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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

On Valentine’s Day last Thursday, I challenged my students to write a love poem without using the word love.  On Facebook I had read Charles Ghinga’s poem for his wife Debra.  I used it as a mentor text.

YOU ARE THE MOON

(for Debra)

You are the moon.
My only one.

You bring light
Where there was none.

©Charles Ghigna

After we read this poem, we brainstormed a list of things in nature that could serve as a metaphor as moon does in Charles’ poem.  I pushed my students to be specific.  Some of the more interesting things they listed:

sunflower
lily pads
stars
swans
sea eagle
grass
northern lights

Page of word groups from Writing Poetry From the Inside Out by Sandford Lyne.

 

I used a poetry resource by Sandford Lyne called Writing Poetry from the Inside Out. In this book, Sandy writes about “Poem Sketching” with word groups.  The back is full of pages of word groups.  I photocopied one of these pages to give to my students.  Each student chose a word group to write from.

Magic happened.  Was it writing about love without using the word? the model poem from Charles? the word groups from Sandy? or the magic that happens when writing in a safe community?

We cut out construction paper hearts and wrote our poems on them to give to someone special.  I gave mine to Madison because I used a quote of hers.  Chloe gave hers to me, probably because I loved it.  And Madison gave hers to Chloe.  Poetry gifts from the heart.

Love poem gift from Chloe glued into my notebook.

You can read more poems on our kidblog site. 

Journey They Will Take

Two dolphins
under the sea
two deer
in the woods
and
the northern lights
watching
the four animals
coming together
On the journey they
will take.

Chloe, 3rd grade

I think your feelings for me

are a midnight walk

where it’s easy to get lost.

My feelings for you are as bright as stars

when I’m alone.

I’m a neighborhood of sadness,

a pool of cries,

an ocean of regret.

Our feelings are as wild as animals.
by Jayden, 5th grade

My poem for Madison:

She says, “Did you know the sea eagle
has a wingspan of eight feet?”
I write it down in my notebook
realizing that her knowledge
opens the surface
of our classroom
like the blossom of a tulip.
Digging into depths
of learning
makes everyday
as fascinating
as the sea eagle.

–Margaret Simon

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jone this week at Check it Out!

I read the above quote in a post from Smack Dab in the Middle. (Image made in Canva) If you are a writer, take a minute to read the post. Darlene Jacobson wrote, “For me, and I suspect for many of us who write for children, EVERYTHING is a miracle.”

I write with children, not just for children, and feel that every time we write together, a miracle happens.  Lately I have been writing skinny poems, multiple skinnies a day.  I’ve gotten into the rhythm.  Starting with a simple line leading to single words is a quick and inspirational way to write.  Like haiku, a skinny poem is a short form, but unlike haiku that focuses on a single moment, a skinny can focus on a single thought or idea. (See more about the form on my PF post last week.)

Taking inspiration from the above quote, I wrote the following:

Everything is a miracle
touched
by
God’s
hand
touched
by
my
holiness
touched
by a miracle is everything.

Today, after a stormy day yesterday, the sky is clear and the sun is shining, a daily miracle.  There are fields of butterweed blooming.

CREDIT:Jeff Lepore/Science Source

Sunshine is a daily miracle
a
meadow
of
gold
a
glow
of
grass
a
daily miracle in the Sun.

 

What miracles do you see every day?  Can you write a simple skinny poem?

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

In my classroom, we pick a quote of the day and write it on a clean notebook page.  Sometimes the quote leads to writing, but not always.  As I write alongside my students, I find the quotes influencing the flow of my pen. As I gear up for the March Slice of Life Challenge, I like that I can find inspiration for writing in quotes.

From my notebook page:

The opposite is also true, Pablo, that everything real is imagined. All meaning comes from our past experiences. Take this writing pen, for example.  I watch the teal blue ink flow onto the page.  I know that when I form these motions these letters will be created. The practice of my writing creates the writing before me. 

Imagine the tiny seed that lies beneath the earth grows minute by minute into a flower you will notice in spring. 

Everything you can imagine is real
as
the
ink
here
as
my
hand
moves
as
real as everything you can imagine.

I can’t stop writing skinny poems.  The rhythm of them.  The simplicity.  See directions and more skinny poems here. 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Laura Purdie Salas this week.

 

Have you gotten a set of metaphor dice yet?  Here’s a link to them on Amazon. 

I’ve been playing with metaphor dice and the skinny poem form.  To make a skinny poem, roll the dice to find your first statement.

I got “Love is a silent blessing.”  This becomes line one.  Lines 2, 6, and 10 are all the same word.  Other lines are only one word long.  Line 11 repeats the same words as line 1.  Confused?  Try numbering your paper from 1-11.  Write your metaphor phrase in line one.  Choose a simple word for line 2, 6, and 10.  Fill in the rest.

Love is a silent blessing
a
whisper
touch
smile
a
soft
unspoken
wink
a
silent love blessing.

Here are a few student skinnies:

Beauty is a glorified dance
a
midnight
shining
flower
a
gentle
soft
breeze
a
beautiful dance glorified.

by Landon, 5th grade

 

 

The past is a broken wonder
an
old
broken
tree
an
unbelievable
impossible
mistake
an
incredible, broken, wonder
by Daniel, 4th grade

 

We also wrote bug-ku this week inspired by Susan Bruck on her site last week. Check out all student poems on our kidblog site.

 

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See more Spiritual Thursday posts at Donna’s site, Mainly Write.

 

Donna is gathering our Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts at her blog. Donna recently moved, so she chose “Home” as our topic for today.

We often look to our church as a spiritual home.  But is this the only place where God lives?  Like the saying “Home is where the heart is,” God is where the heart is, too.  Just because you may not have a place to worship, God’s presence does not leave you.  God is in my mind…always.

I also believe that God is in my poetry.  Wherever I am, the world opens and reveals poems.  This week is only the first week of February, but the temperatures have climbed above 70 degrees, and the Japanese magnolias are blooming.  On my early morning walk, I pass a lonely tree in a vacant lot.  It’s obviously not trimmed or cared for and in many ways looks like it’s dead, but not this week.  So I wrote a poem about it. Of course.

The first stanza is a direct quote from The Time is Now, a weekly writing prompt from Poets and Writers.

A Day on Saturn

A day on Saturn
lasts a total of ten hours,
thirty-three minutes,
and thirty-eight seconds,
according to the Astrophysical Journal.

When I pass the Japanese magnolia,
I think it must be dying.
Lichen clusters on its branches;
a hollowed trunk carved like a cave
invites infesting insects.

And yet, there they are
in the middle of winter, pink
blossom buds
point to the sky
spot Saturn

like an astrolabe
aligns the planets,
from a leafless display

balancing a day.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

 

 

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

Last week I collaborated with artist Marla Kristicevich on a workshop for teachers designed around poetry and art collage.  The workshop was part of the Arts in Education professional development series held at the Acadiana Center for the Arts.

After I presented about finding elements of poetry in my poem “I am a Beckoning Brown Bayou,” Marla shared how she had taken words from 3 different poems from my book Bayou Song, and circled words that represented an element of art.  She then created a magazine collage to reflect those words and images.  While Marla’s complete presentation was in a PowerPoint slide show, the part that touched me were the amazing and beautiful collages she had created from my words.

Marla’s collage from interpreting the poem There is Always.

We had 12 dedicated teachers attend, and they enjoyed the time to sit and create with materials from magazines, painted paper, and other scraps.  The collages were varied and lent new meaning to the poems we worked with.

Then I led the teachers in writing their own poem by gathering new words from their own collages and selecting a form to use.  My hope is these teachers will take what they learned, their joy of playing with words and art, and bring it into their classrooms, but more than that, my poet’s heart was touched by the way my poems from Bayou Song led to more poems.

Collage from “There is Always” by Cissy Whipp.

 

Cissy’s Poem

Dance/Nature Triptych

I.

My dance is in the way
the leaves calmly curl and crinkle
under my feet.

II.

My dance is in the water
rippling, rising, rushing
around my ankles.

 III.

My dance is in the place
between land and water –
the muddy, mysterious marsh.

 

Finding the poem inside.

 

Kay chose the I Am form to use when her collage revealed things about herself.

Kay’s collage from the poem There is Always.

Hands Up High

Kay Couvillon

I am fiery red in summer beach walks,
I become lavender peaceful
with restorative yoga.

I hold my
hands up high
to the lights of
love, trust, dance, and
cold beer.

I am an
E. Broussard eagle
in awe of the
bald eagle’s nest.

I sway in the
wind of the leaves after
hibernating when I feel like
torn cardboard.

I love red, pink, and scented
geraniums in clay pots from
Mother Earth.

 

 

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Read more slices at the Two Writing Teachers.

 

The advantage of having a big kitchen with lots of cabinets is that you have more places to clutter.  In my kitchen, not only do I have a junk drawer, I also have a junk cabinet.  It’s right at the end of the counter where I place my purse, so it often catches things I take out when I clean out my purse.  It catches mail I want to keep and old cell phones, a gift card or two, and so on.

On Monday, I had the day off.  I didn’t have much planned, but I definitely wasn’t planning to clean out the cabinet.  I’ve been hearing about the art of tidying up as professed by Marie Kondo.  I watched a few episodes at my daughter’s house.  I haven’t bought the book or embarked on any life changing goals of being more organized.

However, I was looking for something.  Tickets to an event this week.  I was sure they were in there, but when I started looking, stuff started to tumble.  And before I knew it, I was looking at a pile of “junk” on my kitchen counter.  I couldn’t leave it there, and I couldn’t put it all back, so I had to sort it all out.

Before…

I found some trash: receipts from two Christmases ago, expired credit card, punch cards from out of business yogurt shops, etc.

I found some treasures: a can of cash that we were collecting for our food pantry, the tickets I was looking for, a gift card to a nice restaurant, and a pair of earrings I had bought for a gift.

Sorting, tossing, finding, remembering…

This was cleansing and satisfying.  A really productive winter afternoon.  This weekend, the bathroom cabinet.

Do you enjoy cleaning out or do you put it off, like me, until the task forces itself upon you?

 

After.

 

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