Posts Tagged ‘Diane Moore’

Link up with Teach Mentor Texts

Link up with Teach Mentor Texts

Join It’s Monday: What are you Reading? at Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey.

touch bluerules

After reading Cynthia Lord’s latest book Half a Chance, I decided it was time to catch up on Cynthia Lord books. I’ve found a new favorite author. Each one draws me in with a teen girl struggling to understand life and to fit into it in her own unique way. I heard much buzz about Rules. Rules was a Newbery Honor Book and a winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, which I learned this week goes to books that treat the theme of disability with respect and empathy. Within the framework of rules that Catherine has for her autistic brother, Cynthia Lord creates a touching story about a normal girl who builds a friendship with a disabled boy while waiting for her brother at speech therapy. I found myself gaining strength of confidence along with Catherine. So how does she face her normal friends and admit that her “date” to the dance cannot talk or walk? This story is empowering and real. I will add it to my book bin along with Wonder and Out of my Mind.

I’m not quite finished with Touch Blue, but I am again drawn in by Cynthia Lord’s ability to build a realistic teen character who is learning about the world. Touch Blue is framed with superstitions such as “Touch blue and your wish will come true.” Tess and her family live on an island off the coast of Maine. An older foster boy, Aaron, comes to live with them. I haven’t come to like Aaron too much; although, I understand that he has a tough exterior due to his rough life experiences. But Tess is trying so hard to build him up. She even finagles a way for him to play his trumpet at the Fourth of July picnic. In both of Cynthia Lord’s books, there is a bully. This is realistic to the times. There are bullies everywhere and our students have to deal with them. Maybe she’ll write one soon from the bully’s point of view.

In addition to reading middle grade novels this summer, I am reading poetry (always). My friend Diane Moore has come out with another collection. Departures is a departure from her usual poetry. This book is deeply personal. The kind that becomes universal. We all have those quirky relatives like Aunt Sarah Nell who always wore her stocking seams straight. We have all experienced the loss of a loved one. Diane has experienced many losses in her lifetime. Her poems express a deep longing to keep her heritage alive through her writing. I asked Diane permission to post one of her poems here. I have selected her poem Inspiration because it is a tribute to a teacher. Diane blogs at A Word’s Worth.

Being brought up to fear authority
I was not surprised
when my fingers
trembled on the keys,
fell between them,
ten thumbs wide
in one finger space
when M. L. Shaw stood
behind my desk
watching me,
the mistress of un-coordination.

Each smudged carbon copy
was the belt on my back,
my left hand never knew
what the right hand was doing,
I was be-handed by an ancient Royal.
How could I ever become a writer
with such uncertain script?

I never cut class.
She never rebuked me.

She held no ruler to my knuckles
but her raven-colored hair
with the precise side part,
matching sweater and skirt outfits,
the way she applied lipstick
with the little finger of her left hand
to make that prim cromson mouth,
placed limits on my ambition.

She breathed exactness.

And then came exaltation
the day I read that
the titans of modern lit
typed with one finger,
committed strikeovers,
and never made carbon copies
of their work.

She sent me into the world
keyed into an uncertain vocation,
but before she died,
inscribed a fat collection
of Shakespeare’s plays
in her flowing, exacting hand:
“I hope you’ll always think kindly of me.”
And my skills gained a pace,
my hands reached a standard,
the classroom was eclipsed.

I clocked out
at 80 words per minute.
–Diane Moore, all rights reserved

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Discover. Play. Build.

Today, I celebrate publishing. I love author and love hanging out with authors, feeling like an author, and making my students feel like authors.

vannisa writes of spring

1. My student, Vannisa, placed 2nd in the Writes of Spring contest sponsored by the Lafayette Public Library. Her poem is published in an anthology of winners.

Birmingham Arts Journal
2. My poem, In Blue Veils, was published in the Birmingham Arts Journal. Thanks to Irene Latham for submitting it.

A draping oak at Belmont Plantation.  Photo by Vickie Sullivan.

A draping oak at Belmont Plantation. Photo by Vickie Sullivan.

3. My friends and fellow authors, Diane Moore and Janet Faulk-Gonzales, have published a book together with the theme of porches. Each vignette features a porch of some kind. They held a book signing/reading on one of the most beautiful porches in New Iberia at Belmont Plantation.

A book to delight porch sitters, people who enjoy relaxing and meditating on a small porch or sitting with families and friends on Victorian style verandahs, telling stories and “taking the air.” The vignettes are quaint—some humorous, some tragic—but all incite memories of good times and relaxed hours “just porch sitting.” The cover is a photograph of glasswork rendered by Karen Bourque of Churchpoint, Louisiana, and the text includes eight whimsical illustrations by Paul Schexnayder of New Iberia, Louisiana.

Blood in the Cane Field copy
4. My mother-in-law, Anne L. Simon, received her first shipment of her first novel, Blood in the Cane Field. I am so proud of her and will write more about her book. Her book is available on Amazon, a thrilling crime novel set in South Louisiana.

5. Poet Laura Purdie Salas left a comment for one of my students this week on our kidblog site. I am using the book Math Poetry by Betsy Franco with my youngest students. They are loving the writing and blogging. Erin wrote about Pegasus in her addition poem. She was thrilled that a “real author” left her a comment. She said out loud, “I am famous!” You can read their wonderful poems on our kidblog site.

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Slice of Life Challenge Day 7

Slice of Life Challenge Day 7

Yesterday our sixth grade gifted students met the author of a book they have been reading for our enrichment Wednesdays. We’ve been using project based learning while meeting monthly focusing on the theme of water. We selected the book Flood on the Rio Teche by Diane Marquart Moore for a number of reasons. One, this historical fiction novel would help the students learn about the history of New Iberia’s discovery and settlement, and Two, water is important to the story. Also, the author lives locally part of the year. We were lucky to catch her before she moves back to Sewanee, TN for the spring and summer.

Our students were interested in how she came to write the book, her inspiration and her research. But I saw the lights go on when she talked about being an author. She didn’t candy-coat it, either. Being an author is hard work. She gave advice that she had gotten from Ernest Gaines when she had the privilege of taking a class with him. He said, “Revise, revise, revise,” and “The first sentence is the most important one of the whole novel.” She talked about how once she figured out that the rain on a palmetto roof would hiss like the snake for which the Teche was named, her book was ready to be written.

Opening sentence for Flood on the Rio Teche: Rain hissed on the palmetto roof, and Antonio felt like hissing back at the downpour.

Diane writes a blog at A Word’s Worth.

bayou iris

The Slice of Life Challenge has been revealing to me as I participate with my students. There is an immediacy about it. They rush to the computer and often compose right there. Then they hit the publish button. I am amazed how fresh and fun some of the writing is. However, the teacher in me wants them to be conscious of their reader and use correct grammar. I want to think about how I can continue the momentum while showing them the value of revision and editing.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge

Welcome to March and the month of the Slice of Life Challenge! The Two Writing Teachers have challenged me once again to write every day in March. My students will be participating, too at their blog site, Slice of Life Challenge. Please stop by and make a comment or two. They love visitors.

It is also Poetry Friday. For more of the round-up, go to Julie Larios’ site The Drift Record.

Last weekend I attended a Wordlab writing workshop. My friend and fellow poet, Diane Moore, led the writing prompts. She showed us the painting below. This is Lovensky. She was born with AIDS in Haiti. She died not long after Barbara Hughes visited the orphanage and was moved to paint her portrait. Diane shared her own poem, reprinted here with permission. The poem appears in her collection, Alchemy. I wrote a poem to the painting during Diane’s workshop.

Lovensky by Barbara Hughes

Lovensky by Barbara Hughes

(Upon viewing a painting of a child in Haiti, rendered by Barbara Hughes)

My mother passed her AIDS to me,
wishing me to be blind
so I could not see the wretchedness
in the streets of Cite’ Soleil;
my one good eye watches a shadowy face,
a woman smiling at me,
her wide mouth opening and closing,
murmuring like a dove circling my crib,
and my hands close around happiness.
I embrace her.

l cannot perceive the future
although I dream under a pink washcloth
that unburdens my many fevers.
I did not see Haiti’s trees felled
or the disappearance of the Creole pigs,
the hilly streets filled with sewage,
but I can smell the sweetness of orange blossoms
and Sister tells me she placed
a white orchid in my crib.

The wings of invisible forces brush by me,
I see stars I have never seen
on the ceiling of my memory.
I had a mother and a father and lost them,
believed in no one until I came here,
everything through a glass darkened.
Before that, I lived
in the footsteps of dying children
who left their auras behind,
silver dust that shimmers
in the dark air of Port au Prince.

Once I dreamed of kindness,
now I lie in its blue blanket,
listening to the bell of Sister’s laughter
and the echoes of my own,
to stories about my father’s place,
the one of many mansions.
We all know our destiny because we love,
Sister sings to me:
our spirits burn with visions of God
and the brilliance of heaven.
Because we love
we know this place of many mansions,
one of them is yours.

With my toes clasped in my hands,
one eye closed against the suffering,
I long to make my voice speak,
to tell her how deeply I hope
for the liberation of resurrection,
equality and harmony seated at a table
in one small room
filled with unfailing light.
Diane Moore, all rights reserved

My version:


The heat of your soul,
your fever, warms the blue blanket
you have tangled yourself into.
You cannot see me,
yet you cock your head
to hear my lullaby.
I am not your mother.

You grab your toe
as any infant would,
exploring your new world.
I want to hold you,
take away your mother’s curse,
the fever that seeps into your veins.
I want to walk with you in the garden
to smell the sweet olive,
give you a taste of sweet honey.

I cannot tear you
from the page you are painted on.
I can only love the pink towel
on your forehead,
the white diaper hugging your brown legs.
I can love the God who made you
and holds you now..

in your blue wings.

-Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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Read other Slice of Life writers at The Two Writing Teachers

Read other Slice of Life writers at The Two Writing Teachers

The last two Saturdays, I have attended the Acadiana Wordlab, an open and free writer’s workshop. Last Saturday, the workshop was led by Jonathan Penton of the online journal, Unlikely Stories. Jonathan read a selection, then we wrote for about 20 minutes and shared our raw writing. Then did the process again. I like the way these workshops stretch me to write out of my comfort zone, to explore something new.

After hearing a selection from Philip Roth, I wrote the following using a line I heard.

Nothing, you say?

Nothing is never nothing.
It is always something.
Something isn’t anything.
It is always that one thing,
that one annoying aggravation that sends
you over the edge, so you say things,
so many things yelled out with no
grounds, no real sense of what
the thing really is.

Nothing sets us off quite like
that thing
all the way back in your childhood,
that one something
you couldn’t have,
but you knew it was never nothing
and it leads to everything.

This past Saturday, Diane Moore led the Wordlab exploration. Her first exercise asked us to reflect on two paintings of children from an orphanage in Haiti. These were powerful images that led to some deeply reflective and sad writing. Her second exercise included a funny story about her family’s trip across the Western U.S. in the 1940s. Her mother collected postcards from the trip, beautiful hand-painted watercolor on linen. This led to writings about travel and memories. Clare Martin wrote this post about seeing a winged monkey at Cypremort Point.

I plan to go back to the Acadiana Wordlab this weekend and explore more writing ideas. You never know where the muse is coming from…

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A friend, mentor, fellow blogger, Diane Moore resides half the year in Sewanee, Tennessee.  I don’t think she has quite embraced the gray landscape of Gothic architecture and mountain mists.  Today, her blog came to me while I was looking out on our warm green landscape and feeling tired.  I loved her words and composed a found grossblank.  Found because these are her words.  Grossblank because there are 12 lines of 12 syllables.  Here’s to the contrasts of colors in our lives:

A Gray and Green Day

For Diane Moore

This neutral color of gray pervades The Mountain
This morning.  Gentle rain, iron-colored sky mists.
Pearl, charcoal, silver, gunmetal replace old gray–
Pessimistic hue no more uplifting than fog.
Color dignified by Gothic architecture.

To be creative, stare at green life, lighten up.
Walk in the woods; Alleviate anxiety.
Sacred shades of green and blue signify a new
Paradise of painted oceans, spirits lifted.

Poetry in emerald peace, trees leafing out.
Grass drinking dew, mint fragrant in spring memory.
Even the sky is the color of my opera.

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