Posts Tagged ‘Sandra Sarr’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Dori at Dori Reads

Poetry Friday round-up is with Dori at Dori Reads


With the threat of flooding gone and a need to connect with others, I attended a writing workshop led by my friend Sandra Sarr.

Sandy moved to Louisiana two years ago and quickly embedded herself in the arts community.  From her travels here to research her novel, she met interesting people like Dennis Paul Williams.  She once took me on a visit to his studio.  In 2013, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press published a large coffee table book of Dennis’s artwork.  I bought the book, but hate to admit that it just sat on the coffee table.

But Sandy’s ekphrastic exercise brought me closer to the images housed in Soul Exchange.  She made color copies and handed them out.  This is the one I picked.

DPWilliams painting


Before Sandy instructed us to write, I started writing.

Secrets shared
like a kiss
softly touching
a cheek.
Even while
she’s sleeping,
she hears
the sound
of singing,
a lullaby.

Sun glows
through the window.
She traces the line
of her face
in the mirror
only touching
the outline–
That space
where skin
meets sky.

She’s never lonely
covers of lace
because she knows
the secrets,
the ones whispered
on the wings
of a prayer.

Even her hair
glows like
rainbow light.

–Margaret Simon

This was just the free write, but I was happy with it.  Then Sandy asked us to circle words from our free write that had some power for us.  She handed out notecards for us to write our words on, tear them apart and put them back together into a new poem.


Words taken from my free writing.

Words taken from my free writing.


This was the resulting poem.

Enter dark space
a line draws her face

Her protector
in covers of lace.

Angels kiss
her prayer.

the path to grace.

–Margaret Simon

What I love about this activity is the abstract way it gets to the soul where you write with authenticity and abandon all at the same time.  I want to try this with my students.  I wonder how they will handle the randomness of it.  Will they get frustrated or enjoy the freedom?  Some days, and especially hard days full of sadness, I find solace in poetry, in the act of creating.  It gets me out of my thinking brain for a minute and allows me to relax into flow. Thanks, Sandy, for sharing Dennis’s art and leading me on a path of discovery.



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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I was invited by my friend, Sandra Sarr, to participate in a writing process blog tour. Sandra completed her MFA from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, Whidbey Writers Workshop, in 2013. She is currently seeking representation for her first novel, The Road to Indigo. I met Sandy last May when she was visiting Louisiana to complete her research for her novel. Sandy blogs at The Road to Indigo. I wrote a poem for her last year and posted it here.

What am I working on?

I don’t like this question because it so presumptive. Like a writer should be working on something all the time? Ok, I guess if I’m going to call myself a writer, I should be working on something. In my writing folder, you will find a completed verse novel, a sequel to my first young readers novel Blessen, and many poems. I can’t say I am working on the sequel because that would mean I need to open the file and write something. Who knows why it is sitting there incomplete.

Lately, poetry has been the draw for my time and energy. I am trying to post a poem a day in April. In February, I wrote poems with Laura Shovan for her Pantone color project. She published quite a few on her blog. My favorites are here and here.

In March I wrote a blog post every day for 31 days for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge. This was my 3rd year and I was surprised by how much easier it was this year. I participate in four blog round-ups, Slice of Life Tuesdays, Poetry Friday, Celebration Saturdays, and (my own creation) DigiLit Sundays.

So what am I working on? Writing, that’s it.

How does my work differ than others in its genre?

If I look at other books in the young readers genre, I see few that are as placed based as Blessen. She is growing up in St. Martinville on the Bayou Teche. My own backyard was my muse. Many of the locations are real, such as St. Martin de Tours Catholic church. The place looms even larger at the end when Blessen and her father face danger on the bayou.

Blessen is a mixed-race child. I’ve read recently how children of other races are missing from young readers’ choices. Blessen lives with her white mother and grandfather. She does not know who her father is and discovers in the course of the book that he’s a black man. One of the most touching relationships is the one she builds with her paternal grandmother.

In poetry, I write with children between the ages of 9 and 12, but I’m not sure if what I write is children’s poetry. I tend to stay away from rhyme because I am not very good at it. My poems often speak of nature. My muses include poets Mary Oliver, Natasha Tretheway, Ava Leavell Haymon, and Naomi Shihab Nye. I get inspiration and support from Poetry Friday bloggers, Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, Diane Mayr, Laura Shovan, Laura Purdie Salas, and Irene Latham, and more.

This post is getting long winded, and I wanted to also post a poem today, so the last two questions will wait until tomorrow: Why do I write what I do? and How does my writing process work?

F is for Fibonacci poems. The master of the Fib poem is Greg Pincus of The 14 Fibs of Gregory K which I haven’t read yet because my boys are passing it around. The fib poem is based on the Fibonacci series in mathematics; 1,2,3,5,8,…which in nature creates a beautiful spiral as in the sunflower.

when poems
reveal inner truth
and breathe out a sigh of Ah, yes!

–Margaret Simon


The Writing Process Blog Tour continues here tomorrow and next week on my poet/friend Clare Martin’s blog, Orphans of Dark and Rain.

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Poetry Friday is hosted this week at The Opposite of Indifference with Tabatha Yeats

Poetry Friday is hosted this week at The Opposite of Indifference with Tabatha Yeats

Today, for Poetry Friday, I have a guest post from Sandra Sarr. Sandy is completing her MFA program this summer from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, Whidbey Writers Workshop. To hear her talk about this low residency program, I feel her enthusiasm. While working on her MFA, Sandy has been writing a novel, “The Road to Indigo.” (To read about our meeting and my poem for her, click here.) Sandy’s MFA program required that she write in all genres. She wrote this poem while taking a poetry class. I was intrigued by this Terza Rima for a number of reasons. One, I am especially interested in learning about form, and two, I loved diving deep in the ocean with her turtles. And three, Sandy uses our nation’s Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey, as a mentor. I have also included Sandy’s commentary about her process. Even though Sandy’s concentration is in fiction, I personally think she is also a wonderful poet.


After Natasha Trethewey


Underneath, turtles sweep in threes—
their sea wings caress the deep warm wet
long night fading in day’s dreams.

Out past the pull of tide, newlywed
swimmers shadow angels. Dawn-lit bay
gives way to the abyss where night ones fed.

Shore fades. Two pursue three out way
past breaking waves. One more mile, breathe deep,
clasp hands, sprout wings, turn back, now pray.

Today, this longing—this primal need
to taste what came first—urges a feast
of what drifts out, flows in, floats out, flows free.
–Sandra Sarr, all rights reserved

About the poem:
“Matinal Oceania,” represented Washington State in YARN literary journal’s 2012 National Poetry Month’s project, Crossing Country Line by Line.

In “Matinal Oceania,” sea turtles wing their way through the morning ocean. Newlyweds shadow them into unknown—even dangerous—depths on an ancient primal path in which they innocently pursue their watery origins as a species and their uncertain destiny as a couple.

The tidal waters off the coast of West Maui inspire the poem’s unnamed setting. I choose Natasha Tretheway’s “Vespertina Cognitio” as inspiration for poetic form and go further by adding rhyme in a braided aba, bcb, cdc pattern of end words. “When the rhyme patterns link up, weaving a bracelet of sound across the stanzas, we’re reading terza rima,” writes poet Wendy Bishop in Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Poem. I arrange my terza rima’s stanzas in step-indented format to evoke in the reader a sense of flowing waves reflecting the poem’s subject. (I apologize, in WordPress, I was unable to format the step-indentation.)

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Me with Sandy Sarr at a local restaurant.

Me with Sandy Sarr at a local restaurant.

I enjoy connecting with new people online. I met Sandy Sarr through a mutual friend. Our friend thought we would like each other because we are both authors. So I friended Sandy on Facebook, and we read each others’ blogs. But meeting someone face to face, the old fashioned way, is so much better.

Sandy has spent the month of May in Louisiana for the last three years. She comes to meet people and to work on her novel, The Road to Indigo ( her working title). We had brunch together on Saturday. Jen was right; we connected easily and immediately. Sandy is about to complete an MFA program and has been writing her novel for 3 years. This project led her to Louisiana to meet many different people. She has some wonderful stories, some of which give you the goosebumps because they are so full of connectedness and coincidence, the do-do-do-do-twilight effect. Please visit her blog The Road to Indigo to read about her process of writing.

I wrote a poem for Sandy. I am attempting to post the Soundcloud recording of it.

The Road to Indigo
The traiteur says the stories are yours to tell.

For Sandra Sarr

The traveler arrives from Puget Sound
to paddle a pirogue on the bayou.
She sees the black alligator on the bank
dive deep, barely rustling the burnished water.

She knows there are stories hiding here.
No longer alone, the train’s whistle
awakens her as it weaves
in and out of her mind
leading her on a journey.

Tracks cross as if joined for a greater purpose.
An artist,
a poet,
a healer,
a plantation proprietor
all tell their stories—
tell her to make them live again.

The steam trumpet pierces her skin,
opens blood vessels to bleed
something new of something old—
something profound,
something healing,
something eternal
–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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