More poem contest winners

I have more poems to share from our September poetry winners. Today’s poem comes from Sean Malone, (17) (winner of the 15-18 category). I am also including his notes on the writing experience because they might encourage you or your kids in their writing.

It’s rushing and gushing, the wind – how it blows!
We’re fighting its biting; our noses are froze!
We swish and we slide down the mountain with ease,
Our heads bundled tightly, our feet in our skis.

We’re jumping and spinning and flying through air,
Of course there’s some danger; we haven’t a care.
The mountain is trying to beat us – it’s furious
I hope we can make it with nothing injurious!

Notes on the writing experience:

This poem came about in a rather interesting way. Unlike most writing assignments, it did not start with a topic. Rather, first I found the meter I wanted, then came up with the “–ing” rhymes in the first two lines. I set it aside for about a week, and then picked it up again and thought about how I wanted the rest of the first two lines to sound, and finally wrote the first line. I did not settle on a subject until I was working on the second line.

I find this to be a very effective method to get past writer’s block, and especially poet’s block. Instead of stressing out about what to say, or even what topic to use, instead you simply create a rhythm in your mind, and then find words to fit the rhythm and a topic to fit the words.

In this particular piece, the fast-paced meter combines with strong words that are almost onomatopoeic (such as “rushing,” “swish,” and “furious,” to name a few); the result being an overall feeling of swift motion, just as the narrator in the poem is experiencing. The slight change in meter at the end of the last two lines helps to give the poem a sense of completeness. All in all, I went through three drafts before coming up with the final copy.

Julie’s Notes
What I enjoyed about Sean’s poem is that he wrote it inside out; that is to say, he started with the feel of the poetry and then allowed the topic to sort of drop into the mood of the rhythms. He is following the pattern used by song writers. Most song writers start with a melody followed by words that fit the tune. Some do it the other way around (words first), but the vast majority get a little riff going inside and then later they join words to the music.

Poetry can be written in the same way, as Sean has shown us with his poem here. And don’t you love that he went through three drafts? Yes! That’s how it works.

Thanks Sean!

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