Friday, July 3, 2015

Tiny Artwork Everywhere! Just Look Around!

Tiny Artwork
Photo by Amy LV

Students - This morning, I went outside to write.  We have had many days of rain in a row, and so it was a treat to sit outside and feel sun on my shoulders. Writing was a little bit tricky because our cats all wanted cuddling, and Pickles kept on rubbing her head against me, begging for attention.  I petted her a bit...but then it was back to writing.

When I looked out across the lawn, I saw the spider web that you see above, just twinkling in the morning light.  It asked me to write about it, and so I did.  As I wrote, I loved the idea of Spider and Dew working together to make something so lovely, a tiny artwork that brightened my day from the very start.

Pay attention to what sits at your feet, flies in your sky, comes across your path. Sometimes it might feel to you as if an idea is saying, "Write about me!"  Always listen.

If you are curious about spiders, as I am, you can learn more about them at Wonderopolis:

Donna is hosting today's Poetry Friday party over at Mainely Write.  Visit her place to celebrate poems and poetry with friends old and new.

I wish you the eyes to find tiny artworks in your life all week, all life long!  Keep a list...who knows what it any one idea will become?

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Finding and Keeping Delight - Free Verse in Nature

Spotted Charm
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Lately, I have been recording more of my everyday delights and moments-to-be-grateful-for in my notebook.  And this week, finding a woodpecker feather was a highlight.  I had brought my recycling out to the roadside, and when I looked down...there it was.  Delight!  There is something magical in finding a surprise, and magic is always worth writing about.  You might wish to make a list of things that you have found in your notebook.  There will likely be some fine writing ideas hidden (or jumping out at you) there.

Today's poem is a free verse poem following no particular pattern or rhyme scheme.  You may have noticed, though, that there is one rhyme at the end. Sometimes I like writing without rhyme but for a bit of a twist at the end.

This month's posts have all celebrated the small goodnesses in nature.  From June 5th's Apology to a wood thrush to June 12's celebration of weeds to June 19th's Bottles to today's poem, I have been once more falling in love with the world outside.  I wonder what July will bring.  May it bring you many charms and delights, spotted and otherwise!

Carol is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Carol's Corner.  Join her for a post full of rain, Billy Collins goodness, and so many fabulous links of poetry loving friends.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Bottles - Writing from Words People Say

Memory Bottles
by Amy LV

Students - There are many reasons to keep a notebook, and one of them is to find out what will surface in your mind when you are free to roam the pages like a dog in a huge field.  No limits, no assignments, just you and the page.  What will happen?  What idea, thought, memory, or opinion will rise to the top of your writing heart?

Yesterday, I was doing just this, roaming the blank pages like a joyful beagle, and I found myself writing words that my mother used to and still does say -

Notebook Blip
by Amy LV

Why did I write this?  Who knows!  But there it was...and off I went.  Lately, I've been struck by the number of red-winged blackbirds out on these country roads, and so that beautiful animal made its way into today's poem as well.

For me, poems are a way to celebrate the people and things I love.  And often, sitting to write, I do not know what I will write about at all.  This happens to all writers, I think, and it is always fun to be surprised by our own selves.

What are some words that people have said to you in your life, words that come back to revisit you when you are alone?  Any one of these phrases might be a great place to begin a poem or story or piece of your own.

Sometimes people ask about where to break stanzas.  With this poem, I thought about breaking it into quatrains, as the rhymes fall.  But then I thought again and decided to break it into two parts: the first part about the bottles and today's collecting and the second part reflecting on the importance of these bottles.  There is no right way to break stanzas, but it is important to understand and be able to talk about the decisions we make.

Teachers and Adult Readers - Something I found inspiring yesterday is  Dani Shapiro's most recent blog post which you can find here.  It is always good to find others who find themselves by first allowing themselves to get lost.  A relief, indeed, not to be alone.

Mary Lee, who so wisely and graciously rounds all of us up all year long here on Poetry Fridays, is hosting today's roundup with a fun sounding book (baa!) over at A Year of Reading.  Gallop on over to her place to learn about the poetry happenings all 'round the Kidlitosphere this week.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 12, 2015

writing about humble things

by Amy LV

Students - A couple of weeks ago, our family went once again on the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage, a beautiful weekend of learning at Allegany State Park in Salamanca, NY.  During this weekend, I took a class about drawing from nature, a class that built on the art strategies taught in Zentangles.  It was entrancing and wonderful to get lost in drawing the same few flowers over and over again, a reminder of how any object we study closely can become fascinating and even beautiful.

You may have noticed that I did not capitalize any letters in this poem, and you may be wondering why.  The reason is because this poem is about humble flowers, small unfancy flowers.  I wanted my alphabet to match that feel.

You can learn more about buttercups here at Eat the Weeds and more about veronica here at Turf Files.

Look around today for small, maybe unnoticed, humble beauties and surprises. See if you can find one to write about.  Elevate the little!

Today I couldn't be more tickled to be visiting Sylvia Vardell's blog, Poetry for Children, as part of her "Poet to Poet" series.  I had the opportunity to ask Lee Wardlaw about her fun new book, WON TON AND CHOPSTICK, and she was so generous in her teachings about process.  I learned a lot from Lee in this interview, and I look forward to sharing her words with young writers.  Thank you, Lee, and Sylvia, for the chance to take part in this great series.  Meow!

Sylvia Vardell of Poetry for Children 
Photo by Russell Vardell

Lee Vardell, Two of Lee's Books, & Amy LV
Lee's Photo from her Website

Please know that all are welcome to participate in the Summer Edition of Sharing Our Notebooks.  If you visit my other blog, you'll find 70 generous posts full of ideas for notebook-writing, and I welcome yours too! 

Jama is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at her delicious blog, Jama's Alphabet Soup.  Today she offers a beautiful book and poem, congratulations to two new wondrous Poet Laureates, and blueberries!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Apology - A Poem of Address

Wood Thrush - After Hitting a Window
Photo by Amy LV

Doing OK
Photo by Amy LV

Flown Away!
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Today's poem tells the story I share with a little wood thrush, a story this bird and I lived together just yesterday morning.  It is a story with a happy ending, but I at first I could not know how it would end.  I was worried about this pretty bird who hit my living room window, worried about this small body so beautiful in its feathers.

My poem above is a poem of address, a poem which speaks directly to someone or something, in this case - a small soft wood thrush.  Have you ever found yourself talking to something that cannot talk back to you?  Sometimes I talk to keys and socks that I cannot find, asking them to come out and make themselves seen.  Sometimes I talk to my kitten.  Sometimes I talk to my car.  In a poem of address, you can come right out and talk to whatever, whomever you wish.

So many congratulations to the wise and wonderful Jacqueline Woodson, who this week was named by The Poetry Foundation as our new Young People's Poet Laureate.  Author of BROWN GIRL DREAMING, THE OTHER SIDE, SHOW WAY, LOCOMOTION, and many more books for young readers, Jackie is a gift to us all.  I can't wait to see what she does for poetry...for children...for her new position.

It is summertime now, and I wish everyone many beautiful adventures outside. Don't forget, though, to take your notebook with you!  You may lalready know that I am collecting ideas for summer notebooking ideas over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks, and I invite you to visit and share your own idea too.  It is great fun to learn about all of the ways people find writing and drawing ideas - 66 and counting!

Today I'd like to especially thank third grade teacher Kim Doele and her students from Wealthy Elementary in East Grand Rapids Michigan.  These students have shared so many great posts and ideas at Sharing Our Notebooks. Many readers have already told me through Twitter how excited they are to try these students' notebooking ideas.

Below you can find links to these students' specific posts at Sharing Our Notebooks. Big hugs to all of you!

Buffy Silverman is hosting today's Poetry Friday extravaganza over at Buffy's Blog. Head right on over there to join in the poetry fun!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Firepaw and Charlie - a Friendship Poem

Photo by Elizabeth Pellette

Photo by Amy LV

Students - This is a true poem.  Firepaw is really our cat.  And Charlie was really our neighbor cat.  They loved each other.  When Charlie died earlier this year, I wished that Firepaw could understand English, even if just for a moment.  I wanted so dearly to explain that Charlie was gone, would not be coming back.  When I see Firepaw waiting down by the mailbox these days, I wish I could help him understand.

We all have feelings that come up again and again, good feelings, sad feelings, confused feelings, lonely feelings, surprising feelings.  We might talk about our feelings and wishes with other people, or we might want to keep them to ourselves. Writing is a way to help make sense of these things, to see them on the page, and both celebrate inside and heal our hearts too.

Firepaw still does have his sister, Pickles.  She is another one of our cats.  They love each other Firepaw is not alone.  But we still miss Charlie.

In news this week, I have been very busy at my other blog.  A bit less than two weeks ago, Kimberley Moran from iWrite in Maine suggested that I host a Summer Edition of ideas at Sharing Our Notebooks. Well, 43 entries of crowdsourcing later, the collection of ideas is beautiful and rich, and I welcome your voice too! You can read about the project here and check out the list of ideas here. Teachers, be sure to check out the bookmarks in the Sharing Our Notebooks sidebar too.  So many wonderful ideas for summer!  I am truly grateful to host this collection and cannot wait to see where it goes.

Margaret is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Reflections on the Teche.  Visit her online home to learn about all of the delicious poetry goodies around the Kidlitosphere today.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Writing, Brains, and Notebooks

Writing is Exploring is Writing
by Amy LV

Students - Today's poem is really a how-to poem, but not a clear cut how-to such as "How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich."  Rather, it is a poem about how to do something that is in a way concrete, and in a way, mysterious - writing.

You will notice that I compare writing to walking a dog.  That's because when I walk my dog, I never know where she will want to go.  We have discoveries and adventures.  Such a sense of discovery and adventure is writing at its best too.

When I started writing this poem, I had no idea where it would go.  Rather, I just followed my pen and mind and there appeared the tracks.

Trust yourself.  If you don't know what you wish to exactly write, just get started, and see where you go.   Allow your pen to find its way into the brambles of metaphor and the secret paths of simile. You may well find a hidden room.

Today I am tickled to welcome English Language Arts director, Mary Wheeler, from St. John School in Houston, Texas with this zany Poetry Peek!  Enjoy!

          Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Thank you, Mary, for e-mailing me these joyous pictures to share here today.  If anyone tries this way to display poetry, or if you have another way that you like to share students' poems, please let me know as I would love to feature it.

Now that our brains are feeling colorful, I would like to extend an invitation to all. In the past week, my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks, has lit up like a bonfire. It started when Kimberley Moran of iWrite in Maine wrote and asked me about hosting some ideas for student notebooking over the summer.  She wrote the first one, and now we already have 27 entries!  All are welcome to contribute, and you can see the list of how to post here and the list of entries already up here.

Here's how easy it is to share.  Just think of one way you get inspired to write in your notebook (or on your napkin or on your computer or on your arm...) and then write up a paragraph sharing that idea/exercise. Then, snap a photo of a page (or napkin or screen or arm...) and e-mail or Google Doc it to me with a brief bio. Then, I put it up with all the others, and we all have a wondrous list of writing exercises to inspire not only our students...but us too.

All are welcome - students, teachers, writers, artists, mechanics, chefs, jotters, scribblers of all types.  The more variety, the merrier.  I welcome you to share and hope that you will.

Here's an easy Tweet if you just want to copy and use it -

@amylvpoemfarm is collecting #notebook ideas! Share your short paragraph, photo, bio here to join the fun - #writing

Matt Forrest is hosting today's Poetry Friday party at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme...with wonderful news.  Please stop by, enjoy all of the poetry offerings, and congratulate Matt on his book contract!

Please share a comment below if you wish.