Slice of Life: “Poetica Friends”


It’s been quite a challenge to re-enter the real world after spending four glorious days at the Highlights Foundation last week. I had to pinch myself more than once to make sure I was really there, learning about “The Craft and Heart of Writing Poetry for Children” from Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard. I’ve loved the work of these two wise and witty poets for years, so being at this workshop was a real thrill.


My time at Highlights was made even more special because I got to spend time with fellow Slicer Linda Baie. (Read her thoughts about the workshop here.) Poetry Friday pals Robyn Hood Black, Buffy Silverman, Linda Kulp Trout, and Charles Waters were also there, and it was wonderful to meet so many other talented and passionate poets from around the world.

We were immersed in poetry day and night. Everyone shared their own original poetry as well as poems by favorite poets, including several classics by Georgia & Rebecca. Lee Bennett Hopkins visited with us via Skype, sharing his insights and preferences about poetry. “I want children to read poetry that shows them the beauty of the world,” he explained.

WordSong editor extraordinaire, Rebecca Davis, joined us to answer our questions about publishing poetry and to give us a sneak peak at Georgia’s collection of animal poems for two (or more) voices, that will be published in a few years. We were also treated to a preview of  Rebecca’s (Dotlich, edited by Davis) new book with Jane Yolen, Grumbles From the Town. (More about this on Friday.)

And, of course, we wrote poetry. Rebecca and Georgia led us through a variety of exercises each day. My favorite was “The Art of Observational Poetry.” During this exercise, we carefully examined a small stone, first listing our scientific observations about color, shape, texture, and so on. Then we turned those observations into something more poetic. As Georgia explained, “looking carefully and translating your observations into language is the work of a poet.”  Suddenly, my small stone was an asteroid, cratered and misshapen, tumbling through the universe, until the hand of a child plucks it out of its orbit and clutches it close.

It’s not a poem yet, but it has possibilities. Thanks to my new “poetica friends,” I am inspired to “follow the thread” of these words and find the door into their poem.


Thank you to StaceyDanaBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lisa for creating this community and providing 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.

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life: “Poetica Friends”

  1. I can only imagine how amazing the workshop was. Thanks for sharing a bit about it here. That kind of atmosphere of passion about poetry must produce quite a wealth of fantastic language. I hope to read some of your poems soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an amazing experience for you! I was so excited to read about your time at Highlights. How fun that you got to meet/hang out with so many on-line friends and poetry luminaries! Wow! Thanks also for sharing the observational poetry activity. I love the image of that small hand plucking the stone out of its orbit.

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  3. I miss you!!! What a treasure it was to spend time with you all – to catch up with Rebecca and Georgia again, to connect with “old” poetry workshop buds including Buffy and Cory, and to finally meet several more of my PF heroes in person! It’s a tall order to measure up to how wonderful you seem online, Catherine, but I immediately felt I’d known you forever. Same with Linda B. My heart is full just thinking about it. It was a treat to meet fellow “book” buddies in person, too – Linda Kulp Trout and Linda Dryfhout and Heidi Bee Roemer – and Charles, of course! (Brave soul to hang out with all us women.) Thanks for the fulsome post!

    Liked by 1 person

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