Poetry Friday: Holiday Knitting Edition

The season of love and joy is upon us. Paradoxically, the new is full of heartbreak and hope. We are staying home and will have a “Zoom” Christmas. I am thankful we have that option, and am thankful for my many blessings, including this amazing community. I’m taking a holiday hiatus, but didn’t want the year to end without sharing a final poem for 2020.

Over the past three weeks, I’ve been participating in one of Georgia Heard‘s poetry workshops through her Poet’s Studio. The focus of the workshop was poetic forms. We read and wrote cinquains, villanelles, sonnets, and more. Georgia introduced and discussed many other types of poetry, including found poetry.

Knitting has long been a passion of mine, and I’ve recently been knitting up a storm for my baby granddaughter, Hazel. I wanted to write a poem about knitting, but my brain power is limited these days. (Too many distractions; see first paragraph.) So today I’m sharing a found poem, culled from “Knitting for Poets: Elizabeth Zimmermann” by A.E. Stallings. I followed the rules and kept the words in the order in which they appear in the article.


Sonnet-length baby sweaters
magically form beneath our hands:
texture and color,
the pleasure of materials.
Knit on
with confidence and hope
through all crisis.
Get lost together.
Well-worn wooden needles’
benevolent clack is soothing,
Cherish them.
Follow your secret heart.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Hazel with her new stocking.

I wish you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season. I hope to see you back here in 2021. Please be sure to visit the multi-talented Michelle Kogan at her blog for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: A Nonet

Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to spend time learning more about poetry (there is always more to learn!) from two of my poetry idols, Georgia Heard and Irene Latham. Irene talked about her writing, where she finds inspiration, and more. She also shared her charming new collection, Nine: A Book of Nonet Poems and guided us through the process of writing a nonet. Nonets have nine lines, beginning with one syllable in the first line, two in the second, and so on until you have a nine-syllable line. Or you can reverse the order and begin with nine syllables and work back to one. Irene explained there are many benefits of writing nonets (or any form of syllablic poetry), including forcing you to cut unnecessary words such as a, and, & the, “generating powerhouse words and ideas,” and expanding your vocabulary. She also encouraged us to come to poetry “with a sense of wonder.”

I thought of Irene’s words when I left my house the next morning and saw this in our old apple tree:

Although I was a bit chagrined at the damage to one of my favorite trees, I was also filled with wonder at the precision of these holes. With a little research, I discovered that this was the work of a yellow-bellied sapsucker. Who knew?

Of course I had to write a nonet about this determined little bird.

The Promise

Yellow-bellied sapsucker’s sharp beak
bores through bark, drills into heartwood.
Soon, neat rows of round sapwells,
like honeycombs, cover
tree trunks. Sweet liquid
oozes; insects
tumble in.
Lunch is

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Thank you, Irene and Georgia, for all the inspiration!

Hop on over to Buffy Silverman’s blog for an interview with Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell about their newest anthology, Hop to It! and the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Cheating on a Challenge

“Lily wanted to be a good place to land.”
Emily Winfield Martin

The first Friday of the month means my Sunday Night Swaggers critique group monthly challenge. This month, Molly Hogan challenged us to “Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.” (Molly found this prompt here.)

I liked this prompt immediately. The problem was which book to choose? There are so many books to love! Despite knowing the challenge several months in advance, I couldn’t decide on a book. And am I the only one who feels like teaching during a pandemic seriously compromises my ability to think straight after three o’clock? Good. Then you’ll understand when I confess that, even though this poem meets this challenge, it was written months ago. Sorry, Molly.

The line I chose is from The Imaginaries: Little Scraps of Larger Stories by Emily Winfield Martin.

The “scraps of larger stories” and paintings in this book are endlessly inspiring. They have a mystical and dream-like quality that makes me want to climb into them. (Read another poem inspired by this book here.)

Lily wanted to be a good place to land.

Hidden Riches

If a spotted yellow butterfly

lands in the palm of your hand
and whispers, follow me…

don’t be shy, don’t hesitate
let the breeze carry you

into a sun-splashed meadow

where caterpillars nibble,
beetles skim, and dragonflies hover

over clusters of clover,
milkweed, and thistle

Follow her through ripples of sedge
and ticklegrass

Keep your eyes and ears and heart
open to the mysteries hidden there:

a map to your true you.

© Catherine Flynn, 2020

I’ve been reading Kate DiCamillo’s Louisiana’s Way Home with a student over the past few weeks, and I thought about using a line from Kate’s wise writing for this challenge. In the end, I settled on borrowing the title of my poem from this line: “I guess you can never say what riches people contain.”

Please visit my fellow swaggers to see how they responded to this challenge.

Heidi Mordhorst @ My Juicy Little Universe
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone

Then head over A Year of Reading for the Poetry Friday Roundup. Be sure to wish our hostess extraordinaire, Mary Lee Hahn, a very happy birthday while you’re there!