Posts Tagged ‘Catherine Flynn’

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One of the wisdoms I have gained as a writer is that writing with others creates strong friendships because writing is such an act of vulnerability. It is true for the classroom, for writing workshops, and for critique groups. My group, the Inklings, are true friends. They listen, respond with integrity, and encourage me as a person as well as a writer. We live far away from each other, but we used Zoom long before the pandemic, and see each other twice monthly. This is all to say that when my father died, they did what they do best, and sent me a book of poems. I sat alone with these poems and let the comfort and wisdom of words wash over me. I offer a video today of me reading each poem sitting out by my beloved bayou. It’s 8 minutes long.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Janice Scully at Salt City Verse.

Today I am thrilled to be a stop on the blog tour for Hop To It: Poems to Get You Moving, the latest anthology from the dynamic duo, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong of Pomelo Books. The call went out earlier this year for poems that children can experience with their bodies. When the pandemic hit, Sylvia and Janet, who are known for responding to world events with poems, gathered pandemic poetry as well. This book is an inspiration for poets, teachers, and children.

Order copies here with a limited time discount.

I have written a collection of mindfulness poems that have yet to find a home, so I submitted a few to Sylvia and Janet, who selected Zen Tree. I absolutely love how the side bar bubbles give more information as well as a paired poem. This added touch is what makes Pomelo Books unique and teacher-friendly.

Heidi Mordhorst and Catherine Flynn, two friends from my Sunday Night Swaggers writing group, also have poems included. Catherine’s birthday is today, so hop over to her post to wish her Happy Birthday and to read her Mental Floss poem. Heidi gave me permission to share hers here. We are bouncing, flossing, tickling, and breathing along with 90 poets. What an amazing party!

Next stop Poetry for Children, blogspot for Sylvia Vardell, for more fun news about this book.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Ramona at Pleasures from the Page.
Monarch momma in my backyard. Margaret Simon

Earlier this week, I witnessed a female monarch laying eggs in my milkweed. She was an unexpected, yet welcomed visitor. I watched while she flitted from leaf to leaf. I have gathered 10 of the leaves into a net habitat to wait and watch.

My writing partner Catherine Flynn wrote an etheree today on her site, Reading to the Core. Here is the definition of the form:

An etheree is a poem of ten lines in which each line contains one more syllable than the last. Beginning with one syllable and ending with ten, this unrhymed form is named for its creator, 20th century American poet Etheree Taylor Armstrong.

Inspired by Catherine’s Queen Anne’s Lace Etheree , I decided to write one about my monarch eggs.

Monarch Nursery

on milkweed,
seed for monarch,
still and quiet August:
Promised ingredient
to Mother Earth’s recipe
for autumn migration glory.
Like watching the birth of a grandchild,
I’m mere observer of this miracle.

Margaret Simon, 2020

For my birthday last week, Catherine sent me this sweet golden shovel. I’ve met many kind people in the Poetry Friday community, and Catherine is one of the best. We’ve been in a writing group for five years. We meet by Zoom (even before the pandemic) every other week. I am blessed to have such a kind and loving writing partner. Thanks, Catherine. The feeling is mutual.

“…all that might be gained
from opening one’s heart wider.
Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch

How fortunate am I that of all
the people in the world that
I might
have met, I met you, a kindred spirit, destined to be
friends. So much to give, so much to be gained
by writing together, learning from
you, opening
my eyes to new vistas, so different from ones
I know, reaching my heart,
helping it grow wider.

Catherine Flynn

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Poetry Friday is with Jone at Check it Out.

Poetry Friday is with Jone at Check it Out.

With apologies to William Carlos Williams, who probably had little idea where his sweet plums poem would lead writers of today. On day 7 of Laura Shovan’s ten found words poetry challenge, my friend and writing group fellow Catherine Flynn wrote an apology poem. I immediately grabbed it as a mentor poem for my students. I also grabbed my copy of Joyce Sidman’s This is Just to Say Poems of Apology and Forgiveness.


This is just to say…
I broke the glass dish
so thoughtfully placed
on the tank of your toilet.

A large spider,
camouflaged in
a clump of flowery
soaps, surprised me
as I washed my hands.
A cryptic tan blotch,
shaped like the head of a shovel,
covered her abdomen.

Forgive me, but
she rattled my nerves.
She scurried away
when I tried to scoop
her into a tissue.
My hand upset the dish,
sending it crashing to the floor.

I didn’t want to kill her.
I wanted to return her to the garden,
where she’d be free to snare flies
in her shimmering web.

printed with permission from the author, Catherine Flynn

Catherine’s poem was written to the same selection of words I wrote snake cinquains last week. Lynzee remembered this and my story of being fearful of snakes, so she wrote this poem (in the voice of Mrs. Simon).

This is just to say,
Your lawn mower has a snake in it,
I was trying to kill it so
I ran it over.

It was a garden snake,
Slithering along the grass
Like a tiny green rope,

Standing out against
The wheat colored grass,
Like a moving weed.

So I panicked,
And grabbed the first thing i touched,
The lawn mower.

I will buy a new one,
If you want.

–Lynzee, 2nd grade

We talked about whether you have ever eaten anything you weren’t supposed to eat. Andrew remembered sticking his finger into the butter. He grinned, “I love butter!”

This is just to say…

I ate the butter
out of the container yesterday.
It was delicious
like caramel chocolate

It was your fault
you left the top
open. Who doesn’t
take that chance?

I hope you have
some left for your
toast. I am so sorry.
I’ll try to buy more.

All I did was
stick my finger
in the butter. It
was out of control.

–Andrew, 4th grade

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Yesterday, my student Lani was featured on Today’s Little Ditty with a reverso poem inspired by the book Water Rolls, Water Rises by Pat Mora.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is writing a poem a day about daily Wonders on Wonderopolis.  I love how her website speaks directly to students about the writing process.  On Monday, Amy wrote, “I began thinking about the value of sharing our stories, the sad ones as well as the happy ones.”  Her poem was a before/after poem that held universal truths about the sadness of broken marriages.

There’s a sadness weighing on my mind.  It’s not my loss, but even when others suffer a loss, we grieve.  It’s the way of the world.

My writing friend, Catherine Flynn wrote a poem about Crystal Rapids in the Grand Canyon, but the poem was about so much more.  This stanza speaks to that deep grief that comes back over and over.

The path is altered,
a chasm opens.
Never fully healed,
full of fissures that can crack
without warning,
bringing us to our knees.” (Catherine Flynn)

Sometimes writing poetry is about diving into the sadness, entering in, and letting it all go.  Inspired by Amy’s and Catherine’s poetic honesty, I wrote this poem for B.  She’s probably not ready to read it.  But I needed to write it.

A Tree Grows near the Pier

when the sun rose,
so did he,
fishing pole in hand,
tackle in a box.
His heart full of hope.
His mind full of lures.

the boat lost him,
so did we,
as a tree grows
near his tackle box;
Its branches open wide
for resurrection fern.

–Margaret Simon

resurrection fern

Ruth has the Progressive Poem today.

Ruth has the Progressive Poem today.

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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.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

Use this button created by Leigh Anne Eck to post your Digital Poetry this month.

My writing critique partner and blogging friend, Catherine Flynn, wrote her own version of Some Reasons to Write a Poem by Bob Raczka from the newly released Poetry Friday Anthology of Celebrations. I commented that her poem would make a great mentor text for student writers. Then, of course, I had to try it myself. And with images. I’ve combined my words and images in two videos. One I made with my new favorite toy, Nutshell. The other I used an old favorite app, Animoto. Animoto gave me more flexibility in using my images. But I like the quick creativity of the Nutshell. Whatever video application you use, try out making a poem movie. And share on Twitter using #digipoetry.

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

summer sunflower
Sunshine is spreading all over the cyberspace. I was nominated for a Sunshine award by Catherine Flynn of Reading to the Core and Betsy Hubbard of Teaching Young Writers. This is how it works.

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger(s).

2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.

3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger created for you.

4. List 11 bloggers who inspire you.

5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

So to start, here are eleven random facts about me:

1. I was inspired to become a teacher when I was 15 and volunteered for a program called OLE’ (Operation Life Enrichment). I learned that I loved the sparkle in kids’ eyes when you read with them.

2. I finished college in three years. I met my husband-to-be my freshman year. He was in his 2nd year of law school, so I zoomed through taking 21 hours a semester. No problem because all we did together was study.

3. I painted pet portraits for about ten years.

4. My favorite fruit is a satsuma. I had never eaten one until I moved to Louisiana. The same goes for crawfish.

5. I can hula hoop for ten minutes.

6. I have a new addiction to dark chocolate mint M&Ms.

7. I was named for my mother’s mother (Margaret) and my father’s mother (Gene). My grandmother Margaret died three months before I was born, so I’ve always thought of her as my guardian angel. I named my oldest daughter after me (and my maternal grandmother), but we call her Maggie.

8. I am a Berry Queen. What does that mean? Read here.

2012-13 Head Diva, Susan and me, 2013-14 Head Diva.

2012-13 Head Diva, Susan and me, 2013-14 Head Diva.

9. I was the first female acolyte in my Episcopal church.

10. My husband and I met at the same place my parents met: The Episcopal student center at LSU.

11. It was all my husband’s idea that we start taking Zydeco/Cajun dancing lessons. We’ve been dancing for 3 years, our empty nest activity.

I selected eleven questions from the ones posted by both Catherine and Betsy.

1. Is there a “classic” book that you are embarrassed to admit you haven’t read? Yes, (hides face) Harry Potter. My husband doesn’t understand how I can teach young readers and not read the Harry Potter series. I’m running out of excuses.

2. What are your reading now? I am reading two books, Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” and “One for the Murphys” by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

3. Who is your favorite children’s book author? Kate DiCamillo! Love, love, love “Tale of Despereaux” and “Edward Tulane.”

4. What’s the funniest thing a student ever said to you? “That birthmark (age spot) on your face looks like a comma. People must look at you and pause.”

5. Tell something about the grandparent who meant a lot to you. I’ll never forget that my grandmother Ne Ne made me clothes for my Barbies and a whole house and furniture out of cardboard covered in fabric. She was amazing!

6. Where do you write? in my kitchen, in my classroom, in my car, in board rooms, in coffee shops, etc.

7. Do you have a quote that inspires you? Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese poem: “You do not have to be good…you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

From Betsy:

8. Where would you love to vacation? Greece; I’ve been there once, and the Aegean Sea is the most beautiful water in the world!

9. Do you collect anything? What? Yes, crosses (I have four clusters of crosses in my home.)

10. Did you ever learn to play an instrument? The piano. My mother has her masters in piano. She taught lessons to other people’s children. I took from Mrs. Jo. I loved her, but I hated to practice.

11. Who would you like to meet and what is one thing you would ask them? I would love to meet Mary Oliver. I wouldn’t ask her anything. I’d just want to take a walk with her.

My Sunshine Awards go to…

Laura Purdie Salas Writing the World for Kids
Pamela Hodges at i paint. i write.
Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts
Keri Collins Lewis at Keri Recommends
Caroline Starr Rose at Caroline by Line
Michelle H Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty
Diane Mayr at Random Noodling
Gigi McAllister at The Late Bloomer’s Blog

Clare Martin at Orphans of Dark and Rain

And your questions are:

1. What is your favorite movie of all time?
2. When did you first begin to believe you were a writer?
3. Who was your favorite author when your were growing up?
4. What is your most embarrassing moment as a teacher/presenter?
5. How many pets have you had? Can you name them all?
6. What do you love to do in your free time?
7. What is your secret fantasy?
8. What is your smell/taste memory of your grandmother’s house?
9. Do you collect anything? What?
10. What book have you read lately that influenced you and how?
11. Sweet or salty?

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