That Poem In Your Pocket Should Be Shared

Yesterday was Poem in your Pocket Day. I love this annual celebration of carrying poems around to share.

All day long in school, I had a folded poem sticking up out of my shirt pocket, and during each of my writing classes, I would take it out with great fanfare and read it to my students.

Which poem?

Words are Birds by Francisco Alarcon.

words
are birds
that arrive
with books
and spring

they
love
clouds
the wind
and trees

some words
are messengers
that come
from far away
from distant lands

for them
there are
no borders
only stars
moon and sun

some words
are familiar
like canaries
others are exotic
like the quetzal bird

some can stand
the cold
others migrate
with the sun
to the south

some words
die
caged—
they’re difficult
to translate

and others
build nests
have chicks
warm them
feed them

teach them
how to fly
and one day
they go away
in flocks

the letters
on this page
are the prints
they leave
by the sea

Then, I gave each student a different poem, as a gift, from a collection of poems that I had downloaded last year from Poem In Your Pocket Day, and we spent part of the class just reading the poems out loud, letting the words dance in the air, sharing the writing.
Finally, all of my sixth graders folded up their poems and put them in their pocket for the day. They got a kick out of that.
“At recess,” a student in one of my later classes shared, just before I read out Words are Birds, “all my friends were pulling poems out of their pockets and reading me their poems.”
Another student knew of the Poem in the Pocket event, from home.
“My mom and my dad put poems in their pockets today,” he said, before folding up his own, too, which he intended to share with his parents later.

Peace (sharing poems),
Kevin

Riffing Off Poems with Echoes of Originals


Typewriter flickr photo by markus spiske shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

It started with a poem about not having a poem to write about. Or rather, a morning where Bud Hunt didn’t post an image to inspire poetry, as he has been doing all month. I am a creature of writing habit, so when the prompt wasn’t there, I still had to write a poem, and then shared it with Bud on Twitter.

From there, Bud wrote a poetic response, on Twitter, and I heard an echo of a famous poem in his opening lines, so I tweeted back with my own poem. Dave Cormier jumped in and before I knew it, we were doing some poetry ping pong.

You can nearly hear the works of Poe, Whitman, Angelou, Williams, Wordsworth, Dickens, and others, if you read carefully enough in our Twitter poems. Not that we were being true to the poems, only that we were building off the familiar.

I gathered them up into a Twitter Moment (my first stab at Twitter’s curation tool). Take a look. I think I got them all.

For all the talk we have of the worries and dangers about social media, a small experience like this — a poetry riff that emerges only from creativity and connections — is a gentle reminder of the possibilities that come when people and ideas flow together, with humor and humanity.

Peace (in poems),
Kevin

Book Review: The Creativity Project

Can I admit, the comics and graphic stories here were my favorites?

The Creativity Project is a book that teacher/book lover Colby Sharpe put together under the auspices of a brilliant idea: What if he asked published children book creators to come up with writing prompts and then what if he shuffled the prompts, and sent them back out to the writers/illustrators and asked them to write the story from the prompt?

He did. They did. It’s wonderful.

The book itself is a collection of the 44 creative writing prompts — some serious, some pure whimsey — and the resulting 44 stories — some serious, some whimsical. Did I mention that I loved the graphic story responses the best? They just pulled me right in, as I thought about the prompt that sparked the story.

A loose floorboard in an old aunt’s house. An eavesdropping story. An anagram challenge. The guy next door. Object animation. A poem about words. Dog translation app.

Some of the prompts are mere images to be deciphered. Some are one-liners. Others are story starters. They run the gamut, which makes reading The Creativity Project so much fun because you find yourself connecting the prompt with the story and this causes the reader to think on the gap between the two — how did the writer end up there?

And then … here’s the beautiful part … the writers also contributed even more prompts, with no stories, with a call to us — the readers — to write our own pieces from new prompts at the end of the book. I love that part of the book — the invitation to write.

And so … I take the plunge … I found this prompt by Margarita Engle …

hummingbird frenzy,
each whir of wings helps me feel
earthbound and dazzled

— a poem prompt by Margarita Engle (p. 231)

My response (I went from hummingbird to butterfly):

I am forever
long for this world,
my wings barren of dust

I forgive the boy,
who in his quest for science
thought I might fly from his hand

Now I watch and wonder
at the change in the winds,
my mind flying when my wings won’t

I forgive the boy,
who cried when he discovered
my magic dust over his fingers

for now, I am forever
of this world, flightless, earth-bound,
my wings translucent

and temporary.

— Kevin Hodgson, 2018

The Creativity Book will get you writing. What more could you want?

Peace (in the book),
Kevin

Poems with Bud: An Image Inspiration for Every Day Writing


Pencil Sculpture flickr photo by listingslab shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I hope you have places to write poems. For me, this month, it has been over at Bud Hunt’s blog. Years ago, he and I used to riff off images he left there, pictures to inspire poems.  He’s doing it again this year, and even as it seems as if he and I are the only ones writing at his site some mornings, still I write. He does, too. The image above was what greeted me this morning. Neat, right?

Bud and I know each other from our work in the National Writing Project. Thank you, Bud.

Here are the poems I have been writing so far this April, as a way to curate the first half of Poetry Month. You’ll have to follow links to his blog to see the images that inspired the poems, and then, as long as you there, you might as well write, too, right?

.. even I don’t remember
where I put
those letters, those poems
from November,
when the snow did linger
and my frozen fingers
refused to write;
words now lost
forever.

— via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/16/npm2018-prompt-16/

 

–You told me
you sent me
a message on
the wires —
a telegraphed
story that tells me
you’re tired —
but all I can see here
is the moon
on an angle,
a light in the night
as the evening
expires.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/15/npm2018-prompt-15/

 

Some words,
just disappear:
whispers of cloud
designed to become
invisible after reading;
each writer, needing
only a single lover
as audience, and
blue sky beckoning.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/14/npm2018-prompt-14/

 

Blink,
and you’ll miss
it;
the bug on
the brain like
the words on the
tongue of that poem
I began when
I was writing a song
about you.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/12/npm2018-prompt-13/

 

When the everything
around us descends
into a strange, feverish dream,
the best we can do is take cover,
drink liquids,
and wait it out,
for the world
to break.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/12/npm2018-prompt-12/

 

Each second
I forget
to love you
is an eternity
of time that can’t be
returned.
Still,
I try.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/11/npm2018-prompt-11/

 

… later, when we
returned, you
put your fingers
on the spaces
where my toes
would go, and
traced the movement
of my feet
in the sand,
and when I gave you
that look, the one I give,
you shook your head
and told me:
I would never understand.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/10/npm2018-prompt-10/

 

The writer’s morning
begins
not with food
but with words,
stories on the grill
and poems, poured out
on the plate.
We drink from experience,
nourished
with the knowledge
that our next piece of text —
elusive as anything , yet
lingering on the tip
of the tongue —
may be in the batter,
on the grill,
about to get flipped
onto our plate.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/09/npm2018-prompt-9/

 

I hid my camera
from your eyes,
from your stare
from the glare you gave me
when I took the shot,
from the way you made me
hesitate, I’m not sure now
how it is you made me feel
as if this public space
were no longer mine,
but only yours,
and yours alone.
I took the shot,
and walked away
but your eyes, your eyes,
your piercing angry eyes,
they still settle down
into my bones.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/08/npm2018-prompt-8/

 

You wonder
how it is
that the world
has to be seen
on an incline,
how you have
to bend your head
to bend your eyes
and quint to find
the reality of any
given moment.
Down here,
it’s all perspective
and nothing looks
quite the same.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/07/npm2018-prompt-7/

 

No one had to tell you
the world’s a stage;
you just knew.

We watched you move
from stagehand to actress,
all guised up in the cloak
of another.

I pulled the strings
to open the curtains
and claimed my seat
in the very front row

Eyes on the surprise
that someone from me
could become
someone like you

and then, there was
the applause,
my hands still ringing
with wonder.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/06/npm2018-prompt-6/

 

You are the side
that sticks
with me, all day
long. You unwrap
me from my emotions,
yanking me from
some deep sleep
wandering, and remind me
to stay put, right here,
until my weathered edges
disintegrate.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/05/npm2018-prompt-5/

 

On this side
of the lens,
the world
remains golden,
a hue of
other days,
fading away.
Nostalgia tumbles
from the sky,
the truck’s plow
clearing a path
for today.
We live
in metaphor.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/04/npm2018-prompt-4/

 

I’m waiting
for the poem to
arrive; Godot is
late again.

Out here
in the open,
I just can’t hide,
I’m waiting
in the rain

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/03/npm-2018-prompt-3/

 

Someone
hid the button
on me,
words disguised
as instructions.
No, I won’t
hit to play —
not tomorrow
not today.

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/02/npm2018-prompt-2/

 

I’m so tired
of frayed
wires .. static
clinging to
my ears.
Can’t you
hear?

via http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2018/04/01/npm-2018-prompt-1/

 

So, that’s half a month (or more) of poems, every day. Thanks for reading. I hope you write poetry this month and beyond.

Peace (beyond stanzas),
Kevin

Writing Poems in the #NetNarr Network

I’ve been trying to make sure I curate and collect some of the poems I have been writing each day for the Daily Arganee in the Networked Narratives space. I worry about poems getting lost. My intention with these particular poems with this particular project is to come to the prompt at a slant, so the poem may not always match up with the prompt. Instead, they are inspired by the prompts.

Peace (poetics),
Kevin

Wandering the Map with Eyes Closed, Ears Open

My friend, Wendy, sent me a map from Australia. It is part of the CLMOOC Postcard Exchange, and last month, we were working on mapping as a theme in CLMOOC. Wendy’s map is a Soundscape — the drawn map connects to a playlist on Soundcloud that connects back to the map itself, all with an invitation from her to make a path on the map.

Hmmm.

I was intrigued and wondered how best to honor her invitation. I put on my headphones, closed my eyes, and let my imagination wander around her soundscape. Her mix was a collection of her own recording, and then chosen songs from within Soundcloud.

Hmmm.

I realized that the listening was giving me a way into her map, which was a sort of story. So I decided to jot down some ideas as I listened, and then found a poem emerging, which later became a sort of free-verse rap of sorts, with stanzas connected to different points on her map that connected to different music in her soundscape.

Hmmm.

I decided she probably needed to “hear” my poem response, and so did a version (listen above) and shared it out, hopeful that Wendy knows her map has kept me traveling forward. The words in parentheses connect to her tracks and her points on the map.

A Snail’s Pace: Soundscape Response

(Welcome)
I am here
inside the sounds
of this map
that a friend
has drawn true,
a snail’s wandering,
slow, ambling motion
into the unknown blue —
this space is here
between me
and you —
I keep my pen
in its place…

(Sea Turtle)
… where echoes
bloom inside
the clicketyclack
of turtle shells,
the railroad track,
the path, it yells,
as it beckons me
forward …

(Sky)
… the sky’s filled with
fallen stars, of birds
fluttering
from afar, their wings set
to the beat of
forever blue, forever
this line follows
magnetic north, true
..

(Forest)
… my feet are in motion,
dancing among the fallen
trees of
the forest,
all hallucination
and emotion,
all appreciation
and devotion,
for gravity has me
turned around,
upside down,
off the ground,
I’m always almost
there …

(North East)
… I hear the noise,
of the Northeast arrow,
the corridor calling my
name, I’m game
for the adventure,
I follow the sparrow …

(South East)
… of the Southeast
flow, something goes
in the direction of justice,
words folding
my heart into
bass lines and mad
rhymes and
a brave face
against these troubling times …

(South West)
… I am disappearing again
into the fingers
of the keyboard, the V
of the geese of the sky
of the distant shore,
where the poems
always flowing …

(North West)
… I’m going,
I’m still going,
you can’t stop me,
everyone is always knowing
this map is more
than the snail’s pace,
it’s the way we play to create
the world as a safe space and
you’ve drawn me out
with love
and peace
and filled us
with your grace.

Peace (off the map),
Kevin

Slice of Life: The Unexpected Poem

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

You may not believe me on this but it’s true. I was at our local library, and I often kill time there by looking at the rack of “recently returned” books to see what other people are reading. Sort of a like a literary voyuer. I was scanning the far side of the rack when I saw a small book of poetry and art about the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, which is where I live.

I sat down, flipped through the pages, perusing some of the writing and enjoying the art of where I live when I landed on page 82. And I saw my own name and one of my poems. And that’s when I remembered — in one of those odd “oh yeah” moments — submitting a poem to a local anthology about ten years ago. Publication took time, and I guess I sort of forgot all about it. This book was published nearly four years ago, I see.

Ghost Train poem in Anthology

But there I was, a poet in the collection. Of course, I checked out the book from the library, and showed my family the poem with a mysterious ‘turn to page 82.’ (My middle son then flipped to the bios, and saw his own name referenced, which gave him some excitement). The piece is all about the train tracks that have been transformed into bike and hiking trails in our neighborhood, and the ghosts of the past that ride with the present.

Interesting, right? Serendipity. Or something.

Peace (you never know),
Kevin

On the Cartographer’s Map (A Digital Poem)

We’re diving into maps and mapping in CLMOOC this month for a Pop-Up Make Cycle, and I was remembering a poem I had written about mapping. I had to dig around for it, and then read my own reflections that I had written the poem after taking care of my son who was sick with fever, and watching him push and pull at his blankets. The blanket was a map, I had imagined, and this poem came from there. To be honest, I now have trouble connecting the poem to that memory. But I think the poem stands on its own, particularly in this digital format, with images and text and music.

Peace (beyond the lines),
Kevin

A Poem Emerges from Collaboration

Emergent Poem Collaboration

One of my participatory ideas from my presentation last week on “Emergence: Expecting the Unexpected” for the 4T Virtual Conference on Digital Writing was to invite those in the presentation to write an acrostic poem with me. Over the course of a few days, I invited others, too, and the result is pretty nifty. I used an open source writing space called Board.Net (built off elements of the old Etherpad), and used the timelapse element to capture the poem being written.

Peace (in poetry),
Kevin

PS — Terry Elliott is also using Board as an invitation to play with a poem.