Thursday, March 28, 2013

announcing...30words30days! a poem for busy people

Goodness, it's almost April!  Do I have time to organize an elaborate and beautifully schemed celebration for National Poetry Month?  No, I do not...but what kind of a poet lets April go by without a special nod?
So what can a busy poet do to celebrate with joyful restraint?   She can invent a mini poetry game. Be forewarned: its success depends on YOU, so prepare to play!

On Monday, April 1st, I will post a SINGLE WORD here at my juicy little universe.  This will be the first word in an cumulative and collaborative 30-word poem.  Your job will be to briefly consider this first word and respond in the comments with YOUR JUICY SUGGESTION FOR THE SECOND WORD in the poem.

On Tuesday afternoon I will review all your excellent suggestions and choose a second word, which I will then post with Word One for your review/delectation/inspiration.  Don't think too hard!  Just respond with your suggestion for WORD THREE.  On Wednesday, April 3rd, I'll select one of your suggested words and post Words One, Two and Three...

...and so on and so on (lather rinse repeat) until we have a tidy little joyfully restrained poem!  Please plan to VISIT EARLY AND OFTEN to see how things are going and to leave your word ideas in the comments.  (And if there comes a day with no suggestions, I have a back-up plan. Similarly, I'm ready if no one does me the favor of suggesting the occasional dry but useful grammaticalink word.)

Alongside 30words30days, I hope to be posting more children's work throughout April and I'll be participating, on April 14, in Irene's 2013 Progressive Poem.  I'm looking forward to all the NPM delights that others have in store...see more at A Year of Reading with Mary Lee!

With Monday out of the way, here's a thought for those who have Easter bunnies on the mind...I was led to this chilly poem by someone's labor of love, a hundred-page collection of hare and rabbit poems, and I enjoyed especially the rabbits' view of us in our caves lit by sun and stars.

Song of the Rabbits Outside the Tavern | Elizabeth Coatsworth

We who play under the pines,
We who dance in the snow
That shines blue in the light of the moon
Sometimes we halt as we go,
Stand with our ears erect,
Our noses testing the air,
To gaze at the golden world
Behind the window there.

Suns they have in a cave
And stars each on a tall white stem,
And the thought of a fox or night owl
Seems never to trouble them.
They laugh and eat and are warm,
Their food seems ready at hand,
While hungry out in the cold
We little rabbits stand.

But they never dance as we dance,
They have not the speed or the grace.
We scorn both the cat and the dog
Who lie by the fireplace.
We scorn them licking their paws,
Their eyes on an upraised spoon,
We who dance hungry and wild
Under the winter's moon.

Friday, March 22, 2013

overheard in Sunday School

This year at my Unitarian Universalist congregation we're using a new (to us) approach to religious education known as the WRM or Workshop Rotation Model.  Rather than sending same-grade groups of kids to the same class with the same teachers each Sunday, the kids are divided into several multiage groups and each month a handful of different types of lessons are taught around a theme.  The groups rotate through each lesson over the course of the month, with new volunteers teaching each month. 

In February, when our theme was Truth, I offered a poetry workshop.  I worked with three groups of  3rd-5th graders, and our RE Director worked with our one group of K-2nd graders.  As I had hoped, UU kids were especially receptive to poetry and dove in, producing some really first-rate work in our one hour together.  (Someday I'll write a post about what I mean about UU's and poetry.)

I used a poem from my collection Squeeze about a special rock to introduce the idea of an "outside truth" (the sensory, scientific facts about a thing) and an "inside truth"--the personal experiences and imaginations about a thing that are equally meaningful and true.  We provided some interesting nature objects as inspiration, and challenged the children to be aware, as they wrote, about whether they were expressing the outside truth or the inside truth about their subject.  Even the adult guides for each group wrote, and one of them, Danie Smallwood, a photographer, took really striking photos of the objects for an illustrated anthology of the poems, which we'll copy for the congregation to enjoy.

Here are the first two poems in the series, each of them first and only drafts.  Enjoy!


With five points sticking out
Pops of white bursting out
Light brown spots
Hard to see
Like the bottom with a honey-colored line that seems to be
Pouring out
Woven under
With small holes
That to me look as if they are going to break open
Unlike the ocean
Harsh, never stopping, never having an opening
~Katie, 5th grade

 Light Wing

Light wing, bumpy wing,
Light wing, colorful, and bumpy.
Yellow dots, black dots,
Light wing in my hands.  
~ Zachary, 2nd grade
The roundup for this week's Poetry Friday is over at GottaBook with Greg. Go gear up for National Poetry Month!

Friday, March 15, 2013

process; product

It's Madness indeed--the March Madness Poetry Tournament hosted by Ed DeCaria!   On Monday evening I received my 10-seeded word--HYPOCRISY-- which in 36 hours I had to develop into a poem worthy of competition.  The word gave me pause, certainly; I worried that I would, like many with even more challenging, abstract words, have to spend my eight allowed lines defining it.  But my 10-year-old easily demonstrated his understanding of "hypocrite," so I forged ahead....
and wrote a rather serious, instructive piece that just didn't seem to be the right thing for the competition:

A Little Light Lying 

Your parents teach you social graces:
“Really—you look good in braces!” 

We say what we don’t really mean;
The edge of truth’s a touch too keen. 

But falseness leaves an ashy trace
A lasting mask tough to erase

Face the mirror, fail to see—
That’s genuine hypocrisy.
~Heidi Mordhorst 2013
So I decided to start completely over, with something involving a hippo.  Obvious, right?  And naturally comical.  And then--now that I review my Tuesday night train of thought, I can barely discern how I got there, but it had to do with reading a lot about hippos and watching a lot of amateur YouTube videos of hippos and crocodiles--a line of poetry came into my head:  "How doth the little crocodile..."  That was all I had at first.
Luckily, Google rarely lets me down, and soon I had the voice of Alice (yeah, the Disney Alice) reciting her whole poem from Chapter Two of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. 
How doth the little crocodile

Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale! 
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in

With gently smiling jaws!
Wikipedia similarly rarely lets me be, so there I discovered something I had forgotten--that Alice's crocodile recitation is her garbled version of a serious, instructive poem of the 18th century poet Isaac Watts.  His poem is about a bee and is usually titled
Against Idleness and Mischief
How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower! 
How skilfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes. 
In works of labor or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do. 
In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed,
That I may give for every day
Some good account at last.
Et voila!  A concept.  By only a couple of hours past my bedtime, I had borrowed Isaac's form and diction along with Lews's parodic twist and submitted this to the MMPT competition:
Against Falsity and Pretense

How doth the chubby hippo
Improve his shining hide
And bob the waters of the Nile
On every muddy side!

How lazily he opens wide!
How jolly seems to be!
Then crushes skulls of crocodiles
With sweet hippo-crisy.

Is that cheating?  I decided not (and it was, after all, AT LEAST a couple of hours past my bedtime).  While not wholly original, I reckoned that I had done enough creative reworking to justify calling it mine, and part of the work was a new appreciation for the historical antecedents of our modern poetry for kids. 
At this writing the competition is fierce!  I'm up against Alvaro Salinas Jr. (aka M.M. Socks) and his funny "LeeAnn's Farm," and after an early lead I find that the the voting is EXACTLY EQUAL!  Stay tuned to find out if my hypocritical bee/crocodile/hippo can garner enough votes to get me to Round Two!
And now we must give a bit of Poetry Friday attention to the PF Anthology for Middle Schools, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.  I'm wondering what would have happened if those clever editors had told us what the weekly themes in the book would be, so that all us poets could have written to assignment, as we're doing in the Tournament or may have done for the poetry tag e-books?  Would our pieces have been any better? Worse? More risky and edgy as we ventured outside our own comfort zones, as we're doing with these crazy words Ed has given us?  Process is soooooo interesting!
The Poetry Friday round-up is with Jone today at Check It Out!  See you there!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

molecular, bedeviled

Welcome, all, to Poetry Friday!  It's March 8, a date which has been International Women's Day since 1911.  If you've never explored the history, get it here.

I had planned to go broadly international for you today with a few poems from women around the world, but then something less exotic yet somehow more universal caught my eye.  It's in the title; it's in the way we all comb our hair and dreams sift out; it's in the way nothing is very serious and yet we all worry about forgetting the way home. 

Bon Courage | Amy Gerstler

Why are the woods so alluring? A forest appears
to a young girl one morning as she combs
the dreams out of   her hair. The trees rustle
and whisper, shimmer and hiss. The forest
opens and closes, a door loose on its hinges,
banging in a strong wind. Everything in the dim
kitchen: the basin, the jug, the skillet, the churn,
snickers scornfully. In this way a maiden
is driven toward the dangers of a forest,
but the forest is our subject, not this young girl.
She’s glad to lie down with trees towering all around.
A certain euphoria sets in. She feels molecular,
bedeviled, senses someone gently pulling her hair,
tingles with kisses she won’t receive for years.
Three felled trees, a sort of chorus, narrate
her thoughts, or rather channel theirs through her,
or rather subject her to their peculiar verbal
restlessness ...    our deepening need for non-being intones
the largest and most decayed tree, mid-sentence.
I’m not one of you squeaks the shattered sapling,
blackened by lightning. Their words become metallic
spangles shivering the air. Will I forget the way home?
Find the rest here, and meet me in the woods at dusk.
In case it's possible that anyone has missed the March 1 launch of the new Poetry Friday Anthology, Middle School edition, please visit the blog to learn more. I'm delighted to be included in yet another stellar collection of work for children and teachers to enjoy together.

I'll be rounding up in three waves today and look forward to seeing what everybody's been up to while I was "resting." Please leave your links in the comments (since me and Mr. Linky have yet to get it on).

Margaret is doing the Slice of Life Challenge at the Two Writing Teachers, and her students are, too.  Her post is a little haiku inspired by "I Haiku You" by Betsy Snider and the comment exchange with one of her students.

Laura Shovan concludes her fascinating postcard project today with a truly international post at Author Amok, coming to us from AWP in Boston.  Congratulations on finishing your 44-poem project, Laura!

Bridget has an original triolet up this week at Wee Words for Wee Ones, called Doll Making.

Laura Salas shares "Ordinary," a cinquain about a pencil which, I believe, was one of the very first poems I ever wrote in 2nd grade.  I'm sure Laura's is much better, and it comes with a video poem-starter, which we never had in 1971.

Joy joins in with a spring poem (lucky Arizona duck) and a PFAMS t-shirt!  Must get one of those for sure....

Robyn celebrates International Women's Day with her mother, her daughter, and Anne Bradstreet--by way of Buzz Lightyear!

Charles shares a sample poem from his new YA novel-in-verse, FIRST KISS, at Father Goose.

Linda at TeacherDance brings us a poem for children, or perhaps teachers, and then children again.

Our friend at Books4Learning shares an interesting review of Blue Lipstick, a book of concrete poems by John Grandits.

Myra is in with some love for ee cummings, a feeling which I carry with me wherenever I travel!  It's  at Gathering Books.

Renee gets us all whipped up for this year's March Madness Poetry Tournament by featuring Stephen Cahill, last year's winner, in a video of "Girlzilla Gorilla". Find it all at No Water River.

I'm laughing already at the title of Greg's original this week, "Sequester the Tester."  Get your giggle at GottaBook.

Julie at The Drift Record offers a short but dramatic poem by Walter de la Mare with musings on March.

Mary Lee is currently consumed by the "bracketology" of the MMPT and the 5th Grade Battle of the Books at her school, and shares a nice bit of student bracketology to go with it!

Tabatha's in with a poetic smorgasbord today at The Opposite of Indifference.  Sounds tasty...and I apologize for the mislink!

Mandy comes to us from Enjoy and Embrace Learning with poetry already from THIS morning's walk!  Thanks for sharing your slice of life.

Travis joins in with a short but extremely effective book spine poem at 100 Scope Notes.  He'll be posting them all month and invites us to join in.  I just might try it today...

Donna from Mainely Write prepares for the MMPT 2013 by asking "May I Have a Word?"

Cathy is also participating in the Slice of Life writing challenge with an original called "The Writer." Her blog is Merely Day by Day.  Glad you're joining us, Cathy!

Andi has haiku today with a flower story--I didn't know about Clivia--and photos at a wrung sponge.

Tara at A Teaching Life has a poem about daughters and hugs.  I thought I was prepared to be quick enough, but I see now how I've been slow...

Tamera Will Wissinger is in today with a poem that didn't make it into her newly released Gone Fishing, a novel in verse--entitled (hee) "The One That Got Away."  Find it here.

Linda at Write Time has an original poem about friendship. 

Diane has her usual multiple musings up at Random Noodling (haiku), at Kurious Kitty (Elizabeth Barrett Browning) and KK's Kwotes (Browning again, as part of a month of quotes from women).  Again, apologies for the mislink, Diane.

Catherine from Reading to the Core shares a view out her window today.

From Jama comes a poem by Frances Kakugawa of Hawai'i--most fitting for International Women's Day!  Find it at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Join Matt on "A Search" at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme today!

Amy's poem today started with a drawing; she shares the book that inspired it all.  Go to The Poem Farm for "Shell Teeth."

Violet is in today with a bit of doggerel (yip-yippee!) that crosses MMPT with an episode of the Food Network's "Chopped."  Gosh, I love poets.

That's the Morning Edition done....check in after lunch for more, and thanks again for stopping by!

Siesta time for sensible people, but for us at Poetry Friday, it's more, more, more (how do you like it? but I warn you, the video is a terrible letdown).

Liz says hai -- ku from Growing Wild with poems about late winter, or is it early spring?

Dori has March Madness Poetry Tournament jitters today at Dori Reads.  Don't worry, Dori; we're all wondering why we signed up for this crazy challenge, in some cases, AGAIN.

Mother Reader shares a poetry collection today called A Poem of Her Own.  Sounds like what I was thinking of--thanks, MotherReader!

Janet has "Mailboxes in Late Winter" at Across the Page.  It's by Jeffrey Harrison, which has me hoping I'll finally get in touch with my oh-so-important DeadHead 9th grade English teacher!

Congratulations to Kerry who's posting some poems from this month's Ladybug Magazine, including one of hers!

Little Willow shares lyrics from "Sail On" by the Good Mad at Bildungsroman.  It's not a good Poetry Friday without song lyrics, I reckon.  Thanks, Little Willow.

Sylvia has stopped by to let everyone know that there's a contest to win a free book at the PFAMS blog as well as wordplay by J. Patrick Lewis at the Poetry Friday Anthology (K-5), too.

Welcome to Keri, who posts today for the first time with her own poem about feeding the reptiles at Keri Recommends.

Ruth has a very fresh--even raw--draft to share today.  Bon courage, Ruth and son.

At Check It Out, Ms.Mac has student poetry postcards and at DeoWriter she shares haiku.

Joe points us to his site and his e-book, 101 Secrets.

Anastasia shares Do You Have a Dog? by Eileen Spinelli at Booktalking.  Hooray for women poets indeed!

From Lorie Ann we have a new haiku at Winged Words, and at Readertotz a video moment with Paul Simon at Julio down at the schoolyard on Sesame Street!

Lorie Ann's good friend Dia joins us this afternoon with a Lightning Dance , which is just perfect since I'm rearranging furniture for a seriously moonlit dance party tomorrow evening.  49 is the new 21, says the birthday girl.

Now, is 5:00 too early for a cocktail?  Not, I think, on Poetry Friday, especially when I've had a visit from M.M. Socks, also known as Alvaro Salinas, Jr.....AGAINST WHOM I AM PITTED in Round 1 of the MMPT!!!  Nice to hear from you, MM--I'm gonna knock your socks right off, my friend. 

I'll check back in one more time this evening, folks.  For now, it's time to make my own proper rounds to all your intriguing posts. 

Closing us down this evening are Betsy from a beautiful day in Michigan who shares a dandelion poem at Teaching Young Writers, and Janet with a review of Words, Wit and Wonder, a kids' guide to writing your own poem at All About the Books.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

hey ho up she rises

So here I am, back just in time to host Poetry Friday on International Women's Day and then compete in the March Madness Poetry Tournament.  Was the hiatus the right thing to do?  Yes.  Is that a way to move forward in the long term?  No. 

It was easy enough and even pleasurable to know that for two months I was off the hook for blog posts, OIK poems, etc., but (Note to Self) it turns out that writing is really rather important to me--you know, like a life-giving elixir.  So I have disengaged from other things (with pangs and regrets) and am trying to Live Local: my family, my class, my schools.  No Big Picture Save the World Fight the Power stuff for now. 

Thanks to those who thought of me when I was gone--it mattered.  I'll be celebrating International Women's Day on Friday and I invite you to post something fitting if you're so moved.  See you Friday!

P.S.  Duncan's doing well, even with the broken arm.