The Frog Hollow Blog has grown into a newsletter over at Substack, called A Few Crooked Words. There I’ll share weekly writing inspiration for parents and anyone who wants to help children love to write. Come join in the fun! Because even a few crooked words can be a poem.
The pandemic has my students, like most kids, stuck at home, but we’re still writing. We’ve been using our writing both to do the normal stuff like develop writing skills and express ourselves, and also to wrestle with the strangeness and worries of life this spring. Sometimes it helps just to write directly to what’s bugging or hurting you, and so we wrote poems to Covid19. We imagined we could talk to it, and if it wanted, it could talk back. We tried to get to know it a little. What was its essence? What did it like? Here are some of the results. I think they will surprise you.
A Conversation with Corona
By: JoJo 2020
Hello corona virus, what is your name?
Oh, of course, your name is Susan.
You are not fun at all; you sing the saddest of opera songs,
You are a sea of sadness; you ride through the streets of Bellingham in your fastest sports car.
People stop to stare when you go anywhere.
You wear ballgowns and bracelets, high heels and
Slippers and you drink from sauce-covered dippers.
You swim in the lake of death that is so dark blue of inky black stars.
You shook hands with zombies and went with the frombies.
Acid rain poured from the sky wherever you walked.
Your favorite color is purple: you wear it all the time.
For anger and sadness put together, purple is divine.
The zombies you met eat dumpster food.
They look like toads.
They try to slice your head off with surgery knives
And eat you like baloney.
You ran off and pooped in their faces and threw soap
In their eyes.
And you act evil like Voldemort.
Covid 19 Lockdown
What’s up? You done infecting and injecting?
‘Cause we’ve started inspecting on your trails,
It’s gotten quite stale but we’ll find a way to get rid of you!
(Once and for all) So better skedaddle!
Take a break, eat some cake, bathe in a lake. Chill out man!
And so my friend, I’m telling you now,
Just take a vacation, turn into a club,
Just let your thoughts sway. And then
Think of the commotion you’re causing.
And my thought is without you we’ll be able to go,
sing, dance, and play with our friends’ relations and ourselves without any worry we’ll catch a cold or virus!
Dear Covid 19
Hi, why are you killing so many people?
Are you mad?
Did humans do something to you?
Do you need help?
Anyway let’s just talk and get to know each other. Hi I’m Ella I already know your name, Covid 19 or Coronavirus, can I call you Co? Ok I’m going to anyway! Well onto the questions
What’s your favorite colors? Green, yellow, and black, hmm i can see why they’re like toxic waste and hazard sign colors, mine are like all cool colors
What’s your favorite genre of music? Rock in’ roll, cool ok so you need to know something about me i don’t really have a favorite of anything so ya, don’t have a favorite
This is kinda random but what’s your favorite type of terrain? Rocky mountain peaks, ooh yeah that would be fun to rock climb! Hmmm…. Mine would probably a beach idk if that counts but whatever
Again random but do you have a car? No, but you would like a bombing plane, umm that’s kinda creepy……. Well let’s just keep going i guess
If you could be any animal/supernatural creature what would you be? A bear or alien, cool I would be… a mermaid (the good kind) or a cat
If you were a body of water what would you be? Violent ocean, wow, i would probably be perfect water for surfing and boogie boarding
No offense but if you had hair what style would it be? Mohawk, sick i probably just go simple and keep mine
What’s your favorite food? Anything spicy, oh i don’t really care for spicy things mine would just be
Umm…what else? Ooh, what type of weather is your favorite? Ocean storm that can kill sailors bruh that’s just messed up! Mine would be maybe sunny with some shade
What’s your favorite tool? Chainsaw, #creepy Well again i don’t have one
What genre of books do you like? Murder mystery WHY ARE YOU SO CREEPY!? Anyway i like fantasy adventure
What is your all time favorite book? IT, ok? Mine would be…..ohh i can’t decide there’s too many to pick from
What is your favorite board game? Game Of Life, ehh not my favorite but it’s your choice mine would be Stack Sushi (ok, yeah i know it’s not really a board game but i don’t care)
What’s your favorite drink? Coffee, eww no offense but i hate that mine..hmm.. Maybe root beer?
Well it’s been nice talking but i have to go now bye
Sincerely, your new friend Ella
Ps. stop killing people please
If you’re in the Delridge area before June 14th, drop into Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and check out Frog Hollow’s poetry exhibit! It’s in the hallway gallery, on the lockers near the end of the hall.
Our poems are about creatures — living, extinct, and legendary — and other aspects of the wild world. Some are acrostics. All have soundplay and art. The class wrote these poems with me in response to reading Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. If you want an excellent entrance into poetry and nature literacy through pure wonder and beauty, check out this book. It’s inspired our curriculum all winter and spring.
Anyhow, here are some quick photos of the exhibit. I’m so thrilled to be back in the classroom with these fine young writers next year. Come join us make more magic.
I enjoy many, many things my students write, but every once in a while, one of them writes a poem that really strikes me. I’ll walk around thinking about it. I’ll want to tell it to everyone I know. This happens to me with all my favorite poems. I guess it’s just that some of my favorite poets are seven years old.
I recently shared Kaveh Akbar’s “Orchids are Sprouting from the Floorboards,” with my students, because he is a new favorite poet of mine. The kids loved it, and said amazing and thoughtful/hilarious things about it. (“Maybe Lydia is the earth, the normal earth that is not covered in orchids.” “It reminds me of woodpeckers, and my grandmother.” “Oh, I thought it was ORCAS are sprouting from the floorboards.” “I love people with weird hair.” ) And then we wrote our own poems where a word comes back again and again, and then doesn’t.
Lots and lots of great writing came out of that day, including a poem by Amaya that I’ve been carrying with me ever since: Dodo bird I want you on this earth/I wish I could give you a note/Dodo bird where have you gone?
It’s hard to say why we love the poems we do, but we do.