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Posts Tagged ‘grandmother poem’

Join the Poetry Friday round-up with Heidi at my juicy little universe.

What was I thinking when I challenged my Inklings writing group to write a ghazal for this month’s challenge? Woah, who knew there were so many rules/ guidelines? I had attended the Poetry Foundation’s Summer Teachers Institute and watched a presentation about using repetition in poetry. The presenter talked about two poetry forms, the villanelle and the ghazal. So I said to myself that in order to teach these forms, I needed to write in these forms.

The ghazal is an ancient Arabic and Persian language poetic form. It has couplets (two-line stanzas) that end with repeated end words or phrases. You can also add that traditionally the author’s name appears in the last couplet.

Looks easy, right? Well, this definition was somewhat incomplete. At Poets.org, there is this more complete definition. And Molly directed us to this guidance on Tweetspeak. The most help, as always, came from the Inkling group’s dedication to the craft of poetry and to each other. Their critique was invaluable.

I wanted my poem to say something, to express my longing as a grandmother for the grandmother I never knew. This portrait of her was painted in the 1940’s when my mother was a young girl. It now hangs in my dining room, life-size.

Grandmother’s Song

She never held me in her arms long to sing.
Death took her breath–she was not wrong to sing.

Within her eyes a lullaby still stares
from a frame to invite me along to sing.

Her portrait-hands caress violin strings;
Like the songbird’s voice, they echo strong to sing.

Now I wonder if an angel sings to me.
I want to know whose song to sing.

I have her name–Margaret–a spelling tune,
like a young child, I know I belong to sing. 

Margaret Simon, ghazal, all rights reserved.

Click on the links to read more ghazals by our amazing poetry group.

Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Warning: This is another shameless Grandmother post. I received a wonderful gift from a friend, “Letters to My Grandchild”. It’s a little book with envelopes to tuck letters into. I love this idea because those books that you write in intimidate me. What if I mess up? This little book is just envelopes, so I can do multiple drafts before I place them into the book. Thanks, Dani!

I’ve been reading Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes. This book will tug at your heartstrings as Nikki overcame a terrible childhood bouncing around in foster homes and facing her mother’s alcoholism and schizophrenia. The memoir is constructed with poems and notebook entries. Each poem is a poem in and of itself. Because of this, I can share poems from the book with my students without having to read the whole book to them. The content can be too tough for my young students.

On Thursday last week, I shared the poem “The Mystery of Memory #3”.

Think food,
and nourishment
comes to mind,
but we all know
it’s so much more.
One bite of pineapple,
and my tongue sticks
to the roof of memory,
gluing me to the last moment
I savored a slice of
pineapple upside-down cake
at my grandmother’s kitchen table.

To read the complete poem, read Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes.

One of my poems came out as another grandmother joy poem.

Think baby,
and crying comes to mind,
that piercing sound
first heard as life.
But we all know
it’s so much more.
So many firsts–
first bath
first smile
first step
first word.

When you send me a picture
or video text, my heart
swells with joy.
Something new,
something yours,
now mine.
A tiny finger
wraps around my finger
tingling with love.

Margaret Simon, after Nikki Grimes
A gummy Thomas smile to warm your heart.

My second grader Rylee is not yet worried about line breaks, but she heard the rhythm and sentiment of Nikki’s poem and wrote this (hands off from me) in her notebook.

by Rylee, 2nd grade

With line breaks by me:

Think
of you
buying a cake saver
for your mom,
and she’s going to open it,
then she knows what it is.
She likes it,
then she is so happy
that she bakes
a cake.

Rylee, 2nd grade

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Six more weeks until I become a grandmother!  Last week I shared a Billy Collins poem with my students, On Turning 10.  After reading and discussing the poem, I invited my students to write.  What would I write about? “I don’t want to write about turning 57,” I said.

Chloe said, “Then write about being a grandmother.”

Aha!  Thanks!

On Becoming a Grandmother
          (after Billy Collins’ “On Turning 10”)

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like a little girl at Halloween
dressed up in a new costume
that itches at the seams
and yet sends her off in a thrill of confidence.

How a costume can transform you
into a different version of yourself– a witch,
Wonder Woman, or Cinderella–invincible
and transformative!

When I think of that little boy calling me
something grand or made-up– Mimi,
Gran Gran, Nanny–I feel wonder and joy.

I want to memorize the names of constellations
so I can tell him. I need to find that just right
picture book he’ll want to read again and again.
I will learn a lullaby he’ll sing in his mind
whenever he is lonely or sad.

Wasn’t it just yesterday
I was the new mom?
Worries over enough milk
and enough love. I know now
there’s always enough love.

–Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

 

 

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