Tuesday, December 29, 2015


It started with an email from me to my poetry writing friend, Mary Lee.

OK, so here is a question. 

In April, we write thirty poems in a row. 
Every stinking day. 
For a whole month.

Why then, can I not write one more poem for the whole rest of the year???

Your non poetry writing friend,
Mary Lee responded with a challenge.
How about this small challenge: Join me in reading The Santa Clauses aloud on Monday, and then write a haiku a day in December and invite the students to come along for the ride. I'll publish mine at Poetrepository. You can tuck yours in the comments if you don't want to go all out on Carol's Corner.
Is that do-able? Then you won't be able to say you haven't written any other poems all year long!
 I thought that might be do-able. I didn't know, but have discovered since, that it's way harder to write a few words than a lot. And so, the two of us started out on December 1st. But here is the really, really fun part.

It only stayed two of us for about one day. Steve Peterson, a teacher from Iowa(@insidethedog), joined us almost immediately.  And so did Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax). And LeighAnn Eck(@teachr4). And Carol Varsalona (@cvarsalona).

Originally, I thought I would write Christmas haiku the entire month. I think I ran out of ideas about a week in. Then I just kind of switched over and wrote about whatever-- nature, moments from the day. I'm definitely not a polished poet, but at least I have been writing every day.

Every morning Mary Lee posts on her poetry blog, Poetrepository. Kevin posts his on Twitter. Steve posts on Mary Lee's blog and on Twitter too. I publish on my blog, and in the comments on Mary Lee's and sometimes on Twitter, although that feels a little intimidating to me. There are usually a couple of different conversations about poetry- one on Mary Lee's blog and one on Twitter. And it's really, really fun.

It's also been a really playful thing. One week, Kevin played line tag with Mary Lee, picking up one of her lines, and including it in his poems. Another week, Mary Lee played poetry tag with herself, including a line from each day's poem in the next poem.

I'd never go so far as to claim that I am a poet like some of these folks are, but I've learned a lot. Haiku aren't supposed to have titles (mine usually do). Haiku often have kind of a kicker line- a surprise metaphor or ??? (those are really hard, mine don't usually have them). There's another closely related form, tanka- it's five lines, but a similar syllable pattern. Steve often writes those. They are supposed to have a hinge line in the middle, connecting two dissimilar images. That's really hard to do.

I'm really glad I took Mary Lee's challenge this month!


Stacey Shubitz said...

I hadn't seen MaryLee's Poetrepository until this post. Wow! I opened it up after reading your post and plan to return to it tomorrow.

Anyway, I'm glad you took the challenge. Good for you for reaching out to a friend for help and then taking on the challenge. It must feel great, Carol.

Happy new year to you!

Linda B said...

I haven't commented much, but I've read yours and Mary Lee's. I wish I could have joined you, but just too much else going on. I think you need to count yourself in with the group of poets, Carol. I've loved each one. Happy New Year!

Leigh Anne Eck said...

I have some reading/commenting catching-up to do! I am glad I participated in this challenge even if it was from the sidelines. I have learned so much from each of you, and yes, you should count yourself as a poet too! Now I am off to read more!

Ramona said...

Our online communities are so powerful. I stayed up at first, but now I need to play catch up. I'm so impressed that you took on this challenge in December!

Mary Lee said...

I'm glad you came along for the ride!! It was a fun month!

Carol Varsalona said...

Carol, I am glad that I joined in the conversations that mostly you, Steve, and Mary Lee had. As I told all of you, I felt I was learning more each day. I loved how everyone played with words and that all of you would respond to my beginner attempts. Towards the end when the holiday rush got hectic I would just listen and watch. That was more than okay with me. I hope you continue your journey with haiku or micropoetry and offer me some wonderful digital inspirations for the winter gallery.