One of the best parts of KidlitCon (as is always the case at a conference) was getting to meet in person people I’ve known for a long time online, including Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Liz Burns of A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, Pam Coughlan of MotherReader, Sarah Stevenson (aka aquafortis) of Finding Wonderland (but no Tanita Davis, alas), Kelly Herold of Big A little A, Susan Taylor Brown, Susan Marie Swanson, and—well, this list goes on and on for me. Again, more on this later. For now, I can’t help but gush a little about a new friend I made at the con, someone I’m surprised I didn’t meet earlier via her amazing blog and Poetry Friday.
Her name is Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, and she had the best coat at the convention, and she kept me in stitches with her stories. She’s a poet and a writing teacher, and her blog, The Poem Farm, is kind of incredible because Amy writes and posts a new poem every day. She’s on day 210 now. Two hundred and ten original poems in as many days! I’m in awe.
Homeschooling moms and teachers take note: what Amy does on her blog is really unique. Besides sharing her poems, she writes about the process—what sparks the idea, what stages the poem goes through along the way. Here’s an example from today’s sunflower poem:
This poem is simply a description, a word picture, of one sunflower at two times in its life. You probably noticed that this poem is divided into two stanzas, and each one takes place during a different month. In this poem, I wished to snap a wordshot of how a sunflower’s head position changes over time.
Something about words here too: while this poem does not rhyme at the ends of its lines, you will hear that the first stanza rhymes some internal vowels: gazes, straight, and face. In the second stanza, you hear more repetition of sounds: seeds, deeply, and weep.
A writer thinks much like being a scientist. Look closely. Quiet down. Observe. Today on the playground or later at home, stare at things. Let one image capture you like a prisoner, and do not look away. If you are reading this in writing workshop now, walk over to the window or take a walk outside. Be wowed by an image. Then write your description, as finely and truly as you are able.
See what I mean? I haven’t seen anyone else doing this online, writing frankly about the process of crafting a poem, and it’s an invaluable resource for young writers. (Heck, and old!)
Amy is @ThePoemFarm on Twitter.