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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

“I have no news to tell you, for the days are all the same, I have no ideas, except to think that a field of wheat or a cypress is well worth the trouble of looking at close up, and so on.” – Vincent van Gogh

Red Berries after the Rain by Margaret Simon

Waiting for the rain to stop to take my daily walk, I looked out the kitchen window and saw these berries, made redder by the low light and wetness. I’ve been trying out photography lately with a camera I’ve had stored away. I wrote a Slice about it on Tuesday.

Here is an invitation to write a small poem, one of noticing something new or something old in new light. Write a small poem in the comments and take a moment to read other poems. Leave encouraging comments. I hope you are all enjoying a peaceful Thanksgiving. It may look different this year, but it is still a time to give thanks. And my thanks go out to all of you who stop by my little corner of the world.

Within the walls
of rainy days,
some things still sing
Praise.
Listen harder.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Every morning I walk through a field in my neighborhood to cross to another street. I watch the seasons change in an old Japanese magnolia tree. I’ve photographed it many times. It seems to pose for me.

Japanese Magnolia Morning by Margaret Simon

This is a time to think about gratitude. We have to look closely, closer than ever before. Pandemic on the rise can blur the lines of our lives. Take a minute to praise this flower, the morning, or whatever this photo brings forth for you.

Dewdrop tear,
how do you balance
when gravity
pulls you down?

Margaret Simon, draft

Share your small poem in the comments. Please leave encouraging comments for other writers.

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Slice of Life: Magic Wand

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

This is the week of five days of open writing with Ethical ELA. Sarah Donovan has created a safe place for teacher-writers to “play” with poetry. One of her prompts this week asked us to consider what we give. Along with many of you, I give instruction for writing every day, but it’s not every day that I witness success. But when I do, I find Joy. This poem celebrates all teachers who wave their wands every day, whether or not there is magic inside.

Magic Bean

How a writer is made
some think comes from a magic bean–
it just is
this writer can’t help but write & write,
but I know better.

I know a writer comes from the magic wand
of a teacher who told her
she was.

A teacher finds magic
in the light of a child’s words,
rubs the lantern again & again.
She knows the power of waiting,
of how a seed of an idea
can sprout
if you give it
nourishment
& time.

I love most
the smile of realization
“Wow! I wrote that!”
Pride from my wishing
which, in the end,
is me working magic,
still unknown,
still a mystery. 

Margaret Simon

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A little backstory on this poetry prompt series: Laura Purdie Salas once hosted a weekly poetry prompt on her blog called “15 Words or Less.” She decided to pay more attention to her many writing projects, and the world of KidLit has been blessed by a number of new books from her, but I missed waking up on Thursday mornings to a quick photo poetry prompt. With Laura’s blessing, I started this weekly post.

Following Laura on Instagram, I borrowed this photo from her. In an email, she explained that it’s grass in a park across the street from her house. I love how the simplest things that often go unnoticed can be captured in a photo. This photo can become a poem. Laura’s mantra is “Look closer…”

Photo by Laura Purdie Salas

A park bench
open
waiting
a resting place
for adventurers
you and me.

Margaret Simon, draft

Look closer and write a small poem in the comments. Write encouraging comments to others.

At Sharing Our Stories, Ruth invites us to write inspired by a photograph. Her suggestion is to look at the background. Notice something new. Welcome writers from SOS today.

Open invitation to write at Sharing Our Stories.

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Find more links to reading children’s literature at Jen Vincent’s blog.

For as long as I’ve been teaching elementary kids, I’ve use “Mrs. Simon’s Sea” as a classroom theme. I’ve decorated with sea-themed everything, from nametags to notepads. Even our blog was called “Mrs. Simon’s Sea.” So naturally I am pleased by sea-themed poetry.

Matt Forrest Esenwine sent me an email announcement of a new anthology of poetry, Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children from The Writer’s Loft.

This anthology has a little bit of everything you could want in a poetry book, poems in rhyme, poems in form, and poems that tell a story. These poems will put you under the ocean alongside sea turtles, sharks, and octopuses. You’ll feel the storms, the rhythm of the waves, and sing along with fish. One of my favorite fiction authors, Linda Mullaly Hunt, tells a story of a clever seal who outsmarts a shark.

Children can learn facts about ocean life through zippy and lyrical language. The illustrations by a variety of artists are delightful.

A book launch event is scheduled for November 15th at 4:00 EST sponsored by Peter Reynolds and Blue Bunny Books.

Read more about the book design here.

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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.

Teaching through a screen is hard. I can’t tell what my students are doing. Their mikes are muted; their personal icon doesn’t move. Trying to have a book discussion was like talking to a mirror. The only good thing about that was I could see my face getting more and more exasperated. Why weren’t they answering me? The questions weren’t that hard.

The book we were discussing was Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome.

To relate to the main character’s discovery of Langston Hughes’ poetry, we watched a video of Langston Hughes reading Weary Blues.

I read aloud Hughes’ “Homesick Blues.” And tried to talk about what makes someone feel homesick. I was talking to myself, or so it seemed. After I gave up, I set the timer for a 5 minute writing time. In the chat, I wrote 5 different lines from Langston Hughes’ blues poems. I admit I didn’t have high expectations.

As always I asked for volunteers to read. Lashawn’s mike turned green and his soft voice said, “I’ll read.”

The silver lining, the golden thread, my poet heart pattered with emotion and joy. Lashawn gave me permission to share his poem.

 My Body’s Feeling Wrong

I feel as I need to do better
do better just do better. that’s all I need to do.
But why can’t I do it? is something distracting me?
Am I filled with bad luck?
I get blamed but it’s not me. no explaining can help me. 
I tell the truth not a fib at all. but a liar is what I get called.

I feel like they are talking about me.
It’s just no use for me. 
Change my look to let everyone know.
Just a smile is what everyone else needs. not me though.
I get asked if I’m fine and alright.
No I’m not fine. Because if I was, my body would have looked right.

I feel a bit empty just a friend all I need.
I lay down at nighttime. I was bullied by online Meanies.
I watch some anime but nothing can heal me.
At least I didn’t lose my life to sadness. I’ll still be here even If i’m sad.
But hey as I shed a tear. I just made some people laugh.
As more tears come down I smile it out.   

My body may look wrong but I make other people feel bright.                                                      Thanks to my friends for being by my side.
I’m happy I made all of you smile.

Lashawn, 5th Grade

I smiled, with tears, into the mirror.

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Do you love to travel? I do, but my travel this year has been vicariously through a Facebook group called “Women Who Keep Traveling.” This week, Jan posted a call for photos in different color schemes. “Show us something green from the travel pics on your phone. The more random the better.”

I enjoyed scrolling through the random photos. This one appealed to me for our week’s prompt. The photo comes from Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR taken by Aimée Dominique.

Would you like to try a new form? My student Chloe invented a form she calls a Penta-poem with the syllable count of 5,4,3,2,1,2,3,4,5. She also thought about calling it an hourglass poem because the resulting poem looks like an hour glass.

Please share your poem drafts in the comments and write encouraging replies on other poems.

A maze of red hills
dancing landscape
ribbon stream
Seuss-like
dream
wonder
fantasy
hallway jungle
unique artistry

Margaret Simon, draft

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When we write poems to a photo, we enter a process of collaboration. A meeting between the photographer and the poet, the image and the words. In collaboration, one can have a conversation, an inquiry, or a conviction. Do your beliefs about the world come through in your poems? Are you communicating or responding? Are you participating or letting the muse take control?

I invite you to reflect on your process today as you write. Leave a small poem in the comments as well as a reflection of your thoughts. 

photograph by Molly Hogan

Perspective

The tracks rise to a point
on the horizon
disappearing into a mist.

We know
beyond the page,
the path goes on
and on.

Margaret Simon, draft

My reflection: Perspective is something an artist has to learn. If you draw two parallel lines, they must converge to give the impression of a continuing road. Our horizon line is not a finite place. The earth is round. When I think about this in a spiritual, metaphorical sense, I think of our own path through life. There is a mirage of an end, but there is always another turn to make.

Note to my readers: We are in the path of Hurricane Delta. School has been cancelled for today and tomorrow. We are preparing. We have a strong house (and a friendly generator named Sparky). I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

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Old barn between Kalispell and White Fish, Montana by Jan Risher

How many of us have wanderlust? After pandemic shut downs have kept us homebound with theaters, museums, and art galleries closed, many of us have suffered from the strong desire to go somewhere else. My friend, journalist Jan Risher, hit the road a few weeks ago with her husband. Finding travel somewhat doable again, she posted picture after picture of our amazing country.

I was drawn in by her pictures of Montana. We were there only a few summers ago and enjoyed a train ride from Seattle to White Fish. To see more of Jan’s pictures, follow her on Instagram. To read her article about her trip, click The Advocate.

If the spirit moves, write a small poem in the comments. Please encourage other writers with kind comments. I’m sorry this post is late today. I discovered that I can access my blog on my school computer, but I can’t edit or publish the post.

Here where land
reaches up to sky
with a hand on the heart
of America…
We see
sacred space.

Margaret Simon, draft

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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 know school looks different for most teachers this year. For me, I spend my whole day in one building. For the last 12 years, I’ve been an itinerate teacher, traveling to 3 schools each day. Now I travel through a screen to different students. I’m providing virtual gifted services for students who’ve chosen the virtual option. I’m learning very quickly what kinds of writing activities work well and which ones do not in this virtual setting.

Last week I presented a question for quick writing. Yesterday I used a different approach. I presented a poem and asked students to take a line and write from that line. It seemed to go well; however, the kids were not throwing their hands up (or turning their mikes on) to read what they wrote. This is the part I can’t quite figure out. Do they just need more time or is this how it’s going to be?

I still believe in writing alongside my students, so I wrote a poem with them. The poem we were reading together came from Teach this Poem from Poets.org, Cento Between the Ending and the End. The lines I took frame the poem. Before sharing my poem, I explained that when we write together in quick writes, we often write about whatever is on our mind at that moment. My youngest daughter is getting married in our backyard in 3 weeks. As plans begin to finalize, I am getting excited about the family (immediate family only) that with gather with us.

Unopened Gift

Everyone we love
is gathered
around the bride and groom.
Side by side,
their eyes glow.

We understand
this kind of love,
tender and new,
like a gift
waiting to be discovered.

We hold their hearts
in our hands,
bless them
with all that we have.
Send them to the blue sky
brimming
with golden light.

Margaret Simon
Photo by Secret Garden from Pexels

With my 6th grader, Daniel, we wrote back and forth (in a shared document), adding lines to create a Cento* poem. When the first stanza turned out to rhyme, it was a challenge to keep it going. We were both pleased with the results.

I soar to the sun
Look down at the sea
Bloom how you must, wild
Until we are free.

I wish I could share
All that’s in my heart.
It’s like the world
That keeps us apart.

Everyone we love
Gathered at the lakeside
Marble-glow the fire
A new one inside

I wish I could live
The body whole bright-
Of the day beautiful,
Honeyed light.

Cento from I Wish I Knew by Nina Simone and Cento Between the Ending and the End by Cameron Awkward-Rich

*From the Latin word for “patchwork,” the cento (or collage poem) is a poetic form composed entirely of lines from poems by other poets.

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