Friday, December 3, 2021

Surprises, Decisions, & Changes


Debby and Cooper, December 2, 2021
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Sometimes we are surprised by something wonderful! This happened for my mother yesterday. After losing her beloved Max in October, Max of the (JOHN AND BETSY poems), she was not sure she would ever want another dog.

Then...Cooper showed up. My sister and I are convinced that Max sent Cooper to her. And also convinced that Max is teaching Cooper to be a very excellent (and very housetrained) puppy, even from the great beyond.

Have you ever been surprised by something wonderful? Or have you ever changed your mind about something you felt sure about? Has your heart ever had to make a big decision? My mom had many mixed feelings about getting a new dog. She was a bit afraid that she might not love him as much as she loved Max, a little nervous about taking on such a big project, and still sad for her loss. But she is an overflowing-with-love person, and so of course Cooper, with Max's help, found her.

If you aren't sure what to write about this week, consider writing about a surprise or a big decision or a change of heart. This could be based on a true story from your life, from someone else's life, or it could be complete fiction. You might even include voices in your poem as I did, using the real words you imagine or remember someone would say or think.

Michelle is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Michelle Kogan with a celebration of "holidaze" through joyful, hopeful, poetry and art. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Bring Personification to Nature


Students - You may have heard the word personification before. And you may have noticed that it holds the word person inside of it. Well, personification is the giving of human qualities to things that are not human, including animals, plants, and inanimate objects.

Today I was excited to see the new snow on the ground. I knew that I would go outside to admire the dustings of powdered sugar everywhere. But before I walked into the yard in my slippers and nightgown, I read a few poems, including one by Laura Purdie Salas. In "Ode to Bare Branches," the speaker says that they want to be like a tree, to "open my arms/drop everything/and just stand there."

Perhaps her words drew me to the little oak you see in the photo above, clinging tight to its orange in this world of white. And listening to Oak's brittle leaves tinkling like windchimes, I imagined that she just doesn't feel ready to let her leaves go yet. And that is ok. We each know the right time, OUR right time.

Now, does a tree think like a person does? I don't think so. But I gave the tree the quality of human thinking, and this is personification.

Try it. Go outside or if you cannot do so now, look out of a window or gaze at some nature photographs. Choose a natural object and ask yourself, "If this were a person, what might it think/do/wonder/believe/fear/wish? Let your poem start there.

As for the title, did you notice that the last line leads you to the title?

"then we always know/The Right Time."

There are many ways to title a piece. When you write your next piece, try out a few titles. You do not need to choose the first title that comes to your mind.

And of course this letting go is not only about leaves and oaks and melting snowflakes. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and as our family has lost two beloved grandfathers within the past many months, we deeply felt their loss at our table, just as we do each day. We are letting parts of them go, and yet we hold onto, will always hold onto so much.

I wish you the knowing.

Snowy Slipper Toes
Photo by Amy LV

Ruth is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town with a Gratiku (gratitude haiku), a thoughtful ode to "Ode to Autumn in Haiti, 2021 and a bit of thinking about odes. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Linger on a Lived Moment

Winnie in Her New Fort
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Winnie is one funny cat! Yesterday I watched her leap into this big heater box, pleased as punch. She loves boxes, as do many cats, and today I thought I would just tell the story of her an her newest favorite box.

You will notice that there is little punctuation in this poem - no end punctuation until the end. This gives the poem a bit of a breathless feeling, and I am not exactly sure why, but I wanted the poem to feel just rambly with the repeated word and and such little punctuation.

Today's poem simply tells something that truly happened in my life. I just lingered on it, seeing it from Winnie's (huge sunflower) eyes and letting the words fall all over themselves.

What is one small experience you might linger on? Something small you might tell in a poem? Will you tell it from your eyes or from the eyes of another? Will you repeat lines as you linger, repeat lines as I did?

We have many grand decisions to make as writers. Let's enjoy them all, be thankful for the moments and the ability to write and photograph and draw them. Here at November's end, I am, as always, thankful for you and for this community. And at this very moment, I am also thankful for Winnie's best friend Tuck who is lying and purring here on my desk!

My Writing Pal Tuck
Photo by Amy LV

Carol is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Beyond Literacy Link with a gorgeous gallery full of autumn poetry and images . Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Change Eyes for a Week


Tree (And Mark's Hives)
Photo by Amy LV

Photo by Amy LV

Photo by Amy LV

Photo by Amy LV

Students - It is getting cold near here in Western New York, and coldness means wood fires. Wood fires are all thanks to the trees around here, and today I am thinking how one thing becomes another, about how the wood that is keeping me warm this minute was not long ago a tree in the forest out back. I thought I'd go around and snap a few photographs of this cycle.

You may have heard the expression, "The only constant is change," attributed to a Greek philosopher (person seeking wisdom) named Heraclitus. This means that change is the only thing that stays the same. Life is always changing. One thing is constantly becoming another. I feel eight years old inside, but my body has changed into that of a grown-up. My kittens Tuck and Winnie look like cats now, even though I still think of them as and call them kittens. The ball of wool yarn (once sheep) I purchased has become some cozy handwarmers. That bag of flour in our kitchen (once wheat), is part of the cookies I baked, along with many ingredients which were also once other things.

Just look around. Look at one thing. What was it before? If that thing had a memory that went back and back and back, what might it remember? Think about it. Tell someone. Jot it down.

I encourage you to look at the world with "change eyes" this week. What changes do you notice? What has become something else? How have YOU changed? What does the new object or new you remember of the old object or the old you? 

Allow these thoughts to play together in your will likely have many fabulous new ideas, and perhaps they will lead to writings or pieces of music or artwork. If they do, please let me know.

One more thing to notice. Look at today's poem and find the words that come back around: tree, logs, fire, ash, soil, seed, remember. Repetition in a poem can be your good friend. If you write a poem this week or look at an old one, consider repeating something you already have there. 

Matt is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme with a first birthday celebration of FRIENDS AND ANEMONES: OCEAN POEMS FOR CHILDREN, a book by members of The Writer's Loft in Sherborn Massachusetts. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

I wish everyone a joyful week full of making, discovering, and feeling whole.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Make & Write


Thrift Store Threads
Photo by Amy LV

A Bit of (Dropcloth Sampler) Stitching
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Lately I have been working on my stitching, and this is a very enriching and betwitching thing to do. Simple strands of wool or cotton or silk become pictures! Stitching can be a very inexpensive hobby, and I did purchase the wools you see here at a thrift store. You can see someone's handwriting on the cards, and I love imagining what this person was making, likely many years before now. I feel connected to this other stitcher from another time...and this, of course, is another idea for another poem.

For today's poem, I started with the words treasure and stitches and using RhymeZone, looked at all of their rhymes and chose the ones I thought would stitch together sensibly. I built the poem from there, word by word, in the same way that bricks build upon each other to make a house.

If you are wondering why the lines move across the page in that funny way, it is because this is how stitching feels, moving your hand and the work across the fabric.

Making things makes us who we are. Close your eyes and think of things you have made in your own life. Perhaps you made something on your own. Maybe you made something together with someone else. Any one of these making stories deserves to be written down if you wish to write it. Try starting by writing a list of things you have made at any time in your life. Choose one idea from your list and just go. not start by closing your eyes. Go make something! Then, later, come back and write.

Yesterday, I had the chance to virtually visit the students at Roaring Brook School in Chappaqua, NY, and we talked about this very thing - making. I stitched last night, and now I cannot stop thinking about that part of our chat. Thank you, Roaring Brook Librarian Christine Eidem, PTA parents, teachers, and students, for such a lovely time together. It was fun to meet you from my camper, and you all asked such wise questions.

And a big hello to the writers in Ms. Lewis's and Ms. Miner's Poetry Friday group! I have learned that you visit each week, and so of course this morning I found myself wondering what you will write today. Thank you for stopping by each Friday.

Mary Lee is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at A(Nother) Year of Reading with a poem (inspired by the idea of percentages or percent) that takes us readers along for a beautiful drive through the country. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

I wish everyone a joyful week full of making, discovering, and feeling whole.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Many Colors in One


Gray Boy Tuck
Photo by Amy LV

Students - One thing that's true about color is that there is not just ONE red or ONE yellow or ONE gray...there are many. And this is true of our cat Tuck. He is every gray of the gray rainbow, and in today's poem, I try to list a few of those grays. 

A color can be an emotion or a sound or a feeling or a sight, and I know that I can think of many more grays for Tuck. When I do, I might come back and revise this poem. I do plan to keep listing more grays in my notebook. I think I will take myself on a gray treasure hunt through my life this week.

Endings are interesting for writers. At first this poem just ended with "rainstorm in May," but I wanted to add a touch of surprise, a touch of humor...and truth. Tuck has some gorgeous green eyes nestled in all of his gray fur.

I encourage you to try this exploration of color in writing. Choose one color and list as many KINDS of that color as you can stretch yourself to think of. You may come up with some expected ones (green as grass) but try to come up with some that maybe no one has thought of before. Then, see if you are interested in using your list...or even one kind of color from your list and grow a writing idea or piece of art from it.

Here is my favorite book about particular colors. It is out of print now, but if you can find it at the library, do!

And here are a few more photographs of this very snuggly boy. I wish that you could reach through your computer screen to pet him. (And so does he!)

Tuck at Work
Photo by Amy LV

Sleeping Stripes
Photo by Amy LV

Baby Tuck
Photo by Hope or Amy LV?

Linda is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at TeacherDance with the delights of Halloween and a poem about a carved pumpkin I would like to meet...Jill O'Lantern! Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.

Friday, October 22, 2021

This Way...and This Way Too


Milkweed Wishes Letting Go
Photo by Amy LV

Students - My family's life has experienced many different kinds of goodbyes lately, and today I am thinking about those. I am thinking about how the same word - goodbye - can feel so many different ways: peaceful, surprising, heartbreaking, confusing, calm... A goodbye can be this way...and this way too.

We have two kittens (they're really cats now, but I still call them "the kittens"), and even though they are both kittens, each one of them is different. Same word (kittens), verrrrry different behaviors. A kitten can be this way...and this way too.

The same word can hold different meanings and emotions, different pictures in our heads and different songs in our hearts.

This week, pay attention to a word you find yourself using a lot. Does it make you feel different ways at different times? What word can you hold to the light and imagine this way...and this way too?

Here is another idea to try: make a list of some different goodbyes you have had in your life. Choose one of these to write about. What do you learn about yourself when you this? 

Jama is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup with a gorgeous celebration of October and a poem by Jeffrey Bean. Please know that all are welcome each Friday as folks share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship.