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Posts Tagged ‘Linda Mitchell’

Happy September! Maureen has the Spiritual Thursday round up today. Her topic suggestion was “community.” As a new school year gets underway, my thoughts of community turn to my classroom. To build community, we write together. I’ve always felt that writing helps build connections and brings us closer to each other.

When my father died in April, I received so many cards that I couldn’t fit them all on my counter, so I filled a basket. Like Christmas, every day for a few weeks I received handwritten, comforting cards and letters. Without even noticing, I had become a part of a community of people who support each other in good times and in bad times.

This weekend there was an article in the local paper that caught my eye. It was an interview with a teacher I knew. This teacher came to a writing workshop I held one summer. Because we wrote together, I feel close to her. I cut out the article and laminated it to send to her. She probably has multiple copies, but I decided that the gesture was about more than just giving her another copy of the article. It was a gesture of community, recognizing and seeing her.

My writing group is a special community to me. The Inklings got together and created a “junk journal” with each poet writing a special sympathy poem for me. I made a video of this gift that can be viewed here. Linda Mitchell of our group recently shared a new poem with us. She wrote it about the sycamore tree that we planted in memory of my dad on the grounds of their retirement home. “A sycamore tree symbolizes strength, protection, eternity, and divinity.” She gave me permission to share her sweet skinny poem.

Whether writing with each other or writing for each other, writing creates community. If you are interested in joining a small community of writers, tune in on Wednesdays when I post “This Photo Wants to be a Poem.” We write together in separate places about a shared image. There is always room for more.

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Poetry Friday Round-up is here. Scroll to the end to find the link up and join.

Today is my birthday. I am turning the age of the year I was born. Can you do the math? I have to admit I am not a fan of birthdays. Being born in August has never appealed to me. It’s always hot and usually rainy. But with daily rain comes daily rainbows. Over the last few days I’ve seen a few big ones. I stop my car and get out to take a picture. I wish the pictures could show the colors and size, but you’ll have to just imagine it.

My Heart Leaps Up

William Wordsworth – 1770-1850

My heart leaps up when I behold 
   A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 
   Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

Birthday card from Linda Mitchell, my birthday “sistar”
Summer Poem Swap from Patricia J. Franz

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

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Design by Linda Mitchell

One of the wisdoms I have gained as a writer is that writing with others creates strong friendships because writing is such an act of vulnerability. It is true for the classroom, for writing workshops, and for critique groups. My group, the Inklings, are true friends. They listen, respond with integrity, and encourage me as a person as well as a writer. We live far away from each other, but we used Zoom long before the pandemic, and see each other twice monthly. This is all to say that when my father died, they did what they do best, and sent me a book of poems. I sat alone with these poems and let the comfort and wisdom of words wash over me. I offer a video today of me reading each poem sitting out by my beloved bayou. It’s 8 minutes long.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

My friend and fellow writing group member Linda Mitchell led the writing prompt for #verselove at Ethical ELA yesterday. She directed us to use the steps in the scientific method to craft a poem. As many of you know, my father died on Friday morning. If you follow my blog, I’m afraid there is nothing else so pressing on my mind than this and the care for my mother. Writing is healing for me.

A Place at the Table

You could make this place beautiful.
Can you float a flower in the vase and call it home?
Flowers, a white cat, a black dog, coffee brewing, what could be missing?
The empty seat at the table is cold, lonely.
I move over, sit in his chair, open the last book he was reading.
Time will fill the space at the table, even in the midst of absence.
There will be beauty again.

Margaret Simon, draft
Louisiana iris in our bayou bog

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I signed up to do an exchange for Spark Art #50 with my friend Inkling Linda Mitchell. Linda creates wonderful collages, so I asked her to do the exchange with me. She sent me a collage and I sent her a poem. She was charged with creating a collage from my poem and me with creating a poem from her collage. Fun, right? It is fun when you are playing with a friend you know will be respectful of your work and who does good work herself.

The links to our exchange on the Spark website are here and here.

I am sharing my poem process that responded to this collage.

collage by Linda Mitchell

The first thing I noticed was the moon. I wrote the title first, “Moonlight Sonata” and played Beethovan’s Sonata for inspiration. I noticed the foreign words. I asked Linda about the flowers, but she didn’t know what they were. I decided they were edelweiss. I got stuck, though, and decided to use a poem I had written for Laura Shovan’s February project and combine it with the work I was doing on responding to the collage. I don’t usually do this, and it created a level of mystery to the poem. And I’m OK with that.

Moonlight Sonata

Moon, wild orb nightly shining
high above the oak trees.
Your pull breaks waves
and concrete where oak roots
rise like bread, yeast pressing
our foreign earth. 

How can you feel sadness
if you’ve not known joy?

When the edelweiss blooms,
we breathe in sweet scent,
welcome Spring
and sing praise for your goodness, Moon.

We push on and on
until, like you, the flower, the oak
we find our light
and shine.

© Margaret Simon 

There are only a few dates left for the Kidlit Progressive poem. Claim your day here.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Time collage by Linda Mitchell

This month I am participating in Laura Shovan’s February poetry project on Facebook. The theme this year is Time. This beautiful collage made by Linda Mitchell was our prompt on Monday. So much to write about, but I focused on the couple dancing. This weekend my husband and I were dancing to one of our favorite bands, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys at an event at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Opportunities to dance have been few during the pandemic. We were a little rusty, but so happy to be out there again. A nearby friend captured a photo of us on the dance floor.

Time in a Picture Frame

The photographer shutters the moment
mid-glide of a waltz. 
You were smiling at him 
in the way a person whose known someone for a long time-
familiarity mixed with joy.

In your mind’s eye, the planets spin an orbit of protection.
No matter what,
the photo
will always show joy. 

You do not know when loss
will reveal something else hidden there-
a child looking on
or the tail of an astronaut’s lifeline. 

Today it is enough
to smile. 

(c) Margaret Simon draft

Jeff and Margaret dancing

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Poetry Friday is with Buffy Silverman.

Exchanging Christmas cards is a tradition that I choose to hold on to. There are people in my life I haven’t seen or talked to in years, decades even, yet we still exchange cards every year. It’s a lifeline. A loveline. A way to connect beyond any reason. I don’t fault anyone who opts out. It’s a time consuming commitment.

We don’t send a long letter anymore. The most I can get out is a sticker for the back with the very basic information. But I do enjoy reading the long letters that arrive. I don’t even care if it’s braggy, braggy. I have a friend whose tradition is to open all the holiday cards at once on Christmas morning. I tend to savor each one as it comes.

Art cards express a dedication of time and creativity. This year I received a beautiful collage art card from friend and fellow Inkling, Linda Mitchell. She says she “dabbles” but this card, and other work I’ve seen by her recently, are placing her into a higher artist category. She has talent, and I appreciate and admire her work.

Christmas card collage by Linda Mitchell

My father, John Gibson, is an artist who created art cards for years. In 2013, I created poems to accompany each card and collected them into a small chapbook, Illuminate. Today, I am featuring one of these cards and its poem.

The stable by John Gibson

The Pointillist

She laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

He sits at the drawing table,
taps the paper
as an instrument.

Music comes forth
in tones
dark and light.

Rhythm
from his heart
to his hand beats–

syncopated in time–
drumming out each dot
point by point

Image
emerges in focus
inviting the eye

I go with him
to the stable,
kneel next to the cow,

smell the light scent of hay,
listen to the breath
of a child,

adore with Mary.

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved
from Illuminate

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Every summer I look forward to Kate Messner’s Teachers Write virtual writing camp. The first week is this week. Kate invites us to go outside and reflect on a time when we felt fully whole. I went outside and ended up weeding a flower bed. It wasn’t too hot, and for a minute, it wasn’t raining. I had a “clunker” line from Linda Mitchell to work with. “August was long of light.” There was a time when we didn’t start school in August, and it felt like summer would go on and on.

Mississippi Heat Wave

August was long of light
in a Mississippi heat wave that summer of ‘72.
On the path to Purple Creek,
my flip-flops kept the stickers away
and mosquitos preferred Missy’s freckle-juice.
Covered in Off and Coppertone, we’d hold hands
to cross the waterfall, tip-toe trickle over a concrete slab.
On the other side was an endless pine forest. We’d walk
the path of dirt bikes, side-stepping ruts in the muddy red clay.
Avoiding under-the-bridge where the smoking kids hung out,
we’d wander to the stables, pick out a favorite horse, pretend they were ours.
Endless summer days
stretched out like a Gulf Coast beach
burned our tender noses,
streaked our blonde hair,
became a backdrop to childhood memories.

Margaret Simon, draft
Pine forest in Mississippi, photo by Margaret Simon

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Poetry Friday round-up is at Karen’s Blog.

Summer means the Summer Poetry Swap which is coordinated by Tabatha. I’ve already received two poetry gifts, and it feels like summer just began.

The first poem I received came from Laura Shovan, a dear poet friend and author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary and Takedown. Laura sent sourdough starter, a whimsical pen, and this poem.

Bread and Water by Laura Shovan

My second poem came from Buffy Silverman. Buffy and I have never met, but I have enjoyed her poetry for years. What delight to open an email from her with this image and beautiful poem about wild iris, blue flag!

Blue Flag by Buffy Silverman

This week Linda Mitchell and I teamed up to provide prompts for Ethical ELA. This site by Sarah Donovan is a wonderful place for teachers to write and receive positive feedback. I enjoyed being a part of the community this week. The poetic responses were amazing! Here is a link to the 5 Day Open Write.

I wrote two poems in response to Linda’s prompts. The first one was a list poem. I had a receipt marking my notebook page. My oldest daughter is having a girl (Yes!) in November. At a local children’s store, I bought the first thing for this new one, a newborn gown.

For the Little Ones
 
Shorts
Shirt
Gown–> NB
 
white silky soft
edged with pink stitching
to welcome
a sister
now growing
day by day
a girl to embrace
a girl to bless
a girl to love

Margaret Simon, draft

The second prompt from Linda came from Linda Baie’s prompt in Laura Shovan’s Water Poem Project, to write a fiction poem. I took some quotes from my weekend with my kids and built this scene.

Heat
 
What is it about the 90 degree mark
that turns a sunny day into fire
burning you through to the bone?
 
They didn’t speak in the heat;
Their brains thirsty, wrung out 
beyond droplets of sweat,
couldn’t fathom anything worthy of saying.
 
He handed her the phone,
clicked play on a video of animal faces,
noses in particular, that made her smile,
despite herself. She didn’t bother 
to ask why. 
 
Humor finds its way into the cracks
of relationship, beneath the surface
of burning skin to release toxins
from the crease of a smile. 

Margaret Simon, draft

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I have been following #verselove on Ethical ELA. On Tuesday, teacher-poet Gayle Sands posted a selection of photographs to use for prompts for ekphrasis, poetry about art. I love how looking at art or photography can lead you to a poem, and many times to something unexpected.

Linda Mitchell and I are writing partners in a Sunday night critique group. After I wrote my poem to an image of Alice Paul, I found her poem, a golden shovel about the same photo. I asked Linda’s permission to post her poem along with mine. I think it shows how poets can take a different perspective.

The photo reminded me of my great grandmother who died just shy of her 100th birthday. While mine was more descriptive of the photo, Linda included historical information about Alice Paul and the Sewall-Belmont House.

I always feel the movement is a sort of mosaic.

   ~Alice Paul  to Woodrow Wilson May 2019

The gentlemen from Illinois and Texas, I
am certain, have lost their minds. Women have always
made way for men. It’s 1968. We feel
strength in Sewall-Belmont House since 1929. The
National Women’s Party movement
headquarters is a landmark, it is
not simply ground to lay gravel for a
new Senate driveway on Capitol Hill. What sort
of message does that send to the daughters of
our work? It would destroy the heart of our mosaic

© Linda Mitchell

4/7/20 #verselove

“There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.”
Alice Paul (1885-1977)

 Alice Paul at Belmont House, 1972.

Alice Paul

Small but fierce
they’d say
about this woman
who wouldn’t be dared.
Hands on hips, head held
high as a carved marble statue
on a pedestal.

Like my great grandmother,
Alice Paul stood in white eyelet
eyes set straight, focused
on the photographer’s lens
like a beam of light daring
him to say,
“Smile!”

Margaret Simon, draft 2020

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