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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

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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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

Last week I collaborated with artist Marla Kristicevich on a workshop for teachers designed around poetry and art collage.  The workshop was part of the Arts in Education professional development series held at the Acadiana Center for the Arts.

After I presented about finding elements of poetry in my poem “I am a Beckoning Brown Bayou,” Marla shared how she had taken words from 3 different poems from my book Bayou Song, and circled words that represented an element of art.  She then created a magazine collage to reflect those words and images.  While Marla’s complete presentation was in a PowerPoint slide show, the part that touched me were the amazing and beautiful collages she had created from my words.

Marla’s collage from interpreting the poem There is Always.

We had 12 dedicated teachers attend, and they enjoyed the time to sit and create with materials from magazines, painted paper, and other scraps.  The collages were varied and lent new meaning to the poems we worked with.

Then I led the teachers in writing their own poem by gathering new words from their own collages and selecting a form to use.  My hope is these teachers will take what they learned, their joy of playing with words and art, and bring it into their classrooms, but more than that, my poet’s heart was touched by the way my poems from Bayou Song led to more poems.

Collage from “There is Always” by Cissy Whipp.

 

Cissy’s Poem

Dance/Nature Triptych

I.

My dance is in the way
the leaves calmly curl and crinkle
under my feet.

II.

My dance is in the water
rippling, rising, rushing
around my ankles.

 III.

My dance is in the place
between land and water –
the muddy, mysterious marsh.

 

Finding the poem inside.

 

Kay chose the I Am form to use when her collage revealed things about herself.

Kay’s collage from the poem There is Always.

Hands Up High

Kay Couvillon

I am fiery red in summer beach walks,
I become lavender peaceful
with restorative yoga.

I hold my
hands up high
to the lights of
love, trust, dance, and
cold beer.

I am an
E. Broussard eagle
in awe of the
bald eagle’s nest.

I sway in the
wind of the leaves after
hibernating when I feel like
torn cardboard.

I love red, pink, and scented
geraniums in clay pots from
Mother Earth.

 

 

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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 Rebecca at Sloth Reads.

As school winds down, I keep teaching.  I haven’t pulled out a movie yet.  I haven’t started packing (not significantly, anyway).  I want to savor every moment with my kiddos and want them to enjoy every moment left with me.

On Wednesday, we held our annual Gifted by Nature Day when all the gifted kids in the parish elementary schools gather in City Park for a day of nature, learning, and play.  This year our theme focused on fractals.  Do you know what a fractal is? Here’s a collage of fractals in nature:

Fractals in Nature

 

To follow up on the learning from our day in the park, I reviewed fractals and provided art supplies for students to paint a chosen fractal from nature.  Did you know that the Fibonacci series is a fractal?  Of course, we had to write fib poems.  I used this post by Catherine Flynn as a model text.  I wrote a model fib poem based on a fractal in nature.  Then sent them out to create.  Here’s a gallery of art and poems.

 

Lightning

by Jasmine, 6th grade

Boom
Clap
The sound
Lightning makes
Spreading through the sky
Sharing its color with the world
Fascinating us with its beauty, but deadliness

Peacock Feather by Lynzee

Fib
Bird
Feather
Natural
Beautifully swirls
Fractal stares from a peacock’s wing

by Lynzee, 3rd grade

 

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

 

Continuing the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I pulled an idea out of my hat!  Let’s write about Dr. Seuss quotes.  A search for quotes was easy.  They are everywhere. Not just here. Not just there. But everywhere!

Choosing a quote that spoke to you was easy. Or it was hard. Some students decided to take on rhyming.  But with that decision, you have to consider rhythm too, so I found myself next to Trace beating out Ta-da-ta-da-dum on the table.

Some students went for prose.  Some for poems.  Some wrote their own quotes.

Once again, my students blew me away with their creativity, their depth of thought, and their imagination.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

Life is a cake,
You can make a pretty, delicious cake,
Or a boring, plain cake.

Fantasy is the icing on the cake,
Nonsense is the silly sprinkles.

Knowledge is the candle on the cake,
And smiles, smiles are the light, the flame.

Look!
It’s a wonderful, tasty cake!

–Lynzee, 3rd grade

(Click on her name to leave comments.)

“All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot!”
― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go! and The Lorax

Alone,
not fun at all.
You look at the monstrous jungle,
while your comfort is lost in the sea.
The light in you is unfound.
Creeping around waiting for you to bite,
Like brim in a pond.
Then you actually get it on your hook,
you fight your emotions,
like the fish’s strength.
Then you reel it in,
and are filled with light.

–Austin, 6th grade  (Click his name to leave comments on his post.)

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss quote?  I love so many of them, but this is the one that spoke to me about this weird and crazy Slice of Life Challenge.  We fall in mutual weirdness and call it Slice of Life!

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

 

Madison came into my gifted class when she was in second grade.  On day one, she wrote 3 blog posts and was hooked on writing.  Now in 4th grade, she came up with an idea for a story writing club.  This was a result of problem solving.  She loves writing stories, particularly fan fiction to Warrior Cats, but she didn’t think many people were reading her blog posts.  She thought if we had a blog that was specific to writing stories, maybe those kids who are interested in writing as well as reading stories could join.

 

With a new subscription to Kidblog from my district’s gifted program, we teachers are able to have multiple sites with the same students.  Story Writing Club was born. The day after I set up the blog was a Saturday, but Madison checked in and wrote this post.

Hello. This was originally my idea, so.. I guess I’ll make the Welcome – To – This – Blog – Post. 

This is a blog where you make your stories- nonfiction, fiction, or any genre. Chapter by chapter, or just a normal picture book.

Word, by word, by word, we are changing ourselves into authors. Word. By word. By. Word.

Think of your ideas as silk or cotton. Weave them together- make cloth. Now it’s time to put the cloth together to make a wonderful story.

I hope you enjoy making wonderful stories out of many ideas.

Buh-bye!

I introduced the idea to all my classes (I teach 3 groups of gifted students at 3 different schools).  To date, eleven kids have signed on.  And they can’t wait to write.  This is an highly motivating free time activity.  Madison created a story about cats, of course.  She is also very talented at digital art.  This is an image of one of her story characters.

When students writing stories they want to write, they learn the stuff of writers that I could never teach them.  Jacob was writing his second chapter today, and he exclaimed, “You know the berries from chapter one? Well, turns out he needed them in chapter two.  I didn’t know that would happen.”

Jacob wrote, “He took out the berries that Triton saved in his booksack. The creature seemed to love them. Triton tossed the creature a berry, in a second it gobbled up the berry.”

Sometimes writers follow the story and find their way.

I love that my students are experiencing the joy of writing with little direction from me.  We often talk about student-driven learning but rarely do we really have the opportunity to make it happen.  I applaud Madison’s resourcefulness in building a community that would support her passion.  These are lessons that don’t make it into the standards but will support my students in being the best they can be.

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