Open Write: Five Days/Five Poems

Words, Delayed By Snow

I joined in for this month’s Open Write at Ethical ELA (although I came a day late and stayed a day longer with my poetry writing). It was another interesting round of poetry prompts.

The open above is in the form of a Naani (Indian) poem, and a form I was not familiar with. It’s sort of like a Haiku in terms of character limitations, but a bit more open in structure. I wrote about waiting for the call on a wintry day (which came minutes after I finished writing the poem).

This next poem was prompted to rethink a person in your orbit. I had a student in mind.


A “why?” poem had me pondering why I write songs.

Why Write SongsThe prompt I missed and then returned to suggests using fictional characters from a book, put into some recent situation or technology theme. I used the main characters from Jake Burt’s The Right Hook Of Devin Velma, which we are reading in class, and it already has a social media theme to it.

Saving Devin's Dad

And this was another school-related poem, retold of an incident that a colleague shared.

Paper Horn Of Plenty
I look forward to next month’s five days of Open Write.

Peace (and poems),

Duke Rushmore: Live Clips

My band — Duke Rushmore — played out with the other night with a new singer and we had a pretty full club of friends, family and strangers who came out to listen and dance. These clips were shot by my son. That’s me, on saxophone.

Peace (in the beat),

Video Documentary: The Last Repair Shop

When I was a kid, my father (a drummer) used to bring me to visit a musical instrument repair shop for odds and ends, and it would be a place I enjoy just being in, just hanging out in.

It was called George’s Music Shop, and George was the man behind the counter, and when I was learning saxophone, it remained a place of wonder. I even used my memories there for a collection of connected short stories at one point (NOTE TO SELF: dig that up and revisit the stories)

This documentary — The Last Repair Shop – is a wonder of capturing a place in Los Angeles, and how the shop is a hub for fixing things and maybe, people.

It also inspired my morning poem:

On a memory stop
to an old repair shop
on Main, a whistle in B flat
ringing on the door, opening,
explaining I’m here,
aiming to get a broken sax,
fixed; worn pads,
replaced; things sound
better, with love

I hand it to the man
behind a glass counter
littered with sheet music,
cork grease, guitar strings –
his probing fingers pour
over every turn of the neck,
the bell, the cage, the springs

In a gruff voice, he speaks,
in a sort of bebop rhyme:
he’ll weave some magic
to make my sax sing again –
come back in two weeks time

Peace (and repairs),

Roots (Still) Take Hold

I revisited this poem last year with an art adventure with Simon, and now with Sarah and others thinking of launching a Rhizomatic Learning for 2024, I went back, and did another version. Why? The poem captures for me a moment in Rhizo14 that anchors me in that learning time, and makes me wonder at what we can do now, ten years later.

Peace (Digging Deep),

PS — hat nod to Dave Cormier’s long tail in helping many of us to learn in open spaces … or is it his long tale?

Radio Poem

Radio Poem

This morning’s Daily Create was to listen to the radio, and grab some lyrics, and then make a poem. I used an online radio streaming site, bounced around, and grabbed some words.

Peace (and sound),

A Closer Look At 20 Years Of Invented Words

Words of 2024

I shared out the other day that my sixth graders were donating new words to an ongoing Crazy Collaborative Dictionary Project. The project – which began in 2005 and continues to this day — contains more than 1250 words, with new ones added each year by students. It is part of a unit on the Origin of Words.

The 20-year mark must mean something, right?

So I started to think about how to share some of the work out in a more visual way. Thus, a few charts.

First, the new home for the dictionary is here at a Google Site. It’s had many homes over the years, starting on paper, and then in Wikis, then blogs, and now Sites. We also have a folder of audio files, of students reading their words and definitions.

Dictionary TimelineI was curious about which letters had the most words so I did the counting. “S” by a longshot! “V”? Not so much. But every letter has at least some words.

Crazy Collaborative Dictionary Project 2005-2024 - 1Then, I got curious about the longest word ever submitted, and the shortest. Some years, some students try really hard to make the longest word imaginable, and then have fun trying to pronounce it for our audio files.

Overall, the project has provided a curiosity for my students and families, but also, a showcase for how language changes, and how words are created to fill a niche in strange ways (and how much this is happening more so in the age of social media, where the viral nature of things impact our language).

Peace (and Words),

Gathering Poems: Write Across America (Baltimore)

I have shared some of these poems during the days I wrote them, but I wanted to gather them together. These are all inspired by the National Writing Project’s Write Across America: Baltimore marathon. I mostly ignored the official prompts and instead, focused on the artist and their work.

Peace (and poems and place),

Jazz Music and MLK Jr.: A Found Poem

MLK Jazz Poem

My wife and I were at a music club last night, listening to two very fun jazz bands. One of the band leaders noted that in 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the Berlin Jazz Festival with a short speech connecting Jazz music to Civil Rights, and the power of the arts and expression. The band leader read a few lines of the speech and I was intrigued, so I found the speech this morning.

Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down. – MLK Jr.

I used a section of the speech for a found poem with a blackout poem platform, for this Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Peace (and poems),

Audio Response: Signal2Noise2Synth

My friend, Terry, wrote a poem (and then fed it into ChatGPT for analysis, which disappointed him, to little surprise) and I was taken by his poetry (as is usually the case), finding myself centered on one particular line.

don’t touch that dial if the signal is wild

So I took that and used it to inspire a short piece of music, and a collection of AI art (I used the line as the prompt.)

Peace (is all signal),