Try This! - Get Wild

From Janet Wong:

Go outside. Draw three things: something you hear, something you smell, and something you see. Scribble a few words or phrases about each of those things. 

Use this word bank to write a first draft. 

Now turn your poem on its head. Get wild. If your first draft is serious and light, make the next draft silly and dark. If it’s silly and dark, get serious and light. Start with what you observed—then play with your words. Create a mini-movie in your mind.

Here’s my page of scribbles. You can see a first draft of my poem at the bottom of the page.

Click to Enlarge this Notebook Page

I changed that draft on my computer. Here’s a later draft (a changed-on-the-fly-while-typing-and-retyping 10th or 11th draft):

by Janet Wong

It is the first hot day today
and we are celebrating 
what feels like summer already.
Everyone, every thing is:

Pitcher plants are slurping mosquitoes.
The bush Mom calls dwarf deutzia
(that I call peewee snow mound)
is busting out its sweet pepper smell.

Dad is grilling mortadella dogs,  
twice as pricey (Grandma reminds us) 
as any other kind of sausage but (I say)
worth every single delicious dime.

We are so loving this lazy dinnertime
when birds in the trees start tweeting:
What u got 4 us? What u got?
I pinch and roll some bits of bun 

and launch them, each little bun bit
like a word in a reply Tweet that says: 
Come and help yourself to a picnic treat!
ReTweet, ReTweet, ReTweet.

And just as a thundercloud of 
starlings swoops down on the lawn
Mom screams:
Run, Alfred, run!

Janet Wong is a poet, anthologist, and co-creator with Sylvia Vardell of The Poetry Friday Anthology series ( Their latest book, THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR CELEBRATIONS, features 156 bilingual poems by 115 poets about a wide variety of celebrations including National Bird Day, National Picnic Month, and Halloween.


  1. I am teaching a writing camp this summer and finding some wonderful ideas.

  2. Oh that Janet! Such a GREAT idea and that 10th or 11th draft plopped me square into a late summer afternoon... Worth tweeting about, for sure.

  3. This took me there for sure Janet.
    But I have never had Mortadella dogs. Got to find those. My mouth is watering.