It’s been bitter cold for the past week in Michigan. I’ve managed to get outside every day (although the hound has decided he’s a warm weather friend–icy paws are not his gig.) The warmth of a poetry class was especially welcome this week. I had read that April Halprin Wayland was offering a 3-hour poetry class through UCLA extension, and the price was right (as in free.) It was a fun class, and got the juices flowing.
We started the class with a 10-minute observation. I had just filled our bird feeders before the class began and taken some photos of bird tracks and wing imprints in the snow. Rather than bundle up again, I opened a window, binoculars in hand, and watched and listened. Our assignment was to jot down a list of facts and feelings. My list was heavy on the facts (no surprise there.)
Our lists led to writing three poems during the class. The first poem was meant to start from a fact or feeling from the list. Here’s my very-rough, 10-minute draft:
Under the Bird Feeder Tiny pitchforks mark the snow-covered ground, left by a congregation of insistent beaks. Trails of tracks wander, crisscross, side-by-side in perfect pairs. Some end in wing marks, where the small and timid fled the bustle, the hubbub. Reigning bullies fly like torpedos and scatter the crowd, hungry to make their mark. --Buffy Silverman
After April shared examples of poems in different poetic voices, we had ten more minutes to rewrite our poems using one of those voices. I attempted a dialogue poem, which is not a form I had explored before. And finally, we were asked to choose one of our two poems and add one of the poetic tools that April had highlighted in the poems she shared–metaphor/simile, personification, and repetition. I played with my final poem after the class had ended, tossing in a little rhythm and rhyme:
A Question for Backyard Birds When the wind is a howling coyote and the snow is a falcon in flight, When the air holds the scorpion’s sting and bugs disappear from your sight, Why do you stay through the dark days of winter? Why do you stay in my yard? We stay for the seeds and the suet. We fly to the feeders for snacks. We flit and we flutter through branches, and hide when the Cooper attacks. We hop through the drifts, and we dine through the day, we stay for the feast in our yard. --Buffy Silverman
Looking for more poetry? Hop over to Life on the Deckle Edge where my multi-talented pal, Robyn Hood Black, is hosting Poetry Friday.