Poetry Friday: The 2017 Progressive Poem, in all its seafaring, dragon-drama glory!

Irene Latham‘s annual Progressive Poem wrapped up last weekend! Each day throughout April a different person would add a line until we finally had a complete, 30-poet poem on April 30…and as always, there were a few surprises on our way to the finish line.

One never knows what form – if any – the poem will take when the first person (in this case, Heidi Mordhorst) starts things off. Perhaps it will be metrical, perhaps not; maybe it will rhyme, maybe not. This year’s poem jumped back-and-forth, particularly when it came to whether or not to rhyme – some lines did, others didn’t, depending on what each writer decided to do with his/her line.

But somehow, like always, it all made sense by the time it was completed! If you’d like to listen to the audio of it, click play (but please forgive my giant head…I can’t do anything about that!):

The Secret Inside the Book

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges–
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges, sometimes, need sandpaper…
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?
By hook or by crook, I deserve a second look!
I cheer. Please, have no fear. Find the book.

But wait! I’ll share the lines I know by heart.
Mythical howls, fiery tones slip from my lips
Blue scales flash, claws rip, the prophecy begins
Dragonworld weaves webs that grip. I take a trip…

“Anchors aweigh!” Steadfast at helm on clipper ship
a topsail schooner, with sails unfurled, speeds away
As, true-hearted dragon pirate, I sashay
with my wise parrot, Robyn, through the spray.

“Land Ho!” (“Land Ho!”) We’ve hooked the whole crowd.
So it’s true what they say: the play IS the thing.
Stepping back from my blocking, theatre grows loud…
I draw my sword, while shielding the BOOK–the house din dies.

With rhythmical wordplay, I unleash a surprise…
I leap into my book, bid my readers “Goodbye!” (Goodbye!)


In case you’d like to check out any of the lines as they were added throughout the month, here’s the schedule:

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

You can also visit Irene Latham’s blog, Live Your Poem, to see all of the past 5 years’ Progressive Poems. And for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup, head on over to Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup!


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25 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: The 2017 Progressive Poem, in all its seafaring, dragon-drama glory!

  1. Matt, I was mesmerized by the way you read the Progressive Poem but what else can I expect from such a talented oral reader. The poem was filled with so many turns and surprises that the ending was so pure joy. Thanks for sharing the read aloud. Even adults like to be read to while following alongs.


  2. haitiruth

    Thanks for doing this! I haven’t been able to make the Sound Cloud link work yet, but I’m looking forward to hearing it! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  3. It was so fascinating to hear someone else reading what I’ve read in my head (and aloud) so many times. I can’t believe how perfectly Laura’s last line brings about its completion. I confess as the month rolled to a close, I was doubting it could be done – but she nailed it! What a wonderful poem it is!


  4. Janet F.

    Just finding this Matt. Have been away all weekends in May. Spent 6 nights with elderly mom in hospital, but home today. I love it! Your reading is something kids will enjoy. Start teaching next Mon. Bravo! It has amazed me how this has worked.


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