Poetry Friday round-up is with Christie at Wondering and Wandering


Last week I discovered a challenge from today’s hostess, Christie Wyman, to write a bird themed poem.  Just so happened I had attended a poetry reading of Bird Forgiveness by Melinda Palacio of New Orleans. Then I was reading Diane Mayr’s blogpost about a Library of Congress photography show in Los Angeles.  She wrote a note to me to check out the featured photograph for “Not an Ostrich.”  Diane had seen a Facebook video I had posted of my friend’s goose, who absolutely must be a floradora goose like the one pictured.  Diane also challenged us poets to write about a chosen LOC photo.  So I am combining all of these things, Bird Forgiveness, bird themed poetry, and poetry about Library of Congress photos, to bring you this poem.


floradora goose loc

Not an Ostrich: ‘Floradora goose.’ Actress Isla Bevan holds a goose at the 41st annual Poultry Show, Madison Square Garden, 1930. Unknown photographer.


Precious Things

All things precious, except for this bird, end up buried in a box.
Melinda Palacio from Bird Forgiveness

What things are precious?

When a photograph is precious, it is saved
                           under glass, preserved in a museum,
                                         admired for ages.

When an egg is precious, it is removed
                          by expert hands, gently taken to a lab,
                                          buried with sacred ceremony.

Except for this bird.

This bird is named, released
                        to roam the farm, adorned in fancy feathers,
                                          posed as if fine lace

from a precious box. 

–Margaret Simon, (c) 2018








See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

I saw my students for the first time on Monday.  The first day of my gifted class is traditionally the day to decorate your journal. (Some people call them notebooks, but I have always called them journals.) I bring in decorative paper, magazines, stamps, stickers, and this year, washi tape. The students have full freedom of choice about how they decorate their journals.

I love this as the first day activity for a few reasons.  One is it allows us the time to sit around the table and talk casually. I decorate as well, so we are working together.  I also love how this simple activity tells me so much about my students, how they work on a project, what interests them, and how they handle creativity.  Perfection can be an issue with gifted kids, so this project helps me see these types of characteristics. And also it’s just fun, so kids are excited to come to gifted class every day.

My journal for 2018-2019. I incorporated cards and stickers from friends to make my space personal.

When a sea turtle is too large for your cover, use it on the back and turn it sideways.

Sticky note leaf shapes become a palm tree for this Queen Writer.

Daniel was not discouraged when a magazine cut out didn’t work. He found this cat that he liked much better. There are no mistakes.

Rainbows and washi tape!

If this first day is any indication, this is going to be a good year!


Poetry Friday round-up is with Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone.

School has started here in the midst of hot, humid August. I’m setting up three classrooms at three schools (quite the challenge!), so lists have become important to me. What do I need at this school that I know I have at that school: tape, markers, glue sticks, etc. The lists go on and on.

But lists can also become poems. And in the midst of this stress, a list poem relaxes me. They release stress much like to-do lists do.

One way I can relax is to peruse Facebook. Tuesday I saw a post from Margarita Engle about sand poetry. I also thought about my promise for writing during the school year and opened to a clean notebook page. And this comment from Cathy Mere made it into the poem as well, “Loved this, Margaret. Your advice to just open our notebooks and put the date on the page to see what happens is among my favorites. I’ve been thinking about this in terms of “margin.” In the summer, we all managed to get a little margin – a little white space – in our lives. How do we maintain that as the busyness of the school year approaches? Figuring out how to maintain space for doing the things we love is something I’ll be thinking more about as the school year begins.”

In the Margins, write a poem

For more list poems, try Georgia Heard’s collection Falling Down the Page or this page on The Poem Farm.

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

School starts this week. Monday and Tuesday are inservice/orientation days and the kids come on Wednesday. 2018-2019, here we go!

“How will you keep up your writing?” my writing critique partner, Catherine Flynn, asked me at our online meeting.

I hadn’t really thought about it.

#TeachWrite chat on Monday night asked the same question. “What is your plan to continue writing when life gets crazy as the new school year begins?”

Oh, no. A plan?

So here’s my plan for all the world to see:

1. Keep calm. Keep writing.

2. Open my notebook at least once a day. Write the date at the top of the page. See what comes…

3. Write alongside my students. (I have done this as long as I’ve been teaching writing. It’s one of my guiding principles for teaching.)

4. Don’t feel guilty if a day goes by, and I didn’t write. Some days are like that. Realize that there may be other days when the writing is easy. Let go of ridiculous expectations.

5. Set realistic goals. A poem a day may be too hard, but a poem a week is doable.

6. Be an advocate for my writing life. Make time for it because in the long run, I’m happier when I am writing.

There. That’s wasn’t so hard. It’s not so much a plan as a promise to my writer-self. What will you do to keep writing when life gets crazy-busy?

Poetry Friday round-up is with Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

I spent a long weekend in Boston with my three daughters last weekend. We walked a lot. Boston is a great walking city. We’d stop to shop or have lunch or get coffee. Like my friend, Linda Mitchell, I took some pictures of signs to gather into a found poem.

Take a walk in

Footprints on the Freedom Trail.

Today is the last day of my fun and fabulous Bayou Song Blog Tour. Please check out Dani’s post today.

Friday, June 22:
Michelle Kogan

Tuesday, June 26:
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

Friday, June 29:
Ruth Hersey at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town

Friday, July 6:
Kimberly Hutmacher at Kimberly Hutmacher Writes

Friday, July 13:
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise

Tuesday, July 17:
Laura Shovan 

Tuesday, July 24
Amanda Potts at Persistence and Pedagogy

Friday, July 27:
Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink

Monday, July 30
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance

Friday, Aug. 3
Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work that Matters

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

Without young kids or grandkids of my own, I’ve been known to borrow them.  Last week I was planning to hold a workshop around Bayou Song, but no one registered (end of summer syndrome perhaps), but no worries.  My neighbor sent over her almost 8 year old, Jack.  We worked together on an I am poem.  Rather typical boy in the summer, when I asked Jack what he wanted to write about, he said, “Well I really like soccer.”  So soccer it is.  We are going to write a poem from the point of view of the soccer ball using I statements.  Jack caught on pretty quickly and started spouting lines.

When Jack got to the part where he wanted to write words like cool and awesome, I directed him to more specific language.

How do I know you’re a soccer ball? 

I’m a sphere!  And I am patterned with black and white!

Write that down!

I am a super stylish soccer ball.
I spin as fast as a jaguar.
I fly like an eagle.
I get kicked around.
I want you to stop kicking me!

I am a super stylish soccer ball.
I am a sphere.
I am patterned with black and white
like a panda.
I roll to the goal.
I like to win.

by Jack

Then we watched a video of Jen Vincent’s son making a zine with a single sheet of paper.

Jack with Bayou Song and his own zine.

I made a zine with a snake “I am” poem alongside Jack.  He helped me with some of the facts, like snakes sleep with their eyes open.  We Googled what a ribbon snake eats to find an s-word.  I made a video of my zine.

Thanks to Jack for being my guinea pig for this activity.  I look forward to sharing it with more students.  Working one on one, though, is a great way to try out a workshop.

Poetry Friday round-up is with Catherine at Reading to the Core.

The summer is made so much brighter by the exchange of poems arranged by Tabatha Yeatts.  Mailboxes share a bit of insight (along with the proverbial wasp or two).  I have been pleased to receive two poems so far.  The first sent from our friend Ruth Hersey.  Ruth sent a postcard of a Georges Seurat painting, one we are all likely familiar with.  She also sent this photo that she took of observers of the same painting.  Her poem comes from the wisdom of watching these observers.




A Sunday on La Grande Jatte
“Some say they see poetry in my paintings; I see only science.”  Georges Seurat

On a summer Sunday afternoon in 2018
We look at a painting of a summer Sunday afternoon in 1884.

All those people with exquisite posture
Whom Georges Seurat saw by the Seine
Have been gone for years,
Bustles and parasols packed away,
The monkey’s chittering long silenced.

And all these slightly scruffier people
Looking at his painting by the Chicago River
Will be gone one day too,
Their baseball hats empty
And their phone screens blank.

The sun through the skylight
Illuminates the Parisians and the Chicagoans,
Shines on those millions of dots of paint that will outlast us all.

Ruth Hersey, (c) 2018


My second poem exchange came this week.  It slithered like a snake between bills and advertisements to delight me.  Rebecca Herzog wrote a concrete poem (these are so hard to do well) about the Bayou Teche.  I am touched that she took time to research the legend of the Bayou Teche.  Her research comes together in this fabulous snake.

Poem by Rebecca Herzog (c) 2018


Thanks to Ruth and Rebecca for taking the sting out of getting the mail!