Slice of Life: Reflections Of An Intermittent Writer

Thank you, Slice of Life friends, for taking the time to visit my blog on the days when I wrote and shared. As I wrote on the days before March, I gave myself permission this year to wander in and out when I felt the inspiration. I kept to that.

But as always, I appreciated when I did write, and when folks came by here to read and comment, and I certainly enjoyed the days when I wandered through the Slice blogs to see what others were up to.

The fact that hundreds of educators were writing together and connecting together has to be cause for celebration. It shows the power of writing, and the possibilities of online connected spaces, too.

Peace (and words),

Slice of Life: Obsessing Over A Single Word

Each morning, I write a poem (see my collection, if curious), mostly from one word prompts over at Mastodon. This morning, the word was “quill” and I wrote a short piece of three stanzas, and then moved on to other things. But something didn’t feel right and that disquiet kept pulling my mind back to the poem. I had added a single word at the last line of the poem, and as I ruminated on it, it didn’t work. And it bothered me. A lot.

These mornings poems are quick writing exercises so I usually don’t worry too much about them, but something about this one, and that one word, bugged me. I had to go back, edit and revise, and remove, the word, and when I did, I had that feeling of, yep, that’s better.

A Quill To Quiet The World

The word was “crazy” had been before “world” in the above poem (but crazy is now removed), and I had added it late at first to give alliteration to “quill” (the one word prompt) and “quiet” but the rhythm was off for me. The removal of the “crazy” (interpret that move metaphorically, if you want) put my mind at ease.

Weird, the way the writing brain works, right?

Peace (and Poems),

Finding Poems Inside An AI Textural Landscape

Blackout Poem: Musicians and Biomimicry

My CLMOOC friend, Wendy T, shared the basic outline of an idea for using ChatGPT for a creative writing workshop, in which participants would use the AI to generate some text response, and then the participants would turn that text into found poetry through a blackout poem format. Intrigued, I decided to give it a go myself.

I had recently been listening to a podcast (On Being with Krista Tippett) about biomimicry, so the concept of turning to nature for solving problems or finding new ways to be creative was on my mind.

I asked ChatGPT about how musician use biomimicry to create music, and it responded:

Biomimicry is the practice of using nature as a source of inspiration to solve human problems and create sustainable solutions. In recent years, some musicians have turned to biomimicry as a way to generate new sounds and compositions.

One example of a musician who uses biomimicry is Bernie Krause, a bioacoustician and musician who has spent decades recording the sounds of nature. Krause has used these recordings as the basis for his music, creating compositions that blend natural sounds with electronic and acoustic instruments.

Another example is the French musician and composer GrĂ©goire Lorieux, who has developed a technique called “biomimetic music” that uses algorithms to analyze natural sounds and transform them into musical notes and rhythms. Lorieux’s compositions include pieces inspired by the sounds of bird calls, insect chirps, and even the movements of plants.

Other musicians have used biomimicry to design instruments that mimic the sounds of nature. For example, the “bioacoustic” guitar created by luthier Paul Vo features a resonant chamber made from a gourd, which produces a sound similar to that of an insect’s wings.

Overall, biomimicry offers musicians a way to tap into the vast and diverse soundscape of nature, and to explore new sonic possibilities by taking inspiration from the natural world.

I found that information fascinating — particularly the examples in the field — but for a blackout poem (using a Glitch tool), the text was too long, so I asked Chat if it could shorten its response:

Yes, some musicians use biomimicry as a source of inspiration to create new sounds and compositions. For example, Bernie Krause has blended natural sounds with electronic and acoustic instruments, while Grégoire Lorieux has developed a technique that uses algorithms to transform natural sounds into musical notes and rhythms. Other musicians have designed instruments that mimic the sounds of nature. Biomimicry allows musicians to tap into the diverse soundscape of nature and explore new sonic possibilities.

Perfect. I put that text into the Blackout Poem tool and got to work, finding some threads and connections that might be more poetic than the Chat response. This is what emerged (as well as the image above):

Musicians use biomimicry
to create new compositions

Blended natural sounds:
electronic acoustic instruments
that transform natural sounds
into musical notes and rhythms

Instruments mimic nature
Musicians tap into the diverse landscape
of nature and sonic possibilities

Not bad! And one more step — I took that poem and moved it into a nature-themed background, and I think it came out quite nicely.

Musical Biomimicry

And one more experiment — this time with the full, long ChatGPT text but using a different poem mixer on Github that Wendy shared that “poemifies” text, although I am not sure how the site determines which words can be revealed and which can’t. This one is a variation but the creation seemed not as interesting, in my opinion. It is interesting that an entirely new poem emerges when you use a difficult platform, though.

Blackout Poem: Musical Biomimicry

This poem:

The nature turned new
Creating algorithms and
Other instruments mimic
resonant wings
Musicians tap the vast

This mix of human question, computer response, and then human intervention in the text gives the activity an interesting element, I found.

Peace (and Sound),

Poems (Inspired by Terry and Wendy)


Yesterday, I was inspired by some CLMOOC friends to write poems — first, with Terry E., whose post about turning his daily notes into poem led me to riff off his words for my own collection and then Wendy T., whose tweet about workshop using ChatGPT to generate text for a found/blackout poem had me thinking.

Blackout Poem: Musicians and Biomimicry

(I will write more about this tomorrow)

Peace (and Poems),

Slice of Life/Silent Sunday: A Face In The Woods

Silent Sunday

Normally, for Silent Sunday, I don’t write a thing — I just share a pic with no text. But since this is doing double duty as Slice of Life, I’ll explain that I was walking through some nearby woods on a hike, and noticed that someone had come through with a chainsaw to clear trees from the last winter storm, and left a face on a tree to greet walkers like myself. It was a delightful discovery.

Peace (and Surprise),

Slice of Life: It’s Quidditch Season, Baby

Those who have followed my writing in the past (hey, nice to see you!) know that our school plays a cray cray version of Quidditch. But like so many other things, the entire Quidditch extravaganza was put on pause for a few years, due to the Pandemic.

Well, we decided to bring it back this year, and we’re gearing up for a Quidditch Championship Day in April for the four sixth grade classes to play against each other (and then a night game of students versus teachers), and students are in the midst of doing training in Gym class, working on a variety of art projects (posters, brooms, etc), designing and writing about sports plays and more.

Quidditch 2023

Each class decides on a team name and my class chose “Frostbite” as the name, and yesterday, the entire sixth grade was in the cafeteria, working on making their own team t-shirts (it was a half day, for conferences, so it made sense to allocate some time) that they will wear for the Quidditch Championship.

If you are curious about how we play the game (it was originally created by a student and our Physical Education teacher, and then has been adapted with different rules over the years by other students, and teachers. It’s played in our gym – and is not at all like the college version), check out the video we made years ago (it has 11,000+ views) to encourage other schools to play.


Peace (on the Quidditch Pitch),

Poem: Chemical Reaction

Animated GIF

This poem comes from yesterday’s morning poem off Mastodon (prompt: chemical), and when I shared it, I gave out the warning: this poem may not be stable, scientifically.

Peace (and Atoms),

Slice of Life: Spring Equinox

At lunch, we all were talking about the shift from winter to spring with the equinox but not one of us knew the exact time.

One colleague said it would happen at 4:55 pm and another said, no, it is 5:10 pm, while another thought 5:15 pm was the time of seasonal change.

To be honest, I had no idea, and later, I looked it up.

At 5:24 pm, eastern time, yesterday, we shifted from winter into spring.


Peace (and pondering),