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Posts Tagged ‘Poem a Day’

NPM2016

Most every Tuesday, I wake early to serve at Solomon House, a mission of my church and a food bank.  My self-appointed job is to find the clients’ names on a printed spreadsheet, check their IDs, and have them sign.  During this process, I say good morning, how are you today, and have a great day.  And most times they say these same greetings to me.  I feel blessed by their presence, their love, and this small way to be a blessing to someone else.

 

 

buttercups

There are places where
buttercups bloom
unattended
no one cares
or notices.

They bloom anyway.

Solomon House waiting

There are people
nobody sees
walking alone on the street
clothes in need of  cleaning
backs aching from failure.

The news speaks for itself
but I can help.

My hands are warm and kind;
they reach for you.

My mind is clear and focused;
I think of you.

My shoulder is light and flexible;
I can carry your burden.

I see buttercups.

I see you.

–Margaret Simon

 

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

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

NPM2016

Here I am again at this blank page.  I click to “add media,” setting the stage for yet another poem.

I find myself looking all day long for inspiration.  Will it come in the opening of a flower?  The words of a child? Advice from a friend?  The pages of a book?

I look and look.

Sometimes I open this page afraid that nothing will happen.

But something always does.  Because when you show up to the page, magic happens.

purple forest

A video posted by “Access Oneness” and shared by two Facebook friends intrigued me.  The inscription read, “So, you lose balance and you fall … but, what do you do next? Stop? Or go on? Make art out of falling …”

Go to this link to view the video.

I was caught off-guard, unbalanced, not knowing what to feel except inspired, exhilarated.

The words flowed.

In the purple forest
one can climb
stand
slip
fall
rise again
All in the moment
of stillness
above the water
A choice
to fall
and fail,
or balance
and dance–
A chance
to fly.

–Margaret Simon

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NPM2016

Yesterday, my student Lani was featured on Today’s Little Ditty with a reverso poem inspired by the book Water Rolls, Water Rises by Pat Mora.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is writing a poem a day about daily Wonders on Wonderopolis.  I love how her website speaks directly to students about the writing process.  On Monday, Amy wrote, “I began thinking about the value of sharing our stories, the sad ones as well as the happy ones.”  Her poem was a before/after poem that held universal truths about the sadness of broken marriages.

There’s a sadness weighing on my mind.  It’s not my loss, but even when others suffer a loss, we grieve.  It’s the way of the world.

My writing friend, Catherine Flynn wrote a poem about Crystal Rapids in the Grand Canyon, but the poem was about so much more.  This stanza speaks to that deep grief that comes back over and over.

The path is altered,
a chasm opens.
Never fully healed,
full of fissures that can crack
without warning,
bringing us to our knees.” (Catherine Flynn)

Sometimes writing poetry is about diving into the sadness, entering in, and letting it all go.  Inspired by Amy’s and Catherine’s poetic honesty, I wrote this poem for B.  She’s probably not ready to read it.  But I needed to write it.

A Tree Grows near the Pier

Before
when the sun rose,
so did he,
fishing pole in hand,
tackle in a box.
His heart full of hope.
His mind full of lures.

After
the boat lost him,
so did we,
as a tree grows
near his tackle box;
Its branches open wide
for resurrection fern.

–Margaret Simon

resurrection fern

Ruth has the Progressive Poem today.

Ruth has the Progressive Poem today.

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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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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

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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NPM2016

#imagepoems Day 1 image

#imagepoems Day 1 image

Today is April 1st and April Fool’s Day.  I have fooled myself into thinking I can write a poem every day in April to an image.  This first image was a joke played on me when I entered the bathroom at Ann Taylor Loft.  “Watch out for the mannequins.” I was warned.  I imagined they had wisdom to share.  I also tried to play with the “in” sound.  (Note: If you are playing along with me, put your poem or a link to it in the comments.)

 

Wisdom of the Mannequins

Appreciate the bare skin of things.

Sometimes it pays to be a skinflint.

Stand up straight and let your hips glide.

Don’t underestimate the power of a soft                                                              brush of blush.

Listen with a tinted ear.

You want to fit in the skin you’re in.

Bend, blend, and be happy.

–Margaret Simon

 

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

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

The Progressive poem begins at Laura’s site: Writing the World for Kids.

Jessica Bigi is joining in the poem-a-day image poems with this taste of spring today:

Moonbeam crowns
Embroidered bumblebee gowns
Brassy trumpet jazz
Teacup gardens steeping
Sweet is spring’s song
Spades Queens Kings

–Jessica Bigi

Art by Jessica Bigi

Art by Jessica Bigi

 

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Slice of Life Day 19.  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Slice of Life Day 19. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I subscribe to The American Academy of Poets Poem a Day email blast, so every day I get a poem. Sometimes they pile up in my inbox. I really hate to just delete them, but I don’t often have time to read them when I am checking my email. But this morning, the poet’s name caught my eye, Margaret Gibson.

When you’ve lived the first 20 something years of your life with a name, you get to know it, so imagine how surprised I was to find out I was a poet. At least I like to think of myself as a poet, but in actuality, I haven’t published much poetry. And truth be told, I use my married name more often now. But still, I was taken aback.

Of course, I didn’t write the poem. Another Margaret-Gibson-named poet did. I can only dream of being published by LSU Press. This namesake of mine lives in Connecticut, not Louisiana. I googled her. She is older than me (good). She is attractive (also good). I actually think we would like each other a lot.

Margaret Gibson, the poet.  Not me.

Margaret Gibson, the poet. Not me.

Here are some lovely quotes by Margaret Gibson:

Poetry is really an act of taking things that come to you, a scarlet tanager or an act of war — whatever takes your attention, you study it for yourself, but you also take it into that part of yourself where you test things. You look out and you look in.

You realize everything is personal and everything is impersonal. We’re all part of one enormous, sometimes painful, sometimes joyful experience.

One of the things I think we’re here to do is to find the things that are broken and to mend them. Or to find where there is fracture or division and create a wholeness.

from Grace: A Magazine for Women

Margaret has a new book coming out in September entitled The Broken Cup which includes poems about life with her husband, author David McKain who has Alzheimer’s. The poem I received in my email is Losing it, speaking so frankly and eloquently about the loss of things.

What little I know, I hold closer,
more dear, especially now
that I take the daily
reinvention of loss as my teacher.

Read the whole poem here.

Funny thing, this daily writing practice. I had no idea what I was going to write about when I sat down at my computer. My avoidance strategy was to read my emails. What a gift I received today from a woman with my name!

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