April 12, 2016

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Source Poems: "We Are Waiting (a pantoum)"

For National Poetry Month 2014, I have invited 17 authors and poets to guest post about source poems. In this series of essays, each writer will describe a single poem's significance in his or her life.

Today's guest blogger poet Jone MacCulloch. Jone blogs about being a K-5 librarian at Check it Out.

Jone MacCulloch
There were a lot of poets on my mind when I signed up to guest blog here. I could select Naomi Shihab Nye or William Stafford or William Carlos Williams (already featured). Each one has influenced my writing. However, one poet is responsible for teaching me the following poetry form.

Whenever I write a poem using the pantuom form, I am thankful for Joyce Sidman's book Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow. [What is a pantoum?]

"We Are Waiting (a pantuom)" was tucked into the back half of this book which I was reading as a judge for the CYBILS Poetry Award in 2006. (Read about it here.) This poetry form is also found in Joyce’s book This is Just to Say.

We Are Waiting (a pantuom)
By Joyce Sidman

Our time will come again,
Say the patient ones.
Now is meadow,
But not for long.

Say the patient ones:
Sunlight dazzles,
but not for long.
Seedlings grow amongst the grass.

Sunlight dazzles,
and the meadow voles dance,
but seedlings grow amongst the grass.
Forest will return.

Meadow voles dance,
where once was fire,
but forest will return.
We wait patiently.

Once was fire,
Now is meadow.
We wait patiently.
Our time will come again.

What are we?

I read and reread this poem. Its musicality captivates me. It feels like a call and response in the simple complexity of repeating lines. I love the weaving of the lines, a tapestry of words. There's a story here. Something has happened in what was once the forest.

"We Are Waiting" is a perfect source poem for close reading with students. Asking them what they notice about the poems and its structure provides great discussions. Sidman's website is an excellent resource for all poetry aficionados.

Sidman's poem mentors me. Rereading this poem is important to my process of writing a pantuom. While I've not memorized this poem (or many others, as I hate memorizing), the cadence of this poem is with me. Sidman suggests to begin with a topic that's a passion for you. I write down several phrases about the topic. Then like a jigsaw puzzle, I arrange the lines, fitting them together. It's a time to play around with the line order.

For my response to "We Are Waiting" I borrowed the first line of Joyce’s  poem and a few other words.

I love what happens in spring. In February, when we had snow, there were the daffodils emerging in my front flower box. They are followed by the pink tulips. And there’s nothing better than listening to the arrival of the robins, a harbinger of spring days.

Jone's daffodils are eager for spring.
By Jone MacCulloch

Our time will come again,
say the emerging daffodils
in the dazzle of the sun
as pink calypso tulips bloom.

Say the emerging daffodils:
Our time is brief
as pink calypso tulips bloom
during spring's first rain.

Our time is brief,
sing the robins
during spring's first rain
while worms wriggle in the grass.

Sing the robins,
We'll be back
while worms wriggle in the grass
nectar awaits the first arrival of bees.

We'll be back
in the dazzle of the sun
nectar awaits the first arrival of bees.

Our time will come.

© 2014 Jone Rush MacCulloch 

Joyce Sidman
Jone is a teacher-librarian during the school year, who writes, reads, and blogs (personal blog, Deowriter and school blog Check It Out) the rest of the time. Shed rather write poetry than memorize it. She has had haiku published in Acorn; A Journal of Contemporary Haiku and the Haiku Society of American Members' Anthology. In 2012, she self-published a small collection of poetry and photography, Solace in Nature, and is currently working on a novel in verse. Helping with SCBWI-OR book sales is one way Jone gives back to a great writing community. You can follow Jone on Twitter @JoneMac53.

Previous posts in this series:
Diane Mayr on a haiku by Basho


Irene Latham said...

I love reading Jone's response to Joyce's poem! Both are lovely. xo

Diane Mayr said...

Good job, Jone! I definitely need to take another look at the form!

Linda B said...

It's wonderful that you crossed over from Joyce Sidman's poem into your own time coming, Jone. Your images are lovely-high time for spring!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Wonderful to see Jone and her writing highlighted here in this terrific series! (She's so generous to shine lights on others.) Jone's poem is a lovely homage to Joyce's - much to dazzle the reader in both of them!

Thanks for sharing.

Rosanne Parry said...

Love reading your response to the Joyce poem! I'll have to give the pantoum a try. I've been keeping a poetry journal again for the first time in ages. This time with a 2x2 inch sketch to go with each poem. It's been a lot of fun.

Margaret Simon said...

Just want to say thanks to Jone for so many things. I won your book on the SOLC and can't wait to get it! Thanks! Also the pantoum is a wonderful form for playing with language, like a puzzle. Both Joyce and yours mentor me and will be my source poems when I get to P in the alphabet. Love this post!!!

Renee LaTulippe said...

Love pantoums! I had never read this one by Joyce, and I can see why you were captivated. The music, the music! The puzzle aspect of pantoums is what I like about them, that technical side (just as music is technical), getting the notes to fit together just right -- as you did in your response. Lovely, Jone!