National Poetry Month — An Unexpected Poetry Idea

Every once in a while, maybe more often if you’re lucky, you get a comment that sparks the imagination.  I got one of those today from Rick Daddario of A 19 Plants Art Blog 2010/2012.

Below is the comment in its entirety.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


aloha Yousei Hime – there is a tree here called a Signature Tree. the leaves are thick and stiff and a dark semigloss green, they range from an inch square (a miniature tree) to a couple of flat hands in size (full-grown large tree).

a scratch in this leaf produces a very white (to white-yellow) line. so it’s easy to write your name on the leaf. or anything else. the leaves are renewable – in fact if you pick one, the tree produces more clusters.

these leaves can be dried – or press dried so they are flat (tucked in thick old telephone books will work reasonably well). then they become beautiful shades of tea and coffee browns. the lines when dried however may or may not stand out as well as when they are green (i’ve never quite figured out how to ensure the contrast).

so.. one of the things i like to do is yes, write poems on a leaf now and then. sometimes i save them. sometimes i simply write it (and may be draw on it too) and let it go, to tumble around along the ground and maybe find a place with someone who discovers it.

not all places have this kind of tree or leaf. …although i think some slight variations might work – like ink on a paper dry flattened leaf. still… as part of NPM… may be i will see if i can write and release a few of these leaves with a poem on it…

leaves tumble
along the ground
I find a poem


leaves tumble
along the ground
I find haiku


Rick added to the fun at his own site, so follow this link for more leaves and poetry.

About T A Smith

Just one of the literacy scholars on this site who wants to explore writing in all its complexities.
This entry was posted in Favorite Poems by Others, Haiku, Interesting Blogs, Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to National Poetry Month — An Unexpected Poetry Idea

  1. Poetry Tree!!! So very cool, Yousei!! I’m glad you shared this! I hope you had a great poetry month. Smiles to you!

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Isn’t it great. I think this is one of my all-time favorite posts. I did have a good month, though I sputtered out at the end. Thank you so much for coming by and sharing. Smiles and beautiful words to you.

  2. yoga-adan says:

    what a great idea, write on the leaves and let them leaf away 😉 nice 😉

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Very happy you could share in this post. I have enjoyed it as much as any on my blog. It appeals to the poet in us all, doesn’t it? Happy end of the month of poetry to you. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Haibun ~ Leaf Writer and Alternate Poetic Grounds « A 19 Planets Art Blog 2010/2012

  4. Raven says:

    This was shear joy! A real treat.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Isn’t it great. Makes you want to grab a leaf (or something natural) and write a poem. Rick stirred up all kinds of ideas. I’m sure we’ll cook up something from them.

  5. Shawna says:

    I love this post. And I want to hold and release some of those leaves.

  6. margo roby says:

    Love both the idea and the comments following. I am leaving the tab open to come back and read the discussion properly.

  7. James Dunn says:

    Great post, and thanks for sharing!

  8. Fergiemoto says:

    Wow, that’s really a cool idea! I love the images and haiku written on the leaves! Very creative!

  9. brian miller says:

    this is really cool…and glad to have seen this…

    i was looking for a rubaiyat as you linked in for form today….

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Sorry about that. I’m glad you liked it though. I’d enjoyed the post and all its comments so much, I just wanted to share it. Maybe I can work up a rubaiyat today.

  10. Great post, and thanks for sharing! I wonder what other types of trees, especially up north, can be used for this?

  11. claudia says:

    very cool…kind of a poe-tree….leaping leaves laughing in the night…ha…i like

  12. leahJlynn says:

    How wonderfully creative he is, thank you for sharing his special talent and inspiration with us

    • Yousei Hime says:

      You’re quite welcome. Rick’s ideas just keep snowballing. We’ll all be making snowmen with our poetry. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  13. angie werren says:

    oh, rick — now I see what you’ve been up to! 😉

    this reminds me of messages my kids used to write on dollars (probably illegal, but…) each person who got the dollar would add to the message. and another thing they did in school, with ‘flat stanley’ — sending him around the world taking his photo. maybe we could start a ‘poem stanley…’


    • Yousei Hime says:

      I think it would be amazing to send a poem or a few around the world and then see where all they went.

      • angie werren says:

        oh, can you imagine one piece of paper — each person adds a single word — sent all around the world? hhhmmm…

        • Yousei Hime says:

          Tempting isn’t it? Remember those steamer trunks that had all the stickers on them from around the world? That image immediately sprang to mind when reading the idea.

    • bwahahaha – aloha Angie and Yousei Hime – you two belong in mail art groups. i like the idea of chaining haiku.

      one person starts with their haiku. sends it to the next person. the last line of the previous haiku becomes the first line for the next haiku. you can ask that after the 5th or 12th (or what ever number you want) haiku is written that it be sent back to the person who started it. then all the haiku could be posted on a blog post.

      this could be done in a small booklet form as well with one ku to a page. a hand made book.

      if you requested “players” via a call. you could have a set number of players who would each start one book. and follow a specific path of players – the way they signed up. when all the books went round each player would have a unique book with a different haiku from each player. with a small number of players – may be 3 to 6 you could go around twice.

      yeah. fun ideas. this is very much like some of the round robins in mail art circles.


      • Yousei Hime says:

        I want to do them all. Too many choices. I love the handmade booklet-passed-around idea. I can just imagine getting the next one, reading it over and thinking, “Dang, I wish I’d written that one.” Of course, I already do that reading blogs. 😉

        • aloha Yousei Hime – yeah, that is exactly the spirit behind round robins – and mail art/artists in general. Mail Art has people from all areas – meaning there are writers as well as any other field you can imagine who play in these calls. it’s good to do this within a Mail Art community – or with close people you know (imo especially to start with to get a feel for it) …at least until you get the flavor and range of what transpires. no swap or round robin etc. is ever quite the same and they rarely go exactly as planned – which is also part of what makes it fun – it’s always a surprise when you go to your (snail) mailbox. it looks to me like you have a community of people you interact with right here, if you want to try within that group some swaps or “booklets” i think you’d have fun. if you want to explore an idea, i’d be glad to help. it takes committed people to make it work – and from there on it’s fun. aloha.

          • Yousei Hime says:

            You’re going to talk me into it, I can just tell. 😉 Maybe closer to summer. Life is a bit less hectic then.

            • bwahahahaha – sure. we can talk about options and possibilities as summer approaches. less hectic? is that an option? ha. i have some thoughts but we’ll see. btw. i liked your Moon Viewing Party one line haiku a lot. fun. and also, today (i was off island) i found some signature trees where i was able to pluck a couple of leaves. i dont know if i’ll be able to get to them in time. i’ll have to see on that too. ha. less hectic life. fun on. aloha.

            • Yousei Hime says:

              Well, you’re right about less hectic. I guess it’s just a different kind. My youngest won’t be in school, (God, I hope he won’t then) so I won’t have the stress associated with him doing/not doing his schoolwork. Shall we revisit it mid-June?

  14. CiCi says:

    This is a great idea. I have not seen anything here yet with leaves that I could scratch words on but if I ever do, I will jump at the chance to write a poem on the spur of the moment. I do like to press leaves and flowers in old telephone books and have been doing that for over forty years. My brother recently cleaned out our mother’s apartment when she moved to an assisted living facility. My brother mailed boxes of things to me from the apartment that mom thought I would want. Among the items was a frame with pressed flowers I made for her many years ago and she still had it.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I’m so glad you visited and shared this. As I mentioned to Rick, this post is fast becoming a top favorite. I think it brings back our youthful imagination, finding and discovering cool things and treasuring them. How wonderful that your mother still had the frame you made for her. I love pressed flowers, but haven’t organized my life enough to get into it. I’d really like to make stationery with pressed flowers, but that is even further off. How wonderful to make a journal of pages self created. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

      • cool treasure CiCi and Yousei Hime. i hope you dont mind me reponding here.

        in high school i made a great flower press – it was fun. it was also required as part of a biology course where we studied local flora – roots, stems, leaves and all. i’ve since learned that telephone book system and use it now almost exclusively. i’ve found some ways to use seaweed and flowers that may be fun too:

        – small blossoms or bits of seaweed etc. pressed in the telephone book.
        – then using a lamination device (you can get these in almost any price range – but i’d get one of the better ones if you plan to do this often – may be a “hot or cold” lamination system even. laminate the blossom/seaweed in a bookmark shape.
        – punch a hole
        – add a tassel, ribbon or raffia

        or- alternately –

        – place the blossom/seaweed on nice paper that is a bookmark shape and where you have written haiku (i’d use permanent ink for this). the ku can be on the side with the blossom or the reverse side – or both – of course you can draw on the paper too. i like to use good watercolor paper (all rag) as it will hold it’s crisp whiteness better. a light weight paper works fine – 90 lb. maximum – but then experimenting is always fun. may be rice paper…???
        – then laminate that

        i’ve also used this process with other objects and worked them into ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) and then swapped them in Mail Art Communities – some with haiku as the focus etc.

        fun again. aloha.


        • Yousei Hime says:

          It sounds great. I’m just such an indifferent housekeeper it doesn’t make sense to add to the congestion. Still…I have a record of your advice now, so I’ll keep it on the mental back-burner.

  15. oh. great image Yousei Hime – yes. that is the tree. yes, again – lots of great ideas coming in this thread. way cool.

    i’ve taken some shots of the leaves on my miniature leaf signature tree – i plucked a couple of leaves too – something i had not done in quite some time. plucking a leaf just allows the tree to grow more leaf clusters. that makes for a fuller tree eventually – it’s a process often used with bonsai – especially with some evergreens.

    i’ve tried a poem on the small leaves i plucked. these leaves do not work as well as the full size trees – and they are quite small. this tree is related to the larger leaf tree but this tree even full grown which i suspect can get quite big will always have the smaller leaves. …which for me works both for bonsai and because i do not have the space for the larger leaf tree. i know where there are some larger leaf trees – a few miles away. i will see if i can walk that way on one of my walks and collect a few before the end of the month.

    i’ll see if i can send something visual soon – or by tomorrow…???.

    there are major issues in Hawaii about bringing plant material in and possibly sending out too. so i’m not sure if i can really do that. i’ll have to look into it a bit more…

    i really like the bark writing idea by justanotherwakeupcall. tapa cloth is also a bark fabric – but it takes a process that the eucalyptus tree bark (as i understand it being used here) and the signature tree leaves do not have to go through. i’ve seen some eucalyptus tree peeling bark here that comes off in long strips. some of that kind of tree is very colorful too. i dont have one that i know of near me – but i occasionally do find them in my out and about modes…

    the paper made from mulberry trees is also a beautiful paper and not prone to the acidic problems of most woods. it is also a renewable resource as it does not destroy the tree when it is harvested. i’ve often wanted to explore that bark in a raw form.

    i also especially like the young melon poetry idea by KC – wow that would make a great ground because you’d have access to more space.

    wow – great post and response. way cool. aloha. and fun on.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Isn’t it fun. 😀 I realized you probably wouldn’t be able to ship out leaves, but I couldn’t resist indulging in a little imagination and wishful thinking. I wonder if we’ll come up with more possibilities. I know I saw a rock that had been scratched up by horseshoes (on a riding path). It would have to be a good sized rock, and it would be more on the ephemeral side. It would take some strength to scratch a poem on it though. Ideas, ideas, ideas. 🙂

      • yeah. i like that idea. you know tho… they have lazers that cut into rocks. they used to, or may be they still do sell these… a single word on a rock. i think i was given one once.. or may be a couple. still… i’m sure they do longer writings that way too. i think the personal hand written image is more pleasing tho. …even if it takes longer. ha. yes. fun. aloha.

        • Yousei Hime says:

          Laser definitely sounds easier and more convenient, but I’m with you…I like the hand scratched idea better–more of a physical connection to the poem and medium.

          • aloha Yousei Hime – i have some leaf images ready. i’m not sure quite where to send them. of course you do not have to use them… if you send an email to 19 planets at gmail dot com (all lower case, no spaces and symbols and dots where appropriate) i can send the images in a reply. i havnt offloaded the photos i took yesterday. that may have to wait for a day or two. i had fun reworking and creating new works out of the old leaves. fun on. aloha.

            • Yousei Hime says:

              Thank you, thank you. This post has been so fruitful and fun. I’ve sent the email. Take the time you need. I’ll add the photos as I get them. This is definitely one of my favorite posts.

            • aloha Yousei Hime. i’ve attempted to send the photos. if some arrive, you’ll see my challenge. if they arrive no problem tho and cool. fun on poetry on. aloha.

            • Yousei Hime says:

              Got them, love them, added them. Hope more people come by to see. 😀

  16. ManicDdaily says:

    Very cool! You hate to pick the leaves though it’s a great kind of graffitti! Crazy. k.

  17. Roxie says:

    So cool! Rick’s one creative guy, an inspiration – awesome ideas! Amazing talent, can’t wait to see where you take this 😉

  18. poetry leaves! fascinating idea.. I sometimes like to write mine on barks of the eucalyptus tree… They shed this thin almost flat beautifully edged “bark skin”. Writing on this with a micro-tip ink pen looks beautiful. Can be hung on a wall like a picture frame. Would love to try the leaves. Rick, If you do start the business, make sure you ship to India! 🙂

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Just think, you do bark, Rick will do leaves…we’ll have poetry flying all over the world. 😉

      • your comment created an image in my mind of fleet of poetry filled scrolls flying across the sky, ready to drop into peoples beds just as they wake up aka harry potter style! beautiful image 🙂

        • Yousei Hime says:

          Seems this is a fruitful concept. We’re all enjoying it. 🙂

        • bwahahahaha, aloha justanotherwakeupcall – yes. one way around the government ban on export/import of flora and related materials would be simply to release our work into the wind. i have no doubt they would travel the planet. far or near.

          on a related note:
          some alternate mail art projects attempt to mail – or transport – work with the help of people around the planet. it works something like this:

          With the Help of Strangers:

          – create your work, message, haiga, haiku, verse etc.
          – place it in an envelope with the address of where it is going. you do not have to add a name – you might want to add initials tho.
          – on the other side of the envelope you place an explanation and a request – it goes something like this:

          Requesting the Help of Strangers –
          Please help in moving this envelope along the way to it’s destination. If you can move the envelope some place closer to the destination, please do so. then leave it safely where someone else can find it, and so that someone who finds it there can help move it further toward it’s destination. thank you.

          you can embellish that of course. you can attempt this in the town/city where you live or across the planet. …which would probably require the envelope to travel by plane or boat in some case. you can reuse envelopes that have a window in them, so that people can see a bit of what is inside. or us a new envelope either way.

          you can also establish a web site or blog post and include a URL so that people who spot the envelope or help in the transportation can connect up and share their part of the journey in story or even pictures. be sure to add this URL on the envelope and let people know what it is about that way too. you can start the blog post – if that is what you use for the URL, with photos of the envelope (front and back if you’d like) and/or even what is in side. inside the envelope you can ask the recipient to log on to your site and let you know when it arrives.

          you might let your recipient know you are sending the envelope this way so that it is not a surprise arrival given today’s world. . .

          this is not a new idea. in fact it has been done – or variations of it – by a number of people.

          yes, sometimes the envelope disappears – maybe weather ate it. maybe someone got very curious and kept it. maybe it got blown away or tossed in a garbage pile. it’s fun to wonder about that. and… …still, sometimes it does arrive – and wow – that is way fun too.

          fun and poetry – and sometimes… poetry in motion too – on. aloha.


          • Yousei Hime says:

            I hadn’t heard of that. Another fascinating idea. I love that…poetry in motion. You know, that’s really closer to how things were done before mail systems. I like that aspect too.

          • rick, what a fascinating fascinating idea! would love to give this a try. so now I have this image of brightly coloured envelopes doing the rounds on buses, trams, trains, boats and carts! i love snail mail, as todays kids would call it. There is something about an envelope in your letterbox, that a mail in the inbox just cant match 🙂

            • Yousei Hime says:

              Rick just keeps them coming. My poetry fingers are itching and my brain is about to explode from overload. 😉 I agree with you about mail in the box. Nothing beats the physical connection to the written word.

            • aloha justanotherwakeupcall – go for it (imo). think it out a bit and give it a try. the return on this kind of project may take a while – however when you do get one to succeed – wow.

              you can start close – may be a friend or neighbor down the street – or in a nearby community. remember Anything can happen – but what ever happens, That is what it is about. and that “what ever happens” also brings about story. …which is also part of what this kind of a project is about (imo again).

              you might want to think about documenting a project like this too – simply take photos of what you do. you can even share that on your blog as well. fun on. aloha.

              oh. just in case you are interested… here is my blog before i had a blog on WP. there is a lot more about my Mail Art work on this blog (altho i dont think there is a blog specifically about this kind of project):


              if you want some mail art community suggestions, let me know. there are writers in these communities… there are people from almost any field – that too is what makes mail art fun (imo). aloha and poetry on.


            • Thanks so much rick! will check out your blog and think hard about this project:) Will definitely try something! and will keep you posted about the trials! 🙂 thanks again

  19. KC says:

    SoCal has a few like that…citrus trees tend to have nice thick glossy leaves. I remember making boats out of them, pierced by twigs at each end and decorated along the green sides, floating away down a “river” (read drainage ditch) to the sea. I was an easily amused child. Heck, I’m an easily amused “adult”. For instance, I still play Pooh-sticks. 😉

    It made me think, though. Did you know that you can write/scratch something on the side of an immature melon/pumpkin/etc and it will heal and grow with it? I wonder what it’d be like to make a poem on one, and have someone be surprised by it later… 😛

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Oh! Another cool idea. If we have any success growing pumpkins this year, I’ll try that. If I make it to my mom’s this summer, I’m going to try magnolia leaves.

  20. What a beautiful idea.


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