A Gift of Calligraphy: Transforming a Nature Poem

Poem Calligraphied

I regularly share my morning small poems over at Mastodon each day, connecting with some other writers, and then share it on Twitter, doing the same. It’s just a few places where my poems might catch a breath and live for a bit. Sometimes, there’s reaction. Sometimes, not. It’s fine either way. I write poems for myself, to get my writing brain ready for the day.

So I was honored when a connection (Welshpixie is their social media name) on Mastodon (someone I have connected with there before — see their art site here) asked if they could take one of my nature/tree poems from the Write Out project and practice their calligraphy skills with the poem.

Of course, I said yes, and then I was so very pleased when they shared it out to me. It’s a beautiful remix, where the wording is art and the convergence of nature and calligraphy (plus, the trees at the bottom) was just wonderful.

Peace (in wonder),

Slice of Life: Noise In The Sky

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

Our young rescue dog is still baffled by the geese. In the yard or on a walk, when the flock of geese are overhead — noisy as heck, to be sure — Rayna (our dog) pulls to a stop, takes a seat and stares up at the sky. This is her second Autumn with us, so it’s not as if she hasn’t seen the migrating birds, but I suspect it’s the combination of the noise and the formation and the slow-moving flock across the skyline that captures her attention.

Or maybe she thinks they’re a toy to be chased, just out of reach.

The thing is, her stopping and looking makes me stop and look, too, and, in that paying closer attention, I notice the patterns in the flocks, and track the way things are always in motion, as different leaders take the front and different stragglers rush to catch up. I hear their song start, gather volume, and fade. The sound of migrating geese is part of the soundtrack of Fall in New England, but is something I all too often take for granted.

It’s not beautiful music that the birds make but it is the soundtrack of seasonal transition, and if you listen carefully, the collective calls of the geese in each flock does have its own cadence and its own beat, a slow rhythm just off-kilter from the flapping of the wings.

Even as we keep walking, Rayna will often turn her head back to the horizon, to glimpse back to where the geese have gone over the treeline or horizon, as if trying to discover the magic of the skies. It’s the only time I really notice her noticing what’s above her, so attuned is she to the world at her feet, and noticing the world through another’s eyes — even a dog — is refreshing.

My morning’s small poem is inspired by the geese:

Flock (1)

Birds, in flight,
above us

below us,
our boots
trample decay

We hesitate:
a season’s songs,
a long pause;

the flying
echo calls
of voices, chaos;
then calm,

draw a line
from cloud to star;
we gawk, before
it’s gone

Peace (flying),

We Wrote Out for #Writeout

WroteOut for WriteoutI’ve been using Daily Sparks (video writing prompts from National Park Rangers) from Write Out each day with my students to write our way into our day.

They have enjoyed the videos that share the view of the Grand Canyon and time’s impact on our planet; the exploration of engineering at the Springfield Armory with the Blanchard Lathe (with a video in English and a video in Haitan Creole, which fascinated my sixth graders); and yesterday, they learned about George Washington Carver (most of my students didn’t know a thing about him, so it provided me an opportunity for a mini-lesson on this amazing Black scientist and innovator) before we headed outside to write.

It was a beautiful day, perfect for finding a place to write and make art. My variation of the prompt from the ranger about making an art journal was to choose one of the trees on our school lawn, and use it for inspiration for a story, or poem, or letter, or comic, or art.

I wrote, too.

Tree poem sketches

It took a few minutes for them to find the quiet they needed for the activity, but once we were settled in, they enjoyed the change of location for our writing activities, and were able to be mask-free writers for a bit of time (always a bonus).

After some sharing, we moved on to our other lessons, but this slight reprieve in the outdoors air with our writing notebooks was just the break that we needed on a Friday to remind ourselves that writing out can be as simple as stepping outside the school or home, and finding a place to sit and observe and become inspired.

Peace (sharing it).,

Slice of Life: And So The Year Begins …

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)




On this day
before the
first days
of school,
the dreamers
in us remember
long nights of
wonder and
worry, the
unknown spinning
us forward
into something
and still a
bit blurry;
each year begins
with a single
step of pause,
then comes
the hurry

Peace (at the start of it all),

After the Storm: Poem

rain drops“rain drops” by Rex Roof is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 Shoe-barren feet sink
into summer grass
and ground, softened
by surge of storm,
exploring empty streets

We wander the remains
of the day’s fallen rains,
dancing our way
to each singing drain:
the weather, as rhythmic beat

Peace (after the storms),

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 poets.org 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),