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Poetry Friday round-up is with Erin at The Water’s Edge.

 

I am in the process of planning a workshop for teachers for the Acadiana Center for the Arts to be held on October 11th. When I met with my teaching partner, artist Marla Kristicevich, we discussed creative ways a teacher/writer/student could respond to my poems in Bayou Song.  I loved her idea of creating magazine collage.  I wanted to give it a try myself and with my own students.  The collages are as diverse as the students themselves.  

From the collages, we then wrote an I am poem.  For this, I offered sentence stems to get the ideas flowing.  Today, I am posting one of my collages and poem along with Madison’s.  Madison wanted to use a unique word, so we looked through what I call “the big whopping dictionary,” a two book set my daughter bought me at an antique store.  Madison found the word reliquary, and we had a discussion about the metaphorical use of a river as a reliquary.  I love what she did with her poem.

 

I am a silver-tongued storyteller.

I wonder where my path leads.
I echo laughter, tears, and songs.
I watch the sun, moon, and stars.
I call your name.

I am a silver-tongued storyteller.
I remember tales of old.
I nurture time and treasures.
I say the heart is true.
I hope you’ll hear my call.

Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

 

I am a Rambling River Reliquary

I wonder if I can ever turn back.
I echo the past.
I watch the present.
I call for the future.
I wind a wide bend.
I touch every memory.
I nurture your thoughts.
I want to never stop.
I remember the crashing thunder.
I say ” Swshhh, rrww! ”
I tell the wind my tales.
I hope I can find more.

Madison, 5th grade

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

International Dot Day is one of my favorite days of the year.  For years, I’ve celebrated with my students.  This year I tried out a new activity for Dot Day, a Zeno Zine.  We started by reading The Dot and playing the Emily Arrow Dot Day Song.  Then each student decorated a dot on white art paper using markers. Rainbow dots seemed to be the choice of the day.

After drawing a dot, I asked my students to collect words and phrases about their artwork to use in a zeno poem.  We wrote a zeno together using ideas from the book.  Then they wrote their own zeno about their own dot.  We folded their art work into a zine and copied their poems into their zine.

Zeno form: syllable count 8, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1 (Each one syllable line rhymes. )

Our Group Dot Zeno

I can’t draw a straight line, can you?
May I please see
you draw
dot?
I don’t think so
maybe
not
I bet you can
draw a
lot!

Dot Day Zeno Zine by Chloe

 

 

After the rainstorm has happened
Colors appear
rainbow
light
a beautiful
hopeful
sight
flower petals
amazing
bright 

by Breighlynn

Zine by Breighlynn

 

I draw and write alongside my students, so I made three zeno zines throughout the day.  My student Madison suggested that I post this one because, as she said, “The solar system is full of dots!”

Solar System Dot Zeno Zine

Gravitational central sun
spiral orbit
spinning
round
Solar system
planets
bound
Constant spinning
without
sound.

Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

 

 

Bayou Song Interview on KRVS:

If you are interested in hearing an interview with me on our local public radio station, click this link and go to “Interview.”

Poetry Friday round-up is with Amy at The Poem Farm.

I have birthing babies on my mind.  Today is my baby’s birthday.  My youngest daughter, Martha, is 28 years old.  I was recently telling her birth story to my oldest daughter who is expecting my first grandchild in December.  Since her best friend delivered on Sunday, three weeks early, Maggie is getting nervous about what her own birth story will be.

I read Barbara Crooker’s interview at Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. 

She wrote an ekphrastic poem about a Matisse painting:

L’ATELIER ROSE, 1911
I came back to Paris free of the Louvre’s influence
and heading for color.
~Henri Matisse

“It’s like being back in the womb, isn’t it, these walls of pink,
this floor one rose shade deeper? I think about my middle
daughter, five months pregnant. Her baby‘s grown
from an orange seed to a green olive to a plum. Now
it’s the size of a boneless chicken breast. What is it
about babies that makes us think of food?” (Read full text here)

There’s an app for following the growth of a baby called The Bump.  Maggie is at 26 weeks and according to The Bump, the baby is “as big as Kale”! His eyes are forming and will soon open.  He even has eyelashes.  The miracle of pregnancy is fascinating. (And a little scary, but we won’t talk about that today.)

This morning with all this on my mind while I was walking, I thought of a poem to tell Martha’s birth story.  This is a first draft, but I like how I could capture such a big event in a poem.  What big events could you capture in a poem?  Poems are not small; they are concentrated, like the womb, holding tight to something too big to understand.

September 14, 1990

A Birth Story

You were so late
I thought I’d be pregnant forever,
the distance between the second and the fourteenth
full of expectancy.

That Friday morning, the doctor said,
“We need to induce.”
No! I cried. My babies come naturally.
But naturally was not what you had in mind.

A long day of “methods” to start a labor–
enema, cervical massage, break the water–
finally a Pitocin drip. Seven PM,
the contractions kicked in,
pounding
         rumbling,
                     pushing you out into the world,

At my back, Gladys exclaims,
“Something is happening here.”
In the corner, the nurse cries,
“She was only 4 centimeters!”

And your father, in my face, blowing air
“Breathe with me.”
You came quickly,
sliding elegantly into the doctor’s
Wait-let-me-get-my-gloves-on hands.

Perfect and round,
a hefty eight pounds, three ounces,
Friday’s child, loving and giving,
a gift to our world and to me.

 

–Margaret Simon (draft) 2018

A new sister! Sept. 15, 1990

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

I am a writer.  I am a poet.  I am also a failure every day.

There is a myth about publishing, that once you get published, the writing becomes easier.  I know that can’t be true.  I’ve read enough blogs from authors to know this, but I’ve had days recently in which I’ve felt like I’ll never write another good poem. Ever.

I think the problem lies in how I am approaching my writing life these days.  I expect to be motivated.  I expect the words to come.  And when they don’t, I feel a flood of failure.  The kind that whispers in my head, “You will never write again.”

I’ve had writing partners go through this and my advice is always, give it time, take a break, go for a walk.  These are all things I give myself permission to do, but when it goes on for days and days, it’s cause for concern.

Early in the morning sitting with my coffee and Charlie on my lap, I looked outside and said to myself, “How is it the cypress trees know that it’s September?”

I didn’t have my notebook.  It was in my school bag in the trunk of my car.  I didn’t want to go outside with bare feet to get it.  And besides, I was worried the muse would escape if I did that.  So I grabbed a nearby pad of paper and wrote a quick poem.  This simple response relieved my writer’s block. Still when I went back to my work in progress, things were no better, but I calmed my disdain with my new poem.  I got up and went to the study where I keep the old typewriter my son-in-law bought me at an estate sale and plinked the September poem, cut it out, and glued it into a beautiful handmade journal I reserve for these private musings.  Ah, there.

Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.

 

I’ve challenged my students to write a list poem this week.  Before Friday was even here, Madison had taken the bait and wrote a list about the famous Fibonacci series. Madison has an unique style of writing poetry.  She capitalizes all the words.  I once asked her why she did that, and she told me because they are all important.  Who can argue with that!?

Fib-List Poetry

Never-ending
Always Twirling

Since the Very Beginning
It has been Swirling

Green Points
A Real Place to Pinpoint

It will Not Disappoint
At the Right Viewpoint

A Fibonacci
Unlike the Nazi

Madison, 5th grade

Phyllotaxis plant spiral, goodfreephotos.com

My friend Kay continues to use Bayou Song to inspire poetry with her gifted 4th and 5th graders.  Last week they wrote I am poems.  This week they wrote tercets.  I love Karter’s use of B words to express the beauty of birdsong.

Birdsongs
by Karter

Birds are like singing angels
Busting through sadness
Belting out melodies.

 

Pop on over to Linda Mitchell’s post full of poetry love from the National Book Festival last weekend.  Her post helps me remember with joy and celebration!

Today, Donna is gathering Spiritual Journey first Thursday posts.  When she emailed us this week, she wrote, “This morning I finally landed on a moving target – the paths we’ve taken – by choice or nudging.”

I feel like I’ve had multiple paths in my life, the path of a wife and mother, the path of a teacher, the path of a writer, and the path of spiritual growth.

My life has been blessed with three daughters, a teaching career, and a writing practice.  However, without a spiritual life, none of these would be fulfilling.  My spiritual life supports me like “wind beneath my wings.”

I’ve done some study of the enneagram.  It is a system of numbers to define a personality type.  I subscribe to a daily email  from The Enneagram Institute based on my number, two, the helper.  Reading these daily directives, I can see myself more clearly and identify what I need to work on.  With reflection, meditation, and prayer, I can be the best of myself every day.  I especially like the enneathoughts that give me a little validation, like the one I received for today.

Receiving affirming messages encourages me to be who I am and who I am meant to be.  I can shake off the ideals of success and popularity. I realize that within a true understanding of self and a generosity of spirit, I am successful.  My prayer today is simple, “Loving God, help me be the best me I can be.”

Slice of Life: Sign It!

Louisiana booth in the Parade of States.

Bayou Song was featured at the Louisiana booth at the National Book Festival. This was a fun yet humbling experience. Kids crowded our table wanting Mardi Gras beads and a stamp from our state. I stood on the side like a protective mother to my book. Occasionally an adult would take interest and want to talk. I had a number of good conversations about teaching, poetry, and writing. One parent and child asked me to sign the bookmark. I felt like Vashti from The Dot. Really? Yes, sign it.

A man picked up Bayou Song and as I reached out to grab it back, I realized he was reading a poem aloud to his infant son while a taller, school-aged boy clung to him. So heartwarming to see this scene in the midst of the crowd.  He explained that he is a stay-at-home dad and he reads poetry to his children every day.

 

The National Book Festival is a huge free event that promotes literacy on all levels. On the kid level, there were activities and talks by authors like Kate DiCamillo, Dan Santat, and Jason Reynolds.  For grown-up readers, there were some big names like Sonia Sotomayor, Amy Tan, and Roxanne Gay.

Poetry Friday friends Heidi Mordhorst, immediate right of the sign, and Linda Mitchell next to her. Heidi said, “Poetry is the means by which a person knows her place.”

The highlight of my day was to see two of my writing critique friends face to face. We palled around to a talk with poets laureate Tracy K Smith and Robert Haas. We also heard from a new-to-us author Suzanne Slade who presented about her new book Countdown. It’s written in verse! With amazing photos and illustrations.

Later in the day as I waited for my husband who was listening to Jon Meacham, I saw Suzanne walking by. I waved her down and not only was able to get her to sign her book, but we also had a great chat about writing and publishing. Authors are just regular people who love to talk about their work.

On Sunday, my husband and I worshiped at the National Cathedral and toured the Holocaust Museum. I was moved by both experiences in different ways.  Our nation’s capital is an awe-inspiring place to visit.  My husband agreed and said he’d accompany me on any author trips.  He enjoyed being my “roadie.”