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Archive for the ‘Poetry Friday’ Category

This year’s progressive poem started out recognizing kindness and is currently bouncing off to the playground where we have met a new character. Here’s the progress so far:

I’m a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!
Easily contagious – sharing smiles is my plan.

I’ll spread my joy both far and wide,
As a force of Nature I’ll be undenied.

Words like, “how can I help?” will bloom in the street.
A new girl alone on the playground – let’s meet, let’s meet!

We can jump-skip together in a double-dutch round.

Denise at Dare to Care offered these line choices:

Over, under, jump and wonder, touch the ground

OR

But she was shy when greeted; she didn’t make a sound.

I am attracted to the action in the first line, so I have selected it.

I’m a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!
Easily contagious – sharing smiles is my plan.

I’ll spread my joy both far and wide,
As a force of Nature I’ll be undenied.

Words like, “how can I help?” will bloom in the street.
A new girl alone on the playground – let’s meet, let’s meet!

We can jump-skip together in a double-dutch round.
Over, under, jump and wonder, touch the ground.

2021 Kidlit Progressive Poem Day 9

I am happy that I get to begin a new stanza, but since this poem has become a rhyming poem, I don’t want to burden it with a difficult word to rhyme. I also need to consider the theme thus far, kindness and friendship.

I love the idea of a friendship blooming. Chloe was around when I was trying to create the line choices, so I let her write one of them. I won’t tell you which one, though. My friend and critique partner, Molly Hogan, gets to choose from these two lines:

Friends can be found when you open a door.

Or

A never-ending sign connects hand to hand.

For a full list of participants, check out the sidebar.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com
Poetry Friday round-up is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Poetry Friday is with Susan at Soul Blossom Living

With my student Chloe, I read the poem Small Kindnesses by Danusha Laméris. I learned about Danusha from a podcast from Poetry Magazine featuring her in conversation with Naomi Shihab Nye (who is also well-known for a poem about Kindness.) Ramona recommended it last week.

Chloe and I talked about all the small kindnesses in the poem. About this line, “…for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass,” she said, “You know, she’s right. Red trucks are the friendliest!”

In every school, the custodian is the person you want to know. The poem about small kindnesses reminded me of a custodian at one of my schools. She is always dressed in bright colors with a wonderful head wrap and mask to match. She calls everyone “Love.” When I told this to Chloe, she gave me a word list around the topic of sun from her poetry writing journal Write the Poem. The list included effulgence which we both needed to Google. (Effulgence is brightness taken to the extreme.) My poem uses lines from Danusha, the word from Chloe, and the kindness that I almost forgot to notice had I not needed something to write about.

I’ve been thinking about the way when I walk
the school hallways, it’s always the custodian
who speaks. Excuse me, I say as I weave around
her heavy trash bin
that squeaks, rumbles and roars.

She calls after me, Have a nice day, Love!
Radiant as the sun itself, her yellow t-shirt
and rainbow leggings light my path.
Even her scent is effulgent, shouting warmth
of kindness, a hug for my hurried day.

Mostly, we want to greet each other
with glowing smiles. To slip a scented flower
beneath the doorway,
like a spritz of perfume, leave kindness
on someone else’s path.

Margaret Simon, after Danusha Laméris
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

What small kindnesses are you noticing?

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Poetry Friday is with Linda at Teacher Dance
Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I challenged myself to try Spark, a creative exchange between artists and poets. Artist Betty Nichols sent me an image of her art.

Painting by Betty Nichols

A process I’ve been playing with lately is paper collage. To get my head around this abstract painting, I decided to recreate it in collage. The paper I selected informed words I collected to write from. Here is my response collage.

Notebook collage in response to art by Betty Nichols

While searching for things to cut out, I found an article that included advice from Maria Shriver on how to make a difference. The first bullet point, “Sit with yourself” became the title. I cut out radicchio to get the red color. Doing research I found that radicchio is the “crunch VIP of salads.” The black flame came from a bee print paper. I let the list and collage sit for a few days. The process worked for me.

Sit with Yourself

The chicory radicchio is said
to be the ultimate crunch in your daily salad,
rich in vitamin K.

This red dagger isn’t dangerous.

The flame that is the yellow body of a bee
harmlessly flying from tree to tree
pollinates, perpetuating life.

This red dagger isn’t dangerous.

When you are faced with the sharp points
of a knife you use every day,
look closely. The stain of death
may be the blood of birth,
the path of its blade leading to light.

This red dagger isn’t dangerous.

A snow-filled valley will green in spring.

Sit with yourself.
Give it time.


Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

Posted at Spark here.

I sent Betty a blues poem, and she responded with tissue paper art. See our collaboration here.

At first I was completely intimidated by the idea of writing a poem to someone else’s art. By making it my own through my own art, I was able to find a way in to the original painting. The idea of sitting with yourself to make space for creativity comes up for me a lot these days. Creativity requires space as well as time for incubation. I hope you can find time and space to incubate and create. The process is its own reward.

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Poetry Friday is with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
Wikimedia Commons

In February I joined an amazing group of poets writing everyday to prompts about The Body on a Facebook group organized by Laura Shovan. Laura has posted all the marvelous prompts on her website.

Most days it was tough to get one poem written and some days I didn’t write, but one day I wrote two poems. The prompt was about the beautiful brain. On Facebook I posted a Golden Shovel from Emily Dickinson’s line “The brain is deeper than the sea.” But in searching my notebook for something to post today, I found a different poem. I didn’t like it when I wrote it, but now I kinda do.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Poetry Friday is with Kat Apel down under with a new picture book.

In January I was looking for everything about Amanda Gorman, the inaugural poet and National Youth Poet Laureate, and I found a poetry prompt video from April, the beginning of the pandemic. The program was done by the 826 National Network called #agoodtimetowrite. Amanda called it a book scavenger hunt.

Book Scavenger Hunt with Amanda Gorman

It’s a quick writing prompt. Everyone usually has a book nearby to grab. Select 3 random pages and one word from each page. List those words, then write for 5 minutes. I’ve done it a few times, and the results can be really fun, so I challenged my Sunday night Swaggers to try it out.

This week was Read Across America Week which is still called Dr. Seuss Week at my school. Every day was a different dress up day. On Thursday, we dressed as our favorite characters. Lots of Cats-in-the-hat and Things 1 & 2. One of my students was Cindy Lou Who.

Made with Waterlogue

With this fun-filled week and words from a nearby book (LifeBoat by Susan Hood), I selected the words movie star, peaches, and tantalizing. This is my original draft:

Mouthwatering delight
the movie star of flavors–
pour Skittles into an open palm–
tantalizing
irresistible
like bacon in the frying pan
or syrup on pancakes
or melted chocolate
inside a s’mores,
peachy pink bubble
satisfied my sweet tooth,
gift from a girl
dressed like Cindy Lou Who
on the playground.

Margaret Simon, draft

See how my Poetry Swagger friends met the challenge:

Heidi Mordhorst
Catherine Flynn
Linda Mitchell
Molly Hogan

Cat in the Hat librarian Melissa Armentor and me, Teacher One on the playground.

If you would like to sign up to participate in the 2021 National Poetry Month Progressive Poem, go to this post.

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Poetry Friday is with Karen Edmisten*.

As I peer through bleary eyes at the end of a long week after a week off, I am remiss to find a proper poem to post, but Alas! Kat Apel has saved the day. She created a form just right for this occasion.

What is a lamipofri? It’s a poetry snapshot that’s quickly scribed, to give people an insight into the world around you at a given point in time – that point being the last minute as you’re scrambling for a Poetry Friday poem to post! Hence the name: LAst MInute of a POetry FRIday! 

Kat Apel
February Morning by Margaret Simon

A single moment
sky beckons
softness of a peach

A day begins
click,
capture,
send.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday posts are being gathered by Ruth in Haiti: There’s No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town.

It’s Friday, and I had a week off, the first few days as part of an expected Mardi Gras break (no Mardi Gras activities, though) and the last few due to the winter storm that blew through the south (It’s still only 28 degrees.) Our plumbing system is not prepared to handle freezes. Nevertheless, these days of lazing in PJs next to a warm fire without much to do have been luxurious and allowed me some writing time.

On Wednesday evening, I joined Laura Purdie Salas’s first Write Alone, Together session. She started us off with an image and a roll of metaphor dice. The image came from a National Geographic article here. (Fair warning, it’s a rabbit hole you may fall into.) The metaphors were 1. Home is a well-worn zoo, and 2. Your body is a bootleg blessing. Rather than use these metaphors as complete thoughts, I split them up to create a poem. The photo prompt made me think of a piano that we gave away to a local school. Here is the draft I wrote in my journal:

Arctic Dreaming
This home–
well-worn,
frosted with shards
of stains, a zoo
of strays–
holds a corner space
where the piano once was,
now empty,
inviting something new
or old (an antique desk chair, perhaps).
You choose the thing
to fill the space,
with a blessing
and a dream.

Margaret Simon, draft
Photo by Plato Terentev from Pexels

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Poetry Friday gathering is at Molly’s place in Maine, Nix the Comfort Zone.

I am taking a creative-inducing drug called A-Poem-a-Day. It’s good for me. But it doesn’t always make me happy. Poetry is a place where emotions become raw. This week I heard of another community member’s death from Covid. He was 75 and battled for months. His family was dedicated, by his side, and hopeful until they couldn’t be. I don’t know this kind of loss. I’m a lucky one, and sometimes that makes me feel guilty.

Laura Shovan does a poetry writing project every February. This year the theme is body. If you are interested in seeing the week’s prompts, go to her site here.

Heather Meloche posted the prompt “lungs” with a profound graffiti art piece “I can’t breathe”. Not only do I wish I could breathe for those who can’t, I also wish I could take away the pain of loss. This empathy came out in my poem.

Misty morning
fills my lungs
with living.

On this day
I pray
for air,

a way to not care
people are drowning.

They can’t breathe.
A machine breathes for them.

I wish for a way
like roots of trees
breathe together underground,

a way
to pass
hand to hand
lung to lung

Health
Healing
Hearty
life.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jone.

The beginning of February is finally here and the Swaggers are posting responses to a new challenge. This month Catherine Flynn challenged us.

Copy a mentor poem (or other text) “word for word, then replace [that poet’s] language with your own.”
Inspired by S. Kirk Walsh’s essay “How E.L. Doctorow Taught an Aspiring Writer to Hear the Sounds of Fiction” (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/09/books/review/e-l-doctorow-virginia-woolf-music-literature-language.html )

The Writer’s Almanac comes daily in my email inbox. Some days I barely have time to read it, but others I find a kernel of inspiration, a poem, an author, a rabbit hole. On this day, I remembered Catherine’s prompt and tucked the poem into a document to work with later.

The process was fun. I used the suggesting tool in Google docs editor. That way I kept the original underneath the new text I added. In Greg Watson’s poem, the main character is a yellow lab waiting for its owner outside a coffee shop. We don’t have a yellow lab, but my little schnoodle Charlie goes bonkers when our resident raccoon visits to steal our outdoor cat’s food.

When I’m up early, I feed the cat before dawn. When the raccoon comes, I let Charlie out to the side yard when he goes crazy. One morning, I actually saw the raccoon. It did not run away as I expected, but just stood still like a stone creature from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Watson’s poem gave me the perfect structure to capture this surprising moment.

Raccoon Outside the Back Door

The raccoon outside the back door
today does not move; but instead,

still with ever-expectant energy,
like a heron perched for the catch,

forepaws poised in the air
above the leaf-littered sidewalk,

he stops without making a sound,
knowing that any moment

the cat food will disappear,
slipped back into the human house,

and night will suddenly fall into
day: every sound, sight, and aroma

disturbed, the door swinging
open and shut, with a backward glance

awkward silhouette, following,
as if it had somewhere to go.

Margaret Simon, after Greg Watson

See other Swaggers poems from mentor poems:

Molly Hogan: Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe

Photo by anne sch on Pexels.com

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jan at BookSeedStudio.

Last Friday I posted poems from my two fifth grade girls who responded to Amanda Gorman’s powerful words with their own poems. Their poetry prowess has not stopped. On Thursday, Kaia announced that she had written another poem. She explained to me that she saw Beldam, the Other Mother in Coraline. She googled it and found a poem by John Keats, La Belle Dame sans Merci. As she’s telling me this, she is writing and googling and writing and asking me about the Queen and how tall she is. Where is she going with this? In the end, it all led to an original ballad-esque poem.

I told her, “You are doing the work of a poet.”

Her face (her eyes, for she was wearing a mask) lit up. “Really, why?”

I explained that as a writer, we seek inspiration and research it and then write from it. Amanda Gorman explained in an interview with Anderson Cooper that she read other inaugural poets and researched inspirational speeches to write her poem, The Hill We Climb. “You are doing this kind of work. You are not just writing from my prompts anymore. You are actually a poet.”

Those words inspired her to write another poem. I will post a stanza here. She said, “I love how in poetry, you can write about anything. I can write about your desk, that pen, the Kleenex box.”

“Yes, you can.” I thought to myself, a dream come true. Or my One Little Word, Inspire, at work.

I’d like to find a place to send some of her work. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment.

The Work of a Poet

As you pick up the pen, you wonder what to write 
Thinking this way and that way, until you see a light
A shining and glistening rhythm it sets off
And helps you to the end of the paper, as fast as a cough

Kaia, 5th grade
Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

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