Posts Tagged ‘tanka’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Laura Purdie Salas at Small Reads for Brighter Days.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer. As an introvert, swimming was a sport I could do. But the flip turn alluded me. I gave up when competitions required a flip turn.

My oldest daughter swam competitively from 7th to 12th grade. Our lives were consumed with practice and meets.

When Sarah Donovan of Ethical ELA put out a call for sports poems, I drew on these experiences and wrote a duplex poem about swimming, First Heat. The poem was accepted and is now published alongside Inklings Heidi Mordhorst and Linda Mitchell, as well as admired authors like Nikki Grimes, Laura Shovan, and Padma Venkatraman. You can purchase a copy of Rhyme & Rhythm: Poems for Student Athletes at Archer Publishing’s website.

The Poetry Sisters challenge this month was to write a tanka in conversation with another sister’s poem. I chose Heidi’s poem from Rhyme & Rhythm, Cleatless about dancing.

My feet didn’t beat
until they stepped in time with
yours, right-together-

right, left-together-left two
step, twirl face-to-face with you.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Poetry Friday round-up is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.

Today I am the featured poet on Laura Shovan’s #WaterPoemProject. My prompt comes from a tanka that appears in my book Bayou Song. Hop over to Laura’s blog to see the prompt.

On Wednesday I scheduled a Zoom meeting with my students. About half of them came. I shared my prompt, and we wrote a tanka together.

Rylee points at a treasure in her pond.

Rylee started us off with an idea about see what she thought was a treasure chest in her pond.  

Treasure chest mirage
Blue cotton candy clouds float
Frosty reflection

Blueberry snowball freezing
Rylee’s lovely winter pond.

Mrs. Simon’s Sea Collaborative Poem

I need to finish up the schedule for the 2020 Progressive Poem. If you’d like to sign up, comment on this post. There are still spots open.

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National Poetry Month 2018

Raven by John Gibson

Raven lights a fire
before dawning of sunrise,
forewarning of death,

calms darkness before released
hatred causes senseless grief.

Tanka: The Japanese tanka is a thirty-one-syllable poem, traditionally written in a single unbroken line. A form of waka, Japanese song or verse, tanka translates as “short song,” and is better known in its five-line, 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count form. From Poets.org

“The Irish goddess, Morrighan, had a number of different guises. In her aspect as bloodthirsty goddess of war, she was thought to be present on the battlefield in the form of a raven.” From Trees for Life, Mythology and Folklore.


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Searching for the muse this morning, I read Amy VanDerwater’s poem for today.  She is choosing crayons out of the Crayola box to inspire daily poetry.  Today’s crayon was carnation pink.  The color reminded me of the beautiful lilies that have opened up, post-wedding, filling up my kitchen with their strong scent.  I took out the carnation pink and colored a picture in my journal.

As I wrote about the flower, I played around with word forms, searching flowery terms like pollen, stamen, and anther.  Pollinic won as a new word choice.  I found that my lines were tending toward the haiku syllable count, so I chose to write a tanka which uses the 5,7,5,7,7 syllable count.

This poetry month I will attempt to write a poem-a-day.  I’ll write about my process.  The muse will come from other poets or from my own poetic heart.

Jama is gathering the Kidlit blogging events.

I’ll be joining Irene Latham’s Progressive Poem and have posted the schedule in the side bar.

Happy National Poetry Month!  Celebrate Poetry!




*The image is a photograph using my phone, enhanced by Painteresque.

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

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


I’m reading a new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I’m not sure where I read about this book.  I know Leigh Anne is reading it, and so is Catherine.  So here’s the thing: If there’s a group of us reading this book who want to chat, we could start a virtual book club.  We could chat in Voxer or Google Docs.  If you want to join in, email me at margaretsmn at gmail.

Four years ago I jumped into publishing and put out a middle-grade novel, Blessen.  At the time, I found an old diary that told me I’ve wanted to be an author all my life.   Notice my expectation as a teenager that maybe confidence came from someone else.

"I would love to be a writer if only someone would give me confidence!"

“I would love to be a writer if only someone would give me confidence!”

If growing up has taught me anything, it’s that confidence comes from courage that comes from your. own. self.  No one else can give it to you.

Elizabeth Gilbert says she lives in fear everyday.

Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to understand the distinction.

Fear will always show up when you are trying to be creative.  You can tell it to go away.  But it’s always there.  I love that this great author is telling me this.

I’ve grown to cherish this blogging space because I feel safe here.  Whoever you are, reading and leaving me kind comments, you are my angels.  You help me feel like my words are worthwhile and mean something.

Since my OLW is present, I am showing up.  I’ll listen for the muse, the magician, whatever his name is and answer with a yeah, ok, let’s do this crazy creative thing together.

Being present this past weekend, my husband and I visited Lake Martin for the sunset on the way to our dinner/ dancing date.  It was not the best of all sunsets.  I got my boots muddy.  But we showed up.  With a little magic from the lens and Picmonkey, I created an inspiring image.  On Sunday, I wrote a tanka for the image.  And I am sharing it here.  Kicking fear to the curb!  See ya!


Photo and poem by Margaret Simon

Photo and poem by Margaret Simon

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Dig poetry


My friend who doesn’t write sent me the joke poem above.  My response was “You understand me. I dig deep.”  I have committed myself to write everyday this month about poetry.  I am not promising an original poem each day (but who knows?). To share our poetry activities this month, we are using #digipoetry.  Leigh Anne (@teachr4) made this button for our blog posts.  Feel free to use it, too.


DigiPoetry buttonWednesday is a good day to wonder.  I wandered over to Wonderopolis and found a wonderful article about dolphins and echo-location.  To think about writing a poem, I collected words and phrases from the article.  After many false starts (rough drafts), I read about Nikki Grimes’ tanka contest.    Nikki Grimes’ contest for kids in grades 3-6: Tanka writing

Sometimes when writing doesn’t come easily, a form gives you the structure you need to create.  A tanka is similar to a haiku. There is no rhyme and a syllable count of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7.   Nikki Grimes has a book coming out in May, Poems in the Attic, which includes tanka.  (Click the link for more information.)

I used PicMonkey to create this image poem.









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Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Irene Latham at Live your Poem.

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Irene Latham at Live your Poem.

My sister-in-law sent me a Ted Talk video of Shawn Achor, “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance.” I watched the whole thing. He is a good speaker, engaging and funny, so I recommend you watch it, too. I was wondering, though, if he would ever get to an answer. Sometimes people can easily identify a problem, but lack any real advice for a resolution. However, Shawn Achor had an answer. And an easy one at that. Make these 5 small changes to create more happiness in your life.

1) 3 Gratitudes
2) Journaling
3) Exercise
4) Meditation
5) Random Acts of Kindness

So today, I exercised (walked my dog) and thought about 3 gratitudes. Since it is National Poetry Month and I am trying to write a poem every day, I turned my gratitudes into gratiku, haiku about gratitude. I want to thank Diane Mayr at Random Noodling for introducing the superstickies site to me. The third gratiku became a tanka and wouldn’t fit on a stickie, so I used the app Overgram.



green tanka-3

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