Poem Crazy


A Dog's Sigh

A Dog’s Sigh

I wish
I could read a dog’s mind
when it sighs so heavy.

Is it bored
wishing that it
could be outside
chasing squirrels
and playing tag
with dog friends?

Perhaps the sigh
is tiredness~
a sign that
it just wants
to sleep.

Or maybe
best of all . .
it’s contentment~
an inner peace
and happiness
that it belongs
to this family
can sleep



I didn’t always love poetry.

Honestly, I can’t say that like even described my feelings toward it through most of my years as a student.  Between the analyzing, confusion, rhyming, and assignments to produce haikus, sonnets, quatrains and filling in templates for acrostic poems , what’s not to like, right?

Ugh. . .

Poetry used to bring fear to my already befuddled mind.  Fear that I would not know what in the heck a poem was supposed to mean, fear that I was alone in this fear of being the only idiot that would not understand what the secret messages that poets were trying to tell us.

By the way, did you know there actually is a word that defines the fear of poetry?  It’s called metrophobia.

I do not make this stuff up.

A shift occurred in my late thirties when I was trained as a Literacy Collaborative coach at Ohio State University.  The introduction to Georgia Heard, Ralph Fletcher, Mary Oliver and Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge changed my entire vision of what poetry truthfully was. I learned that a poem can speak to me in whatever way I want it to.  We savored a line, or even a word and asked ourselves, “What does that say to you?” or “How did they do that?” I learned that before anything, a poem has to tug at your heart.  You have to feel it.  I learned that a poem does not necessarily harbor secrets that only the sophisticated- intellectual-well-educated-literary-geniuses can decode.

And, I also discovered, first hand, that when that first poem shakes you to your core, you are hooked on poetry for life.

It was also revealed to me that anyone could write poetry and it certainly did not need to follow a structure, especially a rhyming one.  Oh, how I despised having to restrict my words to a poetry form when those thoughts just didn’t want to fit into any poetry form.

The angst.

I came to adore free verse and in writing simply.  No polysyllabic fluffery for me.  If I desired to say the cat slept.  That’s what I’ll said.

I found freedom in free verse.

Although poetry lives in my heart and in my classroom all year round, April is a paramount month for celebrating poetry more than any other month of the year. April stirs my poetry senses, new notebooks need to be purchased for filling with poems, fancy new pens show up, and most certainly. . . a few new poetry books find their way to my shelves.

This month, coming down from the rush of the 2016 Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers, I feel a tug to keep blogging onward.  What better than to take up a new challenge to write about anything poetry.

I may just a write a simple poem, like one about my dog, Sandy, and her heavy sighs.  Or, perhaps I’ll share an attempted lesson with my third graders. I certainly will brag about the inspirational poetry teachers who have walked before me.  Or, I could just take pictures of the poetry in our lives.

Whatever it will be, I’m on poetry alert.

Prepare to be swaddled in words of poetry this month.


Shari 🙂

4 thoughts on “Poem Crazy

  1. “Swaddled in words of poetry,” I love that phrase. I’m so glad you’re going to be sprinkling poetry in my life this month. Love your “A Dog’s Sigh” poem. I’m sharing it with my after school book club this week! “A poem has to tug at your heart.” AMEN!


  2. Thank you for a wonderful poem and a blog post that resonates with me. I discovered Wooldridge’s Poem Crazy a number of years ago, and it’s been my go-to book every time I find myself frustrated with the “rules” of literature and language that seem to surround my classroom. Of course I teach conventional language, but seeing a student learn that words can have an impact beyond those conventions is priceless.

    Thanks again, by the way, for pointing out Storybird on Twitter. What a resource!


  3. So glad you’re poeming this month too! It’s WAY outside my comfort zone. I never feel hesitant or nervous about publishing a blog post anymore, but I felt quite tentative yesterday and anxious after a poem–gasp!–went live yesterday. I wasn’t planning to publish a poem every day and still am not but I do want to keep up the daily publishing momentum as long as I can. Love your idea of taking pictures of the poetry in our lives! I’m totally stealing that at some point.


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