Posts Tagged ‘Summer Poetry Swap’

Poetry Friday posts with Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids


While summer seems far away as I end my eighth week in school, my poetry swap gifts continue to come.  Jone and Iphigene both contacted me by email to say their poetry gifts were late.  I was late, too, so I didn’t mind.  In fact, I love receiving a surprise in the mail…anytime.  Iphigene’s gift included this beautiful painting of the bayou.  She lives in the Philippines, so she had to use images from my blog to imagine this scene.  She definitely captured the peacefulness.

Bayou Teche by Iphigene Daradar. Acrylic on paper.

This is what Iphigene said in her note to me about composing the poem:

“When I was conceptualizing the poem, I thought I’d write about the Teche, but as I read your recent blog posts, the idea of impossible, possible, and overcoming kept surfacing.  In the end, I wrote a poem with those words in mind. The tone of the poem, too, is not my usual.  It was influenced by the biopic of Emily Dickinson called A Quiet Passion.”

The Extent of Our Souls

By Iphigene (For Margaret)

There is an extent by which our soul stretches
One that is measured by words
Short phrases echoed through
In the silence of our minds

In the loose utterance of
‘stupid’ and ‘can’t’
Mingled in laughter, our skin
Think as nothing

Our souls call as truth
Like a seed planted
In perfect day, bears root
Bears bloom, each day

And so, our soul, fits itself
In the limits of our bodies
Brittle for the measure—

As those who know words
Who play with the scales of phrases
Our measures change with space
And rightly placed punctuation

I’m possible.
Feel the impossible stretch
And the soul re-tells its truth
Stretching to ‘greatness’
And knowing it can.

Bearing roots that bloom
Perennial in the hearts
Of those who try to stretch
Their souls to possibility
and its truth.

This week I was blessed by a gift from Jone MacCulloch.  She takes beautiful photographs.  She sent an amazing close-up of a dahlia and her poem printed on a plaque that stands.  In addition to the photo-plaque, she sent a copy of her book  Solace in Nature which is a collection of her photos and poems.

photo and poem by Jone MacCulloch


Here is a photo and poem from her book, Solace in Nature.

winged fighter pilots
dive bomb daily
over sweet nectar
by Jone MacCulloch

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Poetry Friday posts are here today. Scroll down and click the green frog.

Welcome to my birthday poetry party.  I am a birthday triplet with Linda Mitchell and Julieanne Harmatz, both of whom I originally met through blogging.  Now they are real life writing critique friends.  Hop over to their blogs to say Happy Birthday! Julieanne


I am sharing some poetic treasures.  Joy Acey sent me a beautiful watercolor painting of an iris along with a fluttering haiku for the Summer Poetry Swap.   She also sent a blank card, so I put it into WordSwag and wrote a response haiku to Joy.

Joy wrote in her note to me that she considered this alternate third line.
Blue Dutch Irises
flutter to the wind’s command
Happy Birthday wishes!

Sea blue echoes
Ukulele birthday song
Windcall my name
–Margaret Simon

School has started.  I found on a shelf in my classroom an old copy of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.  I read to my students the chapter “Be Specific” in which she quotes William Carlos Williams, “Write what is under your nose.”  Then I read aloud River of Words by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet about the life of William Carlos Williams.  Writing prompt: Write a poem that uses something specific and ordinary and begin with “So much depends upon…” after W.C. Williams’ poem with the same first line.

I was pretty pleased with my poem about the sparkles of condensation on a glass of mint iced tea until I was absolutely blown away by my students’ writing.

So much depends upon
the warm glow of the fairy lights,
silver and golden with gems and hearts
gently pushing me to the ocean of dreams.

Drifting calmly until the waves
rock me to the land of reality,
until the fairies and their lights
send me out again.

Erin, 6th grade


So much depends upon
the brass uniform of a senior dragonfly
soaring past
the barking, yelling, chirping, rumbling
noises of the day.

Lynzee, 3rd grade


I can already tell that this is going to be an amazing year of poetry writing. Did you notice “brass uniform of a senior dragonfly?” We were all blown away by that line.

Link your Poetry Friday post below.

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Billy Collins writes that “the trouble with poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry.”

To me that is the joy of poetry. Last week Heidi Mordhorst posted the summer poem swap poem that I wrote for her. She wrote a response poem.  See this post here.

I have connected to so many wonderful educators online, many of whom do work I greatly admire. One of these educators is JoAnne Duncan.  JoAnne is an assistant principal we would all want to have. She finds kind and gentle ways to deal with the everyday problems she faces. I love to listen to her tell stories about finding a child’s heart through reading and art.  She thinks outside the box.  So I should not have been surprised when she shared with me that she wrote a poem.  The surprise came when she said her poem was inspired by my poem to Heidi.  The poem used the same framework while JoAnne went back to the time she moved away from her Kansas City childhood home to Montana.

Art by Derek DeYoung. Click the image to read more about the artist.

She moved through Montana
as in a dream
floating over jagged rocks,
shooting down wild rapids
like new adventure in her life.
Montana spoke to her in the silence of the forest,
the scent of pines and sage
so foreign yet familiar.

She marveled at majestic peaks,
mighty rivers,
and expanse of land and sky.

Montana entered her
like skis on powder snow,
drift boat on water
and rainbow trout rising to the hatch.
She moved through Montana as in a dream.

–JoAnne Duncan

What joy to connect through poetry, to inspire JoAnne to visit her experience and share it. That’s what this Poetry Friday space is all about.

Today, JoAnne shares our connection on her blog.  She went on to research the art she found to illustrate her poem.  Yet another inspirational connection.

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Tabatha is gathering a stew of Mac & Cheese poems today for Poetry Friday.

Tabatha sent out a call for a poetic celebration of Mac&Cheese for today, National Mac&Cheese Day. I stopped making Mac&Cheese long ago when my girls began to understand and worry about nutrition.  Mac&Cheese is packaged processed food, Mom.  Don’t you know it contains chemicals?

Now my cooking skills are not of the caliber to make Mac&Cheese from scratch.  My son-in-law made it for Thanksgiving a few years ago.  It was delicious, but he made it in vats, so we had to give some away. I have to admit it was better than anything ever made from a box.

For my Mac&Cheese poem, I decided to use a form.  Form helps me when I don’t know what to write.  I chose the Zeno form created by J. Patrick Lewis that follows a syllable count of 8, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1.  I think it’s quite corny, but if anything calls for a side of corn, it’s Mac&Cheese.


Tabatha also coordinates the Summer Poetry Swap.  This week I received a most precious set of salt & pepper shakers for my bayou home from Irene Latham.  She also sent a wonderful Nikki Grimes’ style word exploration poem in honor of my recent work-in-progress, Bayou Song.  Thanks, Irene for brightening up a rainy summer day on the bayou.


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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.


For the last several years, I have participated in Tabatha Yeatts’ Summer Poetry Swap.  I sent my gift and poem off last week to a poet-friend and promptly forgot that I would receive one, too.

Surprise in the mail is so exciting!  I recognized the signature as the famous Tricia Stohr-Hunt of Miss Rumphius Effect, a fabulous site of poetry love.  What I love about this poem is the extent Tricia had to research.  She learned so much about bayouland.

I’ve been stupid for a long time not knowing the Miss Rumphius Effect reference.  Until today and Ruth’s Celebrate post: “One of my favorite picture books (as if I could select a favorite) is Miss Rumphius. In it, Miss Rumphius is challenged by her grandfather–
You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” Now I know that Tricia’s call is to make the world more beautiful with poetry.  That is what she does.  Thanks, Miss Rumphius (Tricia) for your gift to the world of poetry.


What does a Yankee know of the bayou?

The science teacher knows
coastal wetlands,
the evolution of the Mississippi delta,
the brackish, slow moving water.
The naturalist knows
the Bald cypress and tupelo,
the pelican and egret,
the alligators.
The historian knows
the Chitimacha and Acadians,
West African slaves,
pirates and riverboats,
the reach of the Civil War.
The Yankee poet knows
the bayou only in her dreams,
so when putting pen to paper
meanders like the Teche,
through moss-draped live oaks,
and sun-kissed swamps.

–Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017 all rights reserved

Bookmark “In my book, you’re pure poetry.”

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Kristina bulletin board

Kristina is a master with a stapler.

This week I prepared my two classrooms at two schools for back-to-school next week.  I was blessed to have helpers.  In one classroom, one of my students appeared.  Her mother was in a teacher workshop, so she was hanging out at the school helping out where she could.  At the end of the year, I have to pack up the books so that the floors can be cleaned, so Lani re-shelved the books.  I told her she could choose her own sorting method, so she put together books by the same author.  I’m sure the order will change once kids start pulling them out to read, but it’s nice to start the year with some kind of order.

At another school, my friend Kristina came to help.  She handled the stapler for the bulletin board and shelved my mountain of books.  She decided to order books by genre, and she even made signs for the shelves.

Kristina makes signs for the book shelves.

Kristina makes signs for the book shelves.

I celebrate my little helpers and that feeling of anticipation that comes with a new school year.

Poetry gift from Carol Varsalona.

Poetry gift from Carol Varsalona.

I celebrate the summer poetry swap.  I got this gift from Carol Varsalona.  Carol has a unique talent of pairing photos with poems and creating timeless images.  Her poem is a riddle poem about a fan.  I can use a fan when temperatures climb to 90+ daily, but this one is too pretty to use.  She also sent a necklace of handmade beads from paper.  Carol wrote, “The women in Masese, Uganda wove the beads from paper that is hung to dry. With the proceeds we built an elementary school where 550+ children are educated, fed two meals a day, and have clean water. The mothers of Masese are proud jewelry makers who now can make a living to raise their children.” I will proudly wear the beads.  Thanks, Carol.

happy rock
I celebrate Iberia Parish Rocks!  My husband found this rock on his doorstep on Friday.  He texted it to me.  That evening we saw an article in the paper about a Facebook group painting happy rocks to leave around town.  What a great project for just spreading a bit of joy!


My summer is quickly coming to an end, but what a summer it has been.  I am so grateful for my amazing trips to Tanzania, Africa and Old Bedlam Farm.  I am also grateful for lazy days spent with my constant companion, Charlie.  I wish I could take him with me to school.





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Poetry Friday round-up is with Diane at Random Noodling.

Poetry Friday round-up is with Diane at Random Noodling.


summer poetry swap (2)

Receiving a gift is exciting, and Tabatha Yeatts knows this.  Each summer she organizes a poetry swap.  She sends each participant a list of names and addresses, dates, and prompts.  Then the fun begins.

This week I received a gift from Doraine Bennett of Dori Reads.  Her poem gift was an original recipe for summer break.  In the poem-recipe, she mentions blowing bubbles, a good book, and a cup of tea, so her gift included these goodies: a selection of teas, a bubble blowing kit, and an old book, The Poet’s Homecoming by George MacDonald.  She collects MacDonald’s books. “George MacDonald is one of my favorite authors. He has a remarkable ability to impart the love of God through fiction. I’ve collected all of his books over the years and given many away.”  The original publication date is 1887.  What a thoughtful gift!

Recipe for Summer Break

Take one blue sky.
Place yourself gently
underneath the grand expanse.
Allow the azure to settle like goose down.
Watch it shift from moonstone to sapphire
and soften to a light cornflower haze.
Add a good book. One by an author
who knows what he knows and kneads
his wisdom with gentle, but sure hands.
Simmer with the scent of water,
pink orchids, and wisteria.
Sprinkle with long walks, quiet
conversations, and bird song.
Reserve some time to listen
to the one who knows you best.
Blow bubbles.
Find a puddle,
splash until done.
Heap with grace.
Enjoy with a strong cup of tea.

–Doraine Bennett, all rights reserved.

Summer Poetry Swap gift from Dori.

Summer Poetry Swap gift from Dori.

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