Howdy, Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday! (the link to this week's PF host is below.)
First: welcome, welcome to our newest TeachingAuthor, Carla! I am in awe of your writer's journey, Carla, because when I learned that we would be discussing non-fiction, my legs trembled and my palms grew cold and damp. Unlike you and Mary Ann, in her wonderful first salvo on this topic, I am not, by nature, a researcher. I am NOT a "Just the facts, M'am."
|Jack Webb as Joe Friday in Dragnet, from Wikipedia|
Well...I DO tell my students that real details bring fiction to life, and have them listen to the following short audioclip from StoryCorps. Talk about bringing a subject to life! The details Laura Greenberg shares with her daughter are priceless--not to mention hilarious.
Still, I struggled to write poems for The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science (Pomelo Books). By "struggled" I mean I read science articles and wrote tons of stinky poems about rocks, astronauts, materials science, the expiration dates on seed packages,electricity, science experiments...and on and on and on.
But...I dread gettting facts wrong--my worst nightmare. (Confession: writing these blog posts scares the bejeebers out of me.)
In fiction, I can fly my fairy-self to Planet Bodiddley and make up all the materials science by myself. But if I have to convey facts? And then somehow bake them into a tasty poetry pie? I get tied up in knots. My writing becomes stiff as a board. I'm afraid of...
But finally I stumbled on this fascinating fact, in a review of The Big Thirst by Charles Fishman:"The water coming out of your kitchen tap is four billion years old and might well have been sipped by a Tyrannosaurus rex."
Wow. Think of the water you drink. Think of the water you take a BATH in!!!! Ten versions of "Space Bathtub" later (with considerable coaching from the ever-patient anthologists, Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell) this fact became a poem for kindergartners:
by April Halprin Wayland
I am having a soak in the tub.
Mom is giving my neck a strong scrub.
Water sloshes against the sides.
H2O's seeping into my eyes.
The wet stuff running down my face?
She says it came from outer space!
The water washing between my toes
was born a billion years ago.
from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science
(c) 2014 April Halprin Wayland, all rights reserved
If you're a K-5th grade teacher, this science/poetry anthology is so immediately useful, you'll cry with relief when you open it. Trust me. For details, and to watch under-two minute videos of poets (Bobbi Katz, Kristy Dempsey, Mary Lee Hahn, Susan Blackaby, Buffy Silverman, Linda Sue Park and me) reciting our science poems from this anthology, go to Renee LaTulippe's No Water River. Again, trust me. (A little foreshadowing: Pomelo Books' newest anthology, Celebrations! comes just in time for Poetry Month this year--stay tuned!)
And thank you, Linda Baie, fabulous friend of TeachingAuthors, for hosting Poetry Friday today!
posted safely and scientifically by April Halprin Wayland wearing safety goggles