerged rather intact (a testament to the strength of the writing of my EL30 blogging friends more than my own curation).

Thanks to the Time Slider tool in Board, you can even watch the construction of the poem unfold. I took a screencast of it in motion because this always fascinates me. It’s better when more people are involved, yet you can see some of the ways I was unfolding the poem top to bottom, and then dancing in the corners of the stanzas towards the end.

So, now I had the poem. What to do with it? Well, it seemed to me that this kind of found poem, networked as it was, deserved visuals, so I turned to Lumen5, a digital story tool, and worked to create a visual found poem that I think quite nicely captures the voice, the spirit, the reflection, the wondering and wandering of us, as a whole. I created a few comics as visual openers for the videos, too.

Peace (found it),
Kevin

Terry and Kevin’s Liminal Adventures: A Poem is a Map

Terry and Kevin liminal treasure map

Yesterday, my friend Terry shared a poem on Mastodon. His poem, enriched by the video he added, started a rich conversation that leaped across platforms through the day. He later wrote a blog post that tracks the flow over the day of wandering and wondering.

Read Terry’s post: Eight Thresholds But Who’s Counting

Later, I created the treasure map above as a sort of additional visual connection, and then I started to think about how else to think through this kind of platform adventure that began with a poem. I know he and I are sort of geeky like this, pushing our thinking back and forth and exploring the terrain.

As I read his post a few times, and thought about the unwinding of our words, I had this inspiration for a picture book story. So I made one in Storybird — using a keyword art search for “map” —  and entitled it A Poem is a Map.

What’s interesting about Storybird is that the art collection and choices come first in the making of stories, guiding the writing through the visuals. Except here, I had a story in mind – about how poems are maps, which forms one of my points in our discussion and which sparks a question from Terry — and I needed art. You can only access collections of art in Storybird (that is part of its interesting design), not keep searching its entire collection as you build a book. The keyword “map” brought up some interesting art but it was limited in scope.

In making this picture book, I had to dance between Terry’s ideas, our conversations, my story concept and the available artwork. The tension between the freewheeling concepts we were exploring and the limited nature of Storybird made for an interesting writing experience. I simultaneously wrote what I knew I would write and let the art push me in different directions.

In the picture book, you can notice me weaving in the conversation and some of Terry’s reflection points from his blog. It’s a story that could stand on its own, perhaps, but also be read as yet another threshold, as Terry called it, of the conversation.

A Poem is a Map book

Read the story

Maybe this isn’t the end. Maybe this is just the start.

Peace (everywhere on the map),
Kevin

Exploring the Federated PeerTube: Poems Made Visual

I’ve been on Mastodon (federated social networking space) long enough now to have a simple grasp of how federated networks work — a system of servers (incidents) that overlap and move data, with no one fixed home. I had been hearing about PeerTube as a federated alternative to YouTube. A federated place where videos could be shared.

I dove in months ago, even as I still am getting my mind around how it might work for me. (You can read more about PeerTube here) Here is my Digital Poems Channel, if you want to see all the poems I am sharing out.

The embedded poem above (hosted in PeerTube) was one I wrote with Bud Hunt a few month ago, as he shared images for inspiration. I took my small poem and used Lumen5 to make a visual interpretation, and then used PeerTube to host it.

This one is from this weekend, a smallpoem about the morning’s quiet time.

Here’s another poem made visual with Lumen5. This one is about writing haiku, or teaching the writing of haiku poetry by freezing the world into a moment of time.

I’m curious to see how well it embeds, and plays. It seems like there is periodic lag time. I chose to join a PeerTube instance (an instance is a hosting system, often set up around themes of interest) that has some connection to Mastodon, but the two spaces are not one and the same. (The name of the instance is the connector).

The benefits to such video hosting alternatives to YouTube include the important aspects of no-advertising, no-tracking, no-corporate-ownership of your creative materials. What you lose with this is a potentially wider audience (if eyeballs are your thing) and maybe some technical stability (which I suspect will be ironed out). I’m OK with that trade-off for these kinds of digital poetry projects.

Peace (tubing it),
Kevin

 

A Found Poem from a Shared Text, Composed in the Margins

As part of my annotation of War in Translation for Equity Unbound, I found a sentence/passage that lent itself to a poem, so I wrote in the margins of the piece. Later, I took the poem and created this video version, which I think is powerful for the combination of words, image and music.

Author Lina Mounzer writes:

 In the considered, deliberate act of translation, these I’s bump up into one another again and again until they are accidentally shattered, the various pieces of these commingled selves becoming, for long moments, indistinguishable from one another.

I wrote:

from you
comes I
for I have
become you;
these words
now of us
co-mingle,
indistinguishable
in these long moments
where we both emerge
accidentally shattered
by story.

Peace (outside of it),
Kevin

Three Poems About Writing (Inspired by My Students as Writers)


Best Time flickr photo by Eliecer Gallegos shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

The new school year always reminds me how to think more deeply about the act of writing. I watch my students, as they write, and wonder about their minds, their imaginations, their struggles, their success on the page (digital or paper).

I wrote three short poems this week about writing: the first is about pencils (but really about word choice); the second is about erasers (but really about decisions); and the third is about paper (but really about what we write on).

Some words
never get spoken —
the pencil tip snaps,
broken thoughts
on paper.

 

My fingers
brush away
the soft pieces of
eraser — small
crumbs of stories
struggling to remain
within the lines

 

Where once we crumpled
paper, with discarded
lines and thoughts

Now we hit delete,
and think: recover what
was lost.

Peace (off the page),
Kevin

PS — these small poems are part of a daily project to write a poem every day on Mastodon.