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Archive for the ‘Bayou Song’ Category

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

Bayou Song is on the wall of books!

The rains had ended, the cool front came through, adding an element of celebration (like Christmas) to the Louisiana Book Festival.  This year was the 15th annual book festival and the 15th awards ceremony for LA Writes, our state youth writing contest.  I have been involved since the first contest and the first book festival.  I always marvel at the young authors as they arrive dressed up with their whole extended families with them. It is an event for celebrating good writing and for families celebrating their authors.

My student Chloe reads her winning poem, Cool Words.

Following the wonderful awards ceremony, I offered a student writing workshop.  You never really know what kind of audience to expect.  I was delighted to have 3 writers join me.  One was a 6-year-old who wrote and drew, then buzzed around. Her mother said, “She’s doing a lap.”  Then she was back to writing and drawing.  The other two girls were a sister pair.  The older sister is a student at LSU.  I am not accustomed to teaching college kids, but I was pleasantly surprised at how she responded to my prompts.  She wrote an I am poem about the river. (Baton Rouge is located on the Mississippi River.) When I taught them about the zeno poem, she transformed her I am poem into a zeno.  This was an unexpected transfer that worked well for her poem.  She gave me permission to publish it here.

I am a rusted red river.
My mouth echoes
rising
flood.
I touch cities
with their
blood.
Reminder they
come from
mud.

–Jami Kleinpeter

Thanks, Jami, for enriching our lives with your poem and for showing me how a simple (meant for elementary kids) prompt can be transformed into a sophisticated and profound poem.

 

 

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

This was my first time to attend the T.E.C.H.E. Project’s Shake Your Trail Feather Festival in Breaux Bridge, LA on the shores of Bayou Teche, the same bayou that runs behind my home in New Iberia.  When researching for Bayou Song, I found their website and began to take more interest in learning about their mission.  I even discovered that some of our friends are involved.  When I got an email from the tourist commission about this event, I wrote to the organizers and asked if I could sell books and give proceeds to the project.  I didn’t know how much fun I would have!

I set up my book table inside a gazebo with the children’s activities.  The women here welcomed me, and I enjoyed chatting with them all throughout the day.  One of the kids’ activities was a bird scavenger hunt. The children were given a booklet of common bayou birds.  The children decorated “binoculars” made with paper towel tubes and Mardi Gras beads.  Then they searched for pictures with facts placed around the event area.  The kids were charged with writing one fact about each bird and returning for a prize.  The prizes included a bookmark, a sticker, and a turtle puzzle.

Ava came back from her scavenger hunt excited to turn her facts into a poem.  But how?  I showed her the poem “Barred Owl” written with two to three word lines in rhyming couplets, such as “soulful eyes/From hollow spies.”  I talked with Ava about how her facts could become a poem.

“Which bird is your favorite?”

“The belted kingfisher.”

“What did you learn about the kingfisher?”

Ava reads, “He hovers…”

“What rhymes with hovers?”

Ava shouts, “covers!”

“What covers the kingfisher?”

“Feathers!”

I scribed each line as we discussed her ideas.

At one point, Ava turned and ran. I realized she was going back to the fact sheet to find more facts to use.  When we finished writing, she excitedly shared her poem with whomever would listen.  She felt like a poet!

Her grandfather bought her a book, so she copied her poem into her book.  Later when an art teacher happened by, I asked her to help Ava draw a picture of a kingfisher to go with her poem.  Then she not only felt like a poet, she was an artist too.

Ava, 3rd grade, copied her poem into her Bayou Song book.

Me with Ava and her little sister celebrating writing poetry and art at the Shake Your Trail Feather Festival.

Huge kingfisher sculptures adorn a party barge that led the canoe paddle on Bayou Teche.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

 

What a thrill to be a part of this amazing collection of poems from all over our great country!  This honor was made possible by the connections I’ve made in Poetry Friday.  Because Amy Ludwig VanDerwater knows me, when J. Patrick Lewis was looking for a Louisiana children’s poet, she connected us.  The poem I wrote, “Louisiana Bayou Song” became the title poem of my first poetry book published by UL Press this summer.

I also know many of the poets included in the collection, and if you read more Poetry Friday posts, you will find them, too.  Today, Buffy Silverman’s post includes 4 poems from the book.  Last week, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater posted her poem “A Note from the Trail.”

Here’s Linda Kulp Trout’s poem about Helen Keller.  And Mary Lee has two poems included. Robyn Hood Black shared her poem, “Mural Compass.” If I find more, I will add the links into this post.

My poem sits on a two page spread that includes an amazing heron photograph and a heart-wrenching Katrina poem by the anthologist J. Patrick Lewis.  I feel I am sitting among my poet-heroes.

 

Louisiana Bayou Song

Sometimes on the bayou in Louisiana
a storm rolls in quickly–
Cypress trees
sway to the sound.

Sometimes on a quiet day
when the sun is high and hot
a heron happens by–
The bayou slows to the beat of his wading.

The song of the bayou
can be as fast and frenetic as a Zydeco two-step
or as soft and slow as a Cajun waltz–
The bayou sings a song to me.

Margaret Simon (c)

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Erin at The Water’s Edge.

 

I am in the process of planning a workshop for teachers for the Acadiana Center for the Arts to be held on October 11th. When I met with my teaching partner, artist Marla Kristicevich, we discussed creative ways a teacher/writer/student could respond to my poems in Bayou Song.  I loved her idea of creating magazine collage.  I wanted to give it a try myself and with my own students.  The collages are as diverse as the students themselves.  

From the collages, we then wrote an I am poem.  For this, I offered sentence stems to get the ideas flowing.  Today, I am posting one of my collages and poem along with Madison’s.  Madison wanted to use a unique word, so we looked through what I call “the big whopping dictionary,” a two book set my daughter bought me at an antique store.  Madison found the word reliquary, and we had a discussion about the metaphorical use of a river as a reliquary.  I love what she did with her poem.

 

I am a silver-tongued storyteller.

I wonder where my path leads.
I echo laughter, tears, and songs.
I watch the sun, moon, and stars.
I call your name.

I am a silver-tongued storyteller.
I remember tales of old.
I nurture time and treasures.
I say the heart is true.
I hope you’ll hear my call.

Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

 

I am a Rambling River Reliquary

I wonder if I can ever turn back.
I echo the past.
I watch the present.
I call for the future.
I wind a wide bend.
I touch every memory.
I nurture your thoughts.
I want to never stop.
I remember the crashing thunder.
I say ” Swshhh, rrww! ”
I tell the wind my tales.
I hope I can find more.

Madison, 5th grade

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.

 

I’ve challenged my students to write a list poem this week.  Before Friday was even here, Madison had taken the bait and wrote a list about the famous Fibonacci series. Madison has an unique style of writing poetry.  She capitalizes all the words.  I once asked her why she did that, and she told me because they are all important.  Who can argue with that!?

Fib-List Poetry

Never-ending
Always Twirling

Since the Very Beginning
It has been Swirling

Green Points
A Real Place to Pinpoint

It will Not Disappoint
At the Right Viewpoint

A Fibonacci
Unlike the Nazi

Madison, 5th grade

Phyllotaxis plant spiral, goodfreephotos.com

My friend Kay continues to use Bayou Song to inspire poetry with her gifted 4th and 5th graders.  Last week they wrote I am poems.  This week they wrote tercets.  I love Karter’s use of B words to express the beauty of birdsong.

Birdsongs
by Karter

Birds are like singing angels
Busting through sadness
Belting out melodies.

 

Pop on over to Linda Mitchell’s post full of poetry love from the National Book Festival last weekend.  Her post helps me remember with joy and celebration!

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Louisiana booth in the Parade of States.

Bayou Song was featured at the Louisiana booth at the National Book Festival. This was a fun yet humbling experience. Kids crowded our table wanting Mardi Gras beads and a stamp from our state. I stood on the side like a protective mother to my book. Occasionally an adult would take interest and want to talk. I had a number of good conversations about teaching, poetry, and writing. One parent and child asked me to sign the bookmark. I felt like Vashti from The Dot. Really? Yes, sign it.

A man picked up Bayou Song and as I reached out to grab it back, I realized he was reading a poem aloud to his infant son while a taller, school-aged boy clung to him. So heartwarming to see this scene in the midst of the crowd.  He explained that he is a stay-at-home dad and he reads poetry to his children every day.

 

The National Book Festival is a huge free event that promotes literacy on all levels. On the kid level, there were activities and talks by authors like Kate DiCamillo, Dan Santat, and Jason Reynolds.  For grown-up readers, there were some big names like Sonia Sotomayor, Amy Tan, and Roxanne Gay.

Poetry Friday friends Heidi Mordhorst, immediate right of the sign, and Linda Mitchell next to her. Heidi said, “Poetry is the means by which a person knows her place.”

The highlight of my day was to see two of my writing critique friends face to face. We palled around to a talk with poets laureate Tracy K Smith and Robert Haas. We also heard from a new-to-us author Suzanne Slade who presented about her new book Countdown. It’s written in verse! With amazing photos and illustrations.

Later in the day as I waited for my husband who was listening to Jon Meacham, I saw Suzanne walking by. I waved her down and not only was able to get her to sign her book, but we also had a great chat about writing and publishing. Authors are just regular people who love to talk about their work.

On Sunday, my husband and I worshiped at the National Cathedral and toured the Holocaust Museum. I was moved by both experiences in different ways.  Our nation’s capital is an awe-inspiring place to visit.  My husband agreed and said he’d accompany me on any author trips.  He enjoyed being my “roadie.”

 

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On Sunday, I had a book signing for my new children’s poetry book, Bayou Song. I invited photographer, Henry Cancienne. What a delight to finally meet him face to face! Henry and I have been communicating by email about the photographs he offered for inclusion in Bayou Song.

Meeting Henry, I was not surprised that he is as gentle in spirit in person as he seemed by email. His photographs are a reverence to Louisiana’s amazing natural environment. He told me that his photos are his legacy. We talked about some of his other books and he went out to his car and brought me two of them.

Photo by Henry Cancienne

Photo by Henry Cancienne

Photo by Henry Cancienne

Henry lives in Lockport, Louisiana, about 90 miles east of New Iberia. He goes out in the swamp and marshes nearly every day. Henry is a US Air Force veteran, retired science teacher, petroleum chemist, volunteer fire fighter, and police officer. His photographs have appeared in multiple books and magazines. He told me the story of this photograph of sun rays through live oaks. He saw the scene, pulled his car over, and took the photo. It’s included in Bayou Song as well as Louisiana Swamps and Marshes and currently is displayed in the governor’s office. He says you never know when you will get that perfect shot. Henry is always prepared with camera in hand.

Henry Cancienne

Today Laura Shovan has a stop on the blog tour with a zeno poem about cypress knees. Please stop by.

If you would like a signed copy of Bayou Song, you can order one from Books Along the Teche at 337-367-7621. If you would like it personalized, you can contact me by email. Thanks!

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