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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Design by Linda Mitchell

One of the wisdoms I have gained as a writer is that writing with others creates strong friendships because writing is such an act of vulnerability. It is true for the classroom, for writing workshops, and for critique groups. My group, the Inklings, are true friends. They listen, respond with integrity, and encourage me as a person as well as a writer. We live far away from each other, but we used Zoom long before the pandemic, and see each other twice monthly. This is all to say that when my father died, they did what they do best, and sent me a book of poems. I sat alone with these poems and let the comfort and wisdom of words wash over me. I offer a video today of me reading each poem sitting out by my beloved bayou. It’s 8 minutes long.

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Today’s Round-up for Spiritual Thursday posts is at Linda Mitchell’s site, A Word Edgewise.

I like to buy flowers. When I go to the grocery store, I often put a bouquet of flowers in my basket. I consider it rescuing them from certain death. Sometimes I find someone to give them to and other times, I cut them and place them in a vase for my husband and me to enjoy. Flowers just make life better.

Colorful roses from Walmart

The other day my neighbor shouted from her doorway, “Don’t go! I want to show you something.”

She brought out the amaryllis bulb I had place on her doorstep around Christmas time. It was blooming, a beautiful white double blossom.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” she cried. “Do you want it back?”

“Of course not. It’s meant for you to enjoy.”

“I do love flowers, you know.”

Heart card collage by Margaret Simon

What is in your heart today? Love, gratitude, grief? It’s all there. Take time today to hold your own heart with compassion. Buy yourself flowers.

To end this post, I want to share Avalyn’s heart poem. This was not my doing. She saw it in a book (Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog) that you can make a poem into a shape, so she wanted to try it. I showed her a quick YouTube video, and she created her own.

Concrete heart poem by Avalyn

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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 filled the last page of my notebook, the one I use every day as I write alongside my students. We use marbleized composition books. With decorative paper, magazines, and other things, we collage covers for our notebooks. The last few days I have been stealing a few minutes here or there to work on my new notebook. Here are my completed covers. I tend to be pretty critical of my own collage work, but I like these.

One of the elements on the front cover came from an ArtSpark postcard exchange with Jone MacCulloch and Amy Souza. I cut the quotes on the back from a 2021 calendar.

May the space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me.

Tracee Ellis Ross

This week I am sharing videos from Margaret Alvarez about gratitude art journaling that I discovered in an email from The Network for Grateful Living. We’ve enjoying playing with these easy, yet creative ideas in my classroom. Day one was “Life is a gift” using watercolor shapes and sharpie designs. Day two we did string art. My students have been highly motivated by art journaling. These ideas are simple enough for my second graders while creative enough for my 6th graders. And it’s fun!

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Poetry Friday is with Buffy Silverman.

Exchanging Christmas cards is a tradition that I choose to hold on to. There are people in my life I haven’t seen or talked to in years, decades even, yet we still exchange cards every year. It’s a lifeline. A loveline. A way to connect beyond any reason. I don’t fault anyone who opts out. It’s a time consuming commitment.

We don’t send a long letter anymore. The most I can get out is a sticker for the back with the very basic information. But I do enjoy reading the long letters that arrive. I don’t even care if it’s braggy, braggy. I have a friend whose tradition is to open all the holiday cards at once on Christmas morning. I tend to savor each one as it comes.

Art cards express a dedication of time and creativity. This year I received a beautiful collage art card from friend and fellow Inkling, Linda Mitchell. She says she “dabbles” but this card, and other work I’ve seen by her recently, are placing her into a higher artist category. She has talent, and I appreciate and admire her work.

Christmas card collage by Linda Mitchell

My father, John Gibson, is an artist who created art cards for years. In 2013, I created poems to accompany each card and collected them into a small chapbook, Illuminate. Today, I am featuring one of these cards and its poem.

The stable by John Gibson

The Pointillist

She laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

He sits at the drawing table,
taps the paper
as an instrument.

Music comes forth
in tones
dark and light.

Rhythm
from his heart
to his hand beats–

syncopated in time–
drumming out each dot
point by point

Image
emerges in focus
inviting the eye

I go with him
to the stable,
kneel next to the cow,

smell the light scent of hay,
listen to the breath
of a child,

adore with Mary.

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved
from Illuminate

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I love to place flowers in a vase on my kitchen table. Last Sunday the rain finally stopped and the sun came out revealing new colors. Flowers were so happy about the rain. They were blooming like crazy. So I cut some and put them in a simple vase, a knock-out rose, yellow gerbera daisies, and blue flag iris. There they sat when I found an email with a link to a YouTube video on contour drawing. I drew this still life and I wasn’t disappointed in the results. I usually hate my drawing and often give up on any exercise that involves drawing skills. But to live creatively, you can’t give up. You shouldn’t deny the things you love. And you should always, always place flowers in a vase on your kitchen table.

Still life with flowers, photo by Margaret Simon enhanced by Waterlogue app

Buds today
will be blossoms tomorrow
Don’t forget to water
the seeds you plant.
They are yours
for only a moment.

Margaret Simon, draft

Use these photos to prompt a small verse and leave it in the comments. Encourage other writers with comment replies. Thanks for being here today.

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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 have been playing with collage in my notebook. One day Chloe saw one of my pages and said, “I want to try that.” So I loaded her up with some magazines to take home. She came back the next day not only with a beautiful collage but a poem inspired by it. I interviewed her about the process and recorded it. The Soundcloud recording below is our conversation.

I love what Chloe said about how an image that she put in her collage became surprising images in her poem. The process of cutting is meditative. It can work both ways, too. Creating a collage after a poem can help you process and make connections in a visual way.

I’ve been working through the book The Artist’s Way. Julia Cameron encourages self-discovery and self-nurturing through creativity. She offers affirmations to write and rewrite and say to yourself, questions that move you to letting go and letting spiritual blessings of creativity in. In the margin of a page, I wrote “How is my creativity a blessing to others?” I think I found my answer.

Masterpiece 

The silhouette of spinning
monkeys swinging on 
peacock feathers,

Turtles following dogs on
beaches waving at the waves

As the pig and bird guard their 
treasure found at sea,

and the mother and
daughter watch the
world they live on
on the beach shore.

Chloe, 5th grade
Magazine collage by Chloe

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Poetry Friday is with Linda at Teacher Dance
Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I challenged myself to try Spark, a creative exchange between artists and poets. Artist Betty Nichols sent me an image of her art.

Painting by Betty Nichols

A process I’ve been playing with lately is paper collage. To get my head around this abstract painting, I decided to recreate it in collage. The paper I selected informed words I collected to write from. Here is my response collage.

Notebook collage in response to art by Betty Nichols

While searching for things to cut out, I found an article that included advice from Maria Shriver on how to make a difference. The first bullet point, “Sit with yourself” became the title. I cut out radicchio to get the red color. Doing research I found that radicchio is the “crunch VIP of salads.” The black flame came from a bee print paper. I let the list and collage sit for a few days. The process worked for me.

Sit with Yourself

The chicory radicchio is said
to be the ultimate crunch in your daily salad,
rich in vitamin K.

This red dagger isn’t dangerous.

The flame that is the yellow body of a bee
harmlessly flying from tree to tree
pollinates, perpetuating life.

This red dagger isn’t dangerous.

When you are faced with the sharp points
of a knife you use every day,
look closely. The stain of death
may be the blood of birth,
the path of its blade leading to light.

This red dagger isn’t dangerous.

A snow-filled valley will green in spring.

Sit with yourself.
Give it time.


Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

Posted at Spark here.

I sent Betty a blues poem, and she responded with tissue paper art. See our collaboration here.

At first I was completely intimidated by the idea of writing a poem to someone else’s art. By making it my own through my own art, I was able to find a way in to the original painting. The idea of sitting with yourself to make space for creativity comes up for me a lot these days. Creativity requires space as well as time for incubation. I hope you can find time and space to incubate and create. The process is its own reward.

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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.
Notebook Page 3/16/21

Playing with lots of creative ideas on this notebook page. I started with a falling apart copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I wanted to try writing a blackout (erasure) poem that had nothing to do with the actual content on the page.

The second thing I made was the notecard design. This is a method of meditation I learned last year at an art museum workshop (the fall of 2019 when we could go to these things.) It’s a simple concept. Choose 3 colors that express your mood. Set the timer for 3 minutes and follow where the lines take you. I use a meditation timer on my phone with some ambient sound.

I had been struggling for days to learn how to make an origami butterfly. I finally got one and added it to the page.

The final touches were some magazine cut-outs I had set aside for when I may need them. There is a creative satisfaction that happens when all the elements come together in a pleasing way.

Text of the black-out poem:

back to
Sunday morning
grudgingly
skating on
Zoom
losing one face
in the window
just before lunch.

Margaret Simon, from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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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.
Join our weekly writing prompt by leaving a poem in the comments or a link to your blog post.
You may use this image and the prompt image with a pingback to this site.

Usually on this weekly photo prompt I post a photo from nature. But this week I wanted to try something new. Abstract art by my grandson, Leo. He loves doing art, especially painting. His parents are proud of his work and place it in a gallery on the kitchen wall. Obviously Leo’s daycare teachers have an amazing amount of patience and skill to get this art piece. Is it possible to recognize someone by their handprint?

While I was visiting on Sunday, Leo had a tumble and scraped his finger. We continued our walk to the park, but I noticed he was shaking his hand. He said, “Burns.” I offered to take him back home and clean it up. On the way, he said, “Don’t cry Leo.” I told him crying was OK when he was hurt.

We washed the boo boo, but he did not want a band-aid. On FaceTime Monday, he said, “Mamere, finger better.”

This image may take you to a child you know, a memory of hand print art, or to the idea of spring and rainbows, health and healing. Follow the muse wherever it goes. Leave a small poem in the comments (or a link to your blog post). We appreciate encouraging responses to other writers.

Rainbow Hands by Leo LeBlanc, age 2.

Familiar fingers
reach for the sky
touch a cloud
release a rainbow.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday gathering is at Molly’s place in Maine, Nix the Comfort Zone.

I am taking a creative-inducing drug called A-Poem-a-Day. It’s good for me. But it doesn’t always make me happy. Poetry is a place where emotions become raw. This week I heard of another community member’s death from Covid. He was 75 and battled for months. His family was dedicated, by his side, and hopeful until they couldn’t be. I don’t know this kind of loss. I’m a lucky one, and sometimes that makes me feel guilty.

Laura Shovan does a poetry writing project every February. This year the theme is body. If you are interested in seeing the week’s prompts, go to her site here.

Heather Meloche posted the prompt “lungs” with a profound graffiti art piece “I can’t breathe”. Not only do I wish I could breathe for those who can’t, I also wish I could take away the pain of loss. This empathy came out in my poem.

Misty morning
fills my lungs
with living.

On this day
I pray
for air,

a way to not care
people are drowning.

They can’t breathe.
A machine breathes for them.

I wish for a way
like roots of trees
breathe together underground,

a way
to pass
hand to hand
lung to lung

Health
Healing
Hearty
life.

Margaret Simon, draft

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