Friday, January 23, 2015

Dawn - The Shapes & Colors of Our Days


Sage in the Morning
Photo by Amy LV




Students - A camera can be a very good friend to a writer.  Why?  Because our eyes see so many different pictures in a day that it can be difficult to slow them down and replay them one-by-one.  Yesterday morning, as I watched our Sage lie in the snow, I found her so peaceful, so blue there in the morning light.  I wanted to keep that picture in my head forever.  And too, I wanted to give it some words.

As a writer-artist, stay on the lookout for pictures that strike you, real 3-D pictures in your world that give you pause and make you appreciate the shapes and colors of your days.  You, too, might choose to take a photograph.  Or you might draw a picture.  Or you might just look closely and then close your eyes to see the image in your mind and keep it forever.

Today's poem is two quatrains, two stanzas of four lines each.  It is a quiet poem, echoing the quiet feeling I have been carrying inside of me lately.

Tara is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at her place, A Teaching Life. Swing on by there, check out all of the warm, whimsical, and wonderful poetry offerings...and know that you are always welcome in the Poetry Friday fold.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A What If Poem & A Poetry Peek


An Unknown Gift
by Amy LV




Students - The other week, I heard an interview on npr (I cannot find it now) with Kevin Dykstra and Fred Monroe, the two divers who have found a shipwreck that may be the long-lost Griffon, a ship that vanished from Lake Michigan in 1679.  (You can read more here at Great Lakes Exploration and in The Washington Post, in an article posted this morning.)

Well, I just could not get that - still cannot get that - interview out of my mind.  I began writing today's poem the day after hearing that radio show, and inspired by Laura Purdie Salas's poem at Writing the World for Kids today and by Irene Latham's poem - Titanic Remenbers April 16, 1912 -  in the voice of the Titanic, I thought I'd play with my own shipwreck poem a bit more.  

This is a free verse poem, and it's a what if poem too.  I like exploring ideas that have never happened, imagining worlds and people and even gifts such as the gift for detecting shipwrecks.  Writing can take us to new places; we are free. You can read another what if poem from The Poem Farm in 2012 here.

What radio or tv stories, magazine or newspaper articles are stuck in your mind?

What poems have you read that make you wish to get writing yourself?

What if? What if? What if?

Today I am honored to welcome my new friend, third grade teacher Kim Doele and four of her Poetry Club students from Wealthy Elementary School in Grand Rapids, Michigan! I am excited that I'll be spending the first week of February as a visiting poet in the East Grand Rapids School District, learning alongside students and teachers, and this Poetry Friday, I extend a hearty welcome to Poetry Club members Nora, Sophia, Teagan, and Hania and to Kim who shares her love of poetry with them each Wednesday.


Every Wednesday afternoon I eat lunch on my feet. That is, if I remember to eat at all. When 11:30 arrives my classroom evolves into a Poetry Club (but smells more like a cafeteria.) Between 30 and 40 third and fourth grade students enter, notebooks in hands, and settle in to eat their lunches.  They are eager to begin writing, and it doesn't take long for their lunches to disappear.  Soon, they are ready to write.

I usually begin our Poetry Club meeting by reading a few poems, sharing a new book of poetry, introducing a poet, or playing a recording of a poet reading.  This group is not only hungry for lunch but also for writing ideas and I try to fill them up. They each keep a list in the front of their notebooks which they add to each week. I float among the third and fourth grade poets during our workshop.  "Float" because that's how it feels when you are lingering over a young poet's shoulder watching words pour out into a notebook.  I will admit that sometimes it feels more like flying because it seems everyone wants me to hear a poem at the same moment.  We read, we write, and make sure to leave time to share.  I am in awe of this poetry-loving group

In anticipation of Amy's February visit, we have been spending extra time reading poems at The Poem Farm.  Often times the students will choose to respond to poems with a poem of their own, and many times they have chosen one of Amy's. Inspired by her recent photo of a box of snow and her poem A Wish for a Friend, some of the students chose to write their own wishes for a friend.  I was surprised at their unique approaches.  Of course when they shared the poems that follow, other students were inspired to write wishes as well.

When I asked the Poetry Club how they would choose to spend their lunchtime during Amy's visit, the most popular idea was to ask her if they could read their poems to her.  We can't wait!


A Wish for a Friend
 by Nora

I wish...
I could mail some pumpkins that people
in Antarctica could carve
and give them a "how to" manual
to say it is not hard.
I want to give them this so they
can carve on Halloween Night
and give the trick or treaters a
snowshoe running fright.


A Wish for Zeus
 by Sophia

I wish that I could mail a...
New thunder bolt
for you to grip in your
big, huge, gigantic hand when
you get mad at people
like Hera.
Are you still mad at her
for stealing your old
thunder bolt?


A Wish for a Friend
 by Teagan

I wish...
to send a
right foot to the
three stooges
because two left feet don’t
keep you from
bumping into things.


A Wish for Harry Potter
 by Hania

I wish for Harry Potter
not to be in danger
So that he'd have his parents back
and so Hermione Granger
would fall in love with him.
And he would not have to go
into the Chamber of Secrets
and if that wasn't so
he'd be much safer.
So he'd have Sirius Black
So that he'd go get Cedric back
So that he'd never know an Umbridge name
So that he was never in the Triwizard game
So that he never hated Snape
So that he'd never speak Snake
So that he could never fight
in the dark misty night,
 Lord Voldemort

These poems from Kim's Poetry Club are a wish come true for me.  Thank you to each poet and to their teacher for sharing with all of us on this Poetry Friday.

Yesterday was the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and we celebrate this day with a school holiday on coming Monday.  We continue to need Dr. King's and his vision as we learn to live in peace together.  Here is a poem - For Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.- from The Poem Farm archives, 2011.

Irene Latham is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Live Your Poem.  Join us to make poemfriends, wallow in words, and rub poems all over your body.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Whittle a Little - Pick Up an Object & Write


Hope's Spoon
Photo by Amy LV


(I will include audio for this poem as soon as my voice returns in full!)

Students - One of my New Year's resolutions is to do more exploratory writing in my notebook.  This means that I plan to write more pages, even when I don't have any idea what I will write.  The purpose of the writing has been and will be to discover what is rattling around my skeleton and head.  What exactly am I thinking and wondering and hoping?  So often we don't know this until we write it down. Donald Murray called such writing, "writing for surprise."  For me, this feels like magic!

The best part of writing for surprise is when my mind makes a small leap into playfulness.  This happened the other day as I looked around my desk for something to write about and found the small handmade spoon you see atop this post.  Our daughter Hope whittled this spoon a couple of years ago at summer camp (see Ricardo demonstrate this at Hawk Circle Camp here), and she made the bowl part of the spoon (see how it is dark?) by placing a coal on the wood and letting it burn out that perfect curve.

I picked up the spoon, turned it around in my hands, and wrote.  You will notice repetition of one of my favorite-sounds-in-the-alphabet - short i.

You might wish to try this technique for idea-finding.  Just look around, pick something up, and go.

(Another one of my New Year's resolutions?....Learn to whittle!)

Tabatha is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at The Opposite of Indifference. Visit there, and you will find links to many other blogs hosting poetry and poemlove today.  For those of you who are new to Poetry Friday, all are always welcome and invited to travel around from blog to blog, making new poetry friends, commenting and adding your blog into the week's menu if you like.  We are a happy band of poetry-celebrators, and we are glad that you are here!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Box of Snow - Wish Poems



Present for a Faraway Friend
Photo by Amy LV




Students - We have snow again!  Here south of Buffalo, NY where I live, it has been a snow-free couple of weeks.  And now the snow is back.  Today I am thinking about all of you who live in snow-free places, wishing I could send you some snow (but not too much) to play with.

Do you have a wish for someone else?  Is there something you have that you would like to share with others?  If yes, then you might enjoy writing about it.  What better way to begin the new year than with a wish for a friend?

Today's poem does have a bit of rhyme and a bit of meter.  What do you notice about the syllables in this poem?  What do you notice about the rhyme?  If you ever feel stuck getting started with your own writing, you might find a poem with a simple rhyme and syllable count - such as this one - and try writing with the same number of syllables per line or with the same rhyme scheme.

Teachers and Adult Readers - For those of you who might not know, I also keep a Poem Farm Facebook Page.  This page is full of regular links to poems I love as well as poetry news I find.  If you choose to "like" it, please click on the arrow to "get notifications" if you would like to see the posts in your feed.

In publishing news, I am excited to share that I have signed a contract with Crown/Random House for a picture book currently titled ALL I KNOW. No date yet, but lots of happiness over here!

At this time of year, we have the fun of peeking at some 2014 favorites lists.  Don't miss the 2014 Nerdy Awards for Poetry and Novels and Verse and the 2014 Cybils Poetry Finalists.  Many congratulations to one and all.

Tricia is hosting this first Poetry Friday of 2015 over at The Miss Rumphius Effect.  Stop by and gobble up all of the wonderful offerings from poetry friends near and far.

Happy 2015 to you and yours!  Many wishes for a year full of poems and favorite new words!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Bit of Personification on New Year's Eve

Old Year Lodge
by Amy LV




Students - Happy Almost New Year!  One of my 2015 resolutions is to spend more time writing in my notebook, finding new friends such as these old years in their number sweaters.  You'll see that today's poem turns years into people.  And while we all know that years are not people, as I wrote this poem...they became people. In poetry, this is called personification - giving something that is not human the qualities of a human.  Years do not wear sweaters.  Yet here they do.  Such is the magic of poetry.  You can make it so.

Today's poem is in free verse.  As I always say, writing in free verse causes me to read and reread over and over, listening for sound and rhythms that are not metrically regular, but still work for a reader's ear.

I am very grateful for this past year: for the healing of friends, for the healing of hearts in my life.  I am thankful for new friends young and old and for the many books and meals I have been lucky enough to take in over the past twelve months. I am grateful for family, for my health and for having been a living, breathing human in this year of 2014.  

I wish you and yours a year full of goodness, light, and warm enchantment.  May this woolen number of 2015 bring you joy.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Our Nativity - Stories in Daily Pictures


Our Family's Nativity Set
Photo by Amy LV



Students - This poem is true.  That's all there is to it.  I just wrote the truth.  Our family is Christian, and last week, when I set up our Nativity set on the second Sunday in Advent, I was struck by all of the stories it holds.  I remembered back to the childhood Nativity Set I loved playing with as a little girl, arranging the straw and the angel and shepherd over and over again.  I remembered when our friends Glenn and Paula gave Mark and I this Nativity set for our wedding twenty years ago.  I remembered where each piece of our Nativity has come from.  And I was grateful.

When it was time to write, the poem just showed up.  It may be the most personal poem I've shared here.  I wrote the words that asked to be written.

Today's poem is in free verse.  It does not have a special rhyme or meter that holds it together; it just sounds like talking.  But I did read it over and over again, out loud to myself, to listen to the music of the prose.

I wish you a week full of joyous surprises and small stories in dusty boxes.  The daily pictures that you see and fall in love with each day may be the very pictures that tell you exactly what to write in your own notebook.

Paul is graciously hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at These 4 Corners. Visit his online home to find all kinds of poetry goodness, all around the Kidlitosphere, all week long.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Beautiful - Writing from a Sketch


Looking Heavenward
by Amy LV



Students - I got the idea for today's poem from, um...well...resting.  Here's the story.  This morning, I was all set, ready to post a poem that I had written long before today.  I had a poem, a picture, and thoughts.  It was just about ready to publish here.  Then I realized, "Hey...this poem would fit well in my forthcoming book, WITH MY HANDS: POEMS ABOUT MAKING THINGS.  I should see if my editor likes it enough to include it."  So I sent that poem to my editor at Clarion.  And so my post idea for here was gone.  See, a poem going in a book needs to be saved for the book.  Back to square one.

This evening, sitting by the heater, I was not sure where to begin.  My head rested on my arms, and I flipped through my notebook only to find this little sketch of a mouse looking at the sky.  Then the poem just grew as I closed my eyes and eveningdreamed.  It is similar to some other poems I have written, most notably one about a star and a starfish that I cannot completely recall. I seem to like the idea of small creatures looking up at the sky. How could I not?

I rather floated my way through this poem.  For now, my favorite parts of it are "so full of woe" and those last three lines that break the rhyme pattern: I'm small.  I'm small.  I'm small.  

Today's poem is a story poem that grew from a sketch.  You might wish to make a sketch or drawing and then write from it.  You might wish to go back to an old sketch or drawing and write from that.  You see, ideas come from everywhere...even old doodles.

In happy writing news, I am thrilled to share that just today, I completed revisions for my forthcoming READ! READ! READ!, a book of poems about reading to be published by Wordsong.  I can't wait to tell you who the illustrator will be. I can't wait to find out myself.

Anastasia is hosting today's Poetry Friday extravaganza over at Booktalking #kidlit.  Head on over to check out the Kidlitosphere poem fun for this week!

Please share a comment below if you wish.