Showing posts from August, 2020

Help Student Writers Connect With Mentor Authors

Everytime we enter the classroom it is incumbent on each of us to bring all that we have garnered about reading and writing and mindfully apply this invaluable knowledge to our teaching of writing. We are never alone in our teaching if we apply this thinking. Ask yourself- what have I seen other writers doing that might assist the writer's I'm teaching? As teachers of writing we need to gather around us lots of authors we trust and respect. Authors who are available to assist in the important task of developing the confidence and competence of young writers. When we allow these trusted authors to become our co teachers, it affords students the opportunity to more readily acquire the craft of writing. We are mindfully exposing the inexperienced writer to rich literary models. How good is that? We must take every opportunity to encourage students to investigate specific aspects surrounding the work of these mentors. In our daily teaching it is important to encourage the imitation

The Poet Tree Positivity Project

Woke up this morning, I was feeling quite weird, had flies in my beard, my tooth paste was smeared - well not really. They're actually lyrics from an old song 'Mr Spaceman,' by The Byrds that had formed an earworm in my head as I began writing this...  I actually woke with an idea for sharing poetry with my neighbours. So I set about creating what I'm calling 'The Poet Tree Project.' I am trying to deal with my current lockdown life by responding positively and creatively.  I have long held the view that poetry possesses a capacity to be healing and transformative, particularly in stressful times. It frequently performs a gentle dance around our emotions engaging them and soothing the soul. It remains one of poetry's many gifts to both the writer and the reader. There's an old, gnarled eucalypt tree outside my back gate and I thought it would make a perfect partner in my quest to share some poetry in this time of Covid 19. I can see the tree clearly from

Confessions of A One Time Lyric Lord

  Fragments of Song and Lingering Lyrics Simply because Covid has gifted me stay at home time, yesterday I took a moment to view a You-Tube video of a concert held on the forecourt of the iconic Sydney Opera House in 2016 and at one stage the camera panned out from the stage and onto the vast audience assembled in that great open space.  Breasting the stage, the audience smiled, waved and danced their way through a collection of treasured songs from the legendary 'Crowded House.' They sang every word of every song loudly and proudly. Judging by their appearance, their ages seemed to predominantly range from 18-35 years old. Anyway, they were younger than me, without doubt. As I watched, my thoughts turned to a time in my life when I truly believed I knew the words to- all the words, to all the songs. Well, not all the songs, but certainly all the popular songs of that time. I took quite some pride in being able to recall lyrics with such consummate ease. It seemed to come so na

Mindful Actions to Engage Inexperienced Writers

How is interest in writing sparked and then maintained for our students?  This is the enduring challenge all teachers of writing face. Here are a few ideas to ignite a desire to write in your classroom. For teachers of writing it begins with mindfully sharing your own writing. This is where credibility as a teacher of writing is established. A writer’s notebook with a range of text investigations lets students know that you too see yourself as a writer -just like your impressionable young learners! Try engaging students in conversations around your own writing life.- Sharing how you harvest ideas,  how you notice things and how you work to solve problems in your writing. Do not underestimate the power of sharing your writing process with the inexperienced writer. They can draw much in the way of inspiration and potential action from what you put on display.  Such conversations create a powerful dialogue that goes quite some way in demystifying writing, making it suddenly appear more ac

Poetry and Hope- Covid Chronicles Part 2

It is difficult to avoid the contrarian views that have arisen around how we must deal with this global pandemic. I have become increasingly unsettled by the calls to rise up and not adhere to the advice offered by scientific and medical experts. Claiming lost freedom and imposition of tyranny, or worse still, that what we are experiencing is in fact a giant conspiracy -or even worse,  a hoax! leaves me in chin scratching bewilderment.  The mask evaders have set themselves on a course to show the world their contempt for their fellow citizens.They won't say that of course, but their actions leave the rest of us in no doubt. Would they be happy if operating surgeons went about their critical work, mask optional? Should hand washing in food services, cafes and restaurants also be optional? There are so many aspects of life where we accept life and health protection laws, mandates and work safe practices without question. This matter of masks is not a hill upon which to make a stand a

Writing Poetry -Working With Images

There are many ways pictures and photographs can be conscripted to support the writing of poetry. Allow me to share a few ideas with you: Old photographs are a great source of inspiration. Cynthia Rylant explored this idea with great success in her book 'Something Permanent' where she employed the Depression era photographs of Walker Evans to add a new voice to the starkness to the lives of people experienced under extreme circumstances. I have used this strategy to spark many individual poems. In ' I Bet There's No Broccoli On The Moon,'  I used a photo I had taken in 2004 while living in New York to inspire a poem. The poem was based on a story related by a friend who grew up in New York.  I regularly combined poetry and pictures in my writer's notebook, drawing on inspiration from the photograph and my personal memories. We can also utilize existing cartoons and illustrations to create ekphrastic poems. I frequently use the illustrations of Jim Pavlidis to co