Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday Writing Workout: Take a Walk!

Here in Wisconsin, spring is taking its time as usual. Gradual warmups and sudden temperature drops are part of its annual appearance. The other day, we woke to snow on our just-sprouting flowers. I looked outside and decided to use what was right in front of me in a poem to express my impatience with the process.

Outside our kitchen window, a goldfinch in its bright spring plumage perched on the thistle feeder. What a happy sight! I tried to think of another positive detail. Well, I realized, since Daylight Saving Time, at least it's staying lighter later. But--and this is the point--it's still so cold! And there was my first stanza, planned in my head before I even picked up a pen.

No, that doesn't always happen.

Other details  organized themselves into second and third stanzas: daffodils burdened by a heavy layer of snow. Would they recover? Probably. We've seen that happen before. Icy puddles? Yes, of course.

Then I went for a walk. As I stopped to gaze at someone else's daffodils, I found an opportunity to add personification to my poem: they were not just "beneath what every flower dreads / clumps of snow" but "wearing what a flower dreads / coats of snow."

Then I decided that the flower description was too obvious. I changed the adjective from "yellow" to "bobbing" and the verb from "nod" to "bow," adding alliteration that might not have occurred to me had I not been standing in front of the daffodils. Here's the poem with those revisions.

Any Day Now 
Goldfinches are brightening.
The evening sky is lightening.
But wind chills still are frightening.
When will we see spring? 
Daffodils in flower beds
bow their bobbing flower heads
wearing what a flower dreads:
coats of snow that cling. 
The puddles April showers bring
are icy now from winds that sting.
Winter weighs on everything!
When will we see spring?

Stuck on a poem? Use what's in front of you. Look out a window. Go for a walk. Somehow the regular rhythm of walking helps, too.

Tomorrow is National Poem in Your Pocket Day! Read the other Teaching Authors posts in this series to discover some of our favorite poems. And remember to carry one of your favorites!

JoAnn Early Macken


jan godown annino said...

Soon, soon, soon spring should sing in your Wisconsin world, JoAnn.

Glad you walked. Reminds me to walk more & look & listen.
And yes, I'm with you on Poem In Your Pocket Day,.
Have them in pockets, to share in Kindergarten
where I volunteer :)

Warm breezes from Florida to you,


JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks, Jan! We just made a very brief trip to Florida & spent as much time outside as possible. Hoping those warm breezes show up soon!

April Halprin Wayland said...

JoAnn ~ thank you for leading us step by step (literally) through your poeming process. Very helpful...and a lovely poem, too!