Spatial Poetry Explorations: Rural & Tribal Library Toolkit Project Phase 2

Hi everyone!

We’re branching out :palm_tree: our activity remixes for PLIX Rural & Tribal Library Toolkit Development: Phase 2 Explorations. This thread is a sandbox :beach_umbrella: for @joem, @reneeconroy, @Ulyses, and @carbondalelibrary to share, explore, and remix :earth_africa: Spatial Poetry for their library patrons and community.

Feel free to say hi :wave: and respond to their explorations!

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After trying out your activity, how will you remix?

  • What did you find most enjoyable? Which elements were challenging? What are you excited to explore next?
  • Which focus strategy (passive programming / take-n-make kits / locally relevant remixes / extended interaction plan) are you exploring to adapt / remix the activity? How does this connect to your community or context?
  • What are some concrete next steps to take for rolling out this activity with your patrons?

These questions will help guide your project plan in the coming weeks.

Here’s where I’m at with my Spatial Poetry explorations. I started out wanting to find some historical maps of Sparta, Missouri that might be detailed enough to indicate the history of streets/street names for a street renaming exercise. I was able to find some historical maps from the US Geological Survey (https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/topoview/viewer/) that covered our county (Christian County). In most of the maps Sparta was in the very bottom corner and there wasn’t much detail. I also couldn’t turn up much information on the background of street names. Whereas in other towns, it’s common for streets to be named after significant people, most of the local streets in Sparta come from food/trees. This is kind of interesting in its own way, but I thought I’d try another direction.

I don’t live in Sparta and I’ve only worked in the library here for about a year, so I have a different relationship to this “space” than my patrons who live here. I don’t have a personal history with streets/places to inform my making/facilitating. One place in Sparta aside from the library I do feel connected to, is the local park where I sometimes take my lunch break. I thought this would be a good place to start some map experimenting. I started out wanting to create my own, very objective/precise map of the walking path, but my method (counting concrete squares) proved to be more complicated and not very spatially accurate. It was still interesting and I added some words as an attempt at poetry…

As I was looking through some local history resources, I read about the significance of the Frisco railroad in the growth of Sparta. I found some maps of this railroad line and used one to make another example. I used the graphite transfer paper to get the path of the railroad line onto the graph paper. I’d never used graphite transfer before but the simplicity and possibilities really blew my mind so I’m definitely going to incorporate this into my library program. In this process I discovered https://www.abandonedrails.com/, which I thought others might find useful.

For another exploration, I wanted to try something very different and decided on a “fantasy map” remix, like these I found in some YA books.

I used the website Inkarnate.com to make a fantasy map based on the floor plan of my library. I know fantasy books and D+D are popular among some teen patrons so I thought this might grab their attention. I like this idea of encouraging imaginary map making.

I thought my first few examples were enjoyable in different ways, but I’d like to try a few more examples that might be a little more varied. I’m excited to see what others are up to for some inspiration! My plan is to implement this as a passive program in the library teen area. We’ve got a whiteboard and tables where I usually leave out passive interactive things like origami/coloring pages/Take and Makes. I’d like to set it up so there’s two components: one where you can make something at the library and leave it behind for others to add onto/remix, and then also a take-home kit with supplies and prompts for individual making. I’m thinking about some kind of collaborative, exquisite corpse-style zine but I haven’t really fleshed this out yet… I think the take-home kits appeal more to some teens but others are more interested in things to do while they’re hanging out at the library, so I’m hoping the combination will help me reach a wider audience.

My next step will be to work on a guide to include with the take-home kits. I want to include instructions on how to use the graphite transfer paper, how to find/create maps online (including the fantasy map creator Inkarnate), and some local history along the lines of the Frisco railroad info. My guide will either be a separate supplement to the PLIX zine, or I might remix the PLIX zine with some of my own ideas.

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Hi @joem ! I loved reading through your explorations of your local history. Having lived in 4 different places, it is a very intentional and effortful process to arrive at the feeling of belonging. I bet there are many affordances to being a librarian in this regard!

Starting with the spaces you’re familiar is a wonderful idea. (Your library map is delightful :star_struck: ) It sounds like you’re layering a variety of remixes on remixes! Like a remix DJ :cd:

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@joem your maps are great! The historical aspects of place are important, but sometimes it is interesting and revealing to explore the significance of places for individuals now, in the present. I love the fantasy map of your library. I think your patrons could get excited about that.
I think you can include examples in your kit to supplement the zine.
I recently found this “Creativity at Home” activity at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is not technically mapping. But they have one example where the artist drew a picture of a place and then filled in the areas with writing, somewhat like a poem and I thought it was very cool.

I also liked this Mondrian study. I think some students might like to try to emulate the Mondrian style.

Anyway, I think you are on the right track and your explorations will be fun and interesting for your patrons. I ran a small workshop a couple months ago and the kids who participated loved it. They went a different direction than what I had imagined, but it was all good. It’s all about the process.

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Thank you for the MOMA links! I really like this Drawing with Words and will definitely include it as an example.

Yes, it is very cool. Glad you liked it! I like to look at what museums have on offer. They can provide excellent resources that complement STEAM learning really well. And so much is online for free. Have a great workshop!

I love these ideas! I am grabbing the Martin-Wong-Drawing-with-Words idea for some hidden messaging to provide ‘food for thought’ in this traditional village!

This kind of a rehash of my previous post.

What’s most enjoyable/challenging about the activity?

  • It was nice to take a walk and create my own map of a familiar place.
  • I enjoyed reading up on local history/finding local railroad maps/thinking about transit+maps in rural places
  • It was initially challenging just to wrap my head around how to convey these kind of abstract ideas behind SpaPo for my teen patrons. But once I started making my own projects it became much clearer. And anyways it was an enjoyable challenge!

Share your ideas for running the activity in your library/community

  • I’m hoping to combine passive programming and Take and Make kits.
  • Passive programming will hopefully be collaborative where patrons can add onto each other’s work
  • Take and Makes will hopefully be better suited for patrons who want create at home, and will include prompts/examples so hopefully they can continue making over extended period of time (vs in-library passive programming which will be more temporary).

Next steps / questions you have

  • Create my own guide with examples/remix of PLIX SpaPo zine
  • Figure out how to organize in-library passive. How to use the whiteboard/pull off some kind of exquisite corpse style collaboration.
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Rural & Tribal Library Toolkit | Remix Share-Out :cyclone:

Remix at a Glance
PLIX activity you are remixing: Spatial poetry
Give your remix a name (optional):
What remix strategy did you choose? Locally relevant remix
Why did you choose this remix strategy? How does it address a challenge or opportunity in your context? We’ve recently started a “tween” time after school on Wednesdays and I thought this would be an activity that would interest them.
Brief description of your remix: Spatial poetry is literally thinking outside the box. Use shapes and other designs to write poems or short stories.
Number of patrons this remix is designed for: 12
Number of facilitators needed: 2

Supply Kit

Material Quantity (per kit or person)
maps One per person
Graph paper A couple sheets per person
Tracing paper A couple sheets per person
Black markers 2
rulers 1
Colored pencils

Activity Prompts

Remix Activity Prompt
What prompt(s) did you use to frame the activity for your patrons? We printed city maps for them to trace over and write on. We printed examples for them to look at. We printed shapes for them to try and fill with poems or stories.
Did you create any example projects for this prompt? Please describe.
Also please share photos of your creations in the Example Showcase below! We used a map of our city and traced a path around town using landmarks.

Reflections on Remix Design and Facilitation

Reflections
What went well? What was challenging? We probably over thought this. We definitely googled ideas to help us understand spatial poetry.
What did you celebrate? One of the things we celebrated was kids using maps. These kids hadn’t used maps much in the past. Two boys used maps to find their houses then mapped how to get to each other’s homes. They live in two different towns. Our schools are a combination of three towns.
Which of the PLIX facilitation techniques did you use or think about while planning this remix activity, if any? We definitely used the map ideas.
Are there any activity-specific facilitation tips that you used with patrons? We repeatedly told our kids, there are no wrong answers. We are happy and excited with any things you come up with.
What advice would you give facilitators planning to do this remix at their libraries? Don’t overthink this. The kids did so much better and so much more than we thought they would. We had a back up plan to use the rest of the time if needed and we used the whole hour on this project.
Additional thoughts to share? Paper maps and magazines are foreign to kids these days. Using them for projects is a great idea.

Example Showcase



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Love how you used this Remix format. So clear and readable. And makes it easy to recreate!

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Rural & Tribal Library Toolkit | Remix Share-Out :cyclone:

Remix at a Glance
PLIX activity you are remixing: Spatial Poetry
Give your remix a name (optional):
What remix strategy did you choose? Take and Make/Passive programming
Why did you choose this remix strategy? How does it address a challenge or opportunity in your context? Because of the pandemic, our in-person programming has been limited and not very well attended. I’ve been offering Take and Makes for teens for a while and I’ve heard from teens that they appreciate them. I also know there are regular patrons who like to hangout in the branch and want something to do/make while they’re here. There are many times where I can’t be at the children’s/teen staff desk so by offering Take and Makes and passive programming, I’m able to offer the activity without needing to be physically present to facilitate.
Brief description of your remix: Use poetry to reimagine maps and the spaces in your life.
Number of patrons this remix is designed for: 20
Number of facilitators needed: 0

Supply Kit

Share the list of materials that you need for the remix. If your remix takes the form of a take and make kit, note what materials the kit contains. If your remix uses any additional materials / handouts (remixed zines, troubleshooting guides, slide decks, table tents, etc.) please share them here.

You can refer to the original supply kits here: PLIX Activities

Material Quantity (per kit or person)
Notebook (take and make only) 1
Graphite transfer paper/tracing paper 1
Grid paper 5
Markers/pens/pencils 1
Glue 1
Printed maps/examples 12
Remix of PLIX Zine with prompts/supply list 1

Activity Prompts

Complete this section if you changed the activity prompt or added a new prompt.

Remix Activity Prompt
What prompt(s) did you use to frame the activity for your patrons? Found Poem, Street Renaming, Fantasy Maps
Did you create any example projects for this prompt? Please describe. Also please share photos of your creations in the Example Showcase below! I made a Found Poem from street names and digitally collaged the poem with a map. I made a fantasy-map version of the floorplan of my library, using inkarnate.com. I made a Street Renaming “poem” by tracing streets of Sparta and renaming some for Missouri musicians. I made a couple other examples along the way, which weren’t directly related to these prompts but helped me figure out some ideas.

Running Your Remix over Multiple Sessions

Complete this section if you are running multiple sessions or doing an Extended Interaction Plan Remix.

Session Prompt General Notes
1 Found Poem
2 Street Renaming
3 Fantasy Maps

Reflections on Remix Design and Facilitation

Complete this section after running the activity.

Reflections
What went well? What was challenging? It was a little challenging for me to pare down my ideas into a concise activity. I definitely made things a little complicated by pursuing the Take and Makes and in-person passive at the same time (I think this might have confused patrons a little). I think when I was at the desk and could explain things/talk up the project in an exciting way, patrons were more likely to grab a kit or participate. Most of the teens I talked to were really interested and happy to try it out. I really encouraged teens to bring back anything they made to share with me, because I didn’t have another good mechanism to see their work.
What did you celebrate? I celebrated patrons noticing connections between Spatial Poetry and subjects they’re passionate about- especially local history, creative writing, and visual art.
Which of the PLIX facilitation techniques did you use or think about while planning this remix activity, if any? While I was planning this activity, the facilitation techniques I had most on my mind were “Frame activities to encourage creative possibilities,” “Curate a set of diverse example projects,” and “Celebrate the learning process.” I tried to carefully create examples that were inspiring but opened up wider possibilities.
Are there any activity-specific facilitation tips that you used with patrons? In the language I used in my zine remix and in talking to patrons, I tried to highlight the process of close looking (at maps/place names) and the value of each patron’s unique perspective.
What advice would you give facilitators planning to do this remix at their libraries? Making lots of different examples that connect with various aspects of your community is a good idea, and I’d recommend having a variety of map sources. This project was really enjoyable for me to work on and I think my kind of silly excitement helped encourage patrons to participate, so definitely find a way to implement this that is most exciting to you!

Example Showcase

Please share photos of example projects and creations that you and your patrons made (drop them in the area below!)

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@joem Thank you Joe for such a fantastic remix share-out. Your enthusiasm for your remix is so infectious! I’m thrilled to hear your patrons connected it to things they’re passionate about :partying_face:

Could you share some of your strategies (successful and unsuccessful!) for getting the teens to bring back and share what they’ve made? It seems to be a challenge for take-and-makes in general.

@joem Thank you for the extra resources. A lot of thought and time went into your project.

Wow amazing! I love all the outcomes. Your zine remix is stellar and I will surely make use of it when we do some more spatial poetry in the coming National Poetry month. I really love the idea of renaming streets based on your favorite topic or activity. What a great way to get patrons to tell about themselves, tell the story of your community. Telling our community’s story and our library story is part of the mission of the Long Beach Public Library, so this world on so many levels. Bravo.

Rural & Tribal Library Toolkit | Remix Share-Out :cyclone:

Remix at a Glance
PLIX activity you are remixing: Spatial Poetry
Give your remix a name (optional): Walking & Remembrance
What remix strategy did you choose? extended interaction
Why did you choose this remix strategy? How does it address a challenge or opportunity in your context? When it comes to working with creative writing, I believe that in order for participants to get the most out of the program (via creative collaboration), the extended interaction model best suits the encouragement of community-building in spaces that participants could learn a lot from, not just from the program itself but also from all the other services our libraries provide. This could include further reading, exploration into art-house cinema—through Kanopy.com, a streaming service we provide to our patrons—as well as independent research on computers.
Brief description of your remix: I chose to remix the Walk Poem prompt, which asks writers to go on a walk, take notes of their environment, and then write a poem about the things they saw. In addition to the original prompt, I decided to incorporate the theme of remembrance or memory. Places hold so many memories, and places can be a gateway for accessing our own histories. As such, I encouraged participants in this test-remix to try to use their surroundings as avenues into their psyche, with literal places as points of departure into their past.
Number of patrons this remix is designed for: 4-8. Small groups are ideal for workshop-like environments
Number of facilitators needed: At least 1, but 2 or 3 could be ideal, especially if participants have many questions and would like to discuss their creative process one-to-one.

Supply Kit

Material Quantity (per kit or person)
A short packet of printed poems about walking

(there are articles online with helpful resources, such as this one: 10 of the Best Poems about Walking – Interesting Literature)|1 packet per person|
|Notebooks|1 per person|
|Pens and/or pencils

(pedagogically speaking, there is something about the pen that suggests determination (insofar as it is more permanent than a pencil) and so I prefer to use a pen. However, participants may feel more comfortable with pencils.)|2 pens (or pencils) per person

Activity Prompts

Complete this section if you changed the activity prompt or added a new prompt.

Remix Activity Prompt
What prompt(s) did you use to frame the activity for your patrons? The Walk Poem Prompt

(Spatial Poetry)|

Running Your Remix over Multiple Sessions

Session Prompt General Notes
1 Walk Poem Prompt: Take a walk around your area and write down notable places and street names that you see. Write a poem incorporating these words, in the order you saw them on your walk.

Take a walk around your area and write down place names that interest you. It might be helpful to try to write down names that revolve around a theme, such as proper names, nature names, non-English language names, patriotic names, etc.

When you get home, look up the origin stories of a few of these place names. Take a moment and think about all the language you just saw in your area, and what it meant to you. Do these names make you feel included or excluded? Do you see yourself reflected in these names? How do these names contrast or compare to what you saw or felt or heard on your walk?

Write a poem that incorporates each of the words you wrote down in the order that you saw them. Your poem could narrate the process of your walk or be completely unrelated to your walk. Either way, use the poem to reflect on what it feels like for you to live among these names.|The first session would be to introduce the prompt to participants and provide them with example responses to the prompt, as well as to answer any questions they may have|

|2|1st draft|Here, during the second meeting, everyone would bring back their first draft of their walk poems and, if the group is large enough, we could split into groups of two, with each person reading their drafts to one another. Afterwards, we could have people volunteer to read their partner’s poem, unless the poet would like to read their own work. We could ask the poet what things they like or want to change about their poem. Here other people’s input could be useful as well, beginning with compliments and then moving into a more critical conversation of what could work better in the poem (that is, of course, if the writer wants this kind of feedback; one could run this program without critical feedback, only focusing on the positives).

From here, we could all take turns with workshopping each poem.|

|3|2nd draft|After hearing everyone’s feedback, writers would return with a second draft of their poem, ideally having responded to what they heard they could improve upon. This would be a time to mainly show off one’s edits and the poem in its final form|

Reflections on Remix Design and Facilitation

Reflections
What went well? What was challenging? In first pitching the idea to schools in terms of writing clubs, one of the challenges I faced was the infrastructural organization of said clubs. With spring around the corner, schools were hesitant to undertake such a big project all at once, and preferred to have the library come into the school and build a relationship with the students throughout the spring before pitching the idea of a writing club to them in the fall. In the end, this obstacles was more of a blessing insofar as we will surely be able to garner more interest in these clubs with all the outreach myself and other librarians are doing with the schools.
What did you celebrate? As part of this outreach, a colleague and I hosted a raffle for one of the schools, and as such we celebrated students who finished their assigned work on time. Raffle prizes included book bundles, candy, and a Kindle Paperwhite!
Which of the PLIX facilitation techniques did you use or think about while planning this remix activity, if any? Since this is an extended remix, the idea of celebrating process as well as product is very important to me. I would like participants to appreciate the learning curve when it comes to creative writing, which is why it is crucial to create a communal and friendly environment in which people come together to learn and grow as a group.

Example Showcase

Untitled by Ken Tomaro

I remember the creek in the park

and the tree with a funny bend in it

we sat on often

I remember

what the principal’s office looked like,

the smell of cigarette smoke hanging in the air

the fort in the woods with big hairy spiders and magazines with naked women

the big green car

the water running through the pipes

Ghoulardi and the Saturday night movie

I fought like hell to stay awake for

the awful Sunday mornings at church

the cowlick in my hair

I remember…

ah, well, I guess some things

even Pepperidge Farms doesn’t remember

Pranayama by Robert Allen

When I walk I count my breath:

In and out and hold. Let go.

In and out and hold. Let go.

Death held tautly on my tongue.

Breathe to fullness.

Release to flow.

Edges are blurred, or walk away

like lazy cattle. Let go.

I walk past

what once was

a restaurant with

full size golden

figures outfront slyly moving

a hip toward the dance.

I could live there with those golden

dancers, swaying in pantomime.

My whole life would be a menu.

It would smell

of soup and noodles

and burn like

scotch bonnets.

I walk on, a library,

some barren tracks,

someone’s tattered American flag,

an auto parts store,

a coffee place, a bagel place,

a trailer park, just waiting

for something to happen.

And it’s me.

It’s so Nice Here by Jessie Peitsch:

When I walk over Burrard and

look at the mountains and

see snow at the ski resorts

I think how can there still be

snow at this time of year and

then I remember there are

machines that whir all winter

to make it happen for us

I wonder if people

come to Vancouver and

expect Canada

champagne powder and

grizzlies we are all talking

about Lululemon and

Yaletown 2 bed 2 bath

on sale for 1.6 mil

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