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Archive for June, 2018

Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol today. Click to see more poetic goodness.

When you are standing in line for a book signing at ALA, you could meet your new best friend. This happened to me on Sunday. I was alone, not really paying much attention, when the woman standing next to me commented on my dress. This, of course, started a conversation. We were looking eye to eye and she could have been my sister from another mother. Her wheat-colored hair was tied in a bun on the top of her head. Her fair face was freckled like mine. And even her dress matched the very one she complimented me on.

I looked at her name tag, “Gienah.” She immediately pronounced it for me, “Gina,” and told me her father named her for a star. I said that sounds like a poem. The star is in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. Gienah and I spent the next few hours together. Our list of signings matched, surprise, surprise. She fan-girls the same authors I do. We became each other’s photographer. We exchanged phone numbers and are still texting each other today. Making a new friend is so much fun.
Here’s the poem I wrote for her.

Her name is a star –Gienah–
eyes that sparkle with familiarity,
“Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
We must have been sisters once,
like the wings of the swan,
balanced and flying the night sky.

Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

 

Bayou Song Blog Tour continues today at Ruth’s blog. She was inspired by my Ode to a Toad to write her own ode about the flamboyant tree. Check it out here.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

My summer has been full to the brim of this and that.

This: Hobnobbing with my fellow wizards at ALA conference over the weekend. I bought a floor pass only and quickly realized it was a bargain. I walked more than 3 miles each day back and forth through the exhibit hall meeting new people and visiting with my author heroes. Luckily I had driven and parked close to the Convention Center because I made a few trips to the car to drop off loads of books I had collected. I got to know the barista serving espressos at aisle 2400. His coffee sustained me.

Top left, meeting Eloise Greenfield. Top right, a hug from Jason Reynolds. Bottom left with Kwame, and bottom right with Marilyn Singer.

A highlight was giving Kwame Alexander a copy of my book, and he asked me to sign it. He saw me a few times after that and always called me by name. Kwame exemplifies who authors are. They care about their readers.

Signing Bayou Song for Kwame!

While passing by the National Geographic booth, I got a peek at my poem inside the Poetry of US forthcoming anthology with J. Patrick Lewis. The page is stunning!

Click to pre-order. Release date Sept. 25.

Another highlight was reading at the Poetry Blast. I was honored to be a part of this group of amazing poets: Marilyn Singer, Margarita Engle, K.A. Holt, and Lita Judge, and Joy McCullough. And afterwards some of us went to Mulate’s. After a delicious blackened red fish, I danced with Steve, Marilyn’s husband. I thought I’d teach him the two step, but he took to the music immediately and we swung all over the dance floor.

That: Research for my work in progress. I took the opportunity on Monday before leaving New Orleans to visit Dillard University. I was met there in the library archives by John Kennedy. He was intrigued by my project and was very helpful in bridging some gaps in my research. I’m surprising myself at how much I enjoy historical research.

Please visit Catherine Flynn’s post about Bayou Song, the blog tour continues. Catherine’s review is beautiful.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle Kogan today.

PoemCrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge is a book I go back to again and again for writing inspiration. My writing friend, Linda Mitchell, reminded me of an exercise “our real names” found on page 36. The prompt is simple with different sentence stems to lead you. I was attempting to use this prompt for my “Work in Progress” but I wasn’t happy with the results. No matter. I walked to the study and turned on the IBM Selectric my son-in-law found at an estate sale. The hum and the musty smell settles me into creative writing.

The first name that came to me was Temperance Flowerdew. My cousin has done some genealogical research and found her in our ancestral line. She survived the Starving Time in Jamestown and was married to two governors, George Yeardley and Francis West. Not only did she have a wonderful name, she was an early colonist, a fighter, and a survivor. I can’t even imagine what her life was like, but I can invoke her name to give me strength and courage.

I am pleased to announce the first post of the Bayou Song blog tour is with Michelle today. Click over to see features of the book and an interview. She is also rounding up all Poetry Friday posts 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

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Poetry Friday round-up is at Karen Edmisen’s site.

My debut children’s poetry book, Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape, is coming soon. June 18th is the official release date. I can hardly contain my excitement as well as my apprehension. There is a small section of my body that hits a nervous button every time I think about placing my heart in the hands of others.

One way that we poets get over a hump of “I have no clue what I am doing” is by emulating famous poets. Artists do this, too. Copy the masters. Steal like an artist. Whatever you want to call it, there is comfort in writing alongside someone who has done it right and done it well.

In Bayou Song, I wanted to honor the grand oaks that surround me. I wanted to write like Emily Dickinson in “The Mountains Grow Unnoticed” as she honored the majesty of mountains.

The Mountains—grow unnoticed—
Their Purple figures rise
Without attempt—Exhaustion—
Assistance—or Applause—

In Their Eternal Faces
The Sun—with just delight
Looks long—and last—and golden—
For fellowship—at night—

Emily Dickinson

Grandmother oak in the morning. Photo by Margaret Simon

From Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape by Margaret Simon, copyright 2018.

 

The Live Oaks–
Grow Unnoticed

The Live Oaks–grow unnoticed–
Their Moss covered figures rise
Without effort–Collapse–
Comfort–or Celebration–

In Their Draping Arms
the Raccoon–with sheer impulse
climbs high–and hidden–masked–
finds home–at night–

Margaret Simon, (c) 2018 after Emily Dickinson

Bayou Song’s Book Blog Tour begins next week. Join the journey.

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

 

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Poetry Friday round-up with Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge

With more time in my day these days, I’ve taken the opportunity to join my friend Marcie while she sits at A&E Gallery, a local co-op art gallery. Marcie is a collage artist. We work side by side on art journaling. She does beautiful work and posts it on Instagram. She is currently working on a Postcard-a-Day project. She posted this beauty.

I have full on envy of her talent; nevertheless, I enjoyed her invitation to play with this medium. In January, I started art journaling in a book I made from an old discarded book. Each month I collage a few pages and work on a heartmap.

My son-in-law found an old electric typewriter at an estate sale for $15 and gave it to me this week. It’s quite a clunker, but it works. Michelle Haseltine inspired me to do typewriter poems. She’s been writing them every day for a while now. You can see them on Instagram and Facebook.

With my art journal, some words and phrases, and a sense of flow, I played with poetry. These are far from any kind of masterful poetry, but the point is to Play!

Do this! Allow yourself some open space and freedom. Leave behind the critic and the voice who says you are getting nothing done. Just be present and play!

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Round up is here today!

 

 

Today I am hosting the roundup of Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts.  The theme I chose is Summer.

I am embracing my summer. I’ve been to the lake to visit my parents and my brother, and I just returned from a beach trip with my middle daughter (work for her, fun for me).  On the long drive home yesterday, I listened to a podcast I had not tuned into before, “The Simple Show.” The show seems to be designed for women in the midst of careers and raising kids.

While I am not in that stage of life, I did glean a few things from their discussion of Grown-upping the summer.  One of the co-hosts has 4 simple goals for the summer: Learn something new, enjoy something, do something good for you, and finish something.  I could do this.

While I was at the beach, I learned something new...stand-up paddle boarding.  I even joined a class of paddle board yoga.  It was amazing to do yoga in a grove of water lilies.  I think there should be a paddle-board outfit on the bayou.

I am enjoying…flowers.  My kitchen table glows with a bouquet of white and pink lisianthus I bought at the farmer’s market last Saturday.  Flowers are a simple way to bring joy inside.

My view this morning

I am committing to walking every day. Walking is simple.  Walking is sacred.  Walking is good for you.

The goal of finishing something is a bit of a challenge.  I am working on a new book of poetry about the first African American female physician in the state of Louisiana.  This challenges my research and writing skills.  I’d like to finish it by the time school starts back or at the latest by September.  The good news is I am more than half-way there.

Summer is also a time for quiet meditation, reading, and connecting with my family.  Summer has a slowed down sun-kissed feeling. What are your goals for the summer?
Click here to add your link or read more Spiritual Journey posts.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

My One Little Word for 2018 is Explore! I’ve decided to thoroughly embrace this word this summer.  I am currently on an exploratory adventure at the beach.  My daughter is an account executive for an advertising agency, so she had some meetings here and invited me to tag along.  What a treat!  Our first day we ventured out to an inlet lake that is surrounded by sand dunes.  We did stand up paddleboarding.  The day was hot and sunny, but we did it.  I felt a sense of pride that I was actually able to make the paddleboard move in a somewhat straight line.  On Wednesday, I’m going to try paddleboard yoga.

This morning while she was in meetings, I ventured out to Grayton Beach State Park. Even in the rain, this was a beautiful area.  I was alone on the trail of crystal sand dunes, of bending sand live oaks, and of tall pines that look like tall umbrellas. The dunes set off a lake (Western Lake where we went paddleboarding.) that is a unique salt water/ fresh water ecosystem.  The dunes themselves are preserved. Here are a few of my pictures.

Grayton Beach sand dunes

 

Sand live oaks grow in sculpted shapes.

The sky itself looks like an ocean.

 

Hanging out with women in the advertising business has taught me some new terms to add to my lexicon:

  1. cranking: This is another word for getting on the computer and getting work done.  Best done when it’s raining and you can’t go “content gathering.”
  2. content gathering: This is a term for going out and taking pictures so that you can post them on social media to show others how fun it is to be here.
  3. content: a picture that could be used to promote a place.  One of my pictures was used on Instagram as “content.” Follow @Southwalton

And the best way to have a team meeting is when everyone is in PJs and passing around a bottle of wine.  (I think I may have gotten into the wrong profession.)  In addition to being a relaxing trip to the beach, I have enjoyed time alone with daughter number 2 and learning about the work she does everyday.  It’s not always at the beach, though.

 

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