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Archive for the ‘Poetry Friday’ Category

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

Three months ago I said, “Sure!” when my friend Stephanie asked me to participate in a poetry reading. I figured I had plenty of time. And here we are less than a week away. The poetry night is in conjunction with a Water/ Ways traveling Smithsonian exhibit. Stephanie, the assistant at the Bayou Teche Museum, wrote the grant and wanted to add arts into the presentations. I asked her, “Do you realize I write for children?”

The topic is water, so I plan to read from Bayou Song, a swimming poem from Rhymes and Rhythm, and two yet-to-be published poems from Swamp Song. There will be three poets laureate reading alongside me. I’m excited to meet the newest state poet laureate Mona Lisa Saloy. I’ve seen her present on Zoom, but this reading together will be in person.

Darrell Bourque is a mentor of mine. He was poet laureate in Louisiana from 2007-2011. And Jonathan Mayers is coming from Baton Rouge. He is the city’s poet laureate. Melissa and I have been friends since our writing group days in the 90’s. We will support each other as the two non-poets laureate.

In my classroom, the gratitude “Poet-Tree” is filling up with leaves of grateful poems. Yesterday a few teachers stopped by to tell me they were reading the poems and one even said she wanted to write her own and put it on our tree. Spreading poetry love!

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Mary Lee at A(n)other Year of Reading

The Inklings challenge this month comes from Linda Mitchell. She charged us with writing “a poem that includes the idea of percentage or percent. Percentages are all around us in recipes, prices, assessments, statistics. Include the idea of percentage in your poem in some way.”

I put off this challenge for a while until a muse slapped me in the face from Brain Pickings (which is now called The Marginalian). This article is beautifully written: Every Loss Reveals What We Are Made Of by Maria Popova. Incorporating inspiration from Maria Popova and a quote from Maria Mitchell, I crafted a poem container of loss, aging, and rebirth.

Photo by Eriks Abzinovs on Pexels.com

We Reach Forth

The way we stand at the mirror
and see strands of hair 
overnight lose their color,
devoid of fresh light
gone gray in the way
a leaf loses the green of chlorophyll.

We lose our vigor.

The way I collapse on the sofa
after the grandchildren leave–
how it sags from years
of holding us.

The way, like branches, we reach forth
and strain every nerve, 
but we seize only a bit of the curtain 
that hides the infinite from us.*

How 96 percent of the universe
is dark matter 
invisible to us, how can we know
what tomorrow will bring?

The way we shed more color,
fall to the ground,
crush into mulch,
then hatch from darkness
and find light
find light
find light.

*Maria Mitchell

Margaret Simon, draft

Below are links to my fellow Inklings and their responses to the % challenge:

Linda@A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Molly@Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine@Reading to the Core
Mary Lee @ A(n)other Year of Reading

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.
Reading has begun for Cybils Round One. I am judging once again in the poetry category. This is such a treat, to read new poetry books and select my favorites. Stay tuned…

This week we had a special visitor in my 6th grade gifted classroom. One of those serendipitous things about blogging and connecting with authors is exposing my students to real authors doing the work. Taylor Mali joined us on Tuesday. Prior to the visit, he sent a package of create-your-own metaphor dice. Here’s a link to order some. We struggled with deciding which words to put on our own set of dice. We made lists in our notebooks of concepts, adjectives, and objects. I’m glad we had a little struggle because we could ask questions of the master.

Jaden asked, “What is the difference between a concept and an object? Isn’t “father” an object?” Taylor was quick with the answer. He explained that many people like to write about their fathers and mothers in a metaphorical way, more like a concept than an object. He went on to tell the story of a student of his who wrote about their father as shattered glass. “I can still see myself in the shattered pieces.”

We shared our own metaphor poems and he offered feedback. One of the things he noticed in my students’ poems was the absence of their own lives. He talked about how poetry should be beautiful language, yes, but also should be the truth. He suggested ways that they could put more of their own life experience into the poems they wrote.

I tried this idea myself with a roll of my own homemade metaphor dice. The roll I got was “The past is a soft wind.” I was pleased that Taylor’s advice to my kids resonated with me, and I tapped into a true story from my childhood.

The Past is a Soft Wind

blowing wind chimes
in the old cypress tree,
ringing like a distant train
that left the station years ago.

The year we drove to Morton, Mississippi
for Thanksgiving and gathered pecans
with great grandfather. We thought
he was 100 years old. He knew things–

How to crack pecans in the palm of his hand
and how many minutes from the engine
to the caboose. We stood together watching,
counting, waving to the conductor
who, as that red house rounded the curve,
always waved back.

Margaret Simon, draft
Photo by Lawrence Schaefer on Pexels.com

I think metaphor dice will sustain us in poetry writing for the rest of this school year. Thanks, Taylor, for a wonderful, engaging writers workshop.

Taylor hosts an Instagram Live event every Monday night.

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

Bridget Magee, our Poetry Friday hostess, just released an anthology around the number 10. I ordered it from Amazon and received it yesterday. I jumped right in and read poems from many of my Poetry Friday friends. Here is what Bridget wrote about her motivation for curating and publishing this anthology:

As the TENTH child born into a family of TEN children in the TENTH month, I am fascinated by the number ten. Add TENACITY to that fascination and the idea to create this anthology was conceived.

Bridget Magee, introduction to 10 x 10 Poetry Anthology

Every week I post a photo that begs to be a poem here on Reflections on the Teche as well as on my classroom Fanschool space. This week I was particularly struck by how the photo of a close-up of dragonfly wings inspired metaphors. Stained glass, mosaic art, prehistoric maps are a few that appeared in the small poems in the comments.

I was able to grab the student’s own writing to teach and reinforce the concept. Children can use figurative language long before they have a name for it.

dragonfly wings by Amanda Potts

Avalyn wrote “like a chandelier” in her notebook, and I took the opportunity to teach her about what she had just done. She had created a “simile.” I told her she could use the colored markers to underline it in her notebook and write the word simile in the margins. Her next line was “a clear shower curtain and the outline of your window.” I directed her to choose another color to mark the metaphor. Then I read her my poem and allowed her to mark my poem with the same colors. I was almost giddy with delight to be able to notice and note a gem in my second grade student’s writing.

This experience makes me wonder about photography and writing. Did the writing change if I told the children the photo was dragonfly wings? I told Jaden what the image was before he wrote, so he decided to google “dragonflies” and included a science fact in his poem.

Wings
like glass designs
shedding light
zipping through the sky
30 wing beats every second
bzz-bzz the dragon fly
slips by.

by Jaden, 6th grade

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about retirement. I envy my poet-teacher-friend Mary Lee Hahn who has a poem about retirement today. But moments like these in my classroom writing alongside such gifted and talented writers inspires me and makes me a better person. I think I’ll stick with it a little longer.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Irene at Live Your Poem.

I am judging the first round of Cybils Poetry this fall. If you have a favorite poetry book or verse novel that was published between October 16, 2020 and October 15, 2021, consider nominating it here.

In her poem “Taking Out the Trash,” the late poet Kamilah Aisha Moon, who died at the age of forty-eight last week, takes a seemingly mundane task and makes the activity profound. Write a poem about a daily chore or everyday task that brings attention to your body. Try, as Moon does in her poem, to take time describing the movements of your body.

Poets and Writers, The Time is Now

I often write poems on my daily walks. Maybe I’m building a collection of these? Today’s poem is in conversation with Kamilah Aisha’s poem Taking out the Trash. It is definitely in drafty draft stage.

Viking Funeral
after Kamilah Aisha Moon

On trash Monday
when the men of the house rush out
to fill the can with white bags bulging 
with detritus of our lives,
I turn my pace against the wind,
watch toilet paper streamers (is it homecoming?) 
grow into ghostlings dancing beneath old oaks.
They mound like fairy mushrooms in a circle around bulging roots.
I gather my dog’s waste into a green bag,
flip it around my hand like a glove. The neighbor
stops her barely awake car, rolls down the window to say thank you
for being a responsible pet owner.
I guess not everyone does this. Some leave their trash
where it lands to rot and rest until the soaking rain washes
it out to sea. Place me
in a canoe for a Viking’s burial
, my husband says.
There will come a time to say goodbye, to lay our bodies
down to fire, but let me be
breathing today, again and again,
not ready to release air into fire.

Margaret Simon, draft
Sign of the times, Trash on my walk photo by Margaret Simon

Ever since I read Naomi Shihab Nye’s collection Cast Away with poems about trash, I pay more careful attention on my walks. I pick up things I can carry and create my own poems about trash.

Irene has the round-up today. She has an amazing collection of poems about art called Artspeak. I asked my second grader to choose a poem to read today and copy. She chose Why Roses. We copied the form on the board like this:

Why ____________

because…

because…

because…

because…

I am __________________

Here is Avalyn’s debut poem on my blog about the Van Gogh painting Starry Starry Night.

Why Starry Night!
after Irene Latham

because our solar system has stars
because the stars are in the Milky Way
because the moon looks like a face
because stars make constellations
I am the galaxy.

by Avalyn, second grade

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

This month, Inkling Mary Lee Hahn challenged the group to write a poem to define or exemplify a poetic device or form. She was inspired by two books, The Craft of Poetry by Lucy Newlyn and Inside Out by Marjorie Maddox. I remembered a set of poems I wrote using the definito form to define a poetic device.

Another Inkling partner Heidi Mordhorst created the definito form which is a poem written for children in 8-12 lines that defines a word. The word appears as the last word of the poem. Today’s poems define alliteration, imagery, personification, and meter.

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Poetic Devices Definitos

Letters, linked
and lively,
Lindy-hopping-
Notice how
some sounds repeat
Tongue twister
Word sister…alliteration.

Make a movie
in your mind
Imagine all
that tastes, feels, sounds–
hands gripping,
feet slipping,
Writers show me
how to see
with imagery.

If the wind waves
If flowers wink
If hummingbirds tell a tale.
A thing you know
A thing you love
becomes a person
real and alive
walking across the page
personification.

Can you tap out a beat?
ta da, ta dum, ta dee!
Count the upbeats?
one, two, three
A poem may rhyme
but the rhythm is clear
Iambic, 
dactylic,
pentameter
words for the beat
Tap, tap…meter.

Margaret Simon, 2021

Other poems for this challenge:

Heidi @ My Juicy Little Universe
Linda @ A Word Edgewise
Catherine @ Reading to the Core
Mary Lee @ A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly @ Nix the Comfort Zone

https://writeout.nwp.org/

Write Out 2021 (#writeout) is getting ready to launch this October 10th and will run through the 24th. This year’s theme—Palettes, Storyboards, and Cadences—is meant to support you as you explore the natural world and public spaces around you, while engaging as writers and creators who share in a connected virtual community.

This summer I worked with the National Writing Project on creating prompts for writing with Write Out. This two-week event encourages you to get outdoors and write. A number of National Parks have created videos for students to inspire writing. You can sign up at the NWP website to receive updates.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Laura Purdie Salas at Small Reads for Brighter Days.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer. As an introvert, swimming was a sport I could do. But the flip turn alluded me. I gave up when competitions required a flip turn.

My oldest daughter swam competitively from 7th to 12th grade. Our lives were consumed with practice and meets.

When Sarah Donovan of Ethical ELA put out a call for sports poems, I drew on these experiences and wrote a duplex poem about swimming, First Heat. The poem was accepted and is now published alongside Inklings Heidi Mordhorst and Linda Mitchell, as well as admired authors like Nikki Grimes, Laura Shovan, and Padma Venkatraman. You can purchase a copy of Rhyme & Rhythm: Poems for Student Athletes at Archer Publishing’s website.

The Poetry Sisters challenge this month was to write a tanka in conversation with another sister’s poem. I chose Heidi’s poem from Rhyme & Rhythm, Cleatless about dancing.

My feet didn’t beat
until they stepped in time with
yours, right-together-

right, left-together-left two
step, twirl face-to-face with you.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Denise at Dare to Care.

The Festival of Words yearly fundraising event was once again virtual this year. In a way, this is great because more poets from Louisiana and beyond can participate. I volunteered again to write a commissioned poem for Words for You. How this worked was I volunteered, someone donated to have me write a poem, and we all celebrated with a reading event on Zoom. The reading was last night and it’s on Facebook Live.

For some reason, I felt drawn to the sonnet form. What a challenge I gave myself! My person, Sue, answered a question about her spirit animal being a leopard. I did some leopard research and puzzled it into a poem. The problem was it didn’t hold any meaning. So then I wrote a free verse poem. After that I continued to hack away at the sonnet. After more study of the form, a total rewrite was necessary. The process was challenging, at times frustrating, but in the spirit of the leopard, I did not give up.

It may help to know that Sue is a playwright who is tolerant of Louisiana, but she hates the weather.

(c) Margaret Simon, for Sue Schleifer “Words for You” 2021

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

Laura Purdie Salas has been a writing mentor in my classroom for years now. Her books and poetry speak to children ( and to this adult). A few weeks ago she posted this poem on her blog. I used it with my students for a beginning-of-the-school-year writing prompt. I did not require the precise rhyme and rhythm pattern; they got the gist of making a list of favorite things.

I, however, took on the challenge of getting into the right meter and rhyme-scheme. I don’t think I’ve nailed it (I’m missing a verse and one of the rhymes is too slanted) but each revision gets closer to it. Rodgers and Hammerstein were musical geniuses. I played a video of this favorite scene from The Sound of Music, a classic that many children are unfamiliar with. They know this version better–the Lays commercial with Anna Kendrick. It’s fun to watch, too.

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Join the Poetry Friday round-up with Heidi at my juicy little universe.

What was I thinking when I challenged my Inklings writing group to write a ghazal for this month’s challenge? Woah, who knew there were so many rules/ guidelines? I had attended the Poetry Foundation’s Summer Teachers Institute and watched a presentation about using repetition in poetry. The presenter talked about two poetry forms, the villanelle and the ghazal. So I said to myself that in order to teach these forms, I needed to write in these forms.

The ghazal is an ancient Arabic and Persian language poetic form. It has couplets (two-line stanzas) that end with repeated end words or phrases. You can also add that traditionally the author’s name appears in the last couplet.

Looks easy, right? Well, this definition was somewhat incomplete. At Poets.org, there is this more complete definition. And Molly directed us to this guidance on Tweetspeak. The most help, as always, came from the Inkling group’s dedication to the craft of poetry and to each other. Their critique was invaluable.

I wanted my poem to say something, to express my longing as a grandmother for the grandmother I never knew. This portrait of her was painted in the 1940’s when my mother was a young girl. It now hangs in my dining room, life-size.

Grandmother’s Song

She never held me in her arms long to sing.
Death took her breath–she was not wrong to sing.

Within her eyes a lullaby still stares
from a frame to invite me along to sing.

Her portrait-hands caress violin strings;
Like the songbird’s voice, they echo strong to sing.

Now I wonder if an angel sings to me.
I want to know whose song to sing.

I have her name–Margaret–a spelling tune,
like a young child, I know I belong to sing. 

Margaret Simon, ghazal, all rights reserved.

Click on the links to read more ghazals by our amazing poetry group.

Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading

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