Graphic Memoir: Sunshine

Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Jarrett J. Krosoczka ┬áhas done it again — crafting an intelligent, emotional and powerful graphic memoir from his own life. In Sunshine, Krosoczka tells the story of his time as a counselor at a summer camp for children with cancer and other serious illnesses in Maine.

Krosoczka packs an emotional punch here, that goes deeper than just sympathy with the stories he tells of being a high school student volunteer at this camp. There’s a serious undertone about how to approach people with different needs and how to humanize the terminally ill, particularly children. (read an excerpt:

As in his award-winning graphic memoir Hey Kiddo about his own difficult childhood, Krosoczka digs deep into the humanity of the experiences here in Sunshine, surfacing the childhood energy of those at the camp and the unsettling but ultimately life-changing experiences of the young adult volunteers. Krosoczka tells us that he thinks of his camp week (and other volunteer efforts) nearly every single day of his life, many years later. The graphic novel format brings the children and his experiences to interesting levels of reading experiences.

Krosoczka is a true master of this genre (and other graphic stories) and Sunshine is well worth the time.

Peace (and Wonder),

Dog Meme (Making Rayna Famous)

Rayna Meme Daily Create

An image that my son took of our younger dog, Rayna, cracked us up so much that I decided to submit for a DS106 Daily Create as an invitation to use her as a meme. Let’s just say, she’s not much of a watchdog and is often snoozing when we come into the house.

Wanna make a meme with us? Go to the Daily Create assignment. Grab her image off my Flickr. I used Meme Generator (but did not submit it into the system — I made the meme and then grabbed a screenshot — so maybe not really a true social meme, in the end, but ….). Share out.

Peace (and Pups),

Seedlings In Flight: Poems Found Within Found Poems

Something that Terry E. was crafting around ‘found poems’ using ChatGPT text responses as source material (if I understood what he was doing) had me thinking: that might be interesting to give a whirl, and maybe go a few steps deeper into the generative process.

So, first, I posed this question about seeds and flowers to both Google Bard and ChatGPT:

How do flower seeds travel in currents of wind?

Bard and ChatGPT responses

I then took each AI response and used an online Blackout Poem tool to craft a found poem from each.

Found Poems via Bard and ChatGPT

Then, I asked each AI to “find a poem” within its own initial text response to my flower seed question.

AI Found Poems via Bard and ChatGPT

Finally, I “found a poem” inside each AI’s found poem.

Found Poems Within Found Poems via Bard and ChatGPT

I can’t say the poems are anything special, per se, but the circling around a text with AI as a sort of partner is something to be considered, and these little experiments start to show a path forward. Maybe.

I’ll say that in this experiment, in my opinion, ChatGPT was much better in its writing than Bard.

Peace (and poems),

Feeding A Poem Into An AI Art Machine

Haiku (with AI Art)

Like many, I’ve been thinking closely about the kinds of text prompts I am using with Generative AI models like Bard and ChatGPT and Dall-E and Firefly.

This morning, as I was working on a SmallPoem — in this case, a haiku inspired by the long day of rain yesterday that was desperately needed — I decided to feed the entire haiku into the new Firefly art site, and see what it would design. Firefly works like Dall-e in many ways — you add text and it generates image — but it has many more bells and whistles for artistic design that I am still exploring. What it doesn’t have that Dall-e does (and which I like) is the “variation” button that re-creates the art in different ways. But Firefly does generate four images for each prompt, so there are choices.

I designed many variations and then chose four that I liked best, and moved them into a photo collage maker, and layered the haiku on top. I think it looks interesting, although I am not sure the images created by Firefly gave me anything too surprising, which is too bad, since I was hoping the poem as text might bend me in another direction. It seems to be that the site got focused on the words “rain” and “prayer.”

Peace (and Art),

AI Thinking Partners: With Or Without You?

My friend, Terry Elliott, shared this poem, coming on the heels of his explorations of AI Thinking Partners in the NowComment annotation space. I haven’t yet ventured into the new features in NowComment (but I intend to when I get more time), but I think the concept of human writers intentionally paired with Generative AI “partners” (like ChatGPT or Bard) for thinking, planning, writing, and more is gaining a foothold in the broader AI communities, particularly in the educational circles that I am part of (like ETMOOC2).

This idea decreases the zero sum game of “write my essay or report for me, AI” for copy/paste/plagiarism that so many of us are concerned about, where the writer does little more than prompt a final response from the platform, and then is done. An AI Thinking Partner potentially engages the writer into conversation about a topic, providing information, possibly outlines for longer pieces and maybe revision suggestions, too.

As we often do, I wrote a poetic response to Terry’s poem, as sort of a push-back to the message that the future may require this kind of AI interaction of writers, and I tried to remind myself of the beauty of drafting a piece of writing on physical paper, with all of the cross-outs and scratch marks that make the act of writing a more tangible experience. There’s something still powerful when the only voice you hear when your writing is your own, and not some secondary whispering emerging from Generative AI.

What’s it like
to write side by
side, only to collide
with something
artificial, when
scratch marks,
pencil shavings
and eraser bits
bring a poem
towards a messy
but beautiful

I then took my poem, and asked Bard to write a poem itself about humans writing with Generative AI (its poem was decent, actually — certainly more interesting than anything I have seen come out of ChatGPT so far).

What Bard Wrote

I then merged my poem and Bard’s poem into a single frame that works to make my point about the disruptive nature of this push into Generative AI partners (but it’s important to note that I am not against these Thinking Partner experiments at all and I can see lots of value for writers, and am glad that friends, like Paul Allison, in places like NowComment are experimenting with it to research the potential. But I would still rather have someone like Terry as my Thinking Partner in most writing explorations, a human spelunker as opposed to algorithmic hand-holding.)

Poetic Collision

Peace (and Poems),

Rattled Shook: From Free-Writing Draft To Final Poem

Rattled Shook

We were doing free-writing in the classroom yesterday, as a way to write our way into the day, and, as usual, I was scribbling alongside my students.

One of the pieces kept calling me back, for some reason, so I listened, and returned to a small poem multiple times throughout the day, scratching out words, drawing arrows to show direction of sound, adding ideas with carrots. The last phrase – rattled shook — was a mistake, I think, with words missing, but I became enamored of the way the two words leaned against each other.

Yeah, it’s a mess. My drafts are nearly always a mess.

Draft Rattled Shook

Later on, at home, I did some final editing and then used Pablo to layer in the visual of a tree stump and its rings. The poem is about a tree that has fallen, during a storm, and its roots not able to keep hold of the weight of gravity. But also, the way the rings tell the story of the tree, and how that story is a magical thing.


its ragged rings spoke
tenderly of time

passages inside
a circular wooden book

a celebrated story
captured in rhyme

and in dance,
even as its roots
rattled shook

Peace (within),