Poetry Project — December, 2017

First, before I get to what we wrote this month, I want to take a second to thank my poetry sisters with whom I’ve been writing — long distance — for years now. Sometimes all of us participate, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we have time to discuss the assignment, pick apart the form, critique each other’s work, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we like what we end up with, sometimes we don’t.

And we’ve only been together — all of us, in one room — once.

But we have formed a sisterhood around words, we really have. We are here for each other. We can count on these assignments, on the beautiful or hilarious results, on the fact that for some reason this matters to each of us.

Here are our poems.

And here are my partners in crime…
we have a rare and precious thing and I love these women:

Laura Purdie Salas
Tanita Davis
Sara Lewis Holmes
Kelly Ramsdell
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
and Andi Sibley

Meanwhile!! This month we wrote lais!
Who knew that was a thing? (Not me!)

It’s a nine line poem (I’ve doubled mine) with rules around both rhyme and syllabics — pretty obvious rules so no need to explain them here. I really liked this form — I don’t know why but it felt really readable to me. Enjoy…

Work Before Solstice, and After
By Liz Garton Scanlon

Each day brings less light –
less light, shadows slight
and chilled.
Each day takes more might
to rise, breathe and write,
to build.
Each day slips toward night
blanketed in white,

Each day brings more light –
more light, floorboards bright
and warm.
Each day, less a plight
to rise up, take flight,
take form.
Each day dawns forthright,
skies and words ignite,

Want to read more?
How about Tricia’s and Sara’s and Laura’s and Tanita’s and Kelly’s and Andi’s?

And then there’s Poetry Friday, chock full of goodness, over at A Year of Reading! Yay.
Happy weekend, everyone!

Posted on 12/01/2017 03:21 am


  1. Liz, this is so lovely. I really like how concrete many of your words are, even though you’re writing so much about state of mind and creation. And such a great text to position, the before and after. Beautiful!


  2. I love the variety of forms your group introduces. This one looks like one I’d enjoy playing with. Your poem clearly shows the contrast between before and after, and the ending feels hopeful. We need that hope now!


    • This was a brand new form to me but I really liked it. It begs to be read aloud. Give it a whirl!


  3. Kelly Ramsdell

    I love this poem, which feels like bookends to me. Beautiful bookends.


  4. Yours really inspired my third try, Liz, thank you — may each day truly be less a fight to get up and take flight!
    I love the idea of a sisterhood of words, too.

    BTW – saw your newest book mentioned this past week in PW – congratulations again! May your prolific picture book sense never cease!


    • First, so glad you kept trying — you came up with some magic, my friend!!! Also, thanks for the pb love 🙂 xoxo Liz


  5. Love this, Liz. I love that each stanza is complete on their own, yet complement and complete each other perfectly. Cannot wait to try this form. Is it the language you used that gives it that “clipped” feeling, or the form itself?


    • I think that’s partly the form. Another one of my pals who did this found it easy to slip into really annoying limericky verse, so I guess it could go either way. I really loved playing with this one (and I don’t always — some forms kill me!!!)


  6. That is just gorgeous, Liz, and so musical when read aloud. I love the repetition and the form, which is one I haven’t tried yet. I worked a good way through the book THE SHAPES OF OUR SINGING to write a collection a couple years ago and found the exercise both challenging and exhilarating. Will definitely try one of these for a new WIP. Thanks for the inspiration!


    • Oh, thanks, Renee! This one was more fun than some — or maybe it just worked for me on this particular day. There are some forms that have me pulling my hair out.

      ALSO, how do I not have that book — The Shapes of Our Singing?? It looks like it’s out of print but I’m going to try to get my hands on a copy!!! It looks amazing, and addictive.


  7. I enjoy reading and learning from all of your and your poetry princesses posts. I never dreamed how many different forms there could be!


  8. “skies and words ignite” – beautiful!
    Thanks for sharing. You all do have a wonderful sisterhood going! :0)


  9. Liz, I too am “unwilled” to work at this time of year, burdened by the days drawing in–but as in your poem, I can see beyond the 21st to “more light, floorboards bright.” This form is beautiful, soothing and singable.


  10. You had me at the repeating lines “less light.” Suddenly, I wanted to try that technique in another lai, repeating phrases from “a” line to “a” line, just to see how that would increase the rhythm. We could call it the “Liz Lai”

    I also found when writing mine that I couldn’t stop at one stanza either. I love how yours is perfectly balanced in two halves. ( Mine would up as three stanzas, but it’s stormy, so perhaps appropriately not so balanced?) Anyway, you’ve managed to use all aspects of this form to make us feel the ebb and flow of light and energy that is winter. Gorgeous.


    • A Liz Lai — ha ha! I DO like stacking repetitive phrases like that — it reminds me of cumulative picture books.


  11. Oh, wow. There is such hope here — hope in the natural turning of our little rock through its seasons. Hope that spring will come again.


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