Friday, April 1, 2016

Ralph Fletcher

Welcome to Poetry Friday and National Poetry Month. Amy Vanderwater hosts the round up today at the Poem Farm where you can find all kinds of crazy wonderful poetry projects going on this month at blogs around the Kidlitosphere. I hope you will join in. 

"Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery - it's the sincerest form of learning." 
                                                           — George Bernard Shaw

I've decided to stick both feet in the creek and commit to a poem a day for National Poetry Month. I've put my toes in the water in years past, but never taken the full plunge. I started a project a few months ago that didn't get very far. The goal was to write poems about the creek in my backyard. As I was wondering how to go about this month's poetry project, I remembered an online class I took some years ago with The Writers Studio. It was one of the better writing classes I have ever taken. Each week we took an excerpt from a piece of work (poetry or fiction) written by someone at the top of their writing game. We analyzed what made it work so well, then set ourselves a goal of writing a piece that imitated the successful techniques. So I have a plan.

For each day I have chosen a favorite poem, a favorite poet, or a favorite friend. I will look at the work, decide what draws me to it, what makes it resonate for me, and then write my own poem about the creek with those techniques in mind. These are first drafts, so nothing will be especially polished, but they will be starting points for revision after the month is done. Feel free to follow along or join in.

I'm starting today with Ralph Fletcher, a poet I have enjoyed for many years. If you ever need an excellent book on mentor texts for using with a classroom, I highly recommend Ralph's Craft Lessons.

from Ordinary Things

by Ralph Fletcher

soon the clouds like dark dough
pressed against invisible glass

soon the rain to turn the grass
so green it will make you stare

soon the nests filled with chirps
raining down like confetti bits

soon you'll be able to walk at night
breathing sweet blossoms unseen

© Ralph Fletcher, 1997. Used with permission of the author.

My Intention: Write a poem in unrhymed couplets with a repeating first word. Each couplet moves the poem forward in time to a satisfying conclusion. 


after the slow clock ticks its tock
as far south as the frigid six

after the bell sounds the starter's shot
pressing classmates toward blue sky

after the bus meanders toward home
as though lost in a neighborhood corn maze

after books and bags and shoes find
their place, I find mine at the creek

© 2016 Doraine Bennett. All rights reserved.


  1. Not only does your poem do a fine job following Ralph's intent (I love that book!), but it is a wonderful beginning to your month, Doraine. It takes you (us) right down to the creek, opening up other adventures. Best wishes with your "feet in the creek".

    1. Thanks, Linda. I appreciate you stopping by the creek with me.

  2. Dori, Feet in the Creek is a wonderful title for a meditative walk through spring. Your first piece has such a powerful mentor text to work with. I hope you find one of your poems that you will offer to my newest gallery, Spring's Seeds, with the gorgeous photo above.

    1. Thanks, Carol. I will keep Spring's Seeds in mind as I write.

  3. Great idea for a PM project. Like the progression in your poem. Would now like to read more of Fletcher's work too!

    1. Great, Jama. Ralph is a wonderful poet and educator.

  4. I love your idea for a poetry month project. Ralph Fletcher is one of my poetry heroes. You did a fabulous job with our poem. I can't wait to read more as the month progresses.

  5. What a great project! You'll learn lots AND write lots of great poems!

  6. Okay, I just learned something really valuable from you, Dori. I was intrigued enough with the idea of writing daily using mentor texts, but what I didn't realize was that you were applying each of your poems to a particular theme– the creek. That's totally brilliant and totally what I need to do. Took me a while to get to your PF post, but now that I have, I will be following closely. Consider it extra motivation to keep going!

  7. Lovely, Doraine! Well begun. I too enjoy using mentor poems... part of the fun is to figure out what about the poem I like and what the poet has done to make that happen. All the best in your project. Will you be posting your poem every day?

  8. Wonderful pairing of mentor text and original poem. Truthfully, if I didn't know which was which, I would have chosen the mentor text as yours, maybe because it resonates with me more. The last lines of both poems were my favorites. "breathing sweet blossoms unseen" and "I find mine at the creek." Every blessing as you fulfill your personal Poetry Month goal! Bravo! You're off to a great start. God bless you. You'll do it!

  9. Enjoyed this very much, Dori! Inspiring.

  10. This is an incredibly fabulous project, and your poem mentors itself so beautifully after Ralph's. I so appreciate the way the repetition moves time along in such a rhythmic and comforting way. Happy Poetry Month, friend! xo

  11. I like that both poems has a sense of progression and a reaching of a goal. I like the way the structure assists with it, too.