My school is undergoing some renovations this summer and several teachers are moving to new classrooms. Because of this, people were cleaning and weeding like mad during the last few weeks of school. I am not moving, but should have been doing my own weeding. Instead, I couldn’t resist going through other people’s discard piles. Unbelievably, I found a copy of Paul B. Janeczko’s Poetry from A to Z: A Guide for Young Writers (Simon and Schuster, 1994).
I’ve been savoring this anthology, which includes poems by Valerie Worth, Myra Cohn Livingston, Ralph Fletcher, Eve Merriam, and more. Many poems are accompanied by notes of advice and guidance from the poets themselves. My favorite so far is this piece of wisdom from Georgia Heard:
“I write first drafts with only the good angel on my shoulder, the voice that approves of everything I write. This voice doesn’t ask questions like, ‘Is this good? Is this a poem? Are you a poet?’ I keep that voice at a distance, letting only the good angel whisper to me: ‘Trust yourself.’ You can’t worry a poem into existence.”
This is exactly the encouragement I need as I write the first draft of a poetry project I’ve been working on. School demands have been draining and distracting me for the past few months, so I haven’t gotten too far beyond pages of notes. But now that summer is here, I’ll be at my desk every day with that good angel on my shoulder, trying not to worry, trusting myself.
Thank you to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.
10 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Trusting Myself”
What fun that another person’s discard became your treasure! Trust that good angel on your shoulder and let the poetry pour out!
This is one of my staple texts. I use it often during National Poetry Month to get my students writing poetry. So glad you found this gem.
What a beautiful find! Synchronicity is a gift – you received indpirational advice from a master just when you needed it!
It is best to trust oneself and let poetry flow in the first draft. Embellishment can be done later.
Sounds like a great read! Sometimes worrying seems so prevalent, you’d like it could create, but it can’t.
I used to love this book! I wonder where my copy went???? And I love the quote- I’m going to hang it over my desk. I do way too much worrying and way too little writing!
I love this book too! It’s one I need to order for myself. I can’t imagine putting it in the discard pile – lucky you! It was fun to meet Georgia Heard in person, and now those words are even more meaningful. Happy Writing!
‘Trust yourself.’ You can’t worry a poem into existence.”
I love that! I feel the same about writing in general – putting our words onto paper requires that kind of internal trust.
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I love Georgia’s words – and advice as a writer. Let it flow girl! Isn’t summer wonderful! Look forward to reading your poetry!
I don’t know this book, and I need it! Your poetry is perfection. Let that be fuel for your angels.that sit with you this summer.
By the way, I am not staying for reading. But, I’ll be around till Monday