Friday, April 7, 2023

What's a Serial Deconstruction Poem?

Howdy, Campers and Happy Poetry Friday! 

I am feeling particularly happy today. I've been dealing with a stupid health issue and have been in pain for quite a while. But guess what? 

NO PAIN last night! No pain today! 

And: it's SUNNY again in So Cal! Not rainy, not wildly windy. 

So: No pain, a sun-shiny day, two poems in a new anthology, and Poetry Friday...what more could a girl ask for?

At the end of this post is the Poetry Friday link, info about my summer class, and my poems from Pomelo Books' newest anthology, What is a Family?

Our topic this round is "Offer our readers a writing exercise or prompt." 

Like many friends in the Poetry Friday family, I write a poem a day. Surely I'm not alone when I say that sometimes my brain stands up, puts on its coat says, "Nope. No ideas. I'm outta here."

So the other day when my brain walked out of the room, I took these two phrases from a friend’s email:

·        1) delicate balance

·         2) I wanted to stab my hand with a fork

an   ...and began playing with them. I sliced the second sentence into pieces with which to start new lines:



I wanted to slice watermelon but you wanted

to stab a steak or maybe spear a pimento olive.

My hand hesitated. I offered you a fig, which you ate

with a fork.



I wanted it to stop. I wanted

to stab the newspaper, rip it to shreds, or swipe right with

my hand. After, I went to the ocean and made circles in the sand

with a fork.



I wanted to find the pulse of a poem. I wanted

to stab this page with surprise.

My hand wants that, too. But it’s distracted by that guy

with a fork.



I wanted stars, stars, and stars

to stab this night. I wanted to lift

my hand to them, conducting their murmurs

with a fork.



I wanted you to speak,

to stab that diaphanous curtain.

My hand goes to my lips. You are, you are! I listen

with a fork halfway to my mouth.



I wanted to call this exercise How

to Stab a Sentence to Death. But

My hand disagreed. Hands are very opinionated, especially hands

with a fork.

poems © 2022 April Halprin Wayland


It was a so much fun! I asked my husband what I should call this form. He was eating at the time. He said, "Serial Deconstruction. Or," he said, looking down at his granola, "you could call it Cereal Deconstruction."


I like presenting these poems in groups. Try it. Let me know how it goes!

Many of you know Pomelo Books ~ I call them the publisher with the ๐Ÿ’—big heart๐Ÿ’—. At its helm are Sylvia Vardell and Janet S. Wong, the proud parents of their newest book, WHAT IS A FAMILY? born on March 31st. 

The 40 ekphrastic poems in this book—inspired by a wide variety of diverse and inclusive black-and-white photos—explore extended families, blended families, classmates and sports teams as families, animal families, and family occasions such as birthdays, holidays, weddings, funerals, and much more.

As with the companion book WHAT IS A FRIEND? and also their books in the "THINGS WE" series (THINGS WE DO; THINGS WE EAT; THINGS WE FEEL; THINGS WE WEAR), 100% of the profits will be donated by this truly big-hearted publisher to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund ( (Worth joining; I'm a member.)

Here are my ekphrastic poems from WHAT IS A FAMILY?:



And once again I'll be teaching a one day, three-hour class called ​​Intro to Writing Children's Poetry for the Big-Hearted, Brave,and Curious​! (my title, not necessarily UCLA's). It's on Wednesday, July 12th from noon-3pm PST. The course won't be visible until April 10th; Summer enrollment opens April 24th. 

Tah-dum! I started writing this happy, and I'm ending it happy that 

Margaret is hosting Poetry Friday!

Poetry Friday logo by Linda Mitchell

Reminder: I'd love to hear about your own Serial Deconstruction poems! 

I keep bubbling, I know, but one more thing to leave you with. I've been listening to Leonard Bernstein conduct his playful Overture to Candide. It lifts me. Maybe it will lift you, too.

Posted with love by April Halprin Wayland 
with help from Kitty, seen here on my desk, helping me work 
(she's another thing that makes me happy):



Heidi Mordhorst said...

April, I've clicked your link first because I definitely wanted to learn about Serial Deconstruction--and I am not disappointed. You really pushed those nine words, pressed them hard into all kinds of service! My favorites are "I wanted stars...conducting their murmurs with a fork" and the diaphanous curtain one. It's a HIIT prompt! I'll give it a try...and your freshly unpained happiness is catching. Thanks!

Margaret Simon said...

I'm sorry, but I don't think your brain left you. These deconstructed line poems are miraculous. All the things you can stab and do with a fork! Thanks for sharing and inspiring me today to be open to deconstructing.

Janice Scully said...

Stabbing newspapers, stabbing watermelon, the fork as a weapon. These poems made me laugh and that's a wonderful gift. Thank you!

Susan T. said...

I was so curious about "Serial Deconstruction," too. These are wonderful! Love, love, love the idea of making circles in the sand with a fork. Given the news lately, I might have to try that soon.

Tabatha said...

What great words you used! Excellent variety. Congrats on the pain-less day -- may you have many more!

Linda B said...

First, I love your family poems! I only have two kids but a nearby family had six & my son spent a lot of time at their house! You took me back. Second, happy that the pain has gone, hoping forever! And I will carry that "Deconstruction" way of looking at things with me during the month, might even find a way to use my own fork. Thanks much for a special post, April. It's your month so 'Why not?'

Irene Latham said...

Dear April, thanks for being big-hearted, brave, curious YOU. I do love the serial deconstruction as a series. It shows you just how flexible words can be, how infinite the poem-possibilities. xo

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April Halprin Wayland said...

They made me laugh, to, Janice. May a chorus of laughter arise๐ŸŒž

April Halprin Wayland said...

Exactly, Susan... exactly ๐Ÿ™ƒ

April Halprin Wayland said...

๐ŸŒฟYou're always so encouraging, Tabatha. I really appreciate you

April Halprin Wayland said...

Linda ~ why not indeed? (It's the month I get whiplash, thinking people are speaking to me when they are simply comparing calendar dates...)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Irene, hearing this from you, a GYMNAST of flexibility in the word world, makes me so happy. Have a beautiful day ๐ŸŒž

Alan j Wright said...

April, like Heidi, I was curious to uncover the term Serial Deconstruction. I like what I found. It's as if you have created a cutlery collection of forks in your poems. I particularly enjoyed the poem where you sought the poem's pulse. You have explored a range of poetic possibilities. You can select the fork of your choosing. This fork focus remainds me of the time I read a quote that said people are a bit like sausages. Every now and then they need a gentle poke with a fork...

Mary Lee said...

So. Much. Fun. I must try this!

Patricia Franz said...

Clearly SoCal sun is a GREAT inspiration! Your post is bursting with joy - even joy that grows from serially deconstructing sentences! I really like how they evolved across stanzas; I could feel the frustration slip away. And congrats on TWO poems in WHAT IS A FAMILY?!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Alan ~ we poets even write poetic comments! I love your phrase, "a cutlery collection of forks in your poems" ๐Ÿ˜ Thanks for stopping by

April Halprin Wayland said...

Mary Lee ~ please, please do! I want to hear how it turned out✨

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks, Patricia ~ I was giddy and I'm learning to share more of me with the world. (I'm grateful I've lived long enough to evolve. Imagine what Mozart would have produced if he lived past the age of 35!)

Denise Krebs said...

April, what a marvelous post fully of bubbles. My favorite stanza of delicate balance was:

I wanted stars, stars, and stars
to stab this night. I wanted to lift
my hand to them, conducting their murmurs
with a fork.

Conducting like Leonard Berstein, almost.

The two family poems you wrote were so very precious! They warmed my heart and told beautiful family stories.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Denise ~ thank you for stopping by! And maybe that was an unconscious conection to Bernstein conducting in that stanza...I hadn't thought of that ๐ŸŽถ

Carmela Martino said...

April, I'm so sorry you've been in pain but I'm very glad to know it left you. Hope you continue to be pain-free!
I love your two poems in the family anthology. They're both terrific!
Looks like your Serial Deconstruction was great fun for you! I know they were fun for me to read. :-)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks, Marti ~ You know what fun it is to suddenly be so grateful for parts of our body when they stop shouting insistently... And yes, I had great fun with this new form of poetry play.