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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

One of our favorite days of the year is Dot Day. Created to celebrate the publication of The Dot by Peter Reynolds, Dot Day encourages creativity and playful art.

My students and I drew dots and wrote Zeno poems. The Zeno form was invented by J. Patrick Lewis. The form uses a syllable count of 8, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1 with each 1 syllable line rhyming. This is a playful form. We folded paper into a zine. To see how to make a zine, go to this post from last year.

Imagining the brightest knot

see the colors

of the dot

colors of the

rainbow

spot

Brightest of the

ones I’ve

got

Breighlynn, 4th grade

It is true that you have talent
you are so high
in the
sky
you should always
attempt
try
you are in clouds
try to
fly
 

Chloe, 4th grade

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Sylvia and Janet at Poetry for Children

Our Sunday Night Swagger Writers Group has decided to post poems from a prompt on the first Friday of the month. Last month Heidi Mordhorst challenged us to definito poems. This month Catherine Flynn prompted us to write about a box:

  1. Who was the owner of the box? 
  2. How did what is inside the box transform him or her?

Having acquired some things from my parents’ home this summer, I knew what box I would write about. My grandmother whom I called Nene died when I was young, between 8 and 10. I remember so much about her, her white-white hair, how she sewed beautiful Barbie clothes and even made doll furniture from cardboard, and how she loved butterflies. She had a pinned collection in a shadow box. But that isn’t the box of this poem. I had never seen this box before. It was tucked inside a cardboard box of mementos from my father’s childhood.


This is Her Box

that touched her hands 
so many years ago.
A small brass box
that fits in the palm of my hand. 
What did these things
mean to her?

a tarnished silver spoon,
jeweled pin,
wire-framed butterfly,
silver post earrings–

I put on the charm bracelet;
Grands’ names in birth order
become my connection to her.

All tucked into her box
for me to find 
fifty years later
and remember
her touch.

(draft) Margaret Simon

See other box poems from my writer friends:

Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Molly Hogan: Nix the Comfort Zone
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life
new baby blanket waiting

My middle daughter, Katherine, is waiting. We are all waiting for her baby to be born. His due date is Sept. 5th, so he will be here soon.

Last summer in August, Katherine had a miscarriage. It was tragic, yet her doctor told her then that she expected she would be holding a baby within a year. The day after the procedure, I took Katherine to a little yarn shop to pick out yarn for a blanket. I have been crocheting prayer shawls and blankets for the last few years. She said, “I’ll pick out the colors, but I don’t want you to make a baby blanket.” That was her sorrow talking. The blanket above is complete and waiting.

One method I often use for finding my way into a poem is to observe outside, then go inside, and back outside. Driving home a few weekends ago following the Mississippi Book Festival, I looked outside and inside and outside for this poem.

So We Must Daily Keep Things Wound
(title from a Madeleine L’Engle quote)

I love how the raindrops
glisten on glass
dotting the landscape
green and awake.

I keep the cell phone charged 
ready for her call
when cramps turn to contractions.
I wait, want, worry.

I read somewhere that the egg
for this child was planted
in her womb from my womb–
this curious circle of life.

I keep my eyes on the clouds
fluffed up and pregnant
with rain, more rain.
It keeps on coming. 

(draft) Margaret Simon

NCTE Note: I’ve registered for NCTE 2019 to be held in Baltimore Nov. 21st-24th. I am looking for a roommate. Let me know by email if you are interested.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Last week I read my teacher-blogger-writer-friend Molly Hogan’s Slice of Life post. It touched the poet in me. Molly wakes early and goes on photography quests. When we’re lucky, she takes us along on her Facebook posts or blog. Last week she wrote this post entitled A Generous Morning.

Inspired, I copied her words into a found poem. Her generous morning became my generous morning. That’s how it works with creativity; it’s all big magic.


A Generous Morning

Lightening sky in the east
as surely as
the birds were migrating south,
I missed the swallows.


The sky seemed lonely.
Then a couple of swallows
dart and dive through the air currents,
and a bird approaching in the distance-

a heron

Sun rose higher, lit the mist.
Cedar waxwings flittered.
I watched it all, 
the generosity of morning.

a found poem by Margaret Simon using Molly Hogan’s words.
Heron on branch by Molly Hogan.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Amy at The Poem Farm

The children’s poetry community lost a friend and a mentor when Lee Bennett Hopkins died on August 8th. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but in everything I’ve read about him, he was a gentle leader and proud father of poetry.

Among his many anthologies, I have Amazing Places on my classroom shelf. In it, Lee Bennett Hopkins collected poems about places around our country. His contribution was a poem titled Langston.

Though his professional writing was successful, it was the death of poet Langston Hughes in 1967 that proved to be a spark for Hopkins’s career of anthologizing poetry for children. 

By Shannon Maughan | 
Aug 13, 2019
Amazing Places: Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Lee & Low Books, 2015.

While borrowing a few lines as well as the form of this poem and reading his obituary on Publishers Weekly, I wrote this poem for Lee.


His Dusts of Dreams
after Lee Bennett Hopkins “Langston” 
for Lee Bennett Hopkins, 1938-2019

Who would have known
a young boy
of divorce,
a poor student
inspired by a teacher
would find his footing
in education–

from student
to teacher
to collector of poems,
With greetings to all
Dear Ones,
he left 
his dusts of dreams. 

Margaret Simon, 2019

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Christie at Wondering and Wandering

Christie Wyman has invited the Poetry Friday community to write about trees this week. I am back in school and have so missed the days of writing alongside my students. Because I am itinerant and teach at three schools, I have three opportunities to write during the day. That gave me time to write, read aloud, revise, write. Not to mention the joy my students felt to be back in the saddle of writing.

We used “That was Summer” by Marci Ridlon as a mentor text. The repetition makes this form an easy one to mimic. I chose to write about the different trees we see each season.


Seasons of Trees
after Marci Ridlon “That was Summer”

Remember that time
when the rope swing hung
from the old oak tree
the knot round and rough?
You wrapped your skinny legs on tight
let someone give you a push
your head leaned back
tongue out, tasting the breeze.
That was summer.

Remember that time you gathered pecans
plopping one by one
into grandfather’s tin bucket?
You held the brown nut to the metal cracker,
and turned the handle until Crack!
Tasting hickory butter sweetness.
That was autumn.

Remember when the wind turned cold,
Flakes fell softly on the trees,
and you bundled up and walked
with your sisters through rows and rows
of Christmas spruce,
playing hide and seek
and searching for the just-right one.
That was winter.

Remember how the warm sun rose
on the Japanese magnolia
prompting firm blossoms
to open like helium-filled party balloons?
Remember how you walked near
to smell the strong rosy scent
that could make you sneeze?
That was spring.



Margaret Simon, draft, 2019
image from Pixabay

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life
Thoughts and Prayers by Kelli Broussard Kaufman

When we don’t know what to say, art can speak for us. This painting was done by Kelli Broussard Kaufman. She’s a Lafayette artist I follow on Facebook. (Her parents are good friends and neighbors.) I asked her permission to post the image here, and she also told me about her process. Her playlist while painting included Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. Her art, the song, and her process notes inspired this poem.

In the sound of silence,
we think no one cares.
The words have all been said.
Prayers are empty now.

Silence like a cancer grows.
The wax burns, drips, soils
the flag we want to save us.
How many more?

In the naked light I saw
a flicker of candles in the wind
drawing strength from one another
burning bright and singing out–

This is not who we are.
This is not our story.
We are one people.
We are better than this.

(draft) Margaret Simon

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