Essence experiment

My kindred-spirit-blogger-teacher-writer friend Lainie Levin had a fun post this week on a favorite exercise with young student writers: playing with suffixes added to your name, then coming up with a definition of the essence of you. Lainie calls this “nounifying yourself.” Here’s her suggested suffix list:

-itude
-ness
-ility
-age
-dom

-ity
-ship
-sion
-ance/ence

-al
-ation
-iety
-ment

Naturally I had to accept her invitation to compose (read more about her process and see fun student examples in her lively post, Word Play – thank you for this, Lainie!)

Frandom

The quality of maintaining a quiet inner realm despite the world’s clamor, where one’s thoughts are free to be one’s own; typically achieved through experiences with reading, writing, nature, and awe.

A drawing of me by my granddaughter last year: Franna in her Frandom?

Definito poem

On Day 10 of National Poetry Month, my friend Margaret Simon invites teacher-poets to compose a definito poem for VerseLove on Ethical ELA. It’s a form invented by her friend Heidi Mordhorst: “A free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem.” Margaret’s suggestions: “Choose a word that has a certain fascination to you. You can look for the Word of the Day or any word that comes to mind. Play with the etymology of the word. What do the sounds mean? How does the meaning play with your thoughts? Explore the word using imagery, metaphor, and word play.”

So… I tried, I really tried, two things: 1) Getting away from my OLW, “awe” and 2) Keeping to the recommended 8-12 lines. I failed in both. I did, however, have a lot of fun with the unfolding of this pseudo-definito…

Awe “Definito”

So, Children, 
maybe you have seen something
so wonderful
that you went all shivery inside
and maybe your skin
even got tingly
or goosebumpy

a thing
so beautiful 
that you don’t have a word
for how beautiful it is

the feeling you get when
the sun’s slanted golden light 
breaks through the clouds
after a storm
or when you see a rainbow, 
(not made with crayons,
a real one) in the misty height,
colors glimmering, glowing, blurring, 
an ethereal sight
ethereal? Sorry. It means 
to be so airy and light and beautiful
that the thing almost doesn’t belong
to this world
like stars, crystal-bright
against the black-velvet sky
on a winter’s night

maybe you have felt their stab of
silvery coldness, looking up
while your breath
hangs white
in the air

—yeah, that’s the feeling;
should we stop to
discuss metaphor
again?

No, it doesn’t have to be cold.

It can be a rush of warmth
on seeing a puppy
tiny, pink-mouthed, and so new
that its eyes are not yet open

—please note: The word is not spelled
the same way as what you say:
Awwww!
This, Children, is a homophone,
a poem for another day—

and the feeling might not come
from something you see
at all. 

It can come from something you hear. 
Once I was in an auditorium
where a girl who was trained in opera
sang just one high note;
her lips never moved
I couldn’t see her breathing
and the sound grew bigger
and bigger
and bigger
until the room
and my brain
and my heart 
were filled, almost bursting
with the pure, clear
starlike sound

-oh yes, I can tell by your eyes
and your open mouths
that you are beginning
to understand
awe.

After the tornado