While reading a required book in the MFA program this week, it struck me how — for those of us living in urban environments — modern nature study and nature walks often involve city sights and sounds as well as the local flora and fauna. Harryette Mullen’s book of poetry, Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary, is the author’s poetic reflections on a year of walking outdoors in LA, in local parks, and places she visited throughout the year. She often combines her observations of nature with her observations of city life, people, streets, etc.
Mullen chose the Japanese tanka form as her way of recording her walks. A tanka is a 31 syllable poem often reflecting on the role of the human in relation to nature. I had a brainstorm while reading this book, that perhaps a short daily (or weekly) tanka (or haiku) assignment for the kiddos might be an excellent addition to their nature journals or other journaling/notebooking ventures.