Today I’m delighted to welcome JoAnn Early Macken to the blog. She’s the amazing author of several beautiful picture books and a well-known and appreciated writing teacher. Her brand new book, Write a Poem Step by Step, offers a no-nonsense guide to writing a poem. JoAnn will be my guest speaker at the April Write Now! Mastermind class on Wednesday, April 24 at 12:00 PM CDT. I’ll be talking with JoAnn about writing poetry and picture book. The class is free but you need to sign up for the group at the Write Now! Mastermind page. Check out JoAnn’s fun writing prompt below and then enter to win a copy of her brand new book. -Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
Write a Weather Forecast Poem! by JoAnn Early Macken
In my neighborhood in southeastern Wisconsin, the prevailing topic of conversation is the weather. And for good reason. This spring’s temperatures have been consistently below average, and the rainfall—more than 4 inches so far this month—is several times what we used to think of as normal. But I am not complaining, for two reasons:
1. If our temperatures had been just a bit lower, we might be looking at 40 inches of snow. At least we’ve warmed up above freezing!
2. Poetry! Any observation is an opportunity to write a poem, right? Look at the actual Milwaukee forecast from a few days ago:
I tried using that forecast in a sort of stream-of-consciousness free verse poem:
Tomorrow and tomorrow night,
And after that, a chance of
rain, rain, rain.
This soggy forecast soaks into
my waterlogged brain.
All I could come up with after that was a bunch of images of waterfalls, water flowing over a dam, rivers overflowing their banks, and the urge to go back to bed. I’ll keep thinking.
The repetitive forecast gave me another idea, though. I’ve wanted to try a triolet for awhile now. The triolet form itself is repetitive, so I thought it might fit this rather monotonous topic. A triolet has eight lines, two of which repeat (with some variation allowed) to form five of the lines. The pattern is ABaAabAB with A and B the repeating lines and a and b rhyming with their counterparts. Here’s my triolet:
I don’t believe it. Not again! More showers?
This soggy spring, the sun is overdue.
They say we’ll be okay when we see flowers.
I don’t believe it. Once again, more showers
pour down outside. We’re stuck inside for hours,
staring at the same gray, dreary view.
I can’t believe it—yet again, more showers.
Oh, where is spring? The sun is overdue!
While I had fun playing with the form, I found the result a little dismal. I wanted to try something more fun, so I thought about who might enjoy rainy weather. Here’s my third attempt, a haiku:
waterproof boots, spring puddles.
Hold my hand. Now jump!
So give it a try. At www.weather.gov/forecastmaps, enter your city, state, or ZIP Code, check your local weather forecast, and see what ideas soak into your brain and pour forth!
Your turn: Share the poem this prompt inspired or a question for our guest author, JoAnn Early Macken.
About the author. JoAnn Early Macken is the author of Write a Poem Step by Step (Earlybird Press, 2012). Her newest picture books are Baby Says “Moo!” (Disney-Hyperion Books, 2011),Waiting Out the Storm (Candlewick Press, 2010), and Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move (Holiday House, 2008). Her poems appear in a number of magazines and anthologies, and she has also written more than 125 nonfiction books for young readers. JoAnn earned her M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches at Mount Mary College, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education, and UW-Madison’s summer Write by the Lake program, and she speaks about poetry and writing to children and adults at schools, libraries, and conferences. Visit her web site at www.joannmacken.com.