Friday, February 23, 2018

He Said So - Keep Snatches of Talk


Here and Gone
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Last month, I was visiting a school, and as a group of students left the library, a boy walked by me, looked into my eyes, and said, "Cardinals are angels."  Later, I copied his words into my notebook.

Notebook Snip
Photo by Amy LV

When choosing a topic for today's poem, I flipped through my pages searching for a subject that felt worthy.  The words of this young boy who spoke me to briefly and in passing beckoned from my notebook.  I just knew.  And I was thankful that I had copied his words down.  Had I not, even though this was but a month ago...I would have forgotten this brief interaction.

Two thoughts for you about writing today.  One - write in your notebook even when you do not feel like it.  You will end up with some strange odds and ends and useless things, sure.  But you'll also end up with surprising bits and snatches that may bewitch you on another day.  Two - Take note of rhymes you like.  Those of you who know me may be giggling at the birds/words rhyme here.  I just love that word pair and have ushered it into many small poems.

And for those of you who love cardinals, this was just in yesterday's Alabama news.  A yellow cardinal!  I added this clip to today's post later...what a coincidence!

Video from AL.com

In the sidebar, you will notice that I have added my Instagram feed.  Please know that this is another safe space where I share photos of my writing process, book news, and pictures of life around The Poem Farm.

Liz is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Elizabeth Steinglass with a thoughtful "Why I'm Here" poem, and an accompanying invitation that writers young and old might wish to try.  I am going to do so this week! Each week, we gather our posts together at one blog, so if you visit Liz this week...you will be introduced to many new poets and blogs and books.  

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sometimes You Write from Grief



Students and Educators Shot and Killed in School 
Parkland, Florida February 2018
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Sometimes a person cannot find the words. There are so many words, so so many.  But sometimes they just cannot express the depth of a person's sadness and anger. And so here is my small poem offering for today.

Student and Educator Friends - I am heartbroken and so sorry that you have to do lockdown drills in school.  Children - please know that there are many adults working hard to keep you safe.  You are loved.  And your love brightens up so many corners of our world.  Shine those candle-hearts of yours.  Find the kindness and peace in others and in yourself.  We all can do this, and this finding and giving will fill our days with love.

Please comment this week over at Tuesday's post, where Bonnie LaMonaco's beautiful second graders spread love with their kindness poems.  I would love for them to read some generous words from us all.

Jone is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Check It Out with Cybils goodness and postcard joy.  You can even sign up to receive a student poem postcard as part of the 10th Student Poetry Postcard Event! Each week, we gather our posts together at one blog, so if you visit Jone this week...you will be introduced to many new poets and blogs and books.  

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Kindness Poem Party!

Morning Hearts
Photo by Amy LV

Today we are very lucky.  We have guests at The Poem Farm!.  Second grade teacher Mrs. LaMonaco and her poets from Brooks Hill Elementary School in Fairport, NY are visiting with their poems, all celebrating quiet kindnesses.  Last month I invited poets to share such poems, and I could not be more grateful that these young writers chose to do so.  

This is a lovely way to celebrate love and friendship and all of the good things that people do for us every day.  For more ways to do this, take a peek at all of the beautiful projects folks are taking on at the Global Kind Project.

Please enlarge this slideshow to see it well!
Advance slides at your reading comfort speed.


Thank you so much to Mrs. LaMonaco and to these poets for celebrating kindness with us today.  If you would be so kind, please leave them a comment with your thoughts. Happy almost Valentine's Day! 

Peace,
Amy
xo

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Let's Make Some Valentines!



Thumbprint Hearts
by Amy LV




Students - Happy almost Valentine's Day!  I do love this holiday of tiny cards and tiny stickers and hearts made out of every kind of sweet imaginable, so today I thought I would write about candy.  I had two bags of candy, poured each out, and took this picture.  This picture was to be my writing inspiration.

Inspiring or Uninspiring?
Photo by Amy LV

But beware the best laid plans!  My brain did not want to write about these candies.  My brain wandered.  And my eyes wandered too.

My eyes wandered around the room and around the floor where something under the table caught my eye.

Who Keeps Art Supplies on the Floor?
Photo by Amy LV

Yes, it was a stamp pad.  Upside down.  Just sitting there.  Suddenly, I was overcome with a desire to make fat thumbprint hearts.  Sounds strange? Well, it's true. My forthcoming book, WITH MY HANDS, includes a bit of fingerprint art, and so I guess that fingerprints must be on my mind. 

I pressed my own thumb on ink and paper (see above), and I wrote today's poem.

Writing does not always follow a straight path, that's for sure!  Remember this as you write.  Keep your mind open for the surprises. Even a mess on the floor might invite a page or two.

This week, don't miss checking out SCHOOL PEOPLE, the new anthology by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  


I loved writing about a wonderful nurse for this collection, and Robyn Hood Black, who wrote about a kind lunch lady shares all about the book with an interview of Lee and a book giveaway today at Life on the Deckle Edge.

At Sharing Our Notebooks, third grade teacher Dina Bolan and her writers from Alexander Hamilton Elementary School in Glen Rock, New Jersey share their nonfiction notebook entries.  Please leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a lovely new notebook.  

Sally is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at sallymurphy.com.au with some fun terse verse. Each week, we gather our posts together at one blog, so if you visit Sally this week...you will be introduced to many new poets and blogs and books.  

Happy Valentine's Day!
xo

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Imagine Yourself in a Story


Deer Sheds Found at The Poem Farm
Photo by Amy LV




Students - This story poem grew from a conversation I was fortunate enough to have last week with a few young hunters at Elba Elementary School in Elba, NY.  We were talking about the deer sheds I'd brought along, and they were kind enough to share some hunting stories with me.

I am not a hunter, and I have no interest in learning to hunt.  Yet hearing these young men speak with passion and reverence for nature and this skill filled me with curiosity and wonder.  Though I will likely never hunt or shoot a deer myself, in this poem I imagine the moment of transition between life and death.

In today's poem, I have pretended to play a part in a story I will likely never live.  And in so doing, I have been remade.  I see hunting in a new way, through the eyes of my young teachers and through my own imagination.  Since I write this from imagined and talked experience, though, I am not sure if there are details that are off or missing or untrue.  So, young hunter friends in Elba....if you read this, would you please tell me if there is something clearly wrong here?  Something that feels totally untrue?  If so, please send me an e-mail through your librarian, Mrs. Perrault.  And if you would like to share any of your own hunting poems or words around hunting, please let me know as I would love to include some of words here.  Thank you for that talk we had...I have been thinking about it all week.

This week I was fortunate enough to visit two wonderful elementary schools in Paramus, NJ, and I would like to extend so much gratitude to everyone at Parkway Elementary and Stony Lane Elementary for such a joyous two days of celebrating poetry and notebooking.  I loved writing with you and am now thinking about stories and ideas we shared together too.

At Sharing Our Notebooks, I am so happy to welcome third grade teacher Dina Bolan and her writers from Alexander Hamilton Elementary School in Glen Rock, New Jersey.  Please read their nonfiction notebook entries, and leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a lovely new notebook.  I will draw a name next week!

Donna is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Mainely Write with a bouquet of beautiful poetry postcards. Each week, we gather our posts together at one blog, so if you visit Donna this week...you will be introduced to many new poets and blogs and books.  Please join us!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 26, 2018

My Someone Does Something....



Look Outside!
by Amy LV




Students - This poem about my husband Mark.  He is a hawk-spyer.  When we drive in the car, he always sees hawks and counts hawks.  I have written about this before because I think that hawk-spying is a neat habit...and because of Mark, I am now a bit of a hawk-spyer myself.

At times, it helps me to have a starter line when beginning a poem. Today's starter line was simply a statement about a person - My father spies hawks.

This gave me the idea that I could write many poems starting in a similar way - My someone does something.  I might think about quirky things that my loved ones do, or my favorite actions of friends.  I might think about things I've seen strangers do....or I might imagine the habits of people or animals I invent.

Here are some possibilities of similar poem starters I might try:

My mother reads books.
My friend tells good jokes.
My grandma plays poker.
My brother hugs cats.
My grandpa writes letters.
My goldfish looks lonely.

For each of these, I simply filled in the blanks as below:

My _______________  _______________   _______________.

You might wish to try this too.  Think of the people and animals in your own life.  Think about strangers you have seen.  Make someone up! Try writing some starter sentences as I did.  You may find that one of them makes you want to keep writing.  (I am feeling like writing about a cat-hugging brother and a lonely goldfish right now!)

A large part of a writer's job is to find ways to get started. If you try out this way-to-get-started, and if it works for you....please let me know!

And if you would like to know more about red-tailed hawks so that YOU can become a hawk-spyer....visit the The Cornell Lab of Ornithology where you can learn so much about all kinds of birds.

At Sharing Our Notebooks this month, I happily welcome third grade teacher Dina Bolan and her writers from Alexander Hamilton Elementary School in Glen Rock, New Jersey.  Please read their nonfiction notebook entries, and leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a lovely new notebook.  Comment by month's end, please.

It has been such a joyful week of visiting schools!  This week I visited Pavilion Elementary, Byron-Bergen Elementary, Elba Elementary, and Pembroke Elementary, all in Western New York. Thank you very much to the wonderful people in these schools for your warmth and hospitality. If you are a teacher or librarian, please know that I am now scheduling school visits and poetry residencies for 2018 - 2019, and you can learn more here.

Carol is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Beyond Literacy Link. Each week, we gather our posts together at one blog, so if you visit Carol this week...you will be introduced to many new poets and blogs and books.  Please join us!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Write About a Quiet Kindness



Friend of Kitties
by Amy LV




Students - Our eldest daughter attends college in New York City, and this week she told me a story about a lady she met while walking back to school from a babysitting job. The lady was standing near some scaffolding, reaching down and into a cut-out in the wood.  When our daughter stopped to chat, she learned that this lady is a feeder-of-city-cats.  This lady and some of her friends regularly bring canned cat food and blankets to homeless city cats.  I think that this lady is a special spirit, and I am very grateful know that she exists.  I loved hearing the story and right away knew that I would write about it in my notebook.  I did not know at that moment that I would write a poem...but here it is.

Sometimes people write poems about folks they admire.  About people they believe make the world a strong and light-filled and happier place to live in.  We can write thank you letters and opinion pieces or give written awards to such people.  Or...we can also write poems about them.  We don't even need to know the people or see them in action.  We may just learn a story about such a person, as I learned one from our daughter.

Here's a little challenge for you.  Listen to people talk.  Watch people.  See if you can uncover a kindness, a gentleness, a surprise-and hidden-goodness that many people might not know about.  Write a poem about this person or kind act, not using the person's name, but just offering it up to the world.  I sure would love to read such poems - and maybe even share them here. Such poems and stories make me want to be better myself, so I like to read as many as I can.  If you write a poem celebrating a kind act (and if you really work on it), I welcome you to have your parent or teacher send it to me through my CONTACT ME button....and I will write back.

Did you notice that the sentences in this poem get very short at the end?  I did this on purpose.  The first stanza is one long and rollicking sentence, describing the many kinds of homeless cats one might find in the city.  The second stanza, on the other hand, focuses on the actions of one human: kind and good.  I wanted that part to be read slowly.  With pauses.  That's why the lines and sentences are so short.

Here are some photographs that our sweet daughter sent to me after reading this poem:

From a Distance
Photo by H. VanDerwater

Closer
Photo by H. VanDerwater

Even Closer
Photo by H. VanDerwater

Closest
Photo by H. VanDerwater

The Educator Collaborative is currently (now through February 14, 2018) running its Global Kind Project 2018 for classrooms.  Please check it out if you are interested.  You can connect with others from all over, sharing stories and finding ways to be kinder....together.

At Sharing Our Notebooks, my other online home,  I am superhappy to host third grade teacher Dina Bolan and her third grade writers from Alexander Hamilton Elementary School in Glen Rock, New Jersey.  Please read their nonfiction notebook entries, and leave a comment to be entered into a drawing.  I will send the winning name a cool new notebook!

Please visit Kay's place today's Poetry Friday roundup at A Journey Through the Pages. Every week a group of us gather our posts together at one blog, so if you visit Kay this week...you will be introduced to many new poets and blogs and books.  We welcome you!

Please share a comment below if you wish.