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Posts Tagged ‘Billy Collins’

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Poetry Friday is with Catherine at Reading to the Core

Happy Birthday, Billy Collins!  His 76th birthday was on March 22nd.  

I introduced my students to the poetry of Billy Collins with this poem, The Trouble with Poetry.  The poem gives good advice about writing poems.

“The trouble with poetry is…
it encourages the writing of more poetry…
the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.”

I asked my students to steal a line and write their own poem.

The trouble with reading poetry is
that it’s so fun to read you can’t stop.

The trouble with poetry is
that you are to sit in the dark room
and wait for a flame of idea to pop up.

The trouble with poetry is
that Mrs. Simon makes us look for
what the poem means which is super hard.

The trouble with poetry is
thinking about ideas which is like hitting
yourself in the head with a rock.

The trouble with poetry is
that sometimes people steal ideas
and don’t give credit.

The trouble with poetry is
that you think your idea is bad
when it is really good.

The  trouble with poetry is
that you can have a writer’s block.

The trouble with poetry is
that you have to read it out loud to find mistakes.

by Andrew, 4th grade

 

Poetry Fills Me With Joy
Making me Float Above The Clouds
Like A Hot Air Balloon Soaring Above
After Being Filled With Hot Air
Like A Plane Being Filled With Fuel
And Taking Off
Like The First Letter Of Each Of These Words
Trying To Soar Off of The Screen

poetry fills me with sorrow
making me sink below the ground
like a balloon being popped
and crashing in the sea
like a plane crashing and burning
like the letters of this poem
trying to sink off the screen

By Kaiden, 6th grade

Billy Collins sarcastically expresses the feeling I get when I read poetry, and the reason I read poetry with my students.  Poetry breeds more poetry.  And I can’t think of anything better that a poem might do.  Thanks, Billy Collins, for encouraging my students to steal a line and try their own hands at writing poems.  

“ And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.”

 

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

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

Poetry Friday is with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

Poetry Friday is with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

This week I received an email from Heidi Mordhorst promoting a celebration of Billy Collins for this Poetry Friday roundup.  Billy Collins’ birthday is March 22. He will be 76.

I’ve actually had the privilege to meet Billy Collins at the Dodge Poetry Festival in the fall of 2008.  I took a picture with him that I cannot find.  I remember his humor most of all.  The tone of his voice, almost monotone, enhances the hilarity of his poems.

I’m not sure how many books I have of Billy Collins’ poetry, at least 5.  At Christmas, I had a Barnes and Noble gift card, so I bought the latest The Rain in Portugal. I read about half of it and put it down after I heard an interview with him that made me mad.

I imagine all poets to be gentle, loving souls.  If Billy Collins is being himself in interviews, and I would assume he is, he is quite arrogant.  He insulted us amateur poets as if we shouldn’t even try to write.  I decided to reject his opinion and continue to write poetry.  In fact I’ve written a few poems “after Billy Collins.”  So to appease my injured pride and to reject his lofty opinion, I am not posting his poetry, but my own.

Our Ship

after Billy Collins, Litany

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.

azaleas

Burst into Spring

after Billy Collins, Today

If ever there was a spring day so perfect,
so stirred up by a cool crisp wind

that you wanted to breathe more often
to taste the wisteria blossoms,

and throw open all the doors,
lift them clear off the hinges,

a day so bright the pink azaleas
pop open like a birthday balloon bouquet,

seemed so delightful that you felt like
running naked among them,

released from all inhibitions taking flight
outstretched arms playing airplane,

so you could fly on steady wings
balanced for lift and drinking nectar,

yes, you can imagine it,
today is just that kind of day.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

 

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Discover. Play. Build.

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

twin oaks and sun

Today by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

Read the rest here.

Today was just this kind of day. Open the doors and windows and let spring come in. The weather in South Louisiana has been incessant rain for two weeks. The sun finally came out. Every green thing is happy. The birds are happy. The dogs are happy.

dog walk in the park
This morning our local humane society, Angel Paws, had a dog walk in the park. Charlie loves other dogs. He enjoyed meeting new friends. He got a Cane’s kerchief and is wearing it still.

I watched a group of girls climb a huge live oak. I ran into friends and other children that I know. A great community event to enjoy a beautiful spring day.

tree climbers

I found this poem I wrote after Billy Collins in the spring of 2011. I have to say this is my favorite time of year.

Burst into Spring

**After Billy Collins, Today

If ever there was a spring day so perfect,
so stirred up by a cool crisp wind

that you wanted to breathe more often
to taste the wisteria blossoms,

and throw open all the doors,
lift them clear off the hinges,

a day so bright the pink azaleas
pop open like a birthday balloon bouquet,

seemed so delightful that you felt like
running naked among them,

released from all inhibitions taking flight
outstretched arms playing airplane,

so you could fly on steady wings
balanced for lift and drinking nectar,

yes, you can imagine it,
today is just that kind of day.

Yesterday my daughter was texting me pictures from New Orleans of an airplane painting words of hope in the sky. She told me it was a response to the unrest in Baltimore. We should all write our hope into the sky.

sky writing

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

When my students were working on their One Little Words, I discovered how much fun thesaurus.com can be. I was curious if there was a form for thesaurus poetry. A Google search turned up a funny metaphorical poem by Billy Collins. You have to love a sarcastic poem that ends with a love story between two words.

I would rather see words out on their own, away
from their families and the warehouse of Roget,
wandering the world where they sometimes fall
in love with a completely different word.
Surely, you have seen pairs of them standing forever
next to each other on the same line inside a poem,
a small chapel where weddings like these,
between perfect strangers, can take place.
See complete poem here.

The assignment: Choose a word. Write it in capital letters. Find 4 synonyms. Write those in a second line. (Pick the easiest word to rhyme for your last word.) Then write a phrase that ends with a rhyming word. As a class, we wrote this poem.

MAGICAL
Imaginary, mythical, enchanting, spellbinding
Potions of my mind unwinding.
–Mrs. Simon’s Caneview class

I let the students go. When one or two were getting frustrated by line placement on Kidblogs, I suggested Canva. We have talked about design before. More than ever, I watched them wrestle over design. One student got frustrated that every background cost a dollar, so she said, “I just made my own background.” She used the plain color background and added free icons. She also changed the coloring on the icons. I marveled at her quick turn around.

Digital Literacy should be more about the literacy than it is about the digital. Technology enhanced my students’ poems with design and allowed them to share their work globally. However, the most value was in the play and problem-solving with words and language.

Erin created her own Extraordinary design for her OLW thesaurus poem.

Erin created her own Extraordinary design for her OLW thesaurus poem.

Kielan's mother is getting married in June.  What a sweet gift.

Kielan’s mother is getting married in June. What a sweet gift.

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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.
–Kendall

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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I am so proud to be the teacher of the Louisiana Regional Student of the Year. I am privileged to teach gifted students. This means that once a student is identified as gifted, I pull them out for services each year throughout elementary school. I have had Kaylie in my class now for 2 1/2 years. We have gotten very close. On Tuesday, she found out she had won the Regional Student of the Year. First she was nominated by her school, then she competed at the parish level, then the regional level. Now she will be in competition for the State Student of the Year. This is a pretty amazing accomplishment for an 11 year old girl. She is amazing, though.

On Wednesday, Kaylie came early to class. We sat quietly absorbing the news. She told me she gets two free nights’ stay in Baton Rouge and a savings bond. She looked at me and gently said, “It’s because of you that I got this.”

I gave her a hug and said, “I don’t believe that for one minute.” But she went on to explain. She said she was not a writer when she came to my classroom. I made her a writer. That statement has been my lifelong goal.

Once at a turning point in my teaching career, my husband asked me point blank, “What do you want to do?”
I responded, “I want to teach writing. One day I want to hear an author on NPR thank me.”

Kaylie isn’t on NPR…yet. But this moment made my heart swell. I opened the door. She has stepped in royally. Writing is a major component of the Student of the Year competition. At each level, she has to write an essay on a prompt in a given amount of time. Obviously, she does not give in to the pressure. What a gifted writer she is!

Kaylie has won a number of writing contests. The most memorable for me was the LA Writes! state youth writing contest. She won first place with a poem she wrote in my class. We were celebrating National Poetry Month and the daily challenge was to write a bad poem. I used Billy Collins’ poem Litany as inspiration. Kaylie went to the computer and composed this brilliant first place poem:

Perfect Nonsense

*after Billy Collins’ Litany

You can be the watering pail in the pine tree.

You can be the left shoe on the roof.

You can even be-somehow-just-maybe the buttered slice of burnt toast on a Sunday morning.

You are NOT the billowing clouds.

You are DEFINITELY NOT the sandy aftertaste when a wave knocks you down.

And you are most DEFINITELY CERTAINLY ABSOLUTELY TRULY NOT the pancake swimming in syrup on the hottest day of the year.

Whereas I, I am the dandelion that gently blows away.

I am your mamma’s ruby red lipstick for dinner at her best friend’s house on Thursday night.

And, as you know, I am the spit-on microphone that sits lazily in the studio.

I am me.

You are you.

We are US.


A link to Kaylie’s Slices of Life.

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