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Poetry Friday round-up is here!

Last month I invited Poetry Friday peeps to participate in a photo exchange, “More than Meets the Eye,” in which we’d send a photograph from our own geographic area for our exchange partner to write a poem about.  Please take some time to read other posts by clicking the Inlinkz at the bottom of this post.

I exchanged photos with Molly Hogan.  She sent me photos from a tidal pond in Maine.  I selected the photo of Greater Yellowlegs, a breed of sandpiper.  Here is Molly’s email explaining the setting:

Choosing is hard! I thought at first, I’d choose from one of my favorite places, but I changed my mind and am sending two from a new discovery. I often drive down to visit Popham Beach in Phippsburg, Maine. Driving back from walking there last weekend, I noticed a beautiful small pond? lake? off to the side. I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it before! At any rate, there was a small paved area I could pull into, and I did so. Then I noticed a trail and saw the signs: Spirit Pond Preserve and McDonald Preserve. It was such a misty, ethereal morning, that the name Spirit Pond seemed…well….heaven sent!

I did a little research at home to discover that Spirit Pond is a tidal pond fed by the Morse River. The small paved area I had used is to provide access to the pond for local clammers. As I checked a spelling this morning before sending this, I found an entire new rabbit hole of information about some runes that were reportedly discovered at Spirit Pond in the 1970s that were considered as possible evidence of Nordic activity. Then, there was some mention of those runes having possibly been brought to Maine by the Knights Templar along with the Holy Grail! Yikes!

Allaboutbirds.com describes the Greater Yellowlegs, “A common, tall, long-legged shorebird of freshwater ponds and tidal marshes, the Greater Yellowlegs frequently announces its presence by its piercing alarm calls.”

With this information and a prompt from Poets & Writers to write a love poem that uses animal behavior as a lesson in how we interact as humans, I wrote my first ever sonnet.

Spirit Pond by Molly Hogan

 

A Sonnet for Sandpipers

If I should hear alarming calls from you
within this holy place where we find rest,
I’d come to you like two birds often do;
We’d dance in water pools; close-by we’d nest.

From Nordic days, your charm & elegance
will lead a waltz across this Spirit Pond.
Where Knights themselves discovered sacred dance,
you kiss the sunlight at the break of dawn.

We’ll wade along a shore in misty haze
and build a nest on hummock safe & high.
In Maine, where nights are cool, we’ll spend our days
aloft on air uplifting wings to fly.

No fear how high or far away I roam
I know without a doubt, you are my home.

 

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

 

 

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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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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

 

Students proudly read their poems to Amy VanDerwater.

My students and I spent the month of April glued to The Poem Farm.  What would Orion’s adventure be today?  What technique was Ms. Amy VanDerwater teaching us?

After a month of writing poems, we couldn’t wait to meet Amy in person, virtually. Before any question was asked, Amy asked my students to share poems that they had written.  The pride! The joy! And her amazing responses!

Amy talked about her writing process, showed us her messy notebook pages, and gave us wonderful advice for writing.

Mason asked her how to write rhyming poems.  She gave us all a wonderful lesson on rhyming.  You can use rhymezone or a rhyming dictionary, she explained.  Then she showed us a notebook page where she had written the alphabet.  She works through the alphabet to try to find a rhyming word with the meaning she wants to convey.  She emphasized that the meaning is most important, so if you can’t find a word to rhyme, try a synonym.  After our Skype visit, Mason immediately wrote a poem using the techniques she had taught.

I am holding onto Amy’s advice for my own writing as well.  She talked about how she wrote a sonnet, a form that I have yet to try.  But now I think I will.  Somehow, Amy makes me feel more brave about writing poetry.

One of her last pieces of wisdom came from a poem she read aloud to us.  Her reading was as if she were cavemom and we were here cavechildren whom she was telling to write so our writing will live on.

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales.

 

April came to an end on Monday, but my students are still writing a poem a day.  We are in the groove, so to speak, and we did not do all the prompts at The Poem Farm yet.  It was time to write metaphor poems, so we grabbed the idea treasure box and passed it around.  I suggested that the item pulled became the metaphor for the topic.  I pulled out a peacock feather and could only think of my youngest daughter’s blue, blue eyes.

Your eyes
are a peacock feather’s
deepest center blue,
hidden as you
fold into a dream
of who
you plan to be
when your feather
fan opens.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018.

When we work together writing poems, conversations center around language and metaphor. When Chloe was writing a poem out loud about her favorite topic, cotton candy, Noah said ,”It dissolves in your hand.”  Chloe put that line in her poem.

Pink or Blue
Feels like a soft pillow
dissolving in my hand
Munching and Crunching
as I taste sensational,
sweet
cotton candy.

–Chloe, 2nd grade

Erin addressed her poem to one of her classmates who we were teasing when he stuck the word tree in a poem just to have a rhyming word.  Poetry builds community, even if we are clowning each other.

Tree

The wind rustles through the leaves
As a gentle breeze
Blows by
The bark scratches my hands
As I climb nature’s ladder
Up high the birds are singing
To the beat of the trees
Mother Earth’s Condo
Not a good rhyme though

–Erin, 6th grade

I want to thank Amy VanDerwater for being my co-teacher for poetry month.  I was a little shocked when I clicked over and found she has taken all her Orion poems down.  I understand, but I’m going to miss them.  She hopes to make them into a book which I will look forward to holding one day.

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National Poetry Month 2018

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

Today is a combination post, Slice of Life and my final poem for National Poetry Month.   This weekend was Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette.  I was blown away by the fiddling of Dominique Dupuis of New Brunswick, Canada. She first played at this festival in 1999 when she was 12 years old. South Louisiana (Acadiana) has strong ties with Canada stretching back to the 1700’s when Acadians were exiled from Nova Scotia and given land in Louisiana. Someone at the festival commented that we are all cousins.  I am not a Cajun but living here, I have great respect for the culture and music.

I chose ekphrastic poetry to challenge myself to write a poem a day in April.  My poems this month have mostly responded to my father’s art.  I’ve also included a few photographs and art by other artists.  This poem is not a traditional ekphrasis which is defined as poetry about visual art or sculpture.  Today’s poem (written on Monday, April 30th) is poetry inspired by music.

Dominique Dupuis

The song I was most attracted to was one Dominique wrote about her gratitude for being able to do the work that she does and to connect countries and cultures through music.  The title is “Ma Petite vie” which translates to “My Little Life.”

Dominique’s bow
travels across the land
roaming over climbing rocks,
flowing through rivers,
billowing in the wind.

Her strings vibrate
with warmth of a handshake,
a hug, a welcoming smile.
Across  miles
from Canada to Louisiane.

Feel time
bow by bow.

Feel rhythm
in your own heart.

Feel distance
crossed by instruments.

Echoes
of Acadian ancestors
speak in notes
connecting us all
to each other.

This is where we belong.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

April is National Poetry Month, and even though I believe poetry has a place in the classroom every day, I love this month of focus and attention to the craft of writing. After writing every day for the March Slice of Life Challenge, my students breathe a sigh of relief when I say they only have to post three poems each week. Poetry doesn’t come with the 250 word count minimum. Poetry isn’t about word count. Poetry celebrates voice, choice, and word play.

In my class we’ve been following Amy VanDerwater’s adventures with Orion. She’s writing a poem every day using the topic of Orion. We all have such admiration for her. Sticking to one topic and one that is rather obscure, like a constellation, is pretty amazing. My students are noticing how Amy likes to rhyme, so they are trying it, too. They are noticing more than the structure-of-the-day. Amy is a co-teacher this month, and in a world in which we teachers feel isolated, that is a comfort.

I write alongside my students. Some prompts work for me and some don’t. They watch me and know that they will not catch a good poem every day, but the point is to keep throwing the line back in.

One of the prompts this week was a poem of address. I wrote a poem to my students.

Dear Students,

You’ve written poems every day.
You’ve tried out words in every way.

Metaphor
Simile
Onomatopoeia

Compound words
Imagination
I’m so proud to see ya’

Active as a writer
discovering your voice.

Filling pages begin to end
with topics of your choice.

Keep the faith
as you go forth
to be who you will be;

Writing is a place
that’s safe
to reach for your best me.

–Margaret Simon © 2018

In my ELA classes, my students have been reading books about the Holocaust and creating book talks around them. Jacob, as most of my students, has been affected by the emotion of the devastation and tragedy. He was stuck for a topic for his poem of address, so I suggested writing a letter to Hitler. That was all the nudge he needed.

Poem of Address to Hitler

Did anyone tell you
that you are horrible?
Have you any clue?
You used to be unstoppable.

We’ve all hated you
for many years to come.
You’ve killed us, gave us the flu.
What have you become?

What made you become evil?
Why did you blame the Jews?
Everything you did was illegal.
I’ll give you 1 star in my reviews.

by Jacob, 4th grade

Austin is a 6th grader who is reading Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander, and he loves basketball. I think in this poem, he has voice.  I also love that poetry gives him a way to express who he is.  His poem of address is to Stephen Curry.  I had to Google him.  He’s a basketball player, of course.

Dear Curry,

Your shot is flawless
your handles are tight
and your hops are all right.

You’re a 6’4 shooting machine.
I’m a 5’0 spectator.
I watch you cook
and the way you look.
You been hurt for a little minute
so you might have a limit.

You hardly ever pout
but Anthony Davis says he is going
to dunk on you
without a doubt.

Austin, 6th grade

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Irene at Live Your Poem.

 

The time has come to let you all in on a very exciting adventure, my first poetry book for children, Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape.

This unique book that combines poetry, nonfiction text, photographs, and illustrations with invitations to write and draw will be published by UL Press on June 18, 2018.

This week I wrote an anticipatory poem prompted by Amy VanDerwater’s exercise in writing striking words.

Publication Day

I’m flabbergasted
by anticipation,
dizzy with expectation,
nauseous
with nervousness.


I’m sidestepping
assumption,
antsy for predictions,
impatient
for beliefpower
to hurtle into
my psyche.

 

I’m dancing
with my destiny
with heebie-jeebies
and butterflies
splitting me into
a hive of many bees.

The day of publication is near.

–Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

I am so pleased with my illustrator, Anna Cantrell.  She was a delight to work with.  She is young and enthusiastic.  Follow her on Instagram at jarofpencils.

I’ve received a few awesome blurbs.  Love this one from Ava Leavell Haymon, former Louisiana poet laureate.  It’s probably too long for the back cover, but I want to savor every word regardless.

A love-song to the Bayou Teche, this inviting book creates its own universe.  I suspect there are multiple paths for us to enter that universe, but I am drawn in immediately by Anna Cantrell’s luminous watercolor illustrations, a gift to us from her precise observation and quiet love for her subjects.  And then Henry Cancienne’s photographs add another layer of beauty and understanding.  Then I come to brief paragraphs of information, enough to arouse curiosity but press me with too many facts. Then — what a treasure box this little book is! — Margaret Simon’s poems, each one born of minute observation and winsome appreciation of this  Bayou universe.  And nestled into all of this are Simon’s suggestions for writing a poem of our own in the manner of the one we’ve just read, and a little space right there to do so.  Experienced teacher, she suggests with a light touch and offers inviting tricks to make our writing easy.

This is a generous, generative book that gives and gives and does not make demands.  My fingers were itching to hold a pencil, a canoe paddle, a watercolor set, a camera. I leave its universe a little sad to go, but refreshed in my love of the Louisiana bayous and with my own creativity restored.         Ava Leavell Haymon

If you would like to participate in a blog tour, please fill out the form below.  Select a date that works for you (between June 18-August 18) In the comments, let me know your ideas for your post as well as your snail mail address.  I will make a schedule and send you a pdf of the book.

 

 

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