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Archive for the ‘Poetry Friday’ Category

Poetry Friday round-up is with Linda at Teacher Dance.

Earlier this week, Sarah Donovan once again invited teacher-writers to join an Open Write. One of her brilliant inspirations came from this poem by Joseph Bruchac. I am so grateful for my daughters, the oldest of whom will soon deliver a daughter of her own. I am pleased with how the simple form worked to express the connection I feel.

Expectant

When I place
my fingers
on the swell
of her womb,


like combing waves in an ocean
softly lapping 
to shore,


her skin
gently moves


as our time
ebbs & flows
mother to daughter
to daughter
together
in our own sea. 

Margaret Simon, 2020
Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge

On Saturday I had the privilege of attending a writing workshop with our state poet laureate, John Warner Smith as part of the virtual Festival of Words. He presented the poem This is Not a Small Voice by Sonia Sanchez. He asked us to consider the power of collective voice and love in building a more perfect society. I stole borrowed some of Sanchez’s words as well as some from Michelle Obama on Twitter (responding to Biden’s election). “…build a nation worthy of our children.”

In the spirit of poetry,
we raise our collective pens
to toast the power
of words
to move
mountains
to reclaim
a spirit of good will.

The mouths of our rivers
have spilled out enough
dirt and grime
to soil a century.
Grab your shovel, friends,
hold it high
and dig.

Dig for gold!
Dig for diamonds!
Dig for poems that move you!

It’s up to us to love
the ones who hate us,
to love with listening ears,
to love with a fever for love,

But before we do that,
kiss the face
of a nation worthy
of our children
and our children’s children.

Let’s kiss her
with all the passion
of our poems. Now
Move!

Margaret Simon, draft
A rainbow appeared in the sky on my way home from school this week.
I always stop to photograph rainbows.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living.

This week the Sunday Night Swaggers are drafting to a challenge from Linda Mitchell, an aubade, which is a praise song to the morning. I read on Sharing our Stories a prompt for capturing sounds in your writing. To me sounds and aubade seemed to go together.

Sound is a huge influence on people’s attention.—Walter Murch

Sounds of the Morning

Is there a sound that wakes the morning?
An alarm of the softest hum,
shrill tweet of a passing bird,
a gurgle from the coffee pot?

Will you wake from your garden
And look for me?

Will I kneel down in prayer
Or throw my head back and laugh?

Oh morning, your welcoming glaze
bathes kindness over the day.

I could bask in your freshness
And forget hatred.

Stay awhile, sunrise!

Margaret Simon, draft

To read other Aubade poems:
Linda Mitchell
Heidi Mordhorst
Molly Hogan
Catherine Flynn

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Linda at Teacher Dance.

I’ve been exploring the blues poem form these last few weeks. My students and I read Finding Langston, so I pulled out some Langston Hughes poems. I grew up in Mississippi and something about the form feels like home to me. You can read more about blues poems here.

We’ve had a few hurricanes this year. Of course, the year 2020 is cursed as you know, but even for a curse, five hurricanes have threatened our state of Louisiana. Five! One of them, Delta, came pretty close to us here in bayou country. So with blues and hurricanes on my mind, I looked at this picture on my phone of a great white egret in the bayou a few days after Hurricane Delta. What do egrets do during a hurricane?

Bayou Teche, Great White Egret October 14, 2020

Egret Blues

It’s a tryin’ time to be a symbol of peace.
Tryin’ during this time to be peace,
full of a sad song in the air.
There’s a sad song swirling in the air.
Tropical winds just don’t care.

That hurricane down south in the gulf,
A storm makes peaceful turn to rough.
I’m walkin’ this line waitin’ for a sign,
a sign of weather’s high-pitched whine
I can’t keep from cryin’.

Egret blues echo in my Lord’s sunrise
Lord’s sunrise blurs my sideways eyes
I’m catchin’ the tailwind, ready to fly
Ready to fly through the bright new sky
A horizon of Peace by and by.

Margaret Simon, draft 2020

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jama today.

I enjoy playing with a new form, and this week I had a few to try out. One was invented by my very own student Chloe. This has happened only a few times in my teaching career when students become so comfortable with poetry that they venture into creating a new form. Chloe was writing to a prompt from Write Out, a collaboration between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service. The prompt asked students to draw a bird and write a journal entry for a day in the city. Chloe decided to draw a peacock. Then she wrote a very P heavy peacock poem. The aha came when she realized there was a distinct rhythm to her words. Voila! A new form!

Her form uses the syllable count of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We talked about the number five and decided that Penta-poem (more P words) had a nice ring to it. There is an optional rhyme scheme.

Peacock by Chloe, 5th grade
Peacock Penta poem by Chloe, 5th grade

I used another Write Out prompt to play with Chloe’s form. This prompt asked us to write from the perspective of an underground creature.

Some of our Poetry Friday peeps have also tried the Penta-Poem: Responses to This Photo Wants to be a Poem and Linda Mitchell uses a variation with a found poem.

I was introduced to a few other new-to-me forms on Ethical ELA Open Write this week. Anna J. Small Roseboro presented “Take a Word for a Walk” like the 5-finger exercises that pianists use. Writing to a daily prompt is exercise for the poet. Read Anna’s prompt here.

Why Worry?

worry that I’m not good
enough to worry about myself when
I give in, worry for the sake
of all my silly worry lists
waiting for nothing but for worry.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Janice Scully at Salt City Verse.

Today I am thrilled to be a stop on the blog tour for Hop To It: Poems to Get You Moving, the latest anthology from the dynamic duo, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong of Pomelo Books. The call went out earlier this year for poems that children can experience with their bodies. When the pandemic hit, Sylvia and Janet, who are known for responding to world events with poems, gathered pandemic poetry as well. This book is an inspiration for poets, teachers, and children.

Order copies here with a limited time discount.

I have written a collection of mindfulness poems that have yet to find a home, so I submitted a few to Sylvia and Janet, who selected Zen Tree. I absolutely love how the side bar bubbles give more information as well as a paired poem. This added touch is what makes Pomelo Books unique and teacher-friendly.

Heidi Mordhorst and Catherine Flynn, two friends from my Sunday Night Swaggers writing group, also have poems included. Catherine’s birthday is today, so hop over to her post to wish her Happy Birthday and to read her Mental Floss poem. Heidi gave me permission to share hers here. We are bouncing, flossing, tickling, and breathing along with 90 poets. What an amazing party!

Next stop Poetry for Children, blogspot for Sylvia Vardell, for more fun news about this book.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Bridget at wee words for wee ones.

Pablo Neruda was the master at writing odes, skinny poems of praise that would go on and on, metaphor after metaphor, describing the most ordinary thing. With my student Chloe, we read Neruda’s Ode to My Socks. We discussed metaphor. Then I asked her to write a skinny ode about something she cares about. Gymnastics came to mind right away. She made the connection between the uneven bars and a tree, and off she went.

Ode to the Uneven Bars

A high twig
it holds me. I’m
a feather. 
Cartwheels
on air
that bring
me higher,
my hands
are explorers
that discovered
a path
to the
wonderful
world of
magic.

I hold up
my invisible
hands
that reach
from island
to island.
My hands
are telescopes
that help me
see the world.
My arms 
wrapping
around trees,
my hands
out of
control
going everywhere.
Suddenly
they fly
high,
higher than
the trees
that wait
for me.

Chloe, 5th grade
2018 Summer Youth Olympics
Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

I have become enamored of the duplex poetry form, a modern take on a ghazal + sonnet + blues poem invented by Jericho Brown, the Pulitzer Prize Poetry Winner for 2020. I’ve read the description in this article over and over, and every time I see something new. In other words, it’s complicated.

Here are the boundaries:

Write a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem of 14 lines, giving each line 9 to 11 syllables.

The first line is echoed in the last line.

The second line of the poem should change our impression of the first line in an unexpected way.

The second line is echoed and becomes the third line.

The fourth line of the poem should change our impression of the third line in an unexpected way.

This continues until the penultimate line becomes the first line of the couplet that leads to the final (and first) line.

For the variations of repeated lines, it is useful to think of the a a’ b scheme of the blues form.   

Jericho Brown

I decided to challenge my writing group, The Sunday Night Swaggers, with the form. Challenges help to get us moving. (I hope my partners aren’t throwing eggs at this blog post.) I enjoyed this process. The repetition with the permission to vary it led to new discoveries.

To see more duplex poems from our group:

Catherine at Reading to the Core

Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone

Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

Linda at A Word Edgewise

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Matt at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme.

Last week I posted a poem I wrote for my mother-in-law, a work commissioned by her for a local writing festival fundraiser. I commissioned a poem for myself and selected Bonny McDonald to write it for me.

Bonny and I have lost touch over the years, so I enjoyed our email exchanges that put us back into that comfortable place of friendship. You know the kind. When you feel like you were never really separated.

Bonny didn’t just take the questionnaire that was given by the Festival of Words organization. No, she emailed me more questions like
What makes you think of your ancestors, and what messages do you get or teachings do you carry in your heart from those who came before you in your family?

My answers to that question and to “Who is your favorite poet lately?” (Jericho Brown) led to this wonderful duplex poem just for me. I cried when she read it at the Zoom event.

Namesake  

A duplex for Margaret Simon, 
 inspired by the portrait of her grandmother, Margaret Shields Liles  

The mother of your mother is with you 
Margaret, still, a figure in a painting 

Margaret’s figure sits still in the painting 
Her violin poised to spring up for a tune 

A tune fit for a violin springs up 
For the child of your child in your lap 

Oh child of my child, a song for you 
I wrote a few verses to leave with you 

Now to leave them is what’s left to do 
A note resonates with the lift of the bow 

A note resonates a little while  
Harmonics hold to a foundation 

Your grandchildren hold you to the place where
The mother of your mother is with you 

Bonny McDonald, all rights reserved
This portrait of my grandmother Margaret hangs in my dining room.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge

Last night I participated in a poetry reading Words for You with the Festival of Words. It was a fundraiser event for the festival. We usually find sponsors and read in a day long poetry event in downtown Lafayette, but this year fundraising, as everything, looks different. Louisiana writers volunteered to be commissioned to write a poem. Each poet wrote a special, unique poem for the person who selected them. I was chosen by my mother-in-law, Anne Simon.

I was touched by a poem by Li-Young Lee “From Blossoms” and used it to form a poem for “Minga” (her grandma name my oldest child gave her). Just a few words about this amazing woman. She is a retired district judge. She’s the mother of three, grandmother to six, and great grandmother to 2 with another on the way. She is fond of birds and flowers, tennis and basketball, and foreign travel. She’s taken me along on a trip to Greece when she turned 80 and Africa for her 85th birthday.

I hope that my poem honors who she is in some small way. Writing for someone you know well is not as easy at it may seem.

Desert Rose
for Anne Simon
after Li-Young Lee “From Blossoms”

From a broad-base bonsai trunk,
trumpet-like blossoms pop festival-red,
that desert rose Julie bought at Lowe’s
when Love was a potted plant.

From desert soil “complex, yet refined”
a pearl in an ocean of sand, your hand
taps to test its dampness. You are judicial

even in your watering. The flowers stand up
and notice your kindness. O, to take what we love
inside the porch, a safari, to see 
not only the rose, but the whole Serengeti.

There are days we talk
as if death will not separate us;
Your voice, my heartbeat from love 
to love to love, from rose 
to soil to deepest esteem,
the deepest kind of esteem. 

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved, 2020
Desert Rose on Anne’s patio

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