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Posts Tagged ‘altered books’

NPM2016

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

This week was state testing week. We made it through. Because I am an extra teacher, I was assigned a small group to test. The routine was changed. I stayed at one school all day.

When on Friday the test was over, I resumed my routine. My students were so excited to see me again. They truly missed me. I think they also missed the flexibility of our days. It was as though they could breathe again.

I celebrate the love I share with my students while I am sad to realize the year is quickly coming to an end. So many activities planned; end-of-the-year picnics, talent shows, and field trips will interrupt my class again and again.

I want to stay calm about it all, so I planned a creative end-of-the-year project. We are making re-purposed books. They will paint the pages of a discarded book and add art and writing to them. They are already excited, and the mess making has begun. I celebrate creativity and mess making.

I am altering a book as well. This inspires the creative side of me. No one sees it, really, so I let go of my inhibitions about my art talent and just do it. Here’s a page I’ve painted waiting for a poem.

kaleidoscope

Pass the scissors
then the glue;
I am pasting poems
in a book.

Make a mess
filling the pages
with happy words.

Anyone can make a book.
Let’s make a book today!

National Poetry Month is at the end. I thought it would never come. Writing a poem a day has been a challenge. I celebrate all the poets out there writing daily and inspiring me and my students to do the same.

I celebrate Irene Latham who blogs here. She generously Skyped with my students on Poem in your Pocket Day. She listened patiently while they shared their own poems and responded with nothing but kindness. She even answered a question about whether or not she felt haunted. (Kids say the darnedest things.) But Irene handled it like a champ. She told my students that she likes to visit graveyards and feel the presence of people who have gone before.

Irene offered excellent advice about finding new words; brainstorm a list of words about your topic. Then mark them all out and start again. This forces you to find new and unusual words.

I also want to thank Laura Purdie Salas whose putrid poetry gave my students permission to write about poop and other yucky stuff.

And what would NPM be without Amy Ludwig VanDerwater? She wondered with us all month long and inspired my students to write about their world.

Thank you to all my readers who stuck with me each day as I attempted to entertain the poetic muse. Here’s to another wonderful National Poetry Month. Do not be mistaken, though. Poetry is made for every day!

Donna has the final line to the Progressive Poem and it is just right!

Donna has the final line to the Progressive Poem and it is just right!

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

For the last two years, I have made an altered book using poems I have written beside my students. An altered book is a hardback book that has outlived its time, been discarded from the library, or left behind at Goodwill. I usually try to find ones with fairly large pages that are sewn, not glued, to the binding. I take out some of the pages and glue a few together to thicken each page and create space. Then I use Gesso and paint to cover the pages. My students have the option to make an altered book for their poetry project.

Here are a few of my favorite pages from my book this year. Vannisa found the sign, “Keep Calm and Write Poetry” that became my front cover. The marbleized paper was made using a technique with chalk and water. I covered some of my pages with gelli-printed papers. When I work on my altered book, I enter Flow, a term Csikszentmihalyi used to describe that zone of creativity one enters when something is at the right level of challenge. Flow is energizing and motivating.

Altered book cover

Altered book cover

Page one begins with A for anaphora

Page one begins with A for anaphora

Making a collage of printed paper makes an interesting background.

Making a collage of printed paper makes an interesting background.


Images fuel my writing.

Images fuel my writing.

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Discover. Play. Build.

This was my last week with my students for this school year. I always get reflective at this time of year, wondering if I’ve done enough for my students. So yesterday, our last day together, I asked them to write me a letter. I asked 1. What do you remember about our school year? 2. What was your favorite activity? and 3. What was your greatest lesson? For the most part, I was touched by their letters. I just want to share a few quotes and celebrate them.

This year we got to meet Caroline Starr Rose and Greg Pincus! We went to Mississippi! We saw a haunted house! But most of all, we bonded like a family. That was my favorite activity. My greatest lesson is that you don’t have to be famous, or super smart, or handsome, or even popular to be loved. Matthew

My greatest lesson I’ve learned from being here is to not be afraid to make mistakes as a writer and in life. Mistakes will help you to become a better person. No one is perfect and sometimes all of us forget that. Brooklyn

My students finished their poetry projects. They made altered books out of discarded books. They illustrated and glued in their own poems and some favorite poems by other authors. Vannisa put in a collection of some her favorites from the school year, a bookmark from Margarita Engle, A bookmark from Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, and “Keep Calm and Write Poetry.”

Vannisa's poetry book

Brooklyn's poetry book cover.  Gotta Love Poetry!

Brooklyn’s poetry book cover. Gotta Love Poetry!


Today, I am also celebrating magnolias. They are in full bloom, our state flower, and I went to a watercolor workshop this morning and painted one. I am posting a picture of a real one from my neighbor’s yard and the one I painted. Wish I could also post the scent.

Watercolor magnolia by Margaret Simon.

Watercolor magnolia by Margaret Simon.

Magnolia, the Louisiana state flower.

Magnolia, the Louisiana state flower.

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I’ve written about altered books before. I really enjoy losing my self in this project. I started working on one with my students and was determined to finish it. I left the art supplies out in the classroom, so I could paint a page, let it dry while I did paperwork, until eventually I had collected all the poems I wrote this school year. Most of them were posted on our class blogs as models. Now I have a keepsake for the year as well as my own personal book of model poems.

Found poem about bees

Found poem about bees

Found Poem about Bees can be read here.

I am From poem

I am From poem

Mother Nature (A Preposition Poem)

Mother Nature (A Preposition Poem)

Poetry Friday is hosted this week at Betsy at Teaching Young Writers.

Poetry Friday is hosted this week at Betsy at Teaching Young Writers.

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30 Days of Thanks: Day 4: I am thankful for friends who support my writing, even when they are not writers themselves.

My friend Cathy is not a writer. Cathy is not even much of a reader. But she loves me and supports my writing life in sweet ways. When I had my first book signing, she showed up with gifts from the Piggly Wiggly in St. Martinville, a t-shirt, spicy salt, and white bread. Recently, she gave me a bag of books. She said, “I found some books on writing you might like.”

I kept the bag in the trunk of my car for about a week. When I did take the books out, I had a negative reaction. They were old discarded books from the library. I brought one of the books inside with thoughts of turning it into an altered book. See this post.

I subscribe to a weekly e-newsletter from Poets and Writers, The Time is Now writing prompts. Last week, the poetry writing exercise was about erasure poetry, taking a piece of text and selecting words while blacking out the rest. This sounded like a good thing to try with my new old book about writing.

The first chapter, “Simplicity” garnered this poem:

Who can understand
your vicious language
everyday–
Strip
every
sentence-
Simplify, simplify.

I love to be alone,
a man thinking
clearly, clearly,
not lost
no fuzz
logic

naturally takes self- discipline, self-
knowledge.
Writing
is
hard work.

So this book was speaking to me. Helping me think about writing. Maybe it was not such an outdated book. I tried this exercise again with Chapter 2: “Clutter.” This was becoming a fun obsession.

I decided to remove the paper cover. As I was hanging by the trashcan to throw it away, I read the bio of the author. Typically nerdy picture, old-fashioned dark-rimmed glasses. He stared at me from a time long ago saying he knew what he is doing. “Probably dead,” I thought. What did I do? Googled him. Then I got stuck, drawn in to this world of knowledge and an endless list of articles from The American Scholar.

I had discovered William Zinsser. He’s not dead, either. He’s 90 years old and apparently still writing. And who is he writing for? Why, me, of course!

Here is William Zinsser’s Wisdom for Women Writers: “Women Writers! You must give yourself permission, by a daily act of will, to believe in your remembered truth. Do not remain nameless to yourself. Only you can turn the switch; nobody is going to do it for you.”

Thanks, Wise William, and Thanks, Cathy. I am grateful for your support.

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