Friday, July 11, 2014

taking your suggestions, please

This summer I'm working on a sweeping revision of last summer's project.  I'm now aiming at a teen audience, and one of its themes is identity.  Many of the poems will be set in the context of trying out different voices, perspectives, and even disguises, and so it seems like a good place to include some of the poems I've written as "copy tributes."  (I may have made up that label.)  Here's one that's working quite well; below you'll see what I'm hoping you can help with...

Stopping by Turtle on a Rainy Morning

Whose shell this is I think I know.
His head is under cover though;
He doesn’t want me stopping here
To watch him, crouching close and low.

I startled him along the path.
He wasn’t stepping very fast
Between the ferns and dripping weeds,
This wettest morning, for a bath.

He freezes, puts on all his brakes
And hopes that there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the blink
Of careful notice that I make.

His shell is lovely, arched and dark,
But I can’t read his orange marks,
Our miles of difference, slight and stark,
Our miles of difference, slight and stark.

            Heidi Mordhorst 2013
                all rights reserved

So far the poems I've copy-tributed are classics by male poets.  I also need to include a couple by women--but which?  I can think of several Emily Dickinson ones that would work well, but what about a more modern classic American poet?  Which Lucille Clifton or Maya Angelou poem would you suggest?  Sylvia Plath? Dorothy Parker? They need to be widely recognizable, I think, for the "joke" to work.  (It's not really a joke at all, but I want literate MS and HS readers to realize that something is going on even before they get to the reference.)

Of course I could sit down and surround myself with all my anthologies for a hunt, but I thought it would be more fun to start by asking you what classic poems by women spoke to you in your teens (or later).  I'm sure you'll remind me of something obvious I've forgotten, or, as so often happens here, introduce me to something that somehow I've missed. 

Thanks, and turtle on over to Write Time for the round-up with Linda Kulp!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

pf round-up: independence day edition

Welcome to all! Since folks may be traveling or otherwise celebrating our national holiday tomorrow, I thought I'd open for business this evening, before I put up my post for tomorrow.  Please leave your links in the comments, and I'll be rounding up early in the morning, around the lunch hour, and then again at Happy Hour.  Let the fireworks begin!

Good morning--all the clouds here in Bethesda made it hard to pop up (and then there is the daily argument with the 11yo about whether he has completed responsibilities before taking to his screen, which used up some time), but here we are!  I had intended to post something red, white and blue today, but then last night I opened up a book I received for joining the Academy of American Poets, Poem in Your Pocket (selected by Elaine Bleakney, introduction by Kay Ryan) and performed my summer evening ritual of closing my eyes and tearing out a random poem.  (It's okay; that's what it's designed for.)  And what should appear in my hand but a wonder by our own Julie Larios!  And the more I read it, the more American and patriotic and appropriate it seemed (except for maybe the first line of stanza 1).

What Bee Did || Julie Larios

Bee not only buzzed.
When swatted at, Bee deviled,
Bee smirched. And when fuddled,
like many of us, Bee labored, Bee reaved.
He behaved as well as any Bee can have.

Bee never lied. Bee never lated.
And despite the fact Bee took, Bee also stowed.
In love, Bee seiged. Bee seeched.
Bee moaned, Bee sighed himself,
Bee gat with his Beloved.

And because Bee tokened summer...

Bee sure to follow this link to read the very last buzz and perhaps to hear Julie read this poem herself at the Cortland Review online, and be dazzled.

And now for the roundup!

Mary Lee shares a poem that she says might have been written about her Colorado hometown at A Year of Reading. 

Laura Salas shares a fireworks poem by Rebecca Kai Dotlich at her blog (kaboom!)

At Today's Little Ditty Michelle shares an interview with Tamera Will Wissinger and this month's Ditty challenge.

Diane brings us a Sketchbook Project poem, "American Bambina," at Random Noodling and a Poetry Friday quote at KK's Kwotes, but Kurious Kitty is taking a well-deserved holiday!

Laura Shovan has a rumination about owls today, featuring a poem from Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, at Author Amok.

More fireworks--small ones, I expect--from Valerie Worth, over at Carol's Corner.

Julie Larios joins us again today with "America the Beautiful," which has her wondering about "picnics and abundance and beaches and grandparents and explosions in the distance..."

Myra celebrates our national holiday from afar with "Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty" at Gathering Books--most fitting.

Tabatha returns from her beach vacation with "The Solipsist" by Troy Jollimore--always something or someone new to discover at The Opposite of Indifference.

We all welcome Irene's participation as audience today, I'm sure, and in the context of my own haiku study I'm very curious about Liz's "unwanted haiku" posted at Elizabeth Steinglass!

Also, a visit to Tricia's Monday Poetry Stretch is worth a trip--our prompt was "America is..." and there are some fresh responses from Jane Yolen, Kate Coombs and Steven Withrow.   They're at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Tara joins in with a different sort of July 4th poem at A Teaching Life.

From Margaret we get "a flower life"--some small flower poems and an invitation to collaborate at Reflections on the Teche.

Linda has not fireworks but fireFLIES!  Visit her at TeacherDance.

At Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme Matt treats us to an original, "American Discontent."

*At this point I take a break and head out to our neighborhood 4th of July bike parade--probably the last year that said 11yo will want to decorate his bike and ride with the littles!  More later...*

As France and Germany battle on the World Cup soccer field, we return to our PF offerings:

Our new friend Carol has a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, who passed away this week, at Beyond LiteracyLink.

Jone has a truly national(istic) poem from Ralph Waldo Emerson at Check It Out today.

Jeannine visit with a link to reviews of two verse novels for teens at her blog Views from a Window Seat.

From Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children we have a list of poetry books perfect for this time of year, from her Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists.

Lorie Ann Grover joins us from On Point with an energetic haiku called "Santorini Echo," and at ReaderTotz Maya Angelou is featured singing on Sesame Street.  I think Maya and Walter might be meeting up today, somewhere out there.  Kings' Cross Station?  (I hope that doesn't sound sacrilegious; I mean it with great and fond respect for many literary traditions.)

Finally for this afternoon, Karen joins us with a lovely, refreshing (maybe even sexy?) poem from Helen Hay Whitney called "My Brook."

*If there are more Independence Day posters I'll round them up between 5 and 6, and then we all have to get that best vantage point for this evening's fireworks!!*

My apologies to Jeff Barger, whose link I missed but who joined us late with a spider poem at NC Teacher Stuff.

Thanks to all who made Poetry Friday a part of their 4th of July...I look forward to reading more than just your comments this weekend!

Friday, June 27, 2014

to count or not to count

In my haiku study I'm learning that Japanese haiku is not structured with 3 lines of 17 syllables, 5-7-5, but instead counts "sound units," which are shorter and more regular than English syllables.

A recently published essay by Toshio Kimura called "A New Era for Haiku"  handily summarizes the essence of haiku, which lies in these characteristics: shortness, a fixed form of some kind, humor (which surprised me), "haikuness," and "kire" or cutting, which results in the juxtaposition of two or three images.  It also explores the deep cultural traditions of haiku in Japan and the changing ways of reading and writing it around the world.

It looks like most writers (in Japanese and English) continue to use a three-line form with lines of unmeasured length, but the overall shape tends to remain short-long-short.  Many writers also continue to include "kigo" or season words and nature themes, but not all.  Here is one from the essayist himself:

just bending the head
as a flower

And here's one of my attempts from this past week, watching Duncan and his friend in the ocean at Rehoboth.


busting waves
again and again deliciously
they break me

I think I'll need to go back this week and look at that one with my new reading in mind--does it have haikuness?  does it break my rules or follow them?  What are my haiku rules anyway?  And is it true that publishers for children are going to want only haiku that follow the 5-7-5 pattern?

In the meantime, please surf on over to Buffy's Blog for the Poetry Friday roundup, and I look forward to hosting you all next week for the Independence Day edition of Poetry Friday!

Friday, June 20, 2014

haiku summer

Well, hello.  Long time no see...a VERY long time, and the glorious feeling of finally being on summer break (which really only came over me fully yesterday) is so consuming that I actually FORGOT that it was not just Friday but Poetry Friday until just now, as I was studying the Bare Bones School of Haiku, Lesson 6.

I found my way to these extremely helpful lessons via Robyn Hood Black's blog, where I knew I would find good resources.  Until Wednesday, I didn't know I would need them, but the moment I began entertaining the notion of a poem-a-day project this summer, a poem aspiring to be a haiku popped out.  I've known for a while that I was still laboring under the 5-7-5 oversimplified haiku form that I learned as a 3rd-grader, but I hadn't had a chance to learn a more authentic approach to haiku in English. 

Now I have the chance, and by Jane Reichold's Lesson 5 I was able to improve my initial Wednesday effort, and so I offer this welcome to my Haiku Summer (even as I begin a third major revision to my WIP).

yellow plastic frying pan
in the pool
the water sizzles

I'm also delighted to be participating this year in Tabatha's Summer Poem Swap. I received a doubly well-crafted spirit animal poem from Irene Latham, and here's the double acrostic to close out the school year that I sent to my first partner, fellow teacher Linda Baie.  What fun to get and send real mail!

                                   Vocation 2014

total focus:                                               i am
energy, laser-beam sunshine,                            i
aim, pointed and diffuse,                at seventeen
children, zoom in on each face, hand, move.   i
hold this mass of                          five-year-olds
in an open                                  sanctuary that
needs liturgy, communion,     singing and prayer
going forth complicated, consecrated and happy.

Thanks for visiting my juicy little universe today.  Find more summer poetry goodness with Jone at Check It Out!

Friday, April 25, 2014

npm travel journal 25: kensington, md

Yes, indeed--to celebrate National Poetry Monday today, we are stepping into my very own classroom here in Montgomery County, MD! This month the Mighty Minnows have once again considered the question What Do Poets Do?  They learned that
1) Poets choose to write about one small thing.
2) Poets choose words that sound good together.
3) Poets choose where to put their words.
4) Poets create strong feelings.
Then the Minnows tried doing some of those things themselves.  Without further ado, here is the work of my 17 kindergarteners (signed with their aliases)....

The Sky

the sky is a
beautiful land
a star in a
sky at night
and we
can see a moon

by Ananda

My Family

I love my family
They love me too
My mom cooks for me
My dad helps me do
my homework
I like my mom
and dad because
they love me

by Julee

                                                Hello Buffalo
Can I ride 
on you? 

What do you
sound like?


by Brendan

My Sisters

my sisters
play with me
my sisters
play with me

by Kailee

 The Sun

                                                When the sun wakes
up it sprinkles
upon my flowers!


Tuna Mouth

This tuna
was in a war with
three naughty tunas.

This tuna won!

by Jaiden

My Family

My daddy is a clown
My mommy is a butterfly
My sister is a flower
My brother is a playground
My self is a blanket
My cat is a dog!

by Nellie

 Transformer Cars

Two trillion         
 transformer cars
 Giant transformers
 have guns
 They fight the
 bad guys!

 by Antonio

My Mommy

I love my mommy
I love my family
too.  But no one
is better
than you!

by Julio

My Family

my mom is a rose

my daddy
is a button

I am a flower

by Valoria

                                                I Like the Sun

                                                the sun shines
so bright
can I go
outside to-

by Nate

The Turtle with Eggs

the turtle walks
so slow.
eggs of
the turtle.

by Wilmer

The World

I like the world
the world has lots
of things     it has
flowers and trees and
lots of clouds    I like
the world    do you
like it too

by Jazmyn


  Skylanders is a
  video game 
  I play  it a lot
  I make the Skylanders
  I make them fight the
  bad guys
  It’s exciting when I win!

  by Alex Andrew


We go on rides
I like rides that go
up and down
I like rides that go
I go with my mommy 
                                              and with my daddy

                                              by Leeah

Green Water

the green water
is going to explode

nobody is going
to jump in

the water has to get cooked
then we can pour the water in

by Robbie


I color a snowman
I color a flower
I color a rainbow
I color a leaf

by Sofie
As always, my favorite thing about these is that each child had an idea, something to say in a poem and an idea of how to say it best. Enjoy more National Poetry Month goodness today at The Opposite of Indifference with Tabatha!