Archive for March, 2022

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Today is March 31st, and I have successfully written a blog post every day this month. Today, many of us in the Two Writing Teachers community are breathing a little easier knowing we made it. Earlier this year, I received an Emergency Encouragement Writing Kit from Irene Latham. When it came time to make a new journal cover, I cut out this quote and placed it front and center.

I don’t always (actually, rarely do I) believe it to be true. But just in case it is what the world needs from me, I keep at it. I have to thank you, my dear reader, for your dedication to listening. You honor me with your presence.

According to Kate DiCamillo, writing is a “sacred task”. And though I am not and never will be a writer like Kate, I believe that what I do here is sacred.

It matters. Story matters. What we do matters.

I attended a mental health seminar last night. I was pleasantly surprised that there was food and wine. The intention of the evening was to let teachers know their own self-worth. The speaker was a local counselor who talked about ways to take care of ourselves. She repeated a mantra: “I am worthy. I am enough. I am amazing.”

We all have times when we feel like imposters. Writing a blog post each day that friends and strangers can read makes you vulnerable. Often I feel like I don’t know what I am doing. Thank you for reading and appreciating and caring.

Tomorrow begins a new chapter: National Poetry Month. I am committing to writing a poem each day and leading my students to do the same. April is my favorite month of the year. Click here to read a post I wrote for Cardinal Rule Press about National Poetry Month. Happy writing. Happy reading.

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

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Last week I took my students out to the playground to find photos. I wrote about the activity yesterday. I was surprised by the variety and interest their photos generated. Without any direction, Adelyn straddled the drainage and folded herself in half and took this photo upside down. When I asked if I could use her photo for the poetry prompt, she said, “Be sure to give me credit.” Of course. She wrote this equation poem: Investigation = question + adventure.

Now it’s your turn. What do you see? Write a small poem in the comments. Support other writers with your comments.

Follow your curiosity.
Landing among the stones,
Explore a mystery.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Following other teacher-bloggers can lead to new ideas for classroom activities. Recently I read Kim Douillard’s posts about using photography with her students. She graciously sent me a slide show to teach students about three photography techniques, bug’s eye view, bird’s eye view, and rule of thirds. My students caught on to these ideas with ease and were anxious to get outside to try them out. Our beautiful spring weather was a wonderful collaborator.

Following our playground photo sessions, my students used the editing tools on the Chromebooks. Kim had led her students to write equation poems with their photographs. I shared Laura Purdie Salas’s equation poems. I directed my students to use Canva to display their photos and equation poems. Here are a few student photos.

Sunlight + Trees = Painting by Jaden, 6th grade
Ripple = Air + Net by Chloe, 6th grade

The creative teacher in me wants to find more opportunities to practice photography and language. In fact, I think I’ll use one of their images for a poem prompt tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I am proud to be a council member on the TECHE Project. This weekend the final touches on a kayak dock in downtown New Iberia were installed. My friend and TECHE Project member David Dahlquist designed kiosks for every town along the route of the Bayou Teche. For this kiosk in New Iberia, he placed my poem I am a Beckoning Brown Bayou from my book Bayou Song. It warms my heart to know someone will read this poem every day.

The TECHE project also works to improve the water quality of the bayou. The ultimate goal is to restore the waterway to be a safe recreational area. The work is ongoing and requires participation from many entities. Yesterday afternoon, Jeff and I did our small part. We picked up two plastic chairs and pieces of 3 styrofoam ice chests. We also had a beautiful paddle on a gorgeous spring day. What a blessing the bayou is to us and our neighbors! A place of peace in this crazy world.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

In a small town, a canopy connects our city to a city in Spain.

Brinkley Segura Lopez with a crocheted piece for the installation.

Brinkley read about a project from New Iberia’s twin city of Alhaurín de la Torre in Spain, an installation of crocheted blankets forming a canopy. She decided to do something similar in New Iberia for the annual Spanish Festival that celebrates the founding of Nueva Iberia. On Saturday, my husband and I walked through Church Alley and visited with Brinkley and viewed the large variety of pieces being sewn together. She hopes to drape Church Alley in one long piece for the Spanish Festival in a few weeks. Click here to see an article from Spain about the installation.

Brinkley’s young daughter wants to help.

In a small town, your best friend becomes Volunteer of the Year.

Patti Holland, Executive Director of The Teche project presents Jenny Lacour with a map of the Bayou Teche.

I am on the council for the Teche Project and our annual banquet was held last night. My good friend Jenny, helped at the greeting table, served food, and was generally all over the place doing whatever needed doing, and then she was shocked to be awarded the Volunteer-of-the-Year Award. The photograph on the big screen showed Jenny in boots with mud to her knees after planting native irises on the bank of the bayou in City Park. Anyone who digs in mud and rescues Patti from falling into the mud is worthy of this prize. I’m proud to call her my friend.

In a small town, you can walk down Main Street and sit outside for a Saturday lunch.

Church Alley, Main Street, New Iberia

Saturday was a wonderful perfect weather day, so my husband and I visited the Church Alley Cafe, a new coffee shop and eatery tucked into an old building down Church Alley. We remember the years before revitalization when Church Alley was a gravel, trashy mess that most were afraid to walk through. But today it’s bustling with renovation and revitalization. We had a nice lunch outside. When Jeff finished his salad, one of the proprietors ran out with salad dressing and said, “Did anyone get a salad without dressing?” Jeff took his last bit and admitted he had a dry salad, but he didn’t want to complain. “I’m working on spreading good karma.” A few minutes later, she asked if he’d like a fresh bowl of lobster mac-n-cheese. After taking his first savory bite, he declared, “I traded up!”

I love a small town kind of day!

Nueva Iberia 1779 centered below the colors of Spain and the Acadian flag.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

“Come see one of your friends,” my husband pleaded. I had just put toothpaste on my toothbrush for the nightly ritual of getting ready for bed. I was too tired for this game. But I went anyway.
“It better not be a snake!” I exclaimed.

He assured me, “I wouldn’t do that to you.” History says otherwise.

He opened the kitchen door to the back porch and there it was. A black swallowtail butterfly!

Black swallowtail butterfly

I was ecstatic! “I can’t believe it hatched. I thought the chrysalis was dead.”

I understand that a chrysalis is supposed to look dead for its own protection, but this one was on a garden trellis that had been knocked over by the wind, carried in and out of my monarch butterfly domain. It held 3 different monarch chrysalises this past winter. I was grateful that I hadn’t taken the dead-looking thing off. I left it without hope or even an inkling that it would ever hatch.

This is the caterpillar from last summer. June 9, 2021 to be exact. I had taken my grandsons on a trip to a nearby farm. The caterpillar was on a parsley plant. The plant was in a small black plastic pot as if it had just been delivered from the nursery. I took the caterpillar and the plant and placed them into a butterfly net enclosure. It made the chrysalis not long after this, but never emerged. Until last night, 9 months later. Currently, the beauty is still hanging on to the screen. I hope he gets the courage to fly. My little miracle!

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I’m excited to hear from Tabatha that Imperfect II is almost here. I have a few small poems included. The anthology is ready for pre-order here. The blog for this book is here.

Hardcover for Imperfect II

My blog is featured on Twinkl as a Top 10+ poetry blog for children.

The Kidlit Progressive Poem begins on April 1st. The schedule is ready to go. Irene Latham starts us off. I can’t wait!

Click here to copy and paste the Kidlit Progressive Poem schedule.

I won a copy of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s new book If This Bird Had Pockets, released March 1st. Amy is one of my favorite poets and people. Her poetry makes me smile. It’s accessible to children and is just plain fun!

Personal signature on the title page of If This Bird Had Pockets

Many poets take on a poem-a-day project during National Poetry Month. I haven’t decided yet if I am creating one or just following along with someone else. What are your plans for celebrating National Poetry Month?

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Enough is a feast.

Buddhist Proverb

I’ve almost made this a habit, Thankful Thursday. It works for me, helps me gather what the week has given so far. Gratitude helps me live into my One Little Word: Enough.

  1. This baby rose cutting was left on my front porch. I haven’t found the person to thank yet. I’ve tried a few suspects with not luck. It’s a mystery. The plant looks like a Peggy Martin rose. I bought one last spring, and I know I talked a lot about wanting one. That’s because my SCBWI colleagues and friends Carol Stubbs and Nancy Rust wrote a picture book about this rose, The Rose Without a Name. It’s the story of the Katrina Rose and how it survived the flood of Hurricane Katrina. I’m excited to have this cutting and will find a good place to plant it, but if you are reading this and you gave it to me, please let me know.

2. Every once in a while I treat myself to a Starbucks coffee drink. Yesterday I had bonus points for a free drink. I’m thankful for the cute barista who made this cold brew with sweet cream foam just right.

3. Yesterday the temperatures were in the 60’s and breezy. I took my coffee drink out to the deck and just listened to the wind chimes. I’m thankful to live in such a beautiful place, Bayou Teche. I don’t do this enough and it really fed my soul to just sit and listen.

What are you thankful for this week? Tell me in the comments.

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Laura Shovan is an author-poet-friend who lives in Maryland. She posted this photo on Facebook with the following message:

Bloodwort is one of my favorite #secretgarden plants. They only bloom for a few days in early spring. The dogs (or I) stepped on this flower — rescued and happily in an espresso cup!

Laura Shovan, 3/22/22

I love the idea of a secret garden. I love the book The Secret Garden. When I first moved to the house I live in now, every season I would discover new-to-me plants and flowers.

I also love that Laura rescued this little blossom and placed it on a table in an espresso cup. Something so ceremonial and sacred about that.

Bloodwort is also known as bloodroot because the roots are red. Join me in musing on this photo today. Leave your small poem in the comments and encourage other writers with your responses.

Bloodwort by Laura Shovan

from her secret garden
at her feet.
She knelt in the still cold earth
to notice
and return its kindness,
placing the small flower
in a small cup,
like a prayer.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Quote-of-the-day from Matthew, age 11, in 365 Days of Wonder:

This precept gave me the opportunity to teach about simile. Avalyn understood immediately and created her own simile. When the syllable count emerged as 5, then 7, I saw a haiku in the making. Avalyn completed it with a dazzling 5-syllable line.

Hope is the rainbow
sparkling in the sunshine rain
dazzling air with Joy!

Avalyn, 2nd grade

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