Poetry Friday: Nestlings from the Natural World

At the beginning of each month, my critique group partners and I take turns challenging one another to try a new poetry form. This month, Heidi Mordhorst suggested that we write nestlings: poems found within a single poem that we wrote. Heidi’s challenge was inspired by Irene Latham‘s brilliant and joyous book, This Poem is a Nest. In her introduction, Irene explains that she was inspired by watching “robins build a nest” and realized that “poems are nests–and we poets spend much of our time nest-building. We gather words, ideas, and dreams, and then we set about weaving, arranging, and structuring. “

I love everything about this book: the concept, the poems themselves, the illustrations. Irene mined four “nest” poems (one for each season) and came up with 161 nestling poems. Her creativity shines in the way she organizes her nestlings. There are poems about colors, emotions, months of the year, animals, and more. This book is a treasure and an inspiration. What a fun challenge!

Then reality sunk in and I had to actually choose a poem to work with. After several false starts, I decided to mine several poems I wrote during National Poetry Month last April. My project for the month was a series of poems I called “News from the Natural World.” All of the poems had some connection to nature, both from my yard and across the galaxy. (Links to all the poems can be found here.) I chose to look for nestlings in two of my favorites, “Praise Song for the Natural World” and “An Earth Day ABC.” Like all found poems, the words are in the same order as in the original poem. Titles can be added and don’t have to be in the original poem. Those words are bolded. I might have added an “s” to the end of a word or two. 😉

Praise Song for the Natural World

Each day, wild creatures go about the work of survival.
A vibrant bluebird flits through the undergrowth
in pursuit of an alluring female.

High in a pine, a nesting hawk surveys
the countryside, screeching in protest
at a mob of pesky crows.

All around, color is brightening the drab world.
Brilliant yellow dandelions are open for business
and hungry bees buzz joyously among them.

Violets sprinkle the hillside like confetti
And every shrub and tree is wrapped
In a fine haze of green or pink or red.

In the pond, clumps of frogspawn
are silently, mysteriously on their
journey of transformation.

Praise song for their confidence, their
optimism in the face of a fickle world,
for their honest pursuit of life.

Praise song for every blossom, every nest, every egg.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Nestlings from this poem:

Each morning

bird-bright
joy
confettiwraps
the world

Eyes of a

wild hawk:
round,
brilliant,
mysterious

A mob of crows
buzz trees,
rap their confidence

Yellow lions
hungry, silent.
Journey in
pursuit of life.

Red

Vibrant growth
brightens
hill and shrub:
world blossom

An Earth Day ABC

An atlas of the world can’t
Begin to reveal the
Complexity of connections, the
Diversity of life on
Earth.
For centuries, curious humans have
Grappled with questions, searching across
Hemispheres, seeking
Insights into our home, finding pieces of the
Jigsaw puzzle, gaining
Knowledge and
Learning the lessons
Mountains teach us. The earth
Nurtures and nourishes us. We are
Obligated to
Protect her, preserve her. Our reckless
Quest for riches is irresponsible. Actions
Ripple across the globe, casting
Shadows on life everywhere.
Today and everyday, seek to
Understand the
Vulnerability and vitality of our
Wondrous world.
eXchange hubris for humility. Change begins with
You.
Zoom in and discover nature’s abundant gifts.

Draft © 2020, Catherine Flynn

Nestlings from this poem:

apples
know lessons,
nourish us:
nature’s gift.

Twilight

Shadows–
where 
change 
begins.

The River

ripple
searching
seeking
home

This was a fun and thought-provoking adventure! Dozens of nestlings didn’t make it into this post, but I learned a thing or two about myself as a writer through the process and will approach revision differently in the future. Thank you, Irene, for this amazing book, and thank you, Heidi, for this great challenge! You can read how my other critique group partners approached this challenge at their blogs:

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

And don’t forget to visit Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children for the Poetry Friday Roundup and a sneak peek at what looks to be a bumper crop of children’s poetry arriving in 2021.

 

 

15 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Nestlings from the Natural World

  1. I saw your Facebook post about how birdwatching is good for you. Today after school, a mob of crows flew around the cars. They seemed to be playing in the wind gusts. I love how nestlings, like haiku, can capture a single moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Catherine, my GOODNESS! This really makes us stretch, doesn’t it? Loving “confettiwraps” and “Eyes” and I spent time searching for the lion and found it among the dandelions! “Twilight” is also a favorite. I think I’m going to have to keep going….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember your Praise Song from last year. April is the best month for poetry, isn’t it? Each one of your nestlings is like a spark from the original, like “Hey, listen to this!” And, like Irene, I love “confettiwraps
    the world”. Thanks, Catherine – beautifully done.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Catherine, your parent poems shared are wonderful & their offshoots as poem nests are exquisite in their brevity & potency.
    Everything everyone has already said here about this walk in nature ~~ confettiwraps & the shadows, the dandelions plus, more.
    And you brought us this outdoors treat during a month of teaching a full schedule & handling so much more.
    Brava!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Catherine, I am so impressed with how many nestlings you created and how wonderful they are! As a birdwatcher, I’m drawn to the first one, but I also love so many others, especially Twilight and River. You’ve definitely given me a new way to think of shadows! It was also a treat to revisit your wonderful nests from last spring. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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