So you’d like to join a local physicians’ writing group!

Terrific – thanks for letting us know!

At this point, we’re collecting names but hope to have something up and running over the next couple of months.

Until then, here are a few links to keep you writing:

  • Recommended books: “Writing Down the Bones” or “Bird by Bird”. Sarah suggests that both are outstanding books on writing. It might be very worthwhile (especially for those interested in forming a physician writing group) to proceed to form a group together, read those books and start some of the exercises therein.
  • The best “tip” Sarah has for writing is: read…read A LOT! To that end, it might be beneficial to consider signing up for emails like “Poem A Day” (https://poets.org/poem-a-day). Poems can be great prompts for one’s own writing…so gathering once a month, and committing as a group of aspiring writers to sharing a poem with the group and then discussing a piece of writing you’ve done in response to, or conversation with that poem, is a great way to “keep the juices running”.
  • Another good tip is to do self-assigned prompts: so, for instance, in a group of 8, who meet once a month, it’s each person’s job to – a week in advance – come up with a prompt for the group. Two other prompts involve visual art: choose a piece of visual expression (painting, mural, movie, sculpture) and create a narrative dialogue with it. Also, take a photo and then write your story of that image. All these exercises are deeply motivational.
  • To hone the writerly muscles, think about signing up for a course in writing. And think about sending your writing off for publication – that will be a good gauge of where you might strengthen things!
  • Finally, below is an exercise about “Teaching A Poem” – an amazing poem and, while the prompts are more for youth, Sarah suggests that ANY group of writers could really sink their teeth into it and use it as a spring board for further writing.

 

Teach This Poem, though developed with an in-person classroom in mind, can be easily adapted for remote learning and hybrid learning models. Please see our list of suggestions for how to adapt this lesson for remote or blended learning.

Coyote

Alexander Posey

A few days more, and then
There’ll be no secret glen,
Or hollow, deep and dim,
To hide or shelter him.

And on the prairie far,
Beneath the beacon star
On evening’s dark’ning shore,
I’ll hear him nevermore.

For where the tepee smoke
Curled up of yore, the stroke
Of hammers rings all day,
And grim Doom shouts, “Make way!”

The immemorial hush
Is broken by the rush
Of armed enemies
Unto the utmost seas.

This poem is in the public domain.

  1. Warm-up (quick write): Think about any wild or urban animals you might occasionally see where you live or go to school. These can also be animals that you might know about from television or movies. What do you think their lives are like? How do you think their lives would have been different in the late 1800s?
  2. Before Reading the Poem: Read a brochure from Project Coyote to learn about coyotes and how we coexist with them.
  3. Reading the Poem: Read the poem “Coyote” by Alexander Posey silently. What do you notice about the poem? Annotate for any words or phrases that stand out to you or any questions you might have.
  4. Listening to the Poem (enlist two volunteers to read the poem aloud): Listen as the poem is read aloud twice, and write down any additional words and phrases that stand out to you.
  5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem with a small group of students. Based on the details you just shared with your small group, how does the poem relate to the thoughts you had about the lives of animals at the beginning of class? What might the coyote represent to the speaker? Why?
  6. Whole-group Discussion: How does the tone of the poem change in the second half of the poem? What happens at the end of the poem? Who might the enemies be? What is the rhyme scheme in this poem, and how does that affect your reading experience? How might rhyme play into oral tradition and memorization?
  7. Extension: Read this article from the Library of Congress. What happens next, after “the rush / of armed enemies” descends? What happens to the speaker and his community? Write the next part of the poem.
  8. Extension: Read more about Native poetry. In this address, Joy Harjo states, “it occurred to me that we have poetry ancestors. That thought was a door that made a fresh path of understanding. Each of us carries human ancestors within us. The DNA spiral is ancestral stories and songs. Even the stones, plants, elements, and creatures have ancestors. Each poem has ancestors, and maybe even an origin story.” With a partner or small group, create a visual map that connects Posey to other poets. Or, create a visual map of your own poetry ancestors. Share your findings with your classmates.The following activities and questions are designed to help your students use their noticing skills to move through the poem and develop their thinking about its meaning with confidence, using what they’ve noticed as evidence for their interpretations. Read more about the framework upon which these activities are based.

 

In an essay and poetry portfolio on Native poetics, Natalie Diaz writes, “Native poetry is a crafted, honed, learned art, requiring skill. It is a choice made with great consideration—to use the white space that once silenced us as a platform to speak loudly.” Read more.

Alexander Posey, born August 3, 1873, was a Muskogee Creek poet, journalist, and humorist known for his poems and Fus Fixico Letters, a series of satirical letters written from his fictional persona, Fus Fixico, that commented on local and national politics of the time. He served as the editor for the Eufaula Indian Journal and authored The Poems of Alexander Lawrence Posey (Crane Printers, 1910), which was published posthumously. He died on May 27, 1908.


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