Linda Kulp Trout

Thursday, February 25, 2010

POETRY FRIDAY: After the Storm

After the Storm

I like watching does
and their fawns trudge
through deep snow to
nibble sparse wet
grass beneath
my deck

I like watching them
balance on thin hind legs
stretching their necks
reaching for last ripe
crabapples on
my tree

And I like watching them
gather into a herd then
stroll back to the woods
leaving behind a
trail of hearts
in the snow

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Writing: Making Connections

Right now I'm sitting on my deck, a chilly breeze is blowing across the snow and the air feels fresh. There is a wooded area behind my house complete with a variety of wildlife and a gurgling stream.

Two squirrels in a nearby tree chatter as they jump from limb to wobbly limb (reminding me of Kristine George's poem "Tree Traffic"). A flash of cardinal wings his way just above the glistening white snow.

It's late afternoon and the deer have come to graze on the little patches of grass near the stream and below my deck. There are eight of them, six does and two young ones. At this distance, t's hard to tell for sure if they are all does. (Bucks don't have antlers during the winter months. ) All eight are very thin. I wish I could feed them, but I know that's the wrong thing to do. Feeding them would make them dependent on humans We need to sell our house before we can retire (way too expensive to live here) and won't be around to feed the deer so they would probably starve.

Seven of the deer are busy grazing, one is staring at me. I think she must be the guard. Every now and then, they all stop and watch me, but this particular doe never turns away for a second! Finally, she starts to eat while two others key their eyes on me. I sit very still so I don't frighten them away. I feel so fortunate to be able to observe these graceful creatures.

I love it here. I feel peaceful and inspired to write. The words come without effort. I know this is far from a polished piece of writing, but maybe it could be the start of something more. Maybe the secret of writing is finding a topic you're actually passionate about. Could it be that simple?

For a long time, I've been asking myself if my goal is to get published, to write what I love, or to write to make a living. My dream would be to combine all three. Stuggling to figure it out has kept me stuck and jumping from project to project instead of finishing anything. So maybe if I connect my desire to write with topics I'm passionate about, I'll actually finish something.

Friday, February 19, 2010

POETRY FRIDAY: Remembering Lucille Clifton

In honor of Lucille Clifton who passed away last Saturday, I'm sharing one of her poems that I use with my students. I first read "Listen Children" in the poetry collection for children, Pass It On: African-American Poetry for Children. This is a wonderful collection with poems by some of my favorite poets: Nikki Grimes, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn brooks, Nikki Giovanni, Eloise Greenfield, Mari Evans, Counteee Cullen, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Henry Dumas, and others. The title of the collection comes from the last line in "Listen Children."

Listen Children

listen children
keep this in the place
you have for keeping
keep it all ways

we have never hated black

You can read the rest of this poem and other poems by Lucille Clifton here.

Pass it On: African-American Poetry for Children selected by Wade Hudson, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper, Scholastic, 1993.Listen Children

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Writing and Fear

A few years ago, a friend wanted me to go snow tubing. My first response was, "I'm too old for that." Since he's close to my age, he wasn't buying it. I continued with every excuse I could think of: "I don't have the right clothes to wear, I have too much to do, I'll try it another time." I was afraid of failing, and he knew it. He wouldn't relent unitl I agreed to try tubing down a hill in our neighborhood.

Walking to the top of that hill, my mind was racing. What if I get hurt, what if I hurt someone else, and what will people watching me think? Tubing was not in my comfort zone, but my friend wouldn't let me back out. Then, suddenly there I was whooshing down the hill. Immersed in the experience, the fear was gone and I was actually enjoying myself.

It's the same way with writing, especially writing poetry. My poems come from my life and putting myself out there for everyone to see is scary. Fear blocks me from writing the truth. What if I cross the line and expose too much and look like a fool? What if I reveal something that hurts someone I love? What if I don't have anything worth saying? When fear takes over, I start censoring every word, and my poems feel artifical.. They don't mean anythigng to me or to anyone who reads them.

Even when I'm writing in my journal, I sometimes censor my thoughts, especially when I'm writing about a family member. But, mostly, my journal is the place I feel safe enough to write the truth, my truth. This is the place I can write without fear. This is the place I am free to immerse myself in whatever I happen to be writing. So, how can I transfer that fearlessness to the writing I want to share with others? Do professional writers ever experience this kind of fear, or have they learned to overcome it?

This week I've been thinking a lot about Lucille Clifton. Her poems came from her life experiences. I think she might understand what I'm feeling. She wrote about fear in her poem, "telling our stories."

telling our stories

the fox came every evening to my door,
asking for nothing. my fear
trapped me inside, hoping to drive her
away but she sat till morning, watching.

You can read the rest of the poem and a tribute to Lucille Clifton here.

How about you, have you ever experienced fear when you sit down to write? Do you have any tips for moving past the fear?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

SNOW! SNOW! and more SNOW!

Two blizzards in four days left us with a lot of snow! Schools have been closed since Feb. 5. Driving continues to be a challenge with huge piles of snow EVERYWHERE!

Although I'm not happy knowing we've lost our spring break and will be in school until the 4th. of July, for me, the snow was a gift. Normally, the days and weeks fly by so fast I feel like a hamster on a wheel- spinnning and spinning but not getting where I want to be. Like most people, I'm always overscheduling and thinking I have to be the one to get the job done.

The snow has been a blessing because it forced me to slow the pace! The first five days were busy, busy, busy with shoveling and baking and doing household chores. Then finally, finally things slowed down. I finally ran out of "have to dos" and had time for some "wanna dos." For the first time since last summer, I had time to think, time to read, and even some time to write. School will be back in session tomorrow, and things will get crazy again. But for now, I'm going to have a cup of tea and enjoy my time.