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Poem It Out Classroom

Filtering by Category: Week 3

week 3: light the whole sky

liz lamoreux

july 4 heart

I want to share a favorite poem in the hopes that it will invite you to put pen to paper and write today.

The Sun Never Says

All this time
The sun never says to the earth,

"You owe

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the

by Hafiz, translation by Daniel Ladinsky (from the collection The Gift)

Think about writing a poem today. Maybe even one about a love that lights the whole sky.

Sending blessings and light to you in your corner,


week 3: digging deeper

liz lamoreux

We're digging even deeper today with a conversation about the things we have lost. I believe that when we sift through the grief and “stuff” that life hands us (and recognize that it might be taking up too much space inside us), we create space to more deeply live with awareness in our lives. We create space for light and joy. Writing poetry helps me sift through the grief and create more space for living deeply. Reading poetry pushes me to think about my own stories.

Today’s video goes into more about this idea of sifting to create space and using poetry as our guide. I share a few of my own stories and am trusting that they are the ones to share today…


video URL: https://vimeo.com/40558925
video password: poeming 


Notes from the video:

I mentioned this blog post by Kate Inglis.

I read the following poems: "Food. Music. Memory." by Susan Marie Scavo and a poem that is untitled by Donna Lee. They can both be found in the poetry collection What Have You Lost? edited by Naomi Shihab Nye. I also read my own poem called "I cannot apologize."

You can hear Sharon Olds’ read her poem "Mairsy Dosey" here.


Prompt: What do you need to sift through today?

Here are two ideas for working with today’s prompt:

1) Put pen to paper for 5-10 minutes and just write. Write everything and anything that you need today. Consider sifting through your thoughts and feelings surrounding this theme of “excavating the past” that we're looking at this week. Write a list of stories you need to/want to tell that have surfaced for you. Pick one of the prompts we've looked at in the course and write a letter to that prompt. Write a letter to someone you have lost. Just write.

2) If you are feeling more like you want to “poem,” you could begin with the question “What have you lost?” and go from there. Or give yourself some space to breathe deeply and think about what you really feel pulled to write about and put pen to paper and poem it out!

week 3: interview with amanda oaks

liz lamoreux

Settle in with a cup of tea and sink into this lovely interview with the delight.full Amanda Oaks. She is a superhero of mine as she gives others (and herself) a beautiful platform to share their stories at Kind Over Matter and Words Dance. Be sure to take time to watch her spoken word videos that I link to at the end of the interview.


To get the truth, you want to get your own heart to pound while you write.
- Robert McKee

1) How has poetry saved you?

I started writing poetry in middle school, in the 7th grade. There was a girl that moved into our school district who I became friends with, her name was Nikki.

She was terrifically prolific & when she became comfortable, she shared her words with all of us.

They were mostly poems about love & heartbreak in ABCB format, hundreds of them, love & heartbreak at a 7th grade level but nonetheless I was hooked, on both the reading & the writing of.

A few of us would pass our poems around within our group of friends, typing them & then printing them out on dot matrix printers, they were who we were.

They were our stories.

Throughout high school, I lost interest in writing for a bit, but just after graduating I dove back into it, full force, never looking back.

Among some of my favorite memories include living alone, coming home from work or school, sitting in the middle of my bedroom in my attic apartment on the hardwood floor in a tank top & skivvies & tip-tapping poetry out on a old typewriter.  Fully enthralled in Beat Lit.  Wine glass at arm's reach, of course.

Since then, I've been published online & in print, I've have met so many incredible poets. Small press poets. The underground greats.  Who I deeply admire. Who are my dear, dear friends. Blessed.

But what stands out among all of that, all of it… is how poetry was so much a lifeline through the darkest times of my life. It was my light. It was the way I expressed myself. It was the words I couldn't say, no longer stuck in my throat. It was emotions laid bare in front of me, quivering. It was how I dove deep into the hurt & swam up from the bottom with insight. It was the there for me through unrequited love, through abuse, through the death of my grandparents, through the transition into mamahood, navigating the waters of wild & new love. It's been the most sweetest release for me. I always leave poetry, either after writing or reading, feeling on fire & free.

2) Who are the poets and poems you turn to again and again?

There are the well-known poets that I adore, that have been there for me over the years: Sharon Olds, Dorothy Parker, Diane Di'Prima, Pablo Neruda, the Beats, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Charles Bukowski, David Whyte, Sarah Key… oh there's so many.

But the poets in my small press community, especially the women, they blow me away, I'd love to share a few of them & a piece by each of them.

Tammy Foster Brewer : There Are No Instructions for This
Jessica Dawson : Just Add Oxygen
Rebecca Schumejda : A Row for Sinners
John Dorsey : even outlaws get the blues : John is a dear friend, he wrote this poem for me.
David Smith : This Heart 

3) A line of poetry you would tattoo on yourself...

That's a really tough question. There are so many lines that have shook me to my core…

I've stated several times that I was going to get this entire poem tattooed - right-inner-thigh : all hooves and diligence by Miriam Matzeder

If I only had to choose one line from the poem, I'd probably modify it a little so it read:

no matter my stillness, i am always awake with loving you

4) Would you like to share a poem of your own?

Nan's Farm : Amanda : Circa 1985

we’re on our own out here | Amanda Oaks

late summer, pickin’ peas, 
cornfield just feet away i would 
tiptoe with the words of warning 
looped ‘round every strand of 
my hair, when wearing pigtails, 
all those locks acting together 
could be thunderous but i would 
plug my ears & run in any one 
direction until my lungs felt like 
the tires of that far-off tractor who
i overheard many’a times was
plotting my death

out there though, i witnessed the 
wind unearth harmony, the way 
the stalks would touch, sliding 
against one another hissing 
like plastic bags clothespinned 
to a wire & dangling from the 
mouth of a paper-winged crow, 
i found safety in the squeeze stuck 
between clear-cut emotion, there’s 
something in there that you can’t 
close your ears to, like barn rats 
or the secrets i found in the laughter 
of ghost children jumping from 
rock to stone in the creek bed 
behind my house

standing still, before walking in
silence all the way back to the 
alarm in my grandmother’s 
voice, looking up to the clouds 
for a way out, twenty years later 
& i still have yet to find it 
outside of these 


© amanda oaks

5) Any other words about poetry?

This poem is by the now late Todd Moore, his poetry has a very unique style, all his own & often noir, I adore it -- he sums up writing poetry better than I ever could, the way it makes you feel when you & poetry dance together:



let the words
fall in love w/you
they will circle
you like a pack of
wolves around a 
still warm steer
then let them
close in the heat
makes a long curl
of smoke rise off
the letters & seep
into the skin next
let the smoke invade
yr blood once inside
it will turn into
voices that roar
down the veins
suddenly the poem
will be dancing you
& the wind will stop
blowing & the clouds
will hold still &
the waves will stop
forming and nothing
will burn you while
the lines are all
flying & suddenly
in that flash of
light not even death
will be able to
say yr name

6) Something extra: Explore Amanda's spoken word videos here:

where are you my wild women -- http://vimeo.com/17986419
sunday worship : bending like photographs  -- http://vimeo.com/20875758



Hi, I'm Amanda Oaks, curator of connection & provisioner of benevolent beauty at Words Dance. Mama. Lover. Poet. Multi-Passionate Solopreneur. Kindness Advocate. I love laughing more than most anything.

If you are interested in checking out my poetry-type creative offerings, I have a book of spicy love poems called, Cohabitation.

week 3: the story of home begins

liz lamoreux

URL: https://vimeo.com/40488274
password: poeming 

"The story of home begins" is a phrase that came to me as I was brainstorming prompts I wanted to include in this course. I started to imagine writing on every page of a small notebook with this as my prompt. If I did this today, some of these pages would say:

The story of home begins with a pink blanket fraying at the edges, her scared face searching mine, his big hands, the house up on the hill and "what did we get ourselves into?" and six weeks of crying.

The story of home begins with lily of the valley and Pond's cold cream and a jewelry box I could peek inside when she wasn't looking and jumping on the bed and waiting up for him and "I would have to remind you how to behave when you got home."

The story of home begins with "we will do the best we can" and sometimes we will fail but we will love love love.

This story of home could be specific and describe every detail of a childhood room or it could be general and describe what home means to you. The story could be about a home of many years ago (or even centuries) but it could also mean the home of today. It could be something vast like a country or something much smaller, like a kitchen table, as I share in the first two poems I read today. It could be real or imagined. Follow the threads of thoughts that come up and see where they take you.

In the video today, I share five poems:

"Mediation" by Kim Stafford, which is in the collection Poetry Speaks Who I Am. His book Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford is one of my favorites. Find out more about him and his writing and teaching at his website

"Perhaps the World Ends Here" by Joy Harjo (also in Poetry Speaks), which you can read at Poetry Foundation

"Growth" by Philip Levine from the collection in What Work Is. (I could not find a copyright free link to this poem.)

Excerpts from "Prairie" by Carl Sandburg as found in Harvest Poems: 1910-1960 (this collection only includes excerpts from this long poem). The whole poem can be found here. And I read his short poem "Fog." (How I love that poem!)


Prompt: The story of home begins

In the video I encourage you to let Carl Sandburg guide you today with his openings and lists and his "ode" of sorts to the prairie as he speaks right to her:

I was born
The [....] sings to me...
I am...
They are mine... 

If you do write a poem directly inspired by Sandburg, be sure to credit him under the title of your poem (after Carl Sandburg) or (Inspired by Carl Sandburg's poem "Prairie") especially if you share your poem publicly.

Again, remember to take you poetry/word toolbox with you as you write today. Make lists as you need to; gather more words. Give your poem a sense of place. Breathe deeply. Have fun.

week 3: where i stand

liz lamoreux

I also want to share a photography "creative adventure" prompt that I believe can be a powerful companion to the excavating you are doing this week. And of course, I had to tell you all about it in another video. It is a simple one: Taking a self-portrait of "where you stand" every day this week. 


video URL: https://vimeo.com/40412363
video password: poeming 

As you take your photos, share them on Instagram using the hashtag #poemitout so I can find you.

week 3: getting into your digsite

liz lamoreux

video URL: https://vimeo.com/100268997
video password: poeming 

This week, we travel into the past and unearth a few stories and memories. This post is full and the video is long (about 20 minutes), so you should really settle in with a cup of tea and your notebook. Feel free to pause the video and come back. Move through it at your pace.

In the video, I invite you to add the senses to your "poetry toolbox" this week and to see them (including the sixth sense of "knowing") as a tool for grounding yourself in this moment as you dig into the past. They can also be a powerful ally in accessing memories and setting the scene. (So when in doubt, rely on your senses this week.)

Additionally, I invite you to think about looking for the poems that give voice to similar stories or experiences you want to investigate or write about. You can think of this as your poetry creative adventure this week!

I share the following poems and poets in the video:

John O'Donohue's book To Bless the Space Between Us, and I read the blessing, "For the Traveler." You can find out more about John O'Dononue here.

Sharon Olds' poem "I Go Back to May 1937," and you can read it here. I really honor the way Sharon Olds gets right to the realness of things in her poetry. It is gritty and honest and helps me to be more honest in my own writing.

Marge Piercy's poem "The Day My Mother Died," which you can read here and find in Colors Passing Through Us.  

Prompt: A day that changed everything

Today's prompt is to write about a day that changed everything. The story of this day could be big, something that shifted everything in your world. And it could be much more subtle and be about how one quiet choice realigned you in a way that changed you. Remember to gather your words, your questions and observations (and you could use that tool to first write notes/observations about this day), and your senses to help you as you write.

Another way to work with the prompt today would be to let go of focusing on one day, and instead create a timeline of sorts (starting with today and moving backward in the way that makes sense to you). You might make a literal list that begins: Today... Last week... In April of 2009... In the Spring of 1978... Or you might be even more specific. Have fun with it and look for clues that could lead you to a poem. Perhaps your list will become a poem.