The Story of Making an Odd Poem

Poetic Resistance

This (above) is where I ended up. How I got there began with the sharing of a morning poem in my email inbox from entitled “The Life of a Writer” by Jalynn Harris. I shared that poem inside a new platform for the National Writing Project, under a theme of teachers as poets.

My friend, Terry, read it and wrote about it, channeling both appreciation and resistance, and uncovering a sort of template in the poem itself that he worked to make visible through active reading. Read about Terry’s journey here. He called it a Defibrillation and Templatization. You can watch him deconstruct the poem and then rebuild it back.

Reading what Terry wrote, I went back to the original poem to read Harris’s explanation of her poem (which I had missed the first time through .. it’s tucked on the corner of the page). I realized that I also found another poem in there, in her writing of her poem. I used an online blackout poem maker.

Blackout poem

Then another friend, Tanya, in the NWP space, used Terry’s template from the poem to write her own poem. I just found her poem to be so interesting to read, as a sort of echo of the original, and I admired how that process of response brought out other layers of appreciation. Even as we were pushing back against the confines of unexpected templates and design confines, we were also using those same concepts to make something new.

That led to me writing a poem this morning, on the theme of a poem that would refuse to be confined by any template.

I am,
listening –
wordssing –
Here I am
listening –
consistentlytwisting –
Here I am,
still listening

But the text version didn’t do the trick for me.  It was too static. Stuck. And full of red squiggles shouting at me to fix it.

So, here’s what I did to get the poem to twist its shape:

  • Wrote it and exported it as PDF (to get rid of the squiggles)
  • Screenshot-ed the poem, to make into image file
  • Used LunaPic to first bend the poem and then to filter it in a way to add outlines (symbolic of the template)

That’s what’s up top there. And that’s how I got there. Lord only knows what the original poet, Jalynn Harris, would think of all of this. I hope she’d be honored that her poem about writing sparked writing.


Peace (pushing twisting pulling),


  1. antispamiwanglejangle: strung on
    I felt so strung along, maybe just strung on, by powers that be. Can I teach online, too? Can I teach hybrid? Can I pivot to either one on a dime? Not and do it well. No, not so much. So strung on.

    This is the perfect example of the ‘ludic’ attitude. Play, open and free, where all the parts can be mixed together in part or in whole or abandoned altogether for other parts and wholes.

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