Monday, June 15, 2020


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with love from Ms. Mordhorst

Friday, June 12, 2020

celebrating nikki grimes

Inspired by others who are granting themselves a wise or well-earned break from activities and practices that feel heavy, I am taking a break from Poetry Friday this summer.
My focus this summer will be on writing--really WRITING-- for submission. 
I'll see you when I next host on August 28th!

Hoopla and huzzah!  Thanks to Irene Latham's thoughtfulness, today we celebrate the achievements the accomplishments the downright gift that is Nikki Grimes, poet, author and leader of the young people's poetry community.

My celebration is of ONE LAST WORD, Nikki's 2017 tribute in Golden Shovels to the poets of the Harlem Renaissance, in anticipation of her forthcoming LEGACY, a companion that highlights women poets of the Harlem Renaissance.  From ONE LAST WORD, here is Nikki's reworking of a line from "The Minor Key" by Clara Ann Thompson.

This poem, like so many of Nikki's, is truer than true, and yet right now in this moment we are all noticing the range of ways we selfsame human folk may itch with anger, sneeze with laughter, crack, peel, sigh.  Same and different, that concept we start working on in PreK and never stop learning.

I enjoy catching up a little with Nikki each year at NCTE, and in Baltimore last year I was lucky enough to spend a whole little dinner with her.  Here's a photo taken by Janet Fagal, who happened to be at the next table.  

As we finished dinner Nikki said, "But you didn't read me a poem." So I read her my collage poems for kindergarteners which I had brought for my session, right there in the Hilton restaurant!  One of the extraordinary things about Nikki is her range, her ability to write for the ears and hearts of our youngest right up to our most adult young adults; she listened with pleasure and respect. 

Hoopla and huzzah once again for our treasure, Nikki Grimes!

Visit Live Your Poem with Irene to find links to the Poetry Friday round-up, and may the wisdom and wonder of Nikki accompany you through the week.

Friday, June 5, 2020

farewell: a sunday swaggers challenge

Back in maybe January, when I set the monthly challenge for our poets' group, the world seemed, you know, normal. Regular. Ordinarily challenging, simultaneously bitter and gorgeous...normal.

Now as we face our June poetry challenge, I think I speak for all of us when I say we are shook.  Yes, through March, April and May we were consumed by the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic quarantine online school family displacement disturbing public discourse--but by the end of May we had, as humans do, come into some place of routine.

And then--not for everyone, some of whom live in this upside down all day every day--the world turned upside down again as we watched in horror as once again, twice again, [threefourtentwentyfifty toomanytocount] Black lives were taken before our eyes.

So now the challenge I set back in January, to write a poem of farewell to anyone or anything--which I thought appropriate to the end of a normal regular school year--has even more possibility built in.  

I wrote a duplex last week which was a worthy challenge.  It's not explicitly a poem of farewell, but it is the beginning of goodbye to the belief that "not being racist" is enough.   The inauguration line is a link to this moment from the TV show Black-ish.


But there's so much, so many more, to bid farewell to.  It's time to say goodbye to the 5th graders from my school, many of whom I've known for their whole [school] lives.

I hope this poem captures the odd challenge of this year and the heartfelt connections that will last long past this pandemic.

The Time We've Had

It's hard to say goodbye
      when you haven't said hello 
for weeks and weeks--not really.

I squeeze my own self tight
      and throw a hug through screens--
I mean it but it feels kind of silly.

Kind of silly, kind of sad,
     but this is the year we've had 
and now it's ending--this is it.

And here's the thing I've learned
     from twelve weeks of online learning--

        if you need me, I am here
        if I miss you, you are there
and the time that we have shared
      has marked our hearts with burning--
just a bit.

draft © Heidi Mordhorst 2020

Thanks to our own Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for hosting today, and let's see what the rest of the Swaggers decided to bid farewell to!