I did #WhitmanWednesday and #ThoreauThursday — two white guy poets of much acclaim — and I wanted to find a poem with the alliterative “F” for Friday that moved away from gender and race of the other two dudes.
So I wandered about, used a Search Engine as a compass for navigation, and sailed into Mary Weston Fordham.
Little is known about the life of poet Mary Weston Fordham. A free person of color from a relatively affluent family, she bravely ran her own school during the Civil War and was hired in 1865 as a teacher by the American Missionary Association. She taught during Reconstruction at the Saxon School in Charleston, South Carolina. Her poetry contains references to family and to the deaths of several children in infancy.
A single volume of her work, Magnolia Leaves (1897), containing 66 poems, was published by a South Carolina press with an introduction by Booker T. Washington. Her poems display an ease with meter and rhyme in lyrical explorations of historical, spiritual, and domestic themes.
I read and then tinkered around with her poems, which have a certain grace to them that I liked. I settled on “Shipwreck” for its theme and imagery of language, but also I was hooked on the last lines of the last stanza.
So, I took the last stanza of Fordham’s Shipwreck into the Visual Poetry and painted with her words for #FordhamFriday. Is that hashtag a thing? It is now.
I also took her poem, The Pen, and did some blackout work on it, recreating the words into something slightly new.
The other day, I shared a demo audio file of the song, I Am The Stamp. Since then, Ron has added keyboards and some vocals, and then Wendy added in some vocals, too. The song is a remix of a poem by Wendy for CLMOOC’s Postcard Project. I took our version of the song of I Am The Stamp for a little walk into Zeega and created this media version.
One of my favorite post-CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) connections is the Postcard Project. I’ve written about it before. Last week, Wendy Taleo wrote a very interesting poem, after “reading” the stamps on the postcards making their way to Australia.
I wasn’t the only one who wondered of Wendy’s poem could be remixed into a song. Ron L., one of my regular musical companions and gifted artist, also had the same idea. So I took a chance at it, and boy, it was a bit more difficult than I thought. Mainly, I had some struggles because they were Wendy’s words. I didn’t want to change what she wrote too much ( I did ask her permission to remix and she graciously gave me the go-ahead, noting too that all of her material is Creative Common licensed.) I tinkered with words and phrases.
The final paper had lots more of those scratches. The difficulty was finding rhyme and rhythm to my guitar part, while still maintaining the Wendy-vibe of the poem. The result was a chorus that I wrote, and then a sort of Dylan-like singing of the verses to make them fit into the structure. Some parts work better than others, as song, in my opinion, and I wish it all worked better than it did.
I told Wendy and Ron I would try to make a demo of whatever I came up with. Here it is:
Still, despite my own “hearing what could have been better in my recording,” I love the concept of a song for the stamps on the postcards that we send, and the personification of the object as it travels through the world, bringing words and stories and art to each of us in the mix.
Sunday morning. I see my friend Ray is sharing a haiku. It’s about jazz. I can’t resist. I riff off his poem, make my own and send it out. It starts there and then expands into something wonderful: a day of writing and sharing haiku.
I tried to curate the many strands as best as I could here:
I went back into our Maine vacation photos from a few weeks ago, and found one of the marsh that was just beyond the deck of the house we rented, and then, although it is the end of July, I started to think about the end of summer. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help it. (dang it).
Yesterday, I wrote a bit about seeking out the writing of others and creating something new that honors those writers. I called it Resonation Points. This morning, I want to follow up on that with two more resonation points: one that arrived in the comment bin of yesterday’s post and the other that arrived in my mailbox.
This is the poem I wrote, remixing his blog comment:
Then, I received a postcard from Susan (some of us in CLMOOC have been spending a year sending out periodic postcards … it will become part of this year’s CLMOOC, too) with a lovely message … and a challenge that I use the postcard in a comic somehow. Well, challenge accepted!
The theme of this week at Letters to the President is all about spoken poetry. I can’t seem to shake the metaphor of the “walls” going up and wanted to try to counter that image. What if the walls came down and we build something new out of the rubble? (After I wrote the poem and made the digital piece — using the Adobe Spark app, if you are curious — I thought about the vote in Britain. So maybe tearing things down to rubble isn’t always the best political option.)
I knew this assignment would elicit some groans. And so it did. We were nearing the end of our poetry unit with Poems for Two Voices, and with our state math test on the horizon, I decided to have them write Poems for Two Voices on a math theme.
You’d have thought I had told them to stick their toes into a vat of boiling tar. It’s funny how much kids create these illusionary walls between curricular areas. What do you mean, we are writing in social studies? Why are we learning argument writing in science? Why is math the topic of our poetry?
But the reality is, we live in an interdisciplinary world, right? So, the more we do a bit of everything — particularly literacy — in the content areas, the better off our students will be.
Thus: poems with a math concept.
In reality (teacher moment), the writing of the poems became another way for me (in support of our math teacher) to go over math vocabulary in a way beyond the textbook. I won’t say too many of the poems were deep explorations of mathematical themes (far too many were addition vs subtraction … boring) but learning a new form of poem with an underlying element like math does make for something different.
So, I ignore the groans as they write the poems! And then, they sat with partners and read their poems (as these should be) with partners to get a feel and sense of the flow.
The conversation was interesting (including one point where he found historical references to writing on the screen as “writing with light” — that stuck with me and became ‘refolding these pockets of light’ in the poem), as it centered on the ways early Word Processing programs changed the way some people write (or at least, the perceptions of the writing process).
The interview references a famous quote by Joan Didion about how writing is a bit like sculpture, and a writer chips away to create form. Didion was referring to creative non-fiction writing from the strands of inquiry and research, I am sure, but I starting thinking of poetry in context to her insight, and how space and inference play a part in writing poetry. What you leave out is as important as what you leave in.
I’ve seen the Didion quote before but something about it, in context to the discussion about digital writing, stuck with me for the day, and that led to the poem above, called I Fear I Left the Poem Behind.