Posts Tagged ‘Laura Shovan’

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

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


February is not National Poetry Month. That’s in April. But Laura Shovan has a birthday, and she invites us all to play with poetry during her birthday month. I love a good word game, so when Laura Purdie Salas. posted about writing Found Moon Poems with 4th graders, I borrowed this idea to write a poem for Laura Shovan’s project. (Found Object Poem Project with Laura Shovan.)

Wonderopolis is a super-duper place to find nonfiction information. When Linda Baie sent the above picture for Laura’s project, I saw a porcupine. I quickly discovered that this was a pufferfish skeleton, not a porcupine, but too late, I had found a Wonderopolis article. Using copy, paste, and strike-through, I isolated words for a poem. When I started putting the poem together, it sounded like two voices to me. Thus a found poem for two voices.

Porcupine Found Poem for Two VoicesLove animals- Give them a hug.A porcupine- What's the big deal-Sharp quills! The prickliest!Quill pigs Quill pigsLike arrows, quills detach. Tiny needlesto pierce to piercean important lesson from a porcup copy

I haven’t tried this activity with my students yet, but I will. I hope they enjoy collecting words as much as I do.

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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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Discover. Play. Build.

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

I have been reading many posts lately about writing. As a teacher/writer, those are the posts that resonate with me. But I started wondering, I mean, really, how much more can be written about writing? At some point, don’t we all just have to do it?

I enjoyed Pernille Ripp’s recent post I am Not a Writer- On Developing Student Writer Identity. She writes about how her own writing process informed what she knows about students and writing. In her list of things to keep in mind about student writers, she points out that “All writers are writers.” At first this statement sounds like “well, duh!” as my kids would say, but when you really think about it, how often do I make this claim? When I make myself tell someone I am a writer, I feel awkward. I make excuses. I rarely say it with any kind of confidence. What does it take to claim the writer in me? How do I encourage my students to claim their writer selves?

I follow the Two Writing Teachers blog. There are now eight writing teachers, and each one has a unique writer’s voice. They are currently running a blog series on “Discovering the Writer’s Life.” Deb Frazier wrote a post this week “So, Why Do I Write? Discovering the Writer’s Life.” She wrote “As a teacher who writes, I know the power of an active writing community.” This has always been true for me. I have sought out other writers. I have had a number of different writing groups. Each has led me, fed me, and nurtured my writing life.

Most recently, I joined three other teacher-writers from different areas of the states in a Voxer chat. I have to admit, at first, I was skeptical. I thought, “We’re just going to talk about writing? No writing?” I was so wrong. We talk every day. I have more than a writing group. I have a support group. We do share writing, thoughts about writing, and ideas for later projects. But we are also becoming close friends. Today I celebrate this group. We call ourselves “Four Friends Writing,” and that is exactly who we are for each other–friends.

Through this life of blogging, I have connected with some wonderful people. Laura Shovan has invited me to participate in a daily writing challenge for February. I think this is my third year to do it. Nothing like a challenge to make me write. And this one is poetry. I love writing poetry. So each day I take a look at the found object image, open up the note pad on my computer, and compose something. Other writers are doing it, too. It’s never too late to join. This is another community of supportive writers. As I write this, I realize I haven’t written a poem for today yet. Guess I need to follow my own advice and do. it.

Join the TWT's Twitter chat on Feb. 8 at 8:30 EST. #TWTblog

Join the TWT’s Twitter chat on Feb. 8 at 8:30 EST. #TWTblog

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Photo by Mary Lee Hahn

Photo by Mary Lee Hahn


Head over to Laura Shovan’s website to see a feast of fresh market, vegetable soup poetry.  I am writing my poems on the yellow notepad on my laptop.  Somehow this feels more like a quick draft place; I don’t have to commit to save it.  More playful. Less need for excellence.


Peppers purple
peppers green

I see ya, eggplant
think you’re hiding
in your shiny skin?

Market days
are silver dollar days
when fresh is
as fresh does.

Make me a salad,

–Margaret Simon


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Photo by Robyn Hood Black

Photo by Robyn Hood Black

I am participating in Laura Shovan’s February poem-a-day challenge on writing to found objects.


Tongue in groove he tells me
is how they used to do it,
before nails
before cardboard and glue.

This old box
traveled over miles
snow-covered hills,
through the mountains, perhaps.

I slide the wood
across grooves
breathe pine, spicy pipe tobacco,
remember my grandfather’s

stories of the railroad,
how steam would rise above
houses and whistle
his way home.

–Margaret Simon

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SOL #31

SOL #31

Here I am on the last day of March!  I wrote 31 slices of life and joined a community of teacher writers at Two Writing Teachers.  What a wonderful month of writing!

My students wrote daily, too.  Together we learned:

  • Writing daily connects you to your life.  You see things differently.
  • Writing daily can be fun!
  • Writing daily can be hard!
  • Writing daily leads to new understandings.
  • Writing daily means taking a deep breath and diving into the deep water.
  • Writing daily is a practice that will last your lifetime.
  • Writing daily gives life new meaning.
  • Writing daily makes a difference.

Some of us in the TWT community are not ready to stop writing daily.  We are committing (but not promising) to contribute in some way to National Poetry Month through digital poetry, personal poems, student poems, writing activities, reflections on poetry, etc.  We will use the hashtag #DigiPoetry on Twitter.  Please join us for more fun and fabulous poetry.

I will be posting on Laura Shovan’s site, Author Amok, on April 6th for her series “What are you Wearing?”  I will also add a line to Irene Latham’s Progressive Poem on April 12th.  Lots going on in the Kidlitosphere in April.


Taste life twice quote

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SOL #4

SOL #4

I have met many wonderful and creative people through blogging.  A few years ago I joined the Poetry Friday round up.  Poetry is a passion of mine.  I use poetry often in my classroom, and I enjoy writing it.  And who doesn’t love a good challenge?  So when Laura Shovan posted her February Birthday Challenge, I took part.  She posted sounds as poetry prompts.  Turns out 14 of us wrote 177 poems to 28 sounds.  Pretty impressive.

One of the sounds we wrote about was an electric guitar which reminded me of playing Guitar Hero with my nephew and getting beaten badly.  Apparently, Jack has impeccable rhythm.  Last summer, he started taking drumming lessons.  He got a djembe for Christmas.  I didn’t really know about his djembe playing until my sister posted a video of him from their California vacation.  (My talented trumpet playing niece was marching with her band in the Rose Bowl parade.)

Musical talent runs in my family.  In the dining room of my parents’ home is a life-sized portrait of my grandmother with her violin.  My mother has her masters in piano and taught lessons in our home for many years.  My brother has the gene, too. (We say it’s in the left hand as they are all left-handed.) Hunter is a professional musician.  He plays keyboard and sings solo or with a band most nights of the week.  So it was inevitable that someone would inherit the talent.

My sister says Jack’s rhythm is innate.  He danced to the beat of her tapping a cinnamon container at 18 months.  She remembers Mom telling a similar story about our brother who danced to the rhythm of her stirring cake batter.

Laura’s challenge pushed me to add a poem to the video.  Here is Jack playing the djembe wowing the crowds at Santa Monica pier.  My poem runs in the ticker tape at the bottom.



When I played Guitar Hero,

beat on a fake guitar

sent light waves to a TV screen,

the cartoon me danced in time,

but I missed the beat.

Not Jack

He is the guitar hero.

A natural born rock star

The beat is in the palms of his hands

drumming the djembe–

a ten-year-old marvel.

–Margaret Simon



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Join the roundup with Liz and all her wisdom.

Join the roundup with Liz and all her wisdom.

I can’t help it. I try to write poems, but my emotions get in the way. My self and all her flaws permeate every word. You may think I am missing self-confidence. Maybe I am fishing for compliments. That’s not it at all.

Laura Shovan has done this to me again. Like last year, I am taking her challenge to write a poem every day in the month of February. Unlike last year, the words are flowing. Does this come from practice? self-confidence? wisdom? Not really. It comes from the heart. I am pouring it out on my sleeve and sending it to her to publish on her blog. Bleeding on the page as some wise writer said. Was it Hemmingway?

I want to thank Laura for allowing, no, encouraging me to write like this. Please visit her site and listen to some of the sounds for this project. I guarantee they will open a vein for you.

My submissions for Thursday and Friday are below. Thursday we listened to the sound of a ballet dancer practicing. On Friday, the sound was a theremin. I had never heard of this instrument before, so I spent some time on YouTube listening. One of my favorites was this rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Ballet Practice

Body of intense beauty
strength of muscles flexed
arabesque held still

Life ends.
We know it must.

Beauty dissolves
into a limp plie’
held en pointe
by loving hands.

–Margaret Simon, for Suzy

Revealing Energy

The director’s hands
stir the air like a scientist.
Vibrating fingers
tune an invisible voice;
sound becomes color—a rainbow
of intonations exploring
the foreign frontier
of our ears.

–Margaret Simon

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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!

Since the new year, Holly has gathered our spiritual journey posts about each person’s one little word. Today my word Reach is the featured theme.

I haven’t really settled in with my OLW yet. Reaching takes active work. It’s not a passive word. I can’t just sit back on it and wait. I have to go out there and do something about it. I want to embrace this word Reach, but on these cold wet winter days, I’d rather be lazy, curl up with my dog and rest. Exercise another day.

I stretch my sore, tired muscles.
I look at the amaryllis, now wilting.
I notice new growth, a new stem creeping up alongside the blossom.
Where did that come from?
Sometimes without us even noticing, God plants new growth.
We can bloom again.

new growth

I chose Reach for completely selfish reasons. I have a few writing projects that I am working on and others I am thinking about. I set a goal to move forward with writing, to Reach for publication. Maybe I should have chosen a braver word, like Courage.

This month a Poetry Friday blogging friend, Laura Shovan, has started a poetry project to celebrate her birthday. I have been writing a poem each day to a posted sound. This project is stretching my writing muscles and giving me a creative place to go each day. Am I Reaching? I can think about this writing as stretching, exercising, and moving my writing muscles. All a part of Reaching. Follow this link to read poems about a thunder storm sound.

Perhaps when I read all the Spiritual Journey posts about my OLW I will embrace it, feel it, want to, own it. Today, I will Reach for Reach.

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Laura Shovan creates a writing challenge every year for her birthday month of February. Last year she posted different Pantone colors as prompts. This year she is posting sounds. On Feb. 1st, she featured my poem along with some of my favorite Poetry Friday friends’. Click here. I am enjoying the path of discovery this writing challenge is taking me on.

The sound for today is angel chimes. You can listen to them here.

I went to Haiku Deck to write a haiku about Spanish moss. The tinkling of the chimes made me think of the rhythm of the moss blowing. I recently took pictures of the moss, not knowing that it would lead to this poem.

When I wrote the line, “Spanish moss two-step,” I liked it so much that I wanted to re-write the other lines to make them fit. So I Googled Cajun triangle. What came up was a 2012 NPR story about Christine Balfa. In the feature, she is heard playing solo triangle which sounds a lot like the Swedish angel chimes. So Christine made it into the poem.

Christine has recently been nominated for a grammy with a group of women musicians called Bonsoir, Catin which means “Goodnight, Darling.” . I am excited that my quest for a line of poetry led me to her music and memories of two-stepping to Bonsoir, Catin.

Angel slide 2

Angel slide 3


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