Write Out Tonight: A Conversation About Poems, Place and Parks

I was fortunate to be one of the facilitators of a deep, rich conversation about the intersections of poetry, prose and place as my Write Out colleague, Willeena Booker, and I guided a recorded conversation with the team at the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

The park has forged interesting partnerships with regional poets, including the Alabama State Poet Laureate, to explore, interrogate and celebrate Birmingham’s history and the park has also just released a fascinating reading guide to The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963, a novel by Christopher Paul Curtis.

That conversation is being aired tonight for the first time, through the National Writing Project’s YouTube channel, and we hope to engage in a YouTube chat as the session airs for Write Out.

Please join us!

Intersections Of Poetry, Prose, and Place: A Visit with Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
October 10, 2023, 7p ET/4p PT

Write Out welcomes a poet-Ranger team of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument including Alabama State Poet Laureate Ashley Jones, Magic City Festival Earth Poet Nabila Lovelace, and Park Ranger Kat Gardiner. They will share their work with youth and other community members exploring the intersections of poetry, prose and place.

Peace (and Parks),

Window Poem For Write Out

Bird and Berries

The Write Out project (Poetry, Prose and Parks!) kicks off today, and the Daily Create will be featuring creative prompts for the next two weeks (Thanks, Sarah) in connection to Write Out. This morning, it was a Window Poem, and our Mountain Ash trees have been very busy places these days.

I’ve been doing Word Art poems lately, so I might keep tinkering with the visual elements as I write for Write Out this year.

Peace (Fluttering),

Writing Poems For Write Out

The Mangrove Maze

Hey — Write Out 2023 kicks off tomorrow, and there’s a whole range of activities available for educators, student writers, community organizations and more. The theme this year is “Poetry, Prose and Parks.”

Write Out is a partnership between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service. Each year, National Park Rangers record video writing prompts that easily shared in classrooms, for place-based writing.

Share your work on social spaces with the #writeout tag.

My poem (above) is from a one-word prompt that had me thinking about the dense world of Mangroves.

Peace (and Place),

View From The Kayak: RiverMirror

I noticed how beautiful the reflections were on the surface of water at the start of the changing of leaves as I took my kayak out the other day. We’re gearing up for Write Out, so this seemed like a natural fit.

Peace (And Paddle),

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),

Book Review: The Language Of Trees

Subtitled A Rewilding Of Literature and Landscape, Katie Holten’s beautiful book The Language of Trees gathers together a rich tapestry of essays, poems, stories, myths, fables and more about trees.

There are pieces about tree clocks, about the oldest trees in the world, an exploration of fossil poems, philosophical musings on how trees root us to the world, and a whole lot more. Small poems are also all over the place in this book. Ross Gay opens the book with a wonderful preface, too.

Not every piece she chose here connected with me but the ones that did were magical. And what makes the book even more fascinating is that Holten has created her own tree typeface, which she uses throughout the collection, transforming poems and passages into pages of tree font.

With Write Out 2023 approaching, this book was a deep dive into the importance of trees and forests and the world.

Peace (and Roots),

Write Out 2023 Is Coming!

Next month, the sixth year of the Write Out project kicks off, with two weeks of place-based writing starting on October 8th. Write Out is a partnership between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service.

Learn more about specific activities and events from the most recent newsletter and then head to the Write Out site for even more information, and sign up for the free newsletters.

Peace (and Place),


Write Out 2023: Coming In October

Write Out 2023

Another year of Write Out is on the horizon in October (8-22) and you can learn more about the two weeks of place-based writing and inquiry — and sign up for a free newsletter — at the Write Out website.

This year’s theme is: Poetry, Prose and Parks!

Write Out is a partnership between the National Park Service and the National Writing Project.

Peace (and Parks),

My Park Story: National Park Service Podcast

Green background with My Park Story in large, white text and a beige ranger hat in top right corner.

If you follow the National Park Service on X or other social media sites, as I do for Write Out and beyond, you will often come away chuckling or with a smile. The posts are brilliant. The reason is that the Park Service social media team is creative in using images and information and humor to get its message across.

For the first episode of the new National Park Service podcast — My Park Story — the host interviews the main person behind the social media accounts of the National Park Service — Matt Turner. I found it interesting to learn more about Matt and his approaches to engaging the public through visuals and information.

My Park Story is the theme of the NPS this year (and will be an underlying theme for Write Out, in a way, in October).

Peace (and pics),

Picture Book Review: National Parks A To Z (Adventure from Acadia to Zion)


Gus D’Angelo has written and illustrate a picture book that is nearly perfect for this October’s Write Out project (learn more about Write Out, a partnership between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service, with events starting this year on October 8th and running for two weeks.)

National Parks A To Z (Adventure From Acadia To Zion) is chock full short explorations of various National Parks, fun illustrations and, as you might guess from the title, alliterations galore.

There’s a fun tone to the book, too, as D’Angelo brings readers into the parks through the use of creatures that live in those areas. So, we meet avocets in Acadia, bison on the Badlands, honus in Hawaii, weasels in Wind Cave, and so one.

But interspersed with the basic ABC format are small poems with environmental themes and informational texts about the National Park system, and native tribes whose ancestral lands form the borders of many park sites.

The result is a fascinating series of informational snapshots, making this book a rich resource for any elementary-level classrooms, and the book could provide a way to introduce the National Parks (and Write Out) for some further research and artwork, as D’Angelo’s illustrations are fun and filled with interesting elements.

Peace (and parks),

PS — D’Angelo has a Mad Lib at his resource site as a PDF (along with some coloring sheets) and I converted his PDF Mad Lib into an online version, if you wanna play.

PPS — Today (Friday, August 25th) is the 107th birthday of the National Park Service.