Haiku moments

This week, I am attending the virtual Digital Pedagogy Lab 2020 conference. I’m in the “Critical Visual Dialogues” stream and, after only two days, my mind is full of images and my brain is questioning them in all sorts of ways. One of yesterday’s assignments was to “choose an image that is significant to you in some way and write a poem or some creative writing in response to it.” Despite having approximately a million photos at my fingertips, I could not choose an image. I got myself all wound up in what any choice would say about me. To make matters worse, we are sharing lots of our work on Twitter and Instagram, so there’s a public nature to it.

We also had to (ok, we *have* to do nothing: our leaders, Daniel Lynds & Francesca Sobande have been very clear that we are driving the course. That said, they offer us activities every day, and the activities are really interesting, so I want to do them.) “share some form of a visual self-portrait… anything from a memoji or selfie to a painting or photograph that you feel tells us something about you.” I was startled at how long it took me to choose a picture. It’s been a while since I felt out of my depth at a conference, but that’s what I’m feeling. I know this means good things in the long run, but right now it’s uncomfortable.

I’m a slow thinker – or at least a slow synthesizer of information – so I’m not quite ready to put all of my thoughts about this into a blog post, but I did try to write about all this for a while this morning. I found myself getting frustrated – my ideas were swirling too fast to catch, and everything I wrote seemed trite even though my thoughts feel complex. I was ready to give up. Then, I read Jessica’s blog post, Glitter, about a moment when one of her daughters’ observations about the ocean in the morning turned into a haiku. Jessica’s ability to bring the joy of words into her children’s lives is inspiring. Her ability to see those precious moments & capture them in writing, even more so. Her post was like a deep breath of love.

Suddenly, I knew what images I wanted to use: pictures of my children. And I knew what I wanted to capture with my words: the sense of the fleeting nature of their childhood. Images capture moments – slices of life, if you will – and haiku does that, too. Both photographs and haiku can leave us with a definite, though unstated, emotional response. Perfect. So, here’s my response to yesterday’s assignment:

T underwater
Underwater boy
caught between the elements
who will you become?
E plays with fire
He controls the fire
his power barely contained
on a glowing stick


Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for hosting this weekly blog and to Digital Pedagogy Lab for organizing a conference that is shaking up my thinking.

12 thoughts on “Haiku moments

  1. Hi there – thanks for sharing this. I also tend to think so so much when I’m attending these webinars. I love the photos and thoughts that you shared.

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  2. This is beautiful. I appreciate you sharing that you felt out of your depth and yet (no surprise here!) you persevered in trying to make sense of your whirling thoughts. Your vulnerable honesty about the process of learning and the role that writing plays in it is a gift to your readers, and no doubt to your students. (PS–I’m having an especially strong emotional response to your images and haiku, as we haven’t been able to see our 25 year old daughter in 7 months due to Covid…not sure when that will change.)

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  3. I appreciate your honesty in describing your swirling thoughts and emotions in response to the assignment. Your final choices and creations are perfect. I especially enjoy the play of elements – water and fire speaking about your children and about the power and potential within.

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  4. I love both pictures and haiku. Gorgeous images in photos and words.
    I think sometimes there’s a feeling of competition in these forms that ask participants to share publicly. I’m in awe of all who make themselves vulnerable in these spaces, I’ve not been able to bring myself to a point of participation during the pandemic. I should so I don’t lose touch.

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  5. This post captures much of the emotional unsteadiness that I’ve been feeling in the Visual Discourses, but the point of the learning is to push ourselves to consider what images can mean and how they generate meaning. As a lover of words, your beautiful haikus anchor meaning for each image bringing the viewers closer to you and your world; isn’t that what dialogues are meant to do?

    You are the real deal, Amanda!

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  6. These are both great pictures and poems. I can relate to “the sense of the fleeting nature” of childhood and summer and all the things these photos capture. Do you think you will do projects like this with your classes?

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  7. If a conference doesn’t knock me a little out of my comfort zone, it’s really not worth it. That is how we learn and grow. Love these images of your boys and how they inspired haiku.

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  8. Love! I’m so glad you got “unstuck”and what a way to come back. Your haikus are beautiful. I love this work of pairing a photo and poem. These belong in frames- photos and words. I’m glad you didn’t give up. More lessons to bring to your students.

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  9. I love the journey you took us on to find the inspiration for the haikus! The journey we take to find ideas is long and winding each and every day! Thanks for sharing your journey, your learning, your haikus and your children!

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