Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: “Slicing Poetry”
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Slice of Life: “Slicing Poetry”

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hLast week I wrote my first poem!  Fran, a fellow slicer, responded:

“What a perfect “slicing” poem!”

This response was such an Aha!   I always share with students that writers need to make decisions once they have a topic in mind. Audience, purpose and genre are included in those decisions. As writers we not only have to think about what we want to write about, we need to decide which genre or structure will best express our topic to our intended audience.

In poetry, I think this is one of the reasons I was stuck. I was looking elsewhere for topics. I thought I had to have a deep thought about something or see something in nature in a new way. I struggled with the idea of having poet’s eyes. I never thought about a poem also being a slice of life. This has had me thinking all week. What if I thought about poetry in terms of a slice of life?

Maybe I need to stop looking for topics and realize poetry is hiding. It may just be hiding in some of my other pieces of writing. So I decided I would give it a go – it is poetry month after all:

 

Memory

Forgetting to remember

Hey Mom!

Who’s there?

It’s me…Clare

Who’s Clare?

Clare…. Your daughter.

I don’t have a daughter.

Yes you do.

No I don’t.

  

Remembering to forget

  

Hey Peg!

Who’s there?

Clare… just coming by to visit.

That’s nice.

How are you?

Good. What’s new? 

 

Remembering to forget

So

I can

Forget she doesn’t remember

 

We are often concerned with students who get stuck writing about one topic. I once heard Katie Wood Rae share that this doesn’t worry her, after all, she has made a career writing about only one topic. I realize she’s right – many authors have a topic or genre they stick with over time. Going back to topics that matter to me and that I have written about in other genres may be helpful when I am writing in a structure that is not as comfortable or familiar to me.

This is a strategy I look forward to sharing with students. Rather than just accepting that some writers may “get stuck” I want to invite young writers to get stuck in a topic. If they use a familiar topic to scaffold writing in a new structure they may find this to be the entry point they need to find their voice in this new genre. It seems to be working for me … I am finding poems hiding in my other pieces of writing.

Clare

13 Comments
  • Avatar
    Jennifer Laffin
    Posted at 10:25h, 14 April Reply

    As someone who also has a parent struggling with memory issues, your poem really touched me. So beautiful! Sometimes, we can say things in a poem that just can’t be said any other way. Thank you!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 23:29h, 14 April Reply

      It does feel like poetry may be a good way to express how I am feeling and experiencing this stage of life with my mother. As you know it is difficult to put into words, but it still needs to be said. I am glad you connected –I think all of us experiencing this need to connect. Thank you
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Lisa
    Posted at 10:32h, 14 April Reply

    Good advice! I used to always think that poetry had to come from a place of deep thinking too. I was able to actually start writing poems when I realized they are just about every day observations by deep thinkers, but also by lots of other people! I agree that your poem tells a whole story in just a few words.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 23:28h, 14 April Reply

      Thank you — I will need to keep listening to my own advice and see where this poetry thing takes me. It helps to hear that others experience this as well.

      Clare

  • Avatar
    Fran
    Posted at 10:36h, 14 April Reply

    Clare,

    So perfect.

    I’m reminded of a family quote, “You are trying too hard. It’s supposed to be fun!” Sometimes we get so wrapped up in “Is this right?” “Is this good enough?” that we forget to breathe and find the little miracles of poetry found in our daily lives!

    As for aging parents, so hard to remember what’s missing. So hard to forget “the way it used to be” as we adjust to the “new normal”.

    Great topics for writing!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 23:26h, 14 April Reply

      So glad you read the poem — your response last week was so helpful to me. This writing community is really so powerful. You really get to know each other as people and writers. It has been a true honor to share my process with fellow slicers. The “new normal” is a good way to think about it — I will give that a go next week.
      Thanks

  • Avatar
    Tara
    Posted at 15:42h, 14 April Reply

    That last stanza…that made me want to cry. Thanks for sharing your process, and this poem, Clare.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 23:24h, 14 April Reply

      The process has been really interesting to me. I have had poetry as a goal for some time now. It is finally coming together. I am interesting in seeing where it will take me as a writer.
      Thanks
      Clare

  • Avatar
    rosecappelli
    Posted at 19:52h, 14 April Reply

    Clare-
    Your poem touched my heart, and your words are so true. Poetry is hiding everywhere. I think many picture books and even chapter books read like poems. It is the beauty, rhythm, and feeling in the words. Music is poetry, too, I think.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 23:23h, 14 April Reply

      Thanks Rose. I am finding poetry hiding –maybe it will help me explore some feelings that are hiding too. I too have found books in verse to be a new genre for me that I really enjoy –especially when I listen to the audio version.

  • Avatar
    Linda Baie
    Posted at 22:23h, 14 April Reply

    I’ve written more than once about this topic, & you’ve done it beautifully too, truth is right there in your lines. Being in the moment is what it’s about, making memories right there. Thanks for using your own ideas & experiences to write this, Clare.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 23:21h, 14 April Reply

      Thank you — not an easy topic, but one that needs to be explored for me right now. It helps to find meaning in something that seems meaningless at times.
      I appreciate your encouragement.
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Catherine
    Posted at 01:55h, 15 April Reply

    Your poem is heart-wrenching, Clare. So glad you found it and shared it with us today.

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