This year my homeschool co-op’s junior class includes a seminar on writing poetry. I’ve been adoring this one, though it’s hard to fit in poetry after working on chemistry and algebra and debate for hours each day.
At the beginning of the year we were told to bring two things to class: the book we’re using as a guide, and a empty, nice quality journal, small enough to carry around everywhere. Ever since then we have been filling it up (it’s filled up half way now??) and my phone is now full with pictures of its pages.
The first thing I did was print out an array of poems I like and put them in the journal.
Everyone Sang (or Armistace 1918) by Siegried Sassoon is a poem that never fails to chill me to the bone. My brothers sang a version of it in choir the semester I was not in it and I remember having goosebumps running up and down my arm the entire time (you can hear the song here though if you can hear a choir in person it’s 100% better.)
I’m a Nobody by Emily Dickenson is a favorite too and I had the perfect mushroom from my beloved shoe box of papers, clippings, etc. to pair with it.
"the purple grackle is a bird upholstered in dusty green velvet from a family of black birds. frozen for a second mouth cracked open with silent questions before it rips back the corn cob's mop of red stained hair and plucks the kernels away in tidy divisions and lines. when it takes flight the vegetable's bloodless carcass is bare to the world. each thin brown sleeve, a flaking epidermis. it does not sag as much but it will rot off soon."
Here you can see an exercise I did in which I was assigned to find a nature journal and pick a subject illustrated within to write vivid observations about. I chose the purple grackle from my 1945 edition of Birds of America and found a picture online I could print to put it alongside my description.
I loved the idea of including pictures, I decided to do more. I printed out a picture of the sun setting with the moon in the sky above over a highway of headlights… a picture I had recently taken and couldn’t stop looking at. Then I wrote a poem.
I cut up the picture and cut up a brown paper bag and played around with format until I was happy.
My tutor asked us to start keeping a poetry glossary for all the terms we are learning so this is what mine looks like. I used scrap paper and made the simple cover page. I typed the text with what was my great-grandfather’s typewriter and now my brother’s.
I’ve made quite a lot of black out poetry (it’s an easy go-to exercise and now I’m almost run out of my battered 50 cent copy of Emma). When I’m done I simply paste it on a spare page.
Unfortunately this one is so close to be worded perfectly, so I take the liberty of reading it with an added “to” as one does with blackout poetry.
so slight, so easy, so inexpensive, so obvious. but i said to myself: "what will become of my Soul? if I had chosen to have torn you to pieces."
I ADORE these next two, needless to say. They’re amazing. (And I can say that because I technically didn’t write a single word in them, right…?)
Despite all the pictures of black out poetry and semi-polished poems, a lot of the journal is rough. Scribbles, notes, unfinished poems, a couple phrases, or clippings pasted in only for me to move on.
I’ve been spending the afternoons in my family’s living room and at a very specific time you can find small rainbows on the carpet and then watch them disappear and appear again on the walls.
slender glass-scaled fishes lay gleaming in quiet corners vanish in the hour
And my friend and I found the Most Marvelous Twisted Tree™ and I took a picture, as one must, when they find a marvelously twisted tree.
there was something ugly and evil in his face the fire was fed getting sooty with the smoke.
imagined for the purpose - mysterious - to see with its eyes and warm hearts in company with art
Part of writing poetry is reading lots of it. I was looking up a specific sonnet online and instead found a sonnet generator (who knew there was such a thing??)
As a friend sagely narrated: “…and from that day on Evelyn wrote a sonnet every week for class.”
It turned out to be terrible in the most hilarious way.
I think my favorite lines are “Let me compare you to a murky spoon?/You are more busty, dusty, and crusty./Rough sun heats the fusty peaches of June.”
The auto praise was the best part. It cracked me up so much I had to take a screenshot.
Then I found a haiku generator and boom. Best. Poem. Ever.
refreshing autumn a raw, bloated blowfish dies, whilst watching the toad.
Finally one last poem-related thing.
This picture I took from my favorite Shakespeare play last week makes me snicker every time.
It almost looks like modern poetry as it perfectly descends in stairsteps, but that the thought behind this format is actually poetical in it’s mechanics.
So I had to share that haha.
Expect much poetry shared in the future.
If you had a poetry journal, what would you include in it? Have you ever used a poetry generator? What was your experience? What are some of your favorite poems?
~ evelyn ~
p.s. if you like reading about poetry i have lots of posts in which i rant about it. i have more blackout poetry and i like to play around with words a lot, experimenting. i also have posted original poetry over the years.