Posts Tagged ‘Acadiana Wordlab’

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.


Magnolia, magnolia
My one little word
finds me;
open your eyes
to your own heart;
to what she loves.

I painted a magnolia
in cadmium blue and crimson red.
Do you see the red and blue?
To make good art,
first you must see.

I saw the perfect magnolia
hanging in my neighbor’s tree,
the one ravaged by a hurricane,
yet today,this tree sings
its magnolia hymn to heaven.

Now I see, magnolia to magnolia,
critical eye turned off,
yes, beauty, art.
Make this art.
Who cares about appreciation,
glorification, success (whatever that means),
just create.

I see magnolia to magnolia–happiness.
This is all I need.

–Margaret Simon, written at Acadiana Wordlab May 17, 2014

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.



Acadiana Wordlab keeps me in touch with my creative side. This weekend Clare Martin led us in a mysterious exercise. Well, she touted it as a mysterious exercise. In truth, she led us in open-ended prompts.

For our first round of writing, she had us each choose a page of the newspaper. I grabbed an article about Hydrilla, a plant that is invading local marshes. I was fascinated by the article and learned about this intrusive species as well as about the mythical creature for which it is named. My poem is more of a found poem, reworking words from the article. I can see this activity working in the classroom, finding poetry in the news.



Hydra, that nine-headed creature,
kept growing heads—two
for every one cut off.

This monster invaded the lake years ago
choking waterways, native plants,
and your boat’s propeller.

Beware! it grows over
and under the swamp, a nuisance,
a bother, a downright sore oppressor.

There is a plan from the parish president
to lower the level of water
dry out the hellacious suckers.

“Time to nurture kindness
to our natural ecosystem, to restore
the old cycle of flood to dry-bed.”

Don’t let your heart bleed
for this monstrous water weed.
Just allow the soft earth to learn

from her mistakes,
To chop off its head and wait
with a hatchet in hand to catch
the two growing back.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I’m taking a break from the ABC’s of poetry to take you to a room. On Saturday at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Valentine Pierce, a performance poet from New Orleans, presented a workshop for Acadiana Wordlab. She is a force in a room. She performed a few of her poems and had me rapping out the beats of my words as I tapped the pen to the page. For one of her prompts, she asked us to write about the room we were in. When I first walked into the room, Clare and three other women were wearing red. I commented, “I didn’t get the memo to wear red.” And then Clare introduced Valentine. So thus began my poem about the room.

A glance around the corner at the boardroom.  ChipperHatter Architects

A glance around the corner at the boardroom. ChipperHatter Architects

This Room is for Writing

I did not wear red today
to honor sweet Valentine.
I am wearing green
like the peridot of my birthstone.

I didn’t expect to give birth today
here in this blood-red chair
that pushes back on my shoulder slump.
Sit up, girl, and write a poem!

Shout it out like the rockets
speeding off the racetrack of the wall.
Lay your life down on the black boardroom table.
Place your heart on the frosted glass.

No one will mind if you cry a little.
They are crying, too,
for their children, their crazy aunts,
and for that empty beige wall

waiting for someone’s art
splattered in paint,
dripping down to the carpet
under our rock hard feet.

We stand sure;
All of us together
know that I will not be shamed
for not wearing red.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Please check the progress of the Progressive Poem in the right bar. I am coming up in 2 days!

The Writing Process Blog Tour continues with Clare Martin at Orphans of Dark and Rain.

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Find more poetry at the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted my Renee LaTulippe at No Water River.

Find more poetry at the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted my Renee LaTulippe at No Water River.

artist, genius, poet

Created in response to this quote at Acadiana Wordlab on February 1st:

My hand holds the pen,
glides over this fresh new page
like an ice skater on a newly frozen pond.
Why not fly? If your words have wings,

then climb on. Why not dream?
If your dreams incite
your imagination. In this room,
we are given wings,

genius wings of fire and ice.
Words will burn your eyes, make you cry;
Words will fill your diaphragm
make you laugh–guffaw even.

I could wear a red dress and black heels,
but that is not me. I am not a wild cardinal.
I am a steady robin, blending in with the earth
helping you notice the coming of spring.

Let’s come together,
build a genius-poetic-artist sculpture,
a structure that moves together,
opens up a symphony of sound.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Please visit Laura Shovan’s site, Author Amok. This month she is posting color prompts for writing poems and inviting poets to play. I have a few featured and am feeling quite inspired.

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

My One Little Word for 2014 is Open. (See my poem about it here.) On Saturday, I was required to be Open to a new idea. I attended Acadiana Wordlab. This week the presenter was Bonny McDonald. Bonny is a PhD. candidate in LSU’s performance studies program. I got the feeling we were guinea pigs. She led us in many weird movement exercises, all new to me. At first we did something she called flocking where we walked the expanse of the room “filling up the empty spaces.” We walked in a variety of unusual ways, such as with your right elbow leading.


All the while I was making strange and new movements with my body, I was thinking about my students and how we rarely get up and move. I wanted to transfer this energizing experience to my classroom. On Monday morning, I told my students we were going to do “Bonny’s weird word association dance.” For this activity, you must think of a word (one you love or one you hate). Say the word and pay attention to what movement your mouth makes. Mimic this movement in a whole body movement. Then flock around the room saying your word and making your movement. OK, yes, we all got a little silly. Then we sat down to write free associations of our chosen word. Following a quick share, I asked my students to spend a little more time with their words and compose a poem. They will be posting this exercise (if they choose) on our kidblog site. If I get permission, I may post some of them for Poetry Friday.

Back to the word Open. When I made the movement I associated with my word, I was surprised by the closed-ness of the ending. O is very open, and my arms wrapped an O shape in the air, but then the ending closed in a clasping of my hands together. I begin with being open, but I must come back to myself and hold it in. Here is my free association with the word Open:

Ginger blossom
Fly in space
Up on my roof
Space stars
Mint leaves in my tea.
Fill my cup to the top.
Open parachute — jump
down! Catch me
little star gently
on soft petals of iris.
Fields open to me as
I walk in space to the place
where I am meant to be.
Let’s sit here a while, you and me.
–Margaret Simon

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

This weekend I was invited by the Acadiana Wordlab to read at a poetry reading for the Fire and Water Festival in Arnaudville. I walked in to The Little Big Cup, a quaint restaurant that even has blue china in the bathroom. The cake balls are just the right size for a sweet treat, along with a cup of your favorite hot drink. There was a large table full of poet friends and poet-friends-to-be. Ten poets gathered to read! I wrote down lines from each poet, added a few of my own, and created this found poem.

Last night I dreamed the moon was burning.
She smelled of incense, indeed as special as a single snowflake.
There is no exhale on nights like these.

The moon sees everything in red,
eyes wild like the river.
Blooming ginger stalks, waves of fragrance paint the sky
All the way down.

Our vision is often smeared.
We don’t see the signs, or ignore them.
While poets print their poems on the back pages of a calendar,
our soft necks hold them dear.

–Margaret Simon and poets of Acadiana Wordlab, all rights reserved

Before leaving the town of Arnaudville, I stopped at Nunu’s to see what was up. There were demonstrations all day long, cooking, crafts, etc. I happened on a woman making posies. Do you know what a posy is? Karen explained it’s a small bouquet. She had a table full of greenery and carnations. She showed me how to make the bouquet in my hand. “Start with the lightest color at the top. Twist in each stem. Arrangements in threes are pleasing.” I made this sweet bouquet to take home.


The next station I visited was a book making one. The artist, Juliet, and I had an immediate connection. She helped me make a book using mat board and duct tape. I sewed pages together using a needle and dental floss. She called each set of pages a signature. We told each other of our father-artists and the artist journey. She even identified me as a fellow Leo.

Juliet Lockwood, artist in residence at Baton Rouge General, and Karen Willingham of Deaux Bayou Gallery, were my gracious instructors.

Juliet Lockwood, artist in residence at Baton Rouge General, and Karen Willingham of Deaux Bayou Gallery, were my gracious instructors.

A day of poetry and lagniappe!

Acadiana Wordlab
Deaux Bayou Gallery
NuNu’s Art and Culture Collective

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

john green quote

This weekly Slice of Life Challenge makes me write. Sometimes, the writing comes easily. Sometimes, I re-write it ten times. Sometimes, I don’t know what to say. Sometimes, I think what I say is stupid, or worse, uninteresting.

This quote from John Green, the author of The Fault in Our Stars (which is an awesome book, btw) really hit home with me. I have to do a lot of self-talk to convince myself that I have something to say. I want to be worthy of your time spent here.

On Saturday, I went to Wordlab. I hadn’t been in a while, so I forgot how stimulating and yet, frightening, it is to sit with a group and write raw and read raw. This week’s guest writer-presenter was Charles Garrett. He first asked us to write 10 American sentences. I had not heard of the American sentence before. Apparently coined by Alen Ginsberg, who rejected the Japanese haiku, the American Sentence is a sentence of 17 syllables.

The apple in his eye had a bite taken out, a black and blue spot.

Don’t say this is easy until you have drawn on the page left-handed.

Speaking of the black bird singing, did you hear the owl who cooks for you?

In a perfect world where lines are straight and black is black, no grey, I’m blind.

My hips are square in this red chair, but my mind is flying to the moon.

Crazy, right? Then Charles asked us to choose one of the lines to be the title of our poem. As if that wasn’t hard enough, then we had to chose a line from within poem 1 to be the last line of poem 2. Our brains were stretched and prodded and poked, but none of us gave up.

I combined these prompts with a technique from Ava Haymon that I tried with students last week, repetition.
So even though I don’t think I have written a brilliant poem, these writing exercises give me something to write and keep me breathing and healthy.

Not everyone sings in the shower.
Not everyone believes Namaste.
Not everyone digs in the hard ground,
or buys roses to bloom the next day.

Not everyone steals to feel worthy.
Not everyone wants a stiff drink.
Not everyone smells like a flower,
or washes their hands in the sink.

Not everyone loves their own mother.
Not everyone wears socks in the bed.
Not everyone turns on the TV
to hear what the weatherman said.

Not everyone reads The New Yorker.
Not everyone watches cartoons.
Not everyone adds sugar to coffee,
or stays in pajamas ’til noon.

Not everyone likes to write poems.
Not everyone knows how to rhyme.
Not everyone has the same gifts
or discovers them all in good time.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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