Poetry Friday: Responding to Rilke

In February, I took part in Laura Shovan’s Found Poetry Project on Facebook. (Read more about this here.) Everyone agreed we wanted to continue the project with a new set of ten words each month. For April, Heather Meloche found ten words in “Early Spring” by Rainer Maria Rilke to inspire new poems.  From these words, (vanished, softness, meadows, rivulets, tendernesses, earth, subtle, risings, expression, and trees) I zeroed in on “rivulets.” Our family has been kayaking forever, and spring is a paddler’s favorite season, especially here in the Northeast. As I worked through my ideas, I realized I wanted a tighter form and that my lines were arranging themselves into tanka-like rhythms on their own. So I created a series of tanka for early spring.

Vanishing snow digs
furrows in softening earth.
Trickling toward the sea,
icy rivulets quench the
thirst of stirring roots and buds.

Joining together
in rising streams and rivers,
subtlety is lost.
A cauldron of froth and foam
bubbles up into being.

Growing impatient,
cascading over boulders,
water expresses
its overwhelming power,
sweeping away winter’s dregs.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

My son Michael, facing spring’s froth and foam.

Please be sure to visit Doraine Bennett at Dori Reads for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

DigiLit Sunday: Asparagus: A Digital Poem

When Margaret posted this week’s Digilit Sunday topic, Digital Poetry, I felt a sense of relief. The past few weeks have been pretty hectic and I just didn’t have the time to devote to the topics Margaret had suggested. But Spring Break began on Friday and I finally felt that I could stop and take a breath.

The spark for this poem came from “Autumn’s Way” by Charles Ghigna. I took the first line,

“In their yellow-most goings,”

and reworked it for spring. Thinking about how to narrow down the greening of spring, for some unknown reason, I settled on asparagus.

With the help of this video the poem itself came together pretty easily  As I thought about the digital element of this poem, I wanted to challenge myself and create something that conveyed a sense of movement. I have limited experience with iMovie, but I thought it might create the effect I wanted.

I scoured the web for royalty-free images of growing asparagus. (NOT an easy feat!) While I was doing this, a memory of “Simple Gifts” popped into my head, and I knew that tune would be the perfect soundtrack.

With all the elements collected, I set out to create this movie. After about four hours of trial and error, I have a 24 second video! As with any work, I feel this still has room for improvement. So I offer you the latest digital draft of my poem, “Asparagus.”

In the greening days of April,
stalks of asparagus
raise their heads
after slumbering deep
in the earth.
Stretching into
the air’s bright warmth,
growing taller,
they sway to and fro,
like a troupe of modern dancers
welcoming spring.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Poetry Friday: The Glass Universe

“For me poetry has always been a way of paying attention to the world.”
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~

Confession: I worked on four or five poems last night, attempting to wrestle one of them into shape to share today. No luck. A rhyme wouldn’t work in one, the details weren’t there in another. Finally, I decided to sleep on it. But before I went to sleep, I read a few pages of Dava Sobel’s The Glass Universe, a fascinating account of how a small group of women working at Harvard University at the turn of the last century uncovered and catalogued ground-breaking discoveries about the stars. Sobel’s writing is masterful and poetic, and as I read one passage, I found a haiku hiding in her prose.

a river of stars,
the Milky Way spills across
the night’s horizon

By Steve Jurvetson (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Please be sure to visit Irene Latham at Live Your Poem for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

 

Slice of Life: Poem for a Fairy Wren

Whew. I don’t know about you, but I needed a few days off after a marathon month of blogging. I’ve been writing every day, but am very relieved that the pressure of posting daily is over. But, because it’s National Poetry Month, I can’t rest for too long! There are so many exciting poetry projects going on around the Kidlitosphere, it might take me all month to read them all. (Visit the the lovely and gracious Jama Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup for links to all the festivities.)

In the meantime, I have a poem inspired Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s “Writing the Rainbow” project. Sunday’s color of the day was lavender. Scrolling through Facebook that day, I found this photo:

via INature’s Facebook page (If you are the photographer, or know who is, please let me know so I can give proper credit.)

A friend assures me those feathers are blue, but I’m claiming poetic license and declaring them lavender. I’ve never seen such a sweet little bird, so I did some research to try and find out what species this is. In my searching, I found a purple-crowned fairy-wren, which is native to Australia. This bird doesn’t really fit a fairy-wren’s description, but when I read that name, I didn’t care. Poetic license strikes again. The details in the poem about the birds song, habitat, and diet are accurate for the purple-crowned fairy-wren. Thank you, Amy, for the inspiration!

The fairy wren
wears a purple crown
that complements
her lavender gown.

Her tail feathers
form a velvety train
that won’t be ruined
by wind or rain.

Flitting about creek-side
cane grass and shrubs
she feasts upon beetles,
spiders, and grubs.

Later, she and her love
will sing a duet,
a chick-chicka tune:
serenade for sunset.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Thank you, Laura, for once again being so generous with your time and talents.  Thank you also to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL 17 & Poetry Friday: “Feather, Celebrating Valerie Worth”

                                          

“The deepest secret in our heart of hearts is that we are writing because we love the world.”
~ Natalie Goldberg ~

Last week, I shared Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderly, and Marjory Wentworth’s inspirational new poetry collection, Out of Wonder. Each poem is a celebration of another poet, either written in their style or about a topic dear to them.

Of course I wanted to try my hand at this. I found a lone turkey feather in the snow after the blizzard a few weeks ago that had been calling to me. I decided Valerie Worth’s “small poems” were the perfect model to use for a poem about this little gift.

After reading and rereading All the Small Poems and Fourteen More, I watched Renée LaTulippe’s interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins about Valerie Worth. Lee described Worth’s poems as “sharp, solid, eloquent evocations of ordinary objects” that “causes us to see the everyday world in fresh, insightful, larger-than-life ways.” Easy, right?

Of course not. Lee also said that Worth was “truly a craftsperson, who wrote, revised, wrote, and revised.” Knowing that no poem is ever finished, I have written and revised, written and revised my attempt at a “small poem” about a feather.

Feather
celebrating Valerie Worth

On turkey’s back,
a feather is
filaments of color
weaving a cloak
of shadow and light
that hides and
protects.

Fallen on the snow,
this downy tuft
transforms into
treasure,
whispering secrets
of the woods.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

It seems appropriate that this final day of the 2017 Slice of Life Challenge is on a Friday. I’m certain I wouldn’t ever have had the confidence to write and share poetry if it hadn’t been for this supportive community. My heartfelt thanks to you all, especially StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts. Also, be sure to visit Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

SOL 17: Thank You to Strong Women

As we come to the end of this intense month of writing, I’ve been thinking about my sources of strength. I was blessed to grow up near both of my grandmothers. And while I spent much more time with my maternal grandmother, my father’s mother was also a strong role model. Then there is my mother. She was a registered nurse who worked in the operating room of the local hospital her entire adult life until she retired. She always (and still does) put the needs of her family above her own, from staying at the hospital during blizzards to taking extra call when my sister and I were in college. This poem is in honor of these special women, and millions more unsung heroes around the world.

Strong women taught me
how to knit, to bake,
to cook and sew.

Strong women taught me
how to love, to live
through strife and woe.

Strong women taught me
not to count
on others for my bread.

Strong women taught me
to rely
on my own wits instead.

Strong women taught me
to be brave when lies
and hate are spread.

Strong women taught me
how to think, to stand
for what is right.

Strong women taught me
to be kind, to fill
the world with light.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL 17: After the Rain

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”
~ Vincent Van Gogh ~

At the beginning of the month, I quoted this line from The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill:

“Every day I find something shiny in the rubble.”

It has been a real challenge for me to find something shiny today. But I kept looking and finally found this.

Stubborn snow drifts,
pitted and dirty,
hug the edge of the woods.
Rain pours from gray skies,
unable to shake
the last curling leaves
clinging to oak trees.
Everything is brown.

But.

Something is stirring.
The forsythia wears
a faint golden crown.
Lilac buds grow fat
as a line of pink clouds peeks
out of the gloom at dusk.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.