Friday, December 10, 2021

the tree in me

last Dec. 21; my grown-up son
Greetings, Poetry Friday folk!  If you are new,  go here to learn more about this weekly poetry smorgasbord, and welcome.  Poetry Friday originated in 2006 in an online children's literature bloggers' location called The Kidlitosphere, and how surprised am I to find that Susan Thomsen of Chicken Spaghetti is not "new" to Poetry Friday as I've been believing, but a returned early adopter who wrote about it for the Poetry Foundation!

I mention this because I think it might be fair to say that Poetry Friday, since I've known it (my first intentional Poetry Friday post was on 3/27/09) has gradually admitted more and more poetry posts of original work for adults and focused less often on others' published work for kids.  Certainly as my own children have grown up my writing has become more and more adult, a fact which I didn't embrace until around 2018.  

Now, as a challenge to myself this December, I'm deliberately writing for a young audience, and a series of poems related to the season (both natural and festive) is developing. Yesterday I wrote about watering the tree (a Yule tree in our house rather than a Christmas tree; if you're curious ask me about our family's 12 Days of Yuletide), which reminded me to share another's published work for kids!

I read about 200 submissions for the NCTE Poetry Notables list this year, and one of our standouts was THE TREE IN ME by author-illustrator Corinna Luyken. As it happens I had an opportunity to provide a reading of this book for a service at my UU congregation, which I presented as a member of our Earth Ministry to go with my minister's theme of "Old Growth."  Here's what I was working with when I made a selection to present; as you can see poetry and literature are holy texts in our denomination!

Old Growth

Walt Whitman mused that it is the trees which “know the amplitude of time.”  At the end of this month when our congregations reflect on what it means to hold history, we’ll follow the old growth trees into deeper time than our own short lives, paying homage to what Ursula K. Le Guin has called the “tall fraternal fire of life as strong now as in the seedling two centuries ago.” 


And here's what I sent for our service that is currently both "limited in-person" and streamed on YouTube. I recorded it early on the morning before Thanksgiving, not yet washed or dressed, so I went for an "invisible" format that made quite a few people comment on the way I used my hands. Early childhood folks out there will recognize that this is just regular PreK technique! 

                       There was something funny with the sound on my computer, sadly, but the amazing AV folks at church made it better for the recorded service.

  So there you have it:  a classic Kidlitosphere Poetry Friday post to brighten and warm this season of cold and dark.  The round-up today is with Cathy at Merely Day by Day, where--serendipitously--she honors this tradition of Poetry Friday in the Kidlitosphere!


  1. A beautiful reading, Heidi, of a beautiful book! (How did you suspend your camera??) I love that PF Roundup has become a place where growing poets' originals works are nurtured, whether for adults or for children. xo

    1. It's a basic document camera, one of the most useful pieces of tech our school district gave out for remote teaching last year, iPevo brand.

  2. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  3. Lovely, Heidi. I read this earlier in the year, but from my library, so love reading it again & listening to you reading it!

  4. I need this book. Thank you for the introduction.

  5. Beautiful book, Heidi and beautiful hands highlighting all the best bits. The tree in me is definitely the bee...buzzzzzz. ;)

  6. Thank you for introducing us to this book through your masterful reading. What a poem. What truths.

  7. What a gorgeous book and poem and reading by you. Thank you, Heidi. One of the blessings of Poetry Friday for me since 2016 when I joined in has been the little (and big) teacher treasures. I love seeing your hand motions that seem common place to you--but add beauty for me. I don't do that with middle school learners. What a sermon in this poem-story. I must go get this book and spend more time with it. Thank you!

  8. Wow! We were in the same space in reflecting on this community. Much to be grateful for, for sure. Like you, I am amazed to consider all that the people within the community have accomplished both personally and professionally as poets.

    After reading your post, I tried to go back into my blog to see the first time I posted with this community. I'm still a little unclear. The first post I found easily was in early 2013, but I wrote poetry all month in 2012 with Mary Lee so I'm guessing it might be a bit before that. I'm going to have to research this a bit. In the early day of that blog, I wasn't always as savvy about tagging.

    Interestingly, I was also fascinated by your comment about writing poetry for children or adults. It is my constant struggle. All of my time beside children, surely makes it possible to swing into the children's world. However, I find I enjoy writing adult poetry - but I think all my time beside kids still hinders (probably not the right word) that adult voice a bit so I bounce somewhere in the middle. I like your idea to just try to focus on a particular voice for a bit. Hmmm.....

    I love this book too, Heidi. I have requested it from the library. I have a feeling it may move to the "need to purchase" category.

  9. What a beautiful book/poem, with such lovely illustrations. I was going to ask the same question Irene did, so thanks for explaining that (and thanks for asking that, Irene.) Btw, I remember reading picture books to my girls with similar hand movements. :)

    I also remember another article Susan wrote for the Poetry Foundation because she talked to some homeschoolers and quoted my daughter who, at age four, had been busy quoting Emily Dickinson. :D Ah, I found it! It's here.

    When I first started participating in Poetry Friday, I remember having an epiphany at some point, realizing that most people were sharing poems for kids. I felt a little sheepish ("Maybe I should quit being so depressing.") Poetry Friday has grown and changed so beautifully over the years — so much room for so many kinds of poetry.


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!