Waving the White Flag to National Poetry Month

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Today is the first day of National Poetry Month, that wonderful month where poetry lovers and writers share and celebrate the joy of writing and reading poetry. For the past few years I have been writing and sharing an original poem a day on my blog as my way of joining in the celebration. I had big plans for this year's [...]

Tuesday, April 1, 2014|Random|15 Comments|

Looking Ahead to National Poetry Month – Your Chance to Ask Me Questions

ask-npm2014After a blog hiatus I am back, and as often happens when I take a hiatus, I come back to blogging as National Poetry month approaches. In the next few weeks I will be moving all my old Grace Notes over here (if you follow me on Facebook, you already know what I mean. If not, stay tuned.) But for now I am [...]
Tuesday, March 4, 2014|Writing Life|8 Comments|

Do You Need a Mission Statement?

susan3As I tip-toe my way back into my blogging on a regular basis I thought I'd talk a little bit about my newly designed website. When I began the massive undertaking all I knew was that I wanted to combine my writing, my art, and my photography under one website. It meant it would be huge. It meant a lot of work. It meant I [...]
Monday, December 2, 2013|Writing Life|4 Comments|

I Found the Courage to Create

stbFor many years the sound bite I used to describe my creative life was that I was in constant motion, always searching, always trying, to find the courage to create. I hesitated to claim certain book publications because they were published by small presses or in foreign countries. I worried about calling myself a poet even after I published a verse novel. I couldn’t imagine [...]
Thursday, November 28, 2013|Writing Life|4 Comments|

And Sometimes Life Has Other Plans

Poetry month is over and I didn't make it through the month with my mentor poem project. I do want to return to it but sometimes, you know, life has other plans. One of the most difficult things for me has been to find mentor poems that we also available online so that other people could read them and teachers could use it as a resource. I have some poems left that will make good [...]

In the style of Rudyard Kipling, If

I love using this poem, If by Rudyard Kipling, in the classroom. We dissect this poem line by line and we don’t go on to the next line until we’ve talked through the one before. This is hard for a lot of the at-risk kids I usually work with but the eventually work their way through it. I have them what they think Kipling meant and then I have them talk about [...]

In the Style of Rita Ann Higgins, Be Someone

I really liked the direction my poem took after I read Be Someone by Rita Ann Higgins. I would use it in the classroom along with IF and MY CREED to help kids develop their own guidelines for living. Here's my first draft. Be Someone Be someone who is kind more than someone who is indifferent. Indifference kills more things than hate or anger ever will. Be someone who dreams and someone who helps other people make their dreams come true. Be [...]

Inspired by J. Patrick Lewis, What to Wear Where

Today I picked this fun poem by  J. Patrick Lewis called What to Wear Where as my model poem. I really wanted to do something light and fun but my muse had a different idea. Here's my first draft.   What to Wear When you visit someone special what you wear doesn't matter you will be cloaked in hugs and laughter or silence smiles that sing a love song of understanding and together you will braid a tapestry of memories that will keep you [...]

In the Style of William Bly, Things to Think

I think this poem by Robert Bly, Things to Think is an interesting one to play with. It would be fun for students to experiment with thinking of things as opposites. I didn't quite get where I wanted to with this first draft but I have something to revise down the road. Here's my first draft.   Things to Think Think in opposites If you're hungry think of vegetables as the new chocolate and bread and sugar and steak [...]

In the Style of Tupac Shakur, The Rose that Grew from Concrete

Today's model poem for National Poetry month is The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur My students often want to read and share Tupacs poems and lyrics and this poem of his one of the cleaner ones that I can use in the classroom. I've never tried to use it as a jumping off point for my own work but when I reread it, I had a vision of all the dogs [...]

In the Style of October by Bobbi Katz

October by Bobbi Katz is a fun poem to model and could lead to a wide variety of other new poems. My rough draft is pretty rough but I like the direction this is taking and I will come back to play with it some more. Since my garden is full of native plants, I do my planting in the fall, not the spring like so many other folks, and I like [...]

Another in the Style of William Stafford, my poem What's on My Desk

I adore the poem What's in My Journal by William Stafford because it is deceptively simply and equally deep. You think you are going to read a list of tangible things and yet there is so much more. I want to revisit this poem and try to do the same but for today's rough draft, I took the easy way out.   What's on My Desk Expected things, like pens and pencils. Art things like crayons, scraps [...]

In the Style of Major Jackson, How to Listen

Today's model poem is How to Listen by Major Jackson. A few years ago I read this poem and used the title as a jumping off point for a new poem of my own with the same title. That one turned into a a pretty angry poem so I wanted to give it another try. How to Listen Go outside find a spot in the sun the garden is best close your eyes, gently inhale exhale breathe slowly slower [...]

In the Style of Elizabeth Alexander, My Poem Ars Poetica #1: Learn to See

  This was a fun one to model, even if I didn't follow the idea exactly it was a nice jumping off point for me. Read the original poem Ars Poetica #100: I Believe by Elizabeth Alexander. Here's my first draft. Ars Poetica #1:Learn to See Let me explain. Poetry is that first sip of coffee in the morning a fresh orange cod liver oil. Poetry is the exactly right shade of pale yellow to match the roses that climb the [...]

In the Style of William Stafford – Things I Learned Last Week

There are a lot of examples of list-like poems but since I would swoon reading William Stafford laundry list so it's no surprise that his poem, Things I Learned Last Week is one of my favorites.  Each line could be reworked into a poem of its own. Here's my first draft.   Things I Learned Last Year Good friends are not as large in number as you might think when you first start counting. Not everyone you meet will [...]

Another poem in the style of Eve Merriam, How to Eat a Poem

There are a lot of great examples out there of "how to" poems but How to Eat a Poem by Eve Merriam has always been one of my favorites. Here's my first draft.   How to Be Beautiful Stand up straight. Smile at everyone you see. Smile at the tired clerk at the store and the guy who cuts you off in traffic and the homeless man begging for change outside the library. Smile big and wide and don't worry if your receding [...]

In the style of, Martha Baird – Do Not Make Things Too Easy

Today I chose the poem Do Not Make Things Too Easy by Martha Baird for my model. It took an unexpected turn and I'm looking forward to coming back and working it into even more of an anthem. I really encourage people to give this a try. I'm not spending more than half an hour on these first drafts. These are just emotional dumps from me after I read the model poem. [...]

In the Style of George Ella Lyon, Where I'm From

I assign this poem to students all the time but I've never tried to do it myself so today's mentor poem is Where I'm From by George Ella Lyon. Here's my first draft.   Where I'm From I am from sunshine clothes hanging on the line oranges and apricots (not a fan) walnuts and almonds (could never get enough) I am from catfish caught by papa frozen by nana in a wax milk carton to feed us in the winter months. I am from Captain Kangaroo Miss [...]

In the Style of Eve Merriam, Metaphor

Today I used the poem Metaphor by Eve Merriam as my model. I am finding this a really interesting exercise though finding the mentor poems is more difficult than I originally imagined. Here's my rough draft.   Metaphor   Evening is a photograph of how you spent your day. Focus on the moments large and small you want to remember blur the rest. Capture colors. Distort. Sharpen. Adjust. Each day becomes a masterpiece. Susan Taylor Brown

In the Style of Donald Hall, My Poem, The Garden

  Today's mentor poem for me is called The Things by Donald Hall. As often happens when I pick a mentor poem I don't try to follow a form or idea exactly but rather use the mentor poem as a jumping off point for something new for me. Instead of looking inside my house, I looked outside my back door to the huge Japanese Maple tree that sits outside my office. It is the [...]

In the style of a song from One Republic

Songs are great poems to use as models. This is an example I've shared in the past but it is still one of my favorites. It's modeled on the song called SECRETS by One Republic. You can read the lyrics to the song here.   Here's my poem modeled on the song. I NEED I need to know that getting up in the morning matters to the world to someone other than the man who matters so much to me, the [...]

In the style of e.e. cummings, My Poem, Let it Go

  Today's model poem is let it go by e.e. cummings In his poem I think cummings is talking about letting go of all the negative things in your life in order to make room for love to find you. For my poem I decided to apply it to my life with Zoey. Here's a first draft of my poem   let it go the clean carpet, upstairs downstairs the hairless furniture unblemished wood anywhere there stands a door a single slipper, socks my [...]

In the style of Lucile Clifton, My Poem, Come Celebrate With Me

  Today's model poem is Won't You Celebrate With Me by Lucile Clifton.  You can click the link to read the original poem. I have a lot of energy wrapped up in this draft and I need to let it set before I rework. This came out in a white, hot heat.   Here's my first draft of poem modeled in the same style.   Celebrate With Me won't you celebrate with me what I have become a woman strong [...]

Happy National Poetry Month and William Carlos Williams

Yay, it's National Poetry Month! That wonderful time of year where poetry loves gather and share original poems, favorite poems, anything poetry related. This year I am going to use the month to work on poems modeled on other poems. This is a great exercise in the classroom, especially for students (or adults) who are intimidated by the idea of writing poetry. What you do is pick a model, or mentor poem, and then write [...]

March Madness 2013 – Round 2

For round 2 of March Madness Poetry battle I drew the word JOSTLE

At the Base of the Flaming Cliffs

By Susan Taylor Brown Searching for things not alive anymore, Roy Chapman Andrews went off to explore. The great Gobi desert held secrets beneath, some skulls and some bones and rhinoceros teeth. “Don’t jostle that fossil, this find is stupendous!” The eggs he discovered were truly tremendous. But that leaves a question we just can’t ignore, which really came first, the egg or [...]
Monday, March 18, 2013|Susan's Original Poems|0 Comments|

March Madness 2013 – Round 1

I drew the word ESPOUSE for round 1 of this year's March Madness Poetry battler. Loaded Verses at Dawn By Susan Taylor Brown Beware the skirmish just begun, poetic lines are drawn, my dictionary and thesaurus whimper on the lawn. Broken pencils surround my bed, red ink stains all the sheets, I need to channel Dr. Seuss or Silverstein or Keats. My garbage bucket overflows with pithy paper bits, while bloody blisters fill my hands like rows of zombie zits. For the [...]
Tuesday, March 12, 2013|Susan's Original Poems|0 Comments|

A Snippet from my WIP

Because dear and inspiring Beth Kephart asked to read a snippet of my WIP, here's a little teaser from my YA verse novel-in-progress.  You can read a snippet of Beth's current WIP here.   My best friend Emmet is posing for me. Okay, so maybe he’s just sprawled on the floor ignoring me while Mozart kneads his chest and purrs but he’s laying there, hanging out and I’m sketching him. I’ve got the outline done his nose and ears, easy enough [...]
Monday, February 18, 2013|Writing Life|8 Comments|

Of Dogs and Writing – Just the Right Word

Each dog brings a certain set of gifts to the family that welcomes it into their home. It also brings certain behaviors that may or may not be quite as welcome. If you are raising a puppy you have many opportunities to train them right from the start. If you adopt an older rescue dog you get behaviors that might have been encouraged by previous [...]
Wednesday, January 23, 2013|Of Dogs and Writing|16 Comments|

Of Dogs and Writing – Doing the Hard Work

Love might be the first ingredient needed for training a dog or started to write a new book but all too soon the love of starting something new fades and reality hits you, this is not going to be easy. When I first fall in love with a story idea, deeply enough that I have a rough idea of the plot and how it is all [...]
Thursday, January 10, 2013|Of Dogs and Writing|8 Comments|

Of Dogs & Writing – First Comes Love

Saying goodbye to our last wonderful dog, Cassie, was heartbreaking. But it was also heartopening because it mean we could go rescue another dog, another German Shepherd, who needed a home. I contacted Cassie's foster mom, PJ, who works with German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California.  After I told her about Cassie I asked her to keep an eye out for another dog for [...]
Sunday, January 6, 2013|Of Dogs and Writing|20 Comments|