Poetry Friday – Tree Love and a Mad Lib Poem

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily…
~Mary Oliver

I read this lovely poem by Mary Oliver for the first time today at Sharing Our Stories Magic blog, and it reminded me of the book I’m reading, The Overstory, which is a magnificent 500-page love letter to trees. Have you read it?

Read Oliver’s full poem “When I am Among the Trees” here.

On another note…

Who I Am

I was born in the year of the red security sweater.
My mother was an elegant upright piano
And my father, an unfiltered Camel cigarette.
Is it any wonder I grew up to be a kind of amusing
cross between a shy Daffy Duck and a stoic puffin bird?
Take a fluttering look at me—
I’m aloofly friendly, hope-filled, and wearing out.
Is it any wonder that at night
I have nightmares about
my sweet retirement life crumbling before it begins?

I wrote the poem above from a prompt shared by Taylor Mali–It is a fun foldable called Slam Poem Mad Lib. Did you see Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice are on sale right now for teachers for $8 instead of $20? (Thanks, Karen E.)

Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is with Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core. Today she has written and shared a beautiful poetry primer with A to Z loveliness!

26 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – Tree Love and a Mad Lib Poem

  1. Denise, thanks for the poetry. I have not read this one from Mary Oliver. I love her work and I do have Taylor Mali’s dice. I forgot about that and have to search through my boxes to resurrect them. I had a great conversation with Taylor about the dice when I was at NCTE before the Pandemic. Have a great weekend.

    1. Nice, Carol. I enjoyed reading Taylor’s comments on Karen’s blog last week too. He seems very personable and approachable. Thank you for visiting today!

  2. What a cool poem! I just now bought some metaphor dice…and now I must go experience the mad lib poem! I have not read the book. But, oh! That poem of Mary Oliver. It’s just so joyful. It’s what I want to find every day. I love your red security sweater and Daffy Duck shyness and wonder about retirement. It’s all a mad world but poets make it all feel so real.

  3. Well now I have to try one of those Mad Lib poems myself! You got some amazing images that somehow work together! But don’t fret about retirement. It’s fabulous!

    (I wonder why your InLinkz links never work…)

  4. Okay. I just had to give it a try.

    I was born in the year of the stuffed animal.
    My mother was a sewing machine
    and my father, a lawn mower.
    Is it any wonder I grew up to be a kind of mysterious cross between
    a scientific Meg Murray and a determined rhinoceros?
    Take a soul-searching look at me.
    I am well-rested, creative, and involved.
    Is it any wonder that at night I still sometimes have nightmares about
    a recurrence of breast cancer?

    1. Holy shit! I can say that because I’m Taylor Mali (despite what the name/avatar might suggest). The twist at the end?! That’s the kind of surprise I live for! My one suggestion is that “stuffed animal” is not doing enough for you here.

  5. Mary Lee, thank you so much for the comments about my poem. Letting me know about that darn InLinkz link. 🙁 And especially for the great poem you shared about yourself. I love the “mysterious cross between /
    a scientific Meg Murray and a determined rhinoceros.” Powerful and cute!

  6. “a shy Daffy Duck and a stoic puffin bird” – now there’s a juxtaposition! Fun! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Bridget. Yes, that is a strange mix, and I don’t feel like I’m a bird person necessarily. It’s interesting what comes up when you are just answering questions and filling in the blanks in a mad lib.

  7. Wow, I’m going to save that prompt and try it. How cool! Yes, I’ve read The Overstory. I found it brilliant, but finally a bit much. There’s so much beautiful writing in it, and it definitely influenced my view of trees. My eco-anxiety is already in full bloom, so maybe that’s why I got a bit overwhelmed with it.

    1. Ruth, thank you for visiting. I agree. The Overstory may get overwhelming. I’m only at 60%, and I still can’t put it down. I’m a rather slow reader though. The language is so beautiful, like prose poetry, really. And my vocabulary is stretched every day. My Kindle dictionary is getting a workout.

  8. Oh – you’ve introduced me to another form I have to try! This is wonderful and takes a very thoughtful turn at the end of the poem. Thanks for sharing this today!

  9. Denise, I love your MadLib version of a “Who I Am” poem. Mali’s prompt is both fun and enlightening. I particularly enjoyed and appreciated these lines:

    cross between a shy Daffy Duck and a stoic puffin bird?
    Take a fluttering look at me—
    I’m aloofly friendly, hope-filled, and wearing out.

    And I’m always up for some Mary Oliver. I’ve heard great things about The Overstory and it’s on my TBR — just not sure when I’ll get to it! Sounds worth it, though.

    1. Thank you, Karen, and again for sharing Taylor Mali’s metaphor dice promotion. I have not been disappointed spending so many hours with The Overstory. 🙂

  10. My students are going to love playing with this mad lib. We played a few rounds of metaphor dice on Friday. The results are always fun and keep my gifted 6th graders actively engaged and thinking. One said, “That doesn’t make sense.” The other replied, “That’s the point.” Ha! I highly recommend all things Taylor Mali. I am now hooked on his Mondays on Instagram Live.

    1. Margaret, thank you! I’ve followed Taylor and the metaphor dice accounts, and I’m gradually learning about them. I’m looking forward to a more convenient time zone to join the live version, but I’m listening to Monday’s recording now. Beautiful!

    2. Would your students appreciate a Zoom Bomb from me or maybe a FaceTime call to talk about what does and does not make sense?

  11. Intriguing poem Denise, keeps one and us readers on our toes… Would definitely like to try it on and see how it feels, thanks for the links!

  12. Hi Denise,
    As a Taylor Mali fan and friend (have no real idea how that happened, but thank the pandemic mainly), I love your poem from Taylor’s Mad Libs prompt! I am eager to see teacher and kid writing from his work. So if any bloggers do posts on this, I will be watching. My group, the Pen Women, nlapw dot org is hosting Taylor via Zoom in Feb. as the kick off for a poetry experience for area students who are in after-school programs (we chose that because it was going to be effective, needed and easier to coordinate than during in school time.) Taylor was describing this prompt to me and how it was a kind of precursor to Metaphor Dice, before he even conceived MD (I think). So I am glad I finally got around to a take a quick look at last week’s PF posting! And a nod to Mary Lee….your powerful ending and your description of yourself, make me want to write this right now! Plus we could do more than one version. Thanks to Margaret Simon for getting me here!

    1. Janet, thank you. So glad you stopped by. I think it was you I learned about Taylor Mali from originally, earlier this spring when you were involved in a poem swap. Is that right? Anyway, thanks for sharing! It sounds like a great event you have planned for February.

  13. What a trifecta: Mary Oliver, your playful poem, and the Mali prompt (off to find out more).

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