Posts Tagged ‘Jane Yolen’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Elisabeth at Unexpected Intersections

For the end of the month Poetry Sisters challenge, Mary Lee posted this call to write deeper wisdom poems in the form of Jane Yolen’s What the Bear Knows. I recall a similar challenge from Michelle Barnes’ interview with Joyce Sidman on Today’s Little Ditty. I used this form in my book Bayou Song to write about the black-crowned night-heron.

(c) Margaret Simon, Bayou Song

photo by Henry Cancienne

To order a copy of Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape, go to UL Press website.

On this anniversary of Hurricane Laura that devastated Lake Charles, Louisiana last year, we are once again bracing for a storm, Tropical Storm Ida that is predicted to come in around New Orleans as a Category 3 hurricane. We are preparing and watching news closely. Please keep us in your prayers. We know how to do this. I’ll post updates as I am able on Instagram/ Facebook. Thanks!

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Star by Sarah Hazel

In a field of bluebonnets,
cockerpoo smiles for the Sky.
Royal Star of prairie grass.

Joy twinkles in his Star-eyes,
Inspiration for Sarah’s
hand to oil majestic poise.

–Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

This pet portrait looks just like my childhood dog, Lucky.  I was drawn in immediately, but the poem was elusive.  When I struggle with a poem, I often turn to form to guide me.  This one became a septercet, stanzas of three lines with seven syllables each.  Jane Yolen created the septercet.

Words are another hurdle, so I Googled bluebonnets and collected words.  The dog’s name is Star, but I decided to also capitalize Sky as if it is a character in the poem.  Sarah is the artist, and Joy is one of her daughters.  To see more of Sarah Hazel’s art, click here. 





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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jan at BookSeedStudio


With the start of a new year, I am trying to write a poem a day, or, at the very least, some ramblings in my notebook.  I’m staying away from social media until I write.  But I do check my email.  I receive a poem-a-day from Jane Yolen.  (You can sign up here.)

Jane’s poem begins each stanza with “The lake sings… It sings of…”  Every day the bayou reflects the tone of the season.  This morning as I write, the wind has turned cold, so I hear the echo of the whipping wind through the trees and the wind chimes clinging.  On Jan. 6th when I wrote this poem, the bayou was still and calm.  The trees were reflected perfectly in the water.  The sun was warming the surface of the water.

Bayou Reflections, Jan. 6, 2018. M. Simon


The bayou sings of shadows,
reflections of trees
bare and still.

It sings of rising sun
warming a surface
of sky on water.

It sings of herons,
owls, mockingbirds,
a hawk flying high above.

But most of all,
the bayou
sings of peace.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved


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Note: Header image art by my sister, Beth Gibson Saxena.

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

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


Jane Yolen

Poets love words. Poets play with words. Poets want you to love language as much as they do.

In my classroom, we read poems together, searching for sounds, images, and meaning. Jane Yolen is a master. I’ve admired her poetry for years. But only a year ago, maybe less, I signed up for her daily poem email. She believes in writing a poem a day. She practices what she preaches and sends out her daily drafts trusting that we receivers will honor and respect her words.

I shared one of these gems with my students, “Seven Ways of Kneeling on the Ground.” My first intent in sharing this poem was to show students how to use a pattern of 7 stanzas with 3 lines each, but in further examination, the poem offered so much more. We found imagery bouncing off the page. Her poem exemplified the magical sounds of words without using end rhyme: “Kneeling in the high bracken/ the brown crackle of it.”

There is JOY in reading a poem together, marking it up in colorful markers, and discovering how language (the sounds of words, double meanings, metaphor) leads us to a deeper understanding of our world.


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Poetry Friday is with Violet.

Poetry Friday is with Violet.

This week my students and I have been reading and writing about fairy tales.  They enjoyed hearing Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen.  We also read aloud reverso poems by master Marilyn Singer in Mirror, Mirror.  

“Writing a reverso is stressing me out.  How did she write a whole book of them?” said Emily as we worked together to write a reverso for Sleeping Ugly.  Yes, it was tough.  But we were happy with our results.  (Formatting has been another challenge.)

Sleeping Ugly

Plain Jane

On the outside,
beauty sleeps
lying still
the Prince
wandering through the woods.
He knows
lies within.


Lies within.
he knows
wandering through the woods,
the Prince.
Lying still,
beauty sleeps
on the outside.

Andrew worked on his own and created this reverso about Pirates

Don’ Steal me Booty

Here’s the truth                                              Forever I have it

I have the treasure                                         I shall battle

An ordinary treasure                                      Or I have to let it go

Give it up                                                           never

never                                                                  Give it up

I have to let it go                                               An ordinary treasure

I shall battle                                                       I have the treasure

Or forever you have it                                      Here’s the truth

Kaiden enjoys word play in his poem about “Fairy Fales (not a mistake)”

Magical stories, forever to be told.
Fairies,princes,and eggs made of gold
Talking toads, yellow brick roads,
stories happy and Grimm
Evil queens, horrible dreams
Long sleep, what a treat
In a palace, standing bold
Slaying trolls
Magical stories, forever to be told.


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

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


If you follow my blog, you know I am a little obsessed with poetry. In the world of words, syllables, and sounds, I find puzzles in making them all fit together into something meaningful. Jane Yolen was recently featured on Michelle Barnes’ Today’s Little Ditty with a challenge to write septercets. This is a form Jane Yolen created with the pattern of seven syllables in three line stanzas.

I challenged my students to write septercets. And I played along.

I Spy

Looking for spinning spiders
hiding between limbs of trees
miraculous thread designs

Studying patterns of light
refraction reflecting bows
miraculous sky designs

Skipping stones from uncle’s pier
a ripple breaks the surface
miraculous water designs

–Margaret Simon

Can you write a septercet about the harvest moon above? Share in the comments and on Ditty of the Month padlet.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

Last week, Michelle welcomed Laura Shovan to her blog with a workshop idea around Fractured Fairy Tales.

I have ordered the two books she suggested, Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen and Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer.

Ava reading at A&E Gallery, November, 2013

Ava reading at A&E Gallery, November, 2013

In the meantime, I was reminded of a book of poetry I have by Ava Leavell Haymon, former poet laureate of Louisiana, Why the House is Made of Gingerbread. This book is really for adult readers, but a few years ago Lemony Snicket published a collection of poems for adults that children would like, available here on the Poetry Foundation. He selected Ava’s The Witch has Told You a Story for this collection.

You are food.
You are here for me
to eat. Fatten up,
and I will like you better.

Your brother will be first,
you must wait your turn.
Feed him yourself, you will
learn to do it. You will take him

eggs with yellow sauce, muffins
torn apart and leaking butter, fried meats
late in the morning, and always sweets
in a sticky parade from the kitchen.

His vigilance, an ice pick of   hunger
pricking his insides, will melt
in the unctuous cream fillings.
He will forget. He will thank you

for it. His little finger stuck every day
through cracks in the bars
will grow sleek and round,
his hollow face swell

like the moon. He will stop dreaming
about fear in the woods without food.
He will lean toward the maw
of   the oven as it opens

every afternoon, sighing
better and better smells.
Ava Leavell Haymon

My lesson plan around fractured fairy tale poems will include this poem about Hansel and Gretel.

Jane Yolen challenges us this month to write a septercet, a form she invented.  Each line of the 3 lined stanza has 7 syllables. I will ask my students to write a septercet about a favorite fairy tale, fractured or not.  So I’m giving it a try myself.

Fairy White

When she wanders in the woods,
soft white reflecting diamonds,
her fair skin glows like snowflakes.

Apple laced in evil spells
tastes of beauty golden red
slips her slowly into sleep.

Finally she rests from all
her troubles. Let her be free.
Love will find a peaceful soul.

–Margaret Simon



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