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Poetry Friday round-up is with Irene at Live Your Poem.

 

The time has come to let you all in on a very exciting adventure, my first poetry book for children, Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape.

This unique book that combines poetry, nonfiction text, photographs, and illustrations with invitations to write and draw will be published by UL Press on June 18, 2018.

This week I wrote an anticipatory poem prompted by Amy VanDerwater’s exercise in writing striking words.

Publication Day

I’m flabbergasted
by anticipation,
dizzy with expectation,
nauseous
with nervousness.


I’m sidestepping
assumption,
antsy for predictions,
impatient
for beliefpower
to hurtle into
my psyche.

 

I’m dancing
with my destiny
with heebie-jeebies
and butterflies
splitting me into
a hive of many bees.

The day of publication is near.

–Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

I am so pleased with my illustrator, Anna Cantrell.  She was a delight to work with.  She is young and enthusiastic.  Follow her on Instagram at jarofpencils.

I’ve received a few awesome blurbs.  Love this one from Ava Leavell Haymon, former Louisiana poet laureate.  It’s probably too long for the back cover, but I want to savor every word regardless.

A love-song to the Bayou Teche, this inviting book creates its own universe.  I suspect there are multiple paths for us to enter that universe, but I am drawn in immediately by Anna Cantrell’s luminous watercolor illustrations, a gift to us from her precise observation and quiet love for her subjects.  And then Henry Cancienne’s photographs add another layer of beauty and understanding.  Then I come to brief paragraphs of information, enough to arouse curiosity but press me with too many facts. Then — what a treasure box this little book is! — Margaret Simon’s poems, each one born of minute observation and winsome appreciation of this  Bayou universe.  And nestled into all of this are Simon’s suggestions for writing a poem of our own in the manner of the one we’ve just read, and a little space right there to do so.  Experienced teacher, she suggests with a light touch and offers inviting tricks to make our writing easy.

This is a generous, generative book that gives and gives and does not make demands.  My fingers were itching to hold a pencil, a canoe paddle, a watercolor set, a camera. I leave its universe a little sad to go, but refreshed in my love of the Louisiana bayous and with my own creativity restored.         Ava Leavell Haymon

If you would like to participate in a blog tour, please fill out the form below.  Select a date that works for you (between June 18-August 18) In the comments, let me know your ideas for your post as well as your snail mail address.  I will make a schedule and send you a pdf of the book.

 

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Birthdays are opportunities to show a person how much you love her. Birthdays are also opportunities to share your love with others.

Like eating popcorn with chopsticks

Lynzee popcorn

And chocolate-covered strawberries

Choc-covered strawberries

Like finding this message on Facebook:

Ms. Simon, 30 years ago, when we moved home from overseas, I struggled in the public school my parents put me in to fit in. My parents seeing how unhappy I seemed changed me to epiphany and I was blessed to have you as a teacher. My mother adored you. As a teacher myself, I know we aren’t always able to see the difference we make long term in a child’s life. You are an amazing person and teacher!

And spending hours catching up with your birthday sister. The waitress says, “Oh, you’re the kind of friends who can just pick up right where you left off.” She checked in on us occasionally as we talked on and on.

My birthday was a celebration of Love.

My backyard on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.  The water has to cover the deck before it reaches the house.

My backyard on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. The water has to cover the deck before it reaches the house.

My state, Louisiana, is in a state of emergency. The rain has come down for more than 28 hours and doesn’t show signs of stopping. They are calling this the Historic Flood of 2016. My family is fine. Our house is on the bayou, and the back yard is no longer visible. Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers. I know of one student so far who has evacuated his flooded home. I will be posting updates to my Facebook page.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

 

Spring sunrise by Margaret Simon

Spring sunrise by Margaret Simon

First morning of spring, my husband said, “You’re missing a show outside.”  He was right.  I grabbed my camera and went out on the deck in my PJs.  The air was cool, but the sun was coming up sending a beam of light down the bayou.  There was a slight fog flying over the bayou.  My mind wandered to poetry.

When the fog floats above the water
like it is today, I believe
I could walk on water,
strap on my angel wings
and move toward the light.

Could heaven be as beautiful as this?

–Margaret Simon

My friend Susan brought me a seedling of a Red Buckeye tree.  Her note said, “I sprouted this seedling from a buckeye in our yard, so it should do well in yours also.  I would recommend leaving it in its pot until next January keeping it watered and in partial shade. Hope that it thrives for you. Happy Spring!”

I have high hopes for this little tree.  The problem is I usually kill plants.  But this one came to me in the spirit of spring, new life.  It must live, right?  It has angel wings.

red buckeye seedling

My red buckeye seedling

red buckeye mature

Blooming red buckeye

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Summer Sounds

Someone’s cutting grass.
The scent of it travels
on the afternoon wind
carrying a hint of coming rain.

Cicada sounds
rhythmically rise.
Beat of an outboard motor
bayou riding.

In the distance,
children squeal,
a baseball bat
tings the ball.
Cheers!

Mr. Mockingbird
tries on different personalities,
a long trill
of tweet-a-tweet tweet.
Then short staccato notes.

Take time to listen
to summer’s sound.
Slow down.
Sit around.
Sip some tea,
and just be.

–Margaret Simon

June Photo-a-day challenge from Kim Douillard at Thinking through my Lens. #sdawpphotovoices

Day 1: Awkward
I met this squirrel at a neighbor’s house. He was just sitting on the chair eating corn. When I went to take his picture, he turned as if to say, “What cha’ doin?”

Awkward squirrel

Awkward squirrel

Day 2: Beach
I don’t live near a beach. But the bayou is in my backyard, so I switched the B word to bayou.

Enjoying the bright red mandevilla blooms.

Enjoying the bright red mandevilla blooms.

Summer brings more boat traffic to the bayou.

Summer brings more boat traffic to the bayou.

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Possum

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life


The bayou creeps closer and closer.  A view from our back deck.

The bayou creeps closer and closer. A view from our back deck.

It’s been raining a lot. Last week, we only school for two days before we had two days off due to constant rain and flooding. The water has stayed a safe distance from my house, but the bayou banks are overflowing. I think this puts my pets into hibernation mode, but the outside animals, what do they do? Where do they go to find a warm, dry place?

I am not a fan of possums usually. They upset my dog and eat the cat food. They are downright ugly. But on Saturday morning, I watched one swim across the bayou and eventually climb up on our deck. I wrote a prose poem about his visit.

possum

I watch a possum glide in this morning on the overflowing bayou.
Days and days of rain have flooded the banks and perhaps his nest.
Foraging, this common marsupial wanders–a scavenger exposed on an overcast winter morn. Minutes later, he appears on the deck. The dog goes nuts, barking in the screeching voice of a teenager attacked by a wasp. But the possum—unfazed—doesn’t notice the commotion.
He is on a mission, his long snout waving back and forth,
back and forth. I laugh at his comic book white face and pink nose as he swaggers away, probably laughing, too.

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A Day in Haiku

30 Day Poetry Challenge Day 4: Write a haiku (a three line poem where the first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, and the third line has 5 syllables). Haiku are often about nature, but yours can be about anything.

During the March Slice of Life Challenge, a fellow slicer wrote a series of haiku about his day: Kevin’s Meandering Mind

The storm woke me up at 4:30.  The dog, Charlie, was upset.  I decided to enable his insecurities and cuddle with him on the couch.

Wakened by the storm,
Frightened, we cuddle safely
in each others’ arms.

It’s Spring Break this week, Holy Week.  I scheduled a facial and massage at the spa.

Melting cares away
Massage relieves all tension
relaxation time

Looking out on the bayou after the storm, I saw this egret fishing in the bog behind our house.

Stealthily steps in
egret fishes, alert with
head poised for the catch.

One of the goals of my week off was to repaint my bathroom.  Today, I went to the paint store.

Pick a paint color
Refresh my bathroom walls with
Gratifying Green.

My after school writing students do not have their break until next week, so they came over to write.

Counting syllables
Grace, Isabell, and Patrick
write their best haiku.

Living on the bayou, I watch the daily barge pass by.  Today’s barge was named Louisiana Sunrise.

Watch the barge go by
Louisiana Sunrise
churns the brown bayou.

Can you make a haiku of your day?

Taking the back way
Paddling on the water-way
soft bayou sunset

This video was posted by the 30 Day Poetry Challenge.  It speaks to the art of Western Haiku.

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My dream of publishing for young readers is getting closer to reality.  The book cover is ready.  The manuscript is at the printers.  I am anxiously awaiting the proof.  What a great new adventure!  In anticipation of the book release, I decided to introduce you to Blessen.  Here is Chapter One: Blue.

Blue is cackling something awful this morning. That’s how she tells me she laid an egg. I flip-flop down the concrete steps from the trailer backdoor jingling the matching gold bracelets, full set of three that I got yesterday at the Family Dollar.

I’m sure Blue can hear me coming, and I call out to her, “Blue! Bluey!” My voice rises up to a high pitch. She knows it’s me.

“Bock, bbb bock!” She starts her cackling again.

Momma says she cackles when she’s cursing. She says if laying eggs is anything like giving birth, then Blue is cursing out loud. I say she is rejoicing.

I walk toward the coop. I’m still small enough to be able to walk in and stand. I push the straw under my big feathery hen, and sure enough, I find a small tan egg under her thick breast. I hold the egg up to her close, so she can see the fruit of her labor. She smiles at me her chicken smile, cocks her head, and gurgles proud.

Blue has been my chicken ever since the New Iberia Sugarcane Festival last fall. She was my first place prize for 4th and 5th grade division 4-H. I grew the sweetest sugarcane right in my own backyard. The judges told me my new hen was called Blue Cochin, but I just call her Blue for short. It was love at first sight, I must say. She knows my heart. She knows when I’m happy and when I’m sad. I know she’s wise ‘cause she’s what they call a thoroughbred hen.

“Momma’s in a foul mood today,” I tell Blue in confidence. “She told me I had no business wearing this tiny t. She says I out-grew it last summer. Why was I keepin’ it around? I told her it was my favorite, and it is, even though it shows my belly button. I kinda like bein’ able to see my belly button. It’s a fine belly, don’t you think?” Blue just nods her head at me, agreeing.

“Blessen? You come back in and finish this mess of a breakfast you made. What you thinkin’ puttin’ sugar all over your buttered toast? You made a mess in here. Your teeth are gonna rot out for sure.” Momma calls out from the back window.

I pull Blue out of her roosting spot, cuddle her close like I’m holding a precious baby, and smile into her beady black eyes.

“How do my teeth look to you?” I show all my pure white teeth in a wide grin. “I don’t think Momma knows what she’s yappin’ about.”

Blessen is the name Momma gave me when I was born. It’s not a nickname like some people think. It’s from the Bible, Genesis:

 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.

Momma changed the spelling because I am special. Blessen LaFleur, that’s me.

I don’t know who my father is. Momma says he was the fertilizer. I imagine a knight in shining armor on a white horse lowering his golden sword over my momma’s belly and poof! I was created. Some people say he must’ve been an African American man ‘cause my skin’s so dark compared to my momma who is pure white like the Gardenia she is named for. My hair is thick and curly-brown while hers is fine and blond. The last time I asked Momma why my skin was so dark, she said, “That’s how God made you, Blessen.” I don’t ask her anymore.

I have a dream that a man comes to the door, standing tall, but silhouetted. All I see is a wide bright smile. Momma turns and runs into his arms.

Momma says we are enough, the three of us, but I can’t help but wonder who my daddy is and why he left me.

We live on True Friend Road in St. Martinville, Louisiana. My Pawpee’s old house faces the street. He built that house with his own two hands. Momma says it’s falling to ruin. The last hurricane sent a water oak through the roof. With the FEMA money, Momma got a trailer. That’s where we all live now—me, Momma, and Pawpee.

From where I stand next to the chicken coop, I can see Pawpee’s old house and the two rows of crape myrtles in full bloom lining the gravel driveway. Pawpee still trims those trees every fall with a cherry picker from his wheelchair. He says he’s topping the trees to make the blossoms fan out like a fiery bouquet. Pawpee’s quite proud of his trimming skills.

I chase Blue a little around the chicken yard, give her a little hug, and then flip-flop back to the trailer to meet the disapproval of my momma.

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