Friday, October 29, 2021

1 Way I Play: Poem Making!

 Howdy, Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday

In this round, we TeachingAuthors are tossing around the idea of PLAY.  Carmela started us off Playing with Poetry Snowballs; Zeena took a look at Play Deprivation During the Pandemic; Bobbi introduced us to a fascinating book called Story Engineering in My Kind of Play; Mary Ann writes about what's been taken away during the pandemic in I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic (Creative) Blues Again; and now it's my turn.

We had house guests last week! It was SOOOO good to see my longtime friend, Bruce and his wife Alene who have been sailing around the world for over 15 years! It hasn't been 15 years since we've seen them...but it was the first time my husband and I have lived with other people for over two years...

At first it was weirdly scary. Gradually, very gradually, was fine. One night, we brought out the 1960's edition of GO TO THE HEAD OF THE CLASS (remember that game?)...

I choose the token of the red-headed boy named Butch.

...and laughed our heads off at the antiquated questions. 

What a relief play provides.

I build play into my 10 week beginning picture book class, especially the class on rewriting, because it's the session I dread teaching the most. Why? Because I lift the curtain to reveal the long, painful path some picture books trudge. Using my book NEW YEAR AT THE PIER as an example, I show them its depressing nine-year timeline.

Then, to dispel the nasty fog of despair in the room, my students play...with Play-Doh! 

Can you remember that Play-Doh smell?

In an older post, I included a step-by-step description of the Play-Doh exercise. To my surprise, this exercise also works well on Zoom, so I also describe how to modify it for a virtual class.

But how do I personally play these days?  Well, not so much with Play-Doh, and for the time being, not with my folk music friends and my fiddle in our cozy livingroom. :-(

Most days I'll either exercise, hike with friends and dogs, or walk by the beach. But every day I take my vitamins and every day I dive into Poem-Making (I borrowed this word from my mentor Myra Cohn Livingston's book of the same name.)

Some days I try different poetry forms, some days I write adult poems or poetry on a particular topic. Other days I'll goof around with In One Word poems...or simply play.  Here's an example of playing with a poem I sent to Bruce in 2011. He sends me a poem every day, too.. Below the poem is the backstory I included when I sent it...and his comment.


Cameron Scamper

baked glue-crayon cake.

“Yum,” said his brother.

“Yawn,” said the snake.


Cameron Scamper

taught their dog how to fly

“Wow,” said his brother.

The snake closed its eyes.


Cameron Scamper

stopped talking for weeks.

“Gosh,” said his brother.

The snake went to sleep. 

Cameron Scamper

hid the dog in a drum.

“Oooh!” said his brother

The snake said, “Ho-hum.”


Cameron Scamper

made soup out of dirt.

“Yum,” said his brother.

Snake said he much prefered chocolate yogurt.

I sent this backstory to Bruce:

Always listening for odd names, I thought I heard "Cameron Scamper please report to Gate 14" at the Los Angeles International Airport...but later I heard it as a slightly tamer name.

I played with it below...and played and played and ran out of steam! 

Bruce replied: We liked this poem a lot… except for the last line (which, as you said, did run out of steam). Fix it and keep it.


Writing and sending a poem a day for the last 11 years has made us even closer friends than we were before. Try it and see: gGrab someone you love who loves to write and dive in!

Thank you, Linda at TeacherDance, for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

posted by April Halprin Wayland (before I've written today's poem) with the help of  Meredith and Derek our 10-month-old tortoises, Sheldon, our hibernating 28-year-old tortoise, Kitty, our most excellent pandemic adoptee, and Eli our elder statesman dog. (for pix of them scattered among other posts, see FB or Instagram)


Liz Garton Scanlon said...

Absolutely needed this reminder from you (and Cameron) to play today! :) Thanks.

Linda B said...

So, you have me playing, too, & I imagine Cameron Scamper is that older brother doing the tricks on the younger with the snake keeping its own tricks a big secret! I love that you & your friends finally got together. I guess many of us are amazing ourselves after keeping "away" from each other for so long! Also, perhaps before I really knew you all these years, I must have read your "pla-dough" lesson because I used it with my students. It works so beautifully! So, Thanks April for it & sharing your playtime!

Carmela Martino said...

Wow! Go to the Head of the Class. That's a blast from the past, and a game I mention in my very first TeachingAuthors post:
And I love how you modified your post for using Play-Doh with a virtual class. Very cool!
How great that you were able to host Bruce and his wife. While I love that you exchange a poem a day, I don't know that I could keep up with such a commitment myself. Hurray for you!

Janice Scully said...

What a fun poem and great game, Cameron Scamper, and I loved the one brother enjoying the other's antics. So nice to have friends visit. I hope to have visitors at Thanksgiving. Yea!

Karen Eastlund said...

I was a guest at a friend's home this week, April. It felt so warm and nice to be welcomed. Thanks for sharing your poem and practice.

Linda said...

I remember the smell of Play-Doh and Go to the Head of the Class! Am I showing my age? : )
The wordplay in your poem makes it fun to read out loud! Thank you for sharing it.

Mary Lee said...

Your daily poetry trade with Bruce is inspirational...and aspirational. Now that my everyday schedule is settling into a more regular routine, I MUST work a poem-a-day back into the mix!

Good reminder to be open at all times to possibilities for poems -- even misheard names can result in a fun poem!

mbhmaine said...

Cameron Scamper is a great name and I love that you took it and ran (scampered) right into a poem with it. Now that's creativity in action! I also admire your committing to sending a poem daily to someone. Wow!

laurasalas said...

Thanks for the reminder to play, April! However the idea of sending a poem daily to a friend - daily! Wow, that totally overwhelms me. 😯

Jone said...

It's so great to send a poem each day and remembering the play. Thanks for sharing.

April Halprin Wayland said...

I need reminders, too, Liz... it's hard to turn off work

April Halprin Wayland said...

I think I remember you replying to say you were going to try it, Linda! I was thrilled 🌞

April Halprin Wayland said...

Carmela ~ I never would have thought that I'd write more than one months worth of poems in a row. Apparently, the first time I participated in posting a poem a day during Poetry Month I was bitten by the bug BAD!

April Halprin Wayland said...

G'luck on Thanksgiving, Janice. Having friends over was like getting into a cold swimming first.

April Halprin Wayland said...

This werid time in our world has made me sooo grateful for "ordinary"things. Simply being with friends is like a delicious dessert now.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Linda ~ you are showing your Experience and Awesomeness. 🌞

April Halprin Wayland said...

Yes, Mary Lee ~ I always have one ear cocked to hear poetry inspiration... because I have to find an idea that day. I know you know that feeling. Sometimes this means I'll try out weird ideas because it's either that or I got nutin'

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks mbhmaine 💕

April Halprin Wayland said...

Laura ~ the idea of producing as many books as you do totally overwhelms ME!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Jone! Thanks for stopping by 🎶

Cathy said...

Cameron Scamper: certainly a name for a poem.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Right, Cathy? Thanks for stopping by 🌞