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Posts Tagged ‘NaPoWriMo’

NPM2016

My internal critic is turned on high voltage. I take my journal in my backpack to school to school (I teach at two), and I turn the page and write some words, then a student needs me. I come back to the page focused, thinking, and another student has to share.

Here I am at home with Charlie and there’s nothing worth much in my journal. This is day 13 of my personal challenge to write a poem a day, and my personal critic thinks I can’t possibly keep this up.

Step one: upload a picture. Here’s another sky picture taken from my car with my phone.

Sky Sea

Sky Sea

How to Stay a Poet (A synonym poem)

Attach a line to a thought
with a long string, maybe even wire

Fasten sprinkles of light,
a frosting of powdered sugar would taste good.

Unite clouds to sky to space,
an ethereal concept, I know.

Abide with your favorite poets,
savor their strength, their providence.

Linger over the page, make a statement,
scratch it out, start again.

Remain committed; don’t listen to the witch
in your head telling you to abandon all.

Keep on writing. Stay a poet.
Stay here.

–Margaret Simon

Process: After writing the title, I did a synonym search for “stay.” I used selected synonyms as the first word of each stanza. Creating rules for myself helped me get through writer’s block. This is not one of my finer poems, but it’s a poem. Let’s keep moving forward.

Follow the Progressive Poem to Teacher Dance

Follow the Progressive Poem to Teacher Dance

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NPM2016

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

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

We brought out the paintbrushes and watercolor paints.  Each table had a stack of white paper.  I turned on the music.  Painting flowed in time with the beat.

This is dancing with a paintbrush.  When the music stops, we title the piece of art and list three words that come to mind.  This continues for three rounds.  The songs are all instrumental, one sounds oriental, another symphonic, and another Irish.

Following this painting activity, we write.

Freedom of expression, playing with words, making associations with music and poetry, the resulting poems went in all kinds of directions. (My students share their poems on Kidblog.)

In reading Tara Smith’s book review of Writing with Mentors, I pulled out this piece of advice: “Mentors Show Students How to Play: In order to grow as writers, students need safe places to play with writing – places that aren’t assessed or evaluated or given a grade.  They need places where their work can be messy, where thinking outside the box and being wild with ideas is encouraged.”

When I was struggling to write a poem with my painting, I turned to a favorite author, Mary Oliver.  From A Thousand Mornings, “Poem of the One World” begins “This morning/ the beautiful white heron/ was floating along above the water.”

Writing beside this master poet helped me to follow the rhythm that my own words wanted to take.

This longing
the beautiful white egret
wanders from known to unknown waters

And then
onto the shore of this
one stream we all swim in

where everyone
is part of the blue vein
where we can throw a stone in

which thought made me feel
for a small moment
welcomed home.

–Margaret Simon, after Mary Oliver

Dancing with a paintbrush

The abstract painting that led to my poem.

 

Follow the Progressive Poem to Today's Little Ditty

Follow the Progressive Poem to Today’s Little Ditty

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NPM2016

Last week I led myself and my students into image poems.  We imagined a scene in nature (or on water) and wrote to this list of line prompts from the River of Words Teacher’s Guide. 

Prompts for the Teacher:

~ Think about this spot. Sketch it if you like.

~ Picture yourself in this location.Write a line or sentence that describes what you are doing and exactly where you are: “Sitting on a sandbar on the banks of the Calcasieu River in IndianVillage, Louisiana.”

~ In your imagination, look up.What do you see? Begin this line with “Above me” or “Over my head.”Try to use a simile in this line.

~ Now look into the distance, as far as you can see.Write what you see.

~ Describe a sound you might hear in this place.

~ What is on your right?

~ Hone in on a single detail in this scene.Try to describe it, using an unusual or vivid verb in the line.

~ Shift your perspective and your position—stand up, flop down, walk away—and notice another detail in the landscape: the quality of light, the time of day, a seasonal plant or animal,for example.

~ Finally, read over your images and see if you can conclude with a reflective line that somehow captures how you feel about being in this place.(You might caution students not to rush this line; it may occur to them later as they compose their poem).

rope swing

Swinging by the bayou on the grandmother oak,
legs curled around knotted rope,

Above me branches drape like outstretched arms
holding strong,

Sky opens up to a flash of egret flickering through the trees.

The echo of a far-off motor drums the quiet.

The holding tree is the oldest oak I know.
Hanging moss twirls in a wind-dance.

Jumping from the rope-grip,
my feet fall on fronds of greening fern.

My swinging is a brief sparkle in this grandmother’s eye.

–Margaret Simon

Here is Vannisa’s poem.  She pointed to a postcard from Marjorie Pierson’s collecting of wetlands photographs as her inspiration. Click here to view the image.

Standing in the shade,
on the edge of a swamp
where there are cypress trees
with snakes and alligators
lurking within the waters

Over my head,
thick branches and leaves
sway over me as a roof,
with moss dropping down
like the strings of balloons
that fly to the ceiling

In the distance
more trees and gators are
still creeping underneath

Insect buzzing
filling my ears,
the tweets of birds
travel from above

On my right,
a tree trunk
with bugs crawling in a line
making their way up and around

Mother duck and her ducklings
swim all over
yawing around places where
mother knows it’s unsafe

Moving away from the shade,
the water reflects
the afternoon sun into my eyes,
glistening in the light

This artistic landscape
won’t be able to stay forever,
you won’t notice it,
but the wetlands are quickly washing away.

–Vannisa, 6th grade

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NPM2016

Also inspired by Amy, quick watercolor in the sketchbook.

Also inspired by Amy, quick watercolor in the sketchbook.

The kidlitoshpere is wildly growing with poems. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is writing daily to wonders from Wonderopolis. I found a poem in her post, How Sweet is Honeysuckle?

The line “Words live on like echoes” came from Barry Lane’s song “Sammy Miller” from Force Field for Good.

I wrote two poems today,
one from an open window with honeysuckle
and rhyme, but this time the poem
felt not ready to be shared.

Words live on like echoes…

I need to let a poem sit
read  words over and over
Trust the feeling,
Move on.

Words live on like echoes…

Poems make me happy.
Poems make me sing.
I pretend to be a mother hummingbird.
I like the sounds of words.

Words live on like echoes…

Poems make me fall in love
with hummingbirds. I want to
plant a garden of milkweed,
trumpet honeysuckle,
& love poems
for you.

Words live on like echoes.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

It's my turn!

It’s my turn!

Today is Saturday, time to celebrate with Ruth Ayres and my fellow bloggers, but first I must stop and post a line to the Progressive Poem, the brainchild of author Irene Latham.  This year’s poem has taken on a pattern.  It rhymes, too, but I am grateful I don’t have to complete a rhyming line.  All I have to do is set up the next stanza.  The pattern of first lines began with Laura’s “A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky.”  Then Penny made the decision to repeat this pattern in “A cast of crabs engraves the sand.”  So all I have to do is fill in the blanks “A __da__ of __de___ __da-da____ ___di___ __doe___.”  Where do we want to go next?  From observing the sky to the ocean we have watched hawks and hummingbirds and crabs.

I have been working with images for my poem a day project.  My friend, Kimberley, in Maine sent me this picture of purple crocuses in her yard wilting in the recent cold snap.  I decided to keep us in the natural world but move into the plant world.

photo by Kimberley Moran

photo by Kimberley Moran

A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky
A hummingbird holds and then hies
If I could fly, I’d choose to be
Sailing through a forest of poet-trees
A cast of crabs engraves the sand
Delighting a child’s outstretched hand
If I could breathe under the sea
I’d dive, I’d dip, I’d dance with glee
A clump of crocuses crave the sun.
In the spirit of poetry and connecting through blogging, Kevin Hodgson left a comment on my abecedarian post yesterday that honored me as a writer, but also honored the entire blogging community.  Thanks, Kevin!
A
Blog has
Character beyond
Description:
Everywhere you write,
For yourself and readers,
Good words chewed like fine food, nourishing
Health and happiness and creative
Inspiration.
Just listen to the music of the dance,
Knowing you are invited to
Learn about the world through
Many voices, many stories, many
New ways of seeing the world, always
Open to
Possibilities.
Quell your qualms, for writing has
Real value beyond the shape and texture, and
Somewhere, someone will read your words
Though it might seem terribly silent at times,
Until that moment when they write a note that lets you know with
Veracity that your Truth resonates
With their Truth,
eXceeding the notion of one writer/one story;
You are writing the World together, dancing the
Zydeco Write!Kevin
— Cheated at X.
:0

 

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NPM2016

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

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

Day 5 is at Penny and Her Jots

Day 5 is at Penny and Her Jots

napo2016button2

Writing poems can be serious business. The first day back after spring break I asked my students to think hard about poetry. We read together a poem from the Teaching Guide for the River of Words Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things. (Handout 4:Writing from film) I highly recommend this guide for great poetry lessons written by my friends Harriet Maher and Connie McDonald.

The poem spoke in an ominous tone about the destruction of our earth. Students picked out these word, demented, shattered, purged, and monsters, as negative tone words. They noticed that the poem was a sad commentary on what we humans do to our earth home.

Then I played the first 8 minutes of the documentary of Ansel Adams.

While we watched the video, we collected words and phrases. We all wrote poems. Many of the students’ poems reflected the negative tone of the poem we read together. My favorite student poem is from Erin. She wrote how the silence was too loud. You can read her poem here.

Free image from Wikipedia.

Free image from Wikipedia.

Ansel Adams, 1902-1984

The artist transformed
moments into wild majesty
expressing in
exalted language of photography
how small we really are.

Among the tall trees
or the great mountains,
our humanness is separate–
a communion in the presence
of mystery.

Even in the absence of color,
in shades of black and white,
fragments are shattered
into a mosaic of truth.

We understand the fragile nature of things.

–Margaret Simon

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NPM2016

napo2016button2

Day 4 is at Random Noodling with Diane

Day 4 is at Random Noodling with Diane

I first “wrote” this poem by speaking to my phone in the notes app. I didn’t start with a photographed image. If I could have, I would have taken a picture of the heron, but as we watched the scene, my cat snuck out and scared it off.

Instead I took a picture looking up at our church.

Church spire

Sunday

On this day
I have plans,
compartments in my mind
like squares on the calendar.

But first, I look out
at the heron on the bayou.
He stretches his neck
into the bright morning sun.

I sip my warm coffee,
listen to the news,
the call of the mourning dove.

I will worship today
stick my neck out long
to catch the rays of the sun,
listen to an orchestra on the lawn.

–Margaret Simon

Here is a link to a padlet from JoEllen McCarthy from The Educator Collaborative with links to great #PoetryLove sites.

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