NPM2022 Day 15: Mean Words

Happy Poetry Friday!

Here’s another sticky note poem inspired by an N+7 exercise. It came out of the same riddle-ku that Wednesday’s poem, “Mama Says” did. Below it, you’ll find some steps of my writing process on this one.

Here’s (top) a riddle-ku from Lion of the Sky, followed by the N+7 version…
First attempt, but it felt too preachy to me. I wanted a more personal point of view…more specific.
And here’s my second attempt. I was thinking of both my own childhood and also a K‑1 student who shared as we wrote a “We Belong” poem on a recent author visit…

Matt Forrest Esenwine has the roundup today. He’s got an interview up with fabulous poet Leslie Bulion about her new collection, Serengeti. I can’t wait to read both the interview and the book!

Thanks for reading, and happy National Poetry Month! And if you ended up here by chance, fantastic! Here are a few links you might find helpful.

12 Responses

  1. Laura, children will easily resonate with your poem; I know I do. The POV emotion/feeling of your words definitely come through. I’m piggy backing on Matt’s words: “I love the intimacy of the poem.” Thank you for sharing draft and final.

    1. Here’s a template for We Belong poems, which could be individual or group/class poems. I’ve only done them in a group so far. https://laurasalas.com/book-writing-thoughts/a‑we-belong-poem-template-for-classrooms/ And in this post at https://laurasalas.com/book-writing-thoughts/my-first-in-person-author-visits-in-two-years/ you can see in one of the images the group poem with a line that inspired today’s poem… (I do lots of other kinds of group poems with K‑1, too, and occasionally individual poems, but I’m not usually given small enough groups for that.)

  2. Laura, I’ve been here a while, reading this amazing process, learning about your Lion of the Sky book (and ordering it), and trying to figure out the process you used to write this beautiful poem of sharp and inky word–tattooed memories. Wow, it’s such a powerful poem on your sticky note today. Thank you.

    1. Aw, thank you, Denise. The N+7 exercise is new to me, and I learned about it on a PF post (but I don’t remember whose). Basic definition is here: https://poets.org/text/brief-guide-oulipo And then I just look at the nonsense results and see what it sparks. In this case, “biceps” and “typewriter” made me think of tattoos. Which made me think of tattoo mistakes where people spell names wrong and such. Which made me think of how hard it is to fix words–on tattoos or when they’re spoken. That led to the first preachy draft. And then I tried to make it a bit more personal…to both me and a K‑1 student who broke my heart on a school visit recently. THanks so much for being interested!

        1. I think I did see it on your or Linda’s post, Denise! Thank you. Yeah, I used it more as a springboard than as a poem creator. Fun to try using these things in different ways. I’m so grateful for the many writing prompts I get through Poetry Friday posts!

  3. Brilliant poem, Laura! “hard to erase”…yes.
    And thanks for the behind-the-screen look at your process. 🙂

  4. Oof–that one IS sharp. I like seeing how even n+7 nonsense can lead to new images.

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