Posts Tagged ‘Naomi Shihab Nye’

Poetry Friday round-up is with here!

I am hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today. Please join by placing your link using Inlinkz at the end of the page.

Today is the monthly gathering of Sunday Night Poetry Swaggers posts. This month Heidi Mordhorst challenged us to write a farewell letter to our students. We finished out the official school year 2 weeks ago, but truthfully, our school year ended on March 13th.

My emotions have been so torn by the pandemic and recent protests that I am unsure how I would talk to my students about it all. And then once again Naomi Shihab Nye’s Kindness crossed my path. That poem always moves me. “Before you know what kindness really is,/ you must lose things.” I decided to take a striking line for a golden shovel.

When I use another poet’s line to create a poem, I feel that poet is somehow writing alongside me. There is comfort in that. However, from the decision to write a golden shovel to the poem I am sharing, I’ve started and stopped many times. I am still not sure it’s what I want to say, but it’s getting there. I plan to mail both poems to my students as a way to say goodbye.

Dear students, we were together one day, then
pandemic stay-at-home made it
hard to know what is 
good and real and right. Our only 
idea of kindness 
included a drive-by party that 
but may not comfort you anymore.

My only 
hope is you keep kindness 
in front of all that 
worries you. Focus on what ties 
you to others. Hold on to your 
ability to walk in someone else’s shoes
empathize with a character who sends
you into their world. You 
can make a difference out
of your choices. Lean into
what you know is good. Be the
best you can be every day. 

Margaret Simon, Golden Shovel draft

To see other Swaggers’ letters of farewell:


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A gathering of poetry can be found at Liz Steinglass’s site.

The Winter Poetry Swap has arrived. Our friend Tabatha Yeatts matches us up for a rich exchange of poetry inspired gifts. This year I was paired with Tricia Stohr-Hunt. This week I received her gift.

Tricia spent some time on my gift. That impresses me because these days, especially in December, time is precious and small. She cross-stitched my favorite line of poetry from Naomi Shihab Nye. Now to know this, she had to read my blog posts. Then design and stitch.

And to top it all off, she wrote a wonderful golden shovel using the line.

Golden Shovel for Advent

It is not the season of me or I.
nor the season of greed and want.
It is time for reflection, time to
prepare for the guest. We must be
ready to reach out to someone,
anyone who needs, anyone who
asks. Let us draw nearer to what makes
us whole. As the year crowns, it is music
that fills the air and our hearts with
expectation. Stars keep watch. My,
how they shine! Rejoice, for the Lord is coming.

Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2019

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Poetry Friday round-up Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.

Naomi Shihab Nye has been named the Young People’s Poet Laureate of the US. I can’t think of anyone better. I’ve met Naomi on a few occasions, most recently when I moderated an NCTE presentation in November, 2018. Her gentle manner and down-to-earth style is just right for these times. She’s comfortable and makes you feel comfortable, too.

One of my favorite young people’s poetry book by Naomi Shihab Nye is A Maze Me. For one, this is a great title with multiple meanings. It’s a book of poems specifically for girls. The poems comfort, amaze, and give readers a sense of the timelessness of childhood.

My favorite line of poetry appears in the poem Ringing that seems to be about all the sounds of ringing a child may hear. The vegetable truck, milk truck, and the ever-ringing ice-cream truck. “They are all bringers.”

The last line reads “I want to be someone making music with my coming.”

Along with all the luscious on the lips m-sounds is a deeper meaning. A longing we can all relate to. We want to be expected. We want to be adored. We want to be loved. Naomi captures this universal longing in one simple line. That is the genius of her poetry.

I sing lullabies to my grandson. I am embarrassed if anyone hears me. But I shouldn’t care. I want to be the someone in his life who makes music with my coming. This is love.

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National Poetry Month 2018

Moon Song by Lisa Kattenbraker

Seven Ways to Touch the Moon

Be still.
Ride the tide.
Climb on a branch.
Read a moon story.
Look beyond horizons.
Play your instrument for her.

–Margaret Simon

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Are you carrying a poem?  Today I will carry two poems, one in each pocket.  I hold Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Kindness.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things...

I will also hold a poem from one of Kim Douillard's students, Avi.  
She posted this poem on her blog, and it touched me.

Poetry Is

Poetry is like the last rays of sun on a sunset

it leaves with beauty and sadness at the same time

poetry is like a song that sings forever

and when you forget

it will always whisper back.






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Poetry Friday is with Dianne at Random Noodling

I think one of the most enjoyable things about writing poetry is playing with words. I’ve been known to have multiple tabs open on my computer to dictionary and thesaurus sites as well as research sites. I’ll Google a word and get lost in the direction it takes me.

This week one of my self-assigned poetry writing activities was to play with the juxtaposition of words. Inspired by activities in the book Rip the Page: Adventures in Creative Writing, I filled a few pages in my notebook with “words that need a friend.”

Then I wondered what I should do with these lists. I found more inspiration from Naomi Shihab Nye’s book A Maze Me. The poem “Where are You?” included this line that I borrowed, “I’m tucked inside each fresh paper page.” My friend Dani calls this “Taking a line for a walk” from her recent institute with the Montana Writing Project.

By giving myself the discipline of writing a poem every day, I am finding new and innovative ways to encourage my students’ writing when school begins again.

Pixabay photo

A Poem is Waiting

I’m tucked inside
each fresh paper page–
feathery poems
softly drizzled on Tuesday,
a perfumed whir,
blink in the sunshine
of your imagination.

A poem is salty chatter
of newly hatched chick-a-dees
twittering in the nest of cloud-joy.

A poem is a twister of whispers
rising on the weather front
of waving slurps of watermelon.

A poem is a show-off peacock
emerging from the bush
of brain bellows,
a scented thunder
from afternoon rain

sprinkling my face,
touching my hand,
this page.
Open gently.

–Margaret Simon

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

Catherine Flynn, who blogs at Reading to the Core, recommended a book for writers, Rip the Page: Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke.  I bought the book.  On page 31, one of my favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye, wrote a note to the writer.  She writes, “Nothing is too small to notice.” So I take notice.



I notice the light,
how today
the first day of spring,
the light is brighter

reflecting off the shiny Grumman canoe
propped against the satsuma tree,
reddening the shasta daisies
that just opened today
in time to say “Welcome spring.”

This light
intensifies the green,
illuminates Spanish moss
that hangs like abandoned spider webs.

This light ripples the bayou
in gentle wrinkles.
No rain in days,
so I water.

The spray from the hose

I remember…
how she loves rainbows.

That’s how this light is:
full of itself, showing off,
making love with life.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved



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Poetry Friday round-up is with Amy at The Poem Farm.

Poetry Friday round-up is with Amy at The Poem Farm.


Naomi Shihab Nye visited our classroom this week.  We watched her video of Valentine for Ernest Mann.  Showing the video made it feel like she was right there with us having a conversation.  Then we read the poem again and again, talking about it at length.  This poem can start a classroom controversy over whether or not skunks are really beautiful.

I asked my students to re-read the poem again and find some words that speak to them and try out their own poem.  I shared my poem. (posted here)

Sometimes poetry magic happens.  It happened for Lani.  She sat quietly with her notebook for a while and came to me to share this poem. She was proud that she wrote the poem from the point of view of the poem.  I think she caught the golden fish on the first try.


You can try to look for me
and I won’t be there
I won’t be in a drawer or
in your pocket. I won’t be
on a shiny plate ready to
share. Since you can’t order
me like you order a
Big Mac at McDonalds
You will have to search for
me like archeologists search
for bones. It will take a
while to find me and
it won’t be easy if
I’m in your hair or in
a skunk’s eyes. You
just have to look. I can
be anywhere from the
outside to inside your home.
The most likely place that
I will be is in the back
of your mind, ready to
happen and be shared.

–Lani, 5th grade (after Naomi Shihab Nye’s Valentine for Ernest Mann)

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

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

This long Labor Day weekend was just the time I needed to clean out.  Usually it’s a summer chore, but this summer I traveled quite a bit, so I put it off.  In a month, my daughter is getting married.  We are hosting the rehearsal dinner at our house.  I want things to look nice.

Obviously, no one will be looking in my drawers, but I’ll know they are neat and organized.

Cleaning out also leads to memories.  I found this Thanku poem written by Kylon when he was in third grade.  I think he’s in 8th grade this year.


I was thinking about the little gems and memories today when I wrote poetry with my students.  We were discussing Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Valentine for Ernest Mann and how poems can hide.

Note: Kylon wrote this poem, but Kieran was the boy who cried on the last day of school.  Both were gifts in their own way.


Poems Hide

Sometimes when you aren’t even looking, you find them,
tucked into the junk drawer, sticking out,
saying, “Here I am; Read me aloud!”

That’s where I found this poem.
I was looking for something else,
a roll of tape maybe,
but what I found was this gift
from that last day of school
when you cried into your mother’s lap
because you would never be in third grade again
with me,
with Mr. Pants, the class guinea pig,
or with that desk
that had become your sacred space.

Things change, Kieran,
but memories live on,
Like poems
in the junk drawer.

–Margaret Simon







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Poetry Friday round-up with Kimberley at Written Reflections

Poetry Friday round-up with Kimberley at Written Reflections

Inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem How Long Peace Takes from 19 Varieties of Gazelle, my students and I wrote our own How Long poems. The repeated line “As long as” followed by images works well to inspire poetry.  I wrote one about healing. I am slowly recovering from my tailbone injury. The bayou seems to appear often in my poems and as I am recovering, I have watched the bayou every day. Such a peaceful place to heal.

Peak through the old cypress to the brown bayou.

Peak through the old cypress to the brown bayou.

How Long Healing Takes

As long as reflections of tall trees on a winding bayou.

As long as the slow mowing of a field of grass.

As long as the the thread of soft yarn
winds its way into a baby’s blanket.

As long as the body insists
on being separate and human.

As long as instinct is ignored
and we just talk louder to each other.

As long as the cat
finds a box in the closet,
comfort in cardboard.
She hides all day invisible.

As long as the flowers in the vase
smile their peachy-orange smile
and say stay,
be well.
–Margaret Simon

And now for a few students’s poems.

How Long Patience Takes

As long as you rise at dawn

As long as the sun rises above
to shine upon us

As long as the teapot sings
a steamy song

As long as long as you make a wish
at 11:11

As long as you blow out you candles
on your special day

As long as you have

As long as you leave at dusk

–Emily, 5th grade

How Long Creativity Takes

As long as you’re reading
with a smile on your face
so deep in your book
you can’t hear anything

As long as you’re drawing
letting the pencil control you
light and dark lines
here and there

As long as you’re brainstorming
with ideas flowing out left and right
shouting them out like you don’t care
while you peacefully think of some more

As long as you’re writing
with a pen in your hand
as you think of a story
and poem at the same time

As long as you let your imagination flow
making dreams a reality
and never losing hope
and letting your mind run wild

As long as you never stop believing
believe in the impossible
step out your comfort zone
and live a creative life

–Erin, 4th grade

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Poetry Friday round-up at Write, Sketch, Repeat.

Poetry Friday round-up at Write, Sketch, Repeat.

From The Time is Now weekly writing prompt:

Poetry Prompt
This week, listen to a poem new to you–by a contemporary poet or a bygone poet–and jot down the words, phrases, and images that are most striking or memorable to you. Then write your own poem inspired by this list of words. How do you transform someone else’s poetic intuition and choices into a work that demonstrates your personal idiosyncrasies and specific aesthetic sense?

The word Listen caught my attention in this prompt. How does listening change your perspective? Reading and collecting words is easy. Would listening work as well?

One of my favorite poets is Naomi Shihab Nye. I’ve had the privilege of seeing her live and meeting her in a workshop setting. But this is a new school year, and I hadn’t brought her voice into the room yet. I selected a video from the Dodge Poetry Festival, one I had actually attended, so I could tell the kids, “I was there!” If you haven’t heard this poem, it is hilarious and much more so from the actual voice of Naomi Shihab Nye. She wrote things her 2-3 year-old-son actually said.

I instructed my students to collect words while they listened. Some lists were long. Others had nothing. So I asked the ones who wrote to share their words. “If you don’t have any words, you can steal these.”

I love this kind of writing prompt because you never know where the words will take you. A few of the students wrote their own random poems, a list of nonsensical sentences. This was OK with me because the intent of the experience was to hear poetry and play with language. We don’t play enough with words. Poetry is playing. You can read all of the poems on this padlet.

Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music. - William Stafford

I want to share a few here also. My poem is written for that student who constantly sings aloud in the classroom. You know the ones who have a beat to their step.

Music leaps into her ears
down to her toes.
Tap, tap!
Her feet gallop across the floor.

Notes fill the cup,
spill over her lips
like dictionaries for songs.

I would miss her singing.
I would miss her jumping feet.
I would miss loving her.
–Margaret Simon

Erin is only in 4th grade. When I read her poem, which she wrote covering two white boards, I told her she had the wisdom of a 65 year old. I also told her that she created a question/ answer form in her poem.

What is love?

Love is when you want a person to be your Valentine
so bad you want to gallop away with them.

What is love like?
Love is like a swing.
It can bring you up
or take you down.

Is love hard?

Love is like a peanut,
hard on the outside
but sweet on the inside.

What can love do to you?
Love can make you talk gibberish.
Love can make you dance the night away to soulful music.

What can love feel like?
Love can feel hard like a pecan cookie
or be soft like an ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookie.

What can love make you feel like?
Love can make you feel
like you are close by your
Valentine when you are truly
one thousand miles apart.

Love can be the best
or worst thing in the world.

–Erin, 4th grade

Emily is also one who is wise beyond her years. She picked up on Naomi’s opening when she said that we are all born poets, just some of us keep it up.


It is hard being a person
But, living is a gift that is given,
and all metal was liquid first,
and all people have to find their way to be.

Everyone is born with poetry,
but not all people stick with it.

You know when you find your thing
when you have music in your legs
and jazz in your toes.

–Emily, 5th grade

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