Writing 30 Poems (maybe more) in 30 Days

It’s not the first time I have tried to write a poem every day for an entire month, but I always start and think: I am never going to do this. I am never going to find enough things to write about. I am going to bore myself and everyone else with my feeble verse. This is what I think before I write and then forget about while I write.

Luckily, I had some friends along the way. Mary Lee, Carol and Carol, and Steve, and Margaret, and assorted others who were also writing poems, if not every day than most days. Actually, Mary Lee’s project to write poems about her family tree inspired by an old photo album got many of us writing poems in her blog’s comments, too. Writing is a different experience — more connected — when you write with others.

I started off the month in a sort of free-style mode, not choosing a particular style/genre nor topic, and I used a variety of technology tools to construct the writing into something more design-friendly. As always, when writing in bursts, some of the poems came out better than others. But overall, I was happy with many of them.

Day nine poem

After reading Mary Lee’s family poems, and Steve’s poems inspired by the digital archives at the New York Public Library, I decided to revisit the Flickr archives of the US Library of Congress. There are treasure troves of available images by the Library of Congress, and many are evocative for storytelling. I tried to vary the subjects of the images so that my poems might take shape in different ways. There are a few gems in this mix, I think.

Jazz in the Air

I then ventured into Blackout Poems, where you remove words to leave words that make up verse. I always feel a little hamstrung with Blackout Poems, struggling with trying to suss out a poem from existing text. But when it works, it is very cool.

Blackout Poetry1

I ended the month with haikus, but my twist was I went back into my recent image files, seeking out pictures that might inspire three lines of poetry. For the most part, I liked how they came out, and worked hard to ensure that the image was partner to the words. Finding that balance with these kinds of poems are critical.

Image Haiku: The Swallows of the Swamp

Beyond my daily poems, I also left scattered poems as comments at people’s blog sites. I don’t even know where they are anymore. But I hope they were well-received. I did do a poem for a late April DS106 Daily Create that I liked. The prompt was to put a poem on a door of a refrigerator and take a picture. I sort of cheated — no real fridge — but the poem was real, and I like how the poem is about the poem being a poem.

TheForgottenPoem

and

forgotten poem on fridge

Peace (it’s poetry),

Kevin

Image Haiku: Dog Sense

This week, I am going back into my photo files, and using images as an inspiration for haiku. I am layering words on images.

Image Haiku: Dog SenseProcess Note: This is a shot of Duke, our dog, when I was out hiking in the woods with four 11 year old boys. He runs ahead, comes back to me, stops, and then runs again. His nose is always in the wind. I am always amazed when I read the science behind dogs’ sense of smell and how intricate it is.

Peace (and sense),
Kevin

Image Haiku: Roots Buried by Time

This week, I am going back into my photo files, and using images as an inspiration for haiku. I am layering words on images.

Image Haiku: Roots Buried by TimeProcess Note: This is from the same baseball park as the other day’s image haiku, but looking from another direction. We marveled at this scene, wondering if this was caused by manmade flooding or not. So many trees, only half in the water. It didn’t seem natural.

Peace (in the lake),
Kevin

Image Haiku: You Keep Beauty Small

This week, I am going back into my photo files, and using images as an inspiration for haiku. I am layering words on images.

Untitled

Process Note: I saw these ground flowers tucked under a bunch of tulips and others, and thought, they deserve a poem and the spotlight, too.

Peace (down low),
Kevin

Image Haiku: Swallows of the Swamp

This week, I am going back into my photo files, and using images as an inspiration for haiku. I am layering words on images.

Image Haiku

Process Note: I was at my son’s baseball game and noticed this swampy area. A bridge over a bend in the pond caught my attention, and this swamp was filled with diving birds. Swallows, I was told, and watching them dance was very entertaining.

Peace (in the swamp),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Planetary Leap


flickr photo shared by Hubble Heritage under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

My youngest son’s elementary school hosts an annual Science Fair. It’s a voluntary thing, with showcases during the day for students and at night for parents. My son, who has done entries in the past but only half-heartedly, wasn’t all that interested this year, even though it is his last year at his elementary school.

“What about designing and showcasing a video game that other kids can play during the fair?”  I asked. “With a science element?”

That got his attention, and we chatted about getting him back into Gamestar Mechanic to design a game that he could put on display, for kids to play. I reminded him that it would have to connect with science, and he brainstormed the idea of the Solar System.

His game is called Planetary Leap, and involves the “story frame” of an explorer going to check out Pluto but who has crash-landed on Neptune, and now needs to find portals to come back home to Earth. He’s sprinkling researched information about some of the planets within the story itself.

So far, so good. I am acting as technical director only, and a bit of an editor on the writing. He’s in a bit of a crunch because Friday is the Science Fair, and we sort of waited until the last minute to get on board (due to hemming and hawing). Just like a game designer with deadlines looming, right?

Meanwhile, he is interesting in building his video game even further after the Science Fair for the National STEM Video Game Challenge, which runs through August. That sort of motivating factor is interesting to see and witness, and I am enjoying watching him as a fifth grade video game designer coming into his own.

Peace (in the game),
Kevin

PS — this is my site for video game design in the classroom. Steal and use whatever might be helpful.

Image Haiku: Dying Tree

This week, I am going back into my photo files, and using images as an inspiration for haiku. I am layering words on images.

Image Haiku: Dying Tree

Process Note: Two pine trees in our side yard are succumbing to a fungus in the Northeast. All around, you see shadowy pines, with grey needles instead of vibrant green growth. An arborist told us the trees will slowly die, as they have been, over time. We still rely on their shade in summer, and they are still alive enough for us to not remove them.

Peace (in wonder),
Kevin

Forgive Me, Shakespeare, for I have Sarcasmed You

All last week, the DS106 Daily Create community was alive with Shakespeare, as part of the 400th year celebration of the Bard. To say we took it seriously would be an overstatement. But still … each day, we were given words and/or images and/or passages and set free to do what we would. (Thanks to Sandy Brown Jensen for all the inspiring prompts).

Here are some of mine from the week:

Muse Daily Create

shakespeare head

Irreverent Art

Rich Jewels in the EarPeace (and all that),
Kevin

Image Haiku: The Path Up

This week, I am going back into my photo files, and using images as an inspiration for haiku. I am layering words on images.

Image Haiku: The Path Up

Process Note: I shared this image a few weeks ago as part of the CLMOOC Silent Sundays. It’s from the woods near my house, where lots of people use natural objects to make public sculptures. I took this photo by getting close to the ground, giving a bit of a perspective shift. The poem reflects this idea of a metaphorical ladder, leading into something.

Peace (ever upwards),
Kevin

What If the “M” in MOOC Meant Minimal?

Going Small

Those of us who have been part of the Making Learning Connected MOOC for the past three summers (and beyond) have been fortunate indeed. The National Writing Project not only conceived and launched the CLMOOC with help of a grant program through the MacArthur Foundation; NWP also funded the work behind the scenes, from stipends for facilitators (I was one) to the technological infrastructure. We all knew the NWP funding would not last, and so it has come to be, it seems. It’s OK, too. NWP and Educator Innovator have a whole lot of cool projects underway for the summer of 2016, including Letters to the President.

But the CLMOOC is not one of them.

While the support of NWP and all of the folks there over the three years has been critical — with extra huge props to Christina Cantrill and Paul Oh and other key current and former NWP players for making it happen — what if we, the denizens of the CLMOOC, took over CLMOOC and made it happen ourselves? NWP has done its part – seeding an idea. Now it’s our turn to nurture the seed.

dandelion seeds - What begins as a seed blooms into flowers

The coming summer, and the status of CLMOOC, was the center of an informal hangout discussion I was having with Joe Dillon and Terry Elliott the other morning as we bounced around how we might get the CLMOOC up and running for Year Four on our own, with little or no NWP support.

Well, not “our” own, meaning the three of us. I mean “OUR” own — meaning you, too. All of us. Together.

Groot Dude - We are (still) CLMOOC

Isn’t that the real dream of the connectivist MOOC ideal? That the people in the learning will run the show and not just participate in what the Oz the Great and Powerful behind the screen says should happen. Granted, turning the keys over to all of us (or in this case, sneaking in through the window at midnight to host a party in the CLMOOC house) potentially makes things messy, and a bit complicated. But it’s our house, after all. We all built it.

And you know what? It doesn’t have to be Massive, as in Massive Open Online Collaboration. Maybe the M in MOOC can also mean “Minimal,” as Linus Torvald’s quote above (shared by Terry in a blog post) notes. What happens when connections get stronger because they are tighter and smaller as opposed to disparate because they are larger? What if we invite the inversion of scale?

Don’t get me wrong. Being part of activities with lots of people has its appeal. You get a sense of the nodes of the world. You feel less isolated in your interests. You feel part of a movement, or something. It’s all part of the Connected Learning theory that the CLMOOC is built upon.

small fact froggy - Small is the new Large And it's a beautiful thing

However, you can also get lost in the shuffle when the scale is large and massive. Your voice gets lost at times. But if “Small is the New Large” (that might be a cool meme activity, right?), we might all benefit from tighter connections. We might be more apt to ask more questions of each other or to dig into inquiry together. We might come to know each other a bit better. Our learning would be more than a summer project. It would be part of our professional life.

The somewhat dehumanizing effect of a massive network might be balanced out by the stronger connections among us. We might be “people in a community” as opposed to “nodes in the network.”

So, we’re going to try to plant some seeds this spring for an “unofficial” CLMOOC summer, and we hope you might come along with us. We have no idea how it will go. You can help make it happen, if you want.

BDO Nodes - Smaller Maps Stronger Connections

Peace (and beyond),
Kevin

PS — Thank you, NWP, for setting this all in motion to begin with!