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Posts Tagged ‘Mentor poems’

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

Through blogging communities like this one (Slice of Life) and Poetry Friday, I’ve met many mentors for writing. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is one of those special teacher-poets who generously gives of herself. During the pandemic shut down, she recorded videos in Betsy, her writing camper, every day. These can be found on her YouTube channel. Last year she went back to teaching, so she didn’t blog as much. Boy, did we miss her voice in cyberspace!

But she’s back and each week on Friday, she posts a mentor poem on The Poem Farm with student-friendly (and adult-friendly) instructions for writing your own poem. This past Friday, her poem came up on my Instagram and was just right for our writing time.

Crocheted wool hat by Margaret Simon

One of our kindergarten teachers is having a baby, so I crocheted a little hat for her new child. This was on my mind when I wrote alongside my students. I gifted the poem to Miss Heidi along with the hat.

The Wool Hat

after Amy Ludwig VanDerwater “Circles”

When sheep’s wool
becomes yarn
becomes crochet
becomes hat,
a newborn baby’s head
holds a sheep,
yarn,
hands,
needle,
warmth,
and I wonder
how prayers
offered for a stranger
growing inside a friend
becomes a child
wearing a hat
passed on
from sheep to hand
to heart
to warmth
to love.

Margaret Simon

Jaden, 6th grade, has started a new trend when he writes his gratitude poem. If he makes a mistake, he turns it into a picture. I noticed his little designs and complimented him. He said, “Oh, I made those dots and stars because I messed up.” That sounds like a poem to me. And so he turned his mistakes into stars into a poem.

Recycle Poem

Old mistakes
become rainbows
and new designs
old mistakes 
become new inspirations 
when I look at the designs
will I remember the old mistakes? 
will I think of new ideas?
shapes like stars and squares?
or something new?
what will the new mistakes become?

Jaden, 6th grade

One of the fourth grade teachers is raising monarchs. Katie was inspired by this and wrote her circle poem about the life cycle of a butterfly.

Life Cycle Poem

Out of a small egg
comes a small, slimy, bean.
A bean that squirms
and grows and grows.
Grows into a small
chrysalis where it stays for a while
until it’s ready to fly.
Fly into the real world
with beautiful, colored, wings
and to reproduce
another small egg.

Katie, 6th grade
Monarch hatchling by Margaret Simon

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jone.

The beginning of February is finally here and the Swaggers are posting responses to a new challenge. This month Catherine Flynn challenged us.

Copy a mentor poem (or other text) “word for word, then replace [that poet’s] language with your own.”
Inspired by S. Kirk Walsh’s essay “How E.L. Doctorow Taught an Aspiring Writer to Hear the Sounds of Fiction” (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/09/books/review/e-l-doctorow-virginia-woolf-music-literature-language.html )

The Writer’s Almanac comes daily in my email inbox. Some days I barely have time to read it, but others I find a kernel of inspiration, a poem, an author, a rabbit hole. On this day, I remembered Catherine’s prompt and tucked the poem into a document to work with later.

The process was fun. I used the suggesting tool in Google docs editor. That way I kept the original underneath the new text I added. In Greg Watson’s poem, the main character is a yellow lab waiting for its owner outside a coffee shop. We don’t have a yellow lab, but my little schnoodle Charlie goes bonkers when our resident raccoon visits to steal our outdoor cat’s food.

When I’m up early, I feed the cat before dawn. When the raccoon comes, I let Charlie out to the side yard when he goes crazy. One morning, I actually saw the raccoon. It did not run away as I expected, but just stood still like a stone creature from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Watson’s poem gave me the perfect structure to capture this surprising moment.

Raccoon Outside the Back Door

The raccoon outside the back door
today does not move; but instead,

still with ever-expectant energy,
like a heron perched for the catch,

forepaws poised in the air
above the leaf-littered sidewalk,

he stops without making a sound,
knowing that any moment

the cat food will disappear,
slipped back into the human house,

and night will suddenly fall into
day: every sound, sight, and aroma

disturbed, the door swinging
open and shut, with a backward glance

awkward silhouette, following,
as if it had somewhere to go.

Margaret Simon, after Greg Watson

See other Swaggers poems from mentor poems:

Molly Hogan: Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core
Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe

Photo by anne sch on Pexels.com

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