This past Saturday, I welcomed a commute to work of a different kind. Once again, I was honored by Pickaway County Parents Enhancing Gifted and Talented Students through Unique Scenarios (PEGASUS) to provide a creative writing workshop. This time, I invited my favorite poet, Robert Blackwell, to join me. The topic was math in writing, specifically the role math plays in poetry.

I’ve always been fascinated by math in writing. As I am working on my dissertation for my doctoral degree, the concept of math and words is ever present in the alignment of the problem, the purpose and the research question. In my pleasure writing, I am always exploring formulas for sonnets, sestinas, and more. I remember when my friend, Robert, taught me terza rima. I couldn’t wait to share the formula with the Pickaway County gifted language students.

And so, in a classroom at South Bloomfield Elementary school, a poet from Franklin County and one from Pickaway County shared space with poets to be and talked of math and poetry. And the students were beautiful in their energy, intelligence and creativity. Their minds quickly embraced the writing formulas. We wrote haiku and senryu – 5 beats, 7 beats, 5 beats. In three lines, we painted a story of climbing trees and pouncing on dinner.

Our appetite unsated we moved on to string stanzas together in terza rima aba, bcb, cdc fashion with synchronized counting with our fingers in the air to achieve 10-beats per line. We wrote of a three-legged dog who snuggled up to sleep with his belly full of treats. We wrote together and then each student wrote on his or her own. The time sped by as math and words melded together. It was magic. It was forever and yet too short.

It was not lost on me that I was spending time with the brilliance of our future. I want to know what these kids will go on to do… to write. Will they keep the pencils, pens, handouts and journals Robert and I gave them…at least for a while? Will they attempt to write the other forms of poetry we had no time to cover in the class? I hope so. I dream so. Such beautiful children with old souls. Such humor and intelligence. How amazing to have known them if even for one cold November Saturday morning. I hope that they were touched by the gift of poetry and that they will continue to unwrap its free verse and algorithmic forms. May their pens always take flight as their imagination soars.

For the Pickaway County Gifted Language Students (a senryu)

Beautiful children

Blank pages and eager pens

Poems to unfold

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