Thursday, October 10, 2013

Betsy Hubbard: Sharing My Heart on a Page

I find that notebooks and their pages turn as life happens. I love to look around and notice every little detail and watch in my mind how things unravel onto the paper. My favorite places to take notes are usually outside. I find the quietest spot, squat down and listen. I smell the air and I look for details I might never have noticed if I just walked by. I always find something new even in my back wood trails that I have traveled many times. A twig, a new bird call, animal tracks to follow and birch bark traces on the path. All of these can be the start of something. 

I often write poems that trickle out of what I have noticed on a walk or a drive. I would ask you; go to a spot you often find yourself. It might be your driveway or backyard or maybe the playground at your school. Take your notebook and look in one direction. Stare and wait for something magical to enter your field of vision. Draw or write down what you see and then write more. See where this new sighting takes you. Don’t be surprised by what lands on your pages. It was meant to be there and you were meant to write it. 

Here is a notebook with a little list of things I observed on my playground at school when doing this exercise. Months later, in October, I returned to this page and wrote a short poem including some of the things I noticed back in April.

Dandelions sway
and dream
of being blown
into the breeze.

They land on pebbles
cracks and paths
where grass sprigs grow
they rest at last.

Betsy Hubbard is a kindergarten and first grade teacher in the little town of Olivet, Michigan. She hopes all her students can find their voice even as young writers. Betsy is a poetry advocate and the creator of Chalk-A-Bration, a monthly celebration of poetry and poem illustrations using chalk.  She can be found at I Think in Poems, Teaching Young Writers, Two Writing Teachers, and on twitter @Betsy_writes.

In Betsy's honor, I am offering a surprise notebook giveaway to a commenter on this post.  Please leave your comment by October 25 to have your name entered in this drawing.  Check back on that date here or at The Poem Farm Facebook page to see if you win!

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. Betsy, you are everywhere lately.You must feel very popular. Love this little peek into your notebook practice. I need to sketch more. I think it would help me see and notice things.

    1. Margaret, It sort of feels like my fifteen minutes lately. Thank you for visiting. I love to sketch but also need to do more of it. I am always surprised how it actually changes my writing. I notice a lot more when I draw something from my perspective.

  2. Love notebooking and art journaling! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love looking into people's notebooks! Thanks for sharing yours today. I enjoyed the dandelion poem. The idea of dandelions dreaming of being blown into the wind is fantastic! They are so inviting with their little fuzzy caps, aren't they?

  4. Love getting a peak into your noticings, Betsy. You are so right to find places to "stay' and "look"! Love that dandelion poem, too!

  5. Your notebooks are so beautiful (compared to mine), so neat and with pictures too. Wonderful!!

  6. I LOVE notebooks! Love them! I always check blogs and websites and posts, looking for ways to fill up my notebooks, because an empty notebook is a sad notebook. And I've realized what I am: a notebook voyeur. I'm like the creepy guy in sweats with his nose pressed against the glass, peering through my computer screen and mouth-breathing at what other people do with their notebooks. I love your blog already.

  7. Now that I know you, I love hearing your actual voice and imagining your facial expressions when I read your writing! Even when you are writing prose, it sounds like poetry. Write on!


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