|The Highlights Foundation|
Attending a workshop at the Highlights Foundation is something I've wanted to do for some time.
But until that day comes, I'm grateful for whatever I can glean from others. Today Buffy Silverman is here with a glimpse of a spectacular workshop led by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard. If you like what you read, the same workshop is scheduled in 2017 from October 15-19.
OVERHEARD AT HIGHLIGHTS
In September I had the good fortune of attending The Craft and Heart of Writing Poetry for Children, a Highlights Foundation workshop led by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.
|The Craft and Heart of Writing Poetry for Children, September 11-15, 2016|
Lucky me, you’re thinking. Well lucky you too, because I’m willing to share a bit of what I learned. Much of the workshop focused on craft. Rebecca offered this advice:
You’ve got to start somewhere. Put your poem in a place that speaks to you and then let it meander from place to place.
With that in mind, our fearless leaders wrote two poems in front of us, starting with a word we tossed out: starfish. It was interesting to watch them meander along, crossing out lines, asking questions of their subject and then landing independently on the same final line! Watching them gave us permission to meander, falter and start again in our own attempts. We each chose a word from the group’s random word list: spoon, tenacity, lantern, pluck, sieve, and tarnish. I had recently finished a manuscript on angel sharks (who spend many motionless days waiting for food to wander near) and wrote a poem entitled “The Tenacity of Angels.”
We also focused on observation, carefully listing the properties of a rock that a scientist might notice, and then bringing in emotion as we observed as poets. My little rock transformed from a list that included rough, warm, cracked with glints of silver to the start of this poem:
Old stone wears wisps of white,
grizzled as Grandpa’s beard.
A twinkle and glint
speckles its sandpaper skin.
For me the most important part of the workshop focused on the heart of poetry. Rebecca told us, Poetry books are your community, and we studied the words of other poets to learn how they connect with a reader. We considered how poets opened the door to invite a reader into a poem, and encourage them to stay until the poem ends. For example, the following poem by Nan Fry starts with a concrete image and circles back to that image as it ends:
by Nan Fry
At the center, a dark star
wrapped in white.
When you bite, listen
for the crunch of boots on snow,
snow that has ripened. Over it
Stretches the red, starry sky.
When I read that poem, I hear the crunch on snow. As Georgia said,
the sounds in your poem are like when you weave on a loom. [Sound] is the invisible stitch.
We were treated to a Skype visit with Lee Bennett Hopkins, who shared his process of putting together an anthology. Lee starts with a concept before selecting poets for a book. He carefully considers the opening and closing of an anthology and the order of each poem, aiming for a book that reads as if it is a novel, not just a collection of individual poems. Lee also talked about how to put heart in a poem:
I’m interested in giving children beauty. I want kids to feel something, to have emotion…. As a poet you want to expand their view, to get them to look up.
Rebecca Davis, Senior Editor for Boyds Mills Press and Wordsong also spoke to our group. She gave us some insight into how she selects a manuscript, and the revision process that she and an author share. I think these words from Rebecca summed up the workshop:
The most important thing is that you’re writing from your heart, that you’re writing what you’re passionate about, and the writing is very strong.
A tall order—but one that I’m inspired to achieve after attending the workshop!
|Poetry Friday attendees (from L-R): Buffy Silverman, Linda Kulp Trout, |
Charles Waters, Robyn Hood Black, Catherine Flynn, and Linda Baie.
Thank you, Buffy, for sharing the heart of this wonderful workshop!
Be sure to check out Buffy's other contributor posts on Today's Little Ditty:
HERE to read Ann's Spotlight interview, then post your poem on our November 2016 padlet. This week's featured poems were by Lisa Albert, Mary York, Angelique Pacheco, and Jessica Bigi.
Jama's Alphabet Soup.