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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Poetry Friday is with Keisha at Whispers from the Ridge

Photo by Kim Douillard

I follow Kim Douillard’s blog. She posts a weekly photo challenge. Last week’s challenge was “Path.” To me, her post was poetic, so I took words and lines and created a found poem.

Path
a found poem from Thinking through my Lens

The snail’s wet trail caught my eye.
I remember Emerson’s words–
go where there is no path
and leave a trail.

I find the sculpture;
Its path formed of trash
her artistic eye transformed
into beauty.

My own path
ebbs and flows like the tides.
I follow moments of sunshine
to clouds echoing the waves.

Seabirds above
follow an invisible path.
In the sky, agile pelicans
intersect the line of a hang glider

Causing me to wonder
what magical paths
await if we are willing
to look.
–Margaret Simon

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Poetry Friday is with Tara at A Teaching Life.

 

Gifted by Nature Day was coming up, and I had forgotten that it was my job to do a poetry activity.  Yikes!  What would I do?  Some middle school students would be doing a play based on The Jungle Book.  Their teacher explained in an email to me that the theme would be Be Yourself. 

I typed into Google search “Bio-poems.”  I didn’t want to use the same ole bio-poem form.  Up pops one of my favorite performance poets, Allan Wolf.  On his website, he had this mentor I Am poem.

I created a document that outlined each line.  As each student completed their art activity, they came over to my poetry table.  My first question was “Do you know what alliteration is?”  Most of the kids didn’t recall this term, but that’s OK.  I taught them very quickly, and they said, “Oh, yeah!”

Writing that first line proved the most difficult.  The students I was working with are gifted, and there’s nothing better than watching a gifted kid feel a challenge. Encouragement came from other kids who had found a first line.

Wyatt was happy to share his first line. “I am an All Star Athlete.”

Noah, who loves to hunt, created, “I am a hard-headed hunter.”

A young Laotian girl named Patra sat next to me and said with complete honesty, “I am a little, lovely lark.”  I encouraged her to use that metaphor throughout her poem. Her teacher texted me a copy to feature here.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I wonder what it’s like to fly.
I hear people talking.
I see the puffy, fluffy clouds.
I want to fly.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I pretend to fly.
I touch feathers.
I worry when I’m late.
I cry when–I don’t cry much.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I understand Laotian language.
I say, “Ha! Ha! Ha!” (me laughing)
I dream about flying.
I try to do my best in school.
I hope to grow wings!

I am a little, lovely lark.

Patra, 3rd grade

Jacob missed Gifted by Nature Day, so I presented the activity to him back at school.  He decided to take his poem in a different direction and become a planet, specifically Mercury.  You can read his poem here. 

This form worked for multiple elementary grade levels from 2nd graders to 6th graders.  If you chose to use this activity in your classroom, I’d love to hear from you.

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Poetry Friday is at Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

 

Last week, I attended the memorial celebration for Linda’s dad. I was surprised to find out he loved poetry. So his daughters used poetry to voice their thoughts and memories of him.  Linda wrote a limerick and her sister Sallie wrote a series of 12 haiku.

After the service, I spoke with Linda’s sister Sallie. Sallie told me a story. Her father loved ice cream. He’d eat ice cream every night and served it to his multiple cats. Even on the night before he died, he had ice cream. She said a day later when all the family had gathered and were enjoying being together telling stories about his life, they heard the chiming of an ice cream truck. They live down a country road. The ice cream truck rarely comes, but it came that day. Serendipity or a message from her father, I felt compelled to share my favorite line of poetry.

This line is in Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Ringing in her book A Maze Me.

Ringing
by Naomi Shihab Nye

A baby, I stood in my crib to hear
the dingy-ding of a vegetable truck approaching.

When I was bigger, my mom took me out
to the street
to meet the man who rang the bell and
he tossed me
a tangerine…the first thing I ever caught.
I thought he was
a magic man.

My mom said there used to be milk trucks too.
She said, Look hard, he’ll be gone soon.
And she was right. He disappeared.

Now, when I hear an ice-cream truck chiming
its bells, I fly.
Even if I’m not hungry–just to watch it pass.

Mailmen with their chime of dogs barking
up and down the street are magic too.

They are all bringers.
I want to be a bringer.

I want to drive a truck full of eggplants
down the smallest street.
I want to be someone making music
with my coming.

My friend Dani heard this story and made a graphic for me. To celebrate Naomi’s beautiful line, I decided to write a Golden Shovel. The poem emerged as a tribute to my mother and all mothers who sing to their children.

Lullaby

A baby, I
heard lullabies soft and low. I want
to hear her sing again, to
be that child hungry for the world, to be
laughing, listening, someone
who finds joy in making
songs of nonsense, music
only a mother loves with
an unexpectant heart. I hold my
ears close to the rain on the window. A song is coming.

–Margaret Simon, after Naomi Shihab Nye

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

Cherish is my 2017 one little word. So when my youngest daughter came home and wanted to go on a swamp tour, I took the morning off to cherish this special time. Whether it was the high air pressure or the slant of the sun in May, but the cypress swamp on Lake Martin was glowing. I wished I had brought my big camera, but my phone had to do. Even so, I captured some amazing images.

Lake Martin is a nature preserve and bird sanctuary, so there is no feeding of the animals of any sort. The guides do not attract the alligators to the boat. Even so, there were plenty of gators around to see. All sizes, from a small baby about 2 feet long to an old grandpa at 14 feet. Many of them were perched on branches sticking out of the water sunning themselves. Gators have no sweat glands, so they open their mouths to cool off. This makes them look fierce. They pretty much ignored us, though.

I learned that there are few snakes in the swamp because the birds and the gators eat them. The lake is home to all kinds of birds from the largest species of heron, the grey heron, to the littlest chickadee. We were mesmerized by the roseate spoonbills flying above, a spray of pink on the sky.

I enjoyed being a tourist in my own home. We should do this more often. I loved learning new facts, some of which I want to “fact check”, such as Spanish moss was brought into Louisiana on a bird. How do they know that?

If you plan to come to South Louisiana, you should plan on a swamp tour. However, it’s pretty warm, so you’d probably not want to take the trip during the summer.

I made an Animoto video and digital poem about the cypress swamp. Enjoy!

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Jacob’s lovely painting for #More for AKR

Today, I am celebrating Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s birthday. This beacon of lovely died earlier this year, but she has left behind a legacy of kindness that is spreading like the fan of her yellow umbrella. Kirby Larson started a Facebook group. People from every state in the country have joined to celebrate today and do More. Amy’s lovely book I Wish You More has inspired a movement that will be felt globally today on her birthday.

I have been crocheting chemo bags out of fun colorful yarn. Students from my school have donated items to add to these kits. We will be delivering them to a local hospital for kids going through chemo.

I was inspired by Keri to buy a Peter Reynolds poster featuring one of Amy’s quotes. The posters will benefit the AKR Yellow Umbrella Foundation.

Here we are at the end of National Poetry Month, and I am wishing for more.  We made it to the letter O for Odes.  I read aloud a few of Pablo Naruda’s Ode to Common Things.  He was the master.  I love the way his odes read like a stream of consciousness.  I joined my students in writing odes.  And of course, I felt it appropriate to write an Ode to Poetry.

I’ve listen
to your song,
lament,
psalm,
your rhyme,
rhythm–the tap,
tap, tap
of your dancing pen.

Oh poetry,
born of Pablo,
Mary,
Naomi,
and Emily.
You hypnotize me.

A single line
can make my heart swell.
I can hear my own voice
echoing in your rivers.
Together we roam
the world,
hand in hand
finding flowers,
friends
and geese
along the way.

I jump
into your arms,
oh, poetry.
Let me rock
on your squeaky swing,
holding onto
every word.
Pronouncing each syllable
with perfect pitch.

” On 4/29 at 4:20 PM, text someone I love you. This is what I would like for my birthday each year.” AKR

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Poetry Friday is at Teaching Authors.

If you’ve been following my National Poetry Month project, you know I’ve been teaching a poetry form each day to my students. I am learning so much about the benefits of writing a poem each day, but most of all, I glow when my students skip into class each day asking what are we writing today?

Writing a poem each day stretches your writing muscles. Like in a yoga practice, you find new muscles that you didn’t know you had. Word play leads us to discover deeper meanings for every day language.

Today I am sharing two of my poems from this week. The kyrielle is probably the most challenging form we have tried. Noah wrote a Kyrielle about dirt. I know I’ve reached my boys when they can adapt any poetry form to a typical boy topic.

Kyrielle Poem on Dirt

A substance covering the ground.
Laying on the ground all around.
Not making any sound at all.
Tracked by dirty feet down the hall.
Noah, 5th grade

For list poems, I turned to Falling Down the Page by Georgia Heard. We read the poems that started with “Things to do if you are…”

My student, Jacob, shouted, “Sky!” Then Madison said, “Always change colors!” and this poem was born.

Things to do if you’re the Sky

Always change colors.
Hold onto clouds.
Sparkle like diamonds.
Water the garden.
Dance with the wind.
Paint treetops green.
Wake up the morning glories.
Invite birds over for tea.
Make every day beautiful.
—Margaret Simon (with a little help from Jacob and Madison)

Yesterday, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes featured Madison’s cinquain on Today’s Little Ditty. Madison wrote her poem after pulling a cadet blue crayon from the crayon box. My students are feeling like “real” poets this month. Thanks, Michelle for the affirmation.

You can read more of my students’ poem on our Kidblog site.

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

Almost every morning, I walk the neighborhood with my dog, Charlie. We set out around 6 AM. I have come to love this time of day watching as the bayou world wakes up.

Almost every morning, I see Kenny. He’s walking, too, but not in a straight line. He picks up a newspaper at the end of a driveway and carries it up to the front door. He carries the trash cans out to the curb. When he sees me and Charlie, he stops, reaches into his pocket and gives Charlie a dog biscuit. When Charlie sees him, he pulls on the leash and cries.

One morning Kenny told me that he used to stop at this lady’s house every morning. He said, “I didn’t know her, but I knew she was elderly, so I’d always pick up her paper for her. One morning there were strange cars in the driveway. A man comes out to meet me and he tells me she passed away, but that she always talked about the kind man who brought up her paper every morning.”  A little act of kindness goes a long way.

This morning as I was walking, I recalled that Linda Mitchell wrote a limerick for her poem of the day.

I thought, “I could never write a limerick.” However, this limerick started humming in my head after I met Mr. Kenny this morning.

Limerick for Mr. Kenny

There once was a man who walked Edgewater Street.
Never a stranger did he meet.
He was kind to his neighbors,
offered multiple favors.
And always gave Charlie a treat.

–Margaret Simon

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