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.