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Archive for the ‘Poetry Friday’ Category

Poetry Friday round-up is with Laura at Writing the World for Kids.
Photo by Daria Obymaha on Pexels.com

Today is my 38th wedding anniversary. Yesterday I was buying a last minute card for my husband, and I told the clerk, “I almost forgot; tomorrow is my 38th wedding anniversary.”

She smiled under her mask and behind plexiglass and said, “That’s so nice.” Something in her voice made me hear her longing for love in her own life.

I replied, “It is nice when you find the right one.”

I’ve been blessed I found him so early in my life. I was not yet 21 when I walked down a long, candlelit aisle knowing with confidence I was doing the best thing I could ever do. And I was so right!

On Sundays we change the sheets. Sometimes he’ll put them back on the bed before I know it, a sweet surprise. And sometimes we make the bed together. I am reminded of this love poem by Li-Young Lee from Behind My Eyes. Li-Young Lee turns this chore into a love song.

to hold :: li-young lee

So we’re dust. In the meantime, my wife and I
make the bed. Holding opposite edges of the sheet,
we raise it, billowing, then pull it tight,
measuring by eye as it falls into alignment
between us. We tug, fold, tuck. And if I’m lucky,
she’ll remember a recent dream and tell me.

One day we’ll lie down and not get up.
One day, all we guard will be surrendered.

Until then, we’ll go on learning to recognize
what we love, and what it takes
to tend what isn’t for our having.
So often, fear has led me
to abandon what I know I must relinquish
in time. But for the moment,
I’ll listen to her dream,
and she to mine, our mutual hearing calling
more and more detail into the light
of a joint and fragile keeping.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Catherine at Reading to the Core.

Last week when I hosted Poetry Friday, I asked readers to write a line or two answering the question “What is Poetry?” To create this crowsourced poem, I printed out the lines and cut them up and played with the arrangement like a child with a new puzzle. It was fun. My writing group helped me fit in everyone’s contribution.

Photo by Michael Goyberg from Pexels

What is Poetry?
crowdsourced poem by Poetry Friday bloggers

A poem is a whisper of words
that opens a secret door
and invites you to walk through,
a song your heart sings.

Poetry is
our quickening
to the life-song pulsing in us
and through us, a leaf fluttering
in the breeze, waves crashing,
a glimpse into another soul.

Poetry balances our soul
and begs our action,
a pratfall or a lift,
beauty never before shown,
truth never before known.

Poetry is a whisper of life, 
distilled essence,
an echo full of vibrancy and emotion,
fed by the waters of creativity.

Poetry is a sudoku of words infused
with energy, story, and song;
words arranged to nourish the soul,
truth at a slant put to music.

Poetry is a hidden treasure
voicing what is inside
and ready to soar outward, 
a butterfly caught in my net, 
then released.

Poetry is concentrated language,
our very best words
squeezed into tight spaces
creating an essential spark,
a kiss, a blessing,
the lake dancing with the sunrise…
And on
and on
and on!

Contributors include: Jan Annino, Michelle Kogan, Linda Mitchell, Molly Hogan, Mary Lee Hahn, Linda Kulp Trout, Little Willow, Fran Haley, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Carol Varsalona, Karen Edmisten, Alan J. Wright, Irene Latham, Catherine Flynn, Tim Gels, Janice Scully, Laura Purdie Salas, Ramona Behnke, Janet Fagel.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with here! Link up at the end of this post with InLinkz.

Before the pandemic, I had applied to the Summer Poetry Teachers Institute to be held in Chicago at The Poetry Foundation. Alas, a trip to Chicago to hang out with poets and poetry teachers is a dream yet to come true, but the foundation offered a viable alternative in a 3-day virtual institute last week. It was wonderful! The presentations were all professionally done, the hand-outs were well organized, and they facilitated a real time Q & A. By far the best PD of my summer.

One of the Big Essential Questions was “What is Poetry?” This was the topic of Richard Blanco’s presentation. Oh, my! Swoon. He could read poems to me all day! For today’s Poetry Friday, let’s consider this question. Here are some quotes from the conference.

Poetry is someone standing up
and saying, with as little
concealment as possible, what
it is for him or her to be on
earth at this moment.

Galway Kinnell

Poetry is a bird. 
Sometimes its song is shrill,
sometimes its song is sweet. 
It preens its feathers
so they shine brightly in the sunlight. 
It nurtures its own
and delights all who gaze upon it.

Isman, fellow institute participant

In the comments, write your response to What is Poetry? I’d love to gather them together into a collaborative poem. And don’t forget to link up your post with InLinkz.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jan at BookSeedStudio

Last week I wrote down two lines from Poetry Friday posts. The first was a line from Amy, “If you let yourself.” The second was a clunker that Linda was giving away. “the wish is the thing.”

From those two line gifts, I wrote this draft that I haven’t thrown away yet.

If you let yourself
fail & appear worthless,
a freedom sets in.
Instead of focus on results,
you can concentrate
on the work
of being human.

If you let yourself
trust the sun to fertilize,
you can leave the blooming
to God & be still–
the wish is the thing.

Margaret Simon, draft

I received two gift poems today from Tabatha’s wonderful summer poetry swap. Tabatha herself sent me a snake poem. Apparently July 16th is World Snake Day . Who knew? On that day, I opened my storage shed to get the hidden key to our house, and a small very wiggly snake was at my feet caught up in a spider web. I grabbed the key and ran, leaving the door open in case the little scoundrel got itself loose.

For her poem, Tabatha imagined me going on a snake hunt with my grandson. Coincidentally, Leo and I did find a dead snake in our yard a few months ago. He still remembers that snake and points to the spot where we saw it every time. “Nake gone.”


SNAKE HUNTING WITH GRANDMA

Grandma packs our drinks and snacks,   

squirts sunblock and rubs it in.

I pick a stick for each of us   

to peek at things hidden.

We need a map to follow—   

I draw the view from east to west,

plus rainbow snakes sleeping   

next to eggs in their nests.

It’s rainbow snakes we’re hunting—  

I see garters every day—

A water snake isn’t rare    

and king snakes come to play

(sort of). But a rainbow snake’s  

a serpent I haven’t seen,

a funny kind of rainbow    

with no orange, blue, or green.

Grandma and I walk and watch,   

hear noisy birds, see speedy deer,

steer clear of snapping turtles,    

and spook hares that disappear.

As we go, we keep our eyes peeled   

for the stripes of rainbow snakes.

If we don’t spot one, we still had fun,   

and we will hunt another day!

by Tabatha Yeatts

for Margaret Simon, Summer Poem Swap 2020

I also received a poem from Christie Wyman. She, too, captured the bayou life and joy of grandparenting.

Wandering and wondering
Together, hand in hand
Through the parish
Along the Teche’s shores
Among sugar cane and pages

Listening
For whispers, songs, and the wood duck’s call
Feeling
Life in abundance
Seeking inspiration

A shared joyful connection
To the web of nature

Joy upon the pages

Christie Wyman, 2020

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Ruth all the way from Haiti.

What words will call to you?

Irene Latham, introduction to This Poem is a Nest

Irene Latham is as charming and lovely in person as her poems are on the page. Her new release This Poem is a Nest opens with an invitation. In Part I, we read the poem “Nest.” This seedling is divided into 4 seasons of 3 stanzas each of free verse poetry. “Nest” has everything I love in a poem, lyrical language, alliteration and onomatopoeia, imagery of nature, and inquiry that touches my heart, “Won’t you climb inside?”

Nest is the seed poem for Irene’s creativity that grows into day poems, before & after poems, calendar poems, color poems, animal poems, feeling poems, and just when you think she could not possibly find any more poems in Nest, there is word play, alphabet, and ars poetica.

With all of these nestling poems, you would think the poems would lose magic, lose originality, or become repetitive, but the experience of them is quite the opposite. Each new poem needs to be held for a minute or two. Each one reveals a surprise, all the way to the last poem:

Last Poem

birdsong
nothing more

Irene Latham, This Poem is a Nest

The end papers of this wonderful book offer writing advice to budding poets. Irene gives tools to me and teachers like me who want to inspire students to write. The art of “found poetry” has been elevated to “nest-poem” or “nestling.”

I wanted to try it out, so I went to a poem by Barbara Crooker that I had cut out and glued into my journal. “How the Trees on Summer Nights Turn Into a Dark River.”

Step one: Circle words that appeal to you. I circled drizzling, air, careening.

Then I looked up careening to check my understanding of the word.
“move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way in a specified direction.”

Step two: Choose a subject. I thought a lot about this. Air, careening…a kite.

Unlike found poetry, nestlings do not have to follow the order in which you find the words, so I went back and grabbed “reach” from the first line, which led me to “wonder” and “for,” finishing my image of a flying kite.

Image poem created on Canva.

Now as I look again at the nestling I created, I think it would be better like this:

How to be a Kite
Careen
with drizzling air
Reach
for wonder.

By going through this process, I realize how much work went into Irene’s book of poems. Writing nestlings is a fun challenge. I had to use critical thinking skills that are imperative to teaching students to write. I encourage you to try writing nestling poems. Thanks, Irene!

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Poetry Friday round-up is at Karen’s Blog.

Summer means the Summer Poetry Swap which is coordinated by Tabatha. I’ve already received two poetry gifts, and it feels like summer just began.

The first poem I received came from Laura Shovan, a dear poet friend and author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary and Takedown. Laura sent sourdough starter, a whimsical pen, and this poem.

Bread and Water by Laura Shovan

My second poem came from Buffy Silverman. Buffy and I have never met, but I have enjoyed her poetry for years. What delight to open an email from her with this image and beautiful poem about wild iris, blue flag!

Blue Flag by Buffy Silverman

This week Linda Mitchell and I teamed up to provide prompts for Ethical ELA. This site by Sarah Donovan is a wonderful place for teachers to write and receive positive feedback. I enjoyed being a part of the community this week. The poetic responses were amazing! Here is a link to the 5 Day Open Write.

I wrote two poems in response to Linda’s prompts. The first one was a list poem. I had a receipt marking my notebook page. My oldest daughter is having a girl (Yes!) in November. At a local children’s store, I bought the first thing for this new one, a newborn gown.

For the Little Ones
 
Shorts
Shirt
Gown–> NB
 
white silky soft
edged with pink stitching
to welcome
a sister
now growing
day by day
a girl to embrace
a girl to bless
a girl to love

Margaret Simon, draft

The second prompt from Linda came from Linda Baie’s prompt in Laura Shovan’s Water Poem Project, to write a fiction poem. I took some quotes from my weekend with my kids and built this scene.

Heat
 
What is it about the 90 degree mark
that turns a sunny day into fire
burning you through to the bone?
 
They didn’t speak in the heat;
Their brains thirsty, wrung out 
beyond droplets of sweat,
couldn’t fathom anything worthy of saying.
 
He handed her the phone,
clicked play on a video of animal faces,
noses in particular, that made her smile,
despite herself. She didn’t bother 
to ask why. 
 
Humor finds its way into the cracks
of relationship, beneath the surface
of burning skin to release toxins
from the crease of a smile. 

Margaret Simon, draft

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

I was struggling over what to post today. I didn’t prepare my post ahead of time. I considered bailing out completely. But something was tugging at me.

That tug started with an email from poets.org that sent me into a rabbit hole of Black poets. Reading, clicking, texting, reading…

Then I was discussing my dilemma with my daughter, Katherine. She works for an ad agency in New Orleans. Her co-worker, Dante Nicholas, wrote an article on Later.com “How Brands Can Celebrate Juneteenth on Social Media.” In his article, Dante states “June 19, 1865 – Juneteenth –  is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States….At its heart, Juneteenth is a day of celebration.”

I clicked further to find that Dante is also a fabulous photographer. I screen-shot this post from his Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/allthingsdante/

Dante Nicholas, New Orleans, Louisiana

In my reading, I felt a kinship to Margaret Walker. Not only did she have my name, she also lived in my home town of Jackson, MS. for a time. I wish I could say I met her or saw her speak, but I didn’t. But her words spoke to me today. Dante’s image makes me think of poets like Margaret who said, “Let a new earth rise.”

Using words from Margaret Walker from For My People, I wrote a small found poem to celebrate the freedom of Juneteenth.

For playmates in the clay
singing dirges, ditties, blues,
Let a bloody peace be written.

It’s time, friends, it’s time!

Margaret Simon, found poem from Margaret Walker’s For My People.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Irene at Live your Poem! She is gathering a celebration of poet Nikki Grimes.

If memory serves me correctly, I first learned of Nikki Grimes’ work when I bought this book, Words with Wings, at the recommendation of a colleague who knew of my passion for poetry and novels in verse. I brought it home with me this summer for inspiration for writing my own novel-in-verse. Who knows if that will come to fruition, but when I opened the book, this is what I saw:

“May your dreams take flight,” Nikki Grimes.

How’s that for messages from the universe?

Today, Poetry Friday is celebrating Nikki Grimes. I’ve had the privilege to see her at NCTE a few times. Last year, I sat at her table for the Children’s Literature Luncheon where each one of us received a singed copy of Ordinary Hazards, her memoir in verse. I’ve read and listened to this book and have used it as inspiration for my students, too.

I use Nikki’s poetry time and time again to inspire writing with my students. In Words with Wings, there are a number of poems that begin with “Say”. One of them is Butterfly.

from Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes, 2013 Wordsong

Last month I was creating instructional videos for an open channel station that was airing teacher-made videos for students learning at home. I created one around this poem. In doing so, I created a draft of a poem of my own as a model for writing “after Nikki Grimes.”

Margaret Simon, draft

Poets like Nikki give children courage to be writers. Her gentle way of writing the truth echoes in the hearts of young people. If you are looking for a model poem for young writers, turn to Nikki Grimes. Her next book release is exciting to me. Legacy: golden shovel poems inspired by words of Harlem Renaissance Women Poets. It releases in January, 2021. I hope by then I’ll see Nikki again and add another signed book to my collection.

Instructional video on Say Butterfly by Nikki Grimes.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with here!

I am hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today. Please join by placing your link using Inlinkz at the end of the page.

Today is the monthly gathering of Sunday Night Poetry Swaggers posts. This month Heidi Mordhorst challenged us to write a farewell letter to our students. We finished out the official school year 2 weeks ago, but truthfully, our school year ended on March 13th.

My emotions have been so torn by the pandemic and recent protests that I am unsure how I would talk to my students about it all. And then once again Naomi Shihab Nye’s Kindness crossed my path. That poem always moves me. “Before you know what kindness really is,/ you must lose things.” I decided to take a striking line for a golden shovel.

When I use another poet’s line to create a poem, I feel that poet is somehow writing alongside me. There is comfort in that. However, from the decision to write a golden shovel to the poem I am sharing, I’ve started and stopped many times. I am still not sure it’s what I want to say, but it’s getting there. I plan to mail both poems to my students as a way to say goodbye.

Dear students, we were together one day, then
pandemic stay-at-home made it
hard to know what is 
good and real and right. Our only 
idea of kindness 
included a drive-by party that 
makes 
sense, 
but may not comfort you anymore.

My only 
hope is you keep kindness 
in front of all that 
worries you. Focus on what ties 
you to others. Hold on to your 
ability to walk in someone else’s shoes
and
empathize with a character who sends
you into their world. You 
can make a difference out
of your choices. Lean into
what you know is good. Be the
best you can be every day. 

Margaret Simon, Golden Shovel draft

To see other Swaggers’ letters of farewell:

Heidi
Molly
Catherine
Linda

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

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

I was at a loss for what I should write about today. Early this morning I read Linda Mitchell’s post in which she revisits her one little word for 2020. Ah, there is an idea I can embrace. Embrace is my 2020 word.

What I can embrace and celebrate is this amazing month of poetry of presence prompted by my interview at Today’s Little Ditty (See the wrap-up today.) Poetry friends old and new embraced the idea of writing a poem of presence every day in May. The Twitterverse has been happily inspiring and connecting us in a special, ever-present way. (#poemsofpresence)

I can embrace my baby grandsons. My school year has finished up, and my daughter from New Orleans needed help with her baby while she works, now from my home. We occasionally get the cousins together. They are not old enough to really engage with each other, but we are trying to nurture their relationship.

What I cannot embrace is the news of the world. I will not embrace racism and am sickened by the ways that it continues to mar our world. That’s all I’m going to say…

Last week April Halprin Wayland posted a new form: In One Word. Click the link to read the directions and her mentor poems. Here’s a draft using Wordmaker words from Embrace. The words I used are be, embrace, arm, mere, bee, me.

Shelter at Home

This time came to be
eerily easy
to embrace
with one arm,
a mere test
of my resolve
to stay here-present.
Like a bee
intent on nectar,
I tend this place
for you & me.

Margaret Simon, draft
Photo by Katherine Simon Andry at Petite Anse Farm, New Iberia, LA.

One more thing to embrace: the ingenuity of young people who create beauty out of a a field of dirt.

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