Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

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So Much Joy

A backyard wedding
After the storm
Sun awakens new spring green
Vases of red roses and eucalyptus
Balloons float on air
Bride in fur
Groom in linen
Family together
Grandmother judge officiates
Quote from Dr. Seuss:
Fall in mutual weirdness.
Call it love.

Balcony witnesses from three coasts
Champagne popped at I do
Red boiled crawfish spice the tongue
Poboys, Zapp’s chips, Heath bar cookies
Beer in a pirogue
Spin me around one more time
So much Joy!

–Margaret Simon

Through the window, a look of love.

Balloon aftermath; pineapples are ripe.

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Thursday was an adventurous morning, so I created a Slice of Life model post for my students.

When I got to school this morning, I saw a crowd of teachers looking at a wall of the school.  In fact, they had their phones out and were taking pictures.  I finally saw what they were looking at.  A rat!  

Ms. Katie wasn’t taking a picture.  She was making an emergency phone call to the maintenance department.

I was on car line duty, so I could watch the whole adventure take place.  Mr. Rat stayed in place in the crook of the corner for a while.  Then there was Mr. Leonard with a black trash can.

The rat scurried around the corner and the chase was on!

Not long after Mr. Leonard and Ms. Katie disappeared around the side of the school, the cafeteria side which was smelling strongly of syrup, the maintenance department trucks (there were 2) showed up.  I didn’t see the action, but I assumed the ratty rat was caught and disposed of.

As we walked back into school, Mrs. Delahoussaye reminded me, “We are taking over their environment, the canefields.  They have every right to be here.”

I’m not sure I agree.  

One of my students started drawing a picture a day on the whiteboard.  Here’s a collage of her drawings:


Speaking of art, the mural is complete.  Here’s a picture of the completed gator mural by Mary Lacy.


Today is my oldest daughter’s wedding.  Talk about a celebration.  She wants me to read a Margaret Atwood poem at her ceremony.  It’s not sentimental (not Maggie’s nor Margaret Atwood’s style), but I still hope I can get through it without choking up.

by Margaret Atwood

Marriage is not
a house or even a tent

it is before that, and colder:

the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn

the edge of the receding glacier

where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
this far

we are learning to make fire


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Poetry Friday is with Catherine at Reading to the Core

Happy Birthday, Billy Collins!  His 76th birthday was on March 22nd.  

I introduced my students to the poetry of Billy Collins with this poem, The Trouble with Poetry.  The poem gives good advice about writing poems.

“The trouble with poetry is…
it encourages the writing of more poetry…
the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.”

I asked my students to steal a line and write their own poem.

The trouble with reading poetry is
that it’s so fun to read you can’t stop.

The trouble with poetry is
that you are to sit in the dark room
and wait for a flame of idea to pop up.

The trouble with poetry is
that Mrs. Simon makes us look for
what the poem means which is super hard.

The trouble with poetry is
thinking about ideas which is like hitting
yourself in the head with a rock.

The trouble with poetry is
that sometimes people steal ideas
and don’t give credit.

The trouble with poetry is
that you think your idea is bad
when it is really good.

The  trouble with poetry is
that you can have a writer’s block.

The trouble with poetry is
that you have to read it out loud to find mistakes.

by Andrew, 4th grade


Poetry Fills Me With Joy
Making me Float Above The Clouds
Like A Hot Air Balloon Soaring Above
After Being Filled With Hot Air
Like A Plane Being Filled With Fuel
And Taking Off
Like The First Letter Of Each Of These Words
Trying To Soar Off of The Screen

poetry fills me with sorrow
making me sink below the ground
like a balloon being popped
and crashing in the sea
like a plane crashing and burning
like the letters of this poem
trying to sink off the screen

By Kaiden, 6th grade

Billy Collins sarcastically expresses the feeling I get when I read poetry, and the reason I read poetry with my students.  Poetry breeds more poetry.  And I can’t think of anything better that a poem might do.  Thanks, Billy Collins, for encouraging my students to steal a line and try their own hands at writing poems.  

“ And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.”


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Catherine Flynn, who blogs at Reading to the Core, recommended a book for writers, Rip the Page: Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke.  I bought the book.  On page 31, one of my favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye, wrote a note to the writer.  She writes, “Nothing is too small to notice.” So I take notice.



I notice the light,
how today
the first day of spring,
the light is brighter

reflecting off the shiny Grumman canoe
propped against the satsuma tree,
reddening the shasta daisies
that just opened today
in time to say “Welcome spring.”

This light
intensifies the green,
illuminates Spanish moss
that hangs like abandoned spider webs.

This light ripples the bayou
in gentle wrinkles.
No rain in days,
so I water.

The spray from the hose

I remember…
how she loves rainbows.

That’s how this light is:
full of itself, showing off,
making love with life.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved



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Yesterday I posted about the SCBWI conference in New Orleans this weekend. Dr. Mary Howard wrote this message on Facebook, “I’m dying of curiosity about the revision techniques.” So I looked back at my notes and created a poem.

Why are you writing this?
Do you know?
What kind of story do you want to tell?
Do you know?

I need to make some decisions.
Whose story am I telling?
What change does my character make?

Purpose will inform your premise.
One sentence tells the whole story.

Start the stitching,
word by word,
you will make something beautiful.
Readers will thank you.

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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.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.


From my window, I see a stately oak
and the bayou beyond
flanked by cypress knees
sticking up like toy soldiers.

Sometimes, a heron happens by
stealthily stalking a wayward minnow.

Sometimes, the sun beams down
in a spotlight directing my gaze
to the intricate design of trees.

And some days, I don’t have time
to look, watch, or listen,
But I know my bayou
is always near
keeping me grounded,
showing me faithfulness,
bringing me solace.

–Margaret Simon

This Slice/ Celebration idea came from Elsie.  She wrote “Outside my Window” for her Day 2 Slice of Life.

I’ve been on break all week.  Such a gift to be able to look outside, take walks with Charlie, and lunch with friends.  I celebrate this time to look out the window.


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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.

Poetry Friday is with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

Poetry Friday is with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

This week I received an email from Heidi Mordhorst promoting a celebration of Billy Collins for this Poetry Friday roundup.  Billy Collins’ birthday is March 22. He will be 76.

I’ve actually had the privilege to meet Billy Collins at the Dodge Poetry Festival in the fall of 2008.  I took a picture with him that I cannot find.  I remember his humor most of all.  The tone of his voice, almost monotone, enhances the hilarity of his poems.

I’m not sure how many books I have of Billy Collins’ poetry, at least 5.  At Christmas, I had a Barnes and Noble gift card, so I bought the latest The Rain in Portugal. I read about half of it and put it down after I heard an interview with him that made me mad.

I imagine all poets to be gentle, loving souls.  If Billy Collins is being himself in interviews, and I would assume he is, he is quite arrogant.  He insulted us amateur poets as if we shouldn’t even try to write.  I decided to reject his opinion and continue to write poetry.  In fact I’ve written a few poems “after Billy Collins.”  So to appease my injured pride and to reject his lofty opinion, I am not posting his poetry, but my own.

Our Ship

after Billy Collins, Litany

We are all on this ship together
whether or not it sails.
We are side by side
like the freckles on your mother’s face.
We are closer
than the love bugs on the windshield.

You, and I, and he, and she.
We are not like the blown away balloons
at the 3 year old’s birthday party.
We are not the shavings of wood mulching the flower bed.

No, we are this way, that way,
you know what I mean,
intertwined like the vines of wisteria,
joined and connected, tumbling and reaching.

Give me your hand.
I will give you mine.
Let’s go on this voyage together.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.


Burst into Spring

after Billy Collins, Today

If ever there was a spring day so perfect,
so stirred up by a cool crisp wind

that you wanted to breathe more often
to taste the wisteria blossoms,

and throw open all the doors,
lift them clear off the hinges,

a day so bright the pink azaleas
pop open like a birthday balloon bouquet,

seemed so delightful that you felt like
running naked among them,

released from all inhibitions taking flight
outstretched arms playing airplane,

so you could fly on steady wings
balanced for lift and drinking nectar,

yes, you can imagine it,
today is just that kind of day.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved


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