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Image by Linda Mitchell
Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link

I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for my lesson on Friday. I really don’t have a good excuse. It just happened, so I opened my desk drawer and pulled out metaphor dice. I wasn’t really sure how this writing tool would work with my young students. This year my gifted classes include third and fourth graders. Do they even know what a metaphor is?

The beauty of Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice is their adaptability across every grade level and writing ability. In fact, they can be the just right teaching tool or game you need on a Friday when you don’t have a poem in your pocket.

After a few rounds of metaphor dice writing, my 4th grade student Adelyn said, “Do you ever get so involved in writing that you forget to breathe?” I think that sums up a successful writing session.

Today I am sharing one of my metaphor dice poems.

My birth is a bright songbird
singing a morning lullaby.

Each new day is a birth–
a chance to discover joy,
to hear the bright song
of the cardinal or chickadee.

Wake up!
Every day is a birth day!

Margaret Simon, draft
My notebook+ metaphor dice

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Whimsy doesn’t care if you are the driver or the passenger; all that matters is that you are on your way.
[Bob Goff]

Just like exercise, drinking water, and calling your mom, whimsy should be a part of your day. But you can’t really create whimsy. If you relax and smell the roses, is that whimsy or wonder? No matter! This is Ruth’s invitation: “Look around your corner of the world and find something whimsical. Take a picture. Write about it. (Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be.)”

The weather has turned quite chilly, so I’m not spending much time outside. But yesterday when the recess bell rang, I walked outside to chat with colleagues and shot a photo of the sky. My friend Erica said, “You always stop to smell the roses.” Doesn’t everyone? If you are not one of those people who looks up, smells the cool air, and takes time to notice the wildflowers, then take a little advice from me; start now!

January Sky by Margaret Simon

My grandchildren are an endless source of wonder and whimsy. When I was with them last weekend, my daughter was trying to put hooks on the back of a framed painting. She had gotten out all the tools she needed and put them on the counter. Leo, age 3, loves to work with real people tools. When he started whining that he had to see his mother, I knew what he really wanted was to “help” her fix the frame.

I called to him as he clung to Maggie’s leg crying “I want Mommy!”

“I have a tool here and some yarn that needs fixing.” I held up a crochet needle and a strip of red yarn and a toilet paper tube. He came running, sat down next to me, and patiently wove the yarn in and out of the TP tube. It was a brief moment of whimsy and wonder and his mother was able to finish her project.

Some of us in the PF world are working on poems for a big competition inspired by Taylor Mali’s metaphor dice. I wouldn’t post anything I thought could be a contender but this draft was fun, whimsical practice. (Metaphor roll: my heart, bright, brand new toy)

The Possibility of Death; The chance for Wonder

Hold me, he whines,
straining to see what cool tools
Mom has gathered for a project.
She raises the toddler to sit on the counter-top
and walks away to find more supplies.
Meanwhile, the coasters in metallic gold
look shiny in the toaster. Then “NO!”
Daddy saves the boy and the toaster of coasters.

Each day holds the possibility of death.

My heart is like a bright brand new toy,
which is to say Mamère has cool tools, too–
crochet needle, yarn, and a cardboard tube
that temporarily become a magic wand
sprinkling sparklers through a telescope.

Each day holds the possibility of wonder.

Margaret Simon, draft
Leo, age 3, with yarn wand
Poetry Friday is with Irene at Live your Poem

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Always on the lookout for a photo wanting to be a poem, I pay attention to photography on Instagram. James Edmunds often posts amazing photos from his travels with Susan. James and Susan live in my neighborhood and have been friends of ours for years. James has a wit comparable to his good friend, author Calvin Trillin. He posted this photo of a heron taken in Gulf State Park, Alabama on his most recent jaunt into nature with Susan. Not only did the picture attract my eye, but his clever wordplay caption made me chuckle.

Inside every heron is… hero! by James Smith Edmunds

I’ve been playing with metaphor dice lately, and thanks to Taylor Mali, now have a set of make-your-own dice. I rolled and got this metaphor. “Kindness is a blue poem.” Even when you make your own, they stretch the brain cells.

Kindness
is a blue
poem
written for
the hero
who makes
me smile.

Margaret Simon, draft

Now it’s your turn. You can use the metaphor dice roll or not. As always, support other writers with comments. I am considering making a Facebook group to expand our horizons a bit. Let me know your thoughts. If you don’t already, follow me on Facebook @MargaretGibsonSimon.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.
Reading has begun for Cybils Round One. I am judging once again in the poetry category. This is such a treat, to read new poetry books and select my favorites. Stay tuned…

This week we had a special visitor in my 6th grade gifted classroom. One of those serendipitous things about blogging and connecting with authors is exposing my students to real authors doing the work. Taylor Mali joined us on Tuesday. Prior to the visit, he sent a package of create-your-own metaphor dice. Here’s a link to order some. We struggled with deciding which words to put on our own set of dice. We made lists in our notebooks of concepts, adjectives, and objects. I’m glad we had a little struggle because we could ask questions of the master.

Jaden asked, “What is the difference between a concept and an object? Isn’t “father” an object?” Taylor was quick with the answer. He explained that many people like to write about their fathers and mothers in a metaphorical way, more like a concept than an object. He went on to tell the story of a student of his who wrote about their father as shattered glass. “I can still see myself in the shattered pieces.”

We shared our own metaphor poems and he offered feedback. One of the things he noticed in my students’ poems was the absence of their own lives. He talked about how poetry should be beautiful language, yes, but also should be the truth. He suggested ways that they could put more of their own life experience into the poems they wrote.

I tried this idea myself with a roll of my own homemade metaphor dice. The roll I got was “The past is a soft wind.” I was pleased that Taylor’s advice to my kids resonated with me, and I tapped into a true story from my childhood.

The Past is a Soft Wind

blowing wind chimes
in the old cypress tree,
ringing like a distant train
that left the station years ago.

The year we drove to Morton, Mississippi
for Thanksgiving and gathered pecans
with great grandfather. We thought
he was 100 years old. He knew things–

How to crack pecans in the palm of his hand
and how many minutes from the engine
to the caboose. We stood together watching,
counting, waving to the conductor
who, as that red house rounded the curve,
always waved back.

Margaret Simon, draft
Photo by Lawrence Schaefer on Pexels.com

I think metaphor dice will sustain us in poetry writing for the rest of this school year. Thanks, Taylor, for a wonderful, engaging writers workshop.

Taylor hosts an Instagram Live event every Monday night.

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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 class we begin with notebook time. My students know to open their notebooks as soon as they walk in. I’ve started teaching some little ones, second graders, and it’s not so well established yet with them, but we’re trying. One thing that Brayden knows already is that on Mondays we write a Slice of Life. But first, we played Mad Lib Poetry, created by Taylor Mali, that I read about on this Poetry Friday post from Denise Krebs.

Brayden answered the prompt, “Name an object that represents your mother” with “butterflies.” This stayed with him, and he wrote his Slice of Life about his mother. “My mother is a butterfly. She is beautiful.”

With my different groups of students, I wrote the Mad Lib Poem 3 times. Here is one of my versions:

I was born in the year of Donny Osmond albums.

My mother was a grand piano
and my father, a pointillist drawing.

Is it any wonder that I grew up to be an amazing cross
between Alice in Wonderland and a great blue heron?

Take a worried look at me. I am weary and feeling old.

Is it any wonder that I still have nightmares
about teaching a whole class
of second grade boys?

Margaret Simon, Mad Lib Slam Poem form by Taylor Mali

Denise shared that Taylor’s Metaphor Dice are on sale for teachers at 60% off. Grab them while you can.

On Friday with my 6th grade writers, we played three rounds of metaphor dice. This is a great game for this grade level. They grapple with the strange combinations and amaze themselves and me by what they write in 2 minutes. I think this is a great activity for critical and creative thinking.

I liked how this next poem came out as a little love poem.

My heart is a burning kiss,
burning like the fire inside
that makes bread rise,
the heat that helps babies grow,
the warmth that feeds the seed
which is to say
your tender kiss
melts my heart
into pure gold
that withstands
the test of time.

Margaret Simon, draft

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The more I play with the poetry tools, the less I trust them.  I want to manipulate the words into something, anything that rings true.  Yesterday I combined magnetic word pieces with metaphor dice.  Both of these poems interested me, but I don’t think either is a great poem.  Let’s just live in the moment for a moment.

 

White misty rose
unspoken kiss
of light wine

True summer echoes
as delicate time lost
my bare feet say-shine

 

 

 

 

 

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I lost trust in the process of this poetry playtime.  So today I set out to make it work again.  I read Elisabeth Ellington’s post using metaphor dice in a different way.  She set up her rule of play: “I had to use one of each color (concept, adjective, object), and the dice I used had to touch each other. ” I looked at her picture of her box.

I decided to take mirror, silent, and teacher, but use mirror as the object rather than teacher and wrote “The mirror is my silent teacher.”  With the use of a few paint chips, the words flowed again.  I need to be more open to the process of creativity.  It does work on occasion.

The mirror is my silent noisy teacher

babbling on

about this line

and that

showing off

dark spots

and yet

reminding me

that grandma loved

hydrangeas.

She tended her garden

like I tend my face.

Time teaches me

spirit rock lessons–

some hard as stone

some soft as hearth. home

— Margaret Simon, (draft) 2019

I did some editing on this, but now I realize that babbling is not silent.  Perhaps I need to change silent to noisy? And then hearth is really hard, not soft, so maybe home works better.  I wonder how true to the words I am given do I need to be.  Word choice is a challenge set forth by every poem.  What do you think?

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National Poetry Month 2019: I am playing with poetry alongside Mary Lee Hahn, Jone Rush MacCulloch.Christie Wyman, Molly Hogan, and Catherine Flynn.

This weekend in New Iberia was the third annual Books along the Teche Literary Festival.  On Friday, I attended a reading by former state poet laureate and one of my mentors, Darrell Bourque.  He brought along accordion artist Mary Ardoin Broussard. 

Mary Broussard plays the old Creole style of Zydeco music known as La La music.  Darrell’s poems from his book Where I Waited (Yellow Flag Press, 2016) are written in the voices of early Cajun and Creole musicians from the 1930’s and 40’s.  Cajuns and Creoles in Louisiana spoke French.  I don’t speak French, so sometimes I have a hard time following along.  I love this music for its dancing beat, but I can’t sing the lyrics and rarely know what they mean. 

Darrell wrote about the song Quoi Faire in his poem for Golden Thibodeaux with the title “Here and Here.”  Mary said quoi faire means “Why you broke my heart like that?” 
 
Darrell then spoke of the energy in Golden Thibodeaux’s music.  I, however, listened to the energy between Darrell and Mary, making their own kind of music by echoing and honoring the voices of the past.  

I played in a different way with my own poetry finding new lines within the lines of Darrell’s poem Here and Here.





 

 

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National Poetry Month 2019: I am playing with poetry alongside Mary Lee Hahn, Jone Rush MacCulloch.Christie Wyman, Molly Hogan, and Catherine Flynn.

Today I have two drafts written with a roll of metaphor dice.  I tend to roll them until I get something I think I can write about.  “Truth is a glorified meadow” was a first roll and it stumped me.  Before re-rolling, I asked my student Landon what he thought it meant.  He said, “It’s like when you have the truth, you have a wide open field of possibility.”  Such wisdom in a young 5th grader.  

I also challenged myself to use the zeno form: syllable count 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1 with each 1 syllable rhyming.

Truth is a glorified meadow
finding you in
a clear
field
open playground
without
shield
your forgiving
spirit
healed
–Margaret Simon (draft) 2019


For the next metaphor dice poem, I used magnetic poetry words to help guide the results.

Hope is a glorified dance
to delicate music–
a gorgeous goddess
whispering near,
misty gift here.
–Margaret Simon (draft) 2019

Misty morning oak

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National Poetry Month 2019: I am playing with poetry alongside Mary Lee Hahn, Jone Rush MacCulloch.Christie Wyman, Molly Hogan, and Catherine Flynn.

Thursday was a stormy day.  Everyone was talking about the storm, so when we were looking for a topic for a zeno poem, Thunder came through.  

A zeno poem was invented by J. Patrick Lewis and it follows the mathematical sequence 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1, and the one syllable words rhyme.  Great time to pull up RhymeZone and do some chatting about word meanings like dire.

Thunder is a loud, cranky noise
terrifying
crackling
fire
electric charges
targets
wire
outrageously
shocking
dire.

–Mrs. Simon’s class

I then set my students loose to write their own zeno poems while I worked on my own.  I tried the haikubes, but there are no rhyming words in them, so it proved nearly impossible to make a zeno.  Then I turned to metaphor dice.  A little better, but I’m still not completely satisfied with the results.  But, as writing partner Molly Hogan stated in her post yesterday, I honored the play of it all.

The mind is a back-handed drum
pounding fissures
into 
line
beating thoughts with
rhythm
time
waiting for my
soul to
shine.

–Margaret Simon, (draft) 2019

Poetry Friday round-up is with Karen Edmisten.








 

 

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