Community Collection 11: VISUAL POEMS with Padma Venkatraman

Welcome to Poetry Month 2018 at No Water River!
Please take a moment to peruse the how-to below, and then dive in! Happy writing — and thank you for helping to build our collection(s)!
Remember: The Community Collections are open indefinitely, so you can visit each post at your leisure to add your poem!


Today’s Guest…

explored remote islands, hiked through rain forests, and sailed many seas as an oceanographer before turning to her work as a writer for young people. Please welcome award-winning verse novelist …




A note from Padma:
The following poem was originally part of the verse novel A TIME TO DANCE but the editor, Nancy Paulsen, and I decided to leave it out (in part because it was the only concrete poem in the collection, and hence didn’t quite fit in). The poem is about someone relearning a simple skill, and it is a visual (also called concrete or shape poem) in which the shape of the words on the page reflects the poem’s theme.



Think about something you enjoy doing, preferably an activity that involves movement, such as walking, cycling, dancing, or even playing an instrument (most instrumental music requires finger movement, and even if you sing, you are moving columns of air). Write a visual poem, paying attention to how the form of the words on the page reflects the activity you’re describing in the poem.



1. Paste it into the comment section below. I will gather the poems and add them to this post. OR
2. Email it to me at and I will add it to this post (graphics welcome)!



Padma Venkatraman, an award-winning American author, has worked as chief scientist on oceanographic ships, spent time under the sea, directed a school, and lived in five countries. Her three novels, A Time To Dance, Island’s End, and Climbing the Stairs, were released to multiple starred reviews, received numerous honors, and won national and international awards. She gives keynote addresses, serves on panels, conducts workshops, and visits schools and author festivals worldwide. Her middle grade debut, The Bridge Home, about homeless children in India, is scheduled for 2019 release from Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin).

Discover more about the author and her books at


An inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience of the human spirit.

Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her. (from

A fascinating story set on a remote island untouched by time. Uido is ecstatic about becoming her tribe’s spiritual leader, but her new position brings her older brother’s jealousy and her best friend’s mistrust. And looming above these troubles are the recent visits of strangers from the mainland who have little regard for nature or the spirits, and tempt the tribe members with gifts, making them curious about modern life. When Uido’s little brother falls deathly ill, she must cross the ocean and seek their help. Having now seen so many new things, will Uido have the strength to believe in herself and the old ways? And will her people trust her to lead them to safety when a catastrophic tsunami threatens? Uido must overcome everyone’s doubts, including her own, if she is to keep her people safe and preserve the spirituality that has defined them.

Drawing on firsthand experience from her travels to the Andaman Islands, Padma Venkatraman was inspired to write this story after meeting natives who survived the 2004 tsunami and have been able to preserve their unique way of life. Uido’s transformation from a young girl to tribal leader will touch both your heart and mind. (from

During World War II and the last days of British occupation in India, fifteen-year-old Vidya dreams of attending college. But when her forward-thinking father is beaten senseless by the British police, she is forced to live with her grandfather’s large traditional family, where the women live apart from the men and are meant to be married off as soon as possible.Vidya’s only refuge becomes her grandfather’s upstairs library, which is forbidden to women. There she meets Raman, a young man also living in the house who relishes her intellectual curiosity. But when Vidya’s brother makes a choice the family cannot condone, and when Raman seems to want more than friendship, Vidkya must question all she has believed in.
Padma Venkatraman’s debut novel poignantly shows a girl struggling to find her place in a mixed-up world. Climbing the Stairs is a powerful story about love and loss set against a fascinating historical backdrop. (from
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“Stepping Up” and prompts copyright © by Padma Venkatraman
Copyright on community collection poems held by authors indicated. All rights reserved.
Other post content © 2018 Renée M. LaTulippe or as indicated. All rights reserved.
Stairs photo (color) by Ralph Chang via Pexels (no attribution required)
Stairs photo (B/W) from Pixabay via Pexels (no attribution required)