Posts Tagged ‘Today’s Little Ditty’

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

Today the Poetry Friday community is celebrating Mary Lee Hahn on the occasion of her retirement. Mary Lee is one of those behind the scenes worker bees. She keeps Poetry Friday going with periodic calls for hosting. She has served on multiple committees with the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE). I’ve learned over and over from Mary Lee’s quiet wisdom.

To find a way to honor her with a poem, I looked through the Ditty of the Month collections. I found an ars poetica poem by Mary Lee entitled “Peony Poem” in the 2017-2018 anthology. I borrowed her form to write this poem:

Another Peony

An idea
seedling, set
in soil, soggy and shifting
sprouting in a spring garden.

A draft
wobbly, wilting
waits on new legs
hoping to learn to grow.

A poem
blooming, brilliant
shines like a rose on a stem
showing up on this special day. 

Margaret Simon, after Mary Lee Hahn, draft
Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

Congratulations on your retirement, Mary Lee. “The trouble with poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry.” (Billy Collins) Just think how many poems you have spawned over the years, exponentially.

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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.

On Friday, Michelle Heindrich Barnes lovingly posted an interview with me over at Today’s Little Ditty. With her Reader’s Spotlights, she asks us to prompt a writing challenge. I wrote this challenge:

The practice of writing poetry is an exercise in mindfulness. To be open to the universe of words and to put them down on a page is nothing short of a miracle.  Mary Oliver said, “There is no nothingness—With these little atoms that run around too little for us to see. But, put together, they make something. And that to me is a miracle. Where it came from, I don’t know. But it’s a miracle, and I think it’s enough to keep a person afloat.”

Write a mindful poem about the present moment.

To my pleasant surprise, Heidi Mordhorst and Mary Lee Hahn created a Twitter hashtag #PoemsofPresence to invite poets to write a small poem every day in May. The idea has gathered some following. Michelle created a graphic.

Please consider joining us on Twitter this month, writing a daily “in-the-moment” poem. https://twitter.com/hashtag/PoemsofPresence

The last of my monarch chrysalises emerged. Last week, I successfully released 7 new monarchs into the sky. My friend and neighbor, who is also a teacher and a photographer, asked to come over to photograph a release. Here’s one of her amazing photos.

Photo by Lory Landry

Monarch Release

Fly, friend, fly!
while I walk and walk
watching your wings
glow like the sunset.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Today’s poem is a response to this week’s prompt from Today’s Little Ditty. “For this week’s challenge, I’ve selected “These Are the Hands” (Chapter 39) from Part 3 of My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice. It’s a prompt about empathy— something we so desperately need more of in today’s world. The prompt was inspired by a poem by Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, titled These are the hands that could sand a wooden bench.

Palm Sunday

These hands
weeding, discovered palms,
and wondered…
Will these old palms
make supple crosses?

These hands
cut long strips
of granite green.
A mind-memory of angle to knot,
thread through, criss-cross.

These hands
delivered simple gifts
to lonely, sheltered neighbors,
a churchless congregation
praying together. 

@Margaret Simon, draft

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Michelle Heidenrich Barnes hosts today with an announcement of the third collection of Today’s Little Ditty.
I have a little ditty in the book as do many of my PF friends.

A few weeks ago I grabbed a poetry writing idea from Kim Douillard.  She had her students make heart maps about a place they love and write a poem after Lee Bennett Hopkins’ City I Love.

I did this with my students. We cut simple heart shapes from plain paper and drew and wrote on them. Then glued them into our notebooks.  Here’s a photo of one of mine.

On the Bayou I Live Near

after Lee Bennett Hopkins

On the bayou I live near–
bayou I love–
morning sun streams
in wide golden beams
gleaming a new day.

On the bayou I live near–
bayou I love–
afternoons bloom
while speedboats vroom
through sweet olive perfume.

On the bayou I live near–
bayou I love–
sunsets glisten,
a lone heron listens
as the hoot owl
who, who, whos

Margaret Simon, draft 2019

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Kay at A Journey through the Pages.

At Today’s Little Ditty, this month’s ditty challenge has sent me for a loop.  Michelle interviewed Calef Brown here, and he challenged us “Write a poem or a story about two anthropomorphized objects.” 

At first I tried to write about two birds on a wire, but they weren’t speaking to me.  Then I grabbed a bag of story starting cubes and rolled a mountain and a star.  As I revised this poem, I decided to try a reverso.  (See Marilyn Singer’s explanation and model poems here.) I have not been terribly successful with this form.  I can’t seem to make the two verses from different perspectives, but I want to be a player in the ditty game, so here it is…

Mountain Sparklers

To mountain high
old star appears
spiraling out of the sky,

“Shine like a sparkler.
Be who you are.”

In a spray
of light flakes,
Mountain glows
old with wisdom
from Star, his friend.

From Star, his friend,
old with wisdom,
Mountain glows
of light flakes
like a spray.

“Be who you are.
Shine like a sparkler
spiraling out of the sky.”

Old star appears
to mountain high.

Margaret Simon, 2018

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

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


Click to purchase on Amazon

Click to purchase on Amazon

If you haven’t already heard about this wonderful little book of poems, I am here to offer another shameless promotion.  I was one of the readers who selected poems to be included; I have 2 poems included; and I wrote a blurb for the back cover.  Michelle Heidenrich Barnes is a person I know I love even though I’ve never met her face to face.  She is incredibly generous.  Each month she features a wonderful poet and asks us out in the Poetry Friday cyberspace to write ditties.  When we do, we understand that the fame is short lived on a blog post gallery at the end of the month.  However, now we have an anthology!  So many great challenges from cinquain to zeno, from haiku and beyond.  This collection is a must for any classroom poetry library.


winter-poetry-swapAlso in this sphere of poets, I’ve virtually met Tabatha Yeatts who mixes us up and organizes a Winter Poem Swap.  This week I received my poem gift from Matt Forest Esenwine.  Matt managed to find time to read my Christmas blog posts and create a found poem from them.  He printed his poem on one of my Christmas tree images.  So thoughtful.  So meaningful.  So special.  Thanks, Matt.




We are in our last few days before winter break.  I invited our art teacher to lead the students in an activity during their party on Monday.  She taught them about shading in a snowman image.  It’s funny when we talk about snowmen because few of my students have ever seen snow, much less made a snowman.  But all kids love drawing them.  We ended up with a rainbow of snowmen, grey, blue, teal, and even purple.




I hope you are finding gifts everywhere, under your tree, in your mailbox, and in the smiles of children.  Happy Holidays!


Haiku-a-day #20 #haikuforhealing

Haiku-a-day #20


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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.


Marilyn Singer is a master poet. At NCTE in the fall, I had the pleasure of meeting her. I was also a lucky participant who won a copy of Follow, Follow. Marilyn invented the reverso poem and has published 3 books of them, two based on fairy tales and her latest Echo, Echo based on mythology.

On Today’s Little Ditty, Michelle Heindenrich Barnes interviewed Marilyn Singer and offered a ditty challenge to use the word echo in relation to a poem. I was determined to try the reverso form.

With my students as cheerleaders, I worked hard and produced something worthy of being called a reverso poem. The process began when we watched this video together.

I asked my students to select an insect to be in a mask (or persona) poem. I selected this image to inspire my writing.

screenshot from the film Microcosmos by Jacque Perrin.

screenshot from the film Microcosmos by Jacque Perrin.

Then I did some caterpillar research. I wrote “zig zag stitch” and then discovered that caterpillars excrete a silk line as they crawl in addition to using the silk to create a chrysalis.

Creepy crawly caterpillar
munch munch
munching milkweed
at tremendous speed.

Life changes
creeping, crawling
leaf to leaf.

Sunlight glimmers
on fuzzy bristles.
I zig-zag stitch
a silkthread path
leaf to leaf.

Leaf to leaf
a silkthread path
I zig-zag stitch
on fuzzy bristles.

Sunlight glimmers
leaf to leaf.
Creeping crawling

Life changes
at tremendous speed.
Munching milkweed
Munch, munch
creepy, crawly caterpillar.

This is a tough form to get just right. I don’t think mine successfully creates a different meaning in reverse. But my students liked it, so I am celebrating it none the less.

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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.

kindness rock

Over at Today’s Little Ditty, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes interviewed Amy Ludwig VanDerwater who set out a challenge this month to write about small things. We wrote our poems on Friday and I posted some student poems here.

When my kids write, I write. I looked at my desk for inspiration and found the rock. We had decided to do something nice for teachers, so Emily brought in rocks.  My students wrote inspirational words on the rocks and gave them out to teachers. This was a Halloween treat, so this rock has been sitting on my desk for a while. I think it was supposed to go to the art teacher, but whatever, there it sat…and inspired this prose poem in me.

She gave me a rock,
a smooth small stone
on which she wrote a quote
from a book about a boy who was bullied.

If you have a choice
of being right or being kind,
be kind.

Thirteen words to turn
my attention everyday
to the world
of choices, that choice
within myself to be kind.

I take her small kindness
into my hand and wonder
about the river bank
the stone lived in before,
a place where violent waves
smoothed rock.

I wonder
about the larger truth:
Can violence smooth out
the edges and leave behind

–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.

Chalkabration is a favorite in my class, but we haven’t done it in a while.  This great way to write and share poetry was created by Betsy Hubbard, one of the Two Writing Teachers’ Team.  It usually falls on the last day of the month.  I like to have something special happen on Fridays as a reward for a week of hard work.  My students have been writing every day.  They are reading and working hard, so yesterday I brought in chalk and art paper.

First we had to write poems.  On Michelle Barnes’ site Today’s Little Ditty, she interviewed one of our favorite poets, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, about her new book Every Day Birds.  Last year we Skyped with Amy on the day she had received the proofs for this book.  We had an exclusive sneak peek at the book.  Amy’s Ditty of the Month Challenge is to write about something small.  (And I just happen to have a treasure box full.)

After we wrote and shared our poems, my students used Sharpie markers to write out their poems on art paper.  Here comes the fun part.  Into a bucket of water, we scraped chalk, placed the paper in and Viola! marbleized paper!  We used Prang Freart Large Drawing Chalk.  

Here is a collection of chalked poems.

Bell by Emily

Bell by Emily

Pencil by Kaiden

Pencil by Kaiden

I Can't Breathe by Kielan

I Can’t Breathe by Kielan

Seashell by Erin

Seashell by Erin

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

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Poetry Friday round-up with Catherine at Reading to the Core

Poetry Friday round-up with Catherine at Reading to the Core



Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Over at Today’s Little Ditty, Michelle has posted the wrap-up of nothing poems from this month’s ditty challenge posted by Douglas Florian. I have a poem in the collection.

I challenged my students by sharing Diane Mayr’s nothing poem. She used anaphora, a repeated line, “Nothing, but…” This prompt generated a lot of thought. I was excited by the results.

Today, I have a dual post: I celebrate the nothing poems my students created and add them to the Poetry Friday Ditty collection. The digital images were created on Canva.

Love this nature nothing poem from Andrew, 3rd grade.

Love this nature nothing poem from Andrew, 3rd grade.

Lynzee loves the songs of nightingales, 1st grade.

Lynzee loves the songs of nightingales, 1st grade.

Nothing by Kaiden

Nothing poem by Kaiden, 5th grade

Nothing poem by Kaiden, 5th grade

Kielan’s poem is about a classmate, Erin.

Nothing but rainbow narwhals

Nothing but rainbow butterfly unicorn kittens

Nothing but unicorns

Nothing but love

Nothing but a helpful heart

Nothing but imagination

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