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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

And now for something completely different…
I’ve been raising monarchs. I’m still a novice, and so I joined a Facebook group, The Beautiful Monarch, to learn more. This video was posted by Claire Holzner. It was created by her brother who videoed the first flight of many monarchs. Meditate on the video and scratch a small poem into your notebook.

Share your experience with the meditation and your resulting draft. Comment on other writers with encouraging words.

There is drama
in the first moments
of flight,
like the sudden cry
of an infant
born.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jama today.

I enjoy playing with a new form, and this week I had a few to try out. One was invented by my very own student Chloe. This has happened only a few times in my teaching career when students become so comfortable with poetry that they venture into creating a new form. Chloe was writing to a prompt from Write Out, a collaboration between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service. The prompt asked students to draw a bird and write a journal entry for a day in the city. Chloe decided to draw a peacock. Then she wrote a very P heavy peacock poem. The aha came when she realized there was a distinct rhythm to her words. Voila! A new form!

Her form uses the syllable count of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We talked about the number five and decided that Penta-poem (more P words) had a nice ring to it. There is an optional rhyme scheme.

Peacock by Chloe, 5th grade
Peacock Penta poem by Chloe, 5th grade

I used another Write Out prompt to play with Chloe’s form. This prompt asked us to write from the perspective of an underground creature.

Some of our Poetry Friday peeps have also tried the Penta-Poem: Responses to This Photo Wants to be a Poem and Linda Mitchell uses a variation with a found poem.

I was introduced to a few other new-to-me forms on Ethical ELA Open Write this week. Anna J. Small Roseboro presented “Take a Word for a Walk” like the 5-finger exercises that pianists use. Writing to a daily prompt is exercise for the poet. Read Anna’s prompt here.

Why Worry?

worry that I’m not good
enough to worry about myself when
I give in, worry for the sake
of all my silly worry lists
waiting for nothing but for worry.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Do you love to travel? I do, but my travel this year has been vicariously through a Facebook group called “Women Who Keep Traveling.” This week, Jan posted a call for photos in different color schemes. “Show us something green from the travel pics on your phone. The more random the better.”

I enjoyed scrolling through the random photos. This one appealed to me for our week’s prompt. The photo comes from Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR taken by Aimée Dominique.

Would you like to try a new form? My student Chloe invented a form she calls a Penta-poem with the syllable count of 5,4,3,2,1,2,3,4,5. She also thought about calling it an hourglass poem because the resulting poem looks like an hour glass.

Please share your poem drafts in the comments and write encouraging replies on other poems.

A maze of red hills
dancing landscape
ribbon stream
Seuss-like
dream
wonder
fantasy
hallway jungle
unique artistry

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.

My One Little Word for 2020 is Embrace. Little did I know in January how much I would need this word, especially when one of the no-nos in this Covid world is hugging. One thing I did know at the beginning of the year was that we would be having a wedding in our backyard in October.

Nephews enjoying bubbles! Photo by LeeAnn B Stephan

That wedding plan went on a roller-coaster ride and landed with 14 seats at the table (+3 toddler nephews). My wise daughter decided in July, when cases spiked again in our state, to cut her guest list to only immediate family. That included her parents, his parents, her sisters and their husbands, and his brother and wife. The officiant was her grandmother, a retired district court judge.

There is still a great deal of planning and stress that come along with a small wedding. There was food to be ordered, rentals to be delivered, a bar to stock, etc. Not to mention we invested in rebuilding the deck. The good news is we get to keep the deck.

Martha and Paul with three nephews
Leo, 22 months, Thomas, 13 months, and Charlie, 2 years 4 months.

The weather could not have been more perfect. After enduring a hurricane the weekend before, the sky was blue and clear. The temperature was in the 70’s. The bayou glistened with fall colors.

As perfect as the weather was, so were the bride and groom, holding hands, exchanging heartfelt original vows, and creating a new family.

They asked me to read an original poem. It appeared here on my blog. I choked my way through it. We all cried, laughed, danced, and sang the night away…into the wee hours…because we didn’t want it to end.

Year 2020 has taught me to embrace my family. This weekend extended my family to a wider embrace. I am filled with gratitude and grace.

Dancing on the new deck. Photograph by LeeAnn Stephan

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Janice Scully at Salt City Verse.

Today I am thrilled to be a stop on the blog tour for Hop To It: Poems to Get You Moving, the latest anthology from the dynamic duo, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong of Pomelo Books. The call went out earlier this year for poems that children can experience with their bodies. When the pandemic hit, Sylvia and Janet, who are known for responding to world events with poems, gathered pandemic poetry as well. This book is an inspiration for poets, teachers, and children.

Order copies here with a limited time discount.

I have written a collection of mindfulness poems that have yet to find a home, so I submitted a few to Sylvia and Janet, who selected Zen Tree. I absolutely love how the side bar bubbles give more information as well as a paired poem. This added touch is what makes Pomelo Books unique and teacher-friendly.

Heidi Mordhorst and Catherine Flynn, two friends from my Sunday Night Swaggers writing group, also have poems included. Catherine’s birthday is today, so hop over to her post to wish her Happy Birthday and to read her Mental Floss poem. Heidi gave me permission to share hers here. We are bouncing, flossing, tickling, and breathing along with 90 poets. What an amazing party!

Next stop Poetry for Children, blogspot for Sylvia Vardell, for more fun news about this book.

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This Photo wants to be a Poem

This is the first week of the National Writing Project’s Write Out, running from Oct. 11th through 25th. Teaching virtual gifted enrichment, this “writing marathon” gave me days of writing prompts. Yesterday we watched a video prompt from Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.

Ranger Makenzie asked us to write about what trees may say to each other. Rylee, 3rd grade, wrote this adorable little story.

I played around with a Zeno poem and posted this on Twitter:

Sometimes the universe is speaking to me. I went onto Instagram last night and saw Christina Nosek’s photo of a sequoia tree in Palo Alto, California.

Please join me in offering a #smallpoem in response to this amazing tree. Post in the comments. On Twitter or Instagram, use the hashtags #ThisPhotoWantstobeaPoem, #poeticdiversion, and #writeout. Tag me, @MargaretGSimon and Christina, @ChristinaNosek.

Marvelous giant
Canopy of protection
Messenger of peace

Margaret Simon, draft haiku

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Bridget at wee words for wee ones.

Pablo Neruda was the master at writing odes, skinny poems of praise that would go on and on, metaphor after metaphor, describing the most ordinary thing. With my student Chloe, we read Neruda’s Ode to My Socks. We discussed metaphor. Then I asked her to write a skinny ode about something she cares about. Gymnastics came to mind right away. She made the connection between the uneven bars and a tree, and off she went.

Ode to the Uneven Bars

A high twig
it holds me. I’m
a feather. 
Cartwheels
on air
that bring
me higher,
my hands
are explorers
that discovered
a path
to the
wonderful
world of
magic.

I hold up
my invisible
hands
that reach
from island
to island.
My hands
are telescopes
that help me
see the world.
My arms 
wrapping
around trees,
my hands
out of
control
going everywhere.
Suddenly
they fly
high,
higher than
the trees
that wait
for me.

Chloe, 5th grade
2018 Summer Youth Olympics
Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

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When we write poems to a photo, we enter a process of collaboration. A meeting between the photographer and the poet, the image and the words. In collaboration, one can have a conversation, an inquiry, or a conviction. Do your beliefs about the world come through in your poems? Are you communicating or responding? Are you participating or letting the muse take control?

I invite you to reflect on your process today as you write. Leave a small poem in the comments as well as a reflection of your thoughts. 

photograph by Molly Hogan

Perspective

The tracks rise to a point
on the horizon
disappearing into a mist.

We know
beyond the page,
the path goes on
and on.

Margaret Simon, draft

My reflection: Perspective is something an artist has to learn. If you draw two parallel lines, they must converge to give the impression of a continuing road. Our horizon line is not a finite place. The earth is round. When I think about this in a spiritual, metaphorical sense, I think of our own path through life. There is a mirage of an end, but there is always another turn to make.

Note to my readers: We are in the path of Hurricane Delta. School has been cancelled for today and tomorrow. We are preparing. We have a strong house (and a friendly generator named Sparky). I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

I have become enamored of the duplex poetry form, a modern take on a ghazal + sonnet + blues poem invented by Jericho Brown, the Pulitzer Prize Poetry Winner for 2020. I’ve read the description in this article over and over, and every time I see something new. In other words, it’s complicated.

Here are the boundaries:

Write a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem of 14 lines, giving each line 9 to 11 syllables.

The first line is echoed in the last line.

The second line of the poem should change our impression of the first line in an unexpected way.

The second line is echoed and becomes the third line.

The fourth line of the poem should change our impression of the third line in an unexpected way.

This continues until the penultimate line becomes the first line of the couplet that leads to the final (and first) line.

For the variations of repeated lines, it is useful to think of the a a’ b scheme of the blues form.   

Jericho Brown

I decided to challenge my writing group, The Sunday Night Swaggers, with the form. Challenges help to get us moving. (I hope my partners aren’t throwing eggs at this blog post.) I enjoyed this process. The repetition with the permission to vary it led to new discoveries.

To see more duplex poems from our group:

Catherine at Reading to the Core

Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone

Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

Linda at A Word Edgewise

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Old barn between Kalispell and White Fish, Montana by Jan Risher

How many of us have wanderlust? After pandemic shut downs have kept us homebound with theaters, museums, and art galleries closed, many of us have suffered from the strong desire to go somewhere else. My friend, journalist Jan Risher, hit the road a few weeks ago with her husband. Finding travel somewhat doable again, she posted picture after picture of our amazing country.

I was drawn in by her pictures of Montana. We were there only a few summers ago and enjoyed a train ride from Seattle to White Fish. To see more of Jan’s pictures, follow her on Instagram. To read her article about her trip, click The Advocate.

If the spirit moves, write a small poem in the comments. Please encourage other writers with kind comments. I’m sorry this post is late today. I discovered that I can access my blog on my school computer, but I can’t edit or publish the post.

Here where land
reaches up to sky
with a hand on the heart
of America…
We see
sacred space.

Margaret Simon, draft

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