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Poetry Friday: Neurodiversity Poems

In our family, we do a lot of thinking about thinking, because we are all neurodiverse (autism and ADHD). We're often engaged in discussions about how our neurodiversity influences the way we experience the world. From how we socialize to how we organize ourselves to complete tasks, our neurodiversity is a factor in everything we do and every experience we have.

This week I decided to try to use poetry to express the experience of having ADHD. Although ADHD, like autism, can be characterized by the ability to hyperfocus on a topic or task for an extended period of time, the characteristic that is most commonly associated with ADHD is difficulty in sustaining attention

In my attempt to express this latter aspect of the ADHD experience I ended up with two poems, both of which use the same metaphor. One is an almost-haiku (haiku-esque?) that's missing a syllable on the middle line, one is free verse. I'd love to know if you have a preference - let me know in the comments!

Picture of a yellow butterfly on a bush with purple flowers. Haiku Poem reads: In my mind-meadow attention-butterfly flits from bloom to bloom. © 2022, Elisabeth Norton, all rights reserved



Yellow butterfly on a bush with many purple flowers. Poem text reads: My mind is a meadow where ideas bloom, each one subject to random visitation by the butterfly of my attention. © 2022, Elisabeth Norton, all rights reserved


Our host today is the lovely Laura P. Salas. Hop on over to her blog to explore the rest of the poetic goodness that awaits you on this Poetry Friday.

Comments

  1. I like both of your poems Elizabeth, however I love the first one, the haiku. Your "mind-meadow" is so
    inviting and entrancing to me, and then "attention butterflies" it just floats and lilts like a butterfly, and your last line ties in to the butterfly again, and I can feel that butterfly flit, flit, flitting down on each bloom, lovely, thanks!

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  2. I agree with Michelle. The haiku says it all succinctly. "flits" is such a strong verb for your experience. Well done! :)

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  3. Your second is a lovely poem - but your first is rich and beautiful. Just delightful. A wonderful snapshot of your experiences - framed so positively.

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    1. Thanks Kat - I'm glad the positive tone I was striving for came across to you when you read it.

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  4. I think the first is more evocative because the metaphor feels more direct. "Mind-meadow" seems so fresh.

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    1. Thanks Janice - I think I agree with you that the first poem feels more immersive, the second has a bit of distance in it that's created by the additional words.

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  5. Another vote for the mind-meadow. Thanks for sharing these!

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  6. I think that the wording butterfly flits from bloom to bloom is a great comparison of how the mind of ADHD students works. It was a toss up of which poem I liked better since the both brought the point home but for its succinctness, mind-meadow works very nicely.

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  7. Oh, I love both of these. But I like the first one better, as it feels more immediate. Something about "each one subject to" in the second one makes me feel more distant for the topic. Still. Love the way you used the same metaphor in two totally different poems!

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    1. Thanks for your comments Laura. I'm finding I agree with everyone who said the first feels more immediate. It was fun to play with the same metaphor in two poems - something I think I'll try again in the future!

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  8. Elisabeth, I love both of these. The second poem gives me more time and words to understand. And, I need to understand. So many of us are frustrated with the attacks on our attention these days--but not living with a diagnosis. And, I think folks that are actually diagnosed must be frustrated with flippant comments about nueurodiverse conditions.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Linda. Yes, when someone who doesn't live with a condition "borrows" a diagnosis as an adjective, it's a reminder to those living with that condition that it's ever-present, not something of a moment for us.

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  9. Yup. I vote for the first. "Mind-meadow" is so perfect. And it's such a positive representation of ADHD...so needed to combat all the negative stereotypes.

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    1. Thank you Mary Lee. We are learning so much about how our brains work - hopefully that new understanding will make its way into books and popular culture, so that there will be a more nuanced understanding of neurodiversity that brushes away the stereotypes.

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  10. I really like the metaphor of the butterfly. And I agree with those who picked the first. I do love both, though -- and the photo.

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    1. Thanks Ruth! The photos are from a hike we took last summer. I loved the contrast between the butterfly and the flowers, and the sheer number of flowers in the photo. It represented my metaphor perfectly.

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  11. Thanks for the representation in this post and in your poems, Elisabeth. I'm curious about how the meadow in both is your mind itself and wondering if it's the same for the meadow of ideas and attractions outside your mind. What if the best expression is some combination of the two poems, a little more than a haiku but not so much as the six-liner?

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    1. Thanks for your comments Heidi - I never thought about combining to two approaches - something to experiment with!

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  12. Thank you for sharing both of your poems, Elisabeth. I especially love the haiku-esque version. As with picture books that aspire to leave room for the illustrator, your haiku leaves room between the words and images for MY mind-meadow to fill in. But they are both beautiful.

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