The Wonder of People (A Sound Poem)

The last “Wonder of the World” poem for this month is the theme of “people.” Most days, I did not peek ahead to the themes coming up each day, and waited for Mary Lee Hahn to share her poem and inform us of the key word at A Year of Reading.  But one day last week, I did get an accidental peek at the last word on her list, and saw “people” and thought, hmmmm.

I decided I would try my hand at a “sound poem” in which I would use sound effects from FreeSound to layer in audio with the words and phrases of a poem I began writing.  I was trying to get at the strange connections we have to people around us — the good and the not-so-good — and make the poem “listenable.” I hope it works as I wanted it to work.

Take a listen to The Wonder of People.

The Wonder of People

The world wonders of People:
mostly generous;
sometimes mean;
often finding some middle ground

Maniacs about some things;
passive with others;
and when you least expect it:
coming together.

Colleagues, whose talk
enlightens our days
with surprise and virtue
and utter understanding;
Colleagues, whose talk
darkens our days,
with rumors and innuendo
and utter misunderstanding.

A word here;
A word there;
Each sentiment tilts us on our axis,
and shapes our interactions
with everyone we meet;
wandering here, and there,
day in
and day out.

We share these footsteps
with the big wide World
in hopes that our thoughts and actions
might lock us in
and transform us all in ways
that connect us as
People walking these spaces


Process Notes: I wrote the poem and revised it a few times, trying to get what I wanted to say in poetic form. Then, I identified key phrases that I wanted to layer in sounds.

wonder poem notes


I then searched on FreeSound for what audio might work. Once I found something, I downloaded the file. I used Audacity to gather up the audio files together, and recorded the poem, moving and shifting the sound effects to the right places in the poem.

Wonder Poem audio

Finally, I mixed it together and shared it out on Soundcloud. Feel free to remix it, or use it for whatever might work for you.

Peace (in the found sounds),

Should you #CLMOOC? You Should.

I’m in a flowchart kind of mode these days as part of creating teasers for this summer’s Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration (that’s a mouthful, so we just say CLMOOC). Last year, we had fun. This year, we’ll have a blast. And you are invited — all of you.

We’re still in a “soft launch” mode — just getting started and we will be ramping things up in the coming weeks. You can sign up for news already at the CLMOOC main hub site. But if you need some help thinking it through, here are two flowcharts for ya.

Pathway into the CLMOOC

And then (adapted from a teaser from last year):
2014 Making Learning Connected flowchart

And now? Come sign up for the CLMOOC experience, which kicks off in June and goes for six weeks of making, learning, playing, exploring and connecting in ways that will have you think closely about your own learning experiences.

Peace (in the CLMOOC),


Wonder Poem: The Spark of Imagination

We’re nearing the end of our month of writing poetry about Wonders that Mary Lee has so graciously conjured up for us, and it’s been interesting to move to less tangible wonders the last few days. Today’s theme is “imagination” and I decided to go simple again, with a haiku.
Imagination Haiku

Peace (and creativity),

Blackout Poetry Interactive

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo, who guided me to the New York Times poetry interactive that allows you to create “blackout poems” from news articles right at the site, and then allows you to save and share them, too. I love this idea of “found ” poems, and am thinking of how to get my students into the mix later this week, perhaps.

From a reading perspective, it’s interesting how you need to read the article, and then read the individual words, searching for phrases and ideas that might stem from what is available to use. Plus, there is a sequencing of words that you have to abide by, which makes the process even trickier.

And yet, it works nicely. I wrote a few yesterday, including one I called Screen Mistress Algorithm and another called Unscathed. And in the spirit of the times, you can remix the same articles yourself and make your own poems, either riffing off mine or going off in your own direction. Give it a try.

Peace (in the words on the page as poem),


Wonder Poem: The Chocolate Sat, No More

Today’s Wonder poem is about chocolate. I decided to do a prose poem of a stand-off, of sorts, using a bit a humor to tell the story of the last piece of chocolate in the tin.

The Chocolate Sat, No More (a prose poem)

So, here’s the conundrum:
the last piece of chocolate sits
in the tin, and it’s just you and me
and the space within, our eyes
narrowing with confidence that the other
will give in and so we’ll win with words of
love and radiant smiles, and swim inside
this story together, these miles and miles
of open road of the knowing and the understanding
and the sacrifice of the sharing
with the other and yet before we know it,
twitching young fingers will have reached across
and in and scooped the chocolate out, into their
mouth, a smouldering smile and a gentle shrug
of shoulders as if to say, in so many words,
Thank you mom and dad, as the back door screen door
slams shut, leaving us now speechless with the sheer
bravado of youth and the canvass of an empty plate
where the chocolate once sat
but no more.

Peace (in the yum),

Wonder Poem: Sunrise Sunset (mirror poem)

Today’s Wonder of the World poem is about “sunrise” and I was tinkering around with the idea of playing with text, and decided to write a Sunrise/Sunset poem with one poem mirroring the other. It’s sort like a virtual foldable poem.


We bathe in the hint of light,

just above the treeline,

knowing that when we close our eyes

to the silence of the fading night,

this moment will disappear almost as quickly as it arrived

as yet another day breaks into the start of

a new poem.


˙ɯǝod ƃuıƃɐ uɐ

ɟo puǝ ǝɥʇ oʇuı sʞɐǝɹq ʇɥƃıu ɹǝɥʇouɐ ʇǝʎ sɐ

pǝʌıɹɹɐ ʇı sɐ ʎןʞɔınb sɐ ʇsoɯןɐ ɹɐǝddɐsıp ןןıʍ ʇuǝɯoɯ sıɥʇ

‘ʎʞs ƃuıpɐɟ ǝɥʇ ɟo ʇǝınb ǝɥʇ oʇ

sǝʎǝ ɹno uǝdo ǝʍ uǝɥʍ ʇɐɥʇ ƃuıʍouʞ

‘ǝpısןןıɥ ǝɥʇ puoʎǝq ʇsnɾ

‘ʇɥƃıן ɟo ʇsɐן ǝɥʇ uı ʞuıɹp ǝʍ



I did a version at Notegraphy but I don’t like how it looks when I converted it into an image file (which is how I often share it here, as an embeddable file).

Peace (along the folds),


Myself; My Selfie

Some convergence of “selfie” ideas came to my mind yesterday, with the DS106 Daily Create riffing off creating a “bad selfie” to someone sharing the cute video and CommonSense Media posting an interesting piece about girls and selfies and body image, and then I decided to do my own version of the Ellen selfie, but with webcomics.

This was my submission to the Daily Create, using a filter to warp my head an then photobombing my own selfie with my comic self.

Bad Selfie (with Webcomic Photobomb)

I love this video. It captures the oddity of the selfie with humor.

Selfie from Andy Martin on Vimeo.

And I did my own group selfie:
My Self, My Selfie (comic-style)

Peace (in the vid),

Wonder Poem: Ode to the Polar Ice Caps

I think it was Margaret who was writing an ode the other day, and so when I saw that this mornings Wonder of the World poem was about the polar ice caps, it made sense to think in terms of an “ode” for the ice, which is slowly melting.

Peace (in the poem),


Book Review: How About Never? Is Never Good For You?

I suspect I am like a lot of readers of The New Yorker magazine. On the day it arrives in the mail (usually a Tuesday or Wednesday), I flip through the pages to read all of the cartoons, either chuckling and sharing with my wife, or scratching my head to figure out just what the heck the joke is. I end up at the last page, where the Caption Contest takes place (my neighbor recently won) in order to see if I could have done better (not likely).

I then move on to articles and forget the cartoons. But Bob Mankoff’s whole professional life is constructed around cartoons, and the editor of cartoons at The New Yorker has a fantastic new book out that explores his life as a cartoonist and brings us into the inner workings of how cartoons get chosen by the magazine. The book — How About Never? Is Never Good For You? — is jam-packed with cartoons and comics, as Mankoff shows off his own work (which I now recognize by the dot style of drawing) and a host of other artists whose work I read every week.

Mankoff even promises to show a reader how to win the Caption Contest, and then admits that that promise was a ruse to get you reading his book. His style of writing is like his style of cartooning — witty, sly and engaging, in a voice that let’s us know that while he takes his job seriously, he’s not above poking fun at anything and everything, including himself. And after all that, he does in fact give some insider views on the Caption Contest. So, there.

As I was reading the book, though, it occurred to me many times just how difficult it would be to make a living making cartoons. So many get rejected. So few get published. And yet, you have to make a handful every week, knowing that you will be lucky if one gets chosen. Mankoff tries to solve some of this years ago when he co-founded the Cartoon Bank, which is now part of the New Yorker family. The Cartoon Bank is a data-base of comics that can be purchased for use, allowing some income stream for artists. Mankoff has that kind of sensibility to support artists.

Peace (in the cartoon),