Friday, February 15, 2019

We Write What We Notice


Cat and Wall
Photo by Amy LV

Cat Drawing in Restaurant
Photo by Amy LV

Cat Behind a Grate
Photo by Amy LV

Two Cats in a Shoe Store
Photo by Amy LV

Cat in The Grand Bazaar
Photo by Amy LV

Gli, the Famous Cat of Hagia Sofia
Photo by Amy LV


Cat Houses
Photo by Amy LV

Cat in a Dress Shop
Photo by Amy LV


I will share a recording as soon as my computer allows...

Students - This week I have been teaching at the Enka Primary School in Istanbul, Turkey. It was a delightful visit including assemblies, writing workshops, reading and puppet times with preschool and kindergarten classrooms, a teacher workshop, and a parent workshop.  And as I have been traveling with my author friends Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger, we did a bit of sightseeing too.

We saw many cats!

The city of Istanbul is home to thousands of street cats.  People feed and give water to these cats, and there are many little cat houses tucked into nooks and corners as you see above. We saw cats of all colors, and I wrote this poem to share with the children at the school. As these students speak both Turkish and English, I typed the text in two colors so that the repeated words would be easy to distinguish.

This is a list poem with a twist ending, and there is a lot of repetition.  In some of the preschool and kindergarten classrooms I visited yesterday, we wrote list poems together too.

Our lives are full of things to see, things we pass every day. We can write about all of them. And so, too, can we write about the new surprises that travel brings our way.

Thank you to George and Weston and Sule and all of the wonderful people who welcomed me so warmly to Enka School.  It was a pleasure to write with you!

Jone is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Check it Out with a post about LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds, winner of the 2018 CYBILS Poetry Award. Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each week, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Family Stories Into Free Verse



Amy and Thor, April 1971
Photo by Debby or George Ludwig

My Sister Heidi (Now a Doctor!) and Val, Circa 1987
Photo by Debby or George Ludwig




Students - Somehow, the other day, I got to thinking about how my family got our second dog Valentine.  It was a funny story, a bittersweet story with the loss of a dog and the gain of a dog in just one day.  The Thor and Valentine story is one that I like to tell over and over again.

My poem does not rhyme, but you may notice a bit of repetition.  We need not rhyme our poems; repeating words and sounds and patterns hold poems together very well.  

Take a moment to read Peyton's poem about how her family got their dog.  As I typed my poem, days after writing it, I realized that I may have been inspired by her words and structure.  I have read Peyton's poem aloud many many times, and so it has sunk into my writing soul.  Notice her use of repetition and also the way she stretches out her line breaks, especially in the second stanza.  I love that.  Thank you, Peyton, for your inspiration!

Peyton's Poem from My Book POEMS ARE TEACHERS


And here they are!

Peyton & Sawyer Then
Photo by Pam Koutrakos

Peyton & Sawyer Now
Photo by Pam Koutrakos

Which family stories do you enjoy telling over and over again?  It just might make for a good poem.  You may wish to write a free verse poem with close attention to repetition and line breaks just as Peyton did, just as I did.  These are both story poems, otherwise known as narrative poems, and we can take our own stories written as prose or jotted as notes or sketches and turn them into poems anytime we wish.

Read poems aloud, over and over again.  They get in your blood that way.

Laura is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Writing the World for Kids. Do not miss her fabulous news about her newest wonderful book, SNOWMAN - COLD = PUDDLE, illustrated by Micha Archer and published by Charlesbridge! Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each week, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

P.S. I am thrilled to be teaching at the Enka Primary School in Istanbul, Turkey all next week.  I look forward to meeting new people, to learning and listening and writing about this experience for years to come...  

xo, Amy

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Imagine Imagine Imagine


Smiling Moon
Stamp & Photo by Amy LV




Students -  Happy World Read Aloud Day!  I love to be read to, and I love to read to others. Today, thinking about people reading to people all over the world, I remembered many joyful years of reading to our three children.  I remembered how sometimes my husband would stand in the doorway listening too.  I remembered how when he read, I would stand in the doorway and listen.  And then I thought about our moon, hanging so brilliantly outside each of our windows.  I imagined the moon as listening and learning, smiling up in the sky.  Just think of how many books the moon has heard!

Sometimes a bit of writing begins with a truth and then travels into the territory of wonder and wish.  Of course we can always write what we know.  But too, we can write of the truths that might be, the truths we imagine, the truths we hope and love to consider.  As writers, we may begin in truth and end in the country of our dreams.

What do you know to be true?  Where might this lead you?  Sometimes the only way to know is to write your way into knowing.

Tabatha is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference, with two thoughtful poems, both of which I will carefully copy into my paper notebook today. Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each Friday, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Birds, Sunflowers, & Two-Part Poems


Junco Waits
Photo by Amy LV

Chickadee Waits
Photo by Amy LV

Cardinal Waits
Photo by Amy LV




Students - We have lots of snow here in Western New York today!  So far, about twelve inches have fallen, and there is lots more to come. On snowy days like this, I like to look out the windows at the birds, so happy to eat the seeds that Mark has put out for them.  Today I could not help but notice the little line of juncos and chickadees and cardinals fluttering in to patiently wait on that dead sunflower stalk you see in the pictures above. (Blue jays don't wait...they just hop right in there!)

You may have noticed that each of the two longer stanzas of this poem describes a the same location in a different season - the sunflower and feeder in fall and also in winter.  This is really a two-part poem...and that last line?  Well, that's a just a fun surprise.

You might try this too.  Think of a place in two ways - before and after an event, in two different seasons, or even as seen by two different people or animals. Then, write one stanza from the one time or viewpoint and one from the other time or viewpoint.  And if you wish to throw in a surprise, well, you're the poet.

SUNDAY JANUARY 27, 2019 UPDATE:  Yesterday, Mark decided to bring our old Christmas tree out for the birds...so now there are perches for all!  Here you see a chickadee atop the tree (just like an angel!) and a blue jay flying in from atop the sunflower stalk.

Perches for All
Photo by Amy LV

Tara is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Going to Walden, with a poem by Linda Pastan. Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each Friday, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Honoring a Life: Mary Oliver


Letterpress Cards, Printed December 2019
Photo by Amy LV



Students - Our earth lost a great poet in Mary Oliver yesterday.  Mary Oliver was an award-winning poet who wrote books and books poems about the natural world and her relationship to it. She believed that poetry "mustn't be fancy" and many of us have loved her poems for a long time. She drew her last breath at 83, and many of us are thinking about her with gratitude today.

Today's poem is a poem about Mary Oliver's death, and the deer, wild geese, grasshoppers, sea, sunrises, and nuthatches all joined me.  These, of course, feature in her poetry, and I imagined that yesterday, at the moment of her death...they all stopped in place.  I enjoyed rereading some of her work as I chose these images.

In Oliver's poem, "Sometimes" we read these words, beautiful advice for all poets and humans.

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Last month, our friend Dave came to visit us. We are housing his letterpress in our barn, and he taught us how to use it. He asked us to select a quote to print.  We chose Mary Oliver's words as you can see on the above cards.  Below, you can see the type set into the chase of the press.

The Form in the Chase
Photo by Amy LV

And here is the chase snapped into place, ready to print.

Quote in Place for Printing
Photo by Amy LV

Our family has been talking about how this was a perfect quote to choose, and how strange it is that now the author of these words is no longer with us.  We are happy we chose to pay tribute to her wise voice with our little print project. So much gratitude to Dave for teaching us.  

Writing about people who are gone is healing and helpful. If you have ever loved and lost a person or a pet, you might consider writing about this person.  If you choose to write about a person, you, too, might wish to use some of his or her own words in your poem as I did by naming the creatures Mary Oliver wrote about.  Through writing, we can honor a life.

Tricia is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect, honoring the life of poet Mary Oliver with Oliver's "In Blackwater Woods". Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each Friday, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Monday, January 14, 2019

A Memory...and a Reflection

Today On My Road
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Yep. This poem is true. The rock actually spoke to me.  Or I spoke and thought it was the rock speaking. Either way, I listened and I wrote. I made a hopscotch board and hopped it out in this winter sunshine.  

And guess what...Miss Fiona Kitty thinks the game of hopscotch looks pretty interesting too.

Fiona Visits Hopscotch
Photo by Amy LV

Earlier today I read a book about a friend's childhood, and this got me thinking about my own. My family lived on a not-so-busy road, and I remember playing hopscotch. One of my favorite sounds, still, is the sound of a rock hitting the pavement. I like to play hopscotch and to kick a rock down a road, just seeing how long I can keep it going before I lose the rock somehow.

You may notice that the first stanza of today's poem is about something happening, the second stanza is about the next thing happening, and the last stanza is a reflection on those two happenings.  Sometimes writing takes us forward. Sometimes it makes us look back.  If you have never done this before, you might wish to write a poem about a memory and then end it with your own thoughts about your memory, looking-back-thoughts.

Or you might choose to write about a favorite sound.

Or you might recall an outdoor game you like to play or once played.

Or you may take inspiration in an object that is in front of your face right now.

Whatever you do, I hope you have a chance to get outside.  Sun and fresh air are good for all of us!

Talking Rock and Draft
Photo by Amy LV

I am late to last week's Poetry Friday roundup at Kathryn Apel's place. There you will find the second roundup of 2019 as well as Kat's first few "Insta-poetry posts of this year. Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each Friday, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Simple Likes, Simple Truths


My Favorite Thrift Store Mug
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Sometimes small and simple objects and foods and drinks are best.  Sometimes it feels good to just write a few lines about one thing that makes you happy.  Tea is simple, and tea makes me happy.

I like to drink tea.  Tea is easy to make and cozy to drink. And to make tea, all you need to do is to heat up some water in a kettle or a pot or a mug and then steep tea leaves in the water using a tea ball or teabag.  After a few minutes, the flavor of these leaves has entered the water and...there it is...tea!  Some people mix sugar or milk or honey with their tea, but I mostly drink it plain.  

Which simple foods or drinks or objects make you happy?  You may wish to make a list of such happiness-things, a list you could write from now or return to later.  When we write about the small things that bring us joy, we have the chance to relive them on paper. And in doing so, our writing will feel joyful too.

If you wish, feel free to copy the below phrase and then fill in the second half with your own words.

I like the simple fact of....

After your writing takes off, you may end up crossing out those first six words or you may keep them, but sometimes beginning with a phrase can get a writer started.

But back to tea.  Tea comes in many flavors, and various tea bags, boxes, and tins are decorated in different ways.  Some people make crafts with tea bag wrappers, and I adore this decoupaged box made and given to me by my teacher and friend Valerie Bang-Jensen.  It is one of my treasures.

Decoupaged Tea Box by Valerie Bang-Jensen
Photo by Amy LV

Sylvia hosts this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Poetry for Children with a sneak peek of 2019 poetry books! Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each Friday, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.