Slice of Life: A Golden Shovel

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce ~

Every day, we encourage our students to swallow their fear and take risks. And every day, they take them. But how often are we that brave? Hitting the “Publish” button on our blog posts is one type of risk,  but this is usually only an individual risk. This year I decided to be brave and take part in Irene Latham’s Progressive Poem. “A poem that travels daily from blog to blog, with each host adding a line, beginning April 1,” this is the poem’s 8th year. (You can read more about this amazing project here.) Matt Forrest Esenwine got us started by challenging us to use “only FOUND lines” from songs!

I have been in a panic about my line all month. I feared my line wouldn’t measure up and I would let Irene, Matt, and all the other poets down. But I’d made a commitment. So I dusted off CDs I haven’t listened to in years, watched hours of YouTube videos, and read reams of liner notes. I gathered a list of lines I thought might work. But the poem is a living entity. It changes direction often. And it changed right before it was my turn to add my line! I did find a line I was happy with, but I had several unused lines that I really liked. I decided to use one as a strike line for a Golden Shovel poem. (BTW, the Progressive Poem is with Penny Klosterman today. Check it out here.)

This line is from “Upside Down,” the first track on Jack Johnson’s Curious George soundtrack.

We’ll sing and dance to mother nature’s songs

Also, happy birthday to William Shakespeare! And even though this post isn’t about him (although he was a master borrower), where would we be without the Bard?

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

7 thoughts on “Slice of Life: A Golden Shovel

  1. Once you let yourself get drawn in by music, it’s hard to let go. I think I may try this activity with my kiddos this week, our last week of poetry month. I am a huge fan of listening to bird song. This spring is no exception. They are loud and lovely in the morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So nice that you found many lines to love in your research and that this golden shovel was one result. This format is on my list to try! You make it look simply gorgeous! Thanks!


  3. I was struck by the line in your prose, “So I dusted off CDs I haven’t listened to in years, watched hours of YouTube videos, and read reams of liner notes.” I thought about all of the research and thinking that goes into writing — just to contribute one excellent line. Sometimes, I wonder, why do I do all of this work to craft a story? You remind me that the process enriches us along the way.


  4. Catherine, I think most of the PP writers felt the jitters before their line came up. I certainly know I did but not the night before I finalized my line. I felt so exhilarated by the experience of researching and finding the line that made sense to me. You found your line but you also found a great strike line (just the one that popped out at me when I listened to “Upside Down.” I like the way you crafted your golden shovel. It is a wonderful tribute to Mother Nature and Earth.


  5. I love this strike line and the poem you created from it. Over the past few years, bird watching has become a huge joy for me. I’m reading a book called “How to Be a (BAD) Birdwatcher” right now, and I’m often struck by how what the author writes could describe writing as easily as it does birding. Both involve that all important pause, don’t they?


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