For a recent workshop, I put together an afternoon about writing visually. The workshop was a kick-off to Carver County Library‘s unique Poetry/Art Collaborative, a new event this year that challenges poets to submit poems about Carver County — places, events, people, activities, objects, scenery, etc. — and challenges artists to create work for an exhibition in November.
Doesn’t seem right to ask my students to do something I haven’t attempted, so I wrote a poem about the apple tree in my back yard and challenged my beloved, Dick Osgood, to create a photo that reflected my poem. Dick’s beautiful photo is above. Here’s my poem:
Apple Tree, Spring
a pink gull passed over
the bluesilver lake.
Under her rosy wings,
ten thousand ancient spurs
twenty-nine thousand evenings
past the careful parsing of
youth and the prudent provisioning
of prime, every year a glorious
exuberance. Because any year
might be the last.
Bushels, baskets, climbs, nests, forts, bees,
swings, kisses, robins, jays, picnic blankets.
The annual passerines for two weeks
every May. Bud, flower, fruit and
fruit-fall. Malus domestica.
The star at the white heart
of every apple.
Poetry tip of the day: Eliminate and and but and yet from your poetry. See if you can get rid of them in your very first edit, simply by using punctuation or line breaks or re-arranging words. You may even find you need fewer words to say what you mean. Which is, after all, the point of poetry, isn’t it? Conveying meaning with the rhythmic lilt of carefully placed words and spaces.
I don’t remember where I first heard this — I’ve used it for a long, long time; most teachers emphasize this for all writing, not only poetry. It’s a quick way to focus your ideas, challenge yourself to choose your words carefully, say what you mean with clarity.
See? In the paragraph above, every time I could have used and, but or yet, I chose punctuation instead, or I re-arranged words.
It’s not that you’ll never see these words in good writing. You will. But using them sparingly guides attention to your main point.
Writing Visually, and a Collaborative Poem Setting: Saturday afternoon, June 6, at the Chanhassen branch for Carver County Library’s class on Writing for Real People: Writing Visually. Purpose: to have fun with words! And to get ready to write a … Continue reading →