Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.





As a final project for a Masters class, I am exploring learning in diverse settings from March 1-14, 2015, and I invite you to be part of my exploration!  

We find ourselves here in a mutual setting on this blog, but  our words begin their journeys from points all over the globe.  Share the journey! Please contribute your blog links,  your poem, your video link, and/or comments about the topics, and your responses and queries to the poetry shared by others  in the comment section below.  

Welcome!  Stay a while!  Let’s chat about poetry and its place, our place, other places.  

Let’s see what fascinating folks we meet, and see where our journey leads.


March 1: A poem of place.

Please share details about your physical environment to demonstrate our diversity and how we come together through our poetry!

Here’s my offering, as I write from my desk, facing a dark living room window surrounded by hills I can’t see:

The monitor is the only light

dark room, furniture shadows,

darkness beyond the windows.

I am blind to everything but the words

flowing onto the screen

My small space, sending visions

to the world from a small wooden desk,

on a hillside

by a lake

in British Columbia,



March 3: Philosophy of Place

Does your moral/political/social/educational philosophy come from your sense of place (your birth place? a special place of change? your current place?)  How does setting impact your philosophy?

My offering reflects the philosophy behind my desire to become an exchange student and led me to a transformative year in Finland:

Where I grew up

all the faces were variations of my own

Snow White, Cinderella,

assorted Prince Charmings


My experiences with other cultures were

Princess Tiger Lily, Little Black Sambo, 

Emperor’s Nightingale.

But somehow I knew the world was bigger

and I wanted to wrap my tongue

around other languages

entwine new vowels

between rhythmic syllables and 

see inside minds that

offered something


Offered something 


Offered something

not better

not worse

just different

Because different is worth noticing

because different means to the same end

speak to a journey with different views

a different beauty

a different way

of being human,

offers something



Please share your poetry or observations about the challenges and/or joys of sharing a space with others.  Here is my contribution:

I am offended by this object.

In my messy,

but perfectly coordinated, kitchen

you have filled the clear soap dispenser

with acid yellow dish detergent,

instead of clear or white

as is the aesthetic choice.

It glares at me:

caution colour

screaming incongruity.

It hurts my eyes;

it seers my sensibility.

But you are proud

of your helpfulness,

and this is your house, too.

Perhaps if I squint,

it will be invisible?

March 11 – Dream place or dreaming place?

Please contribute links (or type it here) to your poem about your dream place- be it literal or figurative.  My ex-sister-in-law was struggling to design their new house, but had a dream that revealed the elusive floor plan.    My poem revisits a recurring dream of my youth:

I leapt from the ottoman and flew

encircling the living room ceiling

and wished for you.

I flew through secret tunnels connecting

French Provincial furniture and

searched for you.

I dropped onto the ottoman,

climbed down to the floor

I dreamed of you

some more.



This project is now complete.  

Thanks to

Beth Wesson,

Charlie Mann,



Mark Schutter

and Shawn Davis Kawalya

for your participation.  


You may read the final essay on the project here:





  2. Charlie Mann Says:

    A while back, a friend of mine was studying place in literature at college, and I wrote this at the time. Hope it helps.

    • Thank you, Charlie! I particularly like the stanza

      Beneath the white sheets
      that I mark with
      flames from a golden dragon
      held on the left, or the right,

      It’s extremely evocative and provokes all sorts of musings about the dragon, marking, and sheets!
      Can you share where you’re writing from? Are you in Europe? Asia? North America?

      My next prompt will deal with philosophy, and I hope you’ll share a little of your personal ‘communist manifesto’ and how poetry is part of your journey.

      • Charlie Mann Says:

        Northern Europe here, more specifically London.
        Location is a pretty great topic to write about I find.
        I’ll have to get taking notes for the next one.

      • London is such an amazing city. So busy and such a historical legacy (all those VR insignia on mailboxes and drain pipes)! I had a profound ‘live poetry’ moment when were there last (March 2012). We were in a train station (King’s Cross?) and part of that swarm of determined ants moving from the trains and then flowing out doors, everyone so purposeful and intent on their line of travel. We (burdened with cases and completely unsure where we were going) were an irritation to the masses who swarmed passed us with grunts or sighs! I made my husband go up a level, so we could look down and watch. That’s when I saw them as ants, rushing from the ant hill, heading off to do ant hill business. So amazing.

      • Charlie Mann Says:

        London is pretty great, but I’ve always thought of us as some kind of rodent, maybe rats, if I’m honest. We disappear into holes in the ground, pop up somewhere else to get the necessary supplies (be it work or shopping or so on), then we disappear back down the holes to head back to our nests. We’re also pretty intelligent.
        Although we’re pretty terrible to tourists, I can’t deny that. My apologies.

      • lol I didn’t find anyone particularly horrible to us as tourists. The Rotary Club I visited was very friendly, our innkeepers were delightful. Things are certainly expensive though. Our dollar is roughly half a pound, and we found everything cost the same in pounds, meaning it was actually double the price we paid. We wonder if the wages follow the same pattern?

      • Charlie Mann Says:

        I looked it up and our minimum wage clocks in at about $2.25 per hour more than you’d get in British Columbia. However, London is generally pretty expensive for everything – especially rent. You can pay pretty close to $2,000 a month for a decent flat for one person.
        Returning to the topic of place and philosophy, a few months back I wrote something quite similar to your poem about Finland. It’s quite a bit darker and about an industrial port city on the south coast called Portsmouth, but nonetheless drawing on a transformation in place and thought.

      • Yikes. My son is paying $1000 for a studio apartment in Vancouver and we think that’s insane.

        Thanks for the Portsmouth poem!

      • Charlie Mann Says:

        Only a grand? I’m turning green.

      • Where we are, that will get you a 2000 sq ft house!

      • Charlie Mann Says:

        Seriously? That’s amazing. I should emigrate.

      • lol Many do!

        This is where I live: It’s pretty amazing. 🙂 Average house price is something like $300,000 Cdn around here.

      • Charlie Mann Says:

        It certainly looks pretty amazing. Just a shame I’m tied to Britain at the moment really. 🙂

      • Sometimes I really like ties to a place, though other times, they can become strangle-holds.
        I don’t have wanderlust, per se, but I would love to have year or two jaunts to interesting places, staying long enough to really know them. I would love, for example, to stay in Gloucester for a few months around Gretton, Winchcombe, Bishops Cleeve where my grandmother’s family came from. I’d also like to spend time around Holyhead where my grandfather’s mother came from. My mom’s father’s family was from Prussia, it might be interesting to see whether I could explore Poland a bit. I wonder if there is an ancestral sense of ‘home’ when one visits places where generations of family lived?

      • Charlie Mann Says:

        Eventually I’ll break the chains and end up disappearing East perhaps.
        I think that people do want to get a feel for who they are, and part of that probably leads a lot of us to go looking to find the places where they lived. This is especially true of people who live in the “New World”, I think, because of the scale of the displacement.
        This may just be me extrapolating from my experience, mind.

      • ‘Scale of the displacement’ strikes me as being rather profound.

        I’ve been reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon for a few years (soon coming to a UK TV screen near you). This time travel (and so much more!) story takes a WW2 nurse back to pre-Culloden Scotland to start, and ends up with those displaced Highlanders in North Carolina, USA. I picked up a book called “How the Scots Invented Canada” because I started to realize that with incredible industry that very down-trodden group embraced the opportunities of the New World. The concept that the Scottish settlers’ deep distrust of the English post-Culloden and Highland Clearances contributed significantly to the American Revolution was mind-boggling. Despite the success of the emigrants, is there an ancestral pull to the land of their elders? It definitely seems so!

      • Charlie Mann Says:

        I had a crack at writing something for ‘sharing spaces’. It’s a bit dark, and I could blame that on my excessive consumption of Sylvia Plath, but really it’s just me. Anyway, hope it’s helpful.

      • Thanks, Charlie!

      • Charlie Mann Says:

        Finally caught up with your project; here’s one about my favourite place, Berlin.

      • Super! Thanks. I’ll check it out this evening!

    • Thank you Beth for sharing an absolutely beautiful place with us! (Where is it exactly? North America? England?) How long have you dreamed of this special lakeside writing place? Is there a story about how you came to find it?

      • bethwesson Says:

        All my favorite childhood memories are of time spent on or near water. I always thought the folks who had homes on our local lake were the luckiest people in the world. You never had to leave! 16 years ago we moved to the foothills of Appalachia in Ohio. Everyday I drove by this lake on my way to work. I finally asked my husband what we were waiting for? We ended up buying a cottage on the lake. My backyard has a dock and my grandchildren are now the ones making memories if good times on the water and I’m the luckiest person in the world!

      • That’s a lovely story. 🙂 I live in a lakeside community and drive above the lake every day going to work. Such a beautiful drive! We had a lakeside house for a year, but the spiders and geese drove DH to buy away from the lake!

      • bethwesson Says:

        LOL! We have both of those issues as well! Ground moles are driving us nuts too!

      • DH is severely arachnaphobic, so it was a problem!

    • Thanks for participating in this project, Mark. This is such a lovely image: father and daughter writing together, sharing a table in reality, with stories unravelling in imagination!

      Perhaps your daughter would like to contribute a place poem for us, too! I’d love to hear from her with this, or one of the future prompts.

  3. Shawn sends his link via Twitter. Thanks for contributing to the project! The metaphor of ink as blood is lovely. Your connection of poetry to the body makes the poem very immediate, and it is an interesting perspective (and a powerful one!) to make the body a place!. I know you’re writing from Uganda. How does that place impact your poetry? What rhythms in your words move with the rhythm of your land?

  4. ericlv2 Says:

    I am honored to put this link here- I hope it adds to the conversation! I comes from a place of imagination, memory, and empathy…

  5. I would to participate! I’ll post something tomorrow :)!

  6. ericlv2 Says:

    I am honored to put this link here- I hope it adds to the conversation! It comes from a place of imagination, memory, and empathy…


  8. Here’s another poem from my blog reflecting philosophy of place, as created during my Rotary exchange year abroad in Finland:

  9. In the indigenous areas, both here and in Korea, the idea of man’s oneness with nature is a given- even among “modern” types. Song is far more a natural occurrence, and I’ve heard some astonishing voices. There are also connections with the supernatural, and having experienced a few, it has made my connection with my departed wife much stronger. The spirit world is indeed “closer to us than our life vein.”

  10. Mark Says:

    Hi Shawn, this one inspired me also. My philosophy had definitely been shaped by a sense of place. You can read about it here > Thanks!

  11. […] poem in response to Shawn L. Bird’s Poetic Diversity Project prompt for her Masters class. For March 3rd: Philosophy of Place – Does your […]

  12. […] poem in response to Shawn L. Bird’s Poetic Diversity Project prompt for her Masters class. For March 8th she has asked for us to please share poetry or […]

  13. Mark Says:

    Hi Shawn, you have definitely sparked something in me with these prompts. The words are coming quickly and easily. Here is mine for Sharing Space > Thanks!

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