April 12, 2016

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

NPM 2015: What Are You Wearing, Linda Baie?

This month at Author Amok, we're not eating poetry (much as we love Mark Strand's poem).

The NPM 2015 Poster features
lines from this poem by Mark Strand.
Instead, we are wearing poetry. 

Throughout April, guest bloggers are putting on their costumes and best outfits as we feature poetry about clothes. Why clothes? Read this post.

In addition to the guest bloggers, every Friday in April I'll post a round-up of original and recommended clothing poems. (Send those via email to laurashovan at gmail dot com or leave them in the comments). You'll find this week's writing prompt at the bottom of this post.

Emily Dickinson tights from Etsy.
Ralph Waldo Emerson T-shirt from Etsy.
DIY poetic pants from the blog Stars for Streetlights.
Meet today's guest blogger, poet and educator Linda Baie

  Thanks, Laura, for inviting me to your blog this month, of all things we wear. It’s been wonderful to read how others have connected to this theme.    

     I’ve written with middle-school students in poetry groups all through my teacher years, and find they often write about clothing. One of my students recently wrote a wonderful poem about what’s in her pocket, and I’m happy she gave me permission to share it today. When the girls wear such tight pants, I wonder if they have any room for anything, especially their phones. But they do wear hoodies or jackets, and perhaps that’s where the phones and other mysterious objects lie.

A display of pocket poems
at Linda's local library.

        I used Lill Pluta’s Lillian’s Pocket as a jumping off point to share. You can find it here, in a post by Jama Rattigan from a few years ago.

              It begins:

There are no bats in pockets,
although the wool makes caves
for memories to roost in,
where discards hide away.

And here is the poem by my student who used Georgia Heard’s Falling Down The Page: A Book of List Poems as her mentor text.

In My Pocket
        by Brynn

A pen that clicks
some tape that sticks
a paper clip
a mint

a silver thought
a tin robot
a document
to print

a black ink pen
vermilion wren
a tiny ball
of lint

a dragon cave
a child saved
a drawing in
full tint.

          When I began to write about pockets, I was also reminded of Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried where he wrote of the Viet Nam war and what the soldiers had with them. In addition to the physical ‘things’, O’Brien wrote of more abstract things carried, like guilt in their jobs as soldiers-killing, and for leaving their families alone; worry that a girlfriend might not stay in the relationship or that the experience would change who they are for the rest of their lives.  I teach young adolescents, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, some leaving our school in just a few weeks, on to high school. I know that some carry candy or snack bars, now their phones, pencils, paper clips, and erasers.  Yet I also imagine some of those other “things” they carry, often as questions: “Will I keep my friends, make new ones when I leave?” What does it mean when someone doesn’t speak to me?” “I wish I didn’t have so much to do, sports practices, violin lessons, homework.” “How can I say no to drugs?” “Will anyone like me?” “Does anyone like me?”  Pockets as metaphor?  I fill mine for them with bright hopes for their futures, and at least one poem to carry along, too.
        And, because it’s poetry month, I am also reminded of Poem In Your Pocket Day, April 30th  We will be sharing poems all over school that day, poems that “fit” the place, or the person.  I love that it’s another way for my students to dig a more deeply into poetry to find one special poem. My wish for you is that you always have a “poem in your pocket”.

The Academy of American Poets has resources
for Poem in Your Pocket Day
, April 30, 2015.
 Linda Baie moved from the classroom after 20 years of teaching gifted students in an independent progressive school in Denver, Colorado five years ago. This year, through the school’s need, she is back in the classroom again, in fact, the room where she started with middle school aged students.  She will be retiring this year, misses working with all the teachers, but is loving this “last chance” to carry memories of students “in her pocket” when she leaves.  She blogs at TeacherDance, and hopes all teachers would realize how important it is to write and share their writing with their students.

Thanks for this post, Linda. I love the way Brynn's poem moves from practical items to fantastic ones. Who wouldn't like a dragon cave in their pocket. I'm going to add some of your list poem ideas to the workshop I'm developing for elementary schoolers! (I asked the teacher to bring in their grocery lists for us to discuss. We'll see how that goes.)

ICYMI: In our poetry closet, you will find...

Jane Elkin looks in her childhood closet. Poems by Mark Irwin and Ron Koertge.
Heidi Mordhorst pulls on some big, black boots.

Speaking of wearing poetry, congratulations to Irene Latham, who won Friday's giveaway.

I hope wearing it inspires you
to smile, Irene!
*Your suggested clothing poem prompt for Friday, April 17: Secret Identities.
Have you ever had an outfit that made you feel like a super hero? Or a pair of boots that, whenever you wore them, made you feel powerful? Whether it's a lucky shirt or a pair of jeans that fits you to perfection, write about a piece of clothing that makes (or made) you feel like you could take on the world.

Send your poems any time. I'll post original work and recommended poems on Friday.


Tabatha said...

Very impressed with Brynn's poem! All the words are so well-chosen.
Beautiful post, Linda!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Yes, this is a beautiful post! I enjoyed that movement in Brynn's poem, too - she really had me at "a silver thought" - :0)
Best wishes to all those young students, especially those heading to a new chapter of life in a few months.

Patricia VanAmburg said...

What an enjoyable post Linda. I loved your prompt lines--the idea of a wool cave for memories. Brynn's poem is amazing. The pocket display also very nice. I really need some of those Dickinson tights :)


Patricia Vanamburg said...

oh my gosh Laura--the blog let me post!!

Linda B said...

Thanks again Laura, for having me. I hope Brynn has seen the compliments, will be sure to ask tomorrow! And thanks Tabatha, Robyn & Patricia too! It was a fun post to write & to collect some thoughts about pockets and what they hold.

Diane Mayr said...

Yup--that "silver thought" is a golden phrase!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

What a thought-full and thought-provoking post, Linda. Brynn's poem is lovely– the "silver thought" resonated with me as well!

Linda B said...

Thanks, Michelle and Diane, will pass this on to Brynn.

jama said...

Let me join in the praise for Brynn's lovely poem. Each word well chosen like a polished gem. "Silver thought" struck me as well as "vermillion wren."

Interesting hearing about the concerns your students may carry with them as they transition to high school, and enjoyed the photo of the library's pocket poems display. Thanks for this wonderful post, Linda.

Donna Smith said...

I'm sorry I'm late commenting. I read and somewhere along the line a distraction happened!
Love Brynn's poem! I like that a pocket can be like a dragon's cave!
The pictures of the "pocket poems" remind me of the year I sewed Plaid fabric into the shape of Pockets to Pin on kids when we were learning the letter P. Wouldn't it be fun to take scraps and make pockets with a poem printed on the outside to carry copies of their poems in for Apr.30?
Now I SOOO want to do that!

jan godown annino said...

Appreciations to Linda for indroducing me to talented poet Kay/Lillian/Lill & the pockety post shared from Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Brynn is an equally talented word wrangler & I anticipate more poems (list or other forms) from her pen/pencil/keyboard.

(Glancing down I see my kitty Ginger has his paw on - not in - my pocket as this very moment as he sausages across my lap. )

Am excited for April 30 & poem in many pockets! Appreciations to Laura for hosting another day of
What Are You Wearing? NPM joy.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Linda, I think we can all see your influence in Brynn's poem--how she recasts the notion of pocket as cave, how she structures her poem as a list rather than as standard quatrains. All the models you're providing are clearly making their mark, and yet Brynn's poem sounds--IS--original. YOU are the mentor text, Linda. : ) Enjoy your last year!