2015 Progressive Poem: What’s My Line?

Where will our Progressive Poem take us this year?!Hi, everyone! It’s Day 4, and thus Line 4, of the 2015 Progressive Poem, created and curated by Irene Latham.? I missed participating last year and am happy to be back.

OK, I confess I am a fan of short poems. And short lines. (My Ireland poem from yesterday feels long to me, and it’s only 16 long lines.) So when I read the first three lines, which are beautiful and lyrical and descriptive and–holy moly!–long, I feel totally out of my element. 30 lines this long will practically be a novel.

But, there you go. I love working within constraints, so it’s a fun challenge to figure out how to use my own poetic preferences to add a line that will still work in this group creation.

I decided to do a shorter line for contrast. Have you ever played the group improv game where you stand in a line and make up a story, one word at a time? And the game master points randomly at people, so it’s not like you can count a few people ahead and try to plan! It’s fun but scary. And sometimes your big moment results in your having to say “the” or something equally boring, because that’s what is needed in the story at that single moment when the game master points at you.

That’s kind of how this progressive poem is. I need to quit worrying about whether my line will sound glorious on its own and think about what the poem needs. So far, we have a beautiful description of an intriguing character. I think it’s time for action or momentum, because 30 lines of description and character would be too much, in my opinion. The last time I participated, I was much later in the month, and the main character was preparing, in great detail, for a journey. My head was exploding. I know, I know–it’s not all about me and my personal pet peeves:>) But I want to get this fascinating girl/woman doing something that might lead to conflict or revelation or something momentous.

All joking and whining aside, this is what makes group poems challenging.? Balancing your personal poetry preferences with the poem’s own demands. It’s why creating large group poems with elementary students, which I do on my school visits, is always a celebration of the unexpected. It’s why things fall flat…but it’s also why magic sometimes happens. OK, here goes:

She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium deposits of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.
Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms. Her hair flows,
snows in wild wind as she digs in the

I added a comma to the end of Heidi’s line. Is that OK? I didn’t want to start my line with “and.” I also wanted to add a bit of rhyme, even though it’s not a metered verse poem. Initially, I had “blows” as the first word, but how boring and expected. Here we are in the deep south (in my head, anyway), I thought, what if I use “snows” to describe the motion of her hair whipping and blowing, falling and rising, around her face? I was hoping “snows in wild wind” would add a bit of drama and contrast to the beautiful scene we have going on and would also pick up on the hint of speed and urgency in Heidi’s interesting phrase, “Hands faster than fish.” And what is she digging in? Digging for? Why? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find a clue tomorrow when Charles Waters add his line!

Here’s a list of links below so that you can follow along each day to see how our poem grows. I love being one stem in this poetry garden!

2015 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

1 Jone at Check it Out

2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy

3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog

6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson

8 Irene at Live Your Poem

9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

11 Kim at Flukeprints

12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

13 Doraine at DoriReads

14 Renee at No Water River

15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog

18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

19 Linda at Teacher Dance

20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots

21 Tara at A Teaching Life

22 Pat at Writer on a Horse

23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy

24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference

26 Brian at Walk the Walk

27 Jan at Bookseedstudio

28 Amy at The Poem Farm

29 Donna at Mainely Write

30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Thank you, Irene, for organizing this fun event where we can connect with each other and with readers!

56 Responses

  1. Thanks for all your wonderful commentary, Laura, AND for sounding the call to action! I love that you took some risks with your line. In Charles capable hands, I think they’re bound to pay off brilliantly. 🙂

  2. Thanks for all your wonderful commentary, Laura, AND for sounding the call to action! I love that you took some risks with your line. In Charles capable hands, I think they’re bound to pay off brilliantly. 🙂

  3. I think you did quite well! An intriguing, beautiful line that I’m sure Charles will take great joy in rounding out! And I’m glad you left it shorter than the others…no one said every line in a free verse poem needs to be the same length!

    1. Great point about length and free verse–just feels odd when each person did theirs the same length:>)

    2. Well done, Laura, I like the line you added. The flows/snows is very musical.
      I’m totally with you on that long line. I’m thinking it might be nice to aim for fewer syllables than in a haiku and maybe we should keep in mind it is for children. What kid wants to read a novel length poem? I personally loved how long we kept the meter and rhyming going last year. Am I being too much of a grumbly grouch?

      1. I agree, Joyce–I grumbled more in my draft of my post, but I didn’t want anyone to take it personally, so I tried to lighten up a little bit:)

    3. For that matter Matt, no one said it had to be free verse. With the long, long, long lines, this poem might be better sculpted as a prose poem. 😉

  4. I think you did quite well! An intriguing, beautiful line that I’m sure Charles will take great joy in rounding out! And I’m glad you left it shorter than the others…no one said every line in a free verse poem needs to be the same length!

    1. Great point about length and free verse–just feels odd when each person did theirs the same length:>)

    2. Well done, Laura, I like the line you added. The flows/snows is very musical.
      I’m totally with you on that long line. I’m thinking it might be nice to aim for fewer syllables than in a haiku and maybe we should keep in mind it is for children. What kid wants to read a novel length poem? I personally loved how long we kept the meter and rhyming going last year. Am I being too much of a grumbly grouch?

      1. I agree, Joyce–I grumbled more in my draft of my post, but I didn’t want anyone to take it personally, so I tried to lighten up a little bit:)

    3. For that matter Matt, no one said it had to be free verse. With the long, long, long lines, this poem might be better sculpted as a prose poem. 😉

  5. I love hearing all about your thinking, Laura. Now I’m seeing “her” more clearly, and things are bound to happen with Charles adding in his thoughts. Awesome addition!

  6. I love hearing all about your thinking, Laura. Now I’m seeing “her” more clearly, and things are bound to happen with Charles adding in his thoughts. Awesome addition!

  7. I had her walking along, with her arms and shoes swinging…
    change of scene! I’m sure Charles will give us something good to sink her hands into! Where is she going? Why is she stopping along the way?

  8. I had her walking along, with her arms and shoes swinging…
    change of scene! I’m sure Charles will give us something good to sink her hands into! Where is she going? Why is she stopping along the way?

  9. She’s digging! I’m actually pretty excited that she is digging. Why? For what? Let the drama unfold. Thank you, Laura, for the line and for talking about it. xo, a.

  10. She’s digging! I’m actually pretty excited that she is digging. Why? For what? Let the drama unfold. Thank you, Laura, for the line and for talking about it. xo, a.

  11. Thank you, Laura! Love your use of “snows”… I instantly thought of an wise old white haired woman… excited to see what Charles brings us next!

  12. Thank you, Laura! Love your use of “snows”… I instantly thought of an wise old white haired woman… excited to see what Charles brings us next!

  13. Great use of snows Laura. You’re right about the action starting. This is turning out to be my favorite progressive poem so far. Can’t wait to see what Charles does with this tomorrow.

    1. Thank you, Catherine. It’s funny, “snows” was a last-minute substitution just before I posted this this morning, but it’s the word getting the attention (good or bad).

  14. Great use of snows Laura. You’re right about the action starting. This is turning out to be my favorite progressive poem so far. Can’t wait to see what Charles does with this tomorrow.

    1. Thank you, Catherine. It’s funny, “snows” was a last-minute substitution just before I posted this this morning, but it’s the word getting the attention (good or bad).

  15. Sooooo interesting, Laura–I was sending girl-vibes, and her netless hands, faster than fish, were going to reach in and catch her dinner, and her hair was going to flow LIKE sandy muddy rivulets–
    but, true to your discussion of the tension between personal preferences and intentions and the good of the group effort–
    now her hair is whipping like wind-blown snow, and instead of fishing she’s digging!
    Will it be literal digging in the ground, or will she be digging some other way?

    Personally, I’m digging all the short i sounds we’re accumulating:
    lives, without, swing, stick, fish, wind, digs.

    Looking forward to Charles’s surprise, and he always fills his lines with emotion. Perhaps we’ll learn how she feels about her situation…

    1. I still picture her as a girl. And my first inclination was definitely hair flowing like the river or the currents or something. But…I had to go with something less expected:>) I love all the short i sounds, too!

  16. Sooooo interesting, Laura–I was sending girl-vibes, and her netless hands, faster than fish, were going to reach in and catch her dinner, and her hair was going to flow LIKE sandy muddy rivulets–
    but, true to your discussion of the tension between personal preferences and intentions and the good of the group effort–
    now her hair is whipping like wind-blown snow, and instead of fishing she’s digging!
    Will it be literal digging in the ground, or will she be digging some other way?

    Personally, I’m digging all the short i sounds we’re accumulating:
    lives, without, swing, stick, fish, wind, digs.

    Looking forward to Charles’s surprise, and he always fills his lines with emotion. Perhaps we’ll learn how she feels about her situation…

    1. I still picture her as a girl. And my first inclination was definitely hair flowing like the river or the currents or something. But…I had to go with something less expected:>) I love all the short i sounds, too!

  17. Very interesting, Laura. You added action…and with an unusual word choice 🙂 Where will it take us? Can’t wait to read what Charles contributs.
    And I’m glad you changed the length of the line. It quickens as we expect something to happen.

  18. Very interesting, Laura. You added action…and with an unusual word choice 🙂 Where will it take us? Can’t wait to read what Charles contributs.
    And I’m glad you changed the length of the line. It quickens as we expect something to happen.

  19. Your choice of the word “snow” is definitely unexpected but intriguing. Looking forward to finding out what she’s digging for!

  20. Your choice of the word “snow” is definitely unexpected but intriguing. Looking forward to finding out what she’s digging for!

  21. Well, one advantage of being behind this week is I get to savor each new line — then immediately jump to the next day’s! ;0) Enjoying the poem AND the spirited discussions. I think you and I were on the same wavelength before (2013?) wanting to get some action going, and here I am nodding again because like you, I also am a lover of short poems… :0) Great job. Off to see what Charles contributed…

    1. Thanks, Robyn–that year almost killed me:>) My weekend is Sun-Mon now, and I need to go catch up, too!

  22. Well, one advantage of being behind this week is I get to savor each new line — then immediately jump to the next day’s! ;0) Enjoying the poem AND the spirited discussions. I think you and I were on the same wavelength before (2013?) wanting to get some action going, and here I am nodding again because like you, I also am a lover of short poems… :0) Great job. Off to see what Charles contributed…

    1. Thanks, Robyn–that year almost killed me:>) My weekend is Sun-Mon now, and I need to go catch up, too!

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