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Archive for August, 2019

Poetry Friday round-up is with Kat at her blog.

A few weeks ago the Sunday Night Swaggers, my online writing group, posted a new form created by poet and teacher Heidi Mordhorst, the definito: a free verse poem of 8-12 lines that uses word play to define a word. The word is the last line of the poem.

I introduced the form to my students. Every Friday we are deconstructing poetry and writing our own. We name and mark poetic elements. This activity inspired me to write definitos about poetic terms. I am sharing three of them today, alliteration, imagery, and personification.


Letters, linked
and lively,
Lindy-hopping on the page
Notice how
some sounds repeat
Tongue twister
Word sister
alliteration.



Make a movie
in your mind
Imagine all
that tastes, feels, sounds–
hands gripping,
feet slipping,
Writers show me
how to see
with imagery.


If the wind waves
If flowers wink
If hummingbirds tell a tale.
A thing you know
A thing you love
becomes a person
real and alive
walking across the page
personification.

Margaret Simon, drafts, 2019

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Last week I read my teacher-blogger-writer-friend Molly Hogan’s Slice of Life post. It touched the poet in me. Molly wakes early and goes on photography quests. When we’re lucky, she takes us along on her Facebook posts or blog. Last week she wrote this post entitled A Generous Morning.

Inspired, I copied her words into a found poem. Her generous morning became my generous morning. That’s how it works with creativity; it’s all big magic.


A Generous Morning

Lightening sky in the east
as surely as
the birds were migrating south,
I missed the swallows.


The sky seemed lonely.
Then a couple of swallows
dart and dive through the air currents,
and a bird approaching in the distance-

a heron

Sun rose higher, lit the mist.
Cedar waxwings flittered.
I watched it all, 
the generosity of morning.

a found poem by Margaret Simon using Molly Hogan’s words.
Heron on branch by Molly Hogan.

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

The children’s poetry community lost a friend and a mentor when Lee Bennett Hopkins died on August 8th. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but in everything I’ve read about him, he was a gentle leader and proud father of poetry.

Among his many anthologies, I have Amazing Places on my classroom shelf. In it, Lee Bennett Hopkins collected poems about places around our country. His contribution was a poem titled Langston.

Though his professional writing was successful, it was the death of poet Langston Hughes in 1967 that proved to be a spark for Hopkins’s career of anthologizing poetry for children. 

By Shannon Maughan | 
Aug 13, 2019
Amazing Places: Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Lee & Low Books, 2015.

While borrowing a few lines as well as the form of this poem and reading his obituary on Publishers Weekly, I wrote this poem for Lee.


His Dusts of Dreams
after Lee Bennett Hopkins “Langston” 
for Lee Bennett Hopkins, 1938-2019

Who would have known
a young boy
of divorce,
a poor student
inspired by a teacher
would find his footing
in education–

from student
to teacher
to collector of poems,
With greetings to all
Dear Ones,
he left 
his dusts of dreams. 

Margaret Simon, 2019

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Image result for mary anne radmacher quotes

We started our first Monday together with this quote. I introduced notebook writing. Begin with a quote, talk a bit about it, then write for 10 minutes. Writing alongside my students gives me great joy. I’ve missed this over the summer and happy to have it back.

Here’s a little peek into my notebook musings:

There’s a book by Parker Palmer with the title “The Courage to Teach.” I read it years ago, and I can’t remember much about it, but the title still resonates. I’m entering my 32nd year of teaching. I would be what they call a “veteran” teacher. You could say I’ve earned my grey hair, but I rarely feel like an expert. Everyday teaching requires courage. You must put aside the headache from lack of sleep (or lack of caffeine, or both), and be ready to listen and see each student as a child who needs you to love them, to know them, and to understand them.

Currently I am listening to Cornelius Minor’s book We Got This. I highly recommend it even though I’m just a few chapters in. Cornelius speaks of the courage to teach as well as the necessity that we be intentional with our every step. We need to teach in a way that meets the needs of our students. And we get to know these needs by listening.

I’m encouraged that what I do for my students (notebook writing, independent reading, etc.) are courageous steps toward being a compassionate teacher. I need to trust the years of experience to guide me and comfort me in the knowledge that I Got This. Courage doesn’t always roar. It’s a daily walk, a listening ear, and a loving heart.

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

Christie Wyman has invited the Poetry Friday community to write about trees this week. I am back in school and have so missed the days of writing alongside my students. Because I am itinerant and teach at three schools, I have three opportunities to write during the day. That gave me time to write, read aloud, revise, write. Not to mention the joy my students felt to be back in the saddle of writing.

We used “That was Summer” by Marci Ridlon as a mentor text. The repetition makes this form an easy one to mimic. I chose to write about the different trees we see each season.


Seasons of Trees
after Marci Ridlon “That was Summer”

Remember that time
when the rope swing hung
from the old oak tree
the knot round and rough?
You wrapped your skinny legs on tight
let someone give you a push
your head leaned back
tongue out, tasting the breeze.
That was summer.

Remember that time you gathered pecans
plopping one by one
into grandfather’s tin bucket?
You held the brown nut to the metal cracker,
and turned the handle until Crack!
Tasting hickory butter sweetness.
That was autumn.

Remember when the wind turned cold,
Flakes fell softly on the trees,
and you bundled up and walked
with your sisters through rows and rows
of Christmas spruce,
playing hide and seek
and searching for the just-right one.
That was winter.

Remember how the warm sun rose
on the Japanese magnolia
prompting firm blossoms
to open like helium-filled party balloons?
Remember how you walked near
to smell the strong rosy scent
that could make you sneeze?
That was spring.



Margaret Simon, draft, 2019
image from Pixabay

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

One of the joys of summer is participating in Tabatha Yeatts’ Summer Poetry Swap. Tabatha creates the matchups, and we enjoy sending and receiving poetic gifts.

This week I received a gift from Jone MacCulloch. Jone took an amazing trip this summer to Page, Arizona where she took photos in Secret Canyon. She wrote a beautiful poem capturing the feeling of being there. She had the image printed onto a plaque that has a stand, so it all becomes a piece of art to display.

I took a quick trip to the beach in Florida last week with my daughter. I posted an interesting image on Instagram and invited friends to write a haiku to it. I had a few takers. The catch was they couldn’t use the word “sun”.

Beach reflection, photo by Margaret Simon

reflective water
meets the blinding summer’s jewel
they kiss in between

Kaylie Bonin ( a former student, now college freshman)

day’s ending
water ignites
one final moment

Linda Baie

yellow and white light
drawn together by nature
reflects the divine

Evelyn Migues

my eyes catch the light
bright reflection from above
I need sunglasses

Gloria McKenzie

If you want to play along, leave a haiku response in the comments.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life
Thoughts and Prayers by Kelli Broussard Kaufman

When we don’t know what to say, art can speak for us. This painting was done by Kelli Broussard Kaufman. She’s a Lafayette artist I follow on Facebook. (Her parents are good friends and neighbors.) I asked her permission to post the image here, and she also told me about her process. Her playlist while painting included Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. Her art, the song, and her process notes inspired this poem.

In the sound of silence,
we think no one cares.
The words have all been said.
Prayers are empty now.

Silence like a cancer grows.
The wax burns, drips, soils
the flag we want to save us.
How many more?

In the naked light I saw
a flicker of candles in the wind
drawing strength from one another
burning bright and singing out–

This is not who we are.
This is not our story.
We are one people.
We are better than this.

(draft) Margaret Simon

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