Archive for April, 2023

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Ruth at There is no Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town.

This has been an April full of poetry. In between the dreaded test prep, I have offered my students poetry breaks. I pulled out all of my poetry books and let them dig in. We also wrote some poetry. My students, when they hear the word poetry, breathe a sigh of relief and joy. I am lucky they are young and haven’t been stained by the bee that says poetry is hard.

We’ve watched a few of Allan Wolf’s Poetry Month videos. They are all on YouTube. It’s like having him visit my classroom with all his humor, antics, and natural Po-Love. My students loved watching him juggle while teaching them about dactyl meter. Sadie, 4th grade, is writing her own poems using dactyl meter.

My emotional bees

Make me want to have pet fleas!

My emotional bees

They just never seem to ease!

Sadie, 4th grade

My third grade student, Avalyn was drawn in by Marilyn Singer’s reverso poems in Mirror, Mirror and Follow, Follow. I sent Marilyn a message on Instagram, and she sent us a “Tips for Writing Reverso Poems.” Avalyn borrowed a few lines and created a poem of her own. We discovered reversos are really hard to write well.

Very pleasant,
happily ever after.
Luggage is packed.
You sob.
Nobody is there.

Nobody is there,
you sob.
Luggage is packed.
Happily ever after,
very pleasant.

Avalyn, 3rd grade

Each week I present This Photo Wants to be a Poem on my blog and with my students on Fanschool. You can see their Prime Number Haikus this week at this link by clicking on the comment button at the bottom of the page.

Prime Number Haiku

Grows great and strong but
Will not stay for very long
You try to win but you will pop very soon

Adelyn, 4th grade

April has been a wonderful month of poetry. Thanks to all of our Poetry Friday friends who have contributed to the Kidlit Progressive Poem which is still traveling, almost done. Today it’s at Karin Fisher-Golton.

I am keeping all of my daily poems in a slide show. Here’s my own Prime Number Haiku which was a prompt from Ethical ELA.

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For Easter I brought my three-year-old grandson a dinosaur bubble blower. He went outside to blow the bubbles. I’m not sure how he figured out how to make bubbles pile up on each other. He was first doing this on the ground. Then he made this beauty on a vine. It looks like a flower of bubbles.

I wrote about bubbles in Two Truths and a Fib poetry anthology edited by Bridget Magee. I like playing with forms, so if you’d like to join me, select a form you’d like to try and go for it. Bubble up with a new poem today. Share it in the comments. Support other bubble blowers in the comments.

A Prime Number Haiku (Syllable Count= 2, 3, 5, 7, 11)

one becomes
rainbows blossoming
building hexagonal blooms
on a vine to be blown into the wind: Poof!

Margaret Simon, draft

Last night I had the honor of participating in a Facebook video with my Poetry Friday friends. We talked about how Poetry Friday has influenced our lives and ways to use poetry in the classroom with students. I joined Laura Shovan, Heidi Mordhorst, Sylvia Vardell, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Mary Lee Hahn, Janet Wong, and Irene Latham. You can view the show on Facebook at this link.

The Kidlit Progressive Poem is with Patricia Franz today.

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This month, National Poetry Month 2023, I’ve been following the prompts on Ethical ELA, a virtual treasure of inspiration. But I keep writing about the same thing over and over. My father, my mother, my own role as a grandparent. I think when we write condensed lines, we push our deepest thoughts up to the surface. I’m trying to let that part of me flow where it wants (or needs) to flow. This week I’ve written two of these kinds of poems to #VerseLove. Prompts can be found here.

If you want to be a poet, I highly recommend joining in with #VerseLove. Just like the hashtag says, it’s all about love. Each day that I write, I feel wrapped in the arms of other writers, tenderly cared for. Putting your writing out there into the world is hard and intimidating. Finding a caring community is rare and special. Like the community of writers at Two Writing Teachers, the teachers at Ethical ELA have become my friends. I am grateful to all the writers there, especially the ones who seek out my writing amongst many and comment like wind beneath my wings.

Photo and poem by Margaret Simon.

I am saving my poems in a Google slide show which allows me to save each slide as an image and share it here. Above is a photo of my father and my granddaughter Stella in the summer of 2021.

Today’s Ethical ELA prompt was given by Jessica, a self-identifying cinquain.

I am a Grandmother

state of being
fertility startled
by faces of me reflected
in you.

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

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On Sunday morning we paddled on Mother Earth’s church, the Bayou Teche. The day was near perfect with a little cloud cover and moderate temperatures. We invited friends to join us. We actually saw an alligator. He was a juvenile about 3 feet long sunning himself on some concrete rip-rap. I got a good picture of him. He was totally still, not spooked at all by our moving closer to him. He smiled for me.

Gator juvenile, downtown New Iberia, LA. photo by Margaret Simon

Bayou Cinquain

how light dances
on bayou’s belly rolls
washing us with soothing hopeful

Margaret Simon
Bayou Teche, New Iberia, LA (photo by Margaret Simon)

The Progressive Poem is with Janet today at Tabatha’s blog The Opposite of Indifference.

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Poetry Friday is hosted today by Karen Edmisten


I was introduced to Jessica Whipple by my friend Irene Latham. What a delight to read her new picture book “Enough is” illustrated by Nicole Wong. Enough was my One Little Word for 2022. When I need to remind myself that I am enough and I have enough, I wear the bracelet that bears the word. Jessica took this idea and stretched it into love in a picture book. “Somewhere between a little and a lot, there is Enough.”

The child character is learning about enough. “Enough isn’t a number,” so she wonders, what is enough? She comes to the profound conclusion that when you have enough, it’s easy to share.

I asked Jessica to answer some questions about her author’s journey to publication. Her book Enough Is published this week.

How would you describe your journey as a writer?

My journey as a writer began as an experiment! I’m a “try it and see what happens” kind of person. In short, I had an idea (out of which came my first book, ENOUGH IS…), and then the question “I wonder if I can write a picture book?” And soon after, “What does it take to publish a picture book?” I was a young-ish mom, so picture books were starting to fill my consciousness! And I have a degree in communications, and so writing has been part of my make-up for some time. Four, maybe five years later, here I am and I never expected to answer my first two questions in such a delightfully surprising and satisfying way.  

How does writing poetry help when writing a picture book? How are they different?  

There are similarities in form between a free verse poem and a picture book, and of course a rhyming PB and a rhyming poem. There tend to be short lines in both forms, economical language, a set “flow,” lyricism, introspection, toying with reader expectations…I could go on! In fact, I am working on a virtual or in-person presentation for poetry-loving highschoolers about this topic. Shameless plug: I would love to speak to your student literary magazine or English class! 

Is Enough a concept you feel young children have a hard time with? What is your experience with this concept? 

Very much, yes! And my own experience is that I have a hard time with it as an adult, even! As a child, I remember the sadness that came after, say, a back-to-school shopping trip and how conflicted I was with the realization it was all just “stuff,” yet somehow I wanted more of it. And now, without limits, I’ll simply keep eating chocolate chips out of the bag if I don’t remind myself that I wrote a book about this very thing! “Enough” is hard because it’s uncomfortable. We want…things, friends, happiness, you name it…so the more we help each other learn contentment, the easier it is to feel comfortable with having enough. 

What part of the publishing journey is your favorite? Your least favorite? 

Oh man I love querying! And now that I have an agent, Emily Keyes of Keyes Agency, I don’t get to do that anymore! I love the process of doing the same thing over and over again trying for a good result. But I suppose I can keep doing that as I work to promote my books… In terms of my least favorite part of the publishing journey, definitely the waiting!

Do you have any writing rituals that others may find helpful in their own writing? 

I wouldn’t say this is a ritual, more of a mindset, perhaps: It doesn’t hurt to ask! For anything! As long as you are respectful, polite, and grateful, by all means, ASK. THE. QUESTION!  Maybe it’s, “Is my manuscript still being considered?” Great one! As long as you’ve minded submission guidelines, send a brief email and ASK! Or are you seeking a blurb from an author you love? Say why you admire that author and ASK! I can’t tell you the many times putting myself out there and advocating for myself–not aggressively, but confidently–has led to positive results.

Welcome Jessica to Poetry Friday with your comments. Don’t forget to follow the Kidlit Progressive Poem to Sarah Grace Tuttle’s site today.

And because it’s National Poetry Month and I am writing a poem each day, I have a Zeno about the word Enough. J. Patrick Lewis invented the form using a mathematical pattern of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1 in which the one syllables rhyme. I’ve been watching ruby-throated hummingbirds fighting over the feeder.


When I am down, worried about
having enough,
God sends
hummingbirds flit-
messengers of

Margaret Simon, draft

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My birthday is in August. August is the first month of school when everything is getting put into place, so when the birthday buddy list was circulated, my birthday had passed. I never gave it a thought.

Until Monday when a special gift was delivered to me from a third grade teacher. On the note, she wrote “Happy Birthday from your Birthday Buddy! Since your birthday had passed when I received your name, I got to choose today to celebrate you!”

Not only was the thought of a nonbirthday-birthday fun for me, the gift was just right, a bird seed wreath to hang near a window to watch the birds come to eat. Thoughtful, kind, and all about me!

On Monday, I shared Allan Wolf’s poem “Living the Poet’s Life.” Each line begins with “A poem can be…” Allan is sharing videos each day of this month on his Instagram as well as YouTube.

Allan Wolf reciting “Living the Poet’s Life”

My students and I borrowed the form to write our own poems repeating the line “A poem can be…” I made my poem into a zine thank you note for my birthday buddy.

The Kidlit Progressive Poem is with Cathy Hutter, Poeturescapes.

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My classroom neighbor is connected with a door between our rooms. Often she or I will knock and visit. One of those visits I talked about my weekly blog post of a photo, and she showed me photographs from her dance troupe. I was moved by the seeming still life of a dancer in flight. Kim got permission from both the photographer, Jon Rabalais, and the dancer, Lacey LeBlanc, for me to post this photo as a poem prompt. I hope you are inspired as I was to write about this amazing photo. Thanks to Jon and Lacey for sharing it with us.

My poem is a bit of word play, changing nouns to verbs. I enjoyed creating my poem. Please leave a small poem in the comments and encourage other writers with your comments. Honor the artistry of dance and photography with words.

Photo by Jon Rabalais. Dancer is Lacey LeBlanc.

I bird-dance
my winged hands
I leg-lift
I body-rise

Margaret Simon, draft

The Kidlit Progressive Poem is gaining suspense in the garden. Check out today’s line at Carol’s blog: https://theapplesinmyorchard.com/

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I’ve been participating in VerseLove over at Ethical ELA. Today, Fran Haley invited us to write a triolet. This is a form I find challenging because the repeated lines, while they should be easy, make it hard to create an original poem in which the flow doesn’t seemed forced.

I love nature and observing the intimacy of birds. Recently I witnessed a cardinal couple feeding. Such a sweet moment to see the male feeding the female. In case you are wondering, I intentionally changed the last line to play with metaphor.

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Looking at the calendar-chart plan for this month, I realize I haven’t written a cinquain yet. This form is a five-lined verse with a syllable count 2, 4, 6, 8, 2. Yesterday was the most perfect spring day after a raging storm the night before. The air was breezy with a touch of cool. Perfect canoeing weather, so Jeff and I seized the day and paddled for a couple hours. One of our goals for each paddle is to clean up crap junk from the bayou. Yesterday we retrieved a basketball, a soccer ball, and a few cans and water bottles, one large piece of styrofoam. A small part, but we had a good time finding and trying to retrieve it.

how light dances
on bayou’s belly rolls
washing us with soothing hopeful

Margaret Simon, draft

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I got sidetracked from using the daily calendar that Molly and I created for our National Poetry Month Project. Even though we decided it was flexible and not a commitment, I wanted to check off another form with today’s poem.

One of my favorite forms for playing around with words is Heidi Mordhorst’s Definito. What a clever form! It’s a poem for children of 8-12 lines that uses word play to define a word. I had a draft started about the word Shenanigans. Isn’t that a fun word to say? After spending a night with grandson #2, I was taken back to it.

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