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Archive for the ‘Slice of Life’ Category

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We all have our favorite words.   We seem to carry with us a lexicon of words.  As a writer, I feel challenged to get out of my word choice comfort zone.  I’m always on the look out for new ways to use words.  I am careful not to overuse a word.  One word I feel gets overused is love.

I am not a royal wedding fangirl, but I did get up in time to see the full service start to finish on Saturday.  As an American Episcopalian, I was proud that our Presiding Bishop was the preacher.  As I listened to Bishop Curry, I wondered how many times he used the word love in his message.  Curiosity led me to make a word web of the text to see how strong the word love would appear.

If you didn’t hear this message, you should take the time to listen to it.  The text can be found here, but hearing it is much more powerful.  We do need to hear the word love.  We need to know love as the most important thing.  We need to realize the redemptive power of love. We shouldn’t have to have a royal wedding to remind us of this, but I’m glad we did.

 

 

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I know May is supposed to be my favorite month of the year.  There’s Teacher Appreciation Week with its gifts and food, food, food.  There’s Mother’s Day with more gifts, more food.  And then there’s this end of the school year count down.  How many more days are left?

The end of the year is not a joyful time for me.  I am looking back on the year and thinking; Did I do all I could?  Did I make a difference? Are my students ready to move on?

I’m faced with packing up the classroom (make that three classrooms), making them stark and uninviting, covering computers, cleaning out cubbies, trash, trash, trash…

But the hardest part for me are the last days when my students come sporadically (I teach gifted pull-out). How can I plan anything with substance?  We review for summer reading.  We create writing anthologies. We play games.

Then there are the goodbyes.  I teach my students year after year, so when they leave me, I’ve usually had them for multiple years.  Letting go is hard.

Here I am looking at the countdown my students have written on the board, 7 days left.  Seven? Seven!  Where did the time go?  I’m not ready.

 

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I’ve been thinking about writing this post and have gone back and forth about whether or not I should.  Loss is a difficult topic to write about, but especially hard when the loss is not your own.  As parents, we all hope that our children do not have to face hardships, but as living and breathing people, we know inevitably they will.  We cannot protect them.

I have experienced loss in my lifetime, but I’ve not experienced a miscarriage.  I am one of those lucky women who had three pregnancies and three children.  So when my oldest daughter, Maggie, announced her pregnancy last November, I had no reason to believe that it would be anything but normal.  We celebrated with her sisters.  She was feeling nauseous and tired and enjoying it.  Mid-December, I waited to hear about her doctor’s appointment.  I crumpled when she said there was no heartbeat.  The ultrasound showed the baby had not developed past 8 weeks.  Her body, however, still thought she was pregnant.

The next day, I went with her to the surgery center for her DNC.  Maggie cried quietly.  I sat near her and listened.  She talked about how she could now relate to her friends when it happened to them.  There is a scary statistic that many first pregnancies end in miscarriage.  She knew this.  She knew that the baby was not viable.  That something had gone wrong.  That it wasn’t meant to be.  But even so, a new child died that day.  There was no way to deny the loss.

My daughter realized that through her pain and grief she was learning a life lesson.  Little did she know how soon her counseling would be needed.  A few weeks ago, she got a call from my middle daughter, Katherine. On the previous Saturday, Maggie and I had talked about how she was being weird, unusually cheerful.  We thought something was up.  But once again, a new baby was not to be.  Katherine had taken a pregnancy test on Saturday and was waiting to tell us the following weekend when we’d all be together.  On Tuesday, bleeding started and her blood test came back negative.  A quick drop on the roller-coaster that took her breath away. She tried to see the positive side of things, but she was devastated.

There is so much joy and hope and love in watching your daughters get married and start their lives with someone they deeply love.  We expect the best.  We hope for new life.  I’ve even been a little pushy about wanting to be a grandmother.  I didn’t expect this heartache, this loss.  I have no explanation for it.

Grief over miscarriage is a private grief.  There are no ceremonies to offer condolences.  In fact, most people don’t talk about it.  The loss is buried deep into the woman’s soul.

As their mother, I grieve with them.  As their mother, I hold their hearts in mine.  I’m with them through it all, joy and pain, love and loss.  I am holding onto faith that there will be new children in our future, but for now, I grieve with my daughters.

 

 

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National Poetry Month 2018

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Today is a combination post, Slice of Life and my final poem for National Poetry Month.   This weekend was Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette.  I was blown away by the fiddling of Dominique Dupuis of New Brunswick, Canada. She first played at this festival in 1999 when she was 12 years old. South Louisiana (Acadiana) has strong ties with Canada stretching back to the 1700’s when Acadians were exiled from Nova Scotia and given land in Louisiana. Someone at the festival commented that we are all cousins.  I am not a Cajun but living here, I have great respect for the culture and music.

I chose ekphrastic poetry to challenge myself to write a poem a day in April.  My poems this month have mostly responded to my father’s art.  I’ve also included a few photographs and art by other artists.  This poem is not a traditional ekphrasis which is defined as poetry about visual art or sculpture.  Today’s poem (written on Monday, April 30th) is poetry inspired by music.

Dominique Dupuis

The song I was most attracted to was one Dominique wrote about her gratitude for being able to do the work that she does and to connect countries and cultures through music.  The title is “Ma Petite vie” which translates to “My Little Life.”

Dominique’s bow
travels across the land
roaming over climbing rocks,
flowing through rivers,
billowing in the wind.

Her strings vibrate
with warmth of a handshake,
a hug, a welcoming smile.
Across  miles
from Canada to Louisiane.

Feel time
bow by bow.

Feel rhythm
in your own heart.

Feel distance
crossed by instruments.

Echoes
of Acadian ancestors
speak in notes
connecting us all
to each other.

This is where we belong.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

 

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Social Studies is not my area of expertise, so last week I found a way to let poetry come in the door.  I pull a group of gifted students for their Social Studies class. I needed to teach these kids about the Civil Rights Movement.  Equipped with website links, videos, and articles, we explored three major events: Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, March on Washington, and the Montgomery bus boycott. As a way to synthesize the information, we wrote poems together.  Our discussion about these events included what important information to include and how to make it into a poem.

In the Woolworth’s store,
four brave students,
as brave as can be
sat at the lunch counter
and would not leave.

Several more the next day
sat with those brave boys
they took Mr. Woolworth’s
breath away.

News spread, far and wide.
Three hundred more stood by their side.

To get their minds straight
and stop segregation,
they worked hard, stood strong.
It’s not time to have fun.
There is still work to be done.

–Mrs. Simon’s class


Dear Rosa Parks,

You are a hero for all of America.
I really appreciate
that everyone can ride together.
You refused to give up your seat.
You inspire us to fight
for what we believe in.

Because of you,
segregation on buses ended.
You befriended yourself in my eyes
through your bravery in the Montgomery Bus Boycott
sewing together minds for integration.

Sincerely,
Mrs. Simon’s Sea 

Another group of my kiddos was featured on Today’s Little Ditty with their dinosaur poems.

If you would like to participate in a round up of poetry about photos, join the photo/poem exchange on my blog, More than Meets the Eye. 

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National Poetry Month 2018

 

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

My students and I have been writing to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s daily prompts at The Poem Farm.  I usually write alongside my students, so some days I have three poems done because I teach 3 different groups of kids.  On Monday, when we were writing using word play, I started writing at school number one about bees.

Dawson, 4th grade, helped me think about rhymes.  He told me that bees carry pollen in their mouths and spit it back and forth with other bees until it becomes honey, thus “honey primers.”

I turned to bee research and RhymeZone.

At school number two, Chloe, 2nd grade, told me that a bee’s dance is called a waggle.  Google confirmed it.

Last month, I had a bee incident in my classroom at school number 2 that caused a curse word to come out of my mouth, thus “cursing singer.” This incident happened in March, so I sliced about it here.

My students responded with pleasure at my completed poem.  They exclaimed “Boomchakalaka.”  Great word play for the ending!

 

Bees
hullabaloo
on flowering trees
humming,
drumming,
buzz-strumming.

Bees
hokey-pokey
through pollen fields
persnickety climbers,
expert mimers
honey primers.

Bees
waggle-dance
in the hive
insect communication
tapping out dictation
pointing to a destination.

Bee–one bashful bee
squirming
in my hair
angry stinger
hand slinger
cursing singer.

Boomchakalaka!

I am writing ekphrastic poetry this month for National Poetry Month.  Michelle Kogan is an poet-illustrator I’ve met through Poetry Friday.  Usually I start with the image to inform the poem.  This poem came before the illustration, but I knew Michelle would have one that fit just right. Thanks, Michelle.

Towering Tulip by Michelle Kogan. Click image to see Michelle’s website.

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National Poetry Month 2018

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

For National Poetry Month, I am writing poems to art, ekphrastic poetry.  My father has generously offered his art work for my project.  He works in pen and ink, using a method called pointillism in which tiny dots create the image.   The white spaces are defined by the dark.

Doves by John Gibson

Turtle doves are nesting
in
sanctified
altars,
hovering
in
holy
spaces.
Tranquility
in
nesting turtle doves.

 

Skinny Poetry Form: A Skinny is a short poem form that consists of eleven lines. The first and eleventh lines can be any length (although shorter lines are favored). The eleventh and last line must be repeated using the same words from the first and opening line (however, they can be rearranged). The second, sixth, and tenth lines must be identical. All the lines in this form, except for the first and last lines, must be comprised of ONLY one word. The Skinny was created by Truth Thomas in the Tony Medina Poetry Workshop at Howard University in 2005.

 

“Names are powerful. They influence our perception. The Chinese master Confucius believed all wisdom came from learning to call things by the right name.” PoemCrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

The name turtle doves originates from the Hebrew word tor meaning twice, which became tur tur, transliterated into English as turtle dove. Thus turtle doves have nothing to do with turtles. They are referred to often in the Bible.

 

 

 

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