Class Notes

I gave myself a present this past August–I enrolled in Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab.  It was a wonderful treat–a month of experimenting with lyrical language in poetry and prose, receiving spot-on feedback, and challenging myself to focus on some basic and not-so basic skills.

I usually appreciate the restrictions of writing to different poetic forms, and writing with a consistent rhythm and rhyme scheme.  It’s a lot like solving a puzzle (and I love word and number puzzles!)  Free verse can sometimes seem a little random and haphazard–but the free verse lesson in Renee’s class emphasized the thoughtful and careful techniques and structure that distinguish it from prose.  I particularly enjoyed the poetry examples that she used to illustrate these different techniques, from Walt Whitman to Eve Merriam and Valerie Worth.  One of the poems was “The Pickety Fence” by David McCord:

PicketyFence-1024x705Read “The Pickety Fence” aloud and you’ll hear the rhythm and delight of that stick on the clickety fence!  Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (and an easy way to impose the restrictions of a structure) I decided to use it as a model for the write-a-free-verse-poem assignment at the end of the lesson.  The pickety sounds reminded me of the chipmunks that are constantly chipping in my yard.  Here’s the poem I wrote:


(inspired by David McCord’s “The Pickety Fence”)

The chippity chipmunk
is chipper and bright
He chips in the morning
He chips in the night

He’s a cockcrow chipper
He’s a high-noon chipper
He’s a twilight chipper
He’s a chippity chipper
with nuts in his cheeks

He chips in the garden
He chips in the trees
He chips in the tunnel
where he stacks his seeds

He chips and he chips and he chips and he chips
Chippity chip chip
chippity chip chip
chippity chippity
Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

Want to write your own Pickety Fence inspired poem?  If you do, please put it in a comment and I’ll add it to this blog post.

18923_originalAnd be sure to enjoy all the Poetry Friday goodness rounded up at Laura Purdie Salas’ blog.

25 thoughts on “Class Notes

  1. Now that is a fun poem! I love the chippity little guy!

    We have a lot of squirrels in our backyard but no chipmunks. In Colorado, where I grew up, it was a different story. We had chipmunks everywhere. They’re so cute and one of the reasons I look forward to my Colorado visits.

  2. I am just finishing Renee’s class, Buffy, wish you had been in my group-what fun it’s been. Now, I’m off to a Highlights workshop next week. What an immersion! I only see chipmunks here in the mountains, wonder why? Maybe the squirrels, aggressive creatures that they are, kick them out! I love the chipity sounds you put into your poem, Buffy. Do they really “chip” all the time? Lately the sounds that are constant are crickets. I often wonder if there legs don’t get sore!

    1. Are you doing David Harrison’s poetry workshop? Oh, you will enjoy it–I attended the Poetry for All workshop two years ago with a few other Poetry Friday folks (Heidi, Liz, Bridget, and probably others that I’m forgetting.) A wonderful experience!

  3. I love this chippy little guy! I used to love having squirrels and chipmunks in the yard in upstate New York — and even in NYC — but I have never seen a squirrel in Italy. I know they must exist because I have seen ropes strung over streets to allow them to cross the road safely … but nary a sign of an actual critter. I miss them!

  4. Before we moved to the coast from the Ga. mountains, I used to joke that every chipmunk in the county lived in our yard! (I remember them from that Highlights workshop you and I attended, too.)
    Thanks for sharing the Pickety Fence poem – hadn’t read in a while! – and now I’m going to be “chippity-chipping” all day thanks to you…. ;0)

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