Posts Tagged ‘writing marathon’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone.

On Tuesday I treated myself to a virtual writing marathon sponsored by the National Writing Project. #WriteAcrossAmerica. I showed up for the last stop on a journey across the country. I’m sorry I missed out on all the other stops. This last one was in New Orleans where the writing marathon originated.

Years ago I would spend some time each summer at the New Orleans Writing Marathon organized by the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project. Three to four days of walking the French Quarter and writing led to lifelong friendships and a few memorable writing pieces.

Unfortunately, the virtual marathon happened in my own house through a screen, but because of the miracle of technology, I was able to connect with new friends and see some old ones. We had three writing sessions and shared in small break out rooms.

The third writing session led me to this poem, still quite drafty. I was just getting my writing muscle to work and the whole thing was over, not a marathon at all, but a quick 75 minute sprint.


Muses have a lost sense of time.
They live in the back of Napoleon’s Bar
drinking Pim’s Cups.

I’ve asked them to visit me
here on the bayou steeped
in cafe au lait brown
buzzing with cicada song.

They come in the long shadows
of a summer afternoon.
or in the fractal face
of a sunflower in bloom.

Muses mock me
with their silver linings,
here then there,
then nowhere,
hiding in plain sight.

Sometimes, I step on them
by mistake.

Give me that mess
again. My pen is waiting.

Margaret Simon, draft
Backyard Shadows by Margaret Simon

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do the thing that scares you.”  Armed with years of experience and a strong conviction that writing teachers should write, I did the thing that most scares me…teaching teachers.

I led a weeklong teachers writing institute.  In March I set up a meeting with the curriculum coordinator for elementary schools in our district.  I pitched my idea.  While she was enthusiastic, I never heard back from her.  So I got the guts to send an email inquiry.  Yes, she was still interested, but I needed to meet with the middle school coordinator.  Nearing the end of the school year, I had approval and sent out the flyer.  Surprising to me, the workshop filled quickly.

Since today is about celebrating, I will not go into my disappointments.  I just want to capture the shining stars and bask a bit in their glow.

  • A new teacher, second career, only man in the class said his 17 year old daughter waited each day to read what he wrote.  His father told him to submit his essay to Reader’s Digest.  He is entering his first year of teaching confident that he is a writer.
  • A colleague from the gifted program told me I was a natural.  She said, “You seem so relaxed.  You make us feel comfortable.”  She could not see or feel the nerves churning inside.
  • Following Katherine Bomer’s book, The Journey is Everything, became a guidebook to writing a final essay.  Most teachers wrote an essay they were proud of.  We read and celebrated the writers we had found together.
  • Catherine Flynn joined us by Skype to teach us about visual literacy. (The idea to connect with her came from this post.)  Teachers took notes and talked about ways they could use art with their students.  Thanks, Catherine.
  • On the last day, tears were shed as we got into the deep trenches that writing can take us.  Sharing your own words is an act of faith.  We had become a community of writers.

Writing and sharing on our writing marathon in downtown New Iberia.

I gathered words and phrases from our writing marathon into a collaborative poem.


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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.

Hayden reads his story to Jack, the lemur.

Hayden reads his story to Jack, the lemur.

This week I am celebrating some great new writers. They attended Write Your Way writing camp with me. Above you see Hayden reading to Jack, the lemur. Jack took a tour of Main Street with us and especially enjoyed frolicking in the Bayou Teche Museum. He sat still long enough to listen to Hayden’s story about Al Hirt and Blue Dog.

Al Hirt and Blue Dog were getting ready for a wedding. Al was wearing a tuxedo and Blue Dog combed his fur. They were about to leave Al’s apartment .But before they could they heard a trumpet. They wanted to know where it came from. They looked and looked until they found it. A trumpet rested there. “Blow me and I’ll take you to the wedding,” it said. They were confused. But Hirt blew it anyway. They were then at the wedding. The End. –Hayden

Inspiration in Books along the Teche

Inspiration in Books along the Teche

Inspiration for writing was waiting all along Main Street. We stopped in at the independent book store, Books along the Teche. Emery found a line in The Book Thief that jumpstarted a whole new story for her. I hope she will keep writing it. That’s the thing about writing camp. It’s always too short. We set up a blog on kidblog that I hope the kids will use, but I know how summer activities take over and then school will start again. It’s hard to keep their focus once you release them.

Yesterday, I asked my writers to tell me their favorite part of writing camp, what surprised them, and how they will continue to practice their writing. The blog, writing in different places, and meeting new friends were top favorites. The surprises included “I didn’t think I was a poet,” and “I usually plan out my writing before doing it, but I was able to write a story and I don’t know where it’s going.”

We ate lunch yesterday at Victor’s cafateria, a favorite place for Dave Robicheaux (James Lee Burke’s MC). The clerk who checked us out asked me, “Are you a writer?”
I answered, “Yes.” I asked her to ask the students that question. Each of them said, “Yes, I am a writer.” I celebrate young writers today.

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Poetry Friday is here!

Poetry Friday is here!

Today, I am hosting the Poetry Friday blog roundup. Please post your link in the comments. I thought when I signed up for this date that it would be a quiet summer Friday, but it is actually the last day of a writing camp for students. I will check in periodically and post links as they come in.

Writing in the gallery

Writing in the gallery

Leading a writing camp is one of the highlights of my summer. This year we have 9 students ranging from entering 4th through 10th grade. Each of them is in a different place in their writing, yet each has a unique voice. My partner teacher, Stephanie Judice, and I also come from different places. I teach elementary, and she teaches high school. I write poetry. She writes fiction. A perfect match. Every morning, I led the poetry writing, and she led the fiction. Worked out well.

Our favorite day is always Wednesday, the writing marathon. The writing marathon was invented by Richard Louth of the Southeastern Writing Project. He was inspired by Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones in which she talks about writing in restaurants. She encourages writers to find a space and write continuously for a period of time. So on a writing marathon, the rules are 1) declare yourself a writer; 2) travel from place to place, write in that place, and if appropriate, order something; and 3) share and thank each other. (No criticism or comment, just thank you.)

One of our stops on the writing marathon was the A&E Gallery, a collaborative gallery of a variety of artists owned by Paul Schexnayder. We did two writing periods at the gallery. During the first one, I asked the students to walk all around the space and to collect words that came into their minds as they walked. After collecting words, we found a spot to sit and write. The second prompt was an ekphrastic poem about one particular piece of art. I am sharing the poem I wrote from the gallery walk and a student’s poem from a group of metal faces.

Mermaids float above her majesty, the sea
swirling waves as a potter’s wheel
forming a lily-lined path
to the land of mortals.

On the shore, rusted beauty emerges
from layers of water–a mint for the gatherers of things.

Look with your soul,
feel the release of imagination.
Find your buried hope.
The music in you awaits!

–All rights reserved, Margaret Simon


Metal Faces
Their open metal mouths,
staring into me,
looking past my casual writer’s appearance.
Can they see my conscience?
They read me as if
I were the art on display.
Their wide eyes,
penetrating my heart,
are full of distaste.
Like judges,
and I have earned myself
a low score.
Their scraps
that they call facial features
bore into me,
like they know everything.
And, perhaps they do,
but it doesn’t show.
All they can do
is watch me,
beg for me to stay
when I’m passing by,
so they can look into my soul.

–Kaylie, 12 years old

Go nuts with Charles at Father Goose with a tribute to Jama Rattigan.

At Random Noodling, a Robert Frost poem “Questioning Face.”

Kurious Kitty has some Flag Day poetry.

At KK Kwotes, find Albert Camus.

At NC Teacher Stuff, find a short poem about fathers by William Hamilton Hayne.

Keri is discovering a children’s bookstore in Vancouver, BC.

Matt Forrest has a poem for his daughter.

Jama is featuring a bilingual poetry collection called Laughing Tomatoes and other Spring Poems/Jitomates Risuenos y ostros poemas de primavera by Francisco X. Alarcón and Maya Christina Gonzalez.

Laura Salas has a rodeo poem by Nancy Bo Flood.

Mary Lee is here with a feast of verse novels.

Ruth has a turtle-y post.

Tabatha is thinking about plagiarism.

The Teaching Authors share online resources and April has a poem about giving up privacy in exchange for a free app.

Renee at No Water River has another wonderful video featuring Margarita Engle sharing her verse picture book When you Wander: A Search and Rescue Dog Story.

Linda at Teacher Dance has a poem she heard at a teaching workshop.

Today at The Poem Farm, Amy has a little goodbye poem from a teacher’s point of view along with a Poetry Peek from kindergarten teacher Erin Jarnot and her students from Elma Primary.

Julie is back this week with an original poem called “Anniversary” and some musings about translation and mistranslation.

Bridget Magee is here with an original poem, “Summer Hazard” about one of the perils of living in the desert.

Over at Today’s Little Ditty, Michelle has a dream poem written by her dad in honor of Father’s Day.

Robyn Hood Black is here with Full Hearts, Empty Nests, and Emily Dickinson.

MM Socks has an original poem today Woodrow’s Shadow.

Doraine Bennett has Winslow Homer and J.G. Whittier.

Irene Latham has a menagerie of Valerie Worth poems.

A traveling poem over at The Florian Cafe this Friday morning.

Author Amok is celebrating with a picnic-full of third graders’ food poems. Chocolate pie, anyone? We can’t end school without some teacherly wisdom. I’m also featuring a portion of poet Joseph Ross’s beautiful post “The Gifts of Teaching.”

Karen Edmisten has a Billy Collins poem to share.

Cathy has an original cat poem.

Lorie Ann Grover offers a haiku today, Whispered through Steam.

Joy at Poems for Kids Joy has an original poem about her flag for Flag Day.

Here’s Becky with Math Poetry.

All About Books with Janet has a doggy poem “I Didn’t Do It” written by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest and illustrated by Katy Schneider.

For some hippity-hoppity froggy fun, go to Reading to the Core.

Little Willow posted Afterthoughts by Edwin Arlington Robinson at her blog Bildungsroman.

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