Friday, October 16, 2009

Joy, joy, joy! Writing about reading ~

Happy Poetry Friday! 
Today's poem and writing exercise are below.

Today begins our series of posts to commemorate
National Day on Writing

But first, as the West Coast representative of TeachingAuthors, I have an announcement to make.  Something miraculous happened yesterday: it rained!  Real “I’d better hide my book under my sweatshirt as I sprint to the car” rain!  Usually when rain is predicted in Southern California, we roll our eyes and put on sandals, because by the time the storm comes panting down the coast to LA, it’s spent.  All it has left is one pathetic cough of drizzle.

The last time I actually remember it raining substantially was February.

I just had to share that because the rain is gone now and though the sky is sparkling blue and the streets are scrubbed clean, I wonder if it really rained here or if I imagined it.  I have to nail it down in words to know it happened.
Okay, back to our topic.  I’ve written a poem to post on the National Gallery of Writing.  You can, too.  In fact, there’s another one of TeachingAuthors’ famous Writing Workouts below to get your juices going.

As Carmela wrote in the last post, the National Day on Writing, sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English, is meant to celebrate all forms of writing. In conjunction with the event, NCTE has created a National Gallery of Writing, a digital archive of writing samples showing how and why Americans are writing every day. The Gallery will be unveiled on Tuesday, October 20th.

Teaching Authors will join other Kidlitosphere bloggers by submitting our posts to the Gallery called A Lifetime of Reading, curated by Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn, two teachers who blog at A Year of Reading. The details about their gallery and the process for submitting a piece of writing can be found in this post on their blog:

TeachingAuthors offer no prizes if you post a comment on our blog this week, but we really, really want to hear that you’ve gone to the links above and hung up your own work of art—your own writing—in a gallery.  Report in!

*  *  *  *  * 

Years ago, when my golden boy was young, I went to pick him up from kindergarten and found the teacher and a few children reading a book under a tree.  That’s when I took a lovely deep breath and s-l-o-w-e-d down.

Then I took out my notebook.

I found the rough draft of the poem I wrote and today I reworked it.  Here it is. For you.  For the National Day of Writing.  For being outside.  For yesterday’s blessed rain.  For the holy goddesses of reading.  For all of it.

by April Halprin Wayland

She reads us a story,
just me and Theodore
under the sycamore.

Her voice surrounds,
we swim in her sounds,
she’s our very own troubadour.

We laugh on the grass
when the silly giraffe
gets the long words all wrong.

Under this sycamore,
just me and Theodore,
my toes in this grass,

my head on her lap,
I know I belong.

© April Halprin Wayland

WRITING WORKOUT: Writing about reading

1) Look at the ideas that Mary Lee and Franki of  A Year of Reading listed to get our juices flowing:
~ an anecdote from childhood,
~ a recent experience around books or reading,
~ a memory from school (good or bad),
~ a vignette about learning to read,
~ the impact of a particular book,
~ your life as a reader.

If the list doesn’t bring up anything, observe children reading or someone reading to them.  Take notes.

2) Now—circle the topic that opens you up, that pulls you in.

3) Go outside or find a cozy spot and write as many ideas as you can about that topic.  Cover the page.  Write for ten minutes.  Or more.  Free associate.  Keep your pen moving.  Include vivid images, smells, textures—all five senses.

4) This is your compost, as Mary Ann calls it.  Your rich soil. 

5) Go now—work in your garden.  See what grows.


drawings by April Halprin Wayland


Mary Lee said...

Thanks for the promo about our Gallery and the National Day on Writing, but most of all, great poem and great memory.

Sara said...

What a lovely, evocative poem. I submitted to the Gallery, too---a blog post about reading books as a way to watch other writers at work---but I never thought to submit a poem. I hope you inspire many more poetic uploads to the Gallery!