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Poem It Out Classroom

week 4: today, i'm giving you permission to...

liz lamoreux

video URL: https://vimeo.com/40975734
video password: poeming

Prompt: Eavesdrop (and then write a poem)

Today's prompt is also a poetry creative adventure because I'm asking you to go out into the world and listen and take notes about what you hear, and then take those notes and write a poem. I hope you have a lot of fun with this one!

Here are two poems to inspire your poeming today.

The first is by David Lehman and is from his book The Evening Sun: A Journal in Poetry, which is a collection of his daily poems from 1999-2000. The poem is "November 4" and you can read it here. I love how this poem is about a sound he overheard someone make and the observations he made as a result. (This poem kind of makes me giggle and nod my head.) Find out more about David Lehman at Poetry Foundation (he is the editor of The Best American Poetry series and a poet you should add to your poetry bookshelf).

The second is the following poem by me:

Sunday Morning at the Pacific Way Bakery

That was before Uncle Henry came back from the war.
It was?
Yes. Remember, we took the trip across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. All of us…six of us in Dad's Buick.

The first one.
A few years ago? Ocean's Eleven? We saw that one.
No. The one with Frank Sinatra. Frank. He knew how to do it. Those young kids just…

Sit here.
Noooo. I want Mommy to sit here.
But I want to sit next to 
You do?
(furious nodding)

A pause. Quiet envelopes the room. Everyone taking a bite, a sip, a breath.
A couple reads the paper at the circular table in the midst of everything. He in his gray windbreaker; she in her bright yellow slicker. He turns the page with a snap, and it begins again.

Have you been across the new bridge?
Why do they remake the good ones?
Can you believe they are getting along this morning?

Sitting in the corner with my chocolate croissant and vanilla soy latte, I soak it in. The little four year old in me, with the big brown eyes, pulling it all toward me.

When the rain stops, we grab my coffee, his tea and walk outside as the steam lifts the sea and the crocuses and the daffodils and the pavement toward me. I suddenly hear myself, It smells like Spring in South Carolina.

And it does.
And you are here.
I breathe deeply knowing it has happened again.
The eve of Spring whispers her song,
returning you to me.


Both of these examples show how the poet brings himself/herself into the poem. The observations are interesting in both, but when I read a poem, I want to know why the poet is interested in telling me about these things she sees and hears.

When I was sitting in this intimate cafe with my husband in Gearhart, Oregon, I was so struck by the conversations around us that I started writing notes on the Sunday paper he was reading. Looking back on this moment years later, I think one of the reasons I was so attune to the senses of the moment that happened when we walked outside (when I suddenly missed my grandmother so much I couldn't breathe but yet felt so grateful to Spring for bringing her back to me each year) was because I had been taking those notes with an awareness of everything around me and within me. 

Leaning into our poet selves heals us. (I believe this.)

Go out into the world and listen. And then write a poem.