Posts Tagged ‘Carol Varsalona’

My summer is winding down quickly. I start back to school next Friday. But the Summer Poem Swap is in full swing. Tabatha Yeatts organized pairings of poets to exchange creativity, gifts, and poetry. My third swap was with Carol Varsalona. (Note: I still owe her my end of the bargain.) Carol is a digital master. If you visit her website, you can find pages of inspirational digital creations. She used this prowess to create for me a Google slide show. She also sent me a print form. You can view the whole slideshow here.

The poem that Molly Hogan sent me had a similar theme of peace and tranquility. Are these poets trying to tell me something? Or do they recognize something in me that I am struggling to find within myself? Poetry is a profound and powerful presence in my life. Thanks Carol for your creative and sensitive expression of love.

Marcie Atkins has the round up today.

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Laura Shovan is a poet who shares the love. For her birthday month, February, she commits to writing poems every day and shares the experience with anyone who dares to jump in to the party. Read her introduction to the project here.

I have joined in her project every year and find the experience challenging, inspiring, and enriching. I don’t know if I get better at writing poems, but I know for sure that this is a welcoming and passionate-about-poetry group. I am honored to host today.

In preparation for this month of writing, Laura called for images of found objects. I sent her this image of lotus seed pods I picked up out of the swamp on a winter canoe trip. They sit in a pottery piece that is also reminiscent of nature.

lotus pods

Diane Mayr was considering skipping today. And that very thought made her write a skippy poem. You never know where the muse may hide. I love the rhythm of the flower names and of course, the final truth.

Mama Planted a Garden
(a skipping rhyme)

Mama planted a garden,
but it came up weeds.
Oh, my silly Mama!
You planted the wrong seeds.

No, my little Missy,
they were the right ones.
A flower to a father
may be a weed to the son!

Buttercup, aster, and bergamot.
Maiden pink, dandelion, forget-me-not.

Columbine, bunchberry, periwinkle.
Violet, lady slipper, honeysuckle.

Always remember this,
my little daughter:
one person’s weed
is another one’s flower!
–Diane Mayr

Patricia VanAmburg did some research on lotus pods and found out there is a disease, Trypophobia—fear of holes. So she wrote a rather empty poem about that feeling of empty nest, one I know all too well.


Of what use this pod
Without her seeds
Temporary filler for
More fruitful flowers
But every life
Returns to earth
Fragile as the cradle
In an attic corner
Brittle as mother’s ribs
After every baby has gone
–Patricia VanAmburg

Jessica Bigi sent an image of a lotus flower while she takes us back to ancient rituals.

Photo and poem by Jessica Bigi, all rights reserved.

Photo and poem by Jessica Bigi, all rights reserved.

Carol Varsalona is cross-posting her poems on her blog. I love how she is digitally playing with the image as well. I imagine sitting with Carol enjoying a warm cup of coffee and the quiet.

A Hushed Quiet

As I sit by the window,
the morning sun
drifts on in,
singing the praises
of yet another day.
A zen-like quality emerges.
Rays bouncing from
winter white blankets
bring outdoors in.
A hushed quiet
envelops the room.
In a corner,
upon a mat of bamboo,
cut-open pods of grace
in triad formation
adorn a desk
of muted colors.
Indoor life merges
with outdoor sights
in a seasonal burst,
reminding me that
new life is waiting
in an early spring.

©Carol Varsalona, 2016

Violet also did her research on Trypophobia and wrote an erasure poem from an article on Mental Floss.  Who knew?  I certainly did not.  Thanks for the learning as well as the poetry.


skin crawls, heart flutters
shoulders tighten, I shiver
crazy revulsion to holes, bumps
images of holes, parasites
bot flies, worms, ravages of disease
pregnant suriname toad
lotus seed head
give people trypophobic
heebie jeebies
soap bubbles trigger

~ Violet Nesdoly

Heidi Mordhorst digs into the earth to consider how an anthropologist looks at things.

Day 10

once thought to be
an elaborately carved musical
instrument used
only on the wedding day
of a woman born under
the eleventh moon

it is now understood to be
a deliberately culled muscular
implement used
only on the winding way
of a man burned under
the oppressive soon

context is everything

Here’s another from Heidi. This one is a child’s wonderment at the things of this world.

Making Sense

First it’s something to see–
almost black among the greens and yellows,
scalloped around the edges like
crayon clouds or flowers,
clouds full of black hailstones–
or it’s a leopard-skin jellyfish.

Next it’s something to hold–
not weighty like a microphone
or a metal shower head,
but light and hollow, not plastic
and not wood, part smooth
and part ridged and rumpled.

Now it’s something to hear–
take it by the curving handle oh!
is that a stem? and shake, shake
shake–those blackish beads or
beans or oh! they’re seeds!
they make a marvelous rattling!

~Heidi Mordhorst 2016
all rights reserved

Donna Smith makes a simple poem reveal a truth of nature.  Love the alliteration, one of my favorite literary devices.  I think Donna is a little bit chilly in Maine, so she has thoughts of overcoats.


Purposefully plopping pondward
Out of open overcoat
Drooping, dropping down
Swamped seeds settle, silently sprout.

©2016, Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved


And Mary Lee chimes in with this little ditty.  She is a master at metaphor.

Day 10

when your plate is full —
seed ideas lined up in rows —
give thanks for fulsome seasons

–Mary Lee Hahn


Linda Baie finds the music in the lotus pod, the sound that remains after the blooming is done.  Is this a metaphor for life?

A Lotus Life

I remember that delicate blossom;
You burst with all life’s colors,
and the minutes moved,
the days passed.
More beyond the hues emerged.
You nourished;
we were thankful.
You gave all you were able.
At the end, the music remained,
only the music displayed.
It was enough.
Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved



To write my own poem, I turned to form and tried out a Bio-poem. Laura Purdie Salas used this form with 3rd graders this week. See her post here.

mystical, pure, beauty, enlightened
Daughter of Bodhi
Lover of muddy water, sun, and spring
Who feels spiritual, open to the light
Who gives wisdom, joy, and peace
Who fears storms, drowning, neglect
Who would like to see the ocean (Is it as blue as me?),
tomorrow (My life is fleeting.),
and world peace (Doesn’t everyone wish for world peace?)
Who lives in Atchafalaya Swamp
Who knows noble truths
Lily of the Mud.
–Margaret Simon

And here is Laura with another of my favorite forms, a Fib poem. Read more about Fib poems here.

Lotus Pod Fibonacci
By Laura Shovan

pods shake
rattle, roll.
Seeds fly. We stomp them
into the ground, part of the dance.

Molly Hogan was flying under the radar with her first attempt at haiku. This challenge is pushing us all to find what form fits best.

Day 10 –My first attempt at haiku.

Autumn maracas
Invite you to merengue
Shake a leg, baby!
–Molly Hogan

Catherine Flynn found the lyrics to the life cycle of a lotus at the New York Botanical Garden.

Photo and poem by Catherine Flynn, all rights reserved.

Photo and poem by Catherine Flynn, all rights reserved.

Buffy Silverman offers another haiku, which is the ultimate nature poetic form. Hard to capture a moment in few syllables.

dried lotus pods
shriveled and moored in mud
cradle tomorrow
–Buffy Silverman

What’s a poetry parade without Charles Waters? He bounced in with this sunshine.

Fuchsia covered buds
stretch out in praise of morning
revealing their sun-shined heart.

(c) Charles Waters 2016

lotus pods
seed mysteries
three days
of flowering
an open heart

© 2016 Jone Rush MacCulloch all rights reserved

If you have a poem for today’s found object, put it in the comments and I will add it to the post. Thanks again for joining us and for reading all the way through to the end. Mardi Gras ended yesterday, but this is a joyful parade of poems to keep you passin’ a good time!

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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.

Gifted students visit with Mr. Al.

Gifted students visit with Mr. Al.

I tend to be an optimistic person. I look for the good in everyone and every day. But sometimes life has other plans. Sometimes we just have to weep.

On the day school started, August 7th, one of our gifted students collapsed. She died two days later. This was one of those girls who was always laughing. She had a cheerfulness about her that was contagious. At a friend’s house after a sleep-over (and probably lots of laughter), her heart stopped. No explanation. The doctors suspect that it was a syndrome that occurs in athletes. Lauralyn was a normal 12 year old girl. She was not on the basketball court. It doesn’t make any sense.

With my gifted colleagues, we attended the funeral home. Kids were all around in purple shirts and purple ribbons. Since purple was her favorite color, her school had decided that Friday would be a day dedicated to her memory. There was a banner draped over a table celebrating that Lauralyn’s organs had been donated.

In between the sadness, students found hope. Amidst the loss, there was a gift of life.

I started a blog on kidblogs for my students. For now it is private. (I would welcome connecting with other classes, though.) I’ve decided to post a quote of the week. My class theme is “Mrs. Simon’s Sea,” so I’m calling it “Snippets of the Sea.” Carol Varsalona’s inspirational images make great snippets. Last week I used the quote from E.B. White and this image Carol posted.

Childhood Wonder by @journeynorthed

Childhood Wonder by @journeynorthed

I think it is saying don’t ignore your curiosity. And to explore and discover new things. So if you go on a hike or a walk in the park try to look at the world around you. Most likely there are things you haven’t seen before. You just didn’t take the time to look. Like trees, flowers, and even places that you never even noticed were there!–Emily

This week I have posted this image by Carol along with a video of Michael Jackson at the 1993 Super Bowl singing “We are the World.”

We are the World

I’ve asked my students to write a response to the snippet in the comments. I want to be intentional in making my students think about wonder, hope, and kindness. We don’t know how long we are here on this earth. We should turn each day into the sparkle of a child’s eye, the hope in a rainbow, the kindness of a teacher’s smile.

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Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Holly invites us to reflect on our spiritual journey. For the next several weeks, we will be writing about different little words. Carol’s word is Listen. I chose to write a poem today.

Turn off the sound machine.
Hear the refrain of a hymn in your mind.
Find strength in the silence.

Open the window.
Hear the sound of the rain on the roof.
Find solace in the rhythm.

Take a walk with a friend.
Hear her story.
Find company in connection.

Enter the world.
Hear echoes of chanting.
Find peace in shared sympathy.

–Margaret Simon

“The deepest source of real power lies in consciousness and the ability to be present in all circumstances.” (Understanding the Enneagram, 331)

My Enneagram number is two. I am the giver, the helper, the one who does for others before doing for herself. I can get wrapped up in helping and giving for selfish reasons, to gain approval or love. Julie Johnson introduced me the Ennegram Institute and the “Thought of the Day.” Today I could see the wisdom. Be in the moment.
Listen. Wake up.

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Find more Poetry Friday at Holly's blog, Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Find more Poetry Friday at Holly’s blog, Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Carol Varsalona sent out an invitation to all poets to submit to the Finding Fall Gallery. I had the pleasure of meeting Carol in person at NCTE. She has an enthusiasm that is contagious. I know she spent all Christmas Day putting together her FInding Fall Gallery. I know because I was getting emails and Tweets about it. She has graciously featured my students and myself. Please treat yourself to a walk through the gallery of poems. It’s a beautiful space to be in. Thanks, Carol. Link to Finding Fall Gallery.

My fall poem with an image chosen by Carol.

My fall poem with an image chosen by Carol.

Emily's fall zeno poem.

Emily’s fall zeno poem.

Vannisa's fall poem.

Vannisa’s fall poem.

Kielan made an Animoto video with her fall poem.

Don’t forget to link over to Carol’s site for more beauty and words.

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Find more Poetry Friday at Keri Recommends.

Find more Poetry Friday at Keri Recommends.

A few weeks into fall Carol Varsalona put out a call for submissions to her Finding Fall Gallery. I wanted my students to try some fall poetry writing. I pulled up an image gallery from NBC news. I think images make for richer, image-filled poetry. Many of the images were striking, and we had a hard time choosing just one to write to. So I allowed some students to keep their favorite frozen on the Promethean while others found the gallery on other computers. Kielan captured a list poem from different images and made a poem movie on Animoto. Emily remains the Zeno master with her Fall Zeno.

Sergei Grits / AP

Sergei Grits / AP

yellow,orange,peach,red,and brown

leaves are falling

this fall


rainy weather

scares the


because it melts

in fear


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Amy at The Poem Farm is hosting today.

Amy at The Poem Farm is hosting today.

Poetry heals. Yesterday I posted about my student whose mother died. Amy (who is our awesome hostess today) sent a comment with a poetry resource for healing, The Place I Know: Poems of Comfort, compiled by Georgia Heard. I ordered it for a mere penny on Amazon, a collection of poems for grieving children. Thanks, Amy, for the recommendation and for your kindness and for hosting Poetry Friday today.

Making connections online can be inspiring. Carol Varsalona posted a call for poetry submissions for a Summer Serenity Gallery on her site. The post is up, and I am humbled to have a poem in this wonderful collection. Carol put in hours of work. Please head over and back again and again to feel the gentle memory of summer serenity.

Deception Pass by Margaret Simon, all rights reserved copy

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