Happy Poetry Friday! Poem and Writing Workout below.
Our blog topic is reading as a writer. I'm going to modify it and list some books I'm currently reading as a writing teacher.
You may remember that after ten years as instructor with the UCLA Extension Writers Program, I'm teaching a brand-spanking-new class this summer.
My vision is to make this class as playful as the theater games class I took years ago. No matter how tired my friend Steve and I were after a day in the corporate world, we couldn't wait to get to class.
What was so special about it that energized us? We were moving or we were mediating, we were reacting to smells or blindfolded, we were hugging or we were chasing each other, we turned into gorillas or bananas.
I want my picture book students to be equally energized. I want them out of their desks with exercises that get them stretching, walking, laughing, observing, closing their eyes, tasting, singing, crying, playing group games. I'll be covering such topics as point of view, dialogue, rewriting, publishing and more. Here are a few of the books I'm using:
- Poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge
- Unjournaling--Daily Writing Exercises that are Not Personal, Not Introspective, Not Boring by Dawn DiPrince and Cheryl Miller Thurston
- Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg
- Naming the World--and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer edited by Bret Anthony Johnston
Would you like to win a copy of my novel in poems, Girl Coming in for a Landing?Many of you offered terrific writing exercises in the comments section of my February post. Got any more? Share one of yours and if I pick your exercise, you'll win an autographed book. (Residents of the USA only, please.)
I'm looking for the writing exercise that gets you up and moving or playing a game or using a prop. An exercise that's physical or emotional or spiritual. Can you share one writing exercise that you love, either as a writer or as a writing teacher? What have you learned from it?
The poet William Stafford wrote a poem every morning all of his life. Since taking the National Poetry Month Challenge to write a poem a day for the month of April, I'm continuing, inspired by the book, Early Morning--Remembering my Father, William Stafford by Kim Stafford.
Today part of a sentence Stafford wrote inspired me: "At a certain sound today I hear Father turn onto the gravel drive at supper time..." It reminded me of our dog, Eli, sleeping on his couch in the upstairs bedroom as I write.
As soon as he hears my husband at the front gate, he runs to the open window, peers down, sees Gary and wildly wags his tail.
So I wrote this for my daily poem:
DOG WAITING UPSTAIRS
by April Halprin Wayland
shoes on cement
key metal gate
whistle of man
done with day’s work
lifting an ear
wrinkling wet nose
twitching a tail
putting big paws on the ledge
dog looking down—man looking up
galloping over the hall
tearing down all of the stairs
tangle of legs
plough into man
crash to the ground
happily ever after
(until man leaves for work the next morning)
* * * * * *The dog's excitement seemed to lend itself to a short, clipped rhythm. In poetry, a stressed beat is noted with a slash (/) while an unstressed beat is merely a period. The rhythm I used in this poem was mostly: /../ (Shoes on cement /../).
What about your memory of someone coming home? Can you put it into a poem?
If the rhythm I used feels appropriate for your poem, try it yourself. (For more guidance regarding poetic meter and rhythm, see Myra Cohn Livingston's book, Poem-Making.)
poem, drawing and photo (c) April Halprin Wayland