Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Roar on the Other Side

The seventh day of school found me wanting to shake things up a bit by adding some poetry into the mix. I’m pretty much always wanting to add in poetry (reading it, writing it) but these days S’ schedule is so packed, it can be hard to do. I hit upon the idea of tying a writing exercise into eating, and we did it over lunch.

I’ve long been excited about Suzanne U. Clark’s book The Roar on the Other Side: A Guide for Student Poets. I didn’t buy it, originally, as a homeschool book. I bought it because I consider myself a student poet. I’ve read it and enjoyed its prompts, meditations on the poetic arts, and great collection of poems for several years. When it dawned on me that it might be a good year to incorporate some of it into our home learning, I got quite excited.

One of the first “stepping stone” exercises that Clark includes in her first chapter, which has to do with the importance of noticing/seeing, is to write a journal entry describing an ordinary piece of fruit. I love these kinds of exercises that compel you to look at something “common” that you’ve seen a thousand times, but to look at it thoughtfully, slowly, and carefully, using all your senses. That’s what S. and I did at the lunch table with a peach today. We called it “mindful eating,” and by the time we were done, we not only each had a journal entry and a poem draft (S. really wanted to go on and play with writing a poem based on her descriptive notes) but we’d thoroughly and completely enjoyed all the juicy slices of that peach.

I’d almost forgotten that we had a small peach tree in my backyard for a number of years when I was growing up. Smelling and holding the peach, I let my mind wander to associations, and suddenly I recalled the golden color of the knobby bark and the smell of ripened peaches in the grass (we never seemed to harvest many, since the squirrels beat us to them).

I love how such a thoughtful exercise can be so many things at once: a break for hearts and minds in the middle of a busy day, a lesson in observing and writing, nourishing time spent together, food for the soul.


Erin said...

Sounds like a wonderful poetic exercise! I keep meaning to discipline myself to write a lot more poetry, but it keeps falling through the cracks... partly because of what you said in the last post about content writing!

Of course, reading this, I couldn't help thinking of our dear friend J. Alfred Prufrock and his agonizing indecision over whether he dares to eat a peach!

Beth said...

Funny, I didn't even think of Prufrock when we did this! (Didn't even wear flannel trousers!) ;-)

It's very hard to move from web content mode to poetic and/or other creative mode...