Write After Reading: Writing the Life Poetic (Chapters 1 and 3)

It’s here! Write After Reading: Living the Life Poetic is a weekly online book club with poetry participation. It will alternate between my blog and Susan Taylor Brown’s blog .

Now. I’m just hoping we haven’t built this up TOO much. I’d hate for you to have overly high expectations, because I’m seeing this as a fun, casual conversation.

Some of you have already read Chapters 1 and 3. If not, close this Tab and go read them–they’re short:>)

Welcome back. Chapter 1: Why Read and Write Poetry?, really resonates with me. I didn’t start writing poetry until about 1998 or so, so I came to poetry late. And it started pouring out of me when I was attempting to dig into the emotions around a family medical crisis. I didn’t mean to write poems; they’re just what came out. So it was interesting for me to think about this question this week. Here’s what I came up with as some of my top reasons for writing poems.

1) They let me process the world, both good and bad.
2) They let me ruminate and analyze to my heart’s content.
3) They challenge my habit of doing things “right.“
4) Most importantly for me, they’re the opposite of small talk. I hate small talk. I stink at small talk. Poetry is looking at the tiny moments most people overlook and finding the meaning in them. It’s all about what really matters to you.


What about you? Why do you read and/or write poetry! How did you start? When? Why? Inquiring minds (ok, me, Susan, and the other WARs) want to know!

OK, on to Chapter 3 (most weeks, we’ll do just one chapter!): Start Where You Are. I admit my life is so unromantic and unscholarly that I have trouble identifying myself as a poet. Do you? Or does it come naturally to you?

But I love what Cohen says in this chapter. When I was presenting at the Poetry Blast at ALA in Chicago in 2009, a bunch of us poets were there early, and a guy on the hotel’s maintenance crew was working in the room. He asked what was going on, and when we told him, he said, “Oh, I write poems sometimes.” I loved that! This was a kind of shaggy guy, very unassuming, and he writes poems. Poets are everywhere: at your school, on your block, at your workplace, and right in the very chair you’re sitting in. It’s one of the things I love best about poetry. Though I’m not sure why it’s so easy for me to accept the poet in everyone else but struggle sometimes to see a poet in me. Hmmm.

Anyhoo. Let’s do the final Chapter 3 exercise from page 13.

“Think of someone you see regularly in passing but do not know well, such as your mail carrier, barista or neighbor. Write a poem that imagines what his life might be like:

* Who does he love?
* What has he lost?
* What do his pajamas look like?
* What are his aspirations?
* What does he eat for breakfast?”

I hope you’ll do this exercise and leave it in a comment. Don’t judge–just try it! My mind is totally blank right now, but I’m going to go write a poem in a comment right now. It’s just an exercise. A first draft. A discipline.

So leave a poem. Comment on anything in my post or from these two chapters. Jump in with your own questions that relate to these chapters. And of course talk to each other, too! It’s just an open conversation, and we’re glad you’re here to share it.

Susan Taylor Brown will be hosting next week, by the way, and if you’d like to read ahead, she’ll be posting on Chapter 7: Thirteen Ways of Looking.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,522 other subscribers

Are You Looking For?

Poetry Friday posts

Classroom Connections posts

All my poetryactions

Go to my Poetry page for:

  • National Poetry Month projects through the years
  • Small Reads Roundups (poems grouped by topic)
  • Introductions to several favorite poetry forms
#waterpoemproject15 Words or Less Poems20for2030 Painless Classroom Poems50 State Poemsacrosticsactivity pagesactivity sheetALAA Leaf Can Be...Amy Ludwig VanDerwaterA Need to FeedanthologiesanthologyA Rock Can Be...art projectsaudiopoemsawardsbad newsBarbara Juster EsbensenBilly Collinsbiopoemsblog tourbookalikesbook festivalsBookSpeak!book spine poemsbook trailersbop poembyr a thoddaidcafepresscalendar poemsCamp Read-a-LotCan Be... bookscan be... poemsCapstoneCarol Varsalonacascade poemsCatherine FlynnccbcCCRA.W.3CCRA.W.4CCRA.W.5centoschapter bookschoral compositionschristina rossetticinquainsCLAclassified ad poemsclassroom connectionclassroom connectionsClover Kittyconferences and conventionscrown sonnetscybilsdansaDare to DreamDavid Elliottdeeper wisdom poemdefinitosdiamantesdiversitydizaindodoitsuDot DayDouglas Floriandownloadablesdrum corpse.e. cummingsekphrastic poemsepistolary poemsequation poemsessentialethereeseventsexquisite corpseFairy Tale Garage Salefamilyfibonaccifiction picture booksfinding familyfirefightersforeign editionsfound poemsfree author zoomsfree versefrom studentsgeesegeorgia heardghazalGift Taggiveawaygolden shovelgoldilocksgratitudehaikuheart of aheart of a teacherHeidi MordhorstHelen FrostHighlightshow-to poemshow to make a rainbowI Am FromI Am poemsidiomsif you want to knit some mittensIf You Were the MoonILAimagepoemsinterviewin the middle of the nightIRAIrelandIrene LathamJ. Patrick LewisJanet WongJoyce SidmanKendraKerlanKidlit Comboslailaura's board booksLaura's booksLaura's poemsLaura's readingsLaura ShovanLee Bennett HopkinsLilian MoorelimericksLinda Booth SweeneyLine Leads the WayLion of the Skylist poemslittle free librarylive writingLullaby and Kisses Sweetlyricsmadness poetrymargaret simonMarilyn Singermary lee hahnmask poemsMeet My FamilyMelissa StewartMentors for Rentmentor textsmetaphorMichelle Myers LacknerMillbrookMinnesota Book Awardsmoneymoonmy reading lifemy writing processN+7naaninarrative poemsNational Poetry Month 2012 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2014 (riddle-ku)National Poetry Month 2015National Poetry Month 2016National Poetry Month 2017 (#wonderbreak)national poetry month 2018 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2020National Poetry Month 2021 (#EquationPoem)national poetry month 2022 (sticky-note poems)National Poetry Month 2023 (Digging for Poems)National Poetry Month 2024 (magnipoems)ncteNerdy Book Clubnifty newsnifty stuffNikki Grimesnonfictionnonfiction booksNonfiction Writers Dig Deepnovelsnovels in verseodesOne Minute Till BedtimeoppositifyOskar's VoyagepadletpantoumsparodiesPatreonpeacepersonalpet poemsphotopoetryphrase acrosticspicture booksplagiarismpoempicspoemspoems for two voicespoemsketchpoetic pursuitsPoetry 7poetryactionspoetry activitiesPoetry Blastpoetry booksPoetry FridayPoetry Friday AnthologiesPoetry Princessespoetry promptspoetry sistersPoetry Tips for Teachersprogressive poempublishing processpuddle songPutridquotationsraccontinosRandy Salasread-aloudreadaloudreading poetry in the classroomRebecca Kai Dotlichrecipe poemsrefugeesresearchreview copiesreviewsrevisionrhyming booksrhyming nonfictionrhyming picture booksRhyming Picture Books the Write Wayrhyming poemsRiddle-kuriddle poemsRock Can Be...Rock the Blogrondeau redoublesRudyard Kiplingsalas snippetsSCBWIschool visitsScotlandseasonssecrets of the loonSELsestinasshrinking daysskinnyskypeslice of lifesmall readssnack snooze skedaddlesnowman-coldsonnetsStampede!storm poemstorytimestorywalkstudent poemsstudent workSylvia VardellTanita Davistankatautogramteachableteacher resourcesteen/adult poemsterza rimasthankfulthank yous and referencesthe business sidethings to do iftracy nelson maurertrioletstunie munson-bensonvideosVikram MadanvillanellevillanellesWater Can Be...wealthy elementaryWe BelongWhat's InsideWhy-kuwinterwonderwonderbreakword of the yearwordplaywordsmithswork for hirewritingwriting bookswriting processwriting promptswriting the life poeticyoung authors conferencesYouTubeZapZap Clap Boomzenozentangle
Show More Show Less

Discover more from Laura Purdie Salas

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Join Laura's monthly newsletter for eductators

Get three of Laura's favorite poetry activities when you subscribe to "Small Reads."