We stopped to chAT
with the lady in the hAT.
She wAS, like us,
dressed foR the weaTHer ...
wHEther shE liked iT or nOT.
The weaTHer thAt is.
WhETHer it'S brISK and brIght
or gray like tOdAY,
we bUTTON and bOOT it.
Then we snAP, zIP, and
tUCK it, tOO.
bUT we'D qUIVER and shiVer
if thAT was aLL thAT.
So wE pAUSe and we pONDer
for thAT which iS thAT ...
WhERe's my hAT?
This poem came together over the course of a few days with the help of a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary.
Both are helpful in similar and different ways. The rhyming dictionary does just what it sounds like, finds words that rhyme with one another ... in this case I was looking for words that rhyme with hat. Quiver and shiver came to me without the dictionary ... but maybe they were inspired by it?
The thesaurus is, I think, a sometimes overlooked tool for writing.
Word choice makes a difference.
I once wrote a post about Brussels sprouts that included a bit about a chef who appeared on a local television show ... he said he was going to "make" Brussel sprouts. It caught my attention because I thought, he's not going to "make" Brussels sprouts, he's going to (and here's where a thesaurus can help) bake, steam, or maybe roast them, but he's definitely not making them.
Choosing the right words not only makes your writing more interesting, it can lead to more accurate writing as well.
This week's story starter calendar got me started on hats and offers a nod to the thesaurus ... if you're not already, sign up today and get the calendar delivered, every week, straight to your inbox. And start writing.
It's easy to forget how
much the light
how brisk the
greens and wax
beans get squashed
in the mashing of
buttercup, butternut ...
and blue hubbard, too
how apples and
pumpkins now vie
for the pie
and a warm bowl of
soup makes me slurp,
sip, and sigh
If you're struggling to write, try a short narrative poem like the one above. Short lines with lots of detail can help you put your thoughts into words.
Focus on word choice, and for fun, throw in some rhymes. If you're stuck, grab a thesaurus or a rhyming dictionary and see what comes up.
Yesterday we stopped to
chat with Mac Daddy --
a man of few words who
walks with his dog, Mac.
We call him Mac Daddy
because we don't really know
him—or his name, but were once
introduced to the dog, Mac.
We crossed paths on the trail
in the woods out by the
We said—isn't it a beautiful day.
He said—yes it is.
We said it was good to be
out in the woods on such
a nice day.
He said he's been walking
out in the woods on the trail
Said his wife grew up
in the neighborhood.
Said they courted out there --
all "kissie face and huggy bear."
We parted with lingering laughs
and silly smiles, giddy with
conversation about what
people you hardly know
will tell you.
Some still hang
bright and red
others make like
polka dots, red on
The ones that
fill the gutter
line up like bowling
balls in the automated
Is it the imperfections,
or it it because they're not
already picked, in a bag,
in a store?
I wish it was my
I HeARd the CaRDiNal siNGing before I saw it
PerCHeD in the BiRcH tree
a CAt LOOkiNG At mE, LOOkiNG at iT
And, ONe MoRe SaP BUCket
tHat MaKes ThrEE
This is a throwback: a collage and poem I created a few years ago. It's still one of my favorites. You can see I was starting to use sheet music in my work.
It's also got a bit of shorthand mixed in: that line with the dot below it.
Do you know what it means? Morning. That simple line with a dot = a word.
Shorthand is a symbolic writing system used by office clerks and secretaries before voice recorders were available. I'm not fluent in shorthand. It comes from a shorthand instruction book I found at a secondhand shop. The book has an index, so it's easy to pull a single word.
It's like code writing because so few people still know shorthand. Don't you think it would be great for a secret diary or message? One big drawback, though, you'd have to learn shorthand to make it work.
And the poem?
I don't consider myself a poet, but sometimes I like to combine words with images to tell short stories. I don't remember now why I used upper and lower case letters for the poem, but it does make it interesting.
If you'd like to write more, short poems could be a starting point.
Not my hobby.
Even if you don't stick with it, a new hobby might lead to something else. I haven't done much more with poetry, but the collage was the beginning of a lot more collage work. I now work entirely with sheet music and really like collage.
Do you have a hobby that started while you were doing something else?
This post is a continuation of the May theme, birds and birding.
If you have ideas or work you'd like to share, get in touch. I'd love to see what you're doing.
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We're all poets, even you(!) ...
I think it was in middle school. The assignment was to memorize and recite a poem. I chose Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.
I think I liked it because it sounded poetic, but it also made sense to me.
The poem isn't terribly long, and I practiced well enough to remember now that I felt pretty good when I sat down after my presentation.
I can't say the exercise inspired me to write poetry, but I have churned out a few poems using the blackout poetry method.
It's easy enough, and I've created a worksheet (2 pages) that makes it even easier if you want to give it a try.
Chances are you've got some extra time on your hands, it's Poetry Month afterall, and given the circumstances we're all in, a little distraction goes a long way.
Share the worksheet and invite someone to try it with you.
Here’s what you do. Find a short story or article (a printed page from a newspaper, magazine, an old book, or something you've written). Read through the text and select an anchor word. Something that catches your attention. String together a few others words to form a thought or sentence. Be sure they read as traditional writing does. Left to right, top to bottom.
Blackout the words outside of the words you circled and you’ve got a poem.
Here’s one I did. It's remarkable how simple yet thoughtful is it ... don't you think?
Now it’s your turn.
Click on the poetry sample above to get your worksheet download. It’s two pages (instructions and a short poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) that will get you started.
I selected Longfellow because he was from Maine and he is my choice for a writer/poet.
Longfellow is a prominent figure here in Portland. There’s a fabulous statue of a seated Longfellow at the intersection of Congress and State in downtown Portland. He's positioned so that he's looking down Congress Street, toward the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, his boyhood home and home of the Maine Historical Society.
Where words and paper come together