Posts Tagged ‘Bonny McDonald’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Matt at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme.

Last week I posted a poem I wrote for my mother-in-law, a work commissioned by her for a local writing festival fundraiser. I commissioned a poem for myself and selected Bonny McDonald to write it for me.

Bonny and I have lost touch over the years, so I enjoyed our email exchanges that put us back into that comfortable place of friendship. You know the kind. When you feel like you were never really separated.

Bonny didn’t just take the questionnaire that was given by the Festival of Words organization. No, she emailed me more questions like
What makes you think of your ancestors, and what messages do you get or teachings do you carry in your heart from those who came before you in your family?

My answers to that question and to “Who is your favorite poet lately?” (Jericho Brown) led to this wonderful duplex poem just for me. I cried when she read it at the Zoom event.


A duplex for Margaret Simon, 
 inspired by the portrait of her grandmother, Margaret Shields Liles  

The mother of your mother is with you 
Margaret, still, a figure in a painting 

Margaret’s figure sits still in the painting 
Her violin poised to spring up for a tune 

A tune fit for a violin springs up 
For the child of your child in your lap 

Oh child of my child, a song for you 
I wrote a few verses to leave with you 

Now to leave them is what’s left to do 
A note resonates with the lift of the bow 

A note resonates a little while  
Harmonics hold to a foundation 

Your grandchildren hold you to the place where
The mother of your mother is with you 

Bonny McDonald, all rights reserved
This portrait of my grandmother Margaret hangs in my dining room.

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It’s Poetry Friday and Love Poetry Night. Tonight at A&E Gallery in New Iberia, we will gather and love poets and poetry. The event begins at 6:00 PM with open mic. The featured poets are Clare Martin and Bonny McDonald.

I’ll be reading this poem during Open Mic, dedicated to my one true love.

The Kiss

I can remember where I put my keys,
How many eggs are left in the refrigerator.
I can remember the dance step
we practiced over and over.

I cannot remember the line in the poem
The one after the knees in the desert.
I can’t remember what you said
before you went to sleep.

I do remember the kiss,
not that particular kiss but every kiss,
gentle on my cheek,
telling me you are near. You are here,
We are here—remember.

Margaret Simon

Find more poetry at the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by Linda Baie at Teacher Dance.

Find more poetry at the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by Linda Baie at Teacher Dance.

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Another and another…
This week my students and I wrote word association poems after a movement exercise I learned from Bonny McDonald. See the post about that activity here.

I found it interesting (and so did they) where their original word led them. I wanted to make word clouds with them but am having some technical difficulty.


A fruit
Has cousins
like banana,
orange and
which bloom
in Spring
with cousins
like Fall,
Winter and
Fall has
red, yellow
orange and
brown leaves
falling everywhere
Winter has
ice and
is cold
Summer is
hot and
dry with
people swimming
at the
beach with
sand flying
people surfing
and having
fun all
from the
word apple.
by Tyler

Brooklyn chose a word that she didn’t like.








Join the Poetry Friday Round up at Keri Recommends.  Happy Birthday to Keri!

Join the Poetry Friday Round up at Keri Recommends. Happy Birthday to Keri!

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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

This was my first year to participate in the Festival of Words in Grand Coteau. Grand Coteau is a small historical town about 35 miles north of New Iberia. This summer I met and chatted with Patrice Melnick, author of a new memoir Po-boy Contraband and owner of an artisan shop, Casa Azul. In late September, she hosted a reading and book signing for me. We made a connection, and she invited me to come back for the Festival of Words. I loved the feel of her place, artsy and comfortable, and the feel of the town with the main street lined with Cajun cottages.

The Festival of Words began with an awards ceremony on Thursday evening for the winners of the writing contest. I was privileged to have a student winner, so I picked her up after school, and we drove the hour to the Sunset library, just west of Grand Coteau. She commented that she loved the name of the town “Sunset.” At the awards ceremony, I introduced my student to two state poets laureate, Darrell Bourque and Julie Kane.

My student poetry winner meets the current state poet laureate, Julie Kane.

Following the open mic when students read, we enjoyed two performance poets, Bonny McDonald and Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore. Here is a video I took of Bonny’s performance of “To A natural in E flat.”

On Saturday, I ventured back to Grand Coteau and the Festival of Words. I attended a fiction writing workshop with Randall Kenan. The workshop was small and intimate and we wrote and talked and wrote and talked, the best kind of workshop to me. In the afternoon, I attended Julie Kane’s poetry workshop. Again it was a small group. She talked to us about forms and had us try out combining a praise poem with using the same first word in each line. We brainstormed ideas for mundane things to write about. We wrote about fingernail clippers, mosquitoes, and a volume knob. I wrote about grass. I was actually satisfied with the result.

For today I will step lightly
For your tenderness
For the light of sun upon your greenliness
For tickling my belly
For wriggling between my toes
For your fresh sweet scent
For the settled earth you draw strength from
For your canvas of wildflowers
For clover crowns
For hiding rolly-pollies, fleas, and snakes
For grass.

I wish I had stayed for more readings, but the day was growing long, and my mind weary, but I’ll be back next year.

Students from area high schools did drive-by poetry. Here a student reads aloud a poem by Julie Kane to Julie Kane. She delighted in hearing her own poems performed by these talented students.

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