Essential Services

Deep in the heart of National Poetry Month

Welcome to Austin Bat Cave’s Virtual Literary Salon. Over the next few months, we’ll be featuring some of our favorite writers reflecting on the current moment and presenting writing prompts and literary challenges that will hopefully get you inspired and creating. We welcome discussion and your input. Each week, you’ll be able to comment on the post and share your own thoughts, ideas, and challenges. Please tell a friend! And if you’re able to, consider making a contribution to Austin Bat Cave and help support our creative community.

Today’s writing prompt is brought to you by Liz Garton Scanlon. Liz is the author of many beloved books for kids, including the brand new Thank You, Garden, as well as the Caldecott Honor book All the World andothers, including several co-authored with her pal Audrey Vernick.Scanlon also wrote the middle grade novel The Great Good Summer and is published in numerous poetry anthologies. She serves on the faculty of the Vermont Faculty of Fine Arts and is a frequent and popular presenter at conferences and festivals. Find more about her life and work at www.LizGartonScanlon.com and purchase her new book here.


Hi everyone… I come to you from the middle of the COVID crisis, yes, but also from deep in the heart of National Poetry Month. And rather than pushing it aside as something frivolous or extra, I’m promoting it to what we’d call an Essential Service these days.

For the past 10 years, I have celebrated April by writing a haiku every day of the month, often remembering to share them online, usually beseeching others to join me, always appreciating the ritual they make of my days.

This year I’m doing it again, with a couple of added twists. First, I’m starting with a photo – a concrete act of observation – and then I’m typing the haiku itself on a typewriter. Both of these steps keep me in the dream a little longer – not a bad thing.

Now, an invitation. Will you join me? If not daily, then weekly? If not weekly, then once? You can start with a photo or not… handwrite or type it or not… share it widely or not. However you choose to step in will be just right and, I promise, satisfying.

Quickly, a note about the form. It’s ancient. Japanese. Spare, but expansive. There are three lines and, if you follow modern, western rules, those lines are 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables, respectively. Haiku often include a seasonal reference, and there is usually a turn, a shift, a fresh start or surprise, after the 2nd line.

Here’s one as a model. Enjoy, write on, stay safe and well.

Spring Storm Haiku

By Liz Garton Scanlon

Thunder tells stories,

each raindrop a reflection

Who are we right now?

Share your comments and reflections in the thread! We want to hear from you <3