Posts Tagged ‘ABCs of poetry’

Discover. Play. Build.

This has been such a welcomed relaxing week. I am celebrating today with many others in the blogging community. Ruth Ayres sponsors a round-up. Click the image above to follow.

I Celebrate…

1. Easter weekend with family: Here we are trying out a food truck in New Orleans, Taceaux Loceaux. 5 Stars!

taceuax loceaux

2. Writing retreat at Bonne Terre Cottage in Breaux Bridge.

Bonne Terre Cottage, Breaux Bridge.  Photo by Chere Coen

Bonne Terre Cottage, Breaux Bridge. Photo by Chere Coen

3. Dancing at Festival Internationale in Lafayette.

My dance instructor, Lou, dances with legendary Zydeco Joe.

My dance instructor, Lou, dances with legendary Zydeco Joe.

4. Writing a poem every day. Today is Q, so I wrote a Questionku. The form uses 3 lines with syllable count of 4,5,6 and ends with a question.


5. Teacher poets community. Such a supportive place to talk about poetry and workshop poems. Chris Lehman is a wonderful leader and generous to give his time to nurture our creativity.

Join TeacherPoets community hang outs on Saturday.

Join TeacherPoets community hang outs on Saturday.

6. Connecting with teacher/writer/blogger Holly Mueller I sent Holly a copy of Blessen. She fell in love with her character. Thanks, Holly, for sharing the love.

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The master of the ode is Pablo Neruda. Today, being the letter O in my ABC series of poetry, I pulled out Odes to Common Things. This is a lovely book, full of wandering odes and fine drawings of ordinary things from spoons to oranges and even socks. I love to read these odes aloud. To listen to the sound of the language as well as relish the metaphor.

From Ode to the orange

the world was made
in your likeness
and image:
the sun was made round, surrounded
by peels of flame,
and night strewed its engine and its path
with your blossoms.”

To write my own ode, I only had to look for what I love and adore in the ordinary day. And it had to be mint. I brew tea every day with mint. I crave Thin Mint cookies and Dark Chocolate Mint M&Ms. I grow a pot of mint, and I recall the mint flavor of tzatziki on my trip to Greece. Italics indicate lines from Neruda.

Give us this day
fresh from the garden
overflowing wandering flower,
your scent
waters my mouth,
makes tea
taste of heaven
sent by Greek Gods
churned in the waters
of the Aegean Sea.
I relish your comfort,
by my side.
The scent of wandering spring
singing your song,
Glory to God; Alleluia for mint
wrapped in dark chocolate
dropped in M&Ms,
green spring
brings to life
my taste buds
and my love
of herbal scents,
refreshes my wandering mind,
tames this wild spirit,
hallows the good earth.

Today is Poem in your Pocket Day. Find a poem. Share a poem today. pocket_logo2

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My adventure into poetry forms continues. Today, I am writing a lune. I found this definition of a lune on EdHelper.
“The lune (rhymes with moon) is a very short poem. It’s similar to the popular haiku form of poetry. While a haiku follows a 5/7/5 syllable pattern, the lune’s syllable pattern is 5/3/5. Typically, since the middle line is restricted to three syllables, it is the shortest line of the three. This gives the lune a curve on the ends similar to a crescent moon.
The lune was invented by poet Robert Kelly in the 1960s. Kelly has been a professor of literature at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, since 1986. He is the author of numerous poems and short fiction. When he invented the lune, he wanted poets to have freedom of choice. Therefore, the lune can be about anything, unlike the haiku, which is expected to be about nature.”

On a drive near my school which is out in the country, I stopped and took some snapshots of the landscape. The picture has nothing to do with the poem. It’s just pretty. The poem came to me while I was listening to a feature on the news about deafness and cochlear implants. Go figure? I never know when the muse will strike.

Listen Lune

Listen Lune

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Discover. Play. Build.

Public domain image

Public domain image

I am celebrating another week of poetry. This was testing week. I had the time (while monitoring a small group of 5th graders) to read and to write. I spent some time with my new favorite poetry book, Gold by Barbara Crooker. A poet-blogger friend recommended it. I love Barbara’s style. I sat with the poem At VCCA, I Hear a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and Think of Martha Silano. I used the line This morning deliquesces. I had a dictionary nearby, so I looked up deliquesces. Then jumped over to the J’s. I found some great J words: jazz, jay, jettison, joyful.

I love playing with words. Thanks for being a part of my month of ABC’s in poetry.

I wish Storybuilder would appear in WordPress, but you have to click the link to see it.



The blue jay jazzes up to the birdbath
looks left, then right
bobs his head up and down
jettisons oak leaves and pollen curly Qs
lifts his nutcracker beak
to let the water flow down his throat.

I watch from the porthole of my kitchen,
think I should clean it today. This king
of jays shouldn’t have to drink dirty water.
This morning deliquesces, softens edges
of the dark night. I want to join
Mr. Jay making his daily rounds,
here and there, collecting
for his new nest. I would gather
blossoms from the fruit tree,
place their fragrance in your path
to let joyful praise of simple beauty
give your heart wings.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

For this poem, I just wrote. I didn’t change much from the written draft to the typed one. This rarely happens to me. I did play around with the line breaks. I enjoy reading about other poet’s processes. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater shares her process on her site The Poem Farm. At the Two Writing Teachers, Betsy Hubbard shares a process she learned from Georgia Heard. I celebrate being a part of a community that learns together.

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"I would love to be a writer if only someone would give me confidence!"

“I would love to be a writer if only someone would give me confidence!”

Why do I write what I do?
I often tell my students that the only way to get good at something is to practice. We all would rather a short cut. I know I would. I wish that I had stuck with writing when I was younger. I wrote often as a teen, and I was bad at it. I unearthed one of these diaries, “I want to be a writer, if only someone would give me confidence.” And as any writer knows, it takes a great deal of confidence. Confidence must come from within, though, not from someone else. But it also takes perseverance. And maybe I don’t have enough of that because I turned to self-publishing for Blessen and for Illuminate. Both projects have brought me great courage. Now I feel more confident in writing for others to read. I trust my voice and allow her to say what she will.

Writing a blog is about connecting. Through this format, I connect to other teachers, poets, authors, and readers.

I write poetry because it’s my passion. My passion comes from falling in love with poets. They are some of the coolest people on this earth. They can say what I meant to say and so much better. I want to be like Mary Oliver when I grow up, walk my dog along the bayou and write beautiful words. I believe the world is more beautiful, more meaningful, more pleasurable because of poetry.

How does my writing process work?

I have different writing processes for different types of writing. For blogging, I just do it. I save a draft, re-read a few times, and publish.

For poetry, I am usually attracted by a prompt. That prompt can come from anywhere: an image, a presenter in Wordlab, a fellow blogger’s post, or the site of a hawk flying over the highway.

Fiction is tougher for me. I have a strong resistance to writing it. Blessen took 6 years. I started it in a writing workshop on fiction writing. I had many starts and stops, months would go by. And now, I have readers asking for her sequel. I just can’t get myself to open the document. What am I waiting for?

Some of my favorite books on the writing life include:
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty
Views from a Window Seat by Jeannine Atkins (Reading presently and love how it feels like having coffee with a best friend.)

My National Poetry Month commitment is to write a poem a day using ABCs of forms, techniques, and tools. Today is brought to you by the letter G for ghazal. (pronounced “guzzle”) I am writing my ghazal in a form borrowed from a poet-friend, James McDowell. He writes using three line stanzas rather than the traditional couplet. This ghazal form is credited to Robert Bly and is called a ramage to the Mideastern ghazal, or American ghazal. “In its classic form, each stanza stands alone–has its own landscape, so to speak–and the theme of the poem is never stated. So the reader has much more to do than he would be used to in the contemporary English poem. When the ghazal has its full development, each stanza in a given poem ends with the same word.”

I wrote this loosely formed ghazal to a postcard sent to me by Laura Shovan. It ends with the Pantone color candy pink.

postcard candy pink sky

…candy pink sky

Purple-tipped clouds stroke the air
while the red-tailed hawk soars high,
a child points to azure sky.

Clipping waves ride the ocean
cradle the rocking schooner
air balloons a sail through sky.

Creator draws a straight line
separates water from air,
holds horizons of dazzling sky.

I am not old enough to
remember how war feels,
bombs exploding erase sky.

Heaven is here in colors.
Our eyes can see the rainbow
when the sun chases storms from the sky.

Every story has its lesson,
the one for Margaret is this:
Throw confetti to the wind.
Celebrate a candy pink sky.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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I am convinced that writing poetry is a gift from God. The magical words that float around my classroom amaze me.

I am also the mellifluous sound of a pencil writing on paper.

I know the title is confusing. Bad poetry? From Billy Collins? If you do not know the poem Litany by Billy Collins, then you must go to these sites and read or listen to it. Bet you can’t keep a straight face. In print on Poem Hunter.

Recited by a 3 year old on YouTube:

And…Billy Collins himself:

I explained to my students that Billy Collin’s poem was so bad it was good. They got that. Having primed them with this poem, I let them loose to borrow the structure, think outside the box, and create wildly creative metaphors. I was amazed by the results and would love to share them all. You can read them on our class blog: Slice of Life Challenge at kidblog.org.
The lurking line lifter struck in the wee hours of the morning, so read the comments, too.

I am excited about the poem I caught on this fishing trip. I was thinking about how writing poems together connects us.

Our Ship

We are all on this ship together
whether or not it sails.
We are side by side like the freckles on your mother’s face.
We are closer than the love bugs on the windshield.
You, and I, and he, and she.
We are not like the blown away balloons
at the 3 year old’s birthday party.
We are not the shavings of wood mulching the flower bed.
No, we are this way, that way,
you know what I mean,
intertwined like the vines of wisteria,
joined and connected, tumbling and reaching.
Give me your hand.
I will give you mine.
Let’s go on this voyage together.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

Vannisa wins the prize of being published on this blog with her poem. She just looked around the classroom and found metaphors galore.

Everything in the Classroom

You can be the air that comes through the vent
You can be the memory I regret
You can be the board I write messages to
You can be the painting that just sits
You can be the pencil sharpener, only useful when needed

As for I,
I could be the mechanical pencil that doesn’t need you
I could be the clip that makes you sit
I could be the eraser that deletes your notes
I could be the person who creates you, the memory I regret
I could be the thermostat, who shuts you down

–Vannisa, all rights reserved

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rough draft
I know this is an ugly picture. This is my journal page after struggling all day long with the double dactyl form. Ugh! I almost gave up. It was like a puzzle or a really hard math problem. Although, had it been a really hard math problem, I would have given up hours ago. I shared this process with my students. They could see me struggling. I would call them to attention and test it out, then shake my head, “No, not yet.”

The double dactyl form has so many requirements. I used to think rhyming was hard, but rhythm is harder. A dactyl is a long, short, short syllable pattern. Then there’s this rule that the second stanza has to have a double dactyl word. And who has ever heard of a spondee?

Most of the examples I read had a person’s name for the second line. I decided to use a book character and who better than the tragic character of Miggery Sow from The Tale of Despereaux? I found out by reading my poem aloud to my last group of students that you can’t quite “get it” if you haven’t read the book. I have to credit my fifth grade boys with the last line. High fives all around when they came up with that one.

My students are writing poetry like mad over at our kidblog. Please check them out and leave a comment or two. They love comments.

Now for my attempt to capture Miggery Sow in double dactyl.

Higgledy Piggledy
Miggery Sow was a
young girl who longed to be
princess like Pea.

Handful of cigarettes
perfidiously swapped;
Birthday wave brings forth a
queen wannabe.


Join Poetry Friday with Robyn Hood Black.

Join Poetry Friday with Robyn Hood Black.

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