April 12, 2016

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

30 Habits of Highly Effective Poets #4: Justine Rowden on Paying Attention

Justine Rowden is the author of one of my favorite poetry books for children, Paint Me a Poem. The poems are all responses to works in Washington, DC's National Gallery of Art. Justine visited the museum, writing about those pieces that caught her attention.

Paying attention is an important practice for poets. It is that urge to pull the car over -- the grocery store can wait -- because you just spotted a fox weaving through the shrubs on the roadside. It is sitting down to write about that strange thing your friend said, or the weird headline you read in today's paper. Writing helps you think through whatever caught your attention. Most people (non-writers) push these ideas aside as "distractions" from their to-do list.

We never know where poems will come from -- so keep your poetry antenna on whenever possible.

Here is Justine: Quirkiness, Gold for the Taking!

Each day some unexpected quirky happening is a staccato that laughingly jolts us out of calm, quiet reverie -- just like a very tart twist of lemon in a cold drink.

The buzzing outside my window was just such a staccato.  Ah, bees with no sense of decorum were living it up, doing their thing in my cherry tree.

I was pulled out of that lazy roaming of my thoughts. 
So what to do about this performance art among the blossoms?   A poem has to be in there!
                       Fandango in Bee
                  by Justine Rowden 
                  Bees, animatedly dashing,
                  Grabbing nectar
                  From one succulent pink blossom
                  After another
                  Act like teenage lotharios
                  Not content with one conquest,
                  But rushing on
                  To reaffirm their virility
                  With yet
                  Another sweet thing.
Posted with permission.

Justine adds: I suspect that we need to listen for that staccato and do something with that unexpected gift.  It just might be the beginning to your perfectly wonderful and gratifying poem!  

Tomorrow, we visit with Maryland poet Liz Moser.


Robyn Hood Black said...

Great post - thanks, Laura and Justine! Gotta say I LOVE this poem's title - "Fandango in Bee" - perfect.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Robyn. The title is a perfect fit for the joyful tone of this poem. I know my musician daughter appreciated it.

jama said...

Listen for the staccato! Yes! "Fandango in Bee" is perfection :).

Ruth said...

I'm enjoying these very much! Thanks!

Author Amok said...

Thanks for stopping by today, Jama and Ruth. I'm glad you're enjoying the series. I have learned something from each person who's visited.