Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Slice of Life’ Category

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

..out in de camp, out yonda in da camp, de ole, ole women too old to work and too old to make babies, dey stay an mind de young chilens so dat de me kin all work in de fields and dey fee dam an all so when de ma come back all dey got to do is to push ’em in de bed, all of dem in de same bed. –Frances Doby, age 100
Cammie G. Henry Research Center
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Federal Writers Project Folder 19

On Monday, I went on a summer field trip to Whitney Plantation located in Wallace, LA. Established in 1752, Whitney Plantation was a working sugar plantation until the early 1970’s. Recently, it has been transformed into an active museum that captures the experience of enslavement.  This place tells the unheard story of all other plantation homes.  This story is not a romanticized version of plantation life.  This story is gripping and harrowing and sad.

Inside the old Antioch Church, statues of enslaved children stand, some sit on the pews.  The children of the slaves from Whitney Plantation tell you the story with their staring eyes.  These stories were captured by a Federal Writers Project led by John Lomax in 1936.  The plantation now honors over 100,000 names of slaves and children.

The Antioch Baptist Church was moved to the plantation in 1999. This church was built post Civil War (1870) by former slaves.

This memorial statue stands in the Field of Angels to honor all the slave children lost before age 3.

Panels in the Field of Angels include etched photographs, prayers, and quotes along with 2,200 names from documents in the Sacramental Records of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

A Jamaica line of sugar kettles remind us of the long, arduous task of turning cane into sugar.

If you are ever in the New Orleans area, Whitney Plantation is a worthy side trip.  I believe we must try to understand our history to move forward into a better future.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

An invitation to #ProjectPoem

Jenn Hayhurst tagged me in a post on Facebook asking me to join in a project she is playing with this summer: #ProjectPoem. The premise is that teachers of writing should write, a mantra of mine adapted from the work of Donald Graves. She is asking teachers to synthesize experience into poetic form in 140 characters.

I joined in with the image below. I am on vacation in Santa Fe, NM and staying at a lovely casita. The patio is private, quiet, and inviting. The picture is a side garden of Aspen trees.

My writing friend, Linda Mitchell, recently visited Seattle. There she collected words and made collage poems from them. I took inspiration from her to capture the feeling in Santa Fe. There was a procession to return an old statue of Mary to the Cathedral of Saint Frances. The people here are serious about their worship of Mary.

Consider joining in the summer writing fun by tweeting your poem to #ProjectPoem and tagging me @MargaretGSimon and Jenn @hayhurst3.  I made the first image using the app WordSwag, the second in Canva.

Read Full Post »

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

spring-2213359_960_720

As a writer, I never know where inspiration will come from or where it will lead.  I feel I must be open to it and respond.  Sometimes those responses go in a strange, unknown direction.

The poem I am sharing today originated from two different prompts.  The first was from Poets and Writers weekly email writing prompt, The Time is Now.  The poetry prompt led me to this article about a fashion exhibit on Mars at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From the article, I collected unusual phrases like “the shape of a doll’s dress” and “nonverbal, abstract images inside of me.” The article was written about unusual fashion design; however, the words became organic and drew me in. My collection grew.

I didn’t know what I was going to do with this collection of lines. The Poets and Writers prompt instructed me to start with one of Leanne Shapton’s lines and let my imagination take over.

A few days later I read a prompt in The Practice of Poetry. This prompt asked me to use someone else’s words interspersed with my own in a “collaborate cut-up” poem. I didn’t literally cut-up the article, but now I had a way to use my collection of lines. The combination of writing exercises took me into a direction I didn’t manipulate or expect. Don’t you love it when that happens?

Blissful Containment

Pull a sweater over your head
in the dark and the dark gets darker.
Towel over your shoulders
adds warmth and a sense of caring.
This feels prenatal–like a cocoon.
Certainly, you will survive the tornado.

Croquembouche of exposure and erasure
embraces your delicate sweetness.
With a pillowcase
to hold all your precious jewels,
You will be saved
in an A-line skirt with a Peter Pan collar.

We are all organic and alive,
reactive like the center of the earth.
The beginning of softness
enters with our belly breaths.
Palettes of mud
feed our drying souls.

Our earth mother knows us well
nurturing our natural and childlike shapes.
Her transmission of spirit
sneezes us into existence.
We won’t remember.
We don’t have to.

–Margaret Simon (with lines from Leanne Shapton’s “Rei Kawakubo, Interpreter of Dreams”)

Read Full Post »

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Carolina wren carries food to her babies.

Sitting on the back porch at the lake, we noticed a small bird coming and going, in and out of the flower pot of red vinca.

“I wonder if there’s a nest in there,” said Mom while sipping her morning coffee. “When I watered it yesterday, I noticed a big hole, but I didn’t think anything of it.”

A little while later when I didn’t see the adult bird around, I peeked into the pot.  When I moved a stem of the flower, I saw movement and then three wide-open yellow beaks, hoping I had a juicy insect to drop in.

With excitement, I ran inside to announce to everyone that there indeed was a nest and there were baby chicks in it.

Last summer on my yearly visit we watched goslings of a Canada Geese couple.

My visits to the lake are spent hanging out on the back porch talking with my family.  Nature moves around us every day, and we never seem to have the time to really pay attention.  This nest of Carolina wrens (it took some internet research, a bird book, and consulting a bird expert to know what kind they were) entertained us and helped us focus on what’s really important: life, love, and family nesting.

Can you see the mama bird? Babies are right underneath.

Read Full Post »

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Every year I judge a state writing contest, LA Writes!  Teachers gather to choose finalists to send to author judges.  I never judge the elementary entries since that is the level I teach. Laurie was reading a stack of 5th grade poems when she came to me and said, “I have to share this with you.  It’s not a winning poem, but the first line is so hilarious that I was laughing so hard I had to take a puff of my inhaler!”

Then I noticed the title, “Lovely Owen Liles.”  My cousin Andrew has a daughter named Owen, and they live in New Orleans.  Wait!  I turned over to find the entry blank and sure enough, the poem was written by my cousin Amos who is in fifth grade.   Laurie was right, it wasn’t contest winning, but it certainly won my heart and made me laugh out loud!

Lovely Owen Liles
by Amos Liles
 
You make me laugh when you toot, and it smells like dead possum.
Have I told you that you make me laugh when you make that face
where you wrinkle your lips.
Have I told you that you are so cute even a princess
puppy is not cute.
Have I told you that you are so generous you get me a
lollipop everytime you go swimming.
Have I told you that you are so fun like when you make 
me laugh when I’m sad.
You are the best.

My cousin Andrew Liles with his daughter Owen, the lovely Owen Liles.

Read Full Post »

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

At the lake, the Canada geese lead the parade
while the great blue looks on.

There is always something
happening at the lake.

Woodpecker tap, tap, tapping
on a hollow tree.

Mallard daddy duck pacing,
waiting for the ducklings to hatch.

Three men fishing
passing the time
in friendship

There are always turtles
out for some sun.

There are always reflections
of sky on water.

There is always peace
watching from the deck.

Read Full Post »

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Grab your bike and go on tour with me through the town of New Iberia, the city of live oaks.  Jim has been leading this tour for years, but I joined for the first time last weekend.  I was amazed at what little I knew about live oaks and their history in our town.

The above picture was one of our first stops at the fire station.  Jim pointed out the resilience of oaks. They fight to survive even while people try to control them with trimming as well as the abuse of concrete and traffic.

The New Iberia oak

In the early 1930’s a local historian Glen Conrad sought to register live oaks in New Iberia that were 100 years or older.  This massive oak lies on a corner of Main Street near McDonalds.  The property is abandoned so this oak has been allowed to sprawl and spread its wings.  We were moved to clean up trash while we stopped to admire this majestic tree.

Armond’s oak, Main Street, New Iberia

Jim stopped at this home on Main Street to talk about Armond’s oak.  Armond Schwing doesn’t live here anymore, but in 1992 he called Jim after Hurricane Andrew damaged this oak.  Jim asked Armond to be patient, the tree would recover in time.  And now, almost 25 years later, the tree has grown a new branch to balance itself.  To me, this is the magic of nature.  The magic of our trees.

Steamboat House, Main Street, New Iberia, LA

Just a few months ago a large draping branch from this majestic oak fell.  The owner has already refilled the blank spot with a pagoda and new driveway.  Jim was called to consult on this incident, too.  His advice to the owner was to build the driveway at a slight incline near the tree to allow the root system air and space. One of the things most people do not understand about these trees is that the root system is as large below the ground as the tree is above.  This is imperative to the survival of a tree.  This one was already endangered by losing a large root for the construction of the house next door.  Jim wanted to ensure the surviving roots were given the attention they deserve.

Feel the energy. City Park, New Iberia, LA.

This live oak lives in City Park.  I walk in this park often and I’ve never paid attention to this tree.  Jim explained that he calls it the Energy Oak because it has been struck by lightning numerous times.  He told us to relax against the tree and feel the energy.  After all that biking, I needed a touch of live oak energy.

We are blessed to have an oak of 250+ years in our own backyard, but this one just down the Loreauville Road is bigger by circumference.  This tree is tucked in a grove of live oaks.  The space feels like a forest.  The bayou just beyond completes the magical setting.  Unfortunately, Jim explained that this tree is at the end of its life.  Years ago an owner tried to keep the tree from splitting, so he roped it together.  This was a fix that worked at the time, but it is now constricting and damaging the tree.  I felt privileged to be in the presence of this ancient oak.

This tour of live oaks created in me a cause.  I want to speak for the trees.  I want to give them my love and attention.  Hand in hand with my 2017 One Little Word: Cherish.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »