Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thinking in Poetry by Fran Haley

I recently rediscovered my old journal of poems from middle and high school.  As I re-read the work of my young poet-self, I wondered: Why did I stop? Why don’t I write poetry anymore?

I love to write.

I consider myself, first and foremost, a storyteller. That’s what my blog is all about, stories. I don’t think of myself as a poet, really. As much as I love reading poetry, as much as it pierces my heart and makes it sing, writing poetry was just something I dabbled with, once, long ago.

Then an interesting thing happened.

As I tried to explore the feeling of "almost" for a blog post — as in relationships that almost lasted, how we spend too much time with the ghost of almost — the words came to me in phrases:

A walking shadow,
the thief of Now
and its fullness,
the vacuum of Tomorrow
and all its possibility.

I enjoyed writing the rest of that poem. I didn’t think it was particularly good, as, you know, I am not a poet.

Watching the March snowfall, I thought: Surely this is winter’s death throes. It’s fighting to the last. Instantly, this line came to me: The last of winter this way comes.

It occurs to me that I am thinking in poetry, that the words of Shakespeare, in these cases, having lain dormant in my mind, now arise, stir, and spawn little phrases of my own. (Did you recognize a walking shadow and the hint of something wicked this way comes?)

Perhaps I started writing poetry long ago as a search for what’s beautiful in life. Despite the pain, loss, chaos, even rage . . . poetry is a means of making beauty out of it all.

Fran Haley is a K-12 English Language Arts educator currently serving as a K-5 literacy coach. Writing is her favorite thing to do and to teach; she loves helping others of all ages grow to love writing. She facilitates writing workshop training for teachers in her district and authors the blog Lit Bits and Pieces: Snippets of Learning and Life. Connect with her on Twitter: @fahaley.


  1. Ahhh, the transformative power of poetry! Thank you for sharing your beautiful words with us today, Fran.

  2. It’s a true honor and a joy, Jennifer. Thank you so much.

  3. Fran, you may not think of yourself as a poet, but your prose is poetic. You write with a poet's eye on the world and you're able to capture and convey big ideas with few words. Thinking in poetry - such a beautiful way to phrase this.

  4. Oh, Tori - what a moving response - thank you so much. I am grateful for your thoughts and delighted to hear from you!

  5. In a podcast On Being with Krista Tippet, Naomi Shihab Nye spoke about how we all think in poems. Your prose is like a poem. I hope you continue to explore that budding poet in you.

  6. Thank you, Margaret - I need to listen to that podcast. I had been thinking in these lyrical lines and phrases for so long that I hadn’t even recognized it as poetry, but, now that I do ... I will try to harness it more often!


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