Each year, my National Writing Project colleague, Deanna, creates an Advent Poetry calendar, with daily links to poems on a theme. This year, the theme is “love” and I am enjoying her curation of poems, as I take lines from the poems to inspire my own writing each morning.
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.
I finally got to see the prompts from the last summer stop for the National Writing Project’s Write Across America, and the Central Arizona Writing Project focused on the Grand Canyon as its source for writing. Some other day, I am going to gather the digital poems I did this summer into one post.
This week’s stop for the National Writing Project’s Write Across America was at the South Coast Writing Project at UC Santa Barbara (California) and the theme was social justice.
I chose an image by photographer Mary Ellen Mark called The Damm Family In Their Car, which was a powerful visual of a family on the edge, and the description with the image mentioned the family’s dog, too, and that dog — Runtley – became the focus of my poem.
(Note: Copyright protections means I could not use the actual image and the dog image here was generated by Adobe Firefly)
The latest stop for the National Writing Project’s Write Across America – where different Writing Project sites are hosting writing activities – was Connecticut and the focus was on state parks. Interestingly, I grew up in the town next to one of the parks — Sleeping Giant State Park – and spent a lot of time there.
But I didn’t know much of the myth of the Giant, so I enjoyed learning more of the Native American stories and then using some of that in the digital poem. The Sleeping Giant actually looks like a giant, on its back, napping.
The latest stop on the virtual summer writing tour of various sites of the National Writing Project — known as Write Across America – was in Northern Virginia and the theme of exploration was ghost stories.
I missed the Zoom session but I used some of the resources to explore some interesting stories, including that of the “Female Stranger” of Alexandria, which features a headstone in a graveyard and only hints at her story. This one informed my poem.
This poem is part of the National Writing Project’s summer Write Across America project, which different NWP sites and affiliates across the country are hosting place-based writing sessions.
I guess I tend to not be part of the Zoom sessions (so far) but I do use the resources and prompts for my own writing, on my own time. The latest visit was to Georgia, and one of the resources was a page about the McIntosh County Shouters, and their use of song and dance to tell stories, and to remember. The video I watched was about Jubilee, and that inspired the poem.
I am fortunate to be connected to folks in my National Writing Project circles like Paul Allison, who administers Youth Voices network and the NowComment annotation site. Paul has been at the forefront in my circles in thinking a lot and experimenting with the possibilities of Generative AI as a technology tool that could help readers and writers.
I had noticed that Paul and a few others NWP-affiliated folks were experimenting with the concept of AI Thinking Partners at NowComment — AI generated bots that engage with a text — but I have only just dipped my toes into what he has been doing, now that my school year is over. Then I saw him ask folks to experiment by keeping a daily Dialogue Journal in NowComment, and experiment with the AI Thinking Partners that he and others have been building out (using the API of ChatGPT).
I jumped in and I have made my journal (from June 24-July 1) public, so feel free to peruse my daily writing, which was themed each day on thinking about Artificial Intelligence (which I have been doing a lot since ETMOOC2 in the Spring). Then, after my journal writing, I would ask the Thinking Partner to engage a bit in discussions with me in the margins.
Paul also met with me to talk through some of the steps to creating my own Thinking Partners, and I made three: JazzHands, with a creative arts persona; HaikuHere, which is designed to turn a text into haiku; and WriteOutRanger, which is an experiment for the Write Out project to have an AI “park ranger” engage in discussions about place-based learning.
I am still thinking through the elements of all this, and wondering in the back of my head how this might be helpful or not to students in a classroom. For now, I am in experiment mode, playing around and trying to learn through experience the possibilities of embedded AI Thinking Partners. I know I need to learn a lot more about Prompt Engineering, and Paul and others have gathered together a lot of resources to explore on this topic.
I’ve been circling around a few days late to the National Writing Project’s Write Across America visits, in which different sites host writing activities. The last virtual visit was to Nebraska, a state which I don’t know much about. Thus, the title of my poem, which I then made into a digital format. And I sure hope I got the basic facts right, too.
The National Writing Project just kicked off its annual summer writing adventure called Write Across America, in which various NWP sites host online gatherings and share place-based prompts to spark writing. I missed the first session from the Hawai’i Writing Project, but the presentations are archived, so I went in to see what had been happening.
One of the prompts had to do with the native Hawaiian concept of Mo’olelo — a way to be spiritually connected to the native world — and it was described here. I liked this ending of that post: “Everything in the world was alive with a presence, vitality, and meaning that our worldview does not recognize.”
I am not suggesting that I completely understand the concept. I am not a native Hawaiian and my roots to my land seems less connected that I would like. But I used that idea of connection to the spirit of the land for a poem response.
Here’s what I wrote:
of the world
embedded in this place
wander this terrain
of rock and soil
need to linger
longer in the quiet,