Friday, November 20, 2015

Welcome - And a Way to Give

'Feathered Friends' Crafted by Stitch Buffalo Artisans
Photo by Amy LV
(Keep reading to order!)

Students - If you have spent much time here, you know that I greatly value both kindness and handcrafts.  Today's poem is a combination of these two values.  This week, I have been reflecting upon many things:

*  Current news about the suffering of Syrian refugees. I was particularly moved pieces about children, about their dreams and fears and hopes in what are now desperate times.

*  A quote that many folks have been citing lately, by the late and wonderful Fred Rogers.  "When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers.  You will always find people helping....'"

*  One of my favorite poems, Alley Violinist, by Robert Lax.  I have mentioned this here before.

*  One of my favorite picture books, EACH KINDNESS, written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis.  I am a great fan of both of these people and had the good fortune to meet E.B. Lewis last weekend.  I have mentioned this book here before too.  (See!  Writers can be reinspired over and over by the same things!)

*  The gorgeous birds you see in the above picture, all hand-stitched by women who have come to Buffalo, NY from other parts of the world.

You will notice that today's poem tells a story about one robin and one tree.  And then, at the asks a question.  This is just what Robert Lax does in Alley Violinist, and that idea of leaving the reader with a question was not something I planned to do today...but it happened as a result of my reading.

The writing thought I would like to leave you with today is: care.  Read and care.  Do and care. Listen and care.  Look at the world, near and far from you, and care.  Fill yourself up with things to care about. These very same cares will become a part of the human you are and a part of your writing too.  So get out there and pay attention.  There is a lot to notice and care about.

Now, onto the birds!  The ones you see above will be gifts for my friends and family.  (Lucky you if you're reading and one of them...sorry about ruining the surprise!)  They were made by the women of Stitch Buffalo, and you can read about this group, started by my two friends, Dawne Hoeg and Shelby Deck, below.

From the Stitch Buffalo Website:

Women Stitching Together on any Given Thursday
Buffalo, NY

The vision for Stitch Buffalo was conceived with an impulse to unite the communal craft of textile arts with Buffalo’s growing refugee population. Our goals were to: educate individuals in contemporary textile design methods, nourish and honor global textile traditions, provide cross-cultural interaction, providing a supportive social network, stimulate literacy skills, improve financial opportunities, create a community of women supporting women.

Over the last year and a half, the Stitch Buffalo has grown from one Congolese woman to more than than 45 women from all over the world who come on a weekly basis for skill training and creative support in the vast and beautiful field of textile art and design.  Along the way, non-refugee participants have enriched the class as well, further deepening the experience for everyone involved. 

I would like to support the work of these amazing artisans in a greater way than simply purchasing birds for my own friends and family.  And so, here is an offer from The Poem Farm...

Due to popular demand (yay!) feathered friends are gone until after the holidays.  
Pouches and cuffs are still available, and I will pay shipping on one or more of these beautiful items!

Stitch Buffalo refugee artisans  make 'Feathered Friends' ($15),  'Prayer Pouches' on linen ($25), and embroidered ‘Wonder Woman Cuff Bracelets' ($45).  I will pay your shipping for an order of any two items. You will receive a surprise color and for each item you purchase, and 70% of the money will go directly to the refugee woman who stitched the piece, the remainder going to materials.  Each stitched piece will be tagged with the artisan's name and home country.  

If you are interested in ordering two of any Stitch Buffalo pieces, The Poem Farm will pay the shipping to fly your order of birds to your home in the continental US.  Please just drop me an e-mail to amy at amylv dot com and I will let you know where to send your check.  Then, I personally will mail your birds or pouches or cuffs!  All orders (and checks) must be received by December 15.  Thank you for reading!

If you would like to learn more about Stitch Buffalo, enjoy the clip below.

Please just let me know via e-mail at if you are interested in ordering any 'Feathered friends', 'Prayer Pouches', or 'Wonder Woman Cuffs', and I will handle the order and pay for your shipping.

It is a delight to host author and illustrator Peter Catalanotto over at Sharing Our Notebooks this month.  Please stop by, enjoy peeking into his notebooks, and read his words about creativity being messy.  Too, Peter has offered two books for giveaways to commenters on this post.

Tricia Stohr-Hunt is hosting this month's Poetry Friday roundup over at The Miss Rumphius Effect.  Visit her place to find this week's poetry offerings, and stay to get lost in all of her own wonderful posts from years gone by.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thank You Note - Writing from Pictures & Gratitude

by Amy LV

Students - Sometimes people ask where writers find their ideas. Actually, I ask this quite often.  My own curiosity about this is what inspired my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.

We cannot look inside of other people's brains, and so the closest we can come is to ask someone, "What's going on in there?"  Today, some of you may be wondering, "Why is Amy writing about a moth when it is almost winter where she lives?"  And since you can't ask me...I'll just tell you.

One way I find ideas for writing is by reading and looking at everything, letting everything I see and learn soak into my skin and heart.  This weekend, I will be part of the first WNY Children's Book Expo.

Click HERE to learn more about this event.

Because this is a new event and there will be many authors and illustrators there, I have been curious to learn about these people I will meet.  One of the visiting author illustrators is Jennifer Hansen Rolli, and I have simply fallen for her paintings.  
I visited Jennifer's website, and you can see the painting that inspired today's poem HERE.  When I look at the painting of little Claudia holding her moth, I am reminded of our Georgia and how she has always loved small moths and creatures too.  I am also reminded of our family's love for the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage, where we watch moths come to a lit sheet at night, watch and learn about how the beautiful moths of our area.

And there you have it.  Research on authors and illustrators led to love of a painting led to memories led to gratitude led to today's poem.  It's a funny trail that writing ideas take, don't you think?

I must also tell you that writing about something I am grateful for feels very good inside.  Research teaches us that gratitude, feeling thankful for the good in our lives, helps us to live better lives. You can read more about this here at Greater Good, and you may even choose to write a small poem thank you note to something you are thankful for.  It may be something big or perhaps it will be something as humble as a moth.  I'm calling this a thank you note poem, and there are many more of these inside of me.

On Monday, I posted as part of a celebration of Irene Latham's 10th blogiversary! In honor of this special occasion (I am very grateful for Irene), I offered a giveaway of SHARING THE SEASONS, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by David Diaz.  The winner of this book is Maria Gianferrari.  Maria - please send an e-mail to amy at amylv dot com with your snail mail address, and I will send you a book.

At my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks, I could not be happier to host author K.A. Holt and her cool notebooks and process.  I'm offering a giveaway of her great new verse novel, HOUSE ARREST, to a commenter on that post.  Please comment by Tuesday to win!

Bridget is hosting today's Friday the 13th Poetry Friday round up over at wee words for wee ones.  If you're in a poetry mood, be sure to swing by her place, thank her for hosting (it's her first time!), and enjoy the poetry offerings.  All are always welcome to read and link up to Poetry Friday...

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy Wild Blogiversary to My Friend Irene!

Wild Dried Poppy (Maraca) Pods for Irene
Photo by Amy LV

Welcome to today's celebration!  I offer my poem from SHARING THE SEASONS, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by David Diaz.

Click to Enlarge this Image

Click to Enlarge this Image

Students - Today is a special day!  My friend, poet and author Irene Latham, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of her blog!  Here in the world of blogging, people call that a blogiversary.  Isn't that a funny thing about we can make up our own words?

blog + anniversary = blogiversary

Well, when a good friend is celebrating, she will often invite friends to join her, and this is what Irene has done today.  Over at her blog, Live Your Poem, you can find all kinds of posts celebrating the world WILD, Irene's favorite one little word for this year.  I suggest visiting her place today, checking out her poems, and wishing her a Happy blogiversary!  

Remember this...when you wish to celebrate something, you can do so with writing. You can celebrate your own milestones with writing, and you can celebrate others with your writing too.  Words are gifts.

Something true about poetry is also true in my poem above.  Poetry sometimes seems sweet and calm...but often, there is much wildness underneath.  A writer must be willing to explore wild places within her or himself to find the poems and stories and ideas that he or she is meant to write.  Irene is one writer I admire, one who could not be kinder or more genuine...and one who is truly willing to explore the wild questions and glories she finds out and inside of her.

To celebrate today, I offer a copy of SHARING THE SEASONS, by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by David Diaz, the book in which you can find the poem above, to a commenter on this post.  Please comment by this Friday, November 13, to be entered into this drawing.

Thank you, Irene, for being an inspirer.  Happy 10th blogiversary to you, my friend!  

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Rainstory - Standing on Other Poets' Shoulders

Windowpane Rain
by Amy LV

Students - We have been having some unseasonably warm days here south of Buffalo, NY, and a bit of rain too.  Some years at this time we can expect snow, so the sound of rain has been a lovely reminder of spring, and it is a sound I wish to hold onto as we enter these cold months of snuggling near the woodstove.

Today's poem's meter stands on the meter of a poem I love - "Windy Nights" by Robert Louis Stevenson.  When I began to write this verse, I first read and reread Stevenson's poem, with the plan to write mine in a similar meter.

See, sometimes, it's hard for me to get started writing.  I'm not sure what topic to choose or what form to write in.  Reading others' words and standing on their strong writerly shoulders can sometimes give me just the boost I need to get into a writing mood.  So, thank you, Robert Louis Stevenson!

One wonderful thing about life is that it is always changing.  What is something you wish to hold onto?  Today I wish to hold onto the sound of rain at my window.  You might wish to make a list of such things in your own notebook as these will be good writing topics, both now and in the future.

Over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks, I am tickled to welcome K.A. Holt, author of RHYME SCHEMER, HOUSE ARREST, and other books for young readers.  Learn about various notebooks and habits, and comment to be entered to win your own copy of her latest novel in verse - HOUSE ARREST.

Katya is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup over at Write. Sketch. Repeat. Head on over and join the party!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Scaring My Mom - What Happened this Week?

Bat in the Morning
by Amy LV

Students - Happy almost Halloween!  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because I love dressing up, and I love sweets, and I love surprises.  This year, one of my children will be dressed up as a Stormtrooper from STAR WARS, and well, let's just say that this poem came from real life.  I have been surprised many times this past week.  

When you sit to write, remember that the little funny things that happen in your life every day are great writing material.  And if you cannot think of a funny little thing...make one happen!

Today's verse doesn't rhyme regularly or have a special meter or pattern, but if you read closely, you'll find some rhymes and some near rhymes.

Over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks, Sunday is the last day you can leave a comment and be considered to win Jeff Anderson's ZACK DELACRUZ: ME AND MY BIG MOUTH.  Jeff has written many wonderful books for teachers about teaching writing, and his notebooks post is a great one about keeping a project journal.

Jone is hosting today's Poetry Friday party over at Check it Out.  Please visit her cozy corner of the internet and learn about the poetry happenings 'round the Kidlitosphere this week.

Happy Halloween!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Monday, October 26, 2015

First Catch - A Poem for Two Voices

Sarah the Manx
Photo by ?? LV

(Click to Enlarge)

Students - This is a poem for two voices.  You can see it is written in two columns, and one side is for one reader (the human) and one is for another reader (the kitten).  To read the poem, readers take turns reading their lines in order of how they fall down the page.  When two lines sit side-by-side, both readers read at the same time.  You can hear my son Henry and I read it together above.

We have five cats here at The Poem Farm now, and lately Sarah has been bringing back little dead voles to the back door.  When she catches one, she meows loudly so that we will come to the glass door to praise her.  Early last week, she brought a vole back, and I took it away from her.  The next time she came with one, she ran away with it as soon as I opened the door.  It is confusing to be a cat parent sometimes.

I had the good fortune to visit two schools last week as a visiting author: H.B. Milnes school in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, and Vernfield Elementary in Telford, Pennsylvania.  They were wonderful visits for me, and at Vernfield, I wrote a bit with the third graders.  One thing we talked about was two possible ways to write a poem:

to something (poem of address)
as something (mask poem).

I wrote on a chart in front of them, pretending to be my kitty, proud to have caught a bird.  Then, in my notebook, I wrote from my own perspective, how I feel when Sarah catches a small animal.  I want to be proud...but...I am sad for the wee bird or vole or mouse too.

Below, you can see the chart paper on which I started the mask side of the poem.

Here is my notebook-play of speaking to the kitten.

And then above you can see the mash up.  It was interesting to write a two voice poem in this way.

After visiting H.B. Milnes school, and later, Vernfield Elementary in Telford, PA, I had the good fortune to attend part of the 2015 KSRA Conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  As part of the Thursday Poetry Evening, poet Sara Holbrook invited me to co-read a poem for two voices from her book  WHAM! IT'S A POETRY JAM.  This, I believe, is what made me choose to write today's poem as a poem for two voices, what helped me decide to mix together the two short demonstration drafts from Vernfield - the good feeling of reading with a friend.

WHAM! IT'S A POETRY JAM is a wonderful book, and if you like performing poetry - or if you've never tried to perform poetry - you will want to check it out. Sara is a fantastic writer, and I loved reading from this great book right with the author herself!

In notebook-news, if you have not yet commented on author Jeff Anderson's post at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks, please do.  You may win a copy of his first middle grade novel, ZACK DELACRUZ: ME AND MY BIG MOUTH.  Jeff is author of many of my favorite professional books for teaching writing, and I highly recommend you check out his project journal post.

Last week' Poetry Friday roundup, in case you missed it (as I did) was is at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  There you will find Penny Klostermann's beautiful poetic buttons wrapped up in teddy bears, in chocolates, and in all manner of happiness.

Please leave a comment below if you wish.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Come One! Come All! Poetry Friday is Here!

Welcome to this Week's

I am so glad you are here.  If you are new to Poetry Friday, you can learn more about it at RenĂ©e's place, No Water River.  In short, Poetry Friday is a big ol' weekly poetry party, and all are invited.  Welcome.  

Finding Murray
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Did you ever notice how something bad happening can help you see something good that was there the whole time?  I have noticed this, and yesterday, after seeing many signs for a LOST DOG, that very noticing and feeling crept into the ink of my pen, into the ink of my veins.

I started writing today's poem with the lines, "The good thing/about a bad thing..." and then just followed the words.  I did not plan at all to include the dog in the poem, did not plan at all to break the meter and rhythm of the poem at the end. But then...

  • The dog showed up.
  • The meter and rhythm broke at the end.
  • I liked both of these surprises.

I believe it can be helpful to begin a piece of writing with a plan.  But I also believe it can be just as helpful to let the plan go, let the dog in, listen the broken meter and see how it matches the meter of your heart.

Why a broken meter?  Well, would you be counting meter if your lost dog just came home?  Me neither!

Find home, Murray...find home...

We have a winner of Cynthia Grady's beautiful book I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN: POEMS OF AMERICAN SLAVERY over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.  If you left a comment, it could be you!  Very shortly I'll have a new post over there, and I always welcome new notebookers to share in that space...please just let me know if you are be interested.

Below you will find links to all kinds of Poetry Friday goodness happening around the Kidlitosphere.  If you'd like to link in, I thank you!  And to all...may the posts you visit and read fill your hearts with joy and your pockets with laughter.

Please share a comment below if you wish.