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Design by Linda Mitchell

One of the wisdoms I have gained as a writer is that writing with others creates strong friendships because writing is such an act of vulnerability. It is true for the classroom, for writing workshops, and for critique groups. My group, the Inklings, are true friends. They listen, respond with integrity, and encourage me as a person as well as a writer. We live far away from each other, but we used Zoom long before the pandemic, and see each other twice monthly. This is all to say that when my father died, they did what they do best, and sent me a book of poems. I sat alone with these poems and let the comfort and wisdom of words wash over me. I offer a video today of me reading each poem sitting out by my beloved bayou. It’s 8 minutes long.

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Design by Linda Mitchell
Poetry Friday round up is with Rose today at Imagine the Possibilities

Awakening the Heart by Georgia Heard is a go-to book for me. I recently came back to it to find an inspiring poetry lesson (page 48) around a stanza of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Valentine for Ernest Mann.

We watched this video of Naomi reading it and telling the story of its inception. Then we borrowed the words poems hide for our own poems. Avalyn says it’s the best poem she’s ever written (in her year of writing poetry with me.)

I was reminded of a resident at my parents’ retirement home. When my father was ill, I stayed with my mother in her apartment and got to know many of her friends. This is a true story about Angel, but after I gave her a copy of the poem, she had to correct me that the cats do trust her and let her pet them.

Poems Hide
in an Instagram image
of sunrise
a small songbird
the trickle of water
over a streambed.

Poems hide
in the calico that lost its tail
in the woman named Angel
who sits on the ground
to feed the lonely cat,
her hand out, longing for trust.

Angel laughs in poetry.

She gives me a Styrofoam cup
of cut roses aflame in her hand.
I find poetry
in the things I touch
and in your forever love.

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Poetry Hides
by Avalyn, 2nd grade

poetry hides
in talent,

poetry hides
in your favorite stuffed toy

poetry hides
in the beautiful Robin you saw hurt on the ground

poetry hides
in yourself and all beings

poetry hides
in magnolia flowers

poetry hides
in the things you love most

poetry hides
in the ones that helped you get awards and medals

poetry hides
in the lost and found shared memories

poetry hides
in your life and soul

poetry hides
in the book of quotes that helps you feel grateful


poetry hides  

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jone.

There’s a loss of energy in grief, a sadness that is heavy and weighs you down. I’m not at all sure that writing helps, but writing for me is the most personal act and wherever I am, my writing is there, too.

Over at Ethical ELA, Shaun Ingalls posted a prompt inspired by Alicia Mountain’s “Drift” inviting us to re-encounter something with a new perspective.

I Hold an Acorn

in my hand
in a field of clover.

Am I a child now?
Walking with sun
bright in my eyes as it rises
above the live oaks?

It is spring, to be sure,
a time of resurrection.
Yet you are
not here.

I cannot call
you or text (You never learned how to text),
so I stand in the field,
hold
the acorn
lift it to smell my childhood, like the scent
of the Paschal candle, anointing
to save,
to savor.

I am here.
You are
not.

Margaret Simon, draft
Grandmother oak in the morning. Photo by Margaret Simon

The Kidlit Progressive Poem is nearly complete. You can follow its progress with the schedule on the side bar. Karen has the next to last line today.

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The Kidlit Progressive Poem is stopping here today. It’s been on a long journey and now we are turning toward home. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the participants who without much guidance just kept this poem going and growing.

The last stop was with Kevin Hodgson at Kevin’s Meandering Mind. Here is the poem so far with my line added in italics.

Where they were going, there were no maps.

   Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today.

Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes!

   We have to go back. I forgot something.

But it’s spring, and the world is puddle-wonderful,

so we’ll whistle and dance and set off on our way.

Come with me, and you’ll be in a land of pure imagination.

Wherever you go, take your hopes, pack your dreams, and never forget –

 it is on our journeys that discoveries are made.

And then it was time for singing.

Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain, paint with all the colors of the wind, freewheeling through an endless diamond sky?

Suddenly, they stopped and realized they weren’t the only ones singing.

Listen, a chattering of monkeys! Let’s smell the dawn 
and taste the moonlight, we’ll watch it all spread out before us.
 
The moon is slicing through the sky. We whisper to the tree, 
tap on the trunk, imagine it feeling our sound.
 
Clouds of blue-winged swallows, rain from up the mountains,

Green growing all around, and the cool splash of the fountain.

If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden,

a bright, secret, quiet place, and rather sad; 
 and they stepped out into the middle of it.

Their minds’ libraries and lightning bugs led them on.

The darkwood sings, the elderhist blooms, the sky lightens; listen and you will find your way home.

The night sky would soon be painted, stars gleaming overhead, a beautiful wild curtain closing on the day.

Mud and dusk, nettles and sky – time to cycle home in the dark. 

 There are no wrong roads to anywhere

I am away from home staying with my mother. My father is in hospice care in the hospital after a stroke ten days ago. This liminal time has been a blessing in many ways. I am listening to my mother play the piano as I write this. She and Dad are big Leonard Cohen fans. My father gave her a picture book of “Dance Me to the End of Love” illustrated by Matisse. I am not sure my line makes sense with the poem, but I also know that poetry is a safe place and a place of mystery. So I’m just going with it.

lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

1. The Imaginaries: Little Scraps of Larger Stories, by Emily Winfield Martin
2. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
3. The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
4. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
5. inspired by “[in Just-]” by E. E. Cummings
6. “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
7. Maybe by Kobi Yamada
8. Sarah, Plain, and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
9. inspired by Disney songs “A Whole New World” from Aladdin and “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas
10. The Other Way to Listen by Byrd Baylor
11. adapted from Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman
12. adapted from The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron
13. adapted from On the Same Day in March by Marilyn Singer
14. adapted from a line in Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
15. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
16. Prince Caspian by CS Lewis
17. The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
18. Kate DiCamillo’s The Beatryce Prophecy
19. The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith
20. Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
21. ThePhantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
22. Dance Me to the End of Love by Leonard Cohen

Click below to add your link:

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/party/f2a26ee9b7144bd29a2b60b936c2fd45


					

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And here is today’s new line from poet Janet Clare Fagal, a blogless soul who posts on Facebook as Janet Clare and whose poems can be found in a variety of anthologies (pictured below), and online at nlapw.org. If you are not a Facebook friend, please send Janet a request if you would like to connect!

I am happy to be participating once again in the Poetry Friday Progressive Poem! Thanks to Margaret for hosting me this year.

 Such an adventure we have begun. I tried a little formatting to get a feel for the bones of our poem, but please feel free to try your own version as we move along down the path!  For my line, I found one from Neil Gaiman, and using my poetic license, I adapted/edited the line to make it work a bit better for the poem. I am eager to pass the poem to my friend Jone Rush MacCulloch!

Don’t we all love the adventure of April in this wonderfully creative Blogosphere of Kidlitosphere poets and writers! I am so glad you started this Progressive Poem, Irene, I look forward to it every April.

Where they were going, there were no maps.

              Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not Today.                   

Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes!

              We have to go back. I forgot something.

But it’s spring, and the world is puddle-wonderful, so we’ll whistle and dance and set off on our way.

              Come with me, and you’ll be in a land of pure imagination.

Wherever you go, take your hopes, pack your dreams, and never forget – it is on our journeys that discoveries are made.

                 And then it was time for singing.

Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain, paint with all the colors of the wind, freewheeling through an endless diamond sky?

 Suddenly, they stopped and realized they weren’t the only ones singing.

                (Now for my addition! An adapted line from Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman.)

Listen, a chattering of monkeys! Let’s smell the dawn and taste the moonlight, we’ll watch it all spread out before us.

Lines 1 -11, poet and where they are from:

  1.     Irene  (The Imaginaries)
  2.     Donna (The Hobbit)
  3.     Catherine F. (The Wind in The Willows)
  4.     Mary Lee (Walk Two Moons)
  5.     Buffy Silverman (a bit from e.e. cummings)
  6.     Linda Mitchell (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
  7.     Kim Johnson (from Maybe by Kobi Yamada)
  8.     Rose Cappelli (Sarah, Plain and Tall)
  9.     Carol Varsalona (Disney Songs)
  10. Linda Baie (The Other Way to Listen.)
  11. Janet Clare Fagal (line adaptation from Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman)

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Poetry Friday is with Janice Scully
at Salt City Verse

I met Allan Wolf years ago when he visited and presented in our area. He’s incredibly entertaining in real life. He is also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. So when an opportunity appeared to get an ARC of his latest book of poems, along with an interview, I jumped at it.

Behold our Magical Garden is full of poems that take us into a school garden. You can jump in without getting dirty. The poems are lyrical, funny, and informative. They beg to be read aloud. Behold Our Magical Garden was released on March 8. Please enjoy this delightful interview with Allan.

Who is Allan Wolf?

Allan Wolf is a member of the species Poemo sapien. He often vocalizes in verse from atop chairs. He spends many hours alone sitting at his nest using his imagination to make things. Although he is 59 years old and 5’8” in height, he imagines himself much younger and much taller. He is a writer of poetry, novels, and picture books, and a serious believer in the healing powers of poetry. His latest collection of poems is Behold Our Magical Garden: Poems Fresh from a School Garden, illustrated by Daniel Duncan.

What inspires your writing?

Reading is a big inspiration. Listening to music. Watching performances of all kinds. Observing and experiencing any creative expression that resonates and moves me. While I certainly am a writer, I am more specifically a creator. I have an urge to create. We all have these urges to create life from the clay of our imaginations. And in that respect, we are all amateur gods. Writing and poetry is my default medium.

Why poetry?

Since I first discovered rhythm when I was four years old (I remember it as if it was yesterday!), my thought process has lent itself well to poetry, metaphorical thought, rhythms, rhymes, music, story. And most importantly, my brain is something of a non-linear array of constellations of thought bubbles, with observations flying in and out, unbidden as birds.

Words give a poem sense, while the space between the words give it resonance. Poets can arrange words based on craft, style, and clarity, just as prose writers do. But poets don’t have to stop there. Poets can arrange words based on prescribed patterns . . . or not. Poets can even arrange words wherever the words instruct them too. Space is key. Space between words. Space between lines. You can even remove a word, like you would remove a superfluous wisdom tooth. Line-breaks can be purposefully clunky or smooth. When a line breaks, the words turn. The poem’s rhythm may also turn. The poem’s pace may turn as well. The reader’s eyes, heartbeat, and attention all turn. (Bonus Fact: The word “verse” comes from the Latin, verso, to turn.)

The poet chooses

where

the lines        break.

Three things you love?

One) I love juggling (just juggling balls, not clubs, or rubber chickens, or chainsaws! Well, maybe I would love to juggle rubber chickens. That would be really funny!)

Two) I love making music, playing the guitar and the drums, singing, and making up songs.

Three) I love being an author of books! There is such a feeling of closure to have your thoughts and ideas and words and revelations enshrined within a book that is widely available to all. It is a sense of relief, that my words will continue to live and to speak, long after I’ve stopped doing either one.

Oh and, Four) Puppets! Let’s not forget puppets. I love puppets.

During the pandemic, how did you keep creating? 

Like many of my writing colleagues, I was surprised how hard it was to keep creating new work, even with two years of mandatory “free time.” I had already been reassessing my work, even before the pandemic. At that time the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements were already in full swing. As a white male writer, I felt like it was more a time to listen than to speak. Then the pandemic, with its forced stay-at-home quarantine, provided the necessary Petri dish to amplify the whole conversation. During that time, I temporarily set aside my most pressing novel, the one I’m back at work on now. It has taken me all this time away from it to reassess what I was trying to say. So much has changed. Meanwhile, throughout my writer’s block, I was actually writing poetry and picture books, which can be a little easier to carry around in your head without going nuts. I also made a lot of videos and I organized my private journals (which I’ve been keeping since I was 12 years old).  

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my wife and my children, Simon, Ethan, and James. As for writing, it’s hard to say. I’m proud of the Iceberg character/narrator in The Watch that Ends the Night. That character’s voice is written in iambic pentameter that gradually melts to tetrameter, trimeter, dimeter, and finally, monometer. The Iceberg’s last two spoken words, “I am,” are actually an iamb!  

Do you have a writing activity to pass along? (I’d like to challenge my readers and my students to respond.) 

What’s In a Name?

ONE) Begin by generating a list of all the “names” you are known by. General Names, like son, daughter, best friend, hero, helper, athlete, or alchemist. And Specific Names like Elizabeth, LaQuesha, Darius, or David. And Nicknames  like Doodle, Tutu, Junior, or Jack.

TWO) Choose one example from your list. Using informal prose write “the story of your name.”

THREE) After you’re done, circle (or highlight) five to ten words or phrases that seem integral to your story. Next, use those chosen words or phrases as the building blocks of a poem.

Note to readers: If you do Allan’s challenge, add your poem to this padlet.

Made with Padlet

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Today is Poetry Friday and April 1st and the first day of National Poetry Month. My Sunday writing critique group, the Inklings, take on a challenge each first Friday of the month. This month’s challenge comes from Mary Lee Hahn. She suggested that we write a poem like Ellen Bass The Thing Is. Another Inkling, Heidi has the round up this week.

My One Little Word 2022 is Enough. It surprises me how often enough appears in the poems I write. It’s happened again.

The Thing Is

after Ellen Bass

to become yourself, become you more fully
even if you don’t like what you see.
Even as the river dries, revealing cracks
in the surface, displaying a dump
of glass bottles as the only thing
binding you to this place.
You are who you are.
You have this one wild life
to live, no matter the manifest;
That face in the mirror is yours,
hold it with affection,
send it a kiss like the dew
on the womb of the morning
*,
praising This is Good.
This self is enough.
You will love her more
and more every day. 

* Psalm 110:3
Margaret Simon, draft
Azalea morning
Pink echoes dawn sky
Radiant spring
(c) Margaret Simon

Read other Inklings take on this challenge:

Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
Mary Lee at A(nother) Reading Year
Heidi at my juicy little universe
Catherine at Reading to the Core
Linda at A Word Edgewise

I’m excited to have two poems in this new book alongside many of my Poetry Friday friends.
Irene starts us off this year with the opening line.

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I’m excited to hear from Tabatha that Imperfect II is almost here. I have a few small poems included. The anthology is ready for pre-order here. The blog for this book is here.

Hardcover for Imperfect II

My blog is featured on Twinkl as a Top 10+ poetry blog for children.

The Kidlit Progressive Poem begins on April 1st. The schedule is ready to go. Irene Latham starts us off. I can’t wait!

Click here to copy and paste the Kidlit Progressive Poem schedule.

I won a copy of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s new book If This Bird Had Pockets, released March 1st. Amy is one of my favorite poets and people. Her poetry makes me smile. It’s accessible to children and is just plain fun!

Personal signature on the title page of If This Bird Had Pockets

Many poets take on a poem-a-day project during National Poetry Month. I haven’t decided yet if I am creating one or just following along with someone else. What are your plans for celebrating National Poetry Month?

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My drive to my schools changes with the seasons. In fall, the sugarcane is tall and takes my attention. In spring, these fields are fallow, and some become meadows of golden wildflowers. Horses roam. I wish I had taken a picture, but I’m usually on a strict time schedule.

Last week my student Chloe and I played with the triolet form, inspired by this Irene Latham poem, Triolet for Planting Day. It was a more challenging form than I thought it would be.

Triolet for Field and Breeze

When Field awakens to glimmering gold,
Breeze gallops upon green waves.
An ember mare nuzzles her foal
when Field awakens to glimmering gold,
and readies itself for a front of cold,
with frolics over winter’s graves.
When field awakens to glimmering gold,
Breeze gallops upon green waves.

Margaret Simon, draft
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Spring Triolet

Spring  colors over winter’s greed.

The rain fills all the holes.

Marshy areas buy blankets of reed.

And spring colors over winter’s greed.

Birds come home, now flight freed.

Out comes the little moles.

When spring covers winter’s greed, 

The rain fills all the holes.

Chloe, 6th grade

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I signed up to do an exchange for Spark Art #50 with my friend Inkling Linda Mitchell. Linda creates wonderful collages, so I asked her to do the exchange with me. She sent me a collage and I sent her a poem. She was charged with creating a collage from my poem and me with creating a poem from her collage. Fun, right? It is fun when you are playing with a friend you know will be respectful of your work and who does good work herself.

The links to our exchange on the Spark website are here and here.

I am sharing my poem process that responded to this collage.

collage by Linda Mitchell

The first thing I noticed was the moon. I wrote the title first, “Moonlight Sonata” and played Beethovan’s Sonata for inspiration. I noticed the foreign words. I asked Linda about the flowers, but she didn’t know what they were. I decided they were edelweiss. I got stuck, though, and decided to use a poem I had written for Laura Shovan’s February project and combine it with the work I was doing on responding to the collage. I don’t usually do this, and it created a level of mystery to the poem. And I’m OK with that.

Moonlight Sonata

Moon, wild orb nightly shining
high above the oak trees.
Your pull breaks waves
and concrete where oak roots
rise like bread, yeast pressing
our foreign earth. 

How can you feel sadness
if you’ve not known joy?

When the edelweiss blooms,
we breathe in sweet scent,
welcome Spring
and sing praise for your goodness, Moon.

We push on and on
until, like you, the flower, the oak
we find our light
and shine.

© Margaret Simon 

There are only a few dates left for the Kidlit Progressive poem. Claim your day here.

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