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Archive for April, 2017

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I’ve had a wonderful week off this week.
A little bit of sleeping,
a little bit of reading,
some writing,
some walking,
some talking with friends.

Mostly, I did whatever I wanted to do.
This is what Spring Break should be.
No excuses.
No worries.
Just a stretch of time
to relax and be.

This is not really a poem. I just made it look like one. Last night, my husband and I drove to Breaux Bridge to hear the Nouveau String Band. Oh, this group is so much fun. Lots of dancing, smiling, and laughing happened here. I’m posting a YouTube video of one of the songs they did last night. Put on your dancing shoes.

Here’s an actual poem that I wrote after reading Caroline Starr Rose’s blog post and listening to All the Wonders podcast of Nikki Grimes combined with some toe-tapping moves of my own.

I’m Possible

I’m on the edge of possible
with two steps to the right
Two to the left
Toe tap and spin.

Inside of me
I have enough
to be who I want
to be, enough rhythm,
enough swing
to make my world sing.

You do, too!

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Poetry Friday is with Doraine at Dori Reads.

I joined a Facebook poetry writing group created by Laura Shovan.  We wrote poems during the month of February to ten found words from news articles. So many of us didn’t want it to end, so Laura extended the project. Each month one member puts up a prompt of 10 found words. This month Heather Meloche posted a spring poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.

EARLY SPRING

Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows’ wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,

hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees.
–Rilke

Heather’s selected words quickly came together in a poem for me.  The practice of writing poetry is a mystery.  Sometimes I can write, scratch out, rework, search for the just right word, and still end up with nothing worthy of sharing.  But this poem wrote itself.  I love it when that happens, so I continue to scratch each day and celebrate when the small miracles appear.

The Dance

Suddenly, my hardness of heart vanished
into the meadow of his eyes. My gaze traveled
rivulets of tender tears watering the earth.
Tree rises from the soggy ground like a goddess
holding her arms out in expression of pure joy.
We danced in the softness of her embrace.

–Margaret Simon

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I hope you have been following the Progressive Poem. Today I am adding a line. This amazing interactive poetry community builder is the brilliant invention of Irene Latham.

It all started with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe when she introduced a first person character with fidget, friction,and ragged edges. Mary Lee let the idea of F words dance back into the poem with “facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.” Then Janet set me up the steps to the stage.

I placed myself in the narrator’s shoes, climbing the stairs to the stage. What else would I feel except pure fright? So with alliteration dancing in my head, my blow dryer blew out this line. Every good story needs a conflict, right? Here you go, Jan, have fun with this fidgety, freckled, frightened storyteller. What will he/she do next? Look at the link up in my side bar to follow this poem through its journey.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!

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Slice of Life: New Worlds

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

I’m failing in my attempt to write a poem a day. It all happened when my spring break started. In truth, I’ve only been off one day, but without my schedule and my students, I feel uninspired. We crave this kind of time, a wide open day to write, and when that time happens, nothing. Blank page.

I have no choice but to give my brain this break it wants. I’ll take a walk and perhaps a muse will come. If I’ve learned anything about being a writer, it is this: writing happens in its own time.

This weekend my husband and I attended a wedding for a friend’s son. We enjoyed relaxing and not being in charge of anything. During the ceremony, the priest read a Rumi poem and talked about how this couple was crossing the threshold to a new world, a world that they would live in together.

Don’t go back to sleep

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

Rumi

I started thinking about how our world has changed, how change is inevitable, how change is the only constant. Within the last 6 months, two of my daughters have gotten married. Their worlds have changed. My day to day hasn’t changed, but as I look forward to the Easter holiday this weekend, I realize that our family is larger now. We have two sons as well as three daughters. In so many ways this new world is wonderful, and it will continue to grow and change.

I accept this new world.
I embrace the memories of each gathering.
And love the we
we have become.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

In my classes this week, I introduced the ABCs of poetry. We have written a poem everyday using a different poetic form. My partner for two of these exercises was Read, Write, Think. This amazing site full of lessons for teaching reading and writing also includes student interactives.

For the letter A, we used this one for Acrostics. My students had free choice for the words they chose to write about. The interactive allows for brainstorming and also gives word suggestions. The final form appears as a downloadable pdf. I taught my students how to take a screenshot of the pdf, paste it into paint, and save as a jpeg. They uploaded their jpeg images into our Kidblog site.

Two very different poems above. Erin is a fifth grader. She’s been going through a rough time lately, so I gave her a wishing rock inside a prayer pouch that I had crocheted. Her poem grew from her strong desire to have her dreams come true.

Lynzee was writing from the moment. I had brought in left over cookies from a writing group meeting. She chose chocolate chip and this moment became the subject of her poem. Don’t you love the word voraciously? She is such an avid reader that her vocabulary is advanced. She loves using new words, and I enjoy our conversations about them.

Another interactive we used this week was for diamante poems. In this form, my students selected antonyms or nouns that had near opposite meanings. Like acrostic, this form allows students to explore word meanings. They looked for words that were specific to their chosen noun.

Lani, 5th grade, wrote honestly about her feelings around life and death. Andrew was reading a book entitled “Gross Science” so his poem explored the difference between beautiful and gross. We talked about how each one depends on a person’s perspective.

I hope you will consider playing with language by using these interactives from Read, Write, Think. Happy National Poetry Month!

If you are writing a DigiLitSunday post, link up below.

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I am writing in a hotel room in Mobile, Alabama. My husband and I are here for a wedding. Not one of ours, thank goodness. It’s strange to be just a visitor, someone without any responsibilities for this celebration. We just get to be here, be present to the love and happiness. Not to mention the weather is amazing. A perfect temperature with a bright blue sky.

This week I noticed the sky. On Friday while I opened car doors for children, I watched the sun rise and off to the side a wisp of cirrus clouds change color. At one time there was a small rainbow circle in the clouds.

Reading blog posts this morning, I found this one from Smack Dab in the Middle celebrating the power of simple sentence structure of Kate DiCamillo in my favorite of her books, The Miraculous Adventures of Edward Tulane. Deborah Lytton writes, “Every word has an important role to play in spare prose. If it isn’t essential, then it doesn’t belong.”

I was thinking about how my husband and I are mere observers today. This little poem came to me:

We are here.
Insignificant bystanders
walking the empty streets.
The sky is open, a fragrant blue.
I reach for your hand.
You feel my touch.
We are here.
–Margaret Simon, poem-a-day #8

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Poetry Friday is with Irene and Live your Poem

On Wednesday I presented to my students Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Writing the Rainbow” poetry project.  We were on the letter C for our poem-a-day writing, so we wrote crayon cinquains.  The cinquain syllable pattern is 2,4,6,8,2.

Amy suggested this video of Mr. Rogers’ visit to a crayon factory.  The kids loved it, especially when the crayons appear in the tray like magic.

 

I will share a few of our poems here, but you can go to our Kidblog to see more.

 

 

Erin’s orchid bouquet

Erin chose the crayon “orchid” and drew the picture above. I encouraged my students to use metaphor in their poems. Erin imagined that the orchid bouquet was a crown for a woodland princess.

Orchid
Blooming Flower
Wonderful Pristine Crown
Perfect For A Woodland Princess
Wondrous
by Erin, 5th grade

When Madison colored in her journal with the crayon “Cadet Blue”, she saw a sky before the rain. I love how the name of the crayon informed her metaphor.

Rainy
Cadet Blue Sky
Thunder Beating on Drums
Lightning Marching Through the Clouds
Pouring…
by Madison, 3rd grade

I randomly picked a crayon from the box of 24 crayons and got “blue bell.” Of course, at first I thought about Blue Bell Ice Cream. Then I did a Google image search and found bluebell flowers. I drew a picture in my journal using the blue crayon. When Lynzee saw my picture, she said “It’s a fairy skirt.” So I stole that and used it in my poem. This form is fun to work with because it makes you think harder to get the syllables right.

Bluebell
a fairy skirt
balancing on a branch
hang like church bells in the steeple
Ring! Ring!
by Margaret Simon

Go to Amy’s padlet to see more of this crayon color poetry craze.

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National Poetry Month 2017

Find the round up of Spiritual Journey posts at Violet’s blog. Click the image.

 

These flowers appeared under the porch at Solomon House.  Volunteers vining from another plant about 10 feet away on the other side of the sidewalk.  There’s a line in a play my students perform about growing up at The Shadows, “We grow a flower called, ‘ham ‘n eggs.”  This is it.  See the pink ham and the golden egg yolk.  This flower is also a fractal, growing blossoms that look like tiny bouquets.

Today for Spiritual Thursday, we are writing around the theme of new life, spring, and Easter. I’ve been thinking about how we carry the spirits of our ancestors with us.  Like it or not, their lives influence ours.  We can see this as a gift or a curse.  We must be gentle with these spirits.

 

Pink lantana
sneaks under the porch
snakes through the dark earth
carrying the burden of a mother’s pain.

This fractal flower
springs forth surprising
the toes of the hungry and the poor,
lighting a path like grandmother’s Easter bonnet.

Don’t pick her blossoms.
They will sprinkle like confetti.
Just hold your gaze on her sunshine
remembering from whence she came.

–Margaret Simon

 

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National Poetry Month 2017

Over at The Poem Farm, Amy is selecting a crayon from her box of Crayola Crayons to inspire a daily poem.  For our classroom poem-a-day, I chose to do color cinquains for the letter C.  Instructions include using the cinquain form of 2,4,6,8,2 syllable count as well as adding a metaphor and simile for the color chosen.

 

I decided to write one as a model.  I closed my eyes and picked out “Goldenrod.”  Of course I thought of the wildflower.  I drew in my journal alongside other words for goldenrod.  I did some research and discovered the medicinal properties of goldenrod.  There seems to be no end to my trail.  Metaphors were hard to make fit to the syllable count.  This work helps me relate to what I am asking my students to do.  Not as easy as it seems.

Golden
sea of sunshine
dusting fairy brushes
Throw some on your dinner salad
Aster

by Margaret Simon

Andrew knew he would be missing class today due to testing, so yesterday we wrote one together on the color dandelion.  Here’s a link to our poem.  Others will be added during the day on our Kidblog site. 

Amy’s collecting class poems on a padlet here.

 

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

National Poetry Month 2017

For the month of April, I have committed to writing a poem each day. I am not following any stricter rule than that one. Others in the poetry blogging community are doing themed poems. You can see everything that’s going on at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

On Monday, my young student Jacob wrote an acrostic poem on the word faith. He was surprised by his own wisdom. I told him that I think there is a whirl of ideas in the universe and he was open for it.

Finding
An
Invitation
to
Hope

 

Thinking about Jacob’s inspiring poem and the ideas from the universe, I felt a pull to write a found poem from Bishop Jake’s blog post from Sunday. Jake Owensby is the Bishop of the Western Louisiana Episcopal Diocese. He writes beautifully at Looking for God in Messy Places about how to live a life of love and hope.  His post this week “Dry Bones and Living Flesh” inspired this poem.

Dry Bones

uprooted
nothing familiar
fleeing home
to stay alive
they leave behind
bones

Ezekiel had a vision
of those very dry bones.
The victors leave
the dead in an open grave,
a goldmine
of artifacts.

This was personal.
The baker’s daughter
he knew by her fragrance of yeast,
the grandmother rocking her grandchild,
the old stooped mason.

War is always the same.
Death, senseless, helpless
“collateral damage” No, this was personal-
husbands, wives, siblings, grandchildren.

Homes left in ruins,
People without community,
Dry bones
watered with survivor’s tears.

God takes these bones
clothes them
gives them breath.
God promises
through us
to be a new home
for the exiled.
Hear the call.

–Margaret Simon

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