Inspired by Hass: Trading Fours on the Seventh Night

We’re examining Robert Hass‘s poem, The Seventh Night, for #walkmyworld this week. I was not familiar with the poem (actually, I was not familiar with any of his poems) so I dove into it cold. We’re using Poetry Genius to annotate the poem, if you want to come along. As I listened to Hass, and read the poem, I realized that the playful bantering reminded me of “trading fours” in jazz, where soloists exchange melodies back and forth. Sort of like a poetry slam, with music.

That led to me writing this prose poem this morning:

Trading Fours on the Seventh Night
(hat nod to Robert Hass)

The bar fell silent, watching. All eyes staring. They locked gaze together, swaying in time to the beat of the drums and the bass pounding out on the wood floor beneath their feet so that every thump traveled up their spines, every pluck of the fat string by fat fingers reached into the base of the neck. The pianist tickled out the faint melody of a tune. The stage was set. She raised up her horn. Started to call him out. Eyes closed, dancing with the muse. He admired the way her fingers flew over the keys, the bell of the trumpet suddenly alive with faint echoes of Armstrong and Morgan and Gillespie, before setting down into the cool of Baker as if someone had poured the room a scotch, neat, unhurried. He angled his mind then, catching one of her melodies in his ear and leaping in with it, knowing that once the first note was out, it would be instinct alone and nothing else to guide him. He folded himself up in her song as she watched him, smiling at the way Young and Rollins and Getz uncurled in syncopation, first from the reed in his mouthpiece, then from the caress of keys, then from the open bell on the roof of the saxophone where, finally, at last, Hawkins rolled out to take a drink with them, too. She poured that glass herself with an old line from Davis, sliding the whiskey back across the stage, where he added the ice with Coltrane. As if. And so it went, into the night with not a word spoken between them as they bantered about with metaphors rooted in the past yet slinking towards some symmetry neither one could understand nor comprehend, inventing a language all of their own on this Sunday night, this seventh night, this day of rest. Even after the crowd got antsy. Even after the band got tired. Even after the owner got so fed up that he yelled at them to stop, for God’s sake, just stop. Even after they had begun packing their horns away, there they stood, he and she trading fours until the owner turned off the lights and everyone went home but them.

Peace (on the imaginary stage),
Kevin

Write Yourselves into a Poem: A #Walkmyworld Call to Writing

Reflections from Week Five of the #WALKMYWORLD Project

I may be wrong but it seems like we are at an important juncture in the #walkmyworld project, where the shift from documenting and sharing our worlds towards reflecting through poetry hopefully will begin. I’m not sure how ready people are, though, as that leap from putting the lens on things around us (we can be removed from the action, somewhat) to putting the lens on thoughts inside of us (poetry comes from the heart) can be difficult for many, and sharing in a public space … even more so. It brings up the uncertainty that many have of themselves as writers. Yet, if the project is to be more than just documenting,  more than something than just another cute hashtag on Twitter, then I think we’ll all have to move forward, with Ian and Greg and others nudging us.

Upon reading Ian’s reflections this morning, his urging of us to become more collaborative and connected with others in the #walkmyworld spaces had me mulling over how I might write a poem inspired by the tweets in the #walkmyworld hashtag, and maybe use a poem to encourage/invite/cajole others to begin some poetry themselves. My aim is to bring people into the poem itself as way to encourage them to write their own. I humbly “borrowed” tweets from the #walkmyworld stream, finding inspiration within the confines of 140 characters. If you are in my poem, I thank you for your words and ideas.

Here’s what I composed:

 

Write Yourselves into a Poem

Over coffee …

my fingers flutter over the footsteps
of those who would
#walkmyworld with me in these
virtual spaces:

Cassandra, in backwards visual motion
bringing us out and then in again
towards faith;

Jason, with flames firing
out the center of his plate,
an extra helping of warmth in winter;

Kristen, her camera obscured,
capturing the days of others
unfolding as private moments in public spaces;

Ken, in negotiations with the unseen,
a call for action and a slow halt
to the falling sky debris that clutters our days;

Laura, on the inside looking out,
shadows falling against window panes
a lone green sentry standing guard in paradise;

Aubri, with blankets and family
and food and the screen as some beacon
of entertainment escape from the snow;

Julie, pondering her flexible role
as teacher, mother, writer, blogger
in this navigational spaces that don’t quite exist;

Antwon, deep in thought as his mind
runs along the texts of the page
even as the camera finds him in quiet repose;

and Kelly, raising her glass in a toast
to us all, to the world on which we
find ourselves walking thanks to

Ian and Greg and others who have pulled in Haas
as a mean to find words, and rhythm, to express
the everyday magic of the objects of our lives

so go on, write yourselves into a poem
sneak inside a corner of this page
and make yourselves at home …

We #walkmyworld together

Write your poem, if you can.

Peace (in the walking of the world),
Kevin

 

Inspired by Haas: I Remember the Hummingbird

The shift within the #walkmyworld centers around poet Robert Haas, and his collection of poems known as Field Notes. Greg, one of the organizers, asks us to consider one of three Haas poems, and examine it. So I chose Letter to a Poet, and I enjoyed the imagery of the mockingbird and the “mimic world” of poetry. This phrase stuck me with long after I had finished the poem and then I began to write, too.

I began to rework Haas’ poem for my own devices. As I read the piece a few times, I came to understand a sense of place and a sense of sensory images. And the bird stuck with me. That mockingbird. And thinking of birds reminded me of the hummingbird who floats into our lives each summer, hovering outside our window near the honeysuckle. I wrote my poem with Haas on my shoulder, stealing some of his rhythm and structure at times and abandoning it at others. Our meanings diverged, too, but that’s OK.

The result is this multimodal poem: I Remember the Hummingbird

Using Zeega to construct this kind of media poem is intriguing because it is all about choices and yet, those choices are limited by the reach of the Zeega database. I struggled to not overwhelm with images and movement, and yet, I wanted faint echoes of the hummingbird in most of the pages. Also, finding a song that complemented the text and images was tricky — again, how well will it mesh? — but I think this version of a song called Hummingbird made sense to me with its picking guitar parts and haunting vocals that move in to the frame.

Peace (in remembering),
Kevin

#Walkmyworld Kinetic Poetry: I Walk with Wonder

footsteps poem before
A shift is underway in the #Walkmyworld Project towards using our documentation of our world as the kernal of digital poetry. I took a shot of footprints from our back yard and wrote a poem, and then decided to try my hand at kinetic poetry (where the words/type can move). These two screenshots show the “before” and the “after” of the poem as it is played.
footsteps poem after

To really experience the poem. you’ll have to go to the poem itself. I constructed it as a remix with Thimble, part of the Mozilla Webmaker suite of free tools. This kinetic text template was shared out a few months ago by some National Writing Project friends as part of MozFest in England. It allows you to really tinker with words and learn a bit about code, too. I was aiming to make words and phrases “do something” that connected to the flow of the meaning of the words and phrases. So, the word “fall” falls, and the “footsteps” grows and shrinks like a footstep walking and “shimmers” shimmers.

Check out the poem (and use the remix button at the top right to make your own)

I Walk with Wonder by Dogtrax
Peace (in the walk),
Kevin

You is Us: A Digital Zooming Poem

As Digital Learning Day approaches, the folks at Educator Innovator have a suggestion that we and/or our students use Prezi to tell a digital story. I decided to give it a try, particularly since I have not yet used the audio upload option at Prezi before. It seemed ripe for a poem of some sort, and then I was watching a #walkmyworld video by Molly called I is We about her identity and digital spaces, and so I composed a response called You is Us.

See what you think. The “play” button on the lower left (once you start the prezi) will lead you through the poem, with audio loading automatically and the poem advancing automatically.

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin

Imagination: No Batteries Required

Yesterday, my son pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and started to make a phone call. I was intrigued, and then I watched as he folded the paper up and then unfolded it, and sent a text. Finally, after yet another fold and unfold, he watched a little television. All this from a piece of paper.

I asked if he wouldn’t mind re-enacting the use of his paper device for me for a video collage. (The image at the bottom is a closeup of some of the “screens”)

I admit: I have some conflicting emotions about what he had created. On one hand, I love when his imagination comes into play. I realized that I had been watching him make the paper device while I was cooking dinner but didn’t know what he was up to. He took it on himself to work it out and to play with it. I love that kind of independent play, and he was also eager to share with me.

On the other hand … it’s an indication of how infused electronics are on our world. We limit television and screen time (although we admittedly struggle mightily with that with our older boys) but when you see the heart of “play” revolving around the replication of a screen that he can’t use, it makes me feel odd, as if it were imagination wasted. I know that this is not the case — that imaginative time is what it is, and should be treasured. And we take steps forward. Today, he replicates what he knows. Maybe tomorrow, he creates the unknown.

One can hope.

Peace (on the paper),
Kevin

More Video Composition: Learning Walkabouts

I am still playing around with a new video app — PicPlayPost — that allows you to mix and stitch multiple videos together into one. It’s pretty nifty. The other day, I tried it for a short poem just to experiment with different angles and how to arrange the sequence of videos (with the app, you can have them run all at once or one after another).

Then, after some snow yesterday, I went out and used the Learning Walk/Walkabout idea to capture my yard for the #walkmyworld project. I’ve done this periodically with still images, but it was interesting to see it as a video montage.

When my friend, Molly, saw the Learning Walk, she took some video of where she lives in Florida and emailed me the videos. I then worked them into the montage as a collaborative effort — with her Florida videos mixed in with my Massachusetts video. I’m always up for a collaborative idea.

Peace (in the screens within screens),
Kevin

Screens Collide: A MultiMedia Collage Idea

My friend, Molly, shared out a new video app tool that is pretty nifty and cool.  PicPlayPost (costs $1.99) is a collage-style app, that allows you to do a Brady Brunch-style video with smaller videos embedded in the final product. I’m still working and playing with it but my brain is working out and wondering about how to use it more creatively. Is there a way to connect videos as a poem?

For now, I am just playing with some Vine videos from the #walkmyworld project.

My first attempt with the app was a version of a poem that I wrote and shared yesterday about walking my dog and thinking about teaching.

Here is the full poem as podcast and a link to the poem on Notegraphy.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

Where I’ve been Walking …

I continue to be intrigued by #walkmyworld, which is a social media project that will move into poetry at some point. For now, it’s about documenting the world where we live. Here are some of things I created and shared this week:

First, a webcomic about my days.
Walking through my Day Comic

Second, a few collages using an app filter to skew the tones.
Art on Walls, through lens

Selfie, through a lens

Finally, a couple of memes. Because … well, because why not?
Walk My World meme 3

Walk My World meme 2

Walk My World meme 1

How’s your world?

Peace (on a walk),
Kevin