Friday, February 21, 2020

Inspirations and Invitations


Quilt Bit 1
Photo by Amy LV

Quilt Bit 2
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Today I was thinking about one of my favorite poets, Joyce Sidman. I visited the generous Poetry Ideas section of her website and decided to write an "Invitation Poem" of my own. I also took a little time to read in her beautiful book WHAT THE HEART KNOWS: CHANTS, CHARMS, AND BLESSINGS, and once again I fell in love with it. I highly recommend this book to you.

Image result for chants charms and blessings

To write an invitation poem, you might think of something you would like to share with someone else. An experience, a place, a moment, a bit of nature or food or music or art. Your choice, of course! Then, invite away with the words we use when we welcome others to share in goodness with us.

Earlier this week, our friends Barry and his daughter Gracie Lane came for an overnight visit, and Gracie slept under the quilt pictured above. We talked a bit about it...how it is one of the many I have collected from thrift or antique stores...and once again, I got to imagining its stories. When time came to write an invitation poem, I wanted to invite everyone to sit under these fabric rectangles with me.

What might you invite someone to do? A party, of course, but what other, simple pleasures might you choose to share with a friend, family member, stranger, pet, or even something else...?

Next week I look forward to a four-day writing residency with the students of Greenacres Elementary School in Scarsdale, NY. Last year I visited this wonderful school for a day of assemblies, and this week I will be lucky enough to write poems with the whole school. On Thursday, we will share some with each other in an assembly. I am grateful to have received this invitation!

Cheriee is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Library Matters with a wondrous celebration of Vancouver Poet Avis Harley. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness each week of the year.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Poems Can Grow from Special Dates


Thor and Me, 1971
Photo by Debby or George Ludwig

Baby Book Note 
by Debby Ludwig

(I will find a photo of Valentine to share!)




Students - Happy Valentine's Day! This morning I was thinking about my second childhood dog, Valentine, and the story about how she became part of our family. We really did get her on Valentine's Day, 1981, and Thor really did die the day before, which happened to be Friday the 13th. That date stuck with me for a long time.  To be honest, it's still with me. He was at the vet for an operation on his cancer...and he never made it home.

At first I was going to write simply the story of getting Valentine on Valentine's Day, but then Thor wanted to be in the poem. So did Eli. And Cali and Sage were here at my feet asking to be part of it too. So there you have it, a poem including my most special five dogs. And of course I also love my mom's dog Max who is the dog on which I based Betsy in last April's (to be published in a book by Eerdmans) JOHN AND BETSY collection.

I could have chosen to write this poem in quatrains and almost did...but then instead at stopping with four lines (lines 2 and 4 rhyming), I decided to tack on an extra unrhyming line at the end of each stanza. I rather like the feel and sound of this. Remember: read your poems aloud and play. There are no set rules, but working with rules and choosing when to live by and when to break them in poems is what makes for your own voice.

Do you have a story about when someone or something special entered your life? Is there a date that stays with you for some reason? A season that always brings back a certain feeling or memory? Such stories and dates and season-feelings can lead us to writing ideas of all kinds. In a way, this is also a timeline-poem, walking through the dogs of my life. Now I am thinking of other timelines from my life which might hold poem ideas.

Linda is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at TeacherDance with hearts everywhere and the sweetest, skinniest Valentine poem. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness each week of the year.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Form Play: A Unicorn Villanelle


The Unicorn I Met
by Amy LV




Students - Today's poem is a villanelle, a special old form of poetry that is structured with 5 tercets (three line stanzas) followed by one quatrain (four line stanza). A villanelle repeats two lines over and over and also two rhymes over and over. Below, you can see where the repeating lines go and how the rhyme works. I have highlighted matching lines/rhymes.


Why did I write a villanelle today?  Well, why not?  I came home from teaching a workshop and this evening, I just thought to myself, "Self...write a villanelle!" So I did. My villanelle has 10 syllables per line, but this is not true of all villanelles.

Below you can see some of the villanelle organizational play in my notebook. This is a form that requires me to read and reread and reread again, listening to the repeating line, listening for what might happen next. There is a musical feeling to writing in this form, and I find it playful and joyful all at once.

Villanelle Notebook Play
by Amy LV

If you would like to read a couple of more villanelles I have shared in this space, you can do so here:

I Understand - January 4, 2013

It's been too long, and you can bet that I will be writing more villanelles soon.

Laura is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Writing the World for Kids with a lovely poem inviting readers to sing our own songs. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness each week of the year.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Songs - Poems Can Compare



Raindrops and Snowflakes
by Amy LV




Students -There is a certain stillness on country winter days, and yesterday morning, while moving cars around in the driveway, I paused to look at white snow, green trees, pink sky. When I sat down to write about it, this poem appeared on the page. The silence of winter snow at once highlighted to me the noisiness of rain. I adore both, weather-silence and weather-sound.

Winter Morning in the Country
Photo by Amy LV

You may be wondering what filigree is. Filigree is a type of fancy and complex metalwork, often seen in jewelry and looking like lace. Filigree is made of bits of metal thread and beads, and the delicacy of the work reminds many people of snowflakes. If I were a newly born snowflake, I imagine that I might need to concentrate very hard on my fancy angles and never-before-seen exquisiteness. It would be too much to speak.

Google Search for 'Filigree'

After I wrote my poem, I remembered that I had heard the word filigree to describe a snowflake before. And yes, it was in this wonderful poem, below, by Walter de la Mare (1873 - 1956). You will note that Walter's poem is in the voice of one snowflake, speaking to a human. This is different from my poem which simply compares one aspect of snow with one aspect of rain: sound. The same subject, even with a same word or two, can spin many different poems indeed!

The Snowflake

Before I melt,
Come, look at me!
This lovely, icy filigree!
Of a great forest
In one night
I make a wilderness
Of white:
By skyey cold
Of crystals made,
All softly, on
Your finger laid,
I pause, that you
My beauty see:
Breathe; and I vanish
Instantly.

by Walter de la Mare
This poem is in the public domain.


Admiring the morning sky, writing a small poem, considering the intricacy of snowflakes, remembering other Walter de la Mare poems...one thing leads to another in writing. Today I will add two words to my current notebook's 'Favorite Word List': filigree and intricate. Maybe delicate too. Make it three. Definitely make it three.

I have often thought about the quietness of snow, but I have never compared it to rain. If you seek a writing subject, consider rummaging through your notebook or mind or heart, to find a thought you think often. Might you compare it to something else in one particular way? If so, you, too, could write two small stanzas, each describing that one particular way the two objects are different...or the same.

Do raindrops and snowflakes really sing? No...but it seems like they do. When you give a non-human thing living qualities or intentions, we call that personification. This poem uses that technique.

It is a pleasure to welcome Stephanie Affinito to my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks. Simply visit that space to check out her delightful 'One Little Thing' notebook, and comment by February 2 for a chance to win a copy of Ralph Fletcher's A WRITER'S NOTEBOOK. And if you keep a notebook and wish to share it over there, please just send me an e-mail.

Jone is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Deowriter with poetry postcards and a sweet journal giveaway. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness each week of the year.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

An Object Passed On and On...

(Almost....)


Inscription from My Grandmother to My Mother
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Today's poem is just a little bit of free verse about an object - a poem book that lives in my family. Yesterday my friend Brett Vogelsinger shared this photo and question on Twitter.


Well, I DID remember! My mother had this book when I was a child, and I remember reading it over and over again, just loving the images and words. As it happens, last night I visited my mom and found the copy. 

A Family Favorite
(The spots on on the cover were likely made by me!)
Photo by Amy LV

My mom's mom (my grandmother) had given the book to my own mother as a gift, and she had made notes on the pages of some of her favorite poems. My grandma and mom were both teachers, and this was a teacher-to-teacher present given early in my mom's teaching career. Below you can see my grandma as a young woman. She always loved poetry, and both she and her father - my great grandfather John Conolly - wrote poems.

Florence (Dorrie) Conolly Dreyer as a Young Woman

Notes from Grandma
Photo by Amy LV

I feel lucky that my grandmother wrote in this book and lucky that my mom has kept it. Even though Grandma has been gone from a long time, through these notes and favorite poems, she speaks to us again. 

Do you have an object in your home that brings to mind someone important to you? While one person might look at a particular object and not see anything special, objects do hold and hide stories and connections. Sometimes we just need to sit with something, hold it, think about it, and listen. Writing can be slow that way. Slow is good.

I have happy news! After a long hiatus, there is a post at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks. Stephanie Affinito has shared her wonderful 'One Little Thing' notebook which has already inspired me to begin one of my own. Visit the post and comment by February 2 for a chance to win a copy of Ralph Fletcher's A WRITER'S NOTEBOOK.

Kathryn is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup...all the way from Australia...at Kathryn Apel. Visit her post for a couple of poems and a short clip describing one of her author visits to the US. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness each week of the year.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Farewell to Fleeting Things


Snowflake
by Amy LV




Students - It has not been a very snowy winter here in Upstate New York, but we did get a little bit of snow yesterday, and we are expected to have more snow tomorrow. Falling snow is peaceful, and when I have the chance to catch a perfect snowflake on my mitten, to wonder at its exquisite angles and patterns, I am amazed. I really would like to have a snowflake as a pet. But of course such a friendship would only last for a very short time.

Some of life's most lovely gifts are fleeting: snowflakes, golden hour (the pretty-light-time right after sunrise and before sunset), the full moon, blushing trees, blooming flowers, blackberries. Try noticing something in your day today that is here now...but not for long. Hello and farewell indeed...

You might have wondered about all of that repetition at the end of this poem. I decided to keep repeating the word farewell and all of those s sounds simply to stretch out the sound of goodbye.

Catherine is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Reading to the Core with some lovely #haikuforhope she had shared in December on Twitter. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness each week of the year.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Papa: Writing from Struggle


Blurry
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Occasionally when people get older, they develop serious memory and reasoning problems. You may have heard of Alzheimers Disease, a severe condition affecting memory and reasoning. Today's poem is about how even when an older person may develop dementia (an overarching term which includes Alzheimers), this person is still the same person. If you love someone who has developed such problems, one thing to do is to remember what they once loved and knew and talked about. Talk about these things. You can ask questions about times from long ago, and your loved one may even remember the faraway past better than yesterday. If your loved one does not remember, do not worry. Just show your love.

My poem today is written in three quatrains with the even lines repeating. It is a simple structure, and I hope to share a simple message: We can still love those we love, even when they change, even when they struggle. This is when people need our love most.

Watch for struggle in your days. You might choose to write about it. We all struggle in different ways at different times, and finding words for such moments and years can help us...and others too.

Sally is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at SALLYMURPHY.COM.AU with a book announcement, a poem, and information about her offering for #authorsforfireys. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness each week of the year.

Please share a comment below if you wish.