Friday, August 8, 2014

Wizard at the Fair - Writing Observations as Memories

Artist Jerry Ward at the Erie County Fair
August 7, 2014
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Yesterday, as I watched Jerry Ward carve this bust of Don Quixote, I was transported to a new place inside of myself.  A man appeared from inside of a tree trunk, and it was magical!  Sawdust smells tickled my nose, and I sat mesmerized by this chainsaw artist.  I knew that I would write a poem about my feeling because some moments in our lives just call out to us, "I am a poem!  I am a poem!" and this was one of them.

After Jerry finished carving the bust, he turned to the audience - sitting on big logs - and told us that he releases figures from wood.  When I began to write, this Don Quixote came to life in my poem, happy to be free after many so many years.

My first draft of today's free verse poem was in the present tense: "I sit/watching/the Wizard of Wood..." But as I wrote, I realized that poem would work better in the past tense.  Sometimes when people think about their memories, they think about years and long ago.  But memories are falling around us like twinkling raindrops...every single minute.  You can take something that happened to you today - and write about it in the past tense voice, as if it happened long before.  

What has happened to you today already?  What might happen in the next few hours?  If you live your life paying attention to everything, you will see how a now-happening might just be a poem in the making.  Open your eyes!  Open your ears!  What do you find?

Jerry Ward's Don Quixote at the Erie County Fair
August 7, 2014
Photo by Amy LV

To see more of Jerry Ward's artwork, visit his website here and read about how "Wood is mystical."

Mary Lee is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup over at A Year of Reading.  Do not miss the poem she shares with us today.  You, too, might "snort your morning tea!"

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, July 11, 2014

My Spirit Animal - Inspiration from Others

Deer Mom & Fawns
Photo by Hope LV

Students - Sometimes things just come together.  Last week, Laura Shovan posted about spirit animals at Author Amok.  She recommended ANIMALS SPEAK by Ted Andrews, and I now have it sitting on my nightstand, just waiting!


At the same time, I decided to read our daughter Georgia's favorite book, WHAT THE MOON SAW, by Laura Resau, a beautiful nature-full and mystical book including spirit animals and much love.

And early this week, our daughter Hope took the doe and fawn picture you see atop today's post.  Could a deer be Hope's spirit animal?  I wonder.

Can you tell that spirit animals are on my mind?  I am watching for signs, wondering if I will find my own spirit animal.  Have you ever felt especially connected to a wild animal?  Do you dream about one particular animal?  Do you see one animal over and over in the wild?  Who might your spirit animal be?

As a writer, it is good for us to keep our eyes and hearts open for where different areas of our lives meet. If a friend says something to you that connects to a book you are reading, pay attention.  If you see something and then read about that same something, listen.  There may be a lesson you are meant to learn.  

Last week, author and My Juicy Little Universe blogger Heidi Mordhorst commented on Laura Shovan's spirit animal post, "I think one of the things that distinguishes poets from 'regular people' and even from other writers is a kind of intense openness to connections of all kinds. It's part observation and part discernment: I notice these signs; I begin to see meaning in them."

Linda is hosting today's Poetry Friday fiesta over at Write Time.  Visit her warm and inviting blog to discover all kinds of poems and poetrylove swirling around the Kidlitosphere this week!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Wee Summer Break

Yummy Harvest
Photo by Amy LV

The Poem Farm is on a wee summer break: pond swimming, jam making, and falling in love with sunshine and fireflies all over again.  I'll be back soon, and in the meantime, many happy poems to you!  (I do continue to post a favorite poem each day at The Poem Farm Facebook page.)

Here is a July 4 poem from The Poem Farm archives: Tonight.

Don't miss!  Laura Shovan has a beautiful and inspiring post about spirit animals over at Author Amok.  I am honored that she chose to include my "First Flight" from FOREST HAS A SONG, and want to offer many congratulations to Laura on selling her novel in verse, THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, to Random House.  Fly, book, fly!

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is at My Juicy Little Universe, Heidi's place. Stop by and celebrate this great day and season with a party of poetry.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Corn Plants - Watching Things Grow

Morning Cornfield
Photo by Amy LV

Students - This morning, driving home from bringing our daughter to where she volunteers at Messinger Woods, I stopped on our road to take this photograph.  Living out in the country, I am continually amazed by the changes in the landscape.  In early summer, I especially love these lines of corn.  They remind me of lines on notebook paper.  It's a gift to live in one place for a long time, to see the same scenes and colors, to love them more each year.

The expression "knee high by the 4th of July" to describe good corn growing always comes to mind when we drive by cornfields.  And while this yardstick is no longer the standard for corn growth, the line does live on in many of us.  It's fun to say!

Sometimes I smile to hear our children (12, 14, 15) talk about noticing much younger children growing up so quickly.  How can it be that I am old enough to have children who are old enough to notice children growing?  Time fools us sometimes, and today's poem is a simple rhyming comparison of the growth of corn to the growth of a child.

If you'd like to read about how corn grows, visit The National Gardening Association.

Jone is hosting today's Poetry Friday party over at Check it Out.  As I always say, check it out!

May you notice a few beautiful growing things today, wherever you live and whatever your season.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Little Sketch - Writing About Art

Little Sketch
by Amy LV

Students - I do not draw often, but when I do...I am always happy that I did. Drawing, like writing, stills time, saves a moment.  When you go back to something you have drawn or written, you once again live that time, once again see that kitten, once again feel the boom of thunder inside of your heart. Many people say that writing allows a person to "live twice" and the same is true of making art.

Today's verse is simply a small poem about a thought that came into my mind when I looked at the sketch I drew last month on the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage.  Try sketching a leaf or a flower as you study it, really observing it from this angle and that.  Then, a week or more later, look at your drawing and write about what you see.  This way, you will live three times: once in the seeing, once in the drawing, once in the writing!

Making things helps us know who we are.  I wish you a summer of making many things: forts, paintings, jam, jokes, and new good friends.

Catherine is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup (she and Carol switched) over at Catherine Johnson.  Visit her cozy nook to catch up with this week's Poetry Friday offerings 'round the Kidlitosphere.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Last Day & A Poetry Peek

Final Ride
Photo by Amy LV

Students - This wee verse grew from the time of year.  In classrooms all around the United States, schools are getting ready to let out for summer.  Beginnings and endings are full of feelings, and this poem simply lists a few of them.  Change is powerful and sometimes scary, beautiful and sometimes confusing.  Life is like that. The word "bittersweet" is one of my favorite words because it so perfectly matches a feeling I often feel.

This verse belongs to a family of such poems here at The Poem Farm.  You can find the other two family members here: Ready (for the first day of school) and Last Day of School (for the last day).

Today's poem is dedicated to Sheila Cocilova's second grade poets in Fairport, NY. It is also dedicated to all teachers and students at this looking-back-looking-forward time of year.  Enjoy your memories and your celebrating of important milestones.  Congratulations on your work, your friendships, what you have given to others, and all of the ways you have grown into being who you are meant to be.  Happy joyous summer!

Themed Poetry Anthologies
Tioughnioga Riverside Academy, Whitney Point, NY
by Kristie Miner and Cheryl Donnelly

Welcome to teacher Cheryl Donnelly and her fourth-grade students and Intermediate Literacy Coordinator Kristie Miner from the Whitney Point Central School District.  Below, Kristie and Cheryl explain the process they followed in helping their students create theme-based poetry anthologies.

Throughout the month of April, we followed Amy at The Poem Farm, enthusiastically reading her theme-based poems, learning from her daily writing tips. After the first week, students began to entertain the idea of writing poems based on their own themes, and from this, our theme-based poetry anthologies grew.  

Here you can see our anthology covers and read the students' poems and process notes.

Our Process:
First, students created lists of possible anthology themes in their writers’ notebooks. Topics included special places, memorable events, hobbies, favorite sports and even favorite foods.       
Next, students selected a theme and generated a list of topics that could be included within their theme.
Students spent several days exploring published poetry, which then served as mentors for their own writing.
Students were guided by Amy’s daily “instruction” as they crafted new poems or revised poems-in-progress.
Finally, students published one poem from their growing collection. 

The biggest joy in creating our anthologies was watching the creativity flow out of every student. There were no parameters, and students responded with out-of-the-box thinking that resulted in unique, expressive and meaningful poetry. Most importantly, we learned that poetry resides within and around each of us—we just need to listen carefully to what it has to say.

Much gratitude to these teachers and students for sharing this fantastic project. Way to take on a challenge!  

Over at Sharing Our Notebooks, I am happy to host Shane Couch with his many cool notebooks full of writing and art.  Stop on over to learn about his notebooks and if you wish, comment to be entered in a notebook giveaway.

Carol (she and Catherine switched weeks) is hosting today's Poetry Friday extravaganza over at Carol's Corner!  Everyone is invited to read, eat, drink, share, and swim in poems and poem-celebrations of all kinds.  Every Friday we pass the roundup around, and we welcome all.

For those of you who are indeed finishing up school this week, please know that I will still be here throughout the summer, each Friday, versing away.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, May 30, 2014

This Tent & Poetry Calendars

Sleeping in a Tent
by Amy LV

Students - Yesterday I had a conversation with my friend Jackie about spending lots of time outside.  I didn't realize how deeply the talk had settled into my bones, but it had.  For last night when I sat to write, this is what came out.  We are going camping soon too, in a cabin, and I can't wait to just spend time by the fire, under the stars with my family.

To write today's poem, I just followed my mind.  I allowed the poem to come to me instead of going off searching for the poem.  Sometimes just settling down and listening to yourself is the best way to begin writing.  Maybe that's the always the best thing to do.  Before writing, take a few good breaths and just listen to you.

You'll notice that each stanza of today's poem begins with the same first two lines.  And the ending, well...that is my favorite part.  I had played with a few different endings: endings about peeper sounds, endings about cozy toes and campfire-smoky hair, but those endings just did not feel right.  Then I realized how much I love sleeping outside.  And I asked myself why.  See, whenever I sleep outside in a tent, I want to ALWAYS sleep in a tent.  There is something magical about that feeling, being so close to nature, just a fabric wall away. The ending, like the subject, approached me.  And I let it stay.

And now, it's time for a...

Poetry Art Calendars
Klem South Elementary, Webster, NY
by Third Grade Teacher Rosanne Kulikowski

Today I am so happy to welcome third grade teacher Rosanne Kulikowski and her students from Klem South Elementary.  I have had the privilege of learning about writing with Rosanne for the past few years, and it is great fun for me to be able to share her class's project here.  

In room 205 at Klem South Elementary, we love poetry!  Last December we immersed ourselves in it.  The children loved Amy’s poems and enjoyed The Poem Farm. We always had to read about what inspired her to write each particular one.  Each of Amy’s poems in turn inspired students to reflect and connect poetry to their own lives.  

With all of the enthusiasm around these poems, I decided we would make special holiday calendars for parents, each with a child’s reflection and illustration for one of Amy’s poems every month. I was especially touched by how each poem brought out a personal meaning to every student.  Their illustrations were like small snapshots of their imaginations.  Below each poem/illustration/reflection was the calendar grid with holidays and family birthdays filled in.  The students not only loved reading and writing poetry, but were so proud of their gifts!

Click to enlarge these calendar pages by Sara and Isabella.

Art & Response by Sara

Art & Response by Isabella

Art & Response by Isabella

Art & Response by Sara

Thank you to Sara and Isabella and to their teacher Rosanne Kulikowski for sharing these calendar pages and this neat idea here today.

Today I am tickled to announce that Shane Couch, self-professed notebook addict, is sharing his addiction with us at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.  Visit, read Shane's inspiring post, and perhaps win a new notebook for yourself!  If you are interested in sharing your own notebooks at Sharing Our Notebooks, please just contact me here.

Diane is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup this week.  Stroll on over to Random Noodling to find an always-rich assortment of poetic goodies for the days ahead.

Please share a comment below if you wish.