Another Fool’s Feathers

One of the best ways to learn about writing poetry is to respond to the poetry one reads. Talk back to the poet, his/her ideas, using ones own words, but always keeping in mind what has already been said. It is very much like carrying on a conversation with the poem, and the poet.

I started doing this when I was in college. But have continued to do it periodically ever since. The poem I am posting today is just such a writing. It is in response to Anne Sexton’s Ambition Bird. That poem can be found at

If you are interested in this sort of exercise, it is best to cite, either within the poem itself, or as a footnote, the poem and author you are responding to. This is also an excellent exercise to use in combating Writer’s Block.

Another Fool’s Feathers

Anne Sexton’s Ambition Bird
has perched atop my pen,
glistening dark feathers
ride long blue lines
across legal-sized
yellow notepaper. Fluttering
only at fitful stops and starts
of a more than willing heart
which doesn’t know quite
how to continue.

There are moments, months
even, when I firmly regret
having opened my window
to its incessant peck, peck, pecking.
Longer nights when I long
to pluck another fool’s feathers,
stuff them between two silk
scarves, sewing edges tight
with tiny elaborate stitches.

Sexton was right
about this overly zealous
fledgling, its erratic
almost hummingbird flight,
but she also knew
of that single word breaking true
at center of a warm
mamma night.

Elizabeth Crawford  3/10/09

Posted to United Poets Poetry Pantry: 3/3/13

About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
This entry was posted in Another Fool's Feathers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Another Fool’s Feathers

  1. Mary Sharpe says:

    I very mucy like the poem you have put here.

    Mary Sharpe


  2. 1sojournal says:

    Hi Mary, good to see you here. Have you ever done this type of exercise or response to another author? It is a far deeper connection to the person and the writing. It also really lodges the piece in your memory. This one comes swimming back when I get discouraged about my writing and want to throw it all out the window and find some other thing to do, lol. What that other thing is, is never clear, just vague notions of new horizons and people. So when I remember this one, I always start smiling and laughing because it simply means I need to do more writing. So, I do.



  3. Ella says:

    I love the imagery and mood you instill! It has magical qualities about it, even though it is a struggle. You made it beautiful~xXx

    Thanks for taking a look, Ella. I used to read Anne Sexton a great deal, trying to learn what she seemed to know so naturally. Had a lot of conversations with her in my head. But, I also often got angry at her for cutting off her own voice. She had a great deal to offer all of us,



  4. I like the idea of this exercise very much. And LOVE the idea of the bird atop your pen:) A wonderfully fanciful poem. Love it!!!!!!

    And, although it is an old piece, I still remember how much I enjoyed putting it together. Thanks for taking the time to take a look Sherry,



  5. Fabulous idea … and I adore the image among many of a “warm mama night” 🙂

    Thanks Pearl, but some of the credit goes to Sexton. She often wrote poetry in the middle of the night with a cup of hot chocolate, she called “warm mama”, as her only companion. That’s included in her Ambition Bird poem. One of the aspects of this particular exercise, is that although you are creating your own poem, you get to play with the other artist’s tools.



  6. Yes, great imagery and an excellent idea.

    Thanks Anthony, it is a lot of fun most of the time.



  7. Mary says:

    I love the idea and the way you played it out & will have to give it a try. I enjoyed the way you drew us into the poem….

    Anne Sexton’s Ambition Bird
    has perched atop my pen,
    glistening dark feathers…

    and then the warmth of the ending….

    at center of a warm
    mamma night.

    Thanks for all your kind words Mary. I used the exercise in college to remember who was who and said what. My mentor usually liked them a lot, because I was unwittingly trying on the other writer’s techniques, as well as usually new language.



  8. I love this idea of talking back to another poet’s poem. You can bet I’ll be trying it at some stage! I also love the poem you have created in response to Sexton’s. I know it’s bordering on heresy to say so, but I actually prefer yours. 🙂

    Whew! That’s not bordering on, it is heresy (for some of us) and I love it! Might copy and print it out, then frame it and hang on my wall. Thanks you so very much,



  9. Kim Nelson says:

    I, too, am a Sexton fan; but I think you rival her work with this one. So clear and concise, referential to her, but taking wing on its own. Creative and structured all at once. You make me want to give this a go. This will be my daily writing challenge today, to be tackled just after yoga practice! Thank you, Elizabeth.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s