Monday, April 13, 2009

People Watching

Hey all! Hope you all had a great Easter! As for me, I just flew back to North Carolina from New York. A very good vacation for me (but I ate WAY too much.) Anyway, I'm sitting here in the airport waiting to pick up my roommate and though of a great poetry exercise.

I'm sitting here people watching. Watching people race to flights, eating cinnamon buns, and having the wheels break off of their bags ( I felt so bad for that person.) But as I was sitting here watching the people pass through Charlotte airport I started asking questions. Where were they going? Were they going to see their family or flying to go to a meeting tomorrow for work?

So here's my exercise, I want you to people watch and image their life. Go outside and watch the world around you. Watch the people and image their personality. It's actually a lot of fun making up a whole different life!

Sticky Fingers

Cream icing falls onto my fingers
as snow frosting mountain tops.
Brushing my brown locks away from the danger zone
the box tumbles to the ground.
An acrobat twisting down onto the titled floor.

I don't look very professional sitting here licking my index finger
in my Ralph Lauren suit and Channel glasses on.
Trying to just blend in with the crowd. Always trying.
Still just a kid at heart.

The freckles on my face can be traced into constellations
hidden zodiac signs. My chocolate bangs can not even hide
the freckles in my eyes.

I pick up my Gucci laptop case and head towards the gate.
Still sucking on my sticky fingers. Any last trace of paradise
still reminds on the tip of my tongue while I
enter back into reality.

That's just something I worked on real quickly. I like it, but I may go back and work on it again. That's the beauty of poetry, you can always go back and re-work your piece. It can make it stronger or maybe you'll end up not liking it as much. But never EVER throw away your work. You'll never know when you can use it.

Have fun with this one! It's always fun to see what kind of life you can come up with!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Say Cheese!

Hey friends! Hope everyone is inspired to write today. I know Easter is right around the corner and we're all super excited to get out of school and go home (I know I am.) So today I thought of a fun exercise to do.

Since Easter is all about spending time with family and friends I want that to inspire you. Find a picture from any family event (Christmas, a birthday etc...) and write a poem about the picture you have. You can write it from your point of view (if you're in the picture or not), from a different family member's point of view or even an outsider looking in.

For example I wrote the poem Paper Hats. It's about my Grandmother's 81st birthday and I wrote it in the point of view form my Aunt Shari. She's not in the picture that I have posted and she's like the black sheep of the family, so it's suppose to be from her point of view looking in.

Paper Hats

I brought the eye of the storm with me as I entered.
Black leather jacket clinging to my waste
cell phone glued to my hand.

Passing the giggling nieces
I smile politely and pushed through them.
The blonde one nudges me back, her wavy eyes following me
A Mona Lisa glare.
Her fists tighten as she turns to whisper in her sisters’ ear.

I sit at the dining room table with the rest of the adults stage frightened.
I managed a smile, as the table grows still.
Watery eyes fixed on mine, the uncles already on their fifth beer.

Laughing, laughing
It’s her 81st birthday.
More of this laughing.
Stupid paper hats.

I am the hand grasping the mug in the corner.
Not invited into their circle, always on the outskirts,
bordering on the family line.

I stir my tea
cupping the white porcelain mug with shaky hands.
The picture of the family screened on it

I’m not in it
...Of course not

So yes, maybe it's a little like a revenge poem (considering I do have some personal problems with my aunt) but hey you might get a great poem out of it! It can be funny, emotional or even inspirational. Have fun with it and see what you come up with! Remember it can be from your point of view, another family member's or even a total stranger looking in! Happy writing :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

History Homework

Hey writers! I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend and you have been writing away. Today I have a new exercise for you all. I want you to write a poem that characterizes a historical figure. It could be a historical leader, a role model or even a Greek mythology character. I want you incorporate historical facts but also relate the characters to the present.

For example I wrote a poem about the Greek God Apollo. 


Artemis sprinted into the blue mist coating he forest floor.
Thickening fog choking her feet.
She giggles as she darts behind the trees
her golden locks woven with leaves.

I race into the blur of purple at the black horizon.
My foot leave the ground, and the sun perks up.
She defeated Capricornus and Taurus,
spraying my face pastel pink.
Damn it, I can't escape it.

I race against the streaks of light
in search of my little sister.
She tackles me down into the autumn leaves,
grabs my lyre from my clutch and plucks the silver strings.

We sit together until the last ray tickles out noses.
Poetic lyrics mixing with the tune.
The wind blowing the song over Athens
and up for Dad to hear.

Have fun with this one. It's really interesting to take on another persona. Happy writing :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Parody Perfection

Hey friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I was going to spend more time on rhyming poems because you all seemed to really like them, but today in class we were watching Bowling for Columbine and it brought me back to one of my old poems.

In the movie there is a scene showing the 9/11 attack. It's a moment in my life that I will never forget. Growing up in New York the city is very close to my heart and the experience of 9/11
is still very real to me.

On a happy note, the experience inspired me to write a poem a few years after, in a parody that simulates a famous poem "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg. Since it's a poem about Chicago I decided to change it up and write about New York. But let me rewind and explain what a parody is.

Basically you want to model your poem after the original poem. For example you would use the same rhythmic pattern, meter, structure, etc... Parody's are usually used to mock a poem, but I wrote a more serious poem.

By Carl Sandburg
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders;:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the g
unman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool maker, Stacker of Wheat
Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

And here is my poem.

New York

The sleepless city
The narrow minded, freedom rider
The city of truth and lies
Hard headed, seamless, brave
Heart of America.
They tell me you are ignorant and stubborn for I have seen you turn your back upon travelers.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true. I have seen the gun shot wounds which you try so hard to hide beneath your tough outer core.
And they tell me you are blind and my reply is: I have seen what you can not. I see the shattered dreams of all who come to follow their heart.
And having answered so, I turn once more to those who snicker at this my city and I give them a snicker back and say to them, come show me another city where every day is a new beginning, a chance to find yourself, to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.
Where the songs in her soul are not kept inside but shared for all to hear.
Gentle as a new born kitten, but vigorous as a cactus plant, hard to get to know
But aren't we all?
Working, working, working
Under ashes of fallen spirits
She laughs with tears gleaming in her eyes
Laughing as she lifts up her green skirt to show off her long legs to the boys in white sailing into her harbor
Laughing at the young children riding the Ferris wheel at Toys' R' Us
Laughing at the love in skater's eyes holding hands while it begins to flake
Laughing, laughing oh this sleepless city, the narrow minded, freedom rider, city of truth and lies, hard headed, seamless, brave, the heart of America city, will follow her dreams in hope of a better tomorrow.

Now it's your turn! Find a poem you really love and write in a similar style. Happy writing :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Opps...I did it again!

Hey writers! Last time I talked about rhyme and how many song writers write songs that are actually rhyming poems. Well today I have two really fun exercises for you all to try.

1.) Take any pop song and transform its lyrics into a real poem, either keeping the song form or dropping it. Try to improve the word choices, imagery, rhymes, and rhythms. Cut the stuff that seems like filler. Your work should become a poem without having the music in your head!

For example I used the song The Last Goodbye by James Morrison.
Here's the original version:

The Last Goodbye
By James Morrison

I don't believe you
And I never will
Oh I can't live by your side
With the lies you've tried to instill
I don't have to give you a reason
For leaving this time
Cause this is my last goodbye

It's like I hardly know you
But maybe I never did
It's like every emotion you showed me
You kept well hid
And every true word that you ever spoke
Was really deceiving
Now I'm leaving this time
Cause this is my last goodbye

I've gotta turn and walk away
I don't have anything left to say
I haven't already said before
I've grown tired of being used
And I'm sick and tired of being accused
Now I'm walking away from you
And I'm not coming back

And here is my version entitled True Words.

True Words
By Jen

Some people say that I'm not worth it.
Never thought that of you.
I'm not perfect, we make mistakes.
But see I don't believe you, and I never will.
The lies you've tried to instill, swim
through my heartline veins.

It's like I hardly know you but maybe,
I never did.
Three years.
Three birthdays.
Three Christmas's
poured onto the floor in pieces of old shells.

It's like every emotion you showed me
could have just hid.
Would give my soul to keep you, but this is
my last goodbye.
True words are deceiving.

2.) Many songs use refrains, lines that are repeated at the same spot in each stanza. The changing words might describe a place or tell a story, while the fixed refrain made a kind of aside, repeating a saying or mysterious statement. Like Britney Spear's song Opps...I Did It Again. Britney repeats that refrain over and over throughout the song but also incorporates other lyrics. I want to you try and write a poem that uses a refrain.

For example here is a poem by Allen Ginsberg entitled Refrain

By Allen Ginsberg

The air is dark, the night is sad,
I lie sleepless and I groan.
Nobody cares when a man goes mad:
He is sorry, God is glad.
Shadow changes into bone.

Every shadow has a name.
When I think of mine I moan,
I hear rumors of such fame.
Not for pride, but only shame,
Shadow changes into bone.

When I blush I weep for joy,
And laughter drops from me like a stone:
The aging laughter of the boy
To see the ageless dead so coy.
Shadow changes into bone.

Pick your favorite song and give it shot! I wouldn't recommend anything too hard but something fun and simple! Happy writing :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Back From Break & Into Poetry

Welcome back! I hope everyone had an amazing spring break, I know I sure did. I know your brains are probably still in relaxation mood, so we'll do a simple poem today. I want you to try your first rhyming poem.

Basically every other line is going to rhyme with the one before that. In other words, the first line will rhyme with the third and the second line with rhyme with the fourth...BUT ONLY THE LAST WORD.

For example: An excerpt from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night: (Student use)
Come away, come away, death,

And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath;

I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,

O, Prepare it:
My part of death, no one so true
Did share it.

Not a flower, not a flower sweet,
On my black coffin let there be strown;
Not a friend, not a friend greet
My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown.
A thousand thousand sighs to save,
Lay me, O where
Sad true lover never find my grave,
To weep there.

In the play, this rhyme is sung by Feste, the fool. You can learn a great deal about songwriting by examining the two stanzas closely and noticing how Shakespeare puts the melody right in the words. If you listen to other song lyrics, most songs are poems! I bet you your favorite song uses the rhyming style that you are going to use today!

Word of advice...end the lines with easy rhyming words (cat, mat, hat etc...) it'll make it a lot easier on you, but also don't be afraid of a challenge. Have fun with it and make it your own! Happy writing :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fun With Forms: What's A Haiku?

Hey friends! I hope you all had a great time with your 5 senses poems! I know my friends sure did. I want to move away from the free verse style of writing poems and have you try and write your first form poem, a Haiku.

Now I know you all must be like what the heck is a Haiku it sounds like someone just sneezed. A Haiku is originally a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables in three lines, a Haiku juxtaposes seemingly unrelated observations in order to glimpse the hidden connections between things. It relies on mood and suggestiveness. Calling it a "form" is almost an understatement, since it serves as a means of illumination.

Most Haiku's deal with nature, seasons and sounds. They don't have to rhyme or have a certain rhythm. It just has to be three simple lines. First line has 5 syllables the second line has 7 syllables and the third has 5 syllables. Here's a few of my own:

Sherbet ice tabby
Cheshire cat smile lingers
Whispers lost in wind

This Haiku was about a tabby cat I saw crossing the street on campus. I had no plans about writing about a cat for my Haiku, but the magic of poetry just made it happened.

Sun kissed dimpled cheeks
Sea salt saturated hair
Challenging the waves

This Haiku was inspired by an old picture my mom pulled out over Christmas break of me and my cousin at the beach.

Now it's your turn! Sit outside and listen to the sounds of nature or just observe the world around you and look at certain objects differently than you ever had before. Open your eyes and your ears and EXPLORE! Happy writing :)!