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Posts Tagged ‘Irene Latham’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Ruth all the way from Haiti.

What words will call to you?

Irene Latham, introduction to This Poem is a Nest

Irene Latham is as charming and lovely in person as her poems are on the page. Her new release This Poem is a Nest opens with an invitation. In Part I, we read the poem “Nest.” This seedling is divided into 4 seasons of 3 stanzas each of free verse poetry. “Nest” has everything I love in a poem, lyrical language, alliteration and onomatopoeia, imagery of nature, and inquiry that touches my heart, “Won’t you climb inside?”

Nest is the seed poem for Irene’s creativity that grows into day poems, before & after poems, calendar poems, color poems, animal poems, feeling poems, and just when you think she could not possibly find any more poems in Nest, there is word play, alphabet, and ars poetica.

With all of these nestling poems, you would think the poems would lose magic, lose originality, or become repetitive, but the experience of them is quite the opposite. Each new poem needs to be held for a minute or two. Each one reveals a surprise, all the way to the last poem:

Last Poem

birdsong
nothing more

Irene Latham, This Poem is a Nest

The end papers of this wonderful book offer writing advice to budding poets. Irene gives tools to me and teachers like me who want to inspire students to write. The art of “found poetry” has been elevated to “nest-poem” or “nestling.”

I wanted to try it out, so I went to a poem by Barbara Crooker that I had cut out and glued into my journal. “How the Trees on Summer Nights Turn Into a Dark River.”

Step one: Circle words that appeal to you. I circled drizzling, air, careening.

Then I looked up careening to check my understanding of the word.
“move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way in a specified direction.”

Step two: Choose a subject. I thought a lot about this. Air, careening…a kite.

Unlike found poetry, nestlings do not have to follow the order in which you find the words, so I went back and grabbed “reach” from the first line, which led me to “wonder” and “for,” finishing my image of a flying kite.

Image poem created on Canva.

Now as I look again at the nestling I created, I think it would be better like this:

How to be a Kite
Careen
with drizzling air
Reach
for wonder.

By going through this process, I realize how much work went into Irene’s book of poems. Writing nestlings is a fun challenge. I had to use critical thinking skills that are imperative to teaching students to write. I encourage you to try writing nestling poems. Thanks, Irene!

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

I’m back home after a whirlwind trip to Baltimore for NCTE19. NCTE is one of the most anticipated and yet the fastest events ever! So much preparation and so little time. It went by in a flash.

A flash of friends from far away!

Selfie with roommate Joanne Duncan from Washington.

A flash of powerful, profound speeches!

“Our society needs teachers who stand up for truth.” Lorena German

A flash of authors and ARCs!

With authors Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Lauren Wolk getting signed ARCs.

A flash of authentic action!

Not just tolerance– Normalize, Nurture, Embrace

Travis Crowder, Access, Equity, Inquiry, and Reflection

A flash of the best educators!

Lester Laminack caught this shot of me chatting with one of my favorite educators, Fran McVeigh.

A flash of poets!

Charles Waters and Irene Latham talk about their new book Dictionary for a Better World.

A flash of inspiration!

Uncover your obsessions.
Keep your eyes and heart open.
Be surprise-able.
Get in touch with wonder.

Ralph Fletcher, Seeing the World through Poet’s Eyes

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

 

Click to Pre-order

Octopus Zeno

Octopuses are amazing
cephalopods
mollusks
beak

8 tentacles
wave on
fleek

looking anywhere
for food
sneak

Breighlynn, 3rd grade

Irene Latham is an accomplished author/poet, and she is a generous friend.  She sent me an advanced copy of Love, Agnes which will be released on October 1st.  Agnes has declared October as Octopus Month. See Irene’s post here. 

With my students, I read Love, Agnes.  We enjoyed logging into this video.

We gathered some amazing octopus facts and words.  And, of course, we wrote octopus poems.

Over the weeks we’ve been together, we’ve explored some different poetry forms.  For this activity, my students chose their own forms to use and two of them even invented new forms.  Madison created the octaiku.

“An Octopus form, or, as I like to call it, a Octaiku ( A combination of Octopus and Haiku. ) The form is 2, 4, 8, 2 ,4 because 2 and 4 can go evenly into 8.”

Eight Arms
Suction Cupped
Cephalopod, Mollusk, Family
Giant
And Beautiful.

Madison, 5th grade

Madison met Irene Latham at the 2016 Louisiana Book Festival.

 

Things to do as  an Octopus

Wear a color changing coat,
call it camouflage.
when you get hurt,
heal up soon.
Something’s going to scare you,
blast streams of black goo.
Time to lay eggs,
protect them till you’re dead.

Landon, 5th grade

 

My life as Agnes

My friend who lives on shore.
I think he thinks I’m a bore.

He sends me a postcard everyday.
He makes me wanna shout “HOORAY!!!”

I protect my babies ’til they go away
And then I pass away.

Kaia, 3rd grade

 

 

 

 

 

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

For more Spiritual Thursday posts, click over to Irene’s Live your Poem

Welcome to the first of 31 daily posts for the March Slice of Life Challenge.  This is my 7th year to do this challenge, and every year I think I won’t make it through.  Somehow I do.

Writing daily is a discipline I try to keep, but when met with a daily publishing deadline, it becomes more important somehow.  Someone is waiting to hear from me.  Someone is listening.  Someone cares what I have to say.

Today is also the first Thursday of the month when a group of us who met through blogging come together to write about our spiritual journeys around a theme.  This month Karen Eastland is hosting at Irene Latham’s blog.  Her chosen theme is music.

Music is an integral part of my spiritual life.  I’ve been in church choirs ever since I was a teenager.  To me, singing a hymn is praying, loving, praising.

This poem is a golden shovel.  The line of poetry that forms the right margin is from Irene Latham’s poem Music Teacher that is included in Lee Bennett Hopkins collection School People. 

When I sing in the loft, the music fills my soul.  I am transported and transformed.  Last Sunday, I was given the opportunity to chant the Psalm.  The chanting music is notated with a line of music at the top of the page.  Each line of the psalm has symbols for changing intonation and moving notes.  It’s complicated.  I can’t read the music and the words at the same time and the notation is a blur.  So I just have to feel it.  I sing whatever comes out.  I have no practice or education in Anglican chant, but I’m willing to breathe in and let God take over my voice.  True consecration of my lips.

Sample of Anglican Chant music

 

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Poetry Friday is here!

Sorry, my Poetry Friday folks!  I forgot I was hosting.  You see, yesterday was our last day of school, and there were other things occupying my limited brain space.  But here I am and here you are.  Link with the button at the bottom of this post.

Each month on the first week of the month, a group of us bloggers post for Spiritual Thursday.  We are a group of open-minded thinkers who enjoy exploring what God means in our lives.  Irene Latham coordinates our group.  Last month she wrote this in her post about Reaching. 

Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam.” What beauty there is in that breath between those two fingers! And what makes it beautiful to me is the anticipation of touch, the reaching, the beauty and openness of that moment– before we know what happens next. –Irene Latham

Those words moved me.  A poem appeared as response.  I love when that happens. Thanks, Irene.

 


Breath of God

Breath–
one small space
as God reaches
to Adam
hanging high
above
turned up heads.

Eyes cannot focus
on such a small space
so far away,
yet Michelangelo
placed it there,
an inch between them.

In that space
I can rest
suspended,
floating between
God’s hand
and my own.

Nothing
becomes
everything.

–Margaret Simon

 

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I hope you have been following the Progressive Poem. Today I am adding a line. This amazing interactive poetry community builder is the brilliant invention of Irene Latham.

It all started with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe when she introduced a first person character with fidget, friction,and ragged edges. Mary Lee let the idea of F words dance back into the poem with “facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.” Then Janet set me up the steps to the stage.

I placed myself in the narrator’s shoes, climbing the stairs to the stage. What else would I feel except pure fright? So with alliteration dancing in my head, my blow dryer blew out this line. Every good story needs a conflict, right? Here you go, Jan, have fun with this fidgety, freckled, frightened storyteller. What will he/she do next? Look at the link up in my side bar to follow this poem through its journey.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!

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Poetry Friday is at Linda's site: Teacher Dance

Poetry Friday is at Linda’s site: Teacher Dance

 

Sometimes I sign up for things and then forget about them.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I got some poetry mail this week.  A while back, Jone MacCulloch asked us blogging poets to sign up for a new year postcard exchange.  I signed up and ordered my postcards.

I was so pleasantly surprised this week when I received 3 postcards.  I hope there are more coming.

My postcards from VistaPrint haven’t arrived yet, so if you’d like to receive one, send me your address (margaretsmn at gmail).  I have the list of 10 that Jone sent me, but I’m happy to send more.

Diane Mayr does a new year postcard every year in the tradition of Nengajo, a Japanese tradition of sending a postcard including a haiku.  She writes that this year’s card includes the Year of the Rooster, a reference to fire, and the word first.  The background is “Yawning Apprentice” by Mihaly Munkacsy (circa 1869).  She will be posting the digital version on her blog today.  Here is my camera image.

dmayr-postcard

 

In the same batch of mail, all the way from Hawaii, Joy Acey blessed me with a lovely original painting and poem.  She is such a dear person whom I have never met.  Some day I will fly to Hawaii to see her in her garden. Even her sweet note is poetic.

Margaret,

I was lying in bed this morning listening to the blasting rain hit the exterior of my bedroom wall and windows–these are the windows that face east so I could watch the cloud covered Sleeping Giant and the sunrise.

I’m thinking about selecting one word for a guide in the new year and I’m thinking about our poetry postcard exchange for the new year and this haiku appeared with your name written all over it.

joy-acey-card

painting and poem by Joy Acey

The third card of joyful words came from Irene Latham.  She tweeted recently that she had her postcards ready, and I was secretly crossing my fingers that I would get one.  The card looks like an old postcard from Germany, a gift in itself, but it was accompanied by this beautiful verse:

The Coming of Light

And here is the secret
to everything:
when you let the light it,
a river
you thought dried up
or frozen
will begin to sing.

–Irene Latham

irene-latham-card

Bruckmanns Bildkarte NR

 

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

 

A friend once told me that I have an artist’s mind, random and all over the place.  While it was a nice way to put it, what she was really telling me was I lack focus.  I’ve always hopped from project to project, idea to idea.  It’s difficult for me to stay tuned in to one thing for any length of time.

Last weekend I had a chat with Irene Latham on the steps of the State Museum at the Louisiana Book Festival.  We were talking about conferences.  She said she realized she could be a conference junkie but questioned whether that would serve her mission.  Her mission?  Yes, Irene has a mission statement.  Don’t we all?  She wrote about how to find your own mission statement in her post on Smack Dab in the Middle. 

The first question, “Who do you admire?” reminded me of a process my friend Kimberley talked about; Find the person who is doing what you want to do and find out how they got there.  In other words, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

When creating a mission statement, I had to consider my personality type.  I really care what people think of me.  It’s a fault, except that it keeps me behaving in ways that are kind and thoughtful.  I want others to respect me, so I respect them.  Not a bad way to be.  It’s tough when I chew on an incident for a long time.  I’m not good at letting things go.  

What does this all have to do with digital literacy and teaching?  In creating a mission statement, a focus for my life, I see clearly that I want to empower others to be the best they can be.  I want to bring creativity into the world.  Through my teaching and writing, I can be both wind and wings.

My students worked all week on their podcasts.  They created scripts from their research and collaborated on making something creative and new.  Yet, the learning curve was high.  I wasn’t sure we could meet it.  I am still waiting on tech help from our district department; however, the glitches didn’t really bother the kids.  They understand that’s all part of making something new in this digital world.

When I reflect on the projects we do in my class, I realize the ones that encourage the strongest focus are ones that are highly creative, honor choice, and are student-driven.  My classroom mission statement is not that different from my personal mission statement.  Margaret and Mrs. Simon walk hand in hand to find their focus and meaning in this world.

focus

 

 

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Poetry Friday is with Laura at Writing the World for Kids

Poetry Friday is with Laura at Writing the World for Kids

 

Do you enter contests?  I don’t.  But I pretty much insist that my kids do.  I even will go so far as to write it as a goal on their IEP.  At the end of the school year last year, most of my students entered a piece of writing into our state writing contest, LA Writes.  I was pleased to hear in September that three of them had placed.  The awards ceremony was last Saturday at the Louisiana Book Festival at the State Museum in Baton Rouge.  When Madison came to the microphone to read her poem, she introduced herself as “the author.”  What a thrill for this writing teacher to hear her describe herself as an author.

Madison shows off her first place medal.

Madison shows off her first place medal.

Madison wrote her first place poem after Irene Latham’s “Tree for All.” In May, we had a Skype visit with Irene.  She wrote about my students’ poems here.

I secretly wished that Irene was there to hear Madison read.  Sometime wishes do come true.  Irene was at the Book Festival.  We met up later in the day.  She presented in the Children’s Storytelling Tent and guess who walked by?

Madison meets her author hero, Irene Latham.

Madison meets her author hero, Irene Latham.

Reef for All

after Irene Latham’s “Tree for All”

Sharks feast on my citizens;
my restaurant never closes.

Eels hide in my caves;
my shelters provide homes.

Sea worms play peek-a-boo in my tubes;
my tubes allow all ages.

Fish hide in my caves;
my cradle caves are cozy for new fins.

No sea animal can resist my charm:
I am a coral reef.

Madison

Tree for All (in Dear Wandering Wildebeests)
Giraffes feast on my leafy crown;
my buffet never closes.
Rhinos doze beneath my broad branches;
my umbrella selters and shades.
Baboons scramble up and down my trunk;
my playground delights all ages.
Owls nest in my hidden knothole;
my cradle cozies brand-new wings.
Skinks sleep in my thick, spotted bark;
my camouflage keeps them safe.
Safari ants trail along my roots;
my roadways help build a city.
No grassland beast can resist my charms;
I am a wild bush willow tree.
– Irene Latham
Contests make us feel famous.  They give students an opportunity to shine.  Thanks to Irene for being such a beautiful role model to budding author, Madison.

I will be presenting with Irene and some other awesome poets at NCTE 2016 in Atlanta:Sat., 9:30 G.12 Writing for a Better World: Poetry Response to World Events B210

writing-for-a-better-world-poetry-as-an-agent-of-changencte-2106saturday-nov-19-20169-30-amb210-copy

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NPM2016

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

This week was state testing week. We made it through. Because I am an extra teacher, I was assigned a small group to test. The routine was changed. I stayed at one school all day.

When on Friday the test was over, I resumed my routine. My students were so excited to see me again. They truly missed me. I think they also missed the flexibility of our days. It was as though they could breathe again.

I celebrate the love I share with my students while I am sad to realize the year is quickly coming to an end. So many activities planned; end-of-the-year picnics, talent shows, and field trips will interrupt my class again and again.

I want to stay calm about it all, so I planned a creative end-of-the-year project. We are making re-purposed books. They will paint the pages of a discarded book and add art and writing to them. They are already excited, and the mess making has begun. I celebrate creativity and mess making.

I am altering a book as well. This inspires the creative side of me. No one sees it, really, so I let go of my inhibitions about my art talent and just do it. Here’s a page I’ve painted waiting for a poem.

kaleidoscope

Pass the scissors
then the glue;
I am pasting poems
in a book.

Make a mess
filling the pages
with happy words.

Anyone can make a book.
Let’s make a book today!

National Poetry Month is at the end. I thought it would never come. Writing a poem a day has been a challenge. I celebrate all the poets out there writing daily and inspiring me and my students to do the same.

I celebrate Irene Latham who blogs here. She generously Skyped with my students on Poem in your Pocket Day. She listened patiently while they shared their own poems and responded with nothing but kindness. She even answered a question about whether or not she felt haunted. (Kids say the darnedest things.) But Irene handled it like a champ. She told my students that she likes to visit graveyards and feel the presence of people who have gone before.

Irene offered excellent advice about finding new words; brainstorm a list of words about your topic. Then mark them all out and start again. This forces you to find new and unusual words.

I also want to thank Laura Purdie Salas whose putrid poetry gave my students permission to write about poop and other yucky stuff.

And what would NPM be without Amy Ludwig VanDerwater? She wondered with us all month long and inspired my students to write about their world.

Thank you to all my readers who stuck with me each day as I attempted to entertain the poetic muse. Here’s to another wonderful National Poetry Month. Do not be mistaken, though. Poetry is made for every day!

Donna has the final line to the Progressive Poem and it is just right!

Donna has the final line to the Progressive Poem and it is just right!

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