Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

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 Amy at The Poem Farm.

I have birthing babies on my mind.  Today is my baby’s birthday.  My youngest daughter, Martha, is 28 years old.  I was recently telling her birth story to my oldest daughter who is expecting my first grandchild in December.  Since her best friend delivered on Sunday, three weeks early, Maggie is getting nervous about what her own birth story will be.

I read Barbara Crooker’s interview at Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. 

She wrote an ekphrastic poem about a Matisse painting:

I came back to Paris free of the Louvre’s influence
and heading for color.
~Henri Matisse

“It’s like being back in the womb, isn’t it, these walls of pink,
this floor one rose shade deeper? I think about my middle
daughter, five months pregnant. Her baby‘s grown
from an orange seed to a green olive to a plum. Now
it’s the size of a boneless chicken breast. What is it
about babies that makes us think of food?” (Read full text here)

There’s an app for following the growth of a baby called The Bump.  Maggie is at 26 weeks and according to The Bump, the baby is “as big as Kale”! His eyes are forming and will soon open.  He even has eyelashes.  The miracle of pregnancy is fascinating. (And a little scary, but we won’t talk about that today.)

This morning with all this on my mind while I was walking, I thought of a poem to tell Martha’s birth story.  This is a first draft, but I like how I could capture such a big event in a poem.  What big events could you capture in a poem?  Poems are not small; they are concentrated, like the womb, holding tight to something too big to understand.

September 14, 1990

A Birth Story

You were so late
I thought I’d be pregnant forever,
the distance between the second and the fourteenth
full of expectancy.

That Friday morning, the doctor said,
“We need to induce.”
No! I cried. My babies come naturally.
But naturally was not what you had in mind.

A long day of “methods” to start a labor–
enema, cervical massage, break the water–
finally a Pitocin drip. Seven PM,
the contractions kicked in,
                     pushing you out into the world,

At my back, Gladys exclaims,
“Something is happening here.”
In the corner, the nurse cries,
“She was only 4 centimeters!”

And your father, in my face, blowing air
“Breathe with me.”
You came quickly,
sliding elegantly into the doctor’s
Wait-let-me-get-my-gloves-on hands.

Perfect and round,
a hefty eight pounds, three ounces,
Friday’s child, loving and giving,
a gift to our world and to me.


–Margaret Simon (draft) 2018

A new sister! Sept. 15, 1990

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

I am a writer.  I am a poet.  I am also a failure every day.

There is a myth about publishing, that once you get published, the writing becomes easier.  I know that can’t be true.  I’ve read enough blogs from authors to know this, but I’ve had days recently in which I’ve felt like I’ll never write another good poem. Ever.

I think the problem lies in how I am approaching my writing life these days.  I expect to be motivated.  I expect the words to come.  And when they don’t, I feel a flood of failure.  The kind that whispers in my head, “You will never write again.”

I’ve had writing partners go through this and my advice is always, give it time, take a break, go for a walk.  These are all things I give myself permission to do, but when it goes on for days and days, it’s cause for concern.

Early in the morning sitting with my coffee and Charlie on my lap, I looked outside and said to myself, “How is it the cypress trees know that it’s September?”

I didn’t have my notebook.  It was in my school bag in the trunk of my car.  I didn’t want to go outside with bare feet to get it.  And besides, I was worried the muse would escape if I did that.  So I grabbed a nearby pad of paper and wrote a quick poem.  This simple response relieved my writer’s block. Still when I went back to my work in progress, things were no better, but I calmed my disdain with my new poem.  I got up and went to the study where I keep the old typewriter my son-in-law bought me at an estate sale and plinked the September poem, cut it out, and glued it into a beautiful handmade journal I reserve for these private musings.  Ah, there.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.


I’ve challenged my students to write a list poem this week.  Before Friday was even here, Madison had taken the bait and wrote a list about the famous Fibonacci series. Madison has an unique style of writing poetry.  She capitalizes all the words.  I once asked her why she did that, and she told me because they are all important.  Who can argue with that!?

Fib-List Poetry

Always Twirling

Since the Very Beginning
It has been Swirling

Green Points
A Real Place to Pinpoint

It will Not Disappoint
At the Right Viewpoint

A Fibonacci
Unlike the Nazi

Madison, 5th grade

Phyllotaxis plant spiral, goodfreephotos.com

My friend Kay continues to use Bayou Song to inspire poetry with her gifted 4th and 5th graders.  Last week they wrote I am poems.  This week they wrote tercets.  I love Karter’s use of B words to express the beauty of birdsong.

by Karter

Birds are like singing angels
Busting through sadness
Belting out melodies.


Pop on over to Linda Mitchell’s post full of poetry love from the National Book Festival last weekend.  Her post helps me remember with joy and celebration!

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

Take Down the Letters: A play will be presented at Cité des Arts, Lafayette, LA on Sept. 14, 15, 16.

I met Sue Shleifer with a mutual friend a few years ago. She’s a writer, and my friend thought we would enjoy meeting each other. At our lunch together, Sue mentioned a box of letters that she had written to her boyfriend over the course of ten years from age 18-28. The box had been sent to her by his widow. He died young at age 50. Sue wanted to create something from these letters, but at that time, she wasn’t sure what.

Fast forward three years: Sue has written a full length play that will be presented in mid-September. As part of the grant, she had to give a free writing workshop. She contacted me to assist with the poetry writing session. The premise was very similar to the inspiration for her play: Bring in a letter that you would like to use to write a scene or a poem.

After Sue and I met to discuss the workshop plan, I asked Jeff, “Don’t we have some letters from your grandfather to your grandmother in the secret drawer in her desk?” He couldn’t remember, so we looked. The secret drawer is in the top of the desk and can only be opened by pressing a button underneath the drawer in a closed compartment. And sure enough there they were. Letters from the summer of 1925.

According to my mother-in-law, their daughter, they were married in City Hall in New York City. And shortly after, her mother traveled home to Canada to vacation with her family for a month. C was very much in love, and the letters are romantic. “Probably why she kept them,” Jeff said.

Imagine the time period: the only mode of communication was by letter. C wrote pages and pages in fine calligraphy-style handwriting. The one that was most poetic was the last letter of August 8, 1925. In this one, he used a repeated line “Bring back…” I created a poem by finding the poem in his letter.

If you come in on the 7:47, bring the bathing suit with you.
And bring back yourself even if you forget all of the above.

Bring back that dark brown hair I love,
the big wavy curl that hangs
continuously over your left eye.

Bring back the eyes looking into mine
telling me you are mine.
Bring back the nose,
your quivering lips–silent.

Bring back the arms that have hugged me
so tightly–a little tighter still, because–
because they wanted to.

Bring back your heart, that electric spark
thrilling my toes, my body to my head
and down again–and again.

Bring back the mystery, the wonder,
the sweetness that is yours.
I will take it all, put my arms around it
all, and hug, and kiss, and love it
for ages and ages.
Will you?

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018 with words by Cecil Lennan, 1925.

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Poetry Friday round-up is here. Scroll down to link up with inlinkz.

Today I am hosting Poetry Friday.  What a joy to collect all the poetry goodness in the kidlitosphere. Scroll down to the inlinkz button to link up and to read posts.

This summer I participated in the Summer Poem Swap organized by Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.  I recently received a delightful package from Laura Shovan, (And it arrived on my birthday! Serendipity!) Laura received one of my books in a blog tour give-away. She made a copy of the “Write it” for writing a zeno poem.  The zeno form was invented by J. Patrick Lewis.  The syllable count is a mathematical sequence, 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1 with the one syllable words rhyming.

I was inspired to try my own zeno.  Last week Christie Wyman challenged us to write bird poems. I loved Linda Baie’s poem and gathered words from it to create my zeno.  Then I made a zine. Zine is a new term for a folded paper mini-book. (See this post that includes videos.) I will be giving a few workshops in September in which we make zines, so I wanted to make a sample Zeno Zine.

Morning birds surround me with sound.
Flying quartets
Sunrise music
of symphonic

Margaret Simon (c) 2018


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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .


The beginning of school is a tough time.  Learning new routines, establishing a safe space, and getting to know your students takes time.  And then there are the directives, the process of finding the way to fit your teaching philosophy into the constraints of district guidelines.  I feel the strain.  As fun as it is to see those kids you missed over the summer, and to reconnect with faculty friends, the stress can be overwhelming.

Without going into too many details, I had that kind of beginning.  I took all this stress with me to a yoga class out in the open air pavilion downtown.  Susan was playing music and singing while Laurie led us in sun salutations.  Near the end of this invigorating exercise, Susan sang “Let it Be.”  Her voice entered into my soul and the chorus became a mantra, “Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.”

I watched Karaoke Carpool with Paul McCartney.  If you haven’t seen this yet, you should watch it.  Paul tells the story of how he came to write the song.  He had a dream about his deceased mother who told him, “Let it be.”  There are many things that are not in our control.  I am reminded of the serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Using the words in a golden shovel, I wrote this poem:

Someone is speaking.
I can’t hear the words.
I look into the eyes of
love and know wisdom.
It is mine to let
go or choose to let it
get to me. I choose to let it be.

Margaret Simon, (c) draft 2018

Susan painted this mural in the yoga room.

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