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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 Evergreen 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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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I love that we have a whole month of celebrating poetry.  My students walk into class each day and ask, “What kind of poem are we writing today?”  or “I have been thinking about writing a poem about wind.”

I’ve read articles, listened to podcast, and read lots of daily poetry this month.  I don’t want it to end!  Check on the progress of the Progressive Poem.  Listen to Laura Shovan on All the Wonders.  Find a selection of daily poem writers on Jama’s Alphabet Soup.  

Yesterday I got a postcard poem from Jone MacCulloch’s kids poetry group, an ode to cheating.  We will be trying out odes next week, so I’ll share this one with my students.  I love the irony of flying hearts and pencils around this topic of cheating.

 

Here’s my poem for today, a little haiku about our state flower Magnolia.  They are blooming!

magnolia haiku 4

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Poetry Friday is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.

Nikki Grimes did not invent the Golden Shovel poetry form, but she may have perfected it.  After listening to this podcast on All the Wonders, I pulled out the advanced copy of One Last Word that Nikki graciously signed at NCTE 16.  To share the poems with my students, I copied the original poem written by a Harlem Renaissance poet alongside Nikki’s Golden Shovel poem.  These were high level poems that really pushed the thinking of my students.

The idea of a Golden Shovel is to take a line or stanza of a poem, write the words down the right margin and build your own poem around the words.  I had never done one myself, so I wasn’t really sure how well my students would do.  I gave my students the option to use a line from the poems I shared with them or choose another poem from the plethora of poetry books on the shelf.

Imagine my surprise when I selected No Images by William Waring Cuney that I found in Hip Hop Speaks to Children and realized that Nikki Grimes had tackled this same poem in One Last Word.  I felt a kinship to her with this serendipity.

With her lips, she
speaks volumes but does
only good, careful not
to disturb what they think they know
about her
She does not know her own beauty.

With her eyes, she
looks deeply, thinks
longingly about her
future in brown
skin.

If love has
an answer, then no
one can take away her glory.

–Margaret Simon

No one knows Everything
the world Is
a mystery, but digging deeper shows Everything
has a connection, a purpose, but What
is the meaning of life? Is
it just simply surviving, no! Lives are Meant
to be lived; hearts are meant To
be shared; care is supposed to Be
given. People don’t donate their emotions anymore, but they Will
regret this. Remember no one knows everything, so let it Be

After Lauryn Hill

by Emily, 6th grade

“The line I used came from the poem, For a Poet by Countee Cullen.  The line is And laid them away in a box of gold.” Lynzee, 2nd grade

 

I have hopes and
dreams. I have laid
all of them
my blossoming treasures away.

They are safe in
a box beside my heart; it is a
treasure too, my glittering box
full of
treasure, made of gold.

This is what my student Andrew, 4th grade, had to say about writing a Golden Shovel poem.

“When I was told to do a golden shovel poem I was like, ” Hm. That shouldn’t be so hard.” Then BOOM!! You get punched in the brain. So we have to take a whole line from a poem and use all the words and every sentence that you make has to end with one of the words. For example . The sentence that I chose was, “We move and hustle but lack rhythm.” The first sentence had to end with We. The second sentence had to end with move then so on so on. I have to admit that was the hardest poem I have to make. And it took the longest to come up with. I don’t know the exact time but it was more than twenty minutes. Usually my poems take about 5-10 minutes but this was a lot longer. But I think that might be my best poem.”

Thanks, Nikki, for the punch in the brain.  I think we are all better poets because of it.

 

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

 

One thing I did on Spring Break was visit Barnes & Noble and buy a few books I’ve been hearing about.  Textbook by Amy Krouse Rosenthal was one of those books.  It took us a while to find it, me and the store clerk who was sure he knew exactly where it was.  But the book was hiding under another book.  After all that work to find it, I wasn’t going to let it go.

Then I had to take care of my car, one of those mediocre bothersome chores, except when you take Amy along.  I kept looking up and looking around because I was sure that my delight and vulnerability were showing all at once.  Somehow I felt the spirit of Amy KR right there with me.

She was not afraid to challenge us to be the best we can be.  She wanted all of us to look for purple flower moments and rainbows.  In her writing, the legacy of her generous spirit lives on, but her light is off.  I couldn’t let go of that fact.

Throughout the book, you are asked to text a response. I’m sure Amy didn’t read every text, but the idea has lost some of its appeal without her here anymore.  I wish for more…Amy.

Her style was unique and full of life.  Even her smile on the back flap continues to shine.

Page 291 reminded me that I have a doorknob that I keep on a shelf.  I bought it at an antique store when Jeff and I were planning to build a house.  We never built a house, but I still have the doorknob on a shelf.  Now I know why.

 

 

 

Kirby Larson started a Facebook group to honor Amy with good works on her birthday, April 29th.  “On April 29, 2017, the members of this group will do #More — more kindness, love, more fill-in-the-blank and will share their intentions/actions here to beckon the lovely to spring forth in others.” This is a public group, so anyone can join.

I want to be someone who
opens a door,
nurtures imagination,
keeps an umbrella close by just in case,
one who does more
because there is always
more to do.

Blessings, Margaret Simon

 

 

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No DigiLit Sunday

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I am not posting a DigiLit Sunday post due to Easter.  Happy Easter all!

We’ll be back next Sunday.

Easter Lilies in my friend Suzanne Dugas’ yard. Photo taken from Facebook.

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I’ve had a wonderful week off this week.
A little bit of sleeping,
a little bit of reading,
some writing,
some walking,
some talking with friends.

Mostly, I did whatever I wanted to do.
This is what Spring Break should be.
No excuses.
No worries.
Just a stretch of time
to relax and be.

This is not really a poem. I just made it look like one. Last night, my husband and I drove to Breaux Bridge to hear the Nouveau String Band. Oh, this group is so much fun. Lots of dancing, smiling, and laughing happened here. I’m posting a YouTube video of one of the songs they did last night. Put on your dancing shoes.

Here’s an actual poem that I wrote after reading Caroline Starr Rose’s blog post and listening to All the Wonders podcast of Nikki Grimes combined with some toe-tapping moves of my own.

I’m Possible

I’m on the edge of possible
with two steps to the right
Two to the left
Toe tap and spin.

Inside of me
I have enough
to be who I want
to be, enough rhythm,
enough swing
to make my world sing.

You do, too!

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I hope you have been following the Progressive Poem. Today I am adding a line. This amazing interactive poetry community builder is the brilliant invention of Irene Latham.

It all started with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe when she introduced a first person character with fidget, friction,and ragged edges. Mary Lee let the idea of F words dance back into the poem with “facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.” Then Janet set me up the steps to the stage.

I placed myself in the narrator’s shoes, climbing the stairs to the stage. What else would I feel except pure fright? So with alliteration dancing in my head, my blow dryer blew out this line. Every good story needs a conflict, right? Here you go, Jan, have fun with this fidgety, freckled, frightened storyteller. What will he/she do next? Look at the link up in my side bar to follow this poem through its journey.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!

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