Yesterday I got to attend Steve’s excellent workshop, today it was my turn to be a presenter. I gave a workshop on strategies to get students writing, filling in for a friend. It’s a workshop I’ve done before, and I use the strategies all the time, so the material is very familiar, but I still find leading a workshop very nervous-making. People tell me I appear to be the calmest woman in the world when I present, but that’s definitely not what I feel like on the inside!
Today went well. There were a couple of moments when I wasn’t sure about the energy in the room, but I felt good overall, and got great verbal feedback and strong written evaluations at the end. (I’m still trying to figure out the person who gave me low marks in “relevance to my program” but then wrote, “Can’t wait to try all these activities with my students!” Go figure.)
Nicest bits of all: a guy who had attended one of my writing workshops in the past who told me about all the ways he’d used the activities and how successful they had been, and connecting with a couple of ladies — one new to the field, one a veteran — with whom I may have some ongoing teacher-support contact.
Today’s poem is, yes, another tanka. I’m not quite getting the form. The idea is supposed to be to build up to the clear expression of an emotion, all five lines related, connected expressing one feeling. I think I got closer with the two I wrote last April, and maybe even with the one I wrote for Mildred in January. The three from this week seem a little off. Maybe because the poems from yesterday and today are very “surface.” Hmm … we’ll see what tomorrow yields.
April Shower Tanka
rain droplets line up
swell, join, spill over, run down
splashes gold against brownstones
springtime Brooklyn glistens, new
I started doing some reading about tanka. Apparently, it is hugely popular. There’s a Tanka Society of America and everything. But someof the ‘rules’ I’ve read are mostly annoying to me. All about how American’s should aim for 21 instead of 31 syllables, and how the number of syllables doesn’t really matter as long as the poem lines follow the short-long-short-long-long pattern, or maybe we should even throw out everything and just write five lines of free verse. What is that?
I am stubborn, sticking with my 5-7-5-7-7. There’s still plenty of work to do: the idea of the third line as a pivot point between the beginning and end of the poem, the whole direct expression of an emotion idea, rythmic balance …
(Stubborn, but hardly a purist. It seems tanka are usually untitled, yet I — a woman who hates having to think up titles — have named every one!)