Friday, October 2, 2015

Two Pieces - A Broken Heart Poem

Photo by Amy LV

Students - Sometimes I feel a great need to write about something. Today that something is peace.  In the light of too many shootings on our streets, in our schools, in this country, I do feel like I am holding my heart in two pieces.  As I glue it back together with love, I commit to helping our country work toward peace.

When you find yourself not sure what to think about a difficult situation, know that writing is always here for us.  It may not make the bad thing go away, but it can help us understand it...and sometimes through our writing, we can find a way to heal or even a way out.

Peace to you all this week. 

This month you can find a wonderful post at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks. Cynthia Grady, author of I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN: POEMS OF AMERICAN SLAVERY shares some of her favorite notebooks, behind the scenes of this beautiful book, and she offers a giveaway too.

Tomorrow is the last day of Banned Books Week 2015, and I was honored to find this read-out of my poem "Are You There, God?" in celebration of this week. Thank you to Mr. Pace and his Honors II English class from Salmon, Idaho, for sharing this great public service announcement on You Tube.  Read what you wish to read!

Heidi is hosting today's Poetry Friday and the #Diversiverse today over at My Juicy Little Universe. Stop by her place for an important post and to check out this week's poetry roundup.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Wishing on Stars - Writing from Walking, Wishing, & Wondering

White Asters Out Back
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Last evening, after dinner, I took our dogs Cali and Sage for a walk around the back pasture.  Once again, I fell in love with the variety of autumn wildflowers we always see at this time of year in Western New York.  Walking, as Mary Ann Hoberman says, is a way to find new ideas, and last night, the white asters somehow reminded me of stars which got me wondering about constellations and how they each got their names.

When I came back into the house, I looked up all kinds of sites about constellations and learned a lot about them.  What I learned most, however, is that I long to and plan to learn more.

My first draft of this poem was all one stanza, but the more I revised and reread, the more I wanted to break up the parts: the wish, the story of way back when, and the return to now...when we cannot know the real origin stories of these wondrous pictures in our skies.

When you're not sure what to write, you might consider starting with a walk, a wish, or a wonder.  Each day is full of so many, and the more we walk, wish and wonder, the more wishes and wonders we will find.

In other news:

I am so happy to be sharing a collaboration between my daughter Georgia and me at Penny Klosterman's blog today.  Penny has a superfun series titled A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt, featuring art/writing collaborations between her and her great nephew Landon.  A part of this series includes Guest Episodes featuring various writer/artist family pairs.  Thank you, Penny, for having us at your place today!

At Jama's Alphabet Soup, Jama Rattigan has a beautiful post today celebrating libraries, librarians, and the new JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Jane Manning. You can read three poems from the book in this post, including my "Book Pillows."

This week, you can also find a great new post at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks. Cynthia Grady, author of I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN: POEMS OF AMERICAN SLAVERY shares some of her favorite notebooks, behind the scenes of this beautiful book, and she offers a giveaway too.  Don't miss!  Too, please remember that you and your notebook keeper friends are always welcome to post in that space.  Just let me know if you are interested.

Next week - September 27 - October 3 - is Banned Books Week.  If you plan to be talking or thinking about banned books, here are two poems from The Poem Farm archives:

It is, of course, Poetry Friday, and that means that there's a roundup.  To visit this week's poetry goodness all around the Kidlitosphere, head straight to Poetry for Children, where Sylvia and Janet are hosting the festivities.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, September 18, 2015

That Day - When Writing Comes from Many Places

Milkweed Plants on Raiber Road
Photo by Amy LV

Students - The picture you see above is of a little stand of milkweed plants on our road.  Early in August, my husband and I took a walk down the road and counted monarch caterpillars on the underside of the leaves.  I went back a couple of weeks later to look for chrysalises, but I did not see any, and I'm still wondering if those caterpillars turned to butterflies just a few yards away from our home. I smile to remember that weeks-ago-walk,  just looking for caterpillars and counting them together.  It is one of my favorite summer memories.

Later in August, our family visited and camped in Acadia National Park in Maine, and as part of our trip we went to Southwest Harbor where we found many more monarch caterpillars here in front of a shop called Sawyer's Specialities.  Can you see that chubby caterpillar just enjoying so much green?

Monarch Caterpillar in Front of Sawyer's Specialities
Photo by Amy LV

Well, yesterday I walked down our road again, and when I looked at the milkweed plants, I remembered the summer's excitement of finding caterpillars, imagining their mysterious change into butterflies.  The first line of today's poem just wrote itself on the page...and I went from there.

Remember in the summer

You might wish to try this.  Try beginning a poem or an essay or a story with the word remember.  See where the word leads you.  And once you arrive somewhere interesting in your writing, led by the hand by remember, you can decide whether to keep it as a first word or not.  You may choose a different beginning to your finished piece, but remember is a wondrous way to begin.

It is true that we found caterpillars this summer and true, too, that we often see wee toads.  Still, though, today's poem, I am sure, came from another place as well. From a book.  From TADPOLE'S PROMISE, written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross.  I learned about this book years ago, and a friend just reminded me of it the other day.  So, I pulled it out and shared it with our teenagers.  It's a funny and different book, and I won't say another word!

Image result for tadpole's promise

Poems surprise us in the way they take the many colorful threads of our lives - our readings, play, work, chats, loves, despairs, wonders, fascinations, confusions, joys, quiet times - and weave poemcloth.  You never know which thread will appear when in a poem.  And this, of course, is what makes writing such great fun.  Who knew that last month's poem would appear in my mind yesterday all mixed up with an unusual picture book?  No one knew.  That's a good enough reason to write, if you ask me.  Write to find out which poemcloth will weave itself that day.

Let your mind and heart surprise you when you write.  And if something you don't expect but that tickles you shows up on the page, please let me know.  It would be great to have you share it in this space.

Speaking of sharing, at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks, I continue to feature writer and teacher Michelle Haseltine.  Stop by to peek inside her notebook and leave a comment to be entered to win a new notebook!  In that space, I am currently seeking some folks to make and share little videos about how to use a writer's notebook: videos of teachers explaining notebooks, videos of students giving short tours of their notebooks, all notebook celebration videos.  I am also seeking notebooks of guy notebook keepers of all ages.  Please drop me a line at amy at amylv dot com if you are interested in sharing in such a way.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is over at Today's Little Ditty with Michelle.  Enjoy her poem of remembering and celebrate poetry with friends old and new. All are always welcome at the Poetry Friday table.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, September 11, 2015

I Love Them Both - Writing from Thinking

Loving Both
by Amy LV

Students - Sometimes I think about things and do not write about them for a long time.  Then, one day, for a reason I cannot explain, I will write about one of those things.  My parents have been divorced for a few years, and I love both of them very much.  It is different having them divorced, but my love is the same.  

Writing can help us think about funny things and serious things, and writing can help us figure out what we think too.  One reason I keep a notebook (see my notebooks blog here) is because it helps me figure out what is going on in my mind. Our busy days can keep us from hearing our own minds sometimes, but a notebook always listens.

It is so good to be back here at The Poem Farm. It was wonderful to teach classes and go camping and learn all kinds of things.  But I missed this place, and I missed you.  It is good to be back.

I have exciting news!  This week was the book birthday of JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES, the newest anthology by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  I am honored to have a poem in this beautiful collection illustrated by Jane Manning, and you can read a fabulous interview with Lee and read a few poems from the book (including mine) over at last week's post at Today's Little Ditty.

Available at Your Local Bookstore

Robyn is hosting today's Poetry Friday gathering over at Life on the Deckle Edge with a poem remembering 9/11.  Visit her place to find a roundup full of poems, poets, and many ways to fall in love with words.

Happy happy new school year to you, my dear friends!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Just a Hop Back in Time...and Vacation!

Happy Poetry Friday!

The Poem Farm is on vacation until Friday, September 11, 2015.

Instead of leaving nothing behind, I am sending you to an old first day of school poem from 2010.  The poem is titled:


And here's another, from 2012:

Dear Students.

Anyone - student or teacher or anyone at all - who might be interested in getting your notebook (any kind!) going, I also welcome you to my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.  There you will find all kinds of notebook peeks, resources, and ideas for writing, drawing, finding ideas, and celebrating the goodness that is notebooking!

Here is the Poetry Friday Schedule for the rest of August and the first week in September:

August 14 - Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
August 21 - Catherine at Reading to the Core
August 28 - Sylvia at Poetry for Children
September 4 - Linda at TeacherDance

Happy happy end of August.  See you in September!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, August 7, 2015

New Teacher New Year - A First Day of School Poem

Oak Leaves and Watercolors
Photo by Amy LV

Students - I have been very lucky to meet many many teachers this summer.  My work takes me to different places where I have the good fortune to learn about different people and different classrooms and different ideas from teachers of all different grades.  Lots of times, I find myself wishing that I could be in school again, to have the chance to have this teacher or that one.  And one of the things that always strikes me the most is how a teacher can make a student feel, and how these feelings help or hurt our learning.  

This poem dedicated to teachers, teachers who are all also beginning or almost-beginning school, just like you.  Teachers who stay in our hearts, teachers who whisper in our ears even when we are all grown up.

And this poem is also dedicated to you, to students.  May your first day of school - and the days that follow - fill your minds and hearts and souls with goodness.

Like you, I have had many teachers in my life, and each one has made me a little bit of who I am.  This summer, one of my teachers (one I have never met) is award-winning author and our Children's Poet Laureate Jacqueline Woodson.  I am reading every single one of her books to help me learn both about life and about writing.  And what a teacher she is!  Two of her books that I am thinking about today, LOCOMOTION and PEACE, LOCOMOTION exquisitely explore, among other things, the power of teachers.

I cannot recommend highly enough all Jacqueline Woodson's books.  They are making me a better person, and I hope, a better writer too.

book cover

book cover

I am happy to share that my forthcoming EVERY DAY BIRDS, with beautiful cut paper illustrations by Dylan Metrano and published by Scholastic in both English and bilingual editions, is available (English only) for pre-order on Amazon.  The publication date is February 23, 2016.  

Tabatha is hosting today's grand Poetry Friday roundup over at The Opposite of Indifference.  Visit her place to check out the poetry happenings all around the Kidlitosphere this week.  We're a warm and welcoming community, and everyone is invited!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Sad - Writing about Feelings

Sad but Dreaming
by Amy LV

Students - I write poems for all kinds of reasons: to be silly, to express fascination, to play with words, to wonder, to describe what I see in my everyday life.  Sometimes, though, I simply write about feelings - feelings I am having now, feelings I see others living with, and feelings I have felt before.  Writing about our feelings helps us make sense of them, helps us become more human.

We don't always have to show our writing-about-feelings with others, but just getting something on paper can help us figure out what we think, can help us know what to do next.  This is just one reason that I keep a notebook, to have a place to keep my feelings.

Keri is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Keri Recommends.  Enjoy Keri's great note and gorgeous eggs, Irene's beautiful gift poemcollage and all of the lovely offerings today.

Please share a comment below if you wish.