Friday, April 29, 2011

What I Wish I'd Known...Happy Poetry Friday...and G'bye, Poetry Month 2011!

The celebration of our TeachingAuthors Second Blogiversary continues! You can still enter to win one of our two Critique Giveaways! Click on the link to learn the Contest details. As always, we’re cheering you on.
Howdy, Campers! And Thank you, Tabitha, at The Opposite of Indifference, for sponsoring today's Poetry Friday!

As Esther Hershenhorn posted on Wednesday, "Our Second Blogiversary got the six of us thinking: what nugget, what Truth, do we wish we’d known when we began writing for children?"

In a nutshell, what I wish I would have known when I began writing for children is keep writing.  And be wary of the lure of the stage.  I do love performing and teaching, so speaking in schools wasn't a bad thing when my first picture book, To Rabbittown, came out.

The problem?  My touring schedule overwhelmed my writing time.  As as result, I had fewer manuscripts in the pipeline.  Fewer books being published.  Lots to teach and tell, no product.

And that's my contribution in a nutshell on this topic!

Now it's time to say good-bye to Poetry Month 2011.  Boo-hoo.  I've been privileged to be part of Poetry Month is numerous ways:
To be honest, POSTING a poem a day is very different from WRITING a poem a day.  Even if I didn't include the story behind each poem and a poetry prompt, there's the awareness that other people besides my best friend will read the poem.  Pressure.  As my husband has said, I can make a picnic into homework.  It's true!

What have I learned in writing a poem a day for more than a year?  Be present.  Be ready to catch the poem when it appears. 

Here's my poem from June 24, 2011 about this:

by April Halprin Wayland

I hear the soft sound of my car's under-performing air conditioner,
I lean in to hear this murder mystery on tape,
I study the green left-turn arrow at Wilshire and La Cienega,
I listen to Uncle Davie’s doctor:
“Are you aware you have memory problems?”

Finally, it is the moldy smell of a corn cob 
in the compost pile this morning.
It is when I stopped holding my nose,
when I realized this small soil-covered cylinder was redolent;
when I realized it was good.
c) 2011 April Halprin Wayland, all rights reserved

Go outside.  That's always a good place for me to start. 

Lean down.  Look closely.  Now close your eyes.  
Smell.  Listen.  

What's around you?  What wants a say on your page?

Write your poem.   Perhaps the only structure is that each stanza has the same number of in my poem, above.  Or perhaps there's one repeating line.

Write with joy.  And share your words with someone who needs a poem.
Share your poem with a friend.

Eli and our backyard cow say g'bye to Poetry Month 2011 ~
poem, photo of Eli and the cow, and drawing (c) 2011 by April Halprin Wayland ~ all rights reserved


Author Amok said...

Hi, April. I agree about the lure of the stage. For me, it's the lure of the classroom. Teaching and writing come from the same creative heart.

Kerry Aradhya said...

Hi, April. I enjoyed your poem about looking for poems...and about how important it is to "be present." I get into that mode sometimes, when I feel like writing but don't quite know what to write about. Congrats on all that great coverage during Poetry Month. Wow!

Martha Calderaro said...

"Write with joy. And share your words with someone who needs a poem." -- thank *you* for this terrific post and poem!

Tabatha said...

You've had a productive year (and a great National Poetry Month)! Thanks for sharing that advice with us -- it's always good to remember not get so distracted by the business of writing that you forget to write!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Laura, Tabatha, Martha and Kerry ~
thanks for your comments.

And Kerry--love that you combined dance and poetry on your blog today:
and now that I know it's National Dance Week and also International Dance Day, maybe it'll trigger today's poem--I hope so!

Ruth said...

This is a great post.

And, wow. More than a year? That's amazing. You're an inspiration!

Amy LV said...

What a beautiful month - and year! - for you, April. I thought of you many times during quiet moments, wondering if we were writing at the same time. Now I turn toward May with these thoughts too...less public and more inward create. Thank you for your generosity with words and process! All best. A.

Robyn Hood Black said...

...and on to look for inspiration in May! Thanks for all your generous posts, April.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Yes,onward! I have to say that I look forward to writing poems and not worrying so much that some days they're just...dumb. Going back into my smaller space where I just send them to my best friend sounds like a nice rest... : ^ )

April Halprin Wayland said...

I just discovered this not-very-long blog post that's a must-read if you're a writer...(talk about what I wish I would have known...!):

Mary Lee said...

Hmm...I came to the very same conclusions! The need to be aware and in the moment, the relief to take my writing out of the public spotlight! It was a great month, though!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Thanks so much for sharing your poetry with us! You have really had a wonderful year & month. I love how you have included the doctor's words: "Are you aware you have memory problems?" Great hinge for this poem.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Every month can be so rich, every year, if we go outside and keep our "oracles" open (that's my private joke, from a high school driver's ed teacher who told us about how too much alcohol could cause us to bleed from every oracle).

It must be an especially fun month for an April such as yourself, and you've made the most of it. I want to write a poem a day, but I'm having trouble visualizing that. Thank goodness for those who model...

laurasalas said...

Lovely poem, April. Brava on posting a poem a day. I agree that writing one and sharing it are two totally different kinds of pressure!

Kelly Garriott Waite said...

I love this blog and will definitely be using it for my homeschooled child. Looking forward to reading more.