Tuesday, April 10, 2012

10th Line for the 2012 KidLit Progressive Poem!

Today, as part of the ongoing celebration of National Poetry Month, I'm contributing the tenth line in the 2012 KidLit Progressive Poem, dreamed up by Irene Latham. My friends and I used to do an "Exquisite Corpse" version of this at our annual retreats. We passed a single sheet of paper around and each person contributed a line, but as we did so we had to fold over all but the preceding line. By doing that, we couldn't really tell where the poem had started nor where anyone meant the poem to go - things got pretty wild with those rules. You ended up with odd poems, not exactly sensible - or, if one of the poems made sense, it thrilled us. Insensibility and unplanned sensibility have their  roller-coaster charms. We even created a fake poet to sign the poems and send them out to reviews to see if we could get them published. Never did.

In this incarnation of the game, we could actually see the cumulative growth when we wrote our own lines. We could see where the poem started, and the course it had taken,  but we didn't know what direction future poets would make it go.

Here's the poem as it stands right now, with my contribution. Tomorrow, it moves on to Kate at her blog, Book Aunt. She'll see what she thinks her job is - maybe to make it clearer or to calm it down, speed it up, throw a curve, make it sadder, make it sillier, make it more cerebral or more emotional  - we won't know until tomorrow. And who knows what will happen by the 30th of April??

If you want to see my thoughts about why I wrote the line I did, just read the P.S.

Thanks for setting it all up, Irene - fun!

If you are reading this
you must be hungry
Kick off your silver slippers
Come sit with us a spell
A hanky, here, now dry your tears
And fill your glass with wine
Now, pour. The parchment has secrets
Smells of a Morrocan market spillout.
You have come to the right place, just breathe in.
Honey, mint, cinnamon, sorrow. Now, breathe out


P.S. Here are my thoughts about adding a line: In a poem like this (actually, in all poems, but even more so for this kind) I think there should be a few surprises. Different voices contribute, with different tastes in choice of words, images, and rhythms. Shifts along those lines can be interesting. Predictability and accessibility are not the be-all nor the end-all when the structure is cumulative, with many poets contributing. For me, adding a line meant seeing how the poem was doing in terms of surprises, and throwing in a curve or two. When I saw tears and a hanky and wine, I figured it wasn't a poem for kids. I also got worried because oh-oh, a crying jag was coming on. My inclination at that point would have been to introduce a laugh and not let the poem get over-emotional. But looking at the additions in the last couple of days, I have to say I love where it's gone - the jump to the parchment, and to Morocco - both so mysterious! So I wanted those smells and that mystery in my line, and I wanted not only a metaphorical breath in, but a physical, cleansing breath out.

Can't wait to see where this thing goes.See the schedule, below.


Here's the Progressive Poem schedule - follow along and watch it grow!

2012 KidLit Progressive Poem:  watch a poem grow day-by-day as it travels across the Kidlitosphere! April 1-30

Dates in April: 

1  Irene at Live Your Poem 
2  Doraine at Dori Reads
3  Jeannine at View from a Window Seat
4  Robyn at Read, Write, Howl
5  Susan at Susan Taylor Brown
6  Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
8  Jone at Deo Writer
9  Gina at Swagger Writer's
10  Julie at The Drift Record
11  Kate at Book Aunt
12  Anastasia Suen at Booktalking
14  Diane at Random Noodling
16  Natalie at Wading Through Words 
17  Tara at A Teaching Life
18  Amy  at The Poem Farm
19  Lori at Habitual Rhymer
21  Myra at Gathering Books
22  Pat at Writer on a Horse
23  Miranda at Miranda Paul Books 
24  Linda at TeacherDance
25  Greg at Gotta Book
26  Renee at No Water River
27  Linda at Write Time
28  Caroline at Caroline by Line
29  Sheri at Sheri Doyle
30  Irene at Live Your Poem


  1. Julie, I love the idea of breathing out sorrow and love that you inserted it here. (Also, it reminds me of your post below in which that bird is breathing out what - joy?) I appreciate your p.s. too. Yay for surprises!

  2. Oh, Julie, I love your line! So much in so few words - "sorrow" tossed in among the scents is wonderful, and then the beneficial "breathe out..." completing the idea of line nine, and setting the stage for the next stanza.

    Can't wait to see where this keeps going!

  3. When I read your line, it was so calming, even though it included sorrow, it also included enjoyment of life, those smells. I enjoyed hearing your reason for the the line, interesting. It reminded me of tension. One wants just enough to make things lively, but not so much that they break. Thank you Julie!

  4. So lovely, Julie! I could smell every layer of that sorrow...

  5. Loving your line! Loving it! When I added my line, I was trying to steer it back to a poem for kids...I figured the poured wine would reveal invisible ink or perhaps a treasure map! Oh...how I wanted to be in control :-) I like how you have sorrow being breathed out! The next line can take us anywhere...
    Great job!

  6. The imagery in this poem is so vivid but for some reason I keep picturing myself sitting with a cup of tea in someone's vast, gothic library.

    I like how 'sorrow' ties back to the 'tears' earlier in the poem.

  7. I'm really enjoying these daily additions. I like looking at a line and thinking What??? and then the next day the next line makes me shake my head and say... OH!! Now I see.
    So many adventurous minds working on different ideals to produce one master piece... Hope I don't disappoint on the 22nd. I tend to throw mischievous into the mix most of the time.

  8. Aiyiyi -- that's beautiful, Julie. I was thinking this would be a kid's poem, too, but the wine threw that notion out, and now look -- tears and sorrow and intrigue! It's lovely, but makes me nervous for the 26th! I'm thinking there will be little space for kazoo-tootlers! :)

  9. Julie, love your line. Those scents and breathing out.

  10. Oooh, I love where you have taken us with these senses... And I also love your thoughts about adding to this poem. What a beautiful game! I'm excited for this vibrant visitor to come to me! (And how I wish that all of the people could really come and stay for a spell too...) a.

  11. Julie this was a perfect line in just the right place. I can smell it all.

    This has been a really interesting experience and makes me want to play with progressive poems some more in the future.

  12. ...and I'm reminded of the quote (Lester Laminack, I think) that "reading is breathing in and writing is breathing out."