Friday, July 12, 2019

Revisiting an Old Poem with New Art



From April 30, 2015 SING THAT POEM

by Cathy Stephens Pratt



Students - Today's poem is from April 30, 2015...the last day of my SING THAT POEM project for National Poetry Month 2015. Each poem that month matched a song tune, and this one matches the tune of Greensleeves.  I chose to send this poem to artist Cathy Stephens Pratt during SPARK 41. She had sent me a whimsical image of her painting depicting a house, path, flowers, and mushrooms, and I shared the poem I wrote from it HERE.

Cathy made such an enchanting painting to go with this poemsong about Joanna.  I asked her to tell me a bit about her process.  Here is what she said:

Being an illustrator, what I do is take an idea or a story and turn it into a painting. I distill ideas into marks on paper. Sometimes I abstract the images to enhance or simplify ideas, and sometimes what I paint is simply a representation of the words. Amy’s written piece was so utterly charming I only wanted to support her words with simple images. I didn’t want to embellish because I felt like her words were perfectly lovely and told a story, a very vivid story, all by themselves. 

I am grateful to have been paired with Cathy. SPARK always opens my world. And lucky me!  Cathy generously offered to send me her painting, and I am excited to hang it up here at home.  I wish I could find the real Joanna, the real girl who read to birds back in 2013. If I could, I would send the painting to her.  

Do visit Cathy's website, and step into a world of color and joy!

The tag line for SPARK is "art from writing: writing from art." I think that I will go make some drawings and art today.  Our writing selves do feed our art making selves and our art making selves do feed our writing selves. 

In other news:

Linda Kulp of Write Time is the winner of last week's giveaway of I AM SOMEONE ELSE, poems collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu.  Linda - please let me know your snail mail address, and I will send this book your way.

At Sharing Our Notebooks, my other online home, I am thrilled to welcome Art Educator Matthew Grundler. Please visit his post about visual journals...and be inspired! (There is a giveaway there too.)

Jone is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Deowriter with a magical poetry prompt fortune teller gift from Tabatha and some poems they wrote from it.  Delightful! Don't miss  Please know that we gather each Friday, sharing poems and poemlove, and all are always welcome.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, July 5, 2019

A New Anthology & A Grand Mentor


Published July 2, 2019

From I AM SOMEONE ELSE: POEMS ABOUT PRETENDING
Charlesbridge, 2019
(Click the image to enlarge)



Students - Sometimes people ask how authors and illustrators got started in their work.  For me, it began with a lifetime of reading and writing love, an English major, a few years of teaching fifth grade, a year studying teaching writing with Lucy Calkins, time at home reading aloud to three toddlers, and meeting my poetry teacher, Lee Bennett Hopkins.

When I was pregnant with our daughter Georgia (now 19), I attended an SCBWI conference session led by Poetry Master Lee Bennett Hopkins.  He was incredibly wise, funny, and generous. He wrote his snail mail address in my notebook when I asked if I might send him a few poems.  And after several months (I was nervous), I did send those poems, typed and folded neatly into an envelope that I probably kissed.

Many months letter, I received an invitation from Lee, an invitation to try to write a poem for one of four I CAN READ holiday books published by Harper Collins.  Lee accepted one of my poems into his book CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. It was a poem about reading by the light of a Christmas tree, one of my favorite childhood memories and activities.

Published September 27, 2005

Time went by as it always does.  And now, here in 2019, that baby Georgia who was in my belly when I met Lee is a college student (English major). Over the past several years, I have written a few books and have shared many poems here at The Poem Farm and in anthologies edited by Lee and others. Many more poems cuddle up in my notebooks, likely never to be read.

Along with many many poets, I have Lee to thank.

Lee Bennett Hopkins
Photo from Lee's Website

Lee has won and established many awards for writers, and you can even find him in the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS as the most prolific anthologist of poetry for children with over 113 titles to his credit. One might imagine that such a busy and accomplished man would not have time for others, but Lee has mentored many poets, always with truth, kindness, and a twinkle in his eye. I consider him a member of my family, and I consider myself fortunate.

Remember this - life is full of teachers, both in and out of school.  If you wish dearly to learn something, do whatever you can to learn on your own, but too, seek out teachers in the world of that subject. Do your part, do not complain, work hard, do your own research. And know that there are teachers who care to give a hand to people who are doing the work and working to do it as well as they can.

Poems have given my life a layer of beauty and richness, a layer of enchantment and surprise. I love my poetry friends, and I love reading and writing poem lines, always seeking new understandings and new combinations of syllables. I am grateful, and today I send a big hug to Lee for all of this, and too, for believing in me.

For more news about I AM SOMEONE ELSE, this latest book by Lee, read an interview with him and talented illustrator Chris Hsu over at Matt Forrest Esenwine's place, Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme.  You can read Matt's poem there too...and read Michelle Heidrenrich Barnes's poem over at her blog Today's Little Ditty.  Find Michelle's interview with the book's editor Karen Boss here. And read a review of I AM SOMEONE ELSE by Paul Hankins at Goodreads.

GIVEAWAY! I did offer a giveaway of this book on Twitter on the book's release day, and here is another one. If you comment on this post by 11:59pm on July 11, you will be entered into a random drawing to win a copy of I AM SOMEONE ELSE. Please just leave a way to contact you should you win, and I will announce the winner here next Friday, July 12.

At Sharing Our Notebooks, my other online home, I could not be happier to welcome Art Educator Matthew Grundler. Please visit his post about visual journals...and be inspired! (There is a giveaway there too.)

Tricia is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at The Miss Rumphius Effect with a charmer of a triolet that began with a line she lifted from an old family letter. Please know that we gather each Friday, sharing poems and poemlove, and all are always welcome.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Poems Can Describe Places



I dedicate this post to Teacher Kim Oldenburgh, 
who asked me to send her class a photo of my workspace.  
I was too embarrassed by the mess and never did.
Finally, here it is. Honesty is good. xo, Amy

Desk Corner
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Last week I had a Skype meeting...and as my study is always near-distaster-state, I needed to straighten up a little bit.  As I did so, I realized that one corner of my desk made me smile.  The rest was a mess.  The mess made me smile too, but it may not have made my meeting-colleagues smile, so I cleaned it all up and took a picture of that corner you see above.

It did not take long for my desk to become messy again...see below.  But a desk, like a mind, is a very busy place, so I like to tell myself that it can't alllllways be neat.

Anyway, today's poem is clearly about a place.  It is a simple description poem of the things that are currently on this desk I call home. At this moment, my desk looks just like the photograph below. In two days it will look different. It always does.

Not sure what to write about? Walk five steps and write about that place. Or write about a place you've been many times or a place you've only visited once.  Heck, write about a place that you've never been or does not even exist. Let the idea of place be your guide. 

And if you wish to include lists, as I did, please do.

Desk from Above...Right Now
Photo by Amy LV

Buffy is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Buffy Silverman with a review of a lovely book and a sweetheart of a poem. Please know that we gather each Friday, sharing poems and poemlove, and all are always welcome.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Welcome Poets & Happy Summer!


Many schools near me are ending their year this week, and so today I celebrate them by celebrating some young poets.  Thank you to the teachers and young writers who share these poems with all of us.

First, I am happy to introduce Third Grade Teacher Linda Crofts and Poet Alison Pynn from DeSales Catholic School in Lockport, NY.  Welcome, Linda and Alison!

Amy gave a high energy, engaging presentation to my third grade class. She got the students so pumped up, as soon as we got back to class I had the students pull out their journals to write about it. Some wrote poems and showed an interest in writing more, so the next day I pulled up The Poem Farm. We read some of the poems as well as her tips on writing. The students loved the idea that they did not have to write full sentences in poetry!

I asked each student to write a poem that I could put together in a classroom book. My input was simply to help them with spelling and give ideas on where the lines should break. I was blown away by the power of some of their ideas. I feel Alison's poem encourages readers to look more deeply instead of just taking things at face value. Also the question in her poem is one most children wonder about other families.

The Wall

There is a wall in my class.
The wall is boring.
Nothing to see.
But the wall is not just a wall.
The wall has a window.
But out that window
you can see
a home.
And in that home lives a family
so strong and
bright.
Who knows
if they ever fight.

by Alison Pynn

Alison's advice for poets is: I would look outside or behind me. Then I would write what I saw in poems and add a bit of fantasy. That means stuff I don't see. But not all my poems have a bit of stuff I don't see.  

Thank you, Alison, for your words and for this advice.  So much of poetry is looking beyond what we normally think about, asking questions and taking time to consider the world.

Today I am also pleased to welcome Kristine Baccaro and her fifth grade poets from Jefferson Avenue Elementary in Fairport, NY.  Please note both thoughtfulness and playfulness in these words and pictures.


Click the Box Above to Enlarge
Click the Arrows to Advance Slides

I can think of no better way to end the school year here at The Poem Farm than by sharing the work of young people.  How lucky I am to learn from them, in person...and on paper.

Happy happy summer to all!  I will still be here on Fridays throughout the summer, and I am also still scheduling author assemblies and writing residencies for 2019-2020.  Thank you for visiting.

You can read my Friday post celebrating Joy Harjo, our new Poet Laureate, HERE.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Celebrating Poet Laureate Joy Harjo


Family Album
Photo by Amy LV




Students – I am so happy to share the name of our new Poet Laureate of the United States.  Joy Harjo is a wise, accomplished poet whose work I admire greatly. She is a member of the Mvskoke Nation and our first Native American Poet Laureate.  You can read more about her at The Poetry Foundation. As Poet Laureate, Joy follows the talented Tracy K. Smith whose daily radio program and podcast, The Slowdown, has been a gift.

Joy Harjo
Photo by Karen Kuehn
From The Poetry Foundation Website

I wrote today's poem by reading and reading one of my favorite Joy Harjo poems, Once the World Was Perfect. I simply read and read it again, aloud, listening for a connection, for something I could write in the silence of my listening. Joy's image of people from long ago stays with me. Below you can read the beginning lines of this poem:



Once the World Was Perfect
by Joy Harjo

Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world.
Then we took it for granted.
Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then doubt pushed through with its spiked head.

Read the rest of the poem HERE.



Writing in the silence after reading is a beautiful, inspiring way to listen to what is inside of you. Should you ever feel at a loss for words, read something you love. Read it more than once. Read it aloud. Then listen. Write.

Did you notice that my poem is written with a circular beginning and ending? Remember, this is a type of beginning and ending you can always try out.

For other Poetry Friday posts highlighting Joy Harjo, visit Mary Lee at A Year of Reading, Irene Latham at Live Your Poem, Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan, Catherine at Reading to the Core, and Carol at Carol's Corner. Thank you, Mary Lee, for the suggestion to share Joy's words today. I have been happy about this announcement all week.

Linda is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at A Word Edgewise with something fun - a clunker exchange! She's also got this week's poetry offerings from all around the Kidlitosphere. Please know that we gather each Friday, and all are always welcome.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Nature Brilliance & How-To Poems



Wine Caps and Spore Print
Foraging by Henry V
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Our son Henry is interested in mycology (the study of fungi) and foraging, and this week he found a treasure trove of wine cap mushrooms. Above, you can see the spore print he took of one of them. Its purple hue helped him finalize the identification of this mushroom.

Today's poem grew from a scientific fact (mushrooms make spore prints), an object lying around our house (this print on the table and the mushrooms in the fridge), and a comment made by my husband (when Mark left this morning, he asked, "Are you going to write a blog post about this spore print?")  Poems and writing ideas really are all over the place.

This poem is also a bit of a how-to poem, explaining how to make a spore print.  You can best collect spore prints from mushrooms gathered in the wild. And too, you might choose to write a how-to poem about anything you wish to teach.

If you wish to learn more about mushroom hunting, you can do so at Wonderopolis, and you can learn more about spore prints and everything-mushroom from the North American Mycological Association.

Remember: do not eat mushrooms you find unless you are a mushroom expert or under the guidance of a mushroom expert.  Some mushrooms are poisonous and can make you sick.

Laura is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Laura Shovan with a celebration of the third grade poets of Northfield Elementary as well as this week's poetry offerings from all around the Kidlitosphere. We gather together each Friday, and all are always welcome.  

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 7, 2019

SPARK & Maine Animal Haiku






Students - Every once in a while, I participate in SPARK: ART FROM WRITING, WRITING FROM ART, and I just did so again.  Here's how it works.  SPARK is a 10 day exercise.  On Day 1, founder Amy Souza pairs up artists and writers.  Each gives the other a piece of art or writing to work from, an inspiration piece.  Each has ten days to make something new from the piece he or she receives.  And on Day 10, the artists and writers reveal to each other what they created.

It was such fun to be paired with artist Cathy Stephens Pratt for this round.  I adore her whimsical piece, and I loved imagining walking around inside, wondering what might be inside the house. As I wrote, I imagined this little house, offering each of us what we most desire and need.  It is a magic house!

Thank you to Cathy for the inspiration...and thank you to Amy for organizing us.

If you ever do not know what to write about, try writing from art.


It is a pleasure to welcome Second Grade Teacher Kim Oldenburgh and her young poet artists.  Please enjoy this beautiful slideshow of haiku and watercolors, all inspired by Maine animals.


Please Click the Square Above to Enlarge

The winner of last week's book, LUBNA AND PEBBLE, written by Wendy Meddour and  illustrated by Daniel Egnéus, is Jone.  Please send your snail mail address to me at amy at amylv dot com.  If you did not win this book, I highly suggest checking it out at the library or purchasing it for yourself or classroom or library.  It is beautiful, tender, and wise.

Michelle is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Michelle Kogan with a celebration of our 22nd US Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith and this week's poetry offerings from all around the Kidlitosphere. We gather together each Friday, and all are always welcome.  

Please share a comment below if you wish.