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Archive for the ‘Poetry Friday’ Category

Poetry Friday round-up is with Laura Purdie Salas at Small Reads for Brighter Days.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer. As an introvert, swimming was a sport I could do. But the flip turn alluded me. I gave up when competitions required a flip turn.

My oldest daughter swam competitively from 7th to 12th grade. Our lives were consumed with practice and meets.

When Sarah Donovan of Ethical ELA put out a call for sports poems, I drew on these experiences and wrote a duplex poem about swimming, First Heat. The poem was accepted and is now published alongside Inklings Heidi Mordhorst and Linda Mitchell, as well as admired authors like Nikki Grimes, Laura Shovan, and Padma Venkatraman. You can purchase a copy of Rhyme & Rhythm: Poems for Student Athletes at Archer Publishing’s website.

The Poetry Sisters challenge this month was to write a tanka in conversation with another sister’s poem. I chose Heidi’s poem from Rhyme & Rhythm, Cleatless about dancing.

My feet didn’t beat
until they stepped in time with
yours, right-together-

right, left-together-left two
step, twirl face-to-face with you.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Denise at Dare to Care.

The Festival of Words yearly fundraising event was once again virtual this year. In a way, this is great because more poets from Louisiana and beyond can participate. I volunteered again to write a commissioned poem for Words for You. How this worked was I volunteered, someone donated to have me write a poem, and we all celebrated with a reading event on Zoom. The reading was last night and it’s on Facebook Live.

For some reason, I felt drawn to the sonnet form. What a challenge I gave myself! My person, Sue, answered a question about her spirit animal being a leopard. I did some leopard research and puzzled it into a poem. The problem was it didn’t hold any meaning. So then I wrote a free verse poem. After that I continued to hack away at the sonnet. After more study of the form, a total rewrite was necessary. The process was challenging, at times frustrating, but in the spirit of the leopard, I did not give up.

It may help to know that Sue is a playwright who is tolerant of Louisiana, but she hates the weather.

(c) Margaret Simon, for Sue Schleifer “Words for You” 2021

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Laura Purdie Salas has been a writing mentor in my classroom for years now. Her books and poetry speak to children ( and to this adult). A few weeks ago she posted this poem on her blog. I used it with my students for a beginning-of-the-school-year writing prompt. I did not require the precise rhyme and rhythm pattern; they got the gist of making a list of favorite things.

I, however, took on the challenge of getting into the right meter and rhyme-scheme. I don’t think I’ve nailed it (I’m missing a verse and one of the rhymes is too slanted) but each revision gets closer to it. Rodgers and Hammerstein were musical geniuses. I played a video of this favorite scene from The Sound of Music, a classic that many children are unfamiliar with. They know this version better–the Lays commercial with Anna Kendrick. It’s fun to watch, too.

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Join the Poetry Friday round-up with Heidi at my juicy little universe.

What was I thinking when I challenged my Inklings writing group to write a ghazal for this month’s challenge? Woah, who knew there were so many rules/ guidelines? I had attended the Poetry Foundation’s Summer Teachers Institute and watched a presentation about using repetition in poetry. The presenter talked about two poetry forms, the villanelle and the ghazal. So I said to myself that in order to teach these forms, I needed to write in these forms.

The ghazal is an ancient Arabic and Persian language poetic form. It has couplets (two-line stanzas) that end with repeated end words or phrases. You can also add that traditionally the author’s name appears in the last couplet.

Looks easy, right? Well, this definition was somewhat incomplete. At Poets.org, there is this more complete definition. And Molly directed us to this guidance on Tweetspeak. The most help, as always, came from the Inkling group’s dedication to the craft of poetry and to each other. Their critique was invaluable.

I wanted my poem to say something, to express my longing as a grandmother for the grandmother I never knew. This portrait of her was painted in the 1940’s when my mother was a young girl. It now hangs in my dining room, life-size.

Grandmother’s Song

She never held me in her arms long to sing.
Death took her breath–she was not wrong to sing.

Within her eyes a lullaby still stares
from a frame to invite me along to sing.

Her portrait-hands caress violin strings;
Like the songbird’s voice, they echo strong to sing.

Now I wonder if an angel sings to me.
I want to know whose song to sing.

I have her name–Margaret–a spelling tune,
like a young child, I know I belong to sing. 

Margaret Simon, ghazal, all rights reserved.

Click on the links to read more ghazals by our amazing poetry group.

Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Elisabeth at Unexpected Intersections

For the end of the month Poetry Sisters challenge, Mary Lee posted this call to write deeper wisdom poems in the form of Jane Yolen’s What the Bear Knows. I recall a similar challenge from Michelle Barnes’ interview with Joyce Sidman on Today’s Little Ditty. I used this form in my book Bayou Song to write about the black-crowned night-heron.

(c) Margaret Simon, Bayou Song

photo by Henry Cancienne

To order a copy of Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape, go to UL Press website.

On this anniversary of Hurricane Laura that devastated Lake Charles, Louisiana last year, we are once again bracing for a storm, Tropical Storm Ida that is predicted to come in around New Orleans as a Category 3 hurricane. We are preparing and watching news closely. Please keep us in your prayers. We know how to do this. I’ll post updates as I am able on Instagram/ Facebook. Thanks!

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at The Apples in my Orchard

I’ve gotten woefully behind in reading a poetry book each day for #TheSealyChallenge, and that’s because school has started. My focus has shifted. So to create a post for today, I sat down with Late Father by Taylor Mali, a gift from Janet Fagel for the summer poem swap. I got lost in the poems that lead us through his life with candor, humor, and grief. Then I googled him and found his website and a link to his Facebook page where I watched a video…In other words, I took too long on this post.

I’ve heard from a few poets that giving the title some of the heavy lifting can be helpful in writing a poem. Irene Latham does this often in This Poem is A Nest. I noticed it in Elizabeth Acevedo’s verse novel The Poet X. (Title: “Another Thing You Think While You’re Kneeling on Rice That Has Nothing to Do with Repentance”) And here it is again in Taylor Mali’s book. Time to pay some attention to this craft move.

From Late Father by Taylor Mali

I’ve Already Worked too Long on this Post

Praise be the poet who,
having written a poem every
day this week, opens her docs
and plops one into a blog post
and calls it Poetry Friday.

She must know that I will read it
again and again and call myself
a faker. Berate the time I spent
watching “Outer Banks” rather
than writing this poem.

(I got this.)

She must know that poetry can be
a playground with a swingset anchored
for cloud viewing–even if now there’s rain–
the memory of a vision is enough
to build a poem on.

LaMiPoFri* by Margaret Simon

*Last minute poetry Friday form coined by Kat Apel.

Dramatic sky view from my school’s parking lot

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

Just as my school year started, I received my final Poem Swap gift and poem from Janet Fagel. It was all about Taylor Mali, the inventor of Metaphor Dice. She’s friends with him. (Swoon!) She sent me his book Late Father, which I added to my Sealy Challenge stack, and a signed print of his poem Undivided Attention. Janet’s poem for me came as a found/black out poem from this poem. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the poem arrived just in time for my 60th birthday.

Earlier in the summer I received a poem swap from Mary Lee Hahn. She made an oracle deck from my own words, phrases she had found in my poems. She color-coded the cards to show which was 5 syllables and 7 syllables. Then she created two poems from my words, a haiku and a doditsu (7-7-7-5). She encouraged me to make these with my students this year. Tucking it away until April when we’ve written lots of poems together from which to choose lines.

Haiku by Mary Lee with phrases from Margaret Simon
Dodoitsu by Mary Lee Hahn with phrases from Margaret Simon
Creating my own haiku from the oracle deck.

Both of these gifts come straight from the heart. This is the whole embodiment of this Summer Poem Swap, organized and led by Tabatha Yeatts. Thanks Janet, Mary Lee, and Tabatha. My hear is full!

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading.

My writing group is here this week with a new name and a new challenge. Formerly, the Sunday Swaggers, we are now the Inklings. Catherine Flynn challenged us this month to write an Ekphrastic Poem.

From the Poetry Foundation:

Ekphrasis

“Description” in Greek. An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.

A few weeks ago I was participating in #WriteOut, a virtual writing marathon from the National Writing Project. On this visit, we were in San Antonio, Tx. One of the prompts was a work of art by Georgia O’Keefe that is housed at the McNay Art Museum.

Evening Star V by Georgia O’Keefe, from the McNay Art Museum

Evening Star

Texas sky
blooms
into star-gaze
red glare haze
across blue waves–

And there–
a point of light
opens a minor C–
insignificant note
like a dust-speck
glistening then gone. 

Margaret Simon, draft

To see more Inkling ekphrasis:

Molly
Linda
Heidi
Catherine

For #TheSealyChallenge, I have read 5 poetry books. This week I wrote blog posts about Before the Ever After, a verse novel by Jacqueline Woodson, and Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic, a totally different novel in verse. I also blogged about The Bridge Between Us, a collection of poems about teaching through the Covid-19 pandemic. I’ve read Robert Bly’s Morning Poems and Naomi Shihab Nye’s Cast Away, but haven’t blogged about them yet. I am enjoying this challenge. It’s making me pick up poetry books that I have had on my shelves and never read through. I only heard about this challenge this year, but it’s been around for a few years. Is anyone else doing it? How are you handling and processing?

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Becky at Sloth Reads.

Two weeks in covid times is a lifetime, time enough for the Delta variant to quickly invade my territory. It has taken a few weeks for the CDC to catch up to this invasion and to adjust guidelines. From our own family’s experience we knew a few things before they did. The virus Can infect someone who is vaccinated. The virus Can be spread by vaccinated people. And the vaccine Does protect from grave illness. My 90 year-old mother-in-law was vaccinated in January and February. Two weeks ago she started coughing. She took a rapid antigen test that showed she was positive for Covid-19. Today she is fine. She’s back to swimming daily and has only an occasional cough lingering. No hospitalization was necessary. We aren’t even sure if her case was counted in the long run; however, in these last two weeks, CDC has taken an about-face. And we are glad they have.

In my anger over this viral outbreak, I wrote a villanelle for an Ethical ELA Open Write prompt. The Seven Poetry Sisters put out a villanelle challenge for this month, so I asked for critique from my writing group and revised. A villanelle is a challenging form. I used Rita Dove’s Testimony, 1968 as a jumping off place.

This poem is a jeremiad. (prolonged lamentation or complaint, originating from Jeremiah whose Biblical book is lamentations)

Delta Invasion

Who comforts me now that the virus has broken?
Numbers mean nothing now that you’re ill.
Anger invades my trust, hope lost or stolen.

We thought our lives safe to reopen,
but Delta arrived with its own stubborn will.
Who comforts me now? The virus has broken

through the vaccine’s promised protection.
Credence is shattered on CDC’s sill.
Anger invades my trust in hope; lost or stolen.

Safe, unsafe rules are misspoken
as dispersed droplets aim to kill.
Who comforts me now that the virus has broken?

Our lines of defense should be woken
to what we now know is out there still.
Anger crumbles trust as hope is lost or stolen.

Some still reject life-saving vaccination
yet your nagging cough didn’t kill
what comforts me now is the virus has broken
and relief restores trust. Hope not lost or stolen. 

Margaret Simon, 2021
Don’t trash those masks. Time to wear them again.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Kat Apel down under with snails and cats and #petpicpoems

I have a new creative obsession outlet: zentangle poems. I signed up for art card exchange with Amy Souza at Spark . I have a pocket Buddha reader. The pages are small (2″ x 3″) and full of wonderful Zen words in which to create small poems. Here are the art cards I sent out.

The winds, coming and going
free
See beyond reality,
illusion, vision, dream
beyond the realm of words.
(Zentangle Buddha Poem #1)

Disentangling truth
can free you.
Understand sweetness.
Trust the self.
Nothing exists forever.
(Zentangle Buddha Poem #2)
Find truth
in a tangle–
hopelessly question
Understand the tangle-truth.
(Zentangle Buddha Poem #3)
How brightly you will shine!
You are yourself.
You, wherever you are.
(Zentangle Buddha Poem #4)
You will know
the scent of sandalwood
against the weed.

My sister is an artist. (You can find her on Instagram at bethsaxena_art.) Beth sent me this folded book with the message “This book wants to be a poem.” I’ve had it for a while. She painted in blank spaces just the right size for Zentangle Buddha Poems.

The womb is pure and free.
Wonder indeed
entered
is calm insight
and truth.

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