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Posts Tagged ‘Louisiana Book Festival’

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Bayou Song is on the wall of books!

The rains had ended, the cool front came through, adding an element of celebration (like Christmas) to the Louisiana Book Festival.  This year was the 15th annual book festival and the 15th awards ceremony for LA Writes, our state youth writing contest.  I have been involved since the first contest and the first book festival.  I always marvel at the young authors as they arrive dressed up with their whole extended families with them. It is an event for celebrating good writing and for families celebrating their authors.

My student Chloe reads her winning poem, Cool Words.

Following the wonderful awards ceremony, I offered a student writing workshop.  You never really know what kind of audience to expect.  I was delighted to have 3 writers join me.  One was a 6-year-old who wrote and drew, then buzzed around. Her mother said, “She’s doing a lap.”  Then she was back to writing and drawing.  The other two girls were a sister pair.  The older sister is a student at LSU.  I am not accustomed to teaching college kids, but I was pleasantly surprised at how she responded to my prompts.  She wrote an I am poem about the river. (Baton Rouge is located on the Mississippi River.) When I taught them about the zeno poem, she transformed her I am poem into a zeno.  This was an unexpected transfer that worked well for her poem.  She gave me permission to publish it here.

I am a rusted red river.
My mouth echoes
rising
flood.
I touch cities
with their
blood.
Reminder they
come from
mud.

–Jami Kleinpeter

Thanks, Jami, for enriching our lives with your poem and for showing me how a simple (meant for elementary kids) prompt can be transformed into a sophisticated and profound poem.

 

 

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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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View of the state capitol from the top floor of the state library.

View of the state capitol from the top floor of the state library.

The weekend was absolutely beautiful for a trip to the capital city of Baton Rouge for the annual Louisiana Book Festival. The sky was clear, the air was cool, and the sun was bright. A great time to celebrate literary works.

I treated myself to a day off and attended a poetry workshop with our state poet laureate, Ava Leavell Haymon. Ava is brilliant and funny and an out-of-the-box thinker. She gave us each a large sheet of drawing paper and had us begin on each edge by writing different sensory words, i.e. sounds, smells, colors. Then we drew a large circle with a gold marker. In this circle, we were asked to free write. She said something about drawing other shapes to put your over-the-shoulder-negative voice into, but I didn’t do this part. After free-writing, we circled concrete words from our writing to use in a poem. Then to complete the task, we folded the large paper so that it made a book. (I found online instructions for the book form here.) After all this, I ended up with this poem.

Rose-colored Glasses

In-box flashes
“Teacher evaluations”
Her plate spills.
All she wants is to be
invited outside
to the trampoline.
–Margaret Simon

Completed poem book

Completed poem book

As crazy as this whole exercise seemed, I like the idea of using a free write to compress ideas into a small poem. I want to try this with my students. I have not done free writing yet this year. I usually have a theme or prompt for writing. I wonder if students will be able to work with the randomness. Or maybe that’s the idea, random writing leads to poetry.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Saturday Celebration is happening weekly at Ruth Ayres site: Discover. Play. Build.

This week was full of celebrations.
1. Chalkabration Day: Read our spooky chalketry here. We loved having Kaylie visit on this special day.

2. A winner: My 6th grader, Brooklyn, placed FIRST in the Jr. High Division of the Festival of Words Contest with her poem, “I’m Home.”

3. I received an awesome evaluation from a school board observer. Here’s a quote from her report, “You have a strong rapport with these students. There is a bond of mutual respect between you and them. The classroom climate is joyful; the students are encouraged to learn the way that works for them.” Her words brought tears to my eyes. This is who I want to be as a teacher and to have an outside observer see that in me is very rewarding.

awards
4. The Louisiana Book Festival: As you are reading this, I am awarding 65 students for their excellence in writing. I coordinate a state writing contest, Louisiana Writes! The fruition of many hours happens in the State Museum at the opening of the Book Festival. Many proud students, teachers, and parents will be listening to readings and taking pictures of young authors holding shiny medals, an anthology, and a certificate from the governor. A wonderful celebration!

30 days of thanks button It’s time to be thankful, a month of Thanks. Today I am grateful for beautiful weather and for my friends who have helped me lead the LA Writes contest for 10 years, Connie, Sara, Joan, and Ann.

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