This month I’m experimenting with poetry as an Ouliposter. One of the tenets of this project is that constraint gives way to creativity. I have found this to be true in my role as Poet Laureate – the often short-notice call to compose a poem commemorating a person or local event has allowed me to play with language in a way that I didn’t think was possible. It is not always best to wait for the muse to strike; creativity can indeed spring from desperation!
As an educator, I’ve been thinking and working quite a bit on the role that poetry plays in learning. Especially now in this STEM-powered, standards-based climate, it’s important to keep poetry alive and well and relevant. I recently presented a workshop on the poetry of place and the place for poetry in the common core at a conference sponsored by the Northwest Inland Writing Project and the University of Idaho. During the workshop, participants were introduced to a few poetic forms and given time to craft a poem or two. Much of the work was surprisingly significant and heart-felt. At the end, I suggested that the folks could leave a comment about their experience on an index card. I was most impressed by the card handed to me by a high school English teacher who wrote a thank you in the form of a crossword puzzle, capturing words and phrases from my presentation. Another reminder that words matter!