Friday, March 15, 2019

A Poem for Earth & a Peek


A Read Aloud for Earth
by Amy LV




Students - I believe in science, and today's poem was inspired by the activism of so many young people raising their voices for our planet and today, speaking out and striking in over 1500 events across the world. Sixteen-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg is in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize for her climate change activism, and Poetry Friday host Heidi teaches us all about this issue today at her blog my juicy little universe.

From Twitter

Sometimes writing grows from a belief held by a writer.  I hold the belief that we ought to care for this beautiful blue and green ball, and I am grateful for those who help us learn how to take care of it. To write this poem, I did a little bit of research at NASA's Climate Kids and at the David Suzuki Foundation.

What do you believe is important?  What are you willing to stand up for?  These thoughts are always excellent writing wells from which to draw.  Small can be strong.  Never forget this.


Well, I am a very lucky person.  Not only do I get to write...but I also have the chance to meet many young writers.  The other week I visited Clarence Center Elementary in Clarence, NY, and when I walked toward the library, I saw poems everywhere!  There were poems on the walls and poems hanging from the ceiling.  It was delightful!

Many of these displayed poems were written by Michelle Layer's fifth grade class, and they kindly put them together for me to share with you here.  Note how these writers experimented with different writing styles, even finding the idea to craft like/dislike poems when they read my likes and dislikes.  These poets, their teacher, and I had a little chat at the end of the day and, too, a glorious group hug.  Thank you to each one, and thank you to their wise, caring teacher, Michelle Layer, for sharing their words with me...and with all of us.

Please feel free to enlarge these Slides presentations if you wish to see the poems - and graphics - larger.







Again, many thank yous to these generous (and so sweet!) poets.

It is a pleasure to host teacher and writer Brett Vogelsinger over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks, this month.  Please drop by to read his post about notebook poetry drafting...and to be entered into a cool notebook giveaway as well.

Again, thank you to Heidi who is hosting today's Poetry Friday #youthclimatestrike roundup over at my juicy little universe, a post full of truth, wisdom, inspiration, and action. Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each week, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Write to Someone & a Peek!



Singing Chickadee
by Ava


I will record this poem as soon as my voice returns!

Students - This week I was tickled to find the tweet from Kindergarten Teacher Christie Wyman along with a charming singing chickadee drawn by Ava. Seeing her art inspired me to make something too. I wrote a poem to go with this art, especially for one person, Ava.  Many times, a writer will write to one person, but a reader might not know this unless the writer tells.

I began writing this poem with the word If....  If is a magical word, really, as a writer can follow it with anything at all.  I chose to write about sharing songs with the world, just as Artist Ava shared a song drawing that brought joy to my day.

You may notice that this poem repeats just one rhyme...with the oo sound.  In my notebook, I made a list of words rhyming with you to help me choose words that would make sense in my poem.  This is a technique I often use.

Word List
Photo by Amy LV

Chickadees are dear to our family. Years ago, I purchased the Dylan Metrano's beautiful chickadee piece from our book EVERY DAY BIRDS.  Unbeknownst to me, my husband Mark was planning to purchase it at the same time!

Original Papercut Chickadee from our EVERY DAY BIRDS
by Dylan Metrano

Here is our Georgia a couple of years ago, holding a stunned chickadee who flew into our window.  She has done animal rehabilitation work for many years, and she knew that this little one just needed a bit of rest before returning to the air.

Georgia and Chickadee
Photo by Amy LV

Sometimes the smallest birds, the smallest words, the smallest of gestures can be big indeed.

One hundred thousand welcomes to the Newfane Library Poets!  Last year, Director of Children's Programming, Cassy Clarcq, shared these wonderful poems with me, and at long last I am grateful and excited to be sharing them here.  Please enjoy the joy and variety in this selection of poems from last year's Newfane Library Poetry Celebration!


Please Click to Enlarge

I feel very lucky to host teacher and writer Brett Vogelsinger over at Sharing Our Notebooks this month.  Please drop by my other online space to read his post about notebook poetry drafting...and to be entered into a cool notebook giveaway as well.

Catherine is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Reading to the Core with a celebration of International Women's Day! I will be celebrating this day by celebrating my wonderful mother's birthday this evening. Tonight we will share Chinese food, the carrot cake I just made from my great friend Sallye's recipe, and as always, this poem. Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each week, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Family Photographs, Family Stories


Great Grandmother Anna Elsa Feder Conolly
Photo by ?




Students - Each one of us carries a history full of names and dates and songs and stories. We may not know much about these people or even know their names, but still they are here, floating over our shoulders, coursing through our veins.  And we can write about them.  I am on a family history quest these days, learning what I can about the family that came before me.

Above, you see a photograph of Anna Elsa. She was my mother's mother's mother, and we never met as she died seven years before I was born. But I love that strong look in her eye.  How I wish I could chat with her over a cup of mint tea.  

I have written about family objects and photographs before, most recently in November, about my Great Aunt Tom (Anna Elsa's daughter and my grandma's sister).  This is a recurring topic for me. 

If you have interest in your own family history, ask a family member older than you to tell you a story or two.  I just asked my parents to each keep a little notebook of stories as they remember them. Such stories are precious stones. 

Note that today's poem is written in quatrains.  Each stanza has four lines with lines 2 and 4 rhyming.  If you wish to rhyme a poem, always be sure to do the Does This Make Sense Test.  All you have to do is read your poem, line-by-line, asking yourself, "Does this make sense?"  If you force your rhyme, it may not.  You'll know.  And if you don't want to admit it, be brave and ask an honest friend to run your poem through the Does This Make Sense Test for you! 

Life is brief and beautiful. This week the poetry community sadly bids farewell to Paul Janeczko.  Recipient of the 2019 NCTE Excellence in Poetry for Children Award, Paul was a brilliant poet, anthologist, and teacher of teachers. I am grateful for the body of work he has left behind as it will continue to teach me and so many others in the years to come.  His new book, THE PROPER WAY TO MEET A HEDGEHOG AND OTHER HOW-TO POEMS, illustrated by Richard Jones, will be released on March 12.  May he rest in peace, knowing he has left a bright legacy of words.

Robyn is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Life on the Deckle Edge with a wee trip to Scotland and bit of bird goodness. Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each week, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 15, 2019

We Write What We Notice


Cat and Wall
Photo by Amy LV

Cat Drawing in Restaurant
Photo by Amy LV

Cat Behind a Grate
Photo by Amy LV

Two Cats in a Shoe Store
Photo by Amy LV

Cat in The Grand Bazaar
Photo by Amy LV

Gli, the Famous Cat of Hagia Sofia
Photo by Amy LV


Cat Houses
Photo by Amy LV

Cat in a Dress Shop
Photo by Amy LV


I will share a recording as soon as my computer allows...

Students - This week I have been teaching at the Enka Primary School in Istanbul, Turkey. It was a delightful visit including assemblies, writing workshops, reading and puppet times with preschool and kindergarten classrooms, a teacher workshop, and a parent workshop.  And as I have been traveling with my author friends Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger, we did a bit of sightseeing too.

We saw many cats!

The city of Istanbul is home to thousands of street cats.  People feed and give water to these cats, and there are many little cat houses tucked into nooks and corners as you see above. We saw cats of all colors, and I wrote this poem to share with the children at the school. As these students speak both Turkish and English, I typed the text in two colors so that the repeated words would be easy to distinguish.

This is a list poem with a twist ending, and there is a lot of repetition.  In some of the preschool and kindergarten classrooms I visited yesterday, we wrote list poems together too.

Our lives are full of things to see, things we pass every day. We can write about all of them. And so, too, can we write about the new surprises that travel brings our way.

Thank you to Sule and George and Weston and all of the wonderful people who welcomed me so warmly to Enka School.  It was a pleasure to write with you!

Jone is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Check it Out with a post about LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds, winner of the 2018 CYBILS Poetry Award. Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each week, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Family Stories Into Free Verse



Amy and Thor, April 1971
Photo by Debby or George Ludwig

My Sister Heidi (Now a Doctor!) and Val, Circa 1987
Photo by Debby or George Ludwig




Students - Somehow, the other day, I got to thinking about how my family got our second dog Valentine.  It was a funny story, a bittersweet story with the loss of a dog and the gain of a dog in just one day.  The Thor and Valentine story is one that I like to tell over and over again.

My poem does not rhyme, but you may notice a bit of repetition.  We need not rhyme our poems; repeating words and sounds and patterns hold poems together very well.  

Take a moment to read Peyton's poem about how her family got their dog.  As I typed my poem, days after writing it, I realized that I may have been inspired by her words and structure.  I have read Peyton's poem aloud many many times, and so it has sunk into my writing soul.  Notice her use of repetition and also the way she stretches out her line breaks, especially in the second stanza.  I love that.  Thank you, Peyton, for your inspiration!

Peyton's Poem from My Book POEMS ARE TEACHERS


And here they are!

Peyton & Sawyer Then
Photo by Pam Koutrakos

Peyton & Sawyer Now
Photo by Pam Koutrakos

Which family stories do you enjoy telling over and over again?  It just might make for a good poem.  You may wish to write a free verse poem with close attention to repetition and line breaks just as Peyton did, just as I did.  These are both story poems, otherwise known as narrative poems, and we can take our own stories written as prose or jotted as notes or sketches and turn them into poems anytime we wish.

Read poems aloud, over and over again.  They get in your blood that way.

Laura is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Writing the World for Kids. Do not miss her fabulous news about her newest wonderful book, SNOWMAN - COLD = PUDDLE, illustrated by Micha Archer and published by Charlesbridge! Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each week, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

P.S. I am thrilled to be teaching at the Enka Primary School in Istanbul, Turkey all next week.  I look forward to meeting new people, to learning and listening and writing about this experience for years to come...  

xo, Amy

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Imagine Imagine Imagine


Smiling Moon
Stamp & Photo by Amy LV




Students -  Happy World Read Aloud Day!  I love to be read to, and I love to read to others. Today, thinking about people reading to people all over the world, I remembered many joyful years of reading to our three children.  I remembered how sometimes my husband would stand in the doorway listening too.  I remembered how when he read, I would stand in the doorway and listen.  And then I thought about our moon, hanging so brilliantly outside each of our windows.  I imagined the moon as listening and learning, smiling up in the sky.  Just think of how many books the moon has heard!

Sometimes a bit of writing begins with a truth and then travels into the territory of wonder and wish.  Of course we can always write what we know.  But too, we can write of the truths that might be, the truths we imagine, the truths we hope and love to consider.  As writers, we may begin in truth and end in the country of our dreams.

What do you know to be true?  Where might this lead you?  Sometimes the only way to know is to write your way into knowing.

Tabatha is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference, with two thoughtful poems, both of which I will carefully copy into my paper notebook today. Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each Friday, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Birds, Sunflowers, & Two-Part Poems


Junco Waits
Photo by Amy LV

Chickadee Waits
Photo by Amy LV

Cardinal Waits
Photo by Amy LV




Students - We have lots of snow here in Western New York today!  So far, about twelve inches have fallen, and there is lots more to come. On snowy days like this, I like to look out the windows at the birds, so happy to eat the seeds that Mark has put out for them.  Today I could not help but notice the little line of juncos and chickadees and cardinals fluttering in to patiently wait on that dead sunflower stalk you see in the pictures above. (Blue jays don't wait...they just hop right in there!)

You may have noticed that each of the two longer stanzas of this poem describes a the same location in a different season - the sunflower and feeder in fall and also in winter.  This is really a two-part poem...and that last line?  Well, that's a just a fun surprise.

You might try this too.  Think of a place in two ways - before and after an event, in two different seasons, or even as seen by two different people or animals. Then, write one stanza from the one time or viewpoint and one from the other time or viewpoint.  And if you wish to throw in a surprise, well, you're the poet.

SUNDAY JANUARY 27, 2019 UPDATE:  Yesterday, Mark decided to bring our old Christmas tree out for the birds...so now there are perches for all!  Here you see a chickadee atop the tree (just like an angel!) and a blue jay flying in from atop the sunflower stalk.

Perches for All
Photo by Amy LV

Tara is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Going to Walden, with a poem by Linda Pastan. Please know that the Poetry Friday community shares poems and poemlove each Friday, and everyone is invited to visit, comment, and post.  And if you have a blog, we welcome you to link right in with us.

Please share a comment below if you wish.