Friday, March 30, 2012

Poetry Friday -- STIGMA

by Mary Lee Hahn

The blooming field
is a purple sea.

you see rows.

Bent over, I focus
on each crocus.

For 50 millennia,
the three-part stigma –

threads of yellow,
golden glow,

–has been harvested by hand,
bloom by bloom, plant by plant.


Earlier in the week, I wrote a little about the process of writing this poem. How I got from STIGMA, my word in Ed DeCaria's Madness! 2012 poetry contest, to a SAFFRON HARVEST.

My poem didn't quite get enough votes to move me on in the contest, but I do not feel like I LOST in any way, shape or form. In fact, here are a few of the ways I have WON with this contest:

  • I am a better writer.
  • I am a better writing teacher.
  • R. went and got a thesaurus to look up a better word for DRY in one of her poems.
  • N. asked for a word so that she could try writing a poem the way I had. She is learning so much about the writing process as I share my process with her -- that it pays to collect definitions, synonyms, rhymes and pages of ideas before you actually start the poem.
  • On Wednesday, my Environmental Club "lesson" was on parts of plants and parts of flowers...specifically, STIGMAS. Then we went outside in the warm sun and the brisk breeze and we putzed around in the land lab, peeking into every bloom we could find, looking for the stigmas.
  • This from my Mom: "I think more about words since your poetry contest...I wanted to share this beautiful sentence from the book I am reading now--a mystery set in Wyoming, starring a fish and game officer. "A single stringy white cloud seemed to have snagged on the top of the peak like a plastic bag caught on a tree branch." "
  • And last, but not least, all of the SUPPORT and kind words from bloggers around the Kidlitosphere, from folks back in my hometown, from friends far and wide, from the teachers and kids at school. 

Happy Poetry Friday! Heidi's rounding us up at my juicy little universe. (Happy Spring Break, Heidi!)

National Poetry Month starts this weekend. I'm sure today's roundup will highlight many of them.

Starting on Sunday, I'll be posting an original, fresh out of the notebook poem-a-day here, in amongst our regular programming. These will be DAILY poems, not polished drafts that I've worked on for five hours. I don't have a particular theme for my poems, like Heidi does, or a particular way I'll be getting my ideas, like Amy LV does. I think I'm going to try playing around with some longer forms (I was inspired by Susan Taylor Brown's pantoum and Amy LV's triolet and Kat's sonnet). Maybe I'll combine my Project 365 photography with poems. We'll just have to wait and see!


  1. Mary Lee,

    I LOVE your poem! You are definitely a talented writer of poetry. I, too, found that writing poetry helped me to become a better writing teacher.

    I'm hoping I'll be able to find sufficient free time in my "nanny granny" schedule so I can post more often at Wild Rose Reader during National Poetry Month.

  2. Beautiful poem, Mary Lee. Loved following you in the March Madness tournament! :)

  3. Yes - you should feel like a winner! What a beautiful poem! I like how you start with a far off view "a sea of purple" and then continue zooming in "closer - you see rows" and then an even closer look "the three part stigma." I went back and also read your post about the process of writing this and what a challenge to be given a word to write a poem about. I thought it was interesting how you talked about it being like a high once you get on the right track. That's so true when we get into our groove.

    Your comment of addressing that you don't feel like you lost makes me think about how I often feel insecure with my writing and especially with this whole blogging thing. You remind me that whenever we are working at our craft we can't loose. Like you said, "I am a better writer." Isn't this what we want for our students. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Hi Mary Lee, such beautiful reflections you shared here. While the tournament did have that competition element to it, I felt that with such a powerful and affirming community, there was just so much fun in it, so much to learn, and so much to share that it's really the mere act of putting yourselves out there and challenging your own self that was the most rewarding part. I am glad you have listed out your 'wins' from the experience.

  5. I love your poem, and as I believe in serendipity as happening often in my life, I am preparing a non-fiction poetry lesson. Your beautiful poem & explanation of your process is just what the doctor(sorry)-- teacher ordered! Thank you Mary Lee!

  6. I love this poem, Mary Lee....especially the great delicacy of it. I also loved your reflection on the entire poetry process. It took courage to participate, and
    it's wonderful that you gained something from the whole process.

  7. Gorgeous poem, Mary Lee. And congrats on writing so many great poems under pressure for MM! Here's to Poetry Month! :0)

  8. Your poem is so interesting. I never knew about the saffron harvest. When combined with the photos, it's a tiny photo-essay so charmingly told.


  9. You are plumbing deeply the idea of "leading learner" here, Mary Lee. Your thoughtful honesty about your participation is the story of how being actively a lifelong learner (like all the mission statements say) positively impacts every child you teach. I feel a book coming on....

  10. I loved reading what your students learned from your writing process. It is so great when that happens.

    (Tried to post this comment many times last night and finally gave up -- we'll see if it works this morning!)

  11. I love all of this so much. Sorry I've had time only to read, not comment, but I am cheering you on!


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