On Ethical ELA’s VerseLove today, Amy Vetter invites teacher-writers to compose found poems: “A found poem is like a collage…find a text (e.g. a novel) or series of texts (e.g., novel, poem, article) and pull out words, phrases, sentences that stick out to you. Play around with the words. Rearrange them until a thought or theme jumps out at you. Continue until you’ve created a cohesive text.”
My found poem comes from Natalie Babbitt’s The Search for Delicious, Amanda Gorman’s poem “Arborescent I” from Call Us What We Carry, and A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age, Daniel J. Levitin.
Stories We Tell Ourselves
I read a story about people who built towns crowned a king and enjoyed a great many quarrels and troubles all of which they created quite by themselves
for our brains are built to make stories as they take in the vastness of the world
we forget looking at a city through the window of a train that we’re only seeing the part with the train tracks running through it not the whole
blow the whistle open the door but it is shut and locked
the brain makes up its mind -it is a very powerful self-justifying machine
and so for selective windowing we would again give up our world
Today on Ethical ELA Jessica Shernburg invites teacher-poets to find 1-3 short texts to read and annotate or texts that we’ve previously annotated (“examples you have modeled for your students, your responses to student work, books you have marked up, etc.”). The idea is to use your own annotations in creating a found poem.
This is the kind of thing that could keep me busy for days, weeks, infinity…
My annotations come from an eclectic mix of professional development, research, an old but much-loved novel, and the Bible: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students (Zaretta Hammond), The Power of Moments (Chip and Dan Heath), The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (Patricia A. McKillip), and John 16.
Might I violate the expectation of an experience with the right amount of tension keeping the rubber band taut
bearing in mind that there must be trust enough for productive struggle
risking vulnerability even as a disciple unprepared for the terribleness of what is to come
imagine tapping inner power to call creatures with ancient magic unto myself
My love for the sound of cicadas is a recurring motif in my writing.
It stems from childhood summers spent with my grandparents in the country, the most idyllic days of my existence.
In thinking of Earth Day, my first inclination is to write on In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
That verse, Genesis 3:19 in the King James, conjures images from At Home: A Short History of Private Life. Here’s Bill Bryson’s observations of country churchyards in England where churches seem to be sinking into the ground: Think about it. A country parish like this has an average of 250 people in it, which translates into roughly a thousand adults deaths per century, plus a few thousand more poor souls who didn’t make it to maturity. Multiply that by the number of centuries that the church has been here and you can see that what you have here is not eighty or a hundred burials but probably something more on the order of, say, twenty thousand … that’s a lot of mass, needless to say. It’s why the ground has risen three feet.
In other words … we are the earth.
Times being the pandemic they are, death surrounds us. April 22 also marks the anniversary of the sudden passing of my husband’s father at the age of fifty-four. My husband was just twelve.
But I do not wish to turn Earth Day into a death knell.
I write about cicadas today because they lie in the earth and emerge—some after seventeen years—to sing their song of life.
In the thick woods and byways of North Carolina, from May through September, it’s a deafening cacophony; but as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so there is beauty in the ear of the listener.
In honor of Earth Day, a “found poem,” of sorts, from a former blog post I wrote, entitled Cicada Rhythms:
The song of cicadas calls to me from long ago from sultry summers in the country where narrow dirt roads keep an ominous forest from encroaching on rustic homeplaces from tiny cemeteries where baby after baby is buried under white monuments adorned with lambs at the old church just around the bend. The song is of the ages of the rising and falling of generations all of us coming and going in our time a song reverberating from oaks, pines, cypresses across canals teeming with frogs and turtles to white-tailed deer standing along the fields at dusk. It is the bright song of the sun of hope of continuity. It is the dark song of the night oddly comforting— something out in the blackness is vibrant, alive maybe keeping watch while children drift off to sleep. It is the sound of safety of stability of belonging. Calling, calling the crescendo mirrors the rhythm of life brimming with promise echoing eternity. When I hear it I am a child again no matter how many summers have come and gone. Every spring as I mark another year of existence I listen for the first rattle. You’re back! my heart sings. Ah, but we were here all along they might say if cicadas had words. There’s a lot of living and loving yet to do. You have today. Carry on.
The cicada isn’t exactly a beetle, but a “true bug.” They symbolize renewal, rebirth, transformation, change. They can disappear for many years to return en masse. Their buzzing call is made by the males, who begin singing soon after emergence.