I never make my girls write.
Some would say this makes me a terrible writing teacher. I would say I teach all the time, but not by assignment. Especially for writing, I teach only by example. In our little "school," this has worked just fine.
Last week, for instance, when Dave made his dare, I told my daughters about it. Then I wrote some poems and read them aloud.
My 13-year-old said she didn't think she could write a poem about a Christmas ghost. We talked for a while about what a "Christmas ghost" might mean. She still didn't think she could write about it.
Then she handed me a sestina. It's a 39-line poem that repeats end-words (or slight variations on them) in a rolling fashion. The final stanza includes all the end words. It's amazing what someone will write if you don't make her write it.
Here's the poem. Not really rocket science, but it's a nice beginning. :)
The Christmas Ghost
Hello, I called.
Hi there, Anyone?
(I've got a problem. I need a ghost.)
not just any ghost, oh no—
I need a ghost of Christmas.
Past, present, future: doesn't matter!
I'll take any called
anything— so long as it's for Christmas.
Yes, I know...
a ghost?! You want a ghost?!
You are thinking, who wants a ghost?
This is the truth of the matter.
I don't need one that can't write or at least dictate. No.
I need a ghost who can make a poem. I've called
for a while, but no one came. Not anyone.
Just for the eve of Christmas.
Please. Just for Christmas
Eve I need a ghost.
Have a ghost, anyone?
Or better yet, maybe it doesn't matter!
Listen— it's called...
a poem about a ghost! Yes! Oh, no.
Uh oh, oh no.
Here's finally a Christmas—
Cool... a ghost. It's not made of matter.
(What is it made of... hmmm? Anyone?)
Help. Hold my hand! Anyone.
No, no, no...
Why am I here? Who are you? he asks. I answer, Um doesn't matter.
I thought I needed a Christmas
but I don't! Sorry I called!
I bite my lip. Oh, but by the way, anyone... uh, ghost sir, while you're
here, I need a Christmas
poem. Know any? About a ghost.
But... he's gone. It matters. I'm standing in a cold house sorry I called.
Poem by Sara, 13. Used with permission. Photo by J Barkat. This post is in honor of Random Acts of Poetry and One Shot Wednesday.