Archives: 2017 Daily Poem Project

Poetry Friday: Gingko

Happy Poetry Friday! Jan Godown Annino is putting on a poetry spread for us this week at Bookseedstudio.

This is a year of big transitions for my family. Our youngest turns 18 this week and is preparing to make the leap from high school to college. Shortly after that, Mr. S turns 50 and our eldest celebrates his 21st birthday.

(All of our birthdays, including Sam the dog’s, fall within five weeks. Mine is the last and — hard to believe — we are usually caked out by then.)

I am relying on long-term projects to sustain me in 2018. There are writing projects, of course. A new book is in the works, but my first goal is to finish the 2017 February Poetry Project prompts before February 2018’s new daily prompts begin.

27 down and 1 to go! More on that in a second.

I’m using nine colors in a variety of weights, but mostly sock yarn.

My second project combines knitting and science. A friend shared this pattern with me and I am in love. You pick yarn colors (9, 10, 15 — knitter’s choice) and create a chart of temperature ranges with corresponding colors. Over the course of the year, you chart the temperature (I’m doing daily highs), and knit a row or two in the corresponding color.

Instead of stockinette stitch — and after frogging a few false starts — I’m doing a K1, P1 rib.

I am having so much fun with this project! Here is the pattern at the Ravelry crochet and knitting site. It’s beginner friendly.

Back to poetry. When our children were small, we planted a tree for each of them not far from the kitchen window. Our eldest chose a gingko. Despite the cold weather, as evidenced by my knitting project, the tree is covered with little knobs. These will become buds in a few months.

As I work on the last few poems (late — so late!) from last year’s daily poetry project, it’s the ginkgo I see from my work space. And that’s how the tree found its way into this poem.

2/27/17 #10FoundWords prompt from Mary Lee Hahn
Source: “Could a Bumblebee Learn to Play Fetch? Probably”

10 Words: abilities, brain, decisions, fetch, flexibility, learn, memory, problem, puzzle, strategy

By Laura Shovan

The gingko tree’s ability is rest–
long months of buds capped
tight under winter scalps.
Green brains sleep there,
ready to make decisions
to become fan-shaped leaves
fetching sunlight and rain.
The tree sleeps on its problems–
draught, neglect—forms
strategies for next season.
To do: learn to be flexible
in the wind.
I like to think
memories are stored
in the gingko’s puzzling mazes
of would-be leaves, because
then it could be true for all of us.
In the place where old growth
breaks away, something new
is considering spring.


Currently reading: No One Waits for the Train, by Waqas Khwaja

Poetry Friday: #10FoundWords

Poetry Friday blogger and picture book author Penny Klosterman is hosting all of the poetry links today. Stop by A PENNY AND HER JOTS for more poetry posts from around the web and around the world.

Happy February, everyone. This week, we kicked off my annual poem project, which has moved over to Facebook.

This year’s theme is #10FoundWords. We have a daily news story, speech, or current event selected by a project member. That person chooses 10 words from the news source, which makes up our word bank for the day.

Because we’re all writing with the same daily prompts, my favorite part of the project is reading the response poems. I notice the ways our writing overlaps, and cheer people on when their poems are unexpected, when there’s an innovation. (You can still join the project. Leave a note in the comments if you’d like to give it a try.)

Speaking of news — scroll to the bottom of the page for two announcements: an event with me and YA author Heidi Heilig, and a book giveaway.

Here’s one of my own poems, written as a warm-up exercise.

By Laura Shovan

Remember learning long division?
This was long ago, 20th Century math.
Historical stuff. We’re talking
a solid wall between two different numbers.
The smaller number makes its appeal.
“Let me inside. It’s cold.
I’m suffering out here.”
The wall stays up because
that’s how division has always
been calculated. But the big number
is overcome with a generous spirit.
It sneaks the shivering digits inside,
counts how many will fit.
Soon, there are numbers
climbing on the roof, thankful numbers
tunneling underneath.
It’s a kind of freedom,
the way they gather on all sides
of the wall, which looks thinner,
less substantial, surrounded
by the orderly many.

This was Warm-up #6: January 29, 2017. Kip Rechea was in charge of this day’s #10FoundWords and news source.

20th Century

Source: An appeal from the mayor of Berlin not to build a wall across the U.S. border with Mexico.

Still here? Great! Thanks for sticking with me. I’ve got two announcements.

Announcement #1: On February 8, I’m hosting YA author Heidi Heilig (THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE) as part of the Master Storytellers series run by the Ivy Bookshop. Join me and Heidi as we discuss the broad appeal of young adult fiction. You can find details and RSVP here. If you’re in town for AWP, it’s a short trip up to Baltimore. Hope to see you there.

Announcement #2: Foundry Media is giving away four copies of THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY on Goodreads. Sign up here to join the giveaway.

Announcement #3: (When I said “two announcements,” I was simply stating an alternate fact.) I’m excited to share that THE LAST FIFTH GRADE is a finalist for a Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award!

Poetry Friday: #10FoundWords

Thanks to Carol Varsalona for hosting Poetry Friday this week. Carol’s blog is Beyond Literacy Link, always a great resource for writing and education. Stop by for more of this week’s Poetry Friday posts.

It’s the last Poetry Friday of January. That means I am gearing up for the annual February daily poem project.

This year, I’m encouraging participants to engage with current events, news articles, political speeches, and interviews. Each day, we’ll be using 10 Found Words from a news-related source and building our poems around those words.

The February poetry project grew so large last year that I can no longer host it here at my blog. Instead, we are writing together in a closed Facebook group.

Interested? Read the full introductory post here. If you’d like to join the group, leave me a note in the comments. I will add you ASAP.

We’ve been working on a few warm-up poems before the project officially starts on February 1. Here’s my draft of the day. Do you think it’s “Unfair!”?

Under the Rug
By Laura Shovan

The arc-shaped flow
of his solar-blonde hair
defies gravity. Fluid,
odd, its color scorched
as a drought-tossed field
of wheat. When the wind
rattles its dried-out stalks,
the whole plain shifts, lifts
as if the hidden door of Hell,
slammed shut for so long,
has swung wide open
in the middle of America.

10 Words — found by Heather Meloche:


Source: “Weird wave found in Venus’ wind-whipped atmosphere,” by Ashley Yeager, Science News, January 17, 2017.

Annual February Poetry Project Announcement

We’re coming up on the last Poetry Friday in January. You know what that means. It’s almost time for our annual daily writing workout!

For the past four years, my blog has hosted a community poetry project.

This year, the project has moved to a closed Facebook group to accommodate the number of people who want to participate. A group of us have been testing out the process with warm-up exercises. I’m excited to report that the Facebook platform is working well.

2017 Theme: 10 Words Found in the News

The theme of this year’s project combines current events and found poetry with an exercise borrowed from one of my mentors, poet Grace Cavalieri: 10 Little Words.

Beginning January 31, I will post 10 words in our project’s Facebook group for the next day. Along with the words, you’ll see a link to the source from which those words were drawn. Sources might include news articles, transcripts of political speeches, interviews of politicians and activists, the headlines of the day. Your daily task is to build a poem that includes those ten words.

Why this prompt?

Over the past several weeks I’ve resisted the urge to disengage from the language our government is using. Instead, I encourage everyone to look at that language as a poet. We can create found poems and word art to reflect what’s happening in our country and world.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR PROJECT NEWBIES: As always, the point of this exercise is to practice the habit of writing regularly, even if it’s just for one month. Members of the project post response poems the same day so that we can focus on generating ideas and giving positive feedback, rather than polishing for publication.

Interested in joining us? You can request to join the closed 5th Annual February Daily Poem Project here.