Monday, August 22, 2022

Night owl poetry

A while ago Zoë revealed to me that when she feels poorly about herself she makes a list of reasons why she's an absolute failure in her "hate journal." In it she had quite an extensive list of reasons why she deserved to feel poorly. She's a maniac. She's a jerk. She's selfish. She can't do anything right... was so sad. Absolutely broke my heart. And made me feel so anxious I felt nauseated.

We talked about how it might be better to write more positive things about herself because—and not to make her feel poorly for being wrong but...she was 100% wrong about herself—she's really quite wonderful and so, so lovable. Always lovable. 

I love her so much and I just...wanted her to love her, too.

We've since had several lessons on how to write through our emotions (how to capture and release our sadness and anger and grief...and joy and love and happiness). We've also read through Shannon Hale's Real Friends series and talked about it a lot. And have been working through Anxiety Relief for Teens with Miriam...but with everyone else, too (Zoë included). 

Anyway, the other night I checked on Zoë before going to bed and found her sleeping parallel to her pillow (horizontally across the bed), with a notebook and pen resting on her pillow. She'd stayed up past "lights out" to write a poem about Halloween. 

My children are already passionately excited for Halloween. 

So we've started reading Frankenstein together.

Because how else do you respond to that level of excitement about Halloween in August? Like, we're not decorating yet! I'm not a big decorator, anyway, but...we are not decorating for Halloween yet! But, fine, I'll read a spooky story with you.

So, I found her with this fresh little poem about Halloween and took her picture and when I showed her in the morning she was like, "First of all, that's just a draft. I have to change a few things and make it so it's not so scribbly. It's hard to write in the dark. Second of all, even poets have to sleep. Sheesh."

But, knowing that I approve of poetry, even sneaky past-bedtime poetry, in part because of this poem dedicated to her in my book of poetry:

There Shall Be a Record Kept Among You

Zoë’s book, she carefully scrawled,
Page after page after page.

Not being sure how to write
Being a record of my people

Not being sure how to write
I give an account of my proceedings

Not being sure how to write
It must needs be that I write a little

Not being sure how to write.

Nevertheless, having been taught
Somewhat in the language of her mother
She wrote and she wrote and she wrote—
Hidden away under her covers,
By the illicit glow of flashlight:

Zoë’s book. Zoë’s book. Zoë’s book.

and in part because I showed her the picture I took of her sleeping next to her poetry, she went ahead and wrote some more poetry this evening. And, I'm here for it. When I read the poem she wrote about herself, "my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!" to quote Alma 36:20. It's beautiful. 

Scrawling, scribbling, on the paper,
Writer, poet,
Drawing and coloring,
Taking notes of what I hear,
Brainy, smart,
Dancer, waltzer,
Singer, gardener,
Player, reader,
I love it. That's my beautiful girl, right there. She's creative and observant and clever and talented and wonderful. Even when she messes up or has a bad day. That doesn't take away from all the good stuff she's made up of. 

I also appreciated this poem, called Nature Night. She came up with the title first and was very excited about it because so many interesting sounds float through her window at night. She might be a bit of a night owl. And that's fine. Now that she stays awake all night reading and writing and colouring instead know...screaming her head she used to.

Anyway, I love this poem because she started a first draft:

Nature Night

Crickets chirp,
Owls hoot,
But do you hear the train horn toot?
And then she decided—what? I don't know because she's asleep so I can't ask her. But I imagine she thought that sounded too juvenile. I know she is a child but she takes her poetry seriously. Obviously.

Side note: We went to the park today and stopped to watch a train go by while we were walking. It took just about forever. I didn't count the cars because I was busy saying things like, "Yes, wow! Look at that big train! Train! Yes, a train! See all the cars go by. Clickety-clack! Clickety-clack!" to Phoebe, who doesn't like loud noises.

Anyway, at long last the caboose rumbled past and Benjamin sprang into the air and shouted, "192!!"

"What?" Miriam asked. "192! Not including the engines!"

He'd been very diligently counting the entire time. 

We don't live terribly close to the train tracks—not nearly as close as we lived in Spanish Fork where our house would tremble whenever a train went by—but we can still hear the train whistles blowing, especially at night when the traffic ambient noises of the day die down.

At any rate, Zoë decided that the train horn tooting was a little too cliché, a little too childish, a little too obvious of a rhyme so she flipped the page and wrote this beauty:

Nature Night

Crickets chirping
Owls hooting all about,
This is what you get on a
Nature Night, as the owl
Takes flight, calm, soothing,
And bright. Nature is your
Mother putting you to sleep,
Nature is your music, singing
A lullaby to you.

I just love a good re-write! 

Beyond the idea of a re-write, I love the idea of a keep-writ(ing). I don't know how to phrase it because I'm just making it up now. Keep-write would make it parallel to re-write, but it's really the action of continuing writing, so the gerund is kind of necessary. 

Anyway, my idea of a keep-write is one of continuing to try, of accepting the mistakes in your first drafts for what they are, and recognizing that those mistakes brought you to this next and better place, of keeping the good stuff and carrying it forward with you into the next "writing," or leaving them to marinate in a "nice try" or "good ideas" pile. 

Of continuously searching for the right words, the best words. But also not being afraid to call your words "good," so that you know that you're a good creator, so that you know that you can keep writing. 

And that's probably as true for life as it is for writing.

So write away, little one. Write away.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. That "Nature Night" is so good. And you made my eyes get very close to leaking.