Photos/Poems From Sixth/Seventh Graders

July 25, 2015


I recently finished teaching a 4-week children’s photo-workshop for the Milwaukee Rec Dept. The main push of the workshop was to encourage a higher level of visual mindfulness in the students -to get them to see more thoughtfully, when it comes to making photos. Each day we would look at photos, make more photos, then import them to the computers at the school and do some basic editing with Google’s Picasa.

I strongly believe though, that no creative venture exists in a vacuum, and the more varied ways a person expresses their creativity, the more their creativity will grow. To that end, I also had the students go through some guided meditations (I read from Thich Nhat Hanh), do some drawing, and write some haikus.

For some students, the form of the haiku was a challenge, but I tried to “course correct” them, and encourage them to see how they could express their thoughts in just 17 syllables. Before they edited their thoughts down though, some of the students >did< come up with some good poems. So, here are some of the haikus and non-haiku poems the students wrote (on this particular day, we were also working on “texture photos”)…


Also, many of the students looooooooved making selfies, but had a more challenging time allowing other students to photograph them. Rather than tell them they >couldn’t< make selfies, I decided to make that a project of its own. One day, students had to choose their favorite selfie … and then draw it with colorful markers, and then make another selfie, but this time with their drawing replacing their face! The emphasis was on just trying their best – as I would often hear “I can’t draw” or “I’m bad at drawing”. I would not accept that – and just told them “It’s not about whether or not it’s accurate”, “just do your best”, “everyone can make a mark – make yours”, “don’t worry – just go for it”.



Briunna is beautiful and sweet

and is wonderful to meet.

She is smart and funny

and is as soft as a bunny.



The texture is rough.

It’s very rough.

It’s orange/red but it’s

always laying down

in its bed



She is so friendly.

She is really wonderful.

That’s why she’s my friend.



It is really rough

now can you guess what it is?

it is the rocks.



has a rough texture

you can build houses with it

has many colors


She’s a funny girl

She is crafty and a dancer

She is my cousin



This shoe has certain texture and image.

It is also certain brand and this is Adidas

and it has bright red color,

it is a color that cannot be wore with everything



Troy’s Book Club: Haiku Diem, the best of year one

January 6, 2013

As many folks (who know me) know, I’ve been writing haikus for quite a while now. Today, matter of fact, was Day 2777. I write haikus maybe 4-5x/week and have been writing them since 2oo2. Here’s the first one:

day 1  (11-9-02)

the sky goes slate grey

what weather comes for this night?

leaves leave the trees quick.

As I’ve slowly advanced my “project”, I’ve come to realize how many other people enjoy this compact format. It’s been much fun seeing how other people interpret the haiku form. Traditionally speaking, haikus are supposed to be about observations of “real” things – no metaphors and “me” statements – just good, detailed observations and insights into the world. The rule people are most familiar with is the syllable count. Haiku is supposed to be composed of three lines, containing 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second, and 5 lines in the third line. In my efforts, I try to follow the basic rules, but I do sometimes lapse into “me” haikus. Sometimes the thoughts just fit right. Anyhow, this post is not about me and haiku, but about Freeman Ng and haiku.

Freeman Ng has undertaken a similar project to me, but  in doing so has demonstrated greater discipline and a unique voice in his syllabic journey which he calls “Haiku Diem“. He has also shown a greater willingness to put himself “out there” by self-publishing a book of haiku from his first year’s efforts (he is now over two years into his efforts). Freeman came across my blog and asked if I would give his book a look-see. I said “yes,” he sent the book, and then it sat on my desk for a month or so. I have gotten to the book now though, and am glad for having finally cracked its cover.

For his book, Freeman has partnered with a number of artists and combined his words with their images. Sometimes it is successful, sometimes the methods compete too much with each other. I think I would have preferred a more subtle approach to the art, so that there would be a more apparent “hierarchy” in the presentation. In my opinion, the strongest pages were with Kathryn Briggs. (the other artists are Kerry Dennehy, Ardith Goodwin, and Susan Taylor Brown)

Freeman, in some weeks, made a sort of “multi-stanza” approach to his haikus. He has written a base haiku, and then the following day, taken the last line of the previous day’s haiku as the new day’s first line, and then followed that method for a few days. It’s a neat creative exercise and has produced some nice results.

Here are a few of Freeman’s haikus that I most enjoyed:

Day 43

looked up to learn what

squawked and flapped off, caught only

the still swaying branch

– – –

Day 11

dug out building site

offers a rare urban treat:

the smell of raw earth

– – –

Day 296

dreamed touch of a hand

against my cheek that woke me

was the morning sun

– – –

Again, it was very swell of Freeman to offer me this chance to see his book. I know how much I’ve valued my own haiku efforts, and how they’ve inclined me towards seeing my world with more-fresh eyes. Haiku has changed how I engage with the world and it’s been interesting seeing how this has come through Freeman’s observations too. Cheers to you Freeman – here’s to many more syllables, observations, and fully-felt moments for both of us!

Blooming: guest haiku

March 12, 2012

Another nice haiku by Ms. Rachel Wilberding…

– – – – – –

I hear a small “snap” —
gradual blooming belied
by my quiet ears

Guest haiku: Rachel Wilberding

February 21, 2012

A good friend of mine, Rachel Wilberding, wrote this, and shared it with me. At my request, she’s also willing to share it with the world. I recently photographed her; you can see the results HERE.

– – – – –

My stoplight musings –

Do we control emotions,

and choose who we love?

Guest haiku: Cinnamon Rossman

February 5, 2012

After seeing my haiku-blog recently, Ms. Rossman sent me this haiku in return, a fine poem, indeed. Ms. Rossman is the regional sales-manager at Streamline Publishing.

– – – – –
haiku blog rains words
unknown grey situations
leaves me wondering