Writing Flashku for The Daily Create

Flashku: Walking Autumn Leaves

A few months back, I saw a reference to a short writing prompt called a Flashku, which had me interested. I found out more — it’s short flash prose, inspired by an image and borrowing words from another text — and this morning, the DS106 Daily Create shared out the Flashku prompt.

See mine above (or use this link), about walking through the new fallen leaves of Autumn (and connecting nicely to place-based writing for the coming Write Out!)

Maybe you will try one?

I found that the combination of photograph (of the Autumn woods by Eduardo Fonseca Arraes via Flickr) and borrowed words from another text (a poem — The Locust Tree In Flower — by William Carlos Williams) gave me a path forward for the writing but also, being forced to use words from another text, made it a bit more difficult. Finding a good text to use is key.

Peace (in a flash),

Art Activity: Illuminated Letters

(IStudent Iluminated Letters 2023
In my classroom, we’re reading Book: My Autobiography, about the history of stories and books (it’s a fantastic read, by the way) , and the concept of Illuminated Letters allows students create a version of an “illuminated letter” from the Middle Ages with their first initial of their first name. Kids get very creative with this activity!

Peace (Etched In Ink),


Book Review: Saxophone Colossus

Cover of Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins - Aidan Levy - 9780306902802

This deep dive biographical book about the legendary jazz artist Sonny Rollins is itself, colossal. Saxophone Colossus, by Aidan Levy, is more than 700 pages long, and Levy uses those pages to explore many elements of Rollins’ life on the stage and in the world.

What comes through clear is how inventive Rollins was as an artist, how he found a way through clean living and philosophical ideals, and how he was never satisfied with his work, always pushing himself, even into his late 70s and early 80s, to find the sound and the “chords” he was seeking.

There’s a famous story of his Bridge Year, when Sonny removed himself from the jazz scene in New York, and spent nearly two years in isolation from other musicians, practicing constantly on a bridge, using the ambient reverb and the quiet space to explore his saxophone and his sound. The sabbatical changed him, and when he re-emerged, he was soloing on yet another level.

Rollins could be a tough leader of bands, firing as many people as he hired, but he could be generous, too, with young musicians, using the stage to show how ideas could float in and out of one’s music, with style and propulsion. Rollins was known to play for hours at gigs, even playing during breaks in sets in the back area of bars and performing spaces.

This book does get a bit deep into the nuts and bolts of Sonny’s days — maybe a bit too much for the casual jazz fan, at times — but the moments where Rollins creativity and imagination shine in Levy’s writing are magical and transformative, and he is rightly hailed as one of the jazz greats, a player who bridged the days into the modern era, and helped reshape American music, again and again.

Rollins, 93, is retired now, removing himself from the music scene in his 80s when health and age made touring too much to handle. I saw him play in Boston about 20 years ago, and his performance still resonates with me, particularly the way he moved across the stage and was playful with his solos, enticing the listener to follow his journey on each and every song.

Peace (Sounds Like Jazz),

Digital Poems from NWP’s Write Across America

This summer, the National Writing Project hosted a series of virtual visits to Writing Project sites for writing events in its annual Write Across America project. I didn’t attend any of the virtual writing events, alas, but I did use the resources generated by each site to write and compose digital poems. I’ve shared them periodically, but I wanted to gather them in one post.







I enjoyed the challenge of using places for inspiration, but I appreciated the resources gathered by NWP friends in each of those sites, as the breadth of images, stories, videos and other elements provided many inroads for writing.

Peace (Landscapes),