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Archive for the ‘Poetry Friday’ Category

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

The Sunday Night Swaggers are back to monthly challenges. This month Catherine Flynn has challenged us to write an In One Word poem created by April Halprin Wayland. See her introductory post here.

I know I am not alone in having a rough beginning to this school year. Foremost on my mind is what is best for kids. Unfortunately, there are many meetings and required gobbledygook to get to the fun part of teaching. Every year, my goal is to inspire explorers, writers, and scholars. Following April’s prompt, I went to Wordmaker to gather words that can be made with the letters in inspiration. Each line ends with a word I chose. Thinking about this exercise was just what I needed to block out the messiness.

Virtual Teacher

I didn’t warm-up for this sprint.
Breathless; my hand anoints
each name, a nonart
list that rips
into a class of sorts,
a prison
on screen, trap
of pixels, brain strain.
Who’s bringing the aspirin?

In the spirit
of language, I rant.
Yet, I don’t rant
about you. You are the rain
to my pain,
showing me we can soar.

Margaret Simon, draft
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Other Swagger Posts In One Word…
Catherine Flynn
Linda Mitchell
Heidi Mordhorst
Molly Hogan

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Ramona at Pleasures from the Page.
Monarch momma in my backyard. Margaret Simon

Earlier this week, I witnessed a female monarch laying eggs in my milkweed. She was an unexpected, yet welcomed visitor. I watched while she flitted from leaf to leaf. I have gathered 10 of the leaves into a net habitat to wait and watch.

My writing partner Catherine Flynn wrote an etheree today on her site, Reading to the Core. Here is the definition of the form:

An etheree is a poem of ten lines in which each line contains one more syllable than the last. Beginning with one syllable and ending with ten, this unrhymed form is named for its creator, 20th century American poet Etheree Taylor Armstrong.

Inspired by Catherine’s Queen Anne’s Lace Etheree , I decided to write one about my monarch eggs.

Monarch Nursery

Pearl
on milkweed,
seed for monarch,
still and quiet August:
Promised ingredient
to Mother Earth’s recipe
for autumn migration glory.
Like watching the birth of a grandchild,
I’m mere observer of this miracle.

Margaret Simon, 2020

For my birthday last week, Catherine sent me this sweet golden shovel. I’ve met many kind people in the Poetry Friday community, and Catherine is one of the best. We’ve been in a writing group for five years. We meet by Zoom (even before the pandemic) every other week. I am blessed to have such a kind and loving writing partner. Thanks, Catherine. The feeling is mutual.

“…all that might be gained
from opening one’s heart wider.
Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch

How fortunate am I that of all
the people in the world that
I might
have met, I met you, a kindred spirit, destined to be
friends. So much to give, so much to be gained
by writing together, learning from
you, opening
my eyes to new vistas, so different from ones
I know, reaching my heart,
helping it grow wider.

Catherine Flynn

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone.

On Tuesday I treated myself to a virtual writing marathon sponsored by the National Writing Project. #WriteAcrossAmerica. I showed up for the last stop on a journey across the country. I’m sorry I missed out on all the other stops. This last one was in New Orleans where the writing marathon originated.

Years ago I would spend some time each summer at the New Orleans Writing Marathon organized by the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project. Three to four days of walking the French Quarter and writing led to lifelong friendships and a few memorable writing pieces.

Unfortunately, the virtual marathon happened in my own house through a screen, but because of the miracle of technology, I was able to connect with new friends and see some old ones. We had three writing sessions and shared in small break out rooms.

The third writing session led me to this poem, still quite drafty. I was just getting my writing muscle to work and the whole thing was over, not a marathon at all, but a quick 75 minute sprint.

Muses

Muses have a lost sense of time.
They live in the back of Napoleon’s Bar
drinking Pim’s Cups.

I’ve asked them to visit me
here on the bayou steeped
in cafe au lait brown
buzzing with cicada song.

They come in the long shadows
of a summer afternoon.
or in the fractal face
of a sunflower in bloom.

Muses mock me
with their silver linings,
here then there,
then nowhere,
hiding in plain sight.

Sometimes, I step on them
by mistake.

Give me that mess
again. My pen is waiting.

Margaret Simon, draft
Backyard Shadows by Margaret Simon

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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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