Linda Kulp Trout

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Poetry Workshop Adventure Part 2

Here I am, back in the real world after four amazing days at Highlights. There is so much I want to share, but I've been grading papers all evening, and it's nearly 11PM.  So for now, I’ll just say that it was every bit as magical as I hoped it would be.

Spending time with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard was a dream come true. I was very nervous to meet them, but their warm, welcoming ways instantly helped me feel at ease. They are kind and generous teachers who filled us with inspiration and encouragement. We laughed, we sang, we read, we wrote, and we deeply listened to each other. Each poem, each critique, each person mattered. We were all there to celebrate poetry!  I’ve been to many workshops, but this was by far the best one.  “The Heart and Craft of Poetry” was a life-changing experience for me because for the first time in my life I felt like I found people who spoke my language and shared my heart.

                                                        our group photo
I was happy to finally meet some of my Poetry Friday buddies.  They are an incredible bunch, and it felt like we were all old friends.
                                      The Poetry Friday gang with Rebecca and Georgia.

The folks at Highlights took excellent care of us, and made us feel at home with delicious food and cozy accommodations.
                                                   my home for four fabulous days

I wrote in my notebook each night before bed so I wouldn’t forget a single moment.  I sure hope I get to attend another Highlights workshop. If you have the opportunity to attend one, I know you will love it!
                                                            our poet-tree

My friend, Catherine is hosting today's Poetry Friday at Reading to the Core. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

My Poetry Workshop Adventure Part 1

I only have time for a quick post because I'm busy packing for my trip to the Highlights Foundation.  The workshop I’m attending is The Heart and Craft of Poetry.  Just the title alone makes me swoon with anticipation!  

A poetry dream team of Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Georgia Heard, Rebecca Davis, and a special Skype visit by our beloved, Mr. Lee Bennett Hopkins will immerse us in poetry from Sunday-Thursday.  I’ve wanted to do this for sooooo long; I plan to soak up every single word! I can’t wait to learn from these poetry heroes who I’ve admired forever!

                                                 my home for a few days

I’m also looking forward to meeting some of my Poetry Friday buddies including: Heidi Bee Roemer, Charles Waters, Buffy Silverman, RobinHood Black, Linda Baie. I apologize for not remembering everyone who told me they would be there, but I look forward to meeting every one them!  I’m thrilled (and a little nervous) to be in the company of so many brilliant poets! I just know I’m going to learn a lot from them too.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been pondering what to bring with me. We were sent a list:
·         3 poems to polish (not sure which ones I’ll take just yet)
·         a notebook (I’m bringing several, you know, for all that soaking!)
·         one book of children’s poetry (That’s a tough one. I have so many favorites. I’ll bring several and decide later which one to share.)
·         one small object (Oh, I think I have that one covered.)

I’m also going to take my current WIP because the workshop location will provide the perfect inspiration!

One more thing I’m going to take with me is the advice of my very wise mentor, Laura Purdie Salas  and make a list of goals for the workshop. (Thanks, Laura!)  

This will likely be my one and only opportunity to attend a Highlights workshop so I want to make the most of it.  I’d love to hear your tips and/or advice for a successful workshop experience.  Being a newbie,  I’m open to suggestions! I've never done anything like this so I am beyond excited!   I'll tell you all about my adventure in a future blog post. Let’s just hope I don’t embarrass myself too much with all my swooning!

Be sure to stop by The Poem Farm where my talented friend, Amy has today's Poetry Friday roundup. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections

Last month, when I was planned my April project, I really believed that I could find time to write and then blog every day about my progress.  The first week went pretty well.  Then other responsibilities started piling up, and there were days when I got home late so from school, every ounce of my energy was shot.  I had to make a choice, work on the poems or write a blog post.  I went with the poems, and I'm glad I did.  My goal was to write twenty poem rough drafts by the end of April.  I only wrote twelve, but now I have a dozen more than I had at this time last month!  So, instead of feeling like a failure, I decided to make this my new mantra.

Here's the best part.  Although I still have a long way to go, I am still excited about my WIP!  Anyone who knows me will tell you that is HUGE.   I finally found a routine that works for me. Every day,  I do something to move forward.  It might be reading some of the "snippets" I wrote in February or an article or book on my topic. Some days, it might just be jotting a few words, an image, or line on a scrap of paper.  But, no matter how small, I always do something.  To help keep my topic in mind,  I placed pictures of poem ideas throughout my house.  The pictures were great reminders to get writing.  I'd love to have more time, but for now, this method seems to be working.

As we move into May, I'm motivated to keep going. I starting to believe I can do this! I have no idea if anything I've written is publishable, but I want to see this project through. My May goal is to finish the last eight rough draft poems. Then I'll send them off to Mentors for Rent to get a professional critique. What happens after that, I'll have to wait and see. Right now, my only focus is to get those poems written!

Today I'm sharing a poem by Edgar A. Guest that I'm keeping on my desktop. I hope it encourages you as much as it does me. 

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is at Buffy's Blog.   I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 19

Have you ever read something that unexpectedly led to an idea for a poem that would fit perfectly into your WIP?  That's what happened to me this past Saturday. I was in a gift store when I saw a display of stuffed animals with little tags telling about the real-life animal.   I was reading the tags on some of them when suddenly an idea for a poem popped in my mind. I jotted the idea down right there in the store so I wouldn't forget it!  When I got home, I tucked it in my notebook and forgot about it. This evening, I was searching for a snippet to work on, and there it was!  I wrote a draft and will sit with it a few days before revising it.  I love it when reading leads to writing!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My National Poetry Month Project: Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 14

Don't you just love the way a poem can say so much with a few well-chosen words?  As I tried to shape today's snippet into something that resembles a poem, I searched my brain for a metaphor that would bring the image to life.  I did come up with one, but it doesn't feel quite right so I'll continue to do some fine tuning.

Metaphors don't come naturally to me so here is one of the books I'm reading (again)  to learn more about creating metaphors.  A sampling of other chapters includes: writing from memory, working with details, and adding feeling (in addition to many of Ted Kooser's own poems),  makes this little book a gem for poetry lovers.

Thinking about Langston Hughes today, I decided to share one of my all time favorite poems.   I've probably read it a hundred times, and it still touches my heart.

 Be sure to stop Michelle's place for our Poetry Friday roundup at Today's Little Ditty.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections: Day 13

Today, I've been thinking about ways to add more emotion to my poems.  How do I express the intense feelings I want my reader to feel.  To find the answer, I decided to look more closely at some of my favorite poems.

One poem that has stayed with me since I first read it is "Cottontail" by George Bogin.  So, what makes the poem so unforgettable?  For me, it's the use of sensory words, simple language, and specificity that draws me in.   I spent most of my writing time today looking over the five poems I have written so far and found some places I could revise to use those elements. I'd love for you to share ways you add emotion to your poems.


A couple of kids,
we went hunting for woodchucks
fifty years ago
in a farmer's field.
No woodchucks
but we cornered
a terrified
little cottontail rabbit
in the angle
of two stone fences.

Read the rest of the poem here. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections: Day 11 

The past two days were jam-packed with work and family activities. Even though I didn't physically revise the next snippet, I did a lot of mental writing and jotted down some ideas.  Today, I got back on schedule and worked on a revision.  I spent most of my writing time thinking about the last line in my poem.  I was trying to make it fit into the form I'm using, but no matter how much I reworked it, I didn't like anything as much as my original idea.  Then I remembered a graduate level poetry class I took many years ago when had a similar problem. My professor, who has published several chapbooks of poetry, said that when it comes to choosing between meaning and following a strict form, always go with meaning.  I admire her as a poet and a teacher so I decided to take her advice and write the last line the way it needed to be to get my meaning across.  I may change it later on, but for now, it feels right.  I think it's the same with most things in life, sometimes we have to step out of the box to get where we want to go.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections: Day 8

Another day with no real progress.  I did a lot of thinking about the poem I started revising the other day, and I did a little research to see if I could find a spark. I didn't.  I have been working really hard at school and not sleeping much, so it might be that I'm just so exhausted my brain is not functioning. This weekend is going to be a busy one, but I am going to fit in some time for writing.  I enjoy reading all the Poetry Friday blog posts so I'd also like to find some time to read those this weekend. Tonight I'm trying to hold on to good thoughts that I'll be able to achieve my goal and get the revisions done by the end of April.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Today, I spent most of my writing time crossing out the wrong words.  I didn't get very far with my revisions, but then my mind is not really focused on my WIP right now because of the other commitments I mentioned yesterday.  Before going to bed tonight, I'm going to try to find a little quiet time to do a little more research. Maybe something will light a spark and lead me to the right words.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Snippets, Poems, Reflections, and Spiritual Journey Thursday

This week for Spiritual Journey Thursday, we are writing about Bobbie's one little word for 2016:

It's easy for me to show mercy toward others, but so much harder for me to be merciful toward myself.  I think that's true for most people. We can be pretty hard on ourselves. We tend to hold ourselves to impossibly high expectations, and berate our shortcomings, but as I grow older, I'm learning to treat myself  a little kinder, a little gentler, and with a little more tolerance and mercy. 

For example, my goal for each day of April is to form and revise one poem for my WIP.  I was keeping up with that goal UNTIL today.  I only revised three lines instead of an entire poem.  I just didn't have much time to write today.  We are at the end of the term, and I'm swamped with school work. I'm also trying to finish crocheting a blanket for my niece's baby shower this weekend along with all the nightly household chores.  

Instead of beating myself up (like I usually do), I'm patting myself on the back for squeezing in time to work on those three lines.  I would like to have revised more, but I did what I could.  I can't say that I've become my own best friend yet.  At least I'm making progress and I'm okay with that. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 5:

Finding daily writing time has always been a challenge for me, but I think I've figured out a way to fit more writing in my day.  Each night before I go to bed, I look through my "snippets" and print out the one that intrigues me the most.  Then I carry my the snippet with me to school and work on it during my lunch time and while waiting for meetings to start.  Not only do I get a little revising done, this practice also helps keep the images fresh in my mind so when it's time to sit at the computer each evening, it's much easier to get started.  

Another thing that has helped me get started is to have a scheduled time to write each evening. Years ago when I taught elementary school, we had a 15 minutes period of DEAR time. Every day at exactly 12:00, everyone in the building dropped everything and read. Since it was part of our daily routine, we (students and teachers) came prepared and read. I started thinking that since DEAR time worked for me, I'd try to apply the same idea to writing.  Now, my Drop Everything and Write time is 6:00-6:30. I used to put off writing until I finished my evening chores, but by then I was always too exhausted to think let alone try to write. So, I decided to switch things up, write first and then make dinner, pack lunches, do laundry...    I am having one problem, once is start writing, I lose track of time and don't want to stop.  But, I do have chores that must be done. Maybe a timer would help. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 4: Filling in the Holes

Today I started working on a second snippet/poem.   Reading through my original 29, I had some ideas to add to some of them. So, I jotted notes on several pages. I also worked on shaping the second snippet into a poem.  When the timer went off, I was stuck trying to find just the right word. I'm hoping my mind will continue to search for it while I pack lunches and do some chores.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 3:  Revision and Research

It's been a quiet Sunday so I had more time to work on my project today. The first thing I did was to go back and continue revising the same poem I worked on yesterday.  I spent almost two hours, and I like it much better now, but I'm still looking for a more specific verb to use in the last line.   Although I think it was worth the time, I know that my usual pattern is to keep reworking the same poem and not moving forward to the next.  What ends up happening is that I put a lot of pressure on myself to get that first poem perfect and then start telling myself I don't have what it takes to write poetry.  I can't let that happen this time. So, when I finish writing this, I'm going to choose the next snippet to revise tomorrow. 

I also spent some time, probably too much time, doing research on the animals that are going to appear in my poems. I found some great videos on YouTube and got so caught up that I almost forgot to cook dinner. My husband, Tom, gently brought me back to reality when he came in and asked, "What's the plan for dinner?"  Oops! Looks like a late dinner tonight!

I enjoyed reading this interview with Ted Kooser and thought you might like it too.  More tomorrow!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 2: Thinking About Theme

Each day during National Poetry Month, I'll post a five-minute reflection about my journey as I try to shape the daily snippets I wrote for a February writing challenge (organized by Renee LaTulipee) into a collection of poems. I'll keep my reflections brief because I only have thirty minutes to devote to writing each day. I want to spend most of my time working on the poems, but I also need accountability and I'm hoping making my progress public will help with that. Committing to a daily blog post makes me nervous, but spring is the perfect time to grow. I just have to keep reminding myself to take it one post at time.

Today I printed all 29 snippets.  They are very short (3-8 lines) so I have a lot of white space on the page to jot some thoughts.  Then I read through them looking for possible themes. I noticed that most of the snippets are about nature and many focused on the same topic. I need to form a few of these into poems before I'll know the kind of collection (fiction or nonfiction) I want to create.

Then I used a technique I learned a few years ago as a client of the Mentors for Rent. I read through the snippets looking for the one I most wanted to work with today, and now I'm going back to start jotting notes to find out if this snippet might lead to a poem.

Friday, April 1, 2016

My First National Poetry Month Project and a Bit of News!

I love following the National Poetry Month projects. For the past several years, I’ve wanted to do one of my own but worried that it would require a huge time commitment. I don't like to commit to something and then not be able to follow through. I knew I could only do it if I could figure out something that would be quick and easy. I finally came up with an idea.

In February, the lovely and talented Renee LaTulippe organized a daily writing challenge for LLL alumni. I was fortunate to be partnered with poet Cynthia Grady. We both have busy schedules so Cynthia and I agreed to write for 15 minutes, and exchange a daily observation "snippet". Fifteen minutes, I could do that. Being gentle with one another gave us the freedom to explore whatever piqued our interest each day. Knowing Cynthia was waiting for my daily email kept me motivated. Neither of us missed a single day!

During March, I tried to continue, but without accountability, other activities began to squeeze out my writing time.  Over the past thirty years, I’ve started dozens of writing projects only to file them away doubting my ability to create anything someone would want to read. In a recent interview, Oprah, talking about how we often put off working toward our goals said, “Ask yourself, if not now, when?”  Those words have stuck with me. I don’t want to look back someday and wish I’d given myself the push I needed to accomplish my writing goals.

So,  this year I'm doing my first National Poetry Month project. In keeping with my One Little Word- Simplify, I decided on a project that is easy and quick but will help me move forward on my WIP.

Each day, beginning tomorrow, I'll post a five-minute reflection about  my progress, and the lessons I learn as I begin to shape those February snippets into a collection of poems. I’m a little nervous because daily blogging is way out of my comfort zone, but the Poetry Friday community has always been very supportive, and I've made some wonderful friends online. All of you make it easier for me to stretch and grow as a writer. 
I don’t know if anything I share will interest anyone besides me, but I hope you’ll come along with me on this journey and let me know what you think.  Your words are important to me.

A bit of news-

I just registered for my first Highlights Foundation workshop The Craft and Heart of Writing Poetry for Children led by two of my favorite master poets:  Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.  With special guest editor extraordinaire Rebecca Davis and a Skype visit from the great Lee Bennett Hopkins, it's a poet's dream team!  I am super excited!

For years, I've wanted to attend a Highlights poetry workshop, but there were always obstacles: transportation, cost, and time.  Last week, as soon as I saw the announcement, I took a leap of faith and registered. The workshop isn't until September so I have time to figure it out.  "If not now, when?"

Amy kicks off National Poetry Month with the Poetry Friday roundup at the Poem Farm.
See you there!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Behaving Boldy

This week for Spiritual Journey Thursday, we are writing about Donna's one little word for 2016: 

I have never thought of myself as someone who is BOLD, yet there have been times that I have acted boldly, For instance, after high school, I joined the Air Force. I was a country girl who had never been on a train, plane, or visited a big city. So, going to basic training over 2000 miles from home was big and BOLD, and it led me to my next decision.

I was married with two sons and ran a full-time day care business when I made the decision to earn my teaching certificate. It took almost ten years, but at 32 yrs. old, I finally earned my degree. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, and I wasn't sure I could do it. There were many times I wondered if all the late nights and being an outsider among students much younger and smarter than me was worth it, but wanting to show my sons education is important made me BOLD.

Now, I’m dipping a toe into my next BOLD act, and I’m a little nervous about it because it involves writing and posting every day during the month of April. I’ve always wanted to do a project for National Poetry Month, but fear of failure has stopped me.

Then, keeping with my One Little Word— simplify, I came up with an idea.
I’ll announce it tomorrow for Poetry Friday, and I hope you'll stop by and let me know what you  think. 

We all have moments of BOLDNESS. I can’t wait to hear about yours.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Simple Journey

This week for Spiritual Journey Thursday, we are writing about my one little word for 2016:

I chose the word simplify because this year I’m on a journey to slow down and lead a more mindful and simpler life.

I'm cleaning out closets, bookshelves, file cabinets, etc. and discarding anything that no longer has meaning or purpose for me anymore. It's been exhausting but worth it.

I've started to reduce commitments and habits that clutter my day with endless chores and responsibilities. One of the biggest challenges for me is letting go of the need to have a “spotless” house. Not that my house is ever truly spotless!    I like things neat and tidy, but I sometimes go overboard and spend all my time on housework. I'm trying to find a balance I can live with.

For me, the  toughest part of this journey has been the internal one. On a good day, I try not to allow my mind to be cluttered with negativity, guilt, jealousy, worry, or regret. Instead, I’m trying to fill the space with thoughts of joy, hope, and compassion. These emotions energize and lift me toward becoming the person I truly want to be. It's definitely a process that will take some time.

As a society, it seems we’re immersed in constant noise from our devices: TV, radio, laptop…  I’ve started shutting down an hour (or more when possible) each day and giving myself the gift of silence. I'd love to be able to sit in stillness during my hour of silence, but that's not possible right now so I try for 10-15 minutes. 

One thing I'm most excited about is that I’m learning to simplify the way I think about writing.  A big part of that for me is giving up on my need for perfection.  Usually, I start the year with a long list of writing goals and then spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to decide on the perfect idea/project to work on first.  When I finally chose one, fear takes over and I end up talking myself out of it. Then start the process all over again! Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  Yet, somewhere along the way, I got stuck in thinking that it was the way "real" writers work.  

I'm all for setting goals, but I had to make it work for me.  This year, instead of making a long list of goals, I only made one.  My goal is to write and finish a collection of nonfiction poems on a topic I love.  So far, I’ve completed a draft of twenty-five poems, and now I’m starting on revisions.   I've put away the "what ifs" about publication and for now, I'm just trying to write the best poems I can and enjoy my writing time.

So little, by little, I’m on my way to simplifying my life.  It’s a slow process, but with each tiny step, I feel freer, lighter, and encouraged to continue on this life-changing journey.

I'd love to hear about ways you've simplified your life and especially your writing life.  I can use all the tips I can get! Here's to a simplier life!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

So Much to Admire!

This week for Spiritual Journey Thursday, we are writing about the one little word  Julieanne Harmatz chose- ADMIRE.

Monday mornings are always hard for me. I’m not a morning person, but in order to get to school on time, I have to get up by 5:30.  This past Monday, when the alarm jarred me awake, it was dark and raining outside. I got dressed and headed out dreading my hour-long commute.

Light drizzle fell as I turned the corner onto the main road. Then, there it was – a gorgeous rainbow lighting up the gray sky.  As I drove on admiring the rainbow; I forgot about the rain. There was too much traffic for me to stop and take a photo, but even after it faded, the image stayed with me. Just thinking about that rainbow makes me smile.

Last night, I was thinking about who and what I truly admire. We are blessed to live in an amazing world, and I’m in total admiration of nature. Sunsets, starlit nights, animals, hummingbirds, mountains, the ocean, a doe stepping shyly across the lawn…  There’s always something to see, always something that fills me with wonder.

The people I admired most are the everyday, ordinary people who work hard and do what they can to make the world a better place. My husband, my sons, my daughters-in-law, and my siblings are my heroes because they live their lives in a way that makes me proud of who they are and who they continue to become.

I also admire art, especially poetry. Ever since I was a child, words have always been an important part of my life. Poetry is a superhero when it comes to expressing ideas or emotions. Poetry reminds me that I am not alone. No matter if I’m feeling sorrow or joy; poetry will be there to hold my hand.

One of the lessons I’ve learned from admiration is that the more I find to admire, the happier and more positive I become.  I think that might be because admiration inspires me to be a better person and to slow down and enjoy this life I’ve been given.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Two New Picture Books I Love!

It's been a super busy week, and I've been doing my very best to keep up with my goal to write a poetry "snippet" every day during February. So, this will be a short post, but I wanted to share two beautiful new picture books that arrived on my doorstep this week.  As a grandma, I'm always looking for fun activities to share with my grandchildren. Both of these books are perfect for that!

After reading Irene's playful descriptions, I'll never look at fruits or vegetables quite the same way. I'll see cucumber submarines, a bouquet of minty green butterfly wings, a bee-kissed lake, a mountain of mouse-sized swords, and strawberries carrying green parasols. I love the way Irene finds just the right words to create all this deliciousness!

The illustrations of the animals are adorable, and I can't wait to try out some of the recipes with my grandchildren. For a real treat, check out  Jama's tasty review of FRESH DELICIOUS. 

EVERY DAY BIRDS is written as a single poem that begins:

Every day we watch for birds
weaving through our sky.
We listen to their calls and songs.
We like to see them fly. 

Isn't that beautiful?  The poem continues with a few words about the characteristics or behaviors of twenty different birds.  The bright and colorful illustrations help with the identification of each bird. I enjoyed learning more about the birds (Did you know that some hawks can dive for prey at over 100 miles per hour?) in the descriptions Amy included in the back of the book.  You'll want to also take a look at the cute videos about EVERY DAY BIRDS on Amy's blog  The Poem Farm.

Last summer, my granddaughter was delighted when she saw a hummingbird in our backyard. Imagine how much fun we're going to have using Amy's book to identify even more birds!

Teachers always appreciate books for their classroom libraries. Both FRESH DELICIOUS and EVERY DAY BIRDS would make wonderful gifts for a preschool, kindergarten, or first grade class.

I hope you'll head on over to see Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass for today's Poetry Friday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Putting "DELIGHT" On My Calendar

This week for Spiritual Journey Thursday, we are writing about Irene Latham's one little word: DELIGHT.

Just thinking about the word “delight” lifts my spirit.  I find delight in many things:
spending time with my family
watching a sunrise/sunset
taking a long walk on a beautiful day
watching snow fall, leaves change, clouds dance
listening to music
watching old movies with my husband
sending greeting cards to people I love
reading an inspiring book, poem, essay, blog
writing a poem, journal entry or blog post.

I could name dozens more, but what I discovered from my list is that my delight comes from simple, everyday experiences.   The mystery is why don't I allow myself more time to engage in these delightful activities? 
I'm slowly working to change that.  For example, this month I am writing a very rough draft of a poem  every day and sending it to my writing buddy. At first it was hard to allow myself the 30 minutes of writing time, but now just thinking about what I'm going to write brings me delight all day long. 

The best thing about this delightful activity is that the more I write, the more I learn about myself and the things that make me truly happy.  I think that's a pretty good reason to keep doing it.