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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Click over to Carol’s Corner for more Poetry Friday.

Over at Today’s Little Ditty, Carol Hinz challenged us to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.  On a family Thanksgiving Day walk to City Park in New Orleans, we came upon an old outside bar covered in overgrown weeds and graffiti.  On the walls were a few amazing black and white drawings.  One of them caught my eye and then inspired a poem.

New Orleans City Park

At Violet Nesdoly’s blog, I discovered a new-to-me poetry form, Shadorma. The form is a Spanish version of the haiku with six lines and a syllable count of  3,5,3,3,7,5. The form fit well to what I wanted to say about the Graffiti Girl.

 

Graffiti Girl, City Park, New Orleans. Photo by Margaret Simon

 

Graffiti Girl

I am drawn
in hard black charcoal
staring out
of stone walls
yet when you see my image
your heart cries for me.

If you could
hold this star light high
a mirror
in my eyes
step into my wall, hold me,
would you come so near?

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

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

On Saturday I attended a photography workshop about using your smartphone held at The Shadows on the Teche, our resident plantation home.  I have fond feelings for this place not just because of its beauty, but it’s a place where my students participate every year in a play for first grade students in the parish.

After James, our presenter, gave us much technical information (some of which flew right over my head), we were sent out on the grounds to find interesting things to photograph.  Although he didn’t say it, most of us interpreted that James wanted us to look at things with a new eye, a different perspective, and an appreciation for the hidden beauty of the place.

I was drawn to a lace curtain over a window with moss in the trees barely visible beyond.  When I got home, I played around with the effects on the iPhone app and sent the photo off to Shutterfly and ordered cards.  One thing that James pointed out to us is that nothing is more satisfying than seeing an actual, hands-on print of your photo.

I also wrote a haiku to place inside the card:

Through the lace curtain,
moss hangs in soft stillness
whispering a prayer.

James assured us that not every photo we take will be “the shot”. We have to take a bunch, practice moving around the subject for many angles, and give yourself permission to try new things.

Here is a gallery of a few of my favorite photos from the day.

The Shadows on the Teche

Moss hangs over the Bayou Teche.

My photo partner wanders to find a perfect shot of the graveyard.

This workshop helped me feel more confident with photography with the camera I always carry with me. I am now more alert to what may make my next winning shot.

This week I’ll be at NCTE.  Hope to see many of my slicing friends there. I’ll be presenting on Friday morning with a panel of knock-out authors.

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Poetry Friday posts with Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

 

While summer seems far away as I end my eighth week in school, my poetry swap gifts continue to come.  Jone and Iphigene both contacted me by email to say their poetry gifts were late.  I was late, too, so I didn’t mind.  In fact, I love receiving a surprise in the mail…anytime.  Iphigene’s gift included this beautiful painting of the bayou.  She lives in the Philippines, so she had to use images from my blog to imagine this scene.  She definitely captured the peacefulness.

Bayou Teche by Iphigene Daradar. Acrylic on paper.

This is what Iphigene said in her note to me about composing the poem:

“When I was conceptualizing the poem, I thought I’d write about the Teche, but as I read your recent blog posts, the idea of impossible, possible, and overcoming kept surfacing.  In the end, I wrote a poem with those words in mind. The tone of the poem, too, is not my usual.  It was influenced by the biopic of Emily Dickinson called A Quiet Passion.”

The Extent of Our Souls

By Iphigene (For Margaret)

There is an extent by which our soul stretches
One that is measured by words
Short phrases echoed through
In the silence of our minds

In the loose utterance of
‘stupid’ and ‘can’t’
Mingled in laughter, our skin
Think as nothing

Our souls call as truth
Like a seed planted
In perfect day, bears root
Bears bloom, each day

And so, our soul, fits itself
In the limits of our bodies
Brittle for the measure—
Impossible.

However,
As those who know words
Who play with the scales of phrases
Our measures change with space
And rightly placed punctuation

I’m possible.
Feel the impossible stretch
And the soul re-tells its truth
Stretching to ‘greatness’
And knowing it can.

Bearing roots that bloom
Perennial in the hearts
Of those who try to stretch
Their souls to possibility
and its truth.

This week I was blessed by a gift from Jone MacCulloch.  She takes beautiful photographs.  She sent an amazing close-up of a dahlia and her poem printed on a plaque that stands.  In addition to the photo-plaque, she sent a copy of her book  Solace in Nature which is a collection of her photos and poems.

photo and poem by Jone MacCulloch

 

Here is a photo and poem from her book, Solace in Nature.

winged fighter pilots
dive bomb daily
over sweet nectar
by Jone MacCulloch

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

..out in de camp, out yonda in da camp, de ole, ole women too old to work and too old to make babies, dey stay an mind de young chilens so dat de me kin all work in de fields and dey fee dam an all so when de ma come back all dey got to do is to push ’em in de bed, all of dem in de same bed. –Frances Doby, age 100
Cammie G. Henry Research Center
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Federal Writers Project Folder 19

On Monday, I went on a summer field trip to Whitney Plantation located in Wallace, LA. Established in 1752, Whitney Plantation was a working sugar plantation until the early 1970’s. Recently, it has been transformed into an active museum that captures the experience of enslavement.  This place tells the unheard story of all other plantation homes.  This story is not a romanticized version of plantation life.  This story is gripping and harrowing and sad.

Inside the old Antioch Church, statues of enslaved children stand, some sit on the pews.  The children of the slaves from Whitney Plantation tell you the story with their staring eyes.  These stories were captured by a Federal Writers Project led by John Lomax in 1936.  The plantation now honors over 100,000 names of slaves and children.

The Antioch Baptist Church was moved to the plantation in 1999. This church was built post Civil War (1870) by former slaves.

This memorial statue stands in the Field of Angels to honor all the slave children lost before age 3.

Panels in the Field of Angels include etched photographs, prayers, and quotes along with 2,200 names from documents in the Sacramental Records of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

A Jamaica line of sugar kettles remind us of the long, arduous task of turning cane into sugar.

If you are ever in the New Orleans area, Whitney Plantation is a worthy side trip.  I believe we must try to understand our history to move forward into a better future.

 

 

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Poetry Friday is Carol at Beyond Literacy Link

 

While I was vacationing for the 4th of July in Santa Fe, NM, my Voxer Good2Great friend, Jen Hayhurst tagged me in a post about her #ProjectPoetry.  I wrote about the project on my Slice of Life post on Tuesday. 

I have this self-assigned goal of writing a poem a day.  That gets tough when you have a husband who wants to walk all over New Mexico.  My writing muscles had to give way to my walking muscles.  Nevertheless, I took some pictures that planted some ideas in my brain.  Once home I had time to sit.  Sit with the images and process a poem.  Jen’s goals for writing poems are to synthesize experience and ignite curiosity.  This is what poetry should be, in our lives as well as in our classrooms.

Last night I watched Kylene Beers and Bob Probst do a Facebook live video about their book, Disrupting Thinking. When someone asked if poetry should be the first unit taught in the school year, Kylene answered, “Poetry is not a unit. Poetry is something we breath in.  We should breathe in poetry every day.”

Take a deep breath and look at the amazing sky.  I was astounded and mesmerized by the huge sky of New Mexico.  It seemed somehow bigger and brighter and mightier there.  Maybe because I was paying attention.  Maybe because there was something to be learned.  Maybe just to be captured in a poem.

The Magic Sky
Sculpts grey clouds
into bursts
of sparkling rain.

Then a rainbow,
a puffy horse
riding beside.

I stand above
this Rio Grande Gorge,
feel like a speck
of dust in the wind
to the magician
of the sky.

–Margaret Simon

Next Friday is National Mac and Cheese Day.  Who knew there was such a thing?  So Poetry Friday folks are planning to write about Mac-n-Cheese.  Join in the yummy fun.

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

An invitation to #ProjectPoem

Jenn Hayhurst tagged me in a post on Facebook asking me to join in a project she is playing with this summer: #ProjectPoem. The premise is that teachers of writing should write, a mantra of mine adapted from the work of Donald Graves. She is asking teachers to synthesize experience into poetic form in 140 characters.

I joined in with the image below. I am on vacation in Santa Fe, NM and staying at a lovely casita. The patio is private, quiet, and inviting. The picture is a side garden of Aspen trees.

My writing friend, Linda Mitchell, recently visited Seattle. There she collected words and made collage poems from them. I took inspiration from her to capture the feeling in Santa Fe. There was a procession to return an old statue of Mary to the Cathedral of Saint Frances. The people here are serious about their worship of Mary.

Consider joining in the summer writing fun by tweeting your poem to #ProjectPoem and tagging me @MargaretGSimon and Jenn @hayhurst3.  I made the first image using the app WordSwag, the second in Canva.

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

Carolina wren carries food to her babies.

Sitting on the back porch at the lake, we noticed a small bird coming and going, in and out of the flower pot of red vinca.

“I wonder if there’s a nest in there,” said Mom while sipping her morning coffee. “When I watered it yesterday, I noticed a big hole, but I didn’t think anything of it.”

A little while later when I didn’t see the adult bird around, I peeked into the pot.  When I moved a stem of the flower, I saw movement and then three wide-open yellow beaks, hoping I had a juicy insect to drop in.

With excitement, I ran inside to announce to everyone that there indeed was a nest and there were baby chicks in it.

Last summer on my yearly visit we watched goslings of a Canada Geese couple.

My visits to the lake are spent hanging out on the back porch talking with my family.  Nature moves around us every day, and we never seem to have the time to really pay attention.  This nest of Carolina wrens (it took some internet research, a bird book, and consulting a bird expert to know what kind they were) entertained us and helped us focus on what’s really important: life, love, and family nesting.

Can you see the mama bird? Babies are right underneath.

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