Friday, April 08, 2016

Henry



Henry

Dear Iva,
I didn't think Mama
would miss just one.

Guess she knows her flock
better'n I thought.
It sure was fun

to see that photographer's face.
If I hadn't started laughing,
no one would have known I done it.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016





A note to my readers: these stories and these characters are works of fiction. With very few exceptions, I have no idea who the people are in these photos. The names of many of the characters come from my ancestors and their friends. Other names are ones I chose to fit the character. The settings are real. My mom is from Denver and my dad grew up on a farm in Eastern Colorado (although some of these photos could be of ancestors/family friends further back who lived in Nebraska and Kansas). If we could sit down together for a cup of tea and a scone, I'd tell you all the little bits of truth I've woven into this fiction. I'd tell you the biggest surprises I've had, and the poems that took the most/fewest drafts. Like Amy LV commented, sometimes I feel like these people are talking through my pencil.

I did not have this all planned out before Poetry Month began, except that I grouped the photos in sets of seven to have ready to load onto the main page for the project. I had no idea I would be telling a story in verse this month. I'm as surprised and thrilled as you are. I expected to be frustrated by the challenge of writing a variety of poems, and instead, I look forward (and often can't stop myself from writing forward) as I discover the story and figure out ways to fill in the gaps. How will it end? No idea. Stay tuned. (If you want to read from the beginning, go back to the poem for April 1, and read forward to today.)

Over at Poetrepository, I have added (with permission) poems that Steve Peterson and Carol Wilcox have written that seem to me to fit with the flow of the story I've got in my mind. Carol Varsalona has also written some fabulous partner poems using these photos. You can find them here.

Happy Poetry Month Poetry Friday! Laura has the roundup at Writing the World for Kids.


20 comments:

  1. I love this project Mary Lee -- I went through so many photos these past few years as we sold my parent's home. Pictures truly make us wonder -- this project really has me thinking about ways to use photos in classrooms. I look forward to seeing a new photo each day and how it inspires your poem. Thank you.
    Clare

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  2. So fun! Happy Friday!

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  3. I love the voice in this!

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  4. I've been enjoying following all your posts. LOVE seeing how the story is developing. You have some great photos to work with!

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  5. Oh, that one reminded me of my brother's incident with the rock and the rooster. He didn't think he could hit it from where he was. But he could. Dead rooster. At least it wasn't one of our hens!

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  6. I am ready for a cup of tea. I have been so intrigued reading your poems.

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  7. I am so enjoying your poems and your photos. Do you think maybe this is the beginning of a novel in verse?

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  8. Another great poem and photo of the past. Reminds me that my grandmother raised chickens during the depression. I should write up some of the stories. :-)

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  9. Love this project, Mary Lee. And the photos are priceless. I have some of my own and may want to follow suit one day.

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  10. Mary Lee, I love that this is so real-feeling you have to have a disclaimer in your post! And how wonderful that the project has swept you up into this joyful spill of story and poem. Hooray!

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  11. What a wonderful time you are having, Mary Lee. I can see why you're itching at the pencil grip.

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  12. These poems are wonderful, Mary Lee! Can't wait to see where they take you.

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  13. Well, I was wondering what happened to one Henry took, and now thanks to Donna I know! : )
    And what was a photographer doing on that dirty old farm?

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    1. Clearly, this poem needs revising. The photographer is the one who took the class picture. He was never on the farm. My students thought Henry must have killed a chicken, but I don't see him as that kind of prankster.

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  14. Thank you for continuing to share your family-history-found-photo-story-poems. Whew! I love the legacy idea of what you're doing, as well as the "finished" products. Wish we lived in such proximity that we could do exactly what you've kindly offered. I would love to hear the backstories. Your enthusiasm is so gratifying--both to know that you are so excitedly engaged, and to know that I get to enjoy the fruits of your engagement. You're making history, for sure! I can see a mentor-text book in the making...God bless you!

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  15. How exciting that this project is taking on a life of its own, Mary Lee! I sure would like to take you up on that cup of tea and scone sometime.

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  16. Love the poem and the series - and look forward to seeing where it takes you.

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  17. This IS the most thrilling thing -- will you put them all together in a book? (Say yes.)

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    1. I intend to try! (And if it never happens, I will have had a BLAST this month!)

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