Friday, May 29, 2020

online lessons

I signed up for MasterClass to get their 2-for-1 deal and so that I could sit at the feet of Billy Collins.  He does things in his poems that I love but that are not my usual style, so I thought I'd learn something new and stretchy.  I was right, and I'm only on Lesson 5 of 19.  You can also see what other members of the family have found interesting!

My dear friend Mary Lee is celebrating the triumphant yet sorrowing end of her school year with an expansive post inviting us to a Reading Without Walls challenge.  See you there!

Friday, May 22, 2020


At the beginning of May Michelle Heidenrich Barnes shared an interview with Margaret Simon on her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. At the end of the interview, Margaret posted a timely challenge to “Write a mindful poem about the present moment.” I got a little motivated by Mary Lee Hahn's suggestion in the comments to make that into a daily challenge. We put out the idea with the hashtag #PoemsofPresence and invited poets to write small poems for each day in May.  Michelle made the gorgeous logo.  My first one quotes Margaret quoting from Mary Oliver.

                                               horns and a cowbell

walking widdershins

Thanks to all who are making this a very satisfying (and doable) project! Our host today is Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link, who has been joining us in some #PoemsofPresence and shares them in a new gallery of illustrated poetry.  Wishing you wondering and sending you mending, should you need it.

Friday, May 15, 2020

nothing to see here

No, literally and actually, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.  It's a weekend to properly read around the posts.

I read this for my book club.  It's good.

Thanks for hosting, Jama!

Friday, May 8, 2020

#poemsofpresence #shelterinpoems

This mouse is how
I reach you
roll   point    click
This screen is how
I touch you
flat    cold     far

Teacher hat on today: The state of Maryland has put out suggestions about what school may look like when we return to our school buildings:

"Today, daily school operations will likely include increased health and hygiene measures such as wearing masks, temperature checks, hand-washing, frequent sanitation, and social distancing, especially for elementary students. In addition, elementary playground areas may be marked for social distancing along with areas within schools. ...
Reduced class sizes may be expected to become the norm, consisting of students placed in the smallest classes possible with desks that are placed six feet apart. ...Special areas such as art, health, and physical education may be offered remotely via video chat along with parent/teacher conferences, discipline conferences, 504, and IEP meetings."

As my friend Jake Russo points out, this will be not only unworkable, but detrimental if not abusive to young children. THE MAIN POINT of school is "social studies"--learning to live in community to develop the skills needed to participate in the society. Even if you cynically admit that we care less about social studies than a) every other content area and b) school as state-provided child care to support employment and economic functions, it is impossible to effectively teach elementary students without physical closeness including touch. 

It's now 4pm and getting late for Poetry Friday, so I'll stop hoping that I can add anything uplifting or sheltering---WAIT!

Here's the #shelter part:

click on this:
the certainty that
not one of us will participate
they can't fire us all

Thanks to Michelle for hosting us today at Today's Little Ditty.  Be as well as you can, friends.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

sunday swaggers challenge: epistolary poems

It's awfully nice that just as National Poetry Month ends, May swoops in with a fresh new Poetry Friday! (Because Poetry Month is every month, right? which is good news for those of us who MAY have fallen behind in our National Poetry Month projects...)

Today our critique partner Molly Hogan has asked us to turn our hand to epistolary poems, pretty straightforwardly defined at as "poems that read as letters. As poems of direct address, they can be intimate and colloquial or formal and measured."

After a period at the start of The Quarantine of "no dreams," I've been having lengthy, vivid dreams that lurk and leap out at me bit by bit all day--how 'bout you?  I've also restarted a book called The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall. One sentence in the introduction caught my attention. I set it as the striking line for a Golden Shovel, and here's how it came out.

“Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.”
                    Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal  

Dear Dreamer,

The heart waits to get even,
but not for long. It takes over when
your eyes close, takes the
reins of your brain, your body.
It beats, fibrillates, goes
haywire, commanding your mind to
sends its signals while you sleep.
It won’t rest; the
heart will have its way. Your mind
thinks it’s in charge, that it stays
a step ahead, tidying everything up.
The heart knows better, releases all
its bleeding secrets, pumps your night
full of bitter gorgeous truth, telling
its technicolor lies, baring itself
in sleepless stories.

draft ©Heidi Mordhorst 2020

Not sure how to sign that letter, but there you have it. It's addressed to all of you.

Visit each of the other Swaggers to see whom--or what--they've addressed, and visit Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass, who's hosting our exhausted Poetry Friday with aplomb and a video!