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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Before leaving my students for the year, I offered an assignment from Scholastic Magazines, the My History Project. We spent a Google Meet session looking at Animoto for creating interesting videos.

I knew this project would be a difficult endeavor without me overseeing and coaching the process. I honestly didn’t think any of them would take the time to pursue it.

You are a part of history.
You are living through an important and unique time in history—the COVID-19 pandemic. Years from now, historians will learn from the experiences of people who went through it—people like you and your family.

Lauren Tarshis, Scholastic

The projects were due to Scholastic by July 1st. I was pleasantly surprised when I got an email from Chloe’s mom with a link to her completed video. I’m excited to share it with you. I love how Chloe used equations “Laura Purdie Salas-style” to communicate a lot with few words. Please share comments to Chloe here, and I will pass them on to her.

My History by Chloe, 2020

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Find more links to reading children’s literature at Jen Vincent’s blog.

Would you like some wickedly wacky poetry in your life? Reach for Vikram Madan’s book A Hatful of Dragons. I won this hilarious book on Matt Forrest Esenwine’s blog

Reminiscent of Shel Silverstein, I can imagine my students falling into this book of poetry. I love books that help us to see poetry as something fun, fun to read, and fun to write. Vikram Madan plays with language in a unique way: “A hatful of babies? Will leave you crawled! A hatful of barbers? Could shave your head bald! A hatful of dragons???”

The best, though, is the fill-in-the-blank poem. With 7 choices you can fill in 1 blank 7 different ways and you can have 7 different poems, but you have 12 lists of 7 words to choose from. It becomes an exponential number of poems possible. 13.8 billion! Kids will have a blast with this!

Page from A Hatful of Dragons shows the whimsical illustrations that accompany the poems.

All Because You Matter came to me from Scholastic. The release date is Fall 2020. Written by Tami Charles and illustrated by Bryan Collier, this book should be in every early learning classroom. The colors in the illustrations are magnificent. The text is lyrical and poetic.

“They say that matter
is all things
that make up the universe:
energy,
stars,
space…

If that’s the case,
then you, dear child, matter.”

Tami Charles, All Because You Matter

Tamir Charles writes in her Author’s Note that she will not raise her son to walk in fear. Without answers for fixing racial injustice, she begins with this book…”a loving tribute to the greatness that lives within my beautiful, brown-hued, brown-eyes boy and within all children, of all colors, everywhere…YOU MATTER!”

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I am reposting this week’s prompt for Poetry Friday. I have taken on a weekly photo prompt from what originally was done by Laura Purdie Salas at her blog: “15 Words or Less.” With a new title, I am posting a photo on Thursdays for whomever feels compelled to write a small poem response. To join us each week, subscribe to my blog in the right margin or watch for it on Twitter @MargaretGSimon or Facebook (Margaret Gibson Simon). We welcome all writers.

Please read and respond to a few poems as well as post one of your own.

This week’s photo comes from Amanda Potts in Ontario, Canada. Amanda is an amazing educator who blogs at Persistence and Pedagogy. I grabbed her photo from an Instagram post. She joined a challenge called #EducatorsONtherun with other Canadian educators to run or walk 1.5 km for 45 days from May 18 (Victoria Day) to July 1 (Canada Day). Her Instagram posts each day were full of beautiful images and inspiring messages.

After the rain by Amanda Potts

Let’s honor Canada Day with poems. Write a small poem of 16 words or fewer. Place it in the comments. Be sure to respond to other poets with encouraging words.

(A note about 16 words: William Carlos Williams once wrote a small poem about a red wheelbarrow using only 16 words. Amazing things can happen in small poems.)

After the rain
droplets cling
Sprinkle green leaves
with feeling
So much depends
upon the rain

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is at Karen’s Blog.

Summer means the Summer Poetry Swap which is coordinated by Tabatha. I’ve already received two poetry gifts, and it feels like summer just began.

The first poem I received came from Laura Shovan, a dear poet friend and author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary and Takedown. Laura sent sourdough starter, a whimsical pen, and this poem.

Bread and Water by Laura Shovan

My second poem came from Buffy Silverman. Buffy and I have never met, but I have enjoyed her poetry for years. What delight to open an email from her with this image and beautiful poem about wild iris, blue flag!

Blue Flag by Buffy Silverman

This week Linda Mitchell and I teamed up to provide prompts for Ethical ELA. This site by Sarah Donovan is a wonderful place for teachers to write and receive positive feedback. I enjoyed being a part of the community this week. The poetic responses were amazing! Here is a link to the 5 Day Open Write.

I wrote two poems in response to Linda’s prompts. The first one was a list poem. I had a receipt marking my notebook page. My oldest daughter is having a girl (Yes!) in November. At a local children’s store, I bought the first thing for this new one, a newborn gown.

For the Little Ones
 
Shorts
Shirt
Gown–> NB
 
white silky soft
edged with pink stitching
to welcome
a sister
now growing
day by day
a girl to embrace
a girl to bless
a girl to love

Margaret Simon, draft

The second prompt from Linda came from Linda Baie’s prompt in Laura Shovan’s Water Poem Project, to write a fiction poem. I took some quotes from my weekend with my kids and built this scene.

Heat
 
What is it about the 90 degree mark
that turns a sunny day into fire
burning you through to the bone?
 
They didn’t speak in the heat;
Their brains thirsty, wrung out 
beyond droplets of sweat,
couldn’t fathom anything worthy of saying.
 
He handed her the phone,
clicked play on a video of animal faces,
noses in particular, that made her smile,
despite herself. She didn’t bother 
to ask why. 
 
Humor finds its way into the cracks
of relationship, beneath the surface
of burning skin to release toxins
from the crease of a smile. 

Margaret Simon, draft

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Once again, I am inspired by Molly Hogan’s photography. She starts each day with a blank canvas, or what would have been once called an empty roll of film. And she opens her lens for discoveries and wonder.

This photo appeared last week in my Facebook feed. The whimsy of it grabbed me. Molly thinks the duckling is a common eider, not a duck we have in the deep south.

Please join me in writing a small poem today, inspired by this image. Leave your poem in the comments. Read other poems and comment. Come back to read any comments you receive. Here there is no judgement; we hold each other up.

Hello world! by Molly Hogan

Flip-flap!
Splish-splat!

I toddle
on my new legs,

just like
That!

Margaret Simon, flash draft

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

I was struggling over what to post today. I didn’t prepare my post ahead of time. I considered bailing out completely. But something was tugging at me.

That tug started with an email from poets.org that sent me into a rabbit hole of Black poets. Reading, clicking, texting, reading…

Then I was discussing my dilemma with my daughter, Katherine. She works for an ad agency in New Orleans. Her co-worker, Dante Nicholas, wrote an article on Later.com “How Brands Can Celebrate Juneteenth on Social Media.” In his article, Dante states “June 19, 1865 – Juneteenth –  is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States….At its heart, Juneteenth is a day of celebration.”

I clicked further to find that Dante is also a fabulous photographer. I screen-shot this post from his Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/allthingsdante/

Dante Nicholas, New Orleans, Louisiana

In my reading, I felt a kinship to Margaret Walker. Not only did she have my name, she also lived in my home town of Jackson, MS. for a time. I wish I could say I met her or saw her speak, but I didn’t. But her words spoke to me today. Dante’s image makes me think of poets like Margaret who said, “Let a new earth rise.”

Using words from Margaret Walker from For My People, I wrote a small found poem to celebrate the freedom of Juneteenth.

For playmates in the clay
singing dirges, ditties, blues,
Let a bloody peace be written.

It’s time, friends, it’s time!

Margaret Simon, found poem from Margaret Walker’s For My People.

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Morning Web by Jen Gray

Summer is here with peaceful mornings before temperatures rise. This image popped up on my Instagram feed. My friend, Jen Gray, owns a farm in Breaux Bridge, LA where she rents two houses for artist retreats. Unfortunately, I haven’t made my usual retreat there this year. I miss this place.

Jen’s photographic eye fascinates me. This photo has so much to offer, a foggy sunrise and dewdrop spider web. What will you write about? Please leave a small poem in the comments and comment on other poems. Thanks for stopping by.

What remains from
a slow walk in the field?
Dewdrop tears
for a peaceful world.

Margaret Simon, flash draft

A note about process: While writing my flash draft, I typed in about 21 words. In cutting it to 15, I found what the poem really wanted to say. There’s something to be said for small poems.

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This week I chose one of my own photographs. I’ve struggled to put into words what I am feeling, but I can walk for peace. I can trace letters on a white board. I can be part of the change.

Whether you attended a march or not, I know your feelings run deep. Poets are like that. We feel things. We notice. We process. We write.

Take a minute, not too many, then pick up your pen and scribble 15 words or fewer, maybe more, in response to this photo. Go for your first thought. See where it takes you. Please do not leave without writing a few encouraging words to another writer. Thanks!

Before the storm,
we listened
to passionate words,
a list of names,
a prayer.
Then we walked
with each other.

Margaret Simon, flash draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with here!

I am hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today. Please join by placing your link using Inlinkz at the end of the page.

Today is the monthly gathering of Sunday Night Poetry Swaggers posts. This month Heidi Mordhorst challenged us to write a farewell letter to our students. We finished out the official school year 2 weeks ago, but truthfully, our school year ended on March 13th.

My emotions have been so torn by the pandemic and recent protests that I am unsure how I would talk to my students about it all. And then once again Naomi Shihab Nye’s Kindness crossed my path. That poem always moves me. “Before you know what kindness really is,/ you must lose things.” I decided to take a striking line for a golden shovel.

When I use another poet’s line to create a poem, I feel that poet is somehow writing alongside me. There is comfort in that. However, from the decision to write a golden shovel to the poem I am sharing, I’ve started and stopped many times. I am still not sure it’s what I want to say, but it’s getting there. I plan to mail both poems to my students as a way to say goodbye.

Dear students, we were together one day, then
pandemic stay-at-home made it
hard to know what is 
good and real and right. Our only 
idea of kindness 
included a drive-by party that 
makes 
sense, 
but may not comfort you anymore.

My only 
hope is you keep kindness 
in front of all that 
worries you. Focus on what ties 
you to others. Hold on to your 
ability to walk in someone else’s shoes
and
empathize with a character who sends
you into their world. You 
can make a difference out
of your choices. Lean into
what you know is good. Be the
best you can be every day. 

Margaret Simon, Golden Shovel draft

To see other Swaggers’ letters of farewell:

Heidi
Molly
Catherine
Linda

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

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Ruth is hosting today’s postings for Spiritual Journey Thursday. Click to go to her site. https://thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.

Romans 5: 4 

This Biblical verse was quoted by the Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry in his sermon for Pentecost this past Sunday. I have read this verse before. And every time, I feel a bit of discomfort. There’s the part of me that wishes we could have hope without suffering and endurance.

This last week has been suffering for all of us. Watching a brutal, senseless murder at the hands (or knee, rather) of people we are supposed to trust is both heart and gut-wrenching.

In the Episcopal prayers of baptism, we state that we will respect the dignity of every human being. There are no exclusives to this phrase. Every means every, not the ones who look or act like us. God calls us to be a community of love. Where do we place hatred? In God’s world, hatred has no place.

This time I want more than hope for a better world. I want to take an active part in creating one. I started with conversation. When I was growing up in Jackson, MS, I went to a high school that was 90% black. We walked the halls together. We had lockers side by side. We sang together in the chorus. We worked together on the yearbook. But, never did I socialize outside of school with an African American classmate.

On Tuesday, I reached out to my friend who is the executive director of our church’s mission, Solomon House. We sat in the courtyard and talked for an hour or so. She offered many insights, but the thing I remember most is her admonishment, “I need my white friends to stop feeling guilty about being white.”

I will move beyond this guilt and do more than hope for a change. I will find ways to be a part of the solution. There will be a peaceful protest in New Iberia on Saturday. I’ll be there.

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