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Friday, March 16, 2012

SLICE #16- ON THE WRITING OF POETRY


         
Several weeks ago, my friend Mary Lee emailed me. There was going to be this crazy contest. March Madness. But not THE March Madness. Nope. This was a poetry March Madness. Sixty-four people were going to sign up to write poems. The sixty-four people were going to be placed in brackets. They would have 36 (I think) hours to write a poem. The poems would be posted online and people could vote for them. The winners would move forward. And write another poem. And if they won. Another. And then another. And finally the 64 poems would be reduced to one winner. 

When Mary Lee emailed me, it sounded like a good idea. Sure. I could write a poem. I could help get this fledgling poetry contest off the ground. Why not? I wandered over to Ed's blog, THINK KID THINK! and signed up for the contest. And kind of forget about it. A couple of weeks later, I got an email from Ed. He needed some additional information for a biography. I happened to look at the list of poets  on the sidebar- and saw that there were lots of poets that I recognized- Jane Yolen. Laura Purdie Salas, Heidi Mordhorst, Greg Pincus, Kenn Nesbitt, The only problem was-- these folks were REAL poets, not garden variety amateurs like myself. HOLY COW!

I emailed Mary Lee. Have you looked at the list of people participating in the contest? Are you serious?? Do I really want to do this? Mary Lee, a pretty mean poet in her own right,  reminded me that we were just in to help the contest get started. And  for the fun of it. 
Oh yeah. To get the contest off the ground. And for the fun of it.  I remember.

And then this week came. The week of the contest. And it has been a crazy one. We are wrapping up state testing. My school is closing and I am right smack in the middle of a job search. One of the jobs, a literacy coach position at a K-8 Dual Immersion (English/Spanish) school wanted a second interview, but they wanted me to interview, and to be prepared to read and write in Spanish, which I speak only marginally at best.  I have an "unscheduled" visit from a district peer observer coming up sometime in the next six days. Both of my sons have been sick. And I've been trying to participate in the SLICE OF LIFE CHALLENGE, which includes writing a post every day, and also commenting on other people's posts. YIKES!

On Sunday night, the brackets were announced. I was a #11 seed, paired against Kathryn Apel, an Australian poet who actually published a book of poetry in 2009. And we were in the second flight, which meant that our poems would appear on the second day of the contest. Mary Lee, the friend who had led me down the primrose path, was in the first flight. Her word was "whacked." Whacked??  A poem with the word whacked? Good luck, my friend!

So Mary Lee actually wrote a really clever poem, which you can read on her blog today.
And then it was my turn. And I couldn't even figure out how to find my word on Ed's website, let alone write a poem about it (please note: this is a comment on the chaotic state of my life this week, as opposed to Ed's wonderfully organized website, with a pull-down menu devoted exclusively to the poetry contest!). Mary Lee and my CYBILS friend Jone had to help me. Finally, I found my word--allegedly, and allegedly I was going to write a poem.

That night, I sat down on my couch, allegedly to write a poem, or study Spanish, or make lesson plans, or write my Slice for that day. First I couldn't think of anything. And then I wrote five bad limericks for my Daily Slice. I posted those. And tried again. Looked up allegedly in the dictionary. Messed around with allegedly. Ledge. Sledge. Wedge. Pledge. Allegedly I took a pledge. A pledge to do what? Allegedly. This poem could drive a wedge, between two former friends (one who shall remain unnamed in this paragraph anyway). Allegedly, I took a sledge hammer… 
Oh wait, no violence, we don't do poems with violence.

That night, no poems were coming. I gave up and went to bed. Only to wake up at 1:30 in the morning, to get up and write my "poem." Allegedly.  And somewhere between 1:30 and 5 yesterday morning, I messed around and mucked in an online rhyming dictionary and thesaurus. and allegedly, I wrote a poem. So here, allegedly, it is. I haven't shared it with my students yet,
but I'm thinking I am going to give it a try today. 

  “The Deed”

Supposedly, ostensibly, allegedly,
I did it.
Dreadfully, recklessly, uncaringly,
            I hid it.
Unconscionably, emphatically, unceasingly,
            I denied it.
Unthinkably, regretfully, and sadly,
            I lied.
Carol Wilcox

Joking aside, you really need to go over to Ed's website, THINK KID THINK and read some really wonderful poetry. And then head to TWO WRITING TEACHERS to taste the almost 200 folks participating in SLICE OF LIFE. Finally stop off at Greg Pincus' GOTTA BOOK site to see what's in store for National Poetry Month in April! Greg's 30 poets in 30 days feature has been a huge favorite of mine for the last three years.

Happy March Madness! Go CU!
Happy Poetry Friday!
Happy Slice of Life!


9 comments:

Dawn Malone said...

*I love it! Isn't it amazing what you can come up with in the wee hours? Good luck on the rest of the Challenge!

Ruth Ayres said...

Not only do you give us this beautiful gift of a poem, but also the reflection and background on how it came to be.

You are amazing. (No allegedly about that!)

Ruth

Tara said...

Reading your poem makes me glad I did not participate -I'm woefully low on the word cleverness needed to be a part of this March Madness endeavor. But it's fun to be able read all these wonderful poems.

Linda at teacherdance said...

Crazy time with all those things, right? I loved your poem Carol & voted for you. I lost by a few votes but thought it was fun & rather crazy to write with a prompt. I haven't done that in a long while. It sounds like you made it through the night, but lost a bunch of sleep. Have a happy weekend!

Katya said...

I got a 16 seed -- androgynous. I went through similar conniptions trying to come up with a poem that used 'androgynous', was kid appropriate, and didn't scan terribly.

The kids and I really loved your poem.

Dana said...

Bravo! You are all so fabulous for doing the March Madness poetry challenge. I am enjoying it and sharing it with all the teachers in my school.

Cathy said...

I am enjoying the contest. I've been stopping by to vote in each round. It is even better to stop by THINK KID THINK because I know so many people participating.

Carol your post is not only informational, but it also illustrates the struggle of writing. Trying to find the right words is never easy. I can only imagine when you throw in a deadline AND a prompt (word).

You write with such voice. I always enjoy stopping by to see what you are up to on your blog.

Cathy

Mary Lee said...

Thanks for playing, even in the midst of the chaos of your life right now! You're a trooper and a good friend!!

And I LOVED your poem. You got it by sweating blood alright. But you got it.

Valerie said...

I loved you poem. Thanks for sharing the process with us. Some days it feels like we pull the words through and some days the words slide through. You have a lot on your plate and you still managed to present a wonderful poem. Thanks for sharing it with us.