And Still It Flows #WriteOut


Winding down the two weeks of  for  #writeout from the National Writing Project / National Park Service two week celebration of parks and the outdoors. Click the links for many ways and several places and different prompts to explore and write about the outdoors. So, what prompt did I chose for today?

Nature Poetry

Jean Kanzinger @Writers_Locker is a member of the Teacher-Consultant Council at the NWP site at Kent State University whose experience in writing brings art education and writing strategies together to connect our thoughts, sights, and sounds of nature to poetry. She provides a related handout to guide you in writing poetry about nature, whether you can go outside or find inspiring photographs or take your own. Find her “inspiration” at WriteOut and watch this video for her process:

I found a photo in my files from a hike along the Columbia River in Okanogan County, WA on the Colville Confederated Tribes reservation where I had the honor to teach writing for many years. I set up a Google Doc and added in my columns for thinking through the observations and the thinking of the day:

I wrote about what I saw and heard, describing in colors and careful observation the essence of the river and its creatures, revising as I researched to include specific nouns, action verbs, and a bit of dialogue as her prompts suggested and as I have advised and revised with my own students.

My research:

And Still It Flows

And Still It Flows

Long ago an occasional Ponderosa pine
among the many sagebrush
dotted the expanse of dust
surrounding a village
of tule mat lodges
now a small town,
both hugging the edge
of the mighty river

A small white head
pops up in the nest
of broken sticks
of cottonwood
high atop
an abandoned
telephone pole

Below, white foam surges
atop indigo currents
spinning in whirlpools,
spiraling to a vortex
that explodes into ripples
erupting into white foam
over indigo
over and over
like galaxies spreading
across the universe

Above, two osprey on uplifting currents
circling in an unseen funnel,
with keen eyes searching before
diving head first within minutes,
barbed foot pads grasping
the squirming walleye, dinner ready
And mate’s sharp, piercing call
“Dinner is coming”

“I give you life,”
rumbles the river
“and power”
as it tumbles
through the turbine
spinning to light up
the windows in the cluster
of homes on its shore

While the ghost
of salmon calls,
“I am there no more.”

Sheri Edwards  
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Your Turn

Take a walk. Snap a picture. Or peruse the National Park Service’s Flickr album. Many of the national parks have their own Flickr Accounts, some of which you can find in this search: NPS. Create your own half sheet of paper as Jean suggests in her video and separate your observations from your thoughts. Do a bit of research to add in the details of specific nouns and action verbs that help you fine-tune the observations into a poem. Love the idea of the objects or creatures having a voice through dialogue, an important part of bringing the moment to life.

What will you see? Hear? Write? Share? Ways to share: WriteOut Share