Blog

Hello, friends!

Think of today as the pre-game stretch. We are getting our fingers warmed up for 29 days of writing in response to found objects and posting that writing the same day, as a community.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read this post to find out more about my annual daily writing project. Over a dozen authors gather every February to write in response to a daily prompt. In the past, we have written a month of Pantone poems and a month of responses to sound clips. This year’s theme is FOUND OBJECTS. Several friends have sent in images of objects that we will be using as our daily inspiration.

So … how does a person participate?

Leave your writing in the blog comments (feel free to post a poem or response in the comments of any project-related post). Be sure to note which day/prompt your poem or prose short goes with so I can post it on the correct day. Send in your writing ANY TIME — early, late. As long as I receive it by February 29, it will be posted along with the object of the day.

Perfect attendance is not a requirement of this project. Write and share your work as often as you like, even if it’s only once. The goal is to practice and share, not to polish, and certainly not to aim for perfection.

I know you want to see the Week 1 prompts, but be sure to read my pep talk at the bottom of this post.

Reminder: I will not be posting any information about the objects at this time. This year, we are emphasizing using all five senses in our imagery, whether we write poems or prose in response to the objects.

100 year old wooden mailing box RHB

DAY 1 PROMPT Contributed by Robyn Hood Black (February 1)

IMG_2405

DAY 2 PROMPT Contributed by Mary Lee Hahn (February 2)

2013-06-13 15.12.25

DAY 3 PROMPT Contributed by Laura Shovan (February 3)

20160107_115950

DAY 4 PROMPT Contributed by Charles Waters (February 4)

Tomato Moon

DAY 5 PROMPT Contributed by Matt Forrest Esenwine (February 5)

2013-07-16 09.33.36 (1)

DAY 6 PROMPT Contributed by Laura Shovan (February 6)

20140416_120403

DAY 7 PROMPT Contributed by Jone MacCulloch (February 7)

PEP TALK TIME!

Thanks for sticking with your coach instead of diving onto writing field with your prompts, everyone. Here are two examples of FOUND OBJECT writing to help you get your head in the game.

First up is an old poem of mine, written in response to found objects: a group of children’s winter coats slung over a playground fence. Enjoy these two readings. I’ll see you on Monday!

In Early Spring
by Laura Shovan

When color still arrests the eye,
a row of children’s winter coats
slung over the playground fence.

Bright as tulips, pairs of empty arms hang down.
They reach for earth, asking.

Each hood bows — a line of prayer.
But the children?
scattered like the milkweed to come,

nowhere.

From Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone

And Poetry Friday regular Jessica Bigi sent me a story to inspire you. She writes, “Sadly, I do not have a pic to go with this, but it was inspired by a little child’s dragon hat that I saw at a yard sale.”

The Boy with the Dragon Hat
by Jessica Bigi

On a small farm on the outskirts of a Chinese village, lived a boy named Soso. Soso lived with his grandmother and would often help her gather eggs from the chickens. He helped her sell them on market day. Sometimes, Soso’s grandmother would pay him 50 yuan for helping. Though that might not seem like a lot of money, to Soso it was. He knew his grandmother did not have much money and when she gave him some he always put it in a jar until he saved up enough to buy himself something that he might like to have from the market. He would often take a break from selling eggs and walk around to see what the other villagers were selling. Some sold jars of honey, some sold vegetables, some sold bright pieces of cloth.

Then there was the dragon lady. She was one of the oldest, wisest women in the village. She sold dragons. And for every dragon she sold she told a story of wisdom to go with it. Soso loved stopping by her stand. The dragons were too expensive for him but he loved to hear the stories.

“Soso, you are a boy of great courage,” she would often tell him. “Someday you will save enough yuan to buy a dragon from me and then I will have a story for you.” Soso could hardly wait for that day so he kept saving his yuan from selling eggs.

One day, when he went to her stand he could hardly believe his eyes. “That’s it,” he said. “That is the dragon for me.” It was a hat that looked like a dragon’s head. “Dragon lady” he said, “how much is that hat?”

“Oh” she said, “Soso, that is a very special hat to be worn by a very special person. You must have courage to wear that hat. You must be strong and wise, for it is a knight’s hat.”

“I am all of those things. Dragon lady,” Soso said, “I have 10 yuan saved. Would that be enough to buy that hat?”

“Soso” she said, “first, you must do something kind for someone else. I will save the hat for you until you do so.”

As Soso walked back to the egg stand, he saw his grandmother looking at a sand sculpture at the trinket stand. She did not see him but he watched as she walked away. He thought about what the dragon lady said, walked over to the trinket stand, and said, “Miss, that lady that was just here was my grandmother. I was wondering what it was that she was looking at.”

She pointed to a sculpture of a sand castle. “This is it, son,” she said. “She told me she wished she owned a castle like this so she wouldn’t have to work so hard.”

“How much is this castle?” Soso asked. “I have 10 yuan. Would that be enough for the castle? I was saving it for myself but I would like for my grandmother to have her castle.”

“I’ll give it to you for 5 yuan,” she said. Soso was so happy that he didn’t notice that the dragon lady had seen what he had done. He went back to his egg stand.

The next day was his day that he didn’t have to go to the market and got to go play with his friends. His grandmother went to the market that day herself and Soso stayed home. On that day, the dragon lady walked over to their stand and said to Soso’s grandmother, “You have a wise grandson.”

Grandmother said, “Thank you, I am very proud of him and he is a good worker.”

Dragon lady said, “I want you to give him this hat. It is a knight’s hat and your grandson is worthy of a knight’s hat.”

“Oh, that is so kind of you,” Grandmother said. “Please, take a dozen of my eggs for your kindness.” That day, Soso’s grandmother went to look at the sand castle but noticed that it was gone from the table. Walking away, she thought about what the dragon lady said about Soso. She thought, “If only I could make our lives easier. I will wait until the weekend to give him his hat,” she said.

The next day, Soso and his grandmother were back at the market. Soso could hardly wait. He went to see the hat at the dragon lady’s stand but it wasn’t there. “I had to sell it to a knight,” she said. “Don’t be sad,” she said. “Someday I will have a story for you.”

Soso walked back to his egg cart. “Tomorrow will be Saturday. I will give grandmother her castle tomorrow.” Saturday morning, Soso and his grandmother gathered eggs from the chickens. While gathering eggs, they both told each other that they had a surprise for each other. Soso said, “Grandmother, I want you to know that you’ve given me the perfect life. I bought this for you, Grandmother.”

“Thank you, Soso,” said grandmother. As she opened it, tears streamed down her face. “It’s my castle” she said.

Soso said, “No, it’s our castle. Our home is our castle and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.” For a moment Soso forgot about the dragon lady’s hat.

As grandmother wiped tears from her eyes, she said, “I have something for you also, Soso.” As she handed him the gift, she said “Only a knight can wear this, Soso.”

To Soso, that sounded familiar but he couldn’t remember why. He opened it. “It’s my hat! My dragon hat!” he said.

“The dragon lady gave this to me to give to you. My Soso, my knight, you are the boy with the dragon hat.”

The next week when Soso and his grandmother went to the market, Soso ran to where the dragon lady’s stand was but her stand wasn’t there. Soso looked for her all over the market but never saw the dragon lady again. He remembered her stories and he loved to wear the hat she had given to him. On the walk home that evening he held his grandmother’s hand and told her that he loved her. She smiled and said “My Soso, I love you also.”

40 responses to “2016 Found Object Poem Project: Week 1 Prompts”

  1. Linda Baie says:

    I remember reading your ‘winter coat’ poem, Laura, a lovely memory. And Jessica’s story-poem is wonderful, a love story of a different kind, and all from a dragon’s hat at a sale! Can’t wait to see what everyone writes!

  2. Very touching story from Jessica! I’m looking forward to seeing all the prompts, Laura – and the poems that come from them!

  3. Molly Hogan says:

    Love the poem and the story and the whole found object concept. I’m excited to participate, but want to clarify: do I include a link to my blog post or post the actual poem/story in the comments? Please advise!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Molly. Either way is fine. Most people post their responses in the comments. If you do so, I will include your writing in the blog post for the day, alongside other people’s responses.

  4. I’m happy to start this year’s journey into poetry. Jessica’s story is magical. I want to read it to my students.
    I know this is a birthday present to yourself as much as it’s a gift to us all. Let the writing begin…

  5. Molly Hogan says:

    Happy birthday to a fellow Aquarius and thanks for the challenge! Here is my response to the first found object

    Wooden Box

    Capable hands
    held the potential of
    raw, green wood,
    inspired,
    rejecting spoon, platter,
    a plethora of options,
    crafted a secret-holder,
    a box for treasures,
    dovetailing corners
    fitting the lid precisely
    sanding smooth the slivers
    and splinters,
    adhering paper
    with written words
    whispering on wood
    a destination
    that has faded into memory
    with the accumulating
    patina of time.

    Inside the box
    echoes of those hands
    and unknown treasures,
    past and present,
    breathe,
    stirring dusty molecules
    and memories.

    (https://mbhmaine.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/day-1-found-object-poem/)

  6. Day One

    The Box I Keep at the Back of My Dresser Drawer

    I remember
    when he sent the new watch
    I’d had my eye on.
    He was thoughtful that way.

    The postman handed me this wooden box
    with the address written
    in his confident handwriting.

    Written before the accident,
    when a whole different future lay before us.

    ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

    http://www.maryleehahn.com/2016/02/found-object-poem-project-100-year-old.html

  7. Linda Baie says:

    Day One
    Happy Birthday month, Laura!

    In My Attic Graveyard

    Not so romantic anymore.
    this dusty box on the attic floor
    where mice have had a meal or three.
    Something’s gnawed on the corner – See!
    Mildew’s set in, the smell has set;
    perhaps some days in the sun will get
    the box back to its sweet wood smell,
    the better ready to show it well.
    Mister E.N. Chisholm of Lycoming County
    received and paid dear for this precious bounty:
    the final effects of his fallen friend,
    perished among trees of far Ardennes.
    Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

  8. Jessica Bigi says:

    Day One Prompt

    Box Of Memories

    By Jessica Bigi

    Simply a box
    Stained from tea
    Ginger ‘nutmeg
    Scented cheery would
    A splintered craft of
    Grandfather’s hands
    Who we’ve never meant
    Momma’s tearful voice
    Saying take only this box
    Some jam and bread
    Leathers I’ve wrote you
    Small carved horses that
    Grandfather made
    Mint tea A jar of salted broth
    Pitchers of momma and me
    My tearful voice saying
    Momma pleas go too
    Take this box dear girl
    Only one of us can go
    somamma must stay
    I too young to understand
    Sailed that rain soaked ship
    Witch smelled of salty grime
    My box of perishes memories
    I brought to shear with
    An aunt I’ve never meant
    her land my new home
    eating bread with Jam
    we opened my box and
    Wiped tears from our eyes
    Oho child how I miss your mother
    You have her beautiful eyes
    I smiled and hugged my aunt
    You he mommas hugs and
    Beautiful heart I told her

  9. Jessica Bigi says:

    Day 2’s prompt
    Poem By Jessica Bigi

    Vegetable Soup

    Vegetables
    Eggplants
    Green peppers
    Egg noodles
    Tomato’s salt
    Alphabet noodles
    Bay leaf beats
    Lentils leaks
    Elbow macaroni

    Summer squash
    Onions Oster crackers
    Unbelievably delicious
    Parmesan cheese Smile

  10. Box

    Tongue in groove he tells me
    is how they used to do it,
    before nails
    before cardboard and glue.

    This old box
    traveled over miles
    snow-covered hills,
    through the mountains, perhaps.

    I slide the wood
    across grooves
    breathe pine, spicy pipe tobacco,
    remember my grandfather’s

    stories of the railroad,
    how steam would rise above
    houses and whistle
    his way home.

  11. Jessica Bigi says:

    Day 4

    Poem By Jessica BIgi

    Not I Sharif

    Fly on the wall
    I saw nothing
    I heard nothing
    Humming of fans
    Eggs firing on the floor
    Shooting sticky words
    Like rattle snakes tongs
    Pluming clouds of stall sugars
    Fingers shuffle papers
    As I wright my name
    not I Sharif
    I saw nothing
    I heard nothing
    Humming of fans
    Not I Sharif -Not I
    Fly on the wall

  12. […] to the project, please read my introductory post. You’ll find more information and all of the Week 1 FOUND OBJECTS at this post. At the end of the month, I’ll have prizes for the most frequent contributors. However, […]

  13. Jessica Bigi says:

    Day 2
    Poem by Jessica Bigi

    Berry Picking

    Bear lags scratchy tehsils
    Grandmother shadow curling
    Under my feet
    Tasseled fields of winding hills
    Windy chimes brushing rose checks
    Whistles of laughter swings from buckets
    Sweetness of berry’s feel the breeze
    Purple berry giggles
    Let grandmother know I’ve eaten moor
    Then I’ve but in my bucket
    At home just for fun
    We count our berries

  14. Jessica Bigi says:

    croton

    day 3

    Day 2
    Poem by Jessica Bigi

    Berry Picking

    Bear lags scratchy tehsils
    Grandmother shadow curling
    Under my feet
    Tasseled fields of winding hills
    Windy chimes brushing rose checks
    Whistles of laughter swings from buckets
    Sweetness of berry’s feel the breeze
    Purple berry giggles
    Let grandmother know I’ve eaten moor
    Then I’ve but in my bucket
    At home just for fun
    We count our berries

  15. Jessica Bigi says:

    Day 5
    Poem By Jessica Bigi

    Garden Tomatoes Memory’s

    Salt
    Black pepper
    Tangy venerate
    Drizzling oil
    Beefsteak tomatoes
    Our gardens prize
    Haves in a bool
    There best as
    Dad told his story
    Moth watering
    Tomato juice smile
    Italian bread baking
    In grandmother oven
    Slices of garden tomatoes
    Thick slices of onions
    Water my eyes
    How the hobos left the Trans
    Docking on her door
    For homemade bread and
    Tomato sandwiches
    Dad’s mouth watered eh
    Loved his with onions
    How I long to hear his voice
    Whistle his story to me
    How I love my dad and a bool
    Of garden tomatoes

  16. Jessica Bigi says:

    Day 5
    Poem By Jessica Bigi

    Garden Tomatoes Memory’s

    Salt
    Black pepper
    Tangy venerate
    Drizzling oil
    Beefsteak tomatoes
    Our gardens prize
    Haves in a bool
    There best as
    Dad told his story
    Moth watering
    Tomato juice smile
    Italian bread baking
    In grandmother oven
    Slices of garden tomatoes
    Thick slices of onions
    Water my eyes
    How the hobos left the Trans
    knocking on her door
    For homemade bread and
    Tomato sandwiches
    Dad’s mouth watered he
    Loved his with onions
    How I long to hear his voice
    Whistle his story to me
    How I love my dad and a bool
    Of garden tomatoes

  17. Jessica Bigi says:

    Day 6

    Poem By Jessica Bigi

    How Roomers Start

    Sanofi’s
    Golden tooth
    Barbershop chatter
    Silver spared boots
    Spring a ghostly tall
    Of gold up there
    In those hills
    Not to wise Billy barber
    Strangely Disappeared
    Chatter- chatter-
    Chatter Sanofi’s
    Golden tooth
    Barbershop chatter

  18. Jennifer Lewis says:

    Day 2: Market Fare

    The musky scent of summer’s gifts,
    Arrives solicitous, upon the wind,

    Gazes adrift consume the view,
    As organic rainbows suffuse,

    Joyful laughter ebbs and flows,
    Crimson juices southward goes,

    Melodies contour their staff,
    As mothers sway, bounce and tap,

    Fill your bag and fill your soul,
    There’s more at market than escarole.

  19. […] For those of you who are new to the project, please read my introductory post. You’ll find more information and all of the Week 1 FOUND OBJECTS at this post. […]

  20. Jessica Bigi says:

    day 7
    Poem By Jessica Bigi

    How Roomers Start

    Santa Fe Golden tooth
    Barbershop chatter
    Silver spared boots
    Spring a ghostly tall
    Of gold up there
    In those hills
    Not to wise Billy barber
    Strangely Disappeared
    Chatter- chatter-
    Chatter Santa Fe
    Golden tooth
    Barbershop chatter

  21. Jessica Bigi says:

    Jessica Bigi February 4, 2016 at 9:06 am

    day 7
    Poem By Jessica Bigi

    How Roomers Start

    Santa Fe Golden tooth
    Barbershop chatter
    Silver spurred boots
    Spring a ghostly tall
    Of gold up there
    In those hills
    Not to wise Billy barber
    Strangely Disappeared
    Chatter- chatter-
    Chatter Santa Fe
    Golden tooth
    Barbershop chatter

  22. […] This year’s theme is FOUND OBJECTS. For those of you who are new to the project, please read my introductory post. You’ll find more information and all of the Week 1 FOUND OBJECTS at this post. […]

  23. […] For those of you who are new to my blog, please read my introductory post about the February daily write-in. You’ll find more information and all of the Week 1 FOUND OBJECTS at this post. […]

  24. Laura, I found the found objects for Day 4 and Day 5 interesting ones to compose poems for. They are at my blog site and will be offered for Poetry Friday this week. Thank you for this creative challenge to enjoy.
    http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2016/02/found-object-poetry.html

  25. […] thanks again to Laura Shovan for the series of prompts this month, and for all of today’s poetry fun and links, please visit Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss […]

  26. This poem is for Day 1, the wooden box.

    Don’t Look

    Dad said don’t look in the box.
    He stared me down.
    My eye dropped to his boots
    as if weighted by sinkers.
    “Okay,” I mumbled.
    “Promise me.”
    My eye flickered up, and
    his brown eyes held me fast.
    “Promise,” he repeated.
    “I promise.”
    I kicked a rock clear up
    the blue-back mountain.
    I listened hard for turkeys.
    I wound around dusty paths.
    I hunted ginseng,
    but I found nothing but weeds.
    Every step I took,
    I remembered that plain-looking box.
    That box looked as boring as boots.
    That infernal box, that magical,
    crazy-making box!
    I got to remembering the box
    and not the promise.
    I ate my chicken and dumplings,
    swimming and dunking in gravy.
    I scooped up my peas
    and held my nose closed.
    I could still taste them.
    I gobbled them quick as cake,
    my face making the death grimace.
    I washed away the pea flavor with
    my last biscuit, saved up
    for just that moment.
    My mama eyed my plate
    and gave a nod, remembering
    the other times.
    Peas hidden in my napkin.
    Peas dropped for the dog.
    Peas smuggled to Henry.
    These peas are tiny lumps
    of poison in my belly
    but the biscuit covers them.
    I lay down alongside Henry, but
    as far away as I can manage.
    He stank of coal dust from
    his new job in the mines.
    Mama was so proud of her eldest.
    Is that where I’m headed?
    I remember the box
    and wonder. And wish.
    I sneak downstairs, easing along the wall,
    where the boards don’t squeak,
    until I’m standing over it.
    My hand’s ready to lift.
    I hold my breath, as if without breathing,
    it’s not really me doing the lifting.
    I close my eyes.
    I lift the cover.
    Is it jewels? Grandpappy’s watch?
    Turkish Delight? Cocoa beans?
    I open my eyes.
    It’s dark and I can’t be sure.
    I light a candle, hoping papa
    doesn’t hear the scratch.
    It’s empty. Not even a speck of dust.
    Empty.
    “That’s right, Andie.”
    I drop the lid down and spin around.
    Now I remember my promise.
    My dad’s bare feet poke from under
    his flannel robe.
    “I’m sorry, Daddy.”
    “Andie, it’s as empty as broken promises.
    Only when you keep your word
    do you find treasure.”
    Daddy turned his back on me.
    I was left with a guttering candle.
    And a feeling in my belly like
    the taste of peas.

    What a wonderful prompt. Thanks for letting me add my words.

  27. Laura! What a turnout you’ve gotten from your first week!!! I’m my usual lame, no-time-to-think-let-alone-write-a-poem self, but hopefully I’ll jump in at some point.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Michelle, I look forward to that. I enjoy reading your community write-ins, even though I don’t participate very often.

  28. […] This year’s theme is FOUND OBJECTS. For those of you who are new to the project, please read my introductory post. You’ll find more information and all of the Week 1 FOUND OBJECTS at this post. […]

  29. […] new to the project, please read my introductory post. You’ll find more information and all of the Week 1 FOUND OBJECTS at this post. At the end of the month, I’ll have prizes for the most frequent contributors. However, there’s […]

  30. Hi there, Laura. I have a special affinity for dragon ladies, being one myself. Lovely poem!

  31. […] For those of you who are new to my blog, please read my introductory post about the February daily write-in. You’ll find more information and all of the Week 1 FOUND OBJECTS at this post. […]

  32. Donna Smith says:

    Day 5 –
    Tomato

    Red Sunrise slices
    Through the morning garden sky
    Sweet, warm rain to come.

    ©2016, Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved

    ******
    Day 6

    Dolls Left Behind

    Do you ever wonder where
    They went –
    The dolls left behind
    When you left childhood?
    You closed that door one day
    And went on to Trixie Belden,
    The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree,
    Horses,
    And then boys.
    But the dolls stayed
    Not reading books,
    Not riding horses,
    Not growing up.
    Does someone else own
    Kathy, the walking doll,
    who couldn’t really walk, or
    Thumbelina, who moved like a real baby,
    That is,
    If a baby had a big pink knob on its back.
    How about Miss Ballerina, who could no longer dance
    Due to one broken ankle?
    – thank you, dear brother –
    Did they all get tossed into the trash
    One day
    When I wasn’t looking in their direction
    Any more?
    Do you ever miss them?
    I do.

    ©2016, Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

Learn More

Find something on Laura’s Bookshelf:

Categories

Archives

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Goodreads