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Poetry Friday is hosted today by Rose at Imagine the Possibilities.

The Open Write over at Ethical ELA was happening this week. I participated for a few days. On Saturday, Denise Krebs offered this writing prompt: write an ode to a childhood love. I thought about my diary from 1975 which I still have tucked away in my closet. It’s something of a miracle that I still have it because my childhood home was flooded in 1979. I’m not sure how this diary escaped.

Time was that when I looked at my diary, all I could see was the struggling teenager, flip-flopping from I like Robby to I like Bobby. I had tucked slips of paper into the diary, notes from friends and poems. Yes, poems.

Today I’m trying a different perspective of my younger self. I am thinking more kindly toward her. She was developing, in the process of becoming. No one is perfect when they are 14. Actually, I am not perfect now. We are constantly in a period of discovery about who we are, who and what we love. I think this diary may hold a precious girl, one in need of love.

“One Year Diary” circa 1975

“One Year Diary”

Golden pages
wrapped in a keyless lock,
you locked away all my dreams
and screams for truth and understanding.

I was standing at the threshold of who I am.
You honored the me I was
with timeless sanctity.

Notes and poems tucked in
like folds of a blanket, nestling
moments I wanted to keep (and forget.)

Cursive swirls and exaggerated tittles,
my fourteen year old soul remains
buried here.

Margaret Simon, draft

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I try to get outside early in the morning for a walk, often before the sun rises. On my path is a grove of fruit trees. I watch these trees as the season slowly changes to fall. Trees seem to know even before we can feel the air temperature change that fall is on its way. I know the slant of light changes and all that, but I just wish for a little cooler breeze. My husband always says that satsumas (oranges) ripen around the time of the first report card. I wrote a modern haiku in honor of the wet green fruit. Please take a moment to write a small poem in the comments and support other writers.

green fruit by Margaret Simon

Sweet fruit of the earth
Taste of rain, taste of sun
Abundantly enough

Margaret Simon, draft

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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.

The decorating theme at one of my schools this year is books, so I chose to depict one of my favorite books, The Dot. I celebrate Dot Day every year with my students, but this year I adopted the whole school, sort of. I sent out an invitation to teachers to sign up to send 4 kids to my room at recess time. (I only have 4 chairs around a single table.) I had wonderful participation and have had so much fun working with a variety of grade levels. With the older kids I opened up sets of watercolors and set out paper plate dots. For the younger ones, I gave them a coffee filter to decorate with markers. I then sprayed them with water so that the ink spread for a cool looking result.

With my gifted students, I made Dot Zeno Zines. In the spirit of “making a mark and seeing where it takes you”, we drew a design on plain paper. Then we wrote Zeno poems. Zeno is a form created by J. Patrick Lewis that uses the sequence 8, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1 with each one syllable rhyming. I’m not sure which should come first, the first 8-4-2-1 sequence or the rhyming words. We’ve tried both ways. I let the kids struggle somewhat to just figure it out. Sometimes it’s hard to say what you want to say with so many constraints. It’s a process. Process can be messy and imperfect, but when you’ve puzzled it out, it’s rewarding.

Dot Day Zeno

Polka-dotted wings emerging
color-filled spots
red, green,
blue
orange, purple
polka-
dew
flying homeward
toward
you!

Mrs. Simon with help from Avalyn, 3rd grade

To see more student Dot Zeno poems, check out these Fanschool links:

Brayden
Adelyn

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Poetry Friday is hosted this week Down Under with Kat Apel.

In Dictionary for a Better World, Charles Waters writes about Courage using a cinquain form. “Sometimes courage can be…” The form is simple: five lines with a syllable count of 2, 4, 6, 8, 2. Sometimes these simple forms open up possibilities for writing that we wouldn’t normally explore.

I’m listening to The Book of Hope with Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams. I explored the topic with a cinquain to model for my students.

Sometimes
poetry
is hiding in plain sight
you can find poetry in your mind
look hard

Brayden, 3rd grade

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This week’s photo comes from California photographer/ teacher Kim Douillard. I couldn’t resist this not-so-cuddly bear-of-stones. She took the photo on the campus of UC San Diego, marked with the hashtag Stuart Collection (click here to see a size reference).

Stone Bear, Stuart Collection, UC San Diego by Kim Douillard, artist Tim Hawkinson

I hope you enjoy musing on this photo. I’ll be back later with a poem. Post a small poem in the comments and encourage other writers with responses. Thanks for stopping by.

A Fib Poem (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8)

Bear
your
boulder.
Be bolder
in your stone-cold suit.
Hold a steady shoulder for me. 

Margaret Simon, draft

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Image by Linda Mitchell
Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link

I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for my lesson on Friday. I really don’t have a good excuse. It just happened, so I opened my desk drawer and pulled out metaphor dice. I wasn’t really sure how this writing tool would work with my young students. This year my gifted classes include third and fourth graders. Do they even know what a metaphor is?

The beauty of Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice is their adaptability across every grade level and writing ability. In fact, they can be the just right teaching tool or game you need on a Friday when you don’t have a poem in your pocket.

After a few rounds of metaphor dice writing, my 4th grade student Adelyn said, “Do you ever get so involved in writing that you forget to breathe?” I think that sums up a successful writing session.

Today I am sharing one of my metaphor dice poems.

My birth is a bright songbird
singing a morning lullaby.

Each new day is a birth–
a chance to discover joy,
to hear the bright song
of the cardinal or chickadee.

Wake up!
Every day is a birth day!

Margaret Simon, draft
My notebook+ metaphor dice

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Welcome to This Photo Wants to be a Poem. Respond to the photo collage with a small poem in the comments. Encourage other writers with comments.

I don’t know much about spiders, but orb spiders are out and about doing their thing and making amazing intricate webs. I took the first picture from my front courtyard. The web was huge and glimmering in the sunlight. I couldn’t really capture it with a phone camera. If you look closely, you can see the big black spider in the center.

On my Instagram feed I saw Paul Hankin’s photo of a similar style web. His caption read, “What might you create in your own little corner?”

In my classroom, we are answering “This or That” questions for attendance these days. So I put these images side by side and ask you this or that? Are you the type to hide your masterpiece in a corner, under and away from others who may harm it or misunderstand? Or do you place your art where everyone can see it, if only they stop long enough to notice?

Create a small poem around your thoughts today. Share it in the comments. Return, if you can, to leave encouraging comments to other writers.

Weaving in my own corner
Ever-winding path
Behold a work in progress

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday is hosted today by Linda at Teacher Dance.

This month’s Inkling challenge was mine to create. I invited my writing group to share any poem that they may have written to This Photo Wants to be a Poem prompt. I post a photo prompt once a week on Wednesdays. My photos come from my own iPhone photos or from Instagram friend’s photos, by permission.

I enjoy the craft of writing a small poem. Many of the ones I write bring about some deeper wisdom. Often I surprise myself with these, wondering where they come from. Today I am featuring bird wisdom poems. Nature offers itself to us with its revelation of truth.

Peek in on my Inkling buddies and see what they are doing with this challenge:

Linda Mitchell
Molly Hogan
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

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Happy September! Maureen has the Spiritual Thursday round up today. Her topic suggestion was “community.” As a new school year gets underway, my thoughts of community turn to my classroom. To build community, we write together. I’ve always felt that writing helps build connections and brings us closer to each other.

When my father died in April, I received so many cards that I couldn’t fit them all on my counter, so I filled a basket. Like Christmas, every day for a few weeks I received handwritten, comforting cards and letters. Without even noticing, I had become a part of a community of people who support each other in good times and in bad times.

This weekend there was an article in the local paper that caught my eye. It was an interview with a teacher I knew. This teacher came to a writing workshop I held one summer. Because we wrote together, I feel close to her. I cut out the article and laminated it to send to her. She probably has multiple copies, but I decided that the gesture was about more than just giving her another copy of the article. It was a gesture of community, recognizing and seeing her.

My writing group is a special community to me. The Inklings got together and created a “junk journal” with each poet writing a special sympathy poem for me. I made a video of this gift that can be viewed here. Linda Mitchell of our group recently shared a new poem with us. She wrote it about the sycamore tree that we planted in memory of my dad on the grounds of their retirement home. “A sycamore tree symbolizes strength, protection, eternity, and divinity.” She gave me permission to share her sweet skinny poem.

Whether writing with each other or writing for each other, writing creates community. If you are interested in joining a small community of writers, tune in on Wednesdays when I post “This Photo Wants to be a Poem.” We write together in separate places about a shared image. There is always room for more.

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The skies have been dramatic lately with storms rolling in and out. On a morning walk earlier this week, I looked up and saw a carpet of pink. A few steps later, a rainbow. Then the sky became yellow and the clouds broke apart. All in a matter of minutes.

Let this image inspire your muse this morning. Where will you walk? Who is with you? What can you imagine? Write a small poem in the comments and come back to leave encouraging responses to others.

Pink sky, Margaret Simon

Avalyn (3rd grade) wrote this haiku with me:

Cotton candy sky
If you look closer, you see
aesthetic heaven. 

Mrs. Simon and Avalyn

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