In my experience, unearthing poetry from a piece of literature or a news article I don’t yet fully grasp puts a sense of play back into reading and comprehension. It also allows me to create with something I don’t completely understand.
Find a text on farming that you can use to hunt around for a poem. Look for newspaper articles on agriculture, harvest, farmers markets, or even the weather report. Read some of E.B. White’s essays about his experience on a farm. (Confession: I’m jealous of his ability to write fluently when it comes to city and farming landscapes.) Try to find a piece that’s new to you. That is, look for something about farming that you don’t know much about already. This will give your poetry hunt more urgency and will allow you to find the “heart” of the text. I used my friend and fellow writer Stacy Bronec’s essay 10 Reasons Farming Is More Than You Might Think.
Once you’ve chosen a piece, read it through. Next, circle or draw a square around words or phrases that jump out at you. You’re looking for words that sing, that shimmer and shine, words that make you smile or catch your breath when you read them. When you’ve finished marking up the text, go back to the top and see what you have. Here are the pencil marks I made on Stacy’s piece:
Next, black out everything you don’t want to keep. Here’s mine:
If you like, you can copy out the words you’ve kept. Here’s my farm poem, with an added title and minor changes to create correct grammar:
Look out your window
see all that needs to be done
a good indication of what’s to come
passes you by
a farmer must
be willing to learn and change
go with him when you get the chance.
Featured Poem Excerpt
Thanks to everyone who participated in our recent poetry prompt. Here’s part of a poem from Katie we enjoyed:
…from the cylinder
in the salad bar.
Small halves of sunshine…
Callie Feyen’s students are blessed, as are the teachers who will read her book (and their own students, who will in turn benefit from it). But more than that, there’s the special excitement of reading the first memoir of a young writer with a compelling voice. Brava!
—John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture, 1995-2016