Consider Writing for Teaching from the Heart


A number of years ago, I picked up a book collection called Teaching With Fire, in which teachers wrote short essays about poems that inspired them in their work as educators. It is a great collection and very inspiring to read and think about. The voices of teachers comes through loud and clear as thoughtful writers, reflecting not only on writing but also on the craft of teaching. Now, the publishers of that book are putting together another collection called Teaching from the Heart, and the premise is essentially the same: teachers write about poems that touched a nerve for them, in their role as teachers. I invite you to consider adding your voice to the mix by choosing a poem and writing about it.

Here is the website with all the information you will need. The deadline is in March.

This part of the blurb from the site:

Seeking Submissions for Teaching from the Heart

Teaching from the Heart seeks to provide a platform for teachers and educators to speak wholeheartedly about the challenges and possibilities that teachers encounter every day in their work. We ask you to submit a brief 250-word commentary describing how a particular poem inspires you, informs your work, or provides sustenance as you negotiate the complex challenges at the center your vocation.

Importantly, this project is not just seeking poems about teaching and the classroom but poems on any topic that intersects with how you think about your life and work as a teacher. We appreciate that you may have written poetry of your own, but this volume focuses on published poems written by others that are meaningful to you.

This book will be a brand-new edition modeled on our best-selling Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach (2003) and Leading from Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead. In 2013, Teaching With Fire was named the #2 book on Edudemic’s list of 50 Most Popular Books for Teachers.

The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2013. We hope you will consider submitting an essay and poem for the book. Download details about the submission process and samples from Teaching with Fire.

Good luck. Write with your heart.

Peace (in the poems as inspiration),

Writing Haiku in Many Directions

As you know, I have been experimenting a bit with HaikuDeck — a presentation app on the iPad — and yesterday, I decided that, well, I just had to write a Haiku poem on the HaikuDeck app. I mean, the symmetry is too much to pass up. I also decided that I wanted my haiku poem to branch out, so that each of the three lines of the poem would extend to another haiku. I used the “notes” function of HaikuDeck to add a branching poem. It did not work out exactly as I had wanted — I could not figure out how to make line breaks — but as an experiment, I still liked the whole endeavor. One of the more interesting elements of HaikuDeck is choosing an image that evokes the meaning of the lines without getting too literal.

Check out the poem — I am embedding it here but to see the three branching poems, you need to read it live at my HaikuDeck Gallery site:
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad
Peace (along the branches),


Digital Writing Month: A Hyperlinked Video Poem

As part of Digital Writing Month, I am refashioning an old multimedia poem piece using the YouTube annotation feature. With that tool, you can embed links in a video to other videos — in this case, all of the poems as videos are connected together in one larger project.  I’m not sure if this just gets too confusing to experience.

Peace (in the video poem),

Digital Writing Month: A Poem for My Multiple Voices

multiple me screenshot

I’ve been playing around with audio as part of Digital Writing Month, and wondering how I might be able to “layer” in multiple voice tracks for a poem about multiple aspects of personality. I ended up using Audacity, and tinkered with the pitch and effects setting to differentiate the layered voice — so that one is low, one is high and the main one is smack dab in the middle. A fourth voice gives a little echo to some of the lines of the poem. It’s very odd to compose this way, and yet, it is fascinating, too. It was as if I were splitting me apart and then reconstructing my voices back into the whole, but on different points of the spectrum. (although at times, it sounds like the Borg talking)

And actually, it’s pretty fascinating to see how your words become waves when you are using audio files in a system like Audacity. The peaks and valleys – the gaps of silence – all remind you that our voice is really nothing more than sounds on the audio spectrum.

Take a listen to the podcast of the poem:


And here is the poem, as text:

Multiple Me

Those voices I hear
have become a chorus in my mind –
reverberations of an identity:
the confident me
the meek me
the analytical me
the poetic me
tapping into tools that may move me beyond
the pen and out into the wider world
with our voices
all merging
together —

I speak from this space (space, space)
with those voices in mind (mind, mind)
I hear them reply to my query (of course, you don’t say, what did you expect)
as if my questions were nothing but mere tangled wires,
nodes of information running through these veins
away from my brain
down deep into my heart
where logic has long since been forgotten

Yes, they are me
Yes, we are one
Yes, these strands become me
becoming us
when we share this same page together
in sound
in image
in voice

Try not to pull too hard on me
as I close my eyes to dream
of how this fabric that rips so easily by the barbs of
words and wonder
can be woven back together again
in order to make me whole.

Peace (in the poems),


Digital Writing Month: A Code-Poem Experiment

I saw a challenge over at Digital Writing Month: create a html code poem. Eh? Why not?
Here, first is the poem in raw text:

<p>Yes, I see you. Do you see me?</p>

I’m <strong>
perhaps but not so </strong>
as to <img src=> imagine
how you might be <em> listening </em> to my <i>words</i>
and yet so often fail to <a href=> connect </a> with me</a>
in these shared experiences
in a space that gets <small>smaller all the time</small>.

You may <break> my meaning into <p>aragraphs</p> and then
into words, and then into <small>bytes</small>, and then slowly reduce me <ins> the hidden me</ins> into
<li>echoes of the pst</li>
<sub>while down here</sub>, where I watch you
<sup>towering over me </sup> in my dreams,
I fade
and fall <break> apart.

You leave me <font size=”8″> feeling <font color=”blue”>blue.

And here is the poem, when converted:

Yes, I see you. Do you see me?

perhaps but not so

as to imagine
how you might be listening to my words
and yet so often fail to connect with me
in these shared experiences
in a space that gets smaller all the time.

You maymy meaning into


and then
into words, and then into bytes, and then slowly reduce me the hidden me into

  • emotion
  • thought
  • memory
  • echoes of the pst

while down here, where I watch you
towering over me in my dreams,
I fade
and fall apart.

You leave me feeling blue.

The difficult part was trying to think through what would be invisible and what would be visible in both formats, and how the code commands might inform the poem itself. I’m not sure I completely captured that, to be honest. It’s difficult to toggle meaning between two languages like that. I like it better as raw html. You?

Peace (in the code, in the poem),

What I Write: Behind the Scenes

Today is the third day I am posting about this one single poem, as I lead up to pulling it all together into one multimedia project for tomorrow’s National Day on Writing celebration. The first day, I shared the text of the poem. The next day, I shared a podcast version of the poem. Today, my sharing was inspired by a small line I read from one of the NCTE tweets, suggesting that folks share their writing process along with their writing. Since I had used Google Docs to write my poem, I figured I could give a little tour of the editing and revising that I did while trying to write the piece.

Here, then, is my inside look at writing What I Write: An Archeologist of an Idea

I hope you’ve been writing, too, and that you will be sharing your writing or writing activities tomorrow for the National Day on Writing.

Peace (beneath the poem),


What I Write: The Podcasted Text

Yesterday, as part of the upcoming National Day on Writing, I shared the written text of a poem I wrote to celebrate the theme of “What I Write.” Today, I want to share out the podcast version of the poem. (Tomorrow, I will add another media component and then finish up on Friday with everything pulled together into one large digital composition).

Thanks for listening and I hope you get inspired to write.

Peace (in the poem),


Podcast Poem: Words Under Water (or the Drowned Font)

I’ve been reading the book Just My Type that looks at fonts, typesetting, and the ways that lettering changes our perceptions as writers and as readers. It’s pretty fascinating and I will explore more on another day. But one story stood out — that of a creator of typeface who fell out with his partner, and before he died, he dumped all of the moveable type of the font into the river in order to destroy it rather than give it over to his partner. I wondered about those letters, and those words that might come of them, and this poem came from that.

Words Under Water (or the Drowned Font)

if you will:
words under water –
letters culled together by the ocean’s pull
as heavy metal type, cast off from a London bridge,
re-assembling themselves seamlessly into stories no one will ever hear
or read,
and yet filling up countless pages that get turned by the currents
every single day
in a font lost forever
by the jealousy of its creator
whose only goal as his sunset days ended
was to destroy the words
by drowning.

Peace (in the forgotten font),