Preparing for Poetry

An exciting chapter is opening in my life.  I am scheduled to facilitate a workshop-style course with ElderCollege in the Comox Valley of beautiful British Columbia.  All things being considered, this is a great time for me to reflect on how I view poetry as a medium of communication.

As children, we learn about the five senses – we hear, see, smell, touch, and taste.  Poetry captures the essence of these senses and brings them into distinct, clear focus. Not all at once. Each of our senses is a vehicle to expression and each of us communicates uniquely, in our own way, through our own understanding of life events.

This is illustrated in the story of Helen Keller who was unable to communicate after a childhood illness left her deaf and blind.  The year was 1882, and Helen’s inability to communicate literally nearly drove her mad; her inability to be understood turned her into an unruly, undisciplined child.  Finally, her teacher Anne Sullivan, placed Helen’s hands under running water and simultaneously wrote “W, A, T, E, R” on her palm, creating for Helen a connection between the object (water) and its definition. While Helen could not see or hear, Anne Sullivan’s teaching enabled her to communicate through her sense of touch. Like a light switch illuminates a dark room.

For me, this story, this connection between awareness and sensitivity, is poetry. My objective is to have us accentuate our individual senses in order to communicate through poetry. What is the language we use?  We could say the language is poetry.

Cecilia Cutler (Hutchinson)                                                                        September 2017


Abecedarians (Form Study)

This post is very interesting and definitely worth sharing with other writers.  It is copied from

Let’s explore abecedarians. Don’t try writing these unless you’re prepared to write them non-stop. They truly do get into your blood. Brief info below.

(Remember to supplement this initial post with examples, more info on the form, and discussion or analysis. Let’s share our findings.)

Abecedarians make use of all letters of the alphabet.

The most familiar abecedarian sentences are:

1. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
2. Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.

(every letter of the alphabet is used, but not in order)

Abecedarian Info & Examples
Related to acrostic, a poem in which the first letter of each line or stanza follows sequentially through the alphabet. See Jessica Greenbaum, “A Poem for S.” Tom Disch’s “Abecedary” adapts the principles of an abecedarian poem, while Matthea Harvey’s “The Future of Terror/The Terror of Future” sequence also uses the alphabet as an organizing principle. Poets who have used the abecedarian across whole collections include Mary Jo Bang, in The Bride of E, and Harryette Mullen, in Sleeping with the Dictionary.

Some use an “a to z” strategy and some use a “z to a” strategy (the latter type use all letters of the alphabet, starting with the last one and ending with the first one).