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Posts Tagged ‘Taylor Mali’

Today I am cheating and doing this prompt backwards. I wrote a poem that I like from another Taylor Mali prompt. I remembered that I took a picture of the image I conjured in the poem. I am convincing myself that this is fair because I had the image in mind when I wrote the poem. Taylor’s website has a collection of fun prompts for teachers to use with kids. They work even with the youngest students that I teach (8 year olds). The one I used can be found here: Once I was a Flower.

Live Oak Branches, Margaret Simon

Once an owl lifted off
from a tangle of branches;
it rose above me
like a hot-air balloon.
It was fall
and morning chill sprinkled fog
over the bayou.
There I was left
floating alone–
solid, steel canoe.

Margaret Simon, draft

Now it’s your turn. If you want to use the prompt, begin with Once and end with an inanimate object. Or just write whatever the photo muse brings forth. Be sure to leave encouraging comments for other writers.

This response to the Once prompt is from my student Jaden in 6th grade.

Once I saw a moth
flew across my face
in the path of others
it was a fall sunset
I stood still
I was a light
Jaden, 6th grade

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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.

Every class we begin with notebook time. My students know to open their notebooks as soon as they walk in. I’ve started teaching some little ones, second graders, and it’s not so well established yet with them, but we’re trying. One thing that Brayden knows already is that on Mondays we write a Slice of Life. But first, we played Mad Lib Poetry, created by Taylor Mali, that I read about on this Poetry Friday post from Denise Krebs.

Brayden answered the prompt, “Name an object that represents your mother” with “butterflies.” This stayed with him, and he wrote his Slice of Life about his mother. “My mother is a butterfly. She is beautiful.”

With my different groups of students, I wrote the Mad Lib Poem 3 times. Here is one of my versions:

I was born in the year of Donny Osmond albums.

My mother was a grand piano
and my father, a pointillist drawing.

Is it any wonder that I grew up to be an amazing cross
between Alice in Wonderland and a great blue heron?

Take a worried look at me. I am weary and feeling old.

Is it any wonder that I still have nightmares
about teaching a whole class
of second grade boys?

Margaret Simon, Mad Lib Slam Poem form by Taylor Mali

Denise shared that Taylor’s Metaphor Dice are on sale for teachers at 60% off. Grab them while you can.

On Friday with my 6th grade writers, we played three rounds of metaphor dice. This is a great game for this grade level. They grapple with the strange combinations and amaze themselves and me by what they write in 2 minutes. I think this is a great activity for critical and creative thinking.

I liked how this next poem came out as a little love poem.

My heart is a burning kiss,
burning like the fire inside
that makes bread rise,
the heat that helps babies grow,
the warmth that feeds the seed
which is to say
your tender kiss
melts my heart
into pure gold
that withstands
the test of time.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at The Apples in my Orchard

I’ve gotten woefully behind in reading a poetry book each day for #TheSealyChallenge, and that’s because school has started. My focus has shifted. So to create a post for today, I sat down with Late Father by Taylor Mali, a gift from Janet Fagel for the summer poem swap. I got lost in the poems that lead us through his life with candor, humor, and grief. Then I googled him and found his website and a link to his Facebook page where I watched a video…In other words, I took too long on this post.

I’ve heard from a few poets that giving the title some of the heavy lifting can be helpful in writing a poem. Irene Latham does this often in This Poem is A Nest. I noticed it in Elizabeth Acevedo’s verse novel The Poet X. (Title: “Another Thing You Think While You’re Kneeling on Rice That Has Nothing to Do with Repentance”) And here it is again in Taylor Mali’s book. Time to pay some attention to this craft move.

From Late Father by Taylor Mali

I’ve Already Worked too Long on this Post

Praise be the poet who,
having written a poem every
day this week, opens her docs
and plops one into a blog post
and calls it Poetry Friday.

She must know that I will read it
again and again and call myself
a faker. Berate the time I spent
watching “Outer Banks” rather
than writing this poem.

(I got this.)

She must know that poetry can be
a playground with a swingset anchored
for cloud viewing–even if now there’s rain–
the memory of a vision is enough
to build a poem on.

LaMiPoFri* by Margaret Simon

*Last minute poetry Friday form coined by Kat Apel.

Dramatic sky view from my school’s parking lot

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Christie at Wondering and Wandering.

Just as my school year started, I received my final Poem Swap gift and poem from Janet Fagel. It was all about Taylor Mali, the inventor of Metaphor Dice. She’s friends with him. (Swoon!) She sent me his book Late Father, which I added to my Sealy Challenge stack, and a signed print of his poem Undivided Attention. Janet’s poem for me came as a found/black out poem from this poem. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the poem arrived just in time for my 60th birthday.

Earlier in the summer I received a poem swap from Mary Lee Hahn. She made an oracle deck from my own words, phrases she had found in my poems. She color-coded the cards to show which was 5 syllables and 7 syllables. Then she created two poems from my words, a haiku and a doditsu (7-7-7-5). She encouraged me to make these with my students this year. Tucking it away until April when we’ve written lots of poems together from which to choose lines.

Haiku by Mary Lee with phrases from Margaret Simon
Dodoitsu by Mary Lee Hahn with phrases from Margaret Simon
Creating my own haiku from the oracle deck.

Both of these gifts come straight from the heart. This is the whole embodiment of this Summer Poem Swap, organized and led by Tabatha Yeatts. Thanks Janet, Mary Lee, and Tabatha. My hear is full!

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