Florence Dacey's 
Minnesota River Notebook
This is the first assignment Florence posted for the 1997 Rivers of Life: Mississippi Adventure project.  

She has us given permission to use her poetry and writing exercises for future programs. 

Use your creativity to it's fullest!

The Rivers of Life Project invites you to join a vast company of student writers who have diligently sought and happily found words to communicate the beauty, mystery, and power of the river. 

In this series of four columns, I will be suggesting some creative writing subjects and forms (poetry, letter, journal, etc.) for you. These are starting points. Trust and follow the powerful river of your own memory, feeling, and imagination! Here are some writing tips for you, as we begin: 

* Use specific images in your writing. Instead of plurals and generic such as "fish" or "trees", name the singular and add a descriptive word: "A hungry catfish," "The comforting cottonwood". 

* Use lively language, and surprising combinations of words. Avoid worn out phrases and verbs. Instead of "fish swimming," try "sullen carp gossip." 

* Use comparison and metaphor, especially in poetry. In both we compare two things that are different, yet somehow alike. Keep your comparisons fresh: "The river is an old man creeping through the land," or "the river is like a gift with one thousand surprises." 

* Keep a river/watershed journal. Jot down images, thoughts and questions. You can sketch it in, and paste in photos and articles. I like to take a small notebook everywhere I go. Visit the river/stream/lake at different times of the day. Sit in silence, observe, write.

Exercise #1 
Here is a poetry exercise to practice some of the above. Make a list of the specific sensory things from the river, or a tributary you will write about: a carp, a muskrat, a frog, a tree branch, cattail, pelican, agate, and so on. Now make a list of various verbs that might apply to humans: leap, sing, wish, forget, visit, waltz, swallow, study, sleep, etc. Combine some of these using the following form, adding other words that describe and tell when and where. You could write just about the river as it is now, in March, if you like. Once you get started, let the poem take you where it wants. Poems are a lot like rivers!

Check out the other articles from Florence
Assignment #2 - Assignment #3 - Poetry

Center for Global Environmental Education
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