Posts Tagged ‘Donna Smith’

Welcome to This Photo Wants to be a Poem, a weekly poetry prompt modeled after Laura Purdie Salas’s 15 Words or Less. We invite you to write a small poem in the comments and write encouraging comments to other writers. No judgements here. Just playing with words.

Today’s photo comes from poet Donna Smith. She lives in Maine and recently biked near the Kennebec River. Maine is a place I’ve never been, but I imagine summer is for outdoors. Not like in Louisiana where you can only tolerate short bursts outside. Donna has returned to Maine after spending some time in Pennsylvania. She is happy to be back. On Facebook she draws a squiggle and writes a poem each day. Here’s a recent one:

The Stairs

The stairs go up
The stairs go down
They also turn and
Turn around
They go from here
And end up there
Just when you think
You know just where
The stairs will lead
You to a place
You’ve never set
your foot or face
But don’t despair
Don’t cry or mope
The stairs mean that
There’s always hope
Hope for a place
Of peace and love
Of open doors
And blue above
I know it’s there
And you can, too
Step up, step down
Keep stepping true.
Then all at once
You will arrive
The steps lead you
To full alive.

By Donna JT Smith, 8/18/2020

“Me and my bike relaxing by the Kennebec on a beautiful summer evening.” by Donna Smith

By the river
a blue bike
for a friend.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jone at Deo Writer.

Each summer I participate in Tabatha’s Summer poetry swap. Poetic gifts coming and going inspire me and uplift me.

My first swap came by way of email from Donna Smith. Donna has been busy selling her house in Maine and moving to Pennsylvania, so snail mail didn’t work for her. The method matters little when you receive a poetry gift. Here’s her poem for me.

poem by Donna Smith, 2019

My second gift was from Kay McGriff. She sent a notebook she had made by hand along with two bookmarks. Her poem for me is a golden shovel from a line I wrote on my blog during National Poetry Month. Both Donna and Kay included images from my life here on the bayou. I appreciate the time they took to read and learn and write a personal poem. We do this in the name of poetry love.

Golden shovel by Kay McGriff

Note about Tropical Storm Barry: Yes, we are in its path. We are ready. Our house is strong, and we have a generator named Sparky. All will be well. Thanks for your concern.

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

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

As is true for every day of life, sometimes things are good, sometimes they are not so good.  This week after our Berry Queens Hats and Hallelujahs brunch, I’ve been singing an old bluegrass song in my head.  If you know the song at all, be warned.  When you read the words, it will keep playing in your head for days.

There’s a dark & a troubled side of life
There’s a bright, there’s a sunny side, too
Tho’ we meet with the darkness and strife
The sunny side we also may view
[cho:] Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us ev’ry day, it will brighten all the way
If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life

Celebrating the Sunny Side today!

Slicing students.

  1. My students are slicing fools!  Before March began I warned them that it was coming.  They’ve done this before.  There were moans of “Oh, no!  Not Slice of Life Challenge!”  Everyday the first thing my students do is open up our Kidblog site  and type a slice.  The rhythm of typing is music to my ears.  Occasionally conversations were started over posts.  For the most part, these conversations are about the writing.

Two of my students have challenged each other with a bet.  They’ve bet a dollar that they can write the most slices.  One of them is up to number 15.  These girls are setting the tone in my room without even realizing it.  Even though the others are not involved in a bet, they are inspired to write from these classmates.


2. Comments from teachers.  On Friday, poet Donna Smith visited our blog.  She left poem comments.  She wrote about 10 of them, so if you visit our site you can see more of her fun brilliance.  Thanks, Donna!

You talk of the speed of light
Like the turtle and the hare
You zip through the topics heavy
As if they were light as air
Slow as an encyclopedia
Is how life used to be
Fast as a Google engine
Is now the choice for me!

by Donna JT Smith

3. Kathleen Sokolowski took inspiration from my students to create her slice today.  Wow, kids inspiring teachers!  That’s awesome!


3. I drive by the mural every day.  Here’s the latest progress. You can see my post about this mural here. 


4. I enjoyed the last of the azaleas blooming on my walk Friday morning.  These white ones open their eyes and spread pure Joy.

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

There are those weeks that seem to go on and on, yet offer nothing to be celebrated. Sometimes I have to look harder to find the bright spots. I am actually ashamed that I felt this way yesterday because this morning I looked through my mail and found so much to celebrate.

I signed up for a poetry postcard exchange. I thought the giving and receiving was over, but this week I got three more poetry postcards.

New Year poem cards from Sylvia Vardell with a Wonder Woman stamp.

New Year poem cards from Sylvia Vardell with a Wonder Woman stamp.

Poem from Donna Smith: Listen to the sounds crunching, munching, lunch a foot Leaves nourishing earth

Poem from Donna Smith:
Listen to the sounds
crunching, munching, lunch a foot
Leaves nourishing earth

Handwritten poem and card from Kim Urband:

Summer Storm
Stone-gray clouds steal azure sky
Lightning stabs, singes
Liquid silver glazes hills
Relinquishes to Rhapsody

–Kim Urband

This sweet, uplifting message from Joy Acey:

My body feels electric like new years fireworks
blazing in starlight.
I want to raise my arms
to twirl and dance in the moonlight.
Poetry fills me
and runs out of my pen.
May the force be with your poetry.
–Joy Acey

And an invitation to my daughter’s wedding in March. Here we go again!


This week I read aloud Preaching to the Chickens about John Lewis’s childhood. I wanted my students to know his name and to have a better understanding of the fight for civil rights. This book is beautifully illustrated. One of my students, Madison, was inspired by the paintings to draw her own yard of chickens. I love the personalities of each of her chickens.

Chickens by Madison, 3rd grade.

Chickens by Madison, 3rd grade.

I didn’t have to look very hard to find these celebrations today. What are you celebrating?

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link

Challenges can be fun. Challenges can be…well…challenging. Donna Smith posted a challenge to write a poem using all the lines given out by the visitors to her blog. She collected the following lines:

Buffy Silverman: ferocious women who never bring you coffee
Donna Smith: always leave a wild song
Linda Baie: dreaming women do art in poetry
Buffy Silverman: where wizards and wolves rush by in a blur of green and gold and gray
Kay McGriff: ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones
Linda Mitchell: waking the world to a new day
Margaret Simon: steam that climbs like smoke from a fire
Carol Varsalona: fearless women reach out, connect, and find joy in life’s intertwined moments
Tabatha Yeatts: little chest to put the Alive in
Joy Acey: wear loose clothing and a smile
Jan Godown Annino: I feel like there should be more stories out there for girls, and I try to tell them
Mary Lee Hahn: ferocious women do not exaggerate
Brenda Harsham: make a ferocious dinner that eats masks, drips truth and saves softness for dessert
Keri Lewis: radical at their core
Kiesha Shepard: ferocious women would rather drink the wind
Diane Mayr: out of endurance, exaltation

One of the rules was to break the rules, so I did. I didn’t use all the lines.

Here is my poem:

Dreaming women
wake the world
reach out
to find joy in life’s
intertwined moments.

They write stories
where wizards and wolves
rush by. Their stories
sing like steam
that rises, smoke from a fire–
a wild fire!

Ferocious women
never bring you coffee.
They make a ferocious dinner,
save softness for dessert
and a smile.

Take advice from us:
Ignore the awful times.
Dream on.
Leave a wild song.
Drink the wind.

To see other poetic responses, go to Donna’s site for the link up.

Now for a very important announcement: The winners of Here We Go! If you see your name here and you haven’t gotten an email from me, please send me your address by email.

1. Jane Whittingham

2. Joanne Duncan

3. Leigh Anne Eck

4. Linda Mitchell

5. Kimberley Moran

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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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Poetry Friday Round-up: Poetry for Children

Poetry Friday Round-up: Poetry for Children

Image created on tagxedo.com by Donna Smith

Image created on tagxedo.com by Donna Smith

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Summer Poem Swap.

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Summer Poem Swap.

In the mail last week, I received a poem swap gift from Donna Smith. While I loved the poem that seemed to be written just for me, I didn’t fully appreciate it until I read Donna’s Poetry Friday post last week. I could not get over the amount of time she spent on the process. In an email exchange, I asked her these questions. Her answers are in italics.

Did you select one blog post or multiple ones to get the word cloud?

I selected the blog’s main url, not a single post, but either could be done. I just wanted a larger picture of the overall blog contents, not just one day’s take on it. I was also afraid that some words would go together too much and sound like the actual blog post. I didn’t want it to be just about a post or a poetic rewrite of it, but more a “found” poem.

It was helpful to read through a bit of the blog where some of the words came from. I could remind myself of who I was writing to and discover more about the recipient, in case I could incorporate any information. I did some research on the “Teche”, not having been familiar with that term up here in the north. It was fun learning about another part of our country!

On your blog, you said you printed out the words and cut them up. Why did you choose to do it this way? I would think that you could just look at them and pick out words without the labor intense work of cutting. I wonder if the longer process led you to deeper writing?

You don’t have to type, sort, print and cut them, but I like the familiarity with the words I get with this more hands-on “direct contact” approach. Being able to move them around physically was good and did help with the deeper thought and connection in writing. Having them set for a bit helped put them in my mind where I could play with them some, too. It became easier to “find” the poem the more I got acquainted with the words. Cutting them apart might not be necessary for everyone. I would still recommend typing them to see them all at once and sorting them by their parts of speech.

by Donna JT Smith July 2014

the beginning
of a summer
a personal
to the clever
chatter of leaves,
the flight
song birds,
old bayou
voices and memes,
to the stars
in silence,
every life
is connected
to another,
and love deeply,
your heart,
your life,
in your corner
of the world;
time to write
the hazel Teche.
–Donna Smith, all rights reserved

Thank you, Donna, for the time, energy, and creativity you put into this poem gift.

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