Posts Tagged ‘Illuminate’

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Buffy Silverman.

This post is dedicated to the memory of my father, Dr. John Y Gibson. In 2013 to celebrate his 80th birthday, we created a book together. Illuminate features ten of his Christmas card drawings alongside my poems. Today would be his 89th birthday. He passed away on April 22, 2022.

Patricia Franz offered to teach some of us bloggers how to use Canva to make videos. I forgot all about the Zoom meeting on Monday, but she graciously recorded it and sent me a link. I decided to make a video with some of my father’s drawings and a poem I wrote for him in 2008. It’s my first attempt, but Canva and Patricia’s guidance made it fairly easy to do. Thanks, Patricia.

Light comes out of darkness. As an artist, I want to tell you that in my ink drawings it is the darkest dark that reveals the brightest light. So it seems also in life.

John Y. Gibson
A poem video “My Father’s Drawing” by Margaret Simon

My Father’s Drawing

Dots of ink and graphite rise in tension with paper
to form a likeness of mother and child.
The wild contrast of darks to light
plays in harmony creating a vision of love.

In the meantime, I grew up,
became a mother with children
living away from my father.
His words came to me in thank you notes
and birthday cards, an occasional phone call.

Yet everyday, I look at his drawing–
the dots of pointillism reach out from the wall
and grant me an audience
with his grateful praise.

Margaret Simon, Illuminate

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.


For the last 13 years my father has created a drawing for my parents’ annual Christmas card.  In 2013, I published a small chapbook of his drawings along with poems that I wrote.  The book, Illuminate, seems to still be available on Amazon.

Earlier this week I visited my parents and talked to my dad about this year’s card.  This summer, my husband Jeff was building a pirogue in our carport.  When he was close to finishing, I took a picture and posted it on Facebook.



The artist in my dad saw this image.



He emailed me and asked for the picture.  Then he blew it up and printed only the trees from the background.  These are crepe myrtle trees that are actually on the front of our house.

The photograph became the inspiration for his abstract drawing.  My dad works with pen and ink in pointillism.  Each drawing is a miracle.  I celebrate this creative gift.

John Gibson, 2016

John Gibson, 2016


Haiku #31

Happy New Year’s Eve!
Even trees have a party.
Sparks of light illume.

Thanks to Mary Lee Hahn for the haiku-a-day challenge. I celebrate:

  • We lightened the world with our words.
  • We grew as a community of writers.
  • We made it.

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In Blue Veils

Original is in blue watercolor wash, a painting by John Gibson.

Original is in blue watercolor wash, a painting by John Gibson.

In Blue Veils
Celebrate the mystery
We drape her in silk veils of blue
and blur the lines of fame and truth.
We speak of heaven; say we know her.
The mother we paint in azure.
We behold her framed in gold.
She’s the lapis lazuli of the Silk Road.
Her constancy like ocean waves
rocks and cradles the Son she gave.

So we drape her, cover her face.
Imagine a beauty—a place
we cannot touch. If she could see
through this broken glass, our uncertainty,
Would she want to craft us anew?
Cover us, too, in shades of blue?
–Margaret Simon, from Illuminate

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!

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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!


There is a construction paper chain outside the principal’s door, visually counting down to Christmas. I prefer to count up. Advent helps us count up as we light one more candle each week. Every time one more candle is lit, we say a blessing. O Come, O Come Emmanuel. O Come, thou Dayspring. Come and enlighten our hearts. Come and save us.

I discovered a hashtag for an advent word of the day, #adventword. Consider following this hashtag on Twitter for inspiration and meditation each day.

Last year I released a poetry book, Illuminate. This little book is special to me. I wrote poems to accompany my father’s Christmas card drawings. His drawings are done in pen and ink pointillism. Today I share a favorite, The Annunciation. This is one of the last ones I wrote. I was struggling with it, so I visited my parents and interviewed my dad about the drawing. “I conceal lost edges” came from this interview. He talked about his efforts in the drawing to keep it fluid, losing the edge of the wings. This discussion made me contemplate the real/ unreal, the sensed/ the imagined. Advent is a time to conceal lost edges, to imagine something new, light coming from the darkness.

Annunciation by John Gibson

Annunciation by John Gibson

An angel appeared out of the night.
I am not real
I am a dust, a shadow,
a sprinkling of dots on a page,

A lonely seraphim
with open arms
at the royal gate.

I am crowned
by the moon’s light,
draped in the darkness of forewings.

I pray
my message is welcomed.
I conceal lost edges.

The sacrament,
this new birth
unveils me, makes me real
as breath.
–Margaret Simon, from Illuminate

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Another week into the nerdlution and I’m falling behind in one of my promises to myself. Exercise! Ugh! It’s always a challenge for me to fit. it. in. And the cold weather hasn’t helped. But this week has been better; I made it to Curves Monday and Wednesday mornings, Yoga class on Tuesday, and Zydeco dance lessons on Wednesday night. I’m even feeling a little sore. Learning to do the alligator walk does a job on your calves.

My attention to my OLW Open is working out pretty well. I try to attend the Acadiana Wordlab each week. On Saturday, the workshop leaders were two young actresses from an Improvisation Group, Silverbacks Improv Theatre. These girls were amazing actresses! We played the craziest games. In one of the games, we each added a line to a story; In another, we could only add one word. I participated even though I felt absolutely ridiculous and totally out of my comfort zone. As always in Wordlab, the writing was unique to the writer and wonderful.

And that leads me to my third nerdlution: writing every day. This has been easy with Laura Shovan’s daily color prompts. At her site, Author Amok, she is posting different color swatches from Pantone colors to prompt poetry. If we send her our poems, she posts them the next day. I have been feeling so famous all week as she daily posts one of my poems and tags me on Twitter and Facebook. Some other blog-friends are playing along, too. (Linda Baie and Diane Mayr) Please take a look at her post for today as it features one of my poems from my book Illuminate.

Let the nerdlution continue. Thanks to Michelle Haseltine for hosting the nerdlution round up every Thursday. Click here to read more.

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Silence of the first snow by John Gibson

Silence of the first snow by John Gibson

This never happens in South Louisiana, a snow day. Yesterday, the weather man predicted a wintry mix. All schools in Acadiana were canceled for Friday.

Like an excited child, I have been up since 5:30 AM checking for snow…no. There is some ice accumulating on the deck, so I suppose it is a good thing little southern children are not having to stand outside and wait for buses that do not handle ice on roads well. Hey, I’m not complaining. I get a free day. But as I look at my father’s drawing of this beautiful silent scene of snow, I can’t help but wish I could see this in my own yard, if only for a few moments. There is something silent and magical about the first snow.

Snow Day
Snow fell silently through the night,
Tufts of a fluffy cotton-ball sweater.
I wake to a field of white.

White-topped limbs reach out for light.
No one predicted this wondrous weather.
Snow fell silently through the night.

Come to the window to see the fresh sight.
Cancel school. Let’s play together.
I wake to a field of white.

Smooth pure canvas, all is right.
Each leaf a glass-encased feather,
Snow fell silently through the night.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

This poem is featured in my book Illuminate. Enjoy more Poetry Friday over at Tara Smith’s Site, A Teaching Life.

poetry-friday-1 (1)

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As much of the country experiences cold temperatures, freezing ice and snow, I am thinking about this Christmas song. In the Bleak Midwinter is a poem by Christina Rossetti written prior to 1872.

My poetry book Illuminate, features the following poem, Outside Salzburg to my father’s first Christmas card drawing. My brother recorded a CD to accompany our book. Following my reading of this poem, he sings “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

Take a moment to focus on the season of Christmas.
Slow down.
Pray for peace.
As we feel the cold chill of the winter air and remember the tragedy of Sandy Hook, may we embrace each other a little longer
and find special ways to show kindness to one another and to our world.

Outside Salzburg

From the train, snow-covered hills beckon
outside Salzburg. The whistle echoes.
Trees stand tall and barren.
Weary travelers stare in wonder.

Somewhere in the distance,
a child is torn from his mother’s arms,
a beggar reaches out with empty hands,
Somewhere, a woman grieves for her lost lover.

But here—on the road to Innsbruck—
a church glistens on the smooth,
unblemished snow, calling out
–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

In the Bleak Midwinter
by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

To order a copy of Illuminate with CD by Hunter Gibson, click here. To order on Amazon, click here. I’ll give away a copy with CD to a randomly selected commenter.

For more great poems, join Poetry Friday over at Tabatha Yeatts’ place, The Opposite of Indifference.

poetry friday button

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Discover. Play. Build.

Celebration Saturday is here once again. Do the weeks fly by for you? I have much to be thankful for this week.

1. Last Saturday I had a book signing at Lemuria in Jackson, MS with my father. We were signing our book Illuminate. The biggest treat was to see old friends and to share the joy. We even sold one to a stranger.

Here I am with a high school friend sitting under photos of Eudora Welty and Walker Percy among other famous authors.

Here I am with a high school friend sitting under photos of Eudora Welty and Walker Percy among other famous authors.

2. Tuesday night I rode in the Christmas parade all decked out in a vintage red dress and white wig.

My best queenly wave!

My best queenly wave!

3. On Wednesday, my students went to the Shadows to rehearse for their play. Every year, the gifted students in grades 4-6 perform a play for the first graders in the parish. This program based on the history of the plantation home has been going on for 30 years. Some of my students have parents who performed in the play when they were younger. This is a great experience for my students. They all learned their lines and behaved well. We went to lunch downtown on Main Street at Victor’s cafeteria. This is an iconic place in New Iberia. They have a sign that reads “Dave Robicheaux eats here.” My students did such a good job at paying and figuring out tip that they were complimented by the cafeteria staff, so I let them have a play time in Bouligny Plaza. They played a vigorous game of hide and seek. Down by the bayou, I showed them a sculpture garden, another fun place to play and take group family pictures. A great day!

students at Pelican sculpture

Girls in period costume

Girls in period costume

4. On Thursday evening, I took an art class. I learned how to use a gelli plate for printing. The instructor, Marcie Melancon, had made a mold from gelatin for me to use. You can purchase a gelli plate, but since I didn’t have one, I used the homemade one. I was very pleased with the resulting prints. The process was fun and easy. Just squirt out paint, roll it on, and print. We used a variety of found objects for printing, like toilet paper tubes, bubble wrap, leaves, string, etc. The one I liked the most was a double print rather than a mono print. So the images layered to create a beautiful mystical image. The woman figure was a magazine cut out that was laminated with packing tape.

gel plate image

5. On Friday, I found $50 that I had lost somewhere in my purse. I thought it was gone forever, but it surfaced miraculously when I was looking for something else.

This was a wonderful week, and I am working hard to avoid getting into a holiday frenzy. I want to continue to find blessings in every day.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Fellow blogger, Ruth Ayres starts up her Celebration Saturday round-up today. Click on the image above to find other writers celebrating today.

Gallery hanging
Excitement is in the air at A&E Gallery for the Fall into the Arts Artwalk tonight. Above is a picture of gallery owner, Paul Schexnayder on the right, showing my father, John Gibson, on the left where he will be displaying Dad’s art for tonight.

gallery hanging 2
Dad brought 8 pieces to show, a few to sell, and some prints. I am excited to introduce him and his art to my friends here in New Iberia. We will be signing and selling our collaborative book Illuminate. My brother, Hunter Gibson, completed the companion CD, and it is absolutely beautiful. My nieces added in their voices on the recording. This whole project touches me deeply. I hope others will feel all the love that has gone into the book, the love of art, poetry, music, and family. A true thing to celebrate!

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Mortimer Minute

Mortimer is one busy bunny, hopping all over the country to interview children’s poets. I want to thank Tabatha Yeatts for tagging me in the blog-hop. Here are the rules:

1. Answer 3 questions:These questions are somewhat created by you, but you can borrow from other bloggers.

2. Invite poetry loving friends to follow you. I will introduce you to two fabulous poetry writing friends at the end of my post.

3. Say thanks and link up, so Mortimer can keep on hopping along!

Mortimer: What has been one of your favorite ways of sharing poetry in school? (question borrowed from Tabatha.)
Me: My students have been loving the end of the month Chalkabrations, the creative genius baby of fellow Poetry Friday blogger, Betsy Hubbard. However, I have to say that the lagniappe (the little something extra) that happened last April during National Poetry Month still tops my list. For every day of the month, I would introduce a poetry form for each letter of the alphabet. A for acrostic, B for bio-poems, and so on. Well, the end of the school year is always filled with those doggone standardized tests and on the day of the letter K, I was administering a test. My students were not supposed to come to class; however, three of them appeared. I told them they could stay if they worked quietly. They got together and wrote an amazing Kyrielle about Kindness. I was so blown away that I had them read it aloud on the intercom the next day. They wrote in response to the Boston Marathon Bombing. Writing is healing, and my students knew this. Had I taught them this? The link to my original post is here, but I will reprint the poem for Mortimer.

26 Acts of Kindness

There’s something kind that we must do
To pay respects, so let’s be true
It won’t be for me or for you
So help the dreams they can’t pursue

Please, show your kindness, here’s your cue
Be the person God asked you to
We can stop them from feeling blue
So help the dreams they can’t pursue

Their families are torn in two
Come, everyone, and get a clue
Those men would wish they could undo
So help the dreams they can’t pursue

What is our country going through
To me, it feels like déjà vu
You all know who I’m talking to
So help the dreams they can’t pursue

by Kaylie, Brooklyn, and Kendall

Mortimer: Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
Me: Yes, but it is very embarrassing. What I remember is waiting for my mother to pick me up from Miss Jo’s piano lesson. Miss Jo had a big tree in her front yard. I danced around the tree and made up this poem, “Spring is my favorite time of year/ when the sky is blue and clear./ Flowers blooming all around./ Snow is melting on the ground.” This may be the reason I need to keep my day job.

Mortimer: What is your current poetry project?
Me: I am so proud to be publishing a small book of poems to accompany my father’s drawings. I should receive my first shipment any day now. You can read a review on Diane Moore’s blog A Word’s Worth. You can order a book with CD from the page Illuminate.

My brother, Hunter Gibson, is a talented musician.

My brother, Hunter Gibson, is a talented musician.

My brother is a wonderful musician, and he has decided to add to this family project by making a Christmas CD of traditional and original Christmas songs. I sent him a recording of me reading three of the poems and he put together a mix with an original tune. This touches me to my very core. Not only do I connect with my father through his art, but I am connecting with Hunter through his music.

Here’s tagging…

Here's Michelle!

Here’s Michelle!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes who writes children’s poetry, picture books, and greeting cards. Her creative challenge is to bring out the natural musicality and rhythm of words and let them bounce around (and otherwise run amok) within the sphere of her imagination. You can find her blog at Today’s Little Ditty. Her Mortimer Minute will be posted Oct. 11th.

Here's Matt!

Here’s Matt!

Matt Forrest writes radio commercials and poetry for adults as well as children. He is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). He’s been in recording studios, on theatre stages, and in front of TV cameras…and has always managed to leave before security arrived. He’s done voicework and audio production for companies around the country, and his voice can be heard from Maine to Florida, from California to New Jersey, from the U.K. to Dubai. Matt’s post will go up on Oct. 18th at his blog site Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme. Please hop along!

Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Doraine at Dori Reads.

Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Doraine at Dori Reads.

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