Friday, October 12, 2018

Invite Art to Inspire a Story


Thank you to artist Richard Smythe for one mouse, one teacup, one idea.

A Little Mouse on a Big Adventure (Title from a Tweet!)




Students - Three weeks ago, I found this adorable mouse by Richard Smythe's in his Twitter post.  As I often do with Smythe's art, I fell head over heels in love.  I wrote and asked his A Little Mouse on a Big Adventure along with a poem.  He kindly agreed, and so I have been thinking about this little one for some time.

But I had not written a word until today.  This morning when I woke, I woke with the words one teacup, one mouse in my head.  I told myself, "I'll jot those down and write more when I really wake up, not now at 5:30am."  But I could not go back to sleep.  The mouse was here. The teacup was here.  The grandma was here.  And the poem was here.

If you find yourself unsure of what to write, look at some art.  You might check out Richard Smythe's website, read an art book, or walk through a museum.  Perhaps ask your art teacher to allow you to look at some art made by the students in your school. Allow one thing to lead to another.  Delight your brain with a picture, and go from there.  

You may, as I did, choose to tell the story behind and beyond what you see in the image.  I had fun imagining a grandma and a missing teacup, a stone path, and that helpful beagle.

Teachers - if you wish, you may read more about finding ideas and crafting writing in my book POEMS ARE TEACHERS published by Heinemann and filled with over 150 poems by contemporary adult poets and children alike.

Again, much gratitude to Richard, an artist and human I admire and hope one day to meet.

Tomorrow I look forward to joining the School Librarians' Association of Western New York for part of their Fall Sharing Day.  It is always a joy to connect with librarians, and I look forward to meeting some new book lovers.

Laura is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup today at Writing the World for Kids.  Enjoy a peaceful moment as you read her beautiful poem from the new THE POETRY OF US edited by J. Patrick Lewis. And while the tones are quite different, you might notice that our poems could be considered cousins!

Please know that every Poetry Friday, we gather together to share books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  Everyone is always welcome to visit, comment, and post.  We invite you!

Please share a comment below if you wish.


Friday, October 5, 2018

Monarchs and Math: A Kyrielle


Mark Releases a Monarch at School
Photo by Liz L.




Students - Sometimes you might read something...and you love it!  When this happens, as a writer, you might say to yourself, "I want to try that."  I had such a moment last Poetry Friday.

Last week, when I read Robyn Hood Black's enchanting Mural Compass from J. Patrick Lewis's new THE POETRY OF US, I found the poem delightful and the form interesting too.  I learned that form is called a kyrielle.  On her blog, Life on the Deckle Edge, Robyn explained it this way:

"This poem is a kyrielle - a centuries-old French form with eight syllables per line and a repeating end line in couplets or quatrains, with a minimum of three stanzas. (Its origins are liturgical; the name comes from Old French kyriele, literally kyrie eleison, from Late Latin, according to Miriam Webster."

It is a lovely thing, indeed, to fall head over heels in love with words and forms and others' writing.  We love it for itself and too, for what we learn by reading.  Thank you, dear Robyn, for your openhearted poem and for introducing me to this new form too.

This week, let yourself adore the WAY something is written.  Say, "I am going to try that."  And then...do.

Or, to go in a completely different direction, allow yourself to find a writing idea in mathematics.  As we raised and released monarchs this summer, I found myself amazed again and again at the truth of only one in ten (possibly fewer) monarchs making it from egg to butterfly.  You can follow this equation from stanza to stanza in this kyrielle.

For those of you who know how I love and collect words, of course I just added kyrielle to my word list.  Magnificent!

Tabatha is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference with a Goethe poem about friendship....and an opportunity to take part in a one time winter poem swap!  Each week we gather together, sharing poems, books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  All are always welcome to visit, comment, and post.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Turn Yourself Into a Place


A New Book Edited by J. Patrick Lewis!

From THE POETRY OF US edited by J. Patrick Lewis
(Click to Enlarge)



Students - It is always a thrill to be part of an anthology, and I could not be happier to share this new poem from this new book edited by J. Patrick Lewis and published by National Geographic Children's Books.  THE POETRY OF US: MORE THAN 200 POEMS THAT CELEBRATE THE PEOPLE, PLACES, AND PASSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES is a stunning volume full of poems old and new laid over spectacular photographs.  If you are familiar with J. Patrick Lewis's NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY or NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF NATURE POETRY, this is the same gorgeousness.

My poem takes the voice of a place, and I enjoyed imagining I was the Appalachian Trail itself.  What secrets and wonders this trail witnesses, holding people on journeys both external and internal.  

If you do not know what to write about today, try making a list of places.  Then choose one. Become it.  Write.  Did you know that writing in the voice of something else is called a persona poem...or a mask poem?

Some of you a St. John's School in Houston, Texas might be wondering why I am not writing about the mouse.  Well, sweet mouse will appear next week instead. As THE POETRY OF US celebrates its entry into the world this week, I decided to invite this poem to hike its way onto the blog today.

Jone is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Deo Writer, where she shares Janet Wong's title poem from her new collection with Sylvia Vardell, GREAT MORNING: POEMS FOR SCHOOL LEADERS TO READ ALOUD. Each week we gather together, sharing poems, books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  All are always welcome to visit, comment, and post.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dear Reader, - Poems of Address


Open Notebook
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Today's poem is known as a poem of address or an apostrophe poem.  In such a poem, the writer writes to a person, thing or idea not actually in the room.  It is interesting to write this kind of poem because it allows us to talk to objects like the cookie we wish to compliment or the spelling word that keeps tripping us up.  We can even write poems to the idea of Peace or Worry or if we wish, to a person who died long ago.

I have been a writing teacher for many years and since I am a writer too, I think a lot about the kind of response that helps me, the kind of listening and advice I wish for and hope to offer the writers I meet.  So this poem is to all of the readers-of-writing, mine and others'.

Erin is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at The Water's Edge with a Where I'm From poem. Each week we gather together, sharing poems, books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  All are always welcome to visit, comment, and post.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, September 14, 2018

A Poetry Friday Quiet Boat



Quiet Boat Eraser Stamp
Photo by Amy LV




Students - This week I have been very lucky to visit three schools in Williamsville, NY.  Next week, I will be lucky to visit three more.  And as I have been chatting with students about poetry, I am remembering again and again how vast and endless is the brain.

Inside of you - inside each and every one of us - live worlds and ideas and hopes and dreams and questions.  When you sit to write and draw, it may take a moment to call one up.  But trust yourself.  Wait.  You will think of something.  Often, I look at a blank page for some time. But always, an idea appears...like a boat.  It is not always a great idea, but it's mine. 

And remember this too: the more interesting things you do, the more you will have to write about.  I am not referring to fancy things, but rather a variety of things.  Today I may sit outside for a few moments and watch ants walk around. Or maybe I will draw the pictures up in the sky, wondering if anyone else sees the same penguin I see.  What I do affects what I write.  And so it is for you.

So do stuff.  And when you do, you'll have more boats and ants and clouds to write about later.

See that repetition?  It's neat to circle words around and around in a poem.  Such repeated words layer like cozy sweaters.

Big hug.

Teacher Friends - Some of you may know Pat Schneider's poem, How the Stars Came Down.  This poem includes this line, one I may well have shared before: "I had a new home in my remembering." I am over and over fascinated by this idea that what we put in our minds returns to us.  I remember it as a mom and as a teacher, asking myself, "What experiences of value am I offering that will feed this child again and again? What am I offering to myself that I can return to one day hence?"

I am hosting Poetry Friday today.  This is a weekly gathering of all kinds of poetry goodness, shared all around the Kidlitosphere.  All are welcome, and all are invited.  To visit this week's links, or to leave your own link, please just click the button below.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


Friday, September 7, 2018

Write About an Object Within Reach


A Gift from Emily
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Writers often work on more than one project at a time.  At the moment, my main writing focus is revisions for  WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! the forthcoming (2020) companion to READ! READ! READ!, my book with talented illustrator Ryan O'Rourke. (This companion will also be illustrated by Ryan - squee!) As a busy reviser, I am spending lots of time at my desk tinkering with words and lines and still writing new entries in my notebook too.

For today's poem, I simply reached out and grabbed something nearby...this DREAM rock from Emily, a beautiful writer who was once a student of Margaret Simon.  I decided to hold this rock, to look at it, to write about it.  And there you are.

'Not sure what to write about?  Stretch out your arm in all directions.  What objects are nearby?  Choose one of these objects, and write about it.  Start with your senses.  Move to the story.  Hold it up to your ear and listen to what it has to tell you. Draw the object. Consider what, if anything, it makes you feel and remember and wonder. Break all of this thinking up into lines, read it out loud to yourself a few times, maybe add a bit of repetition, and once you like it, you've got yourself a poem.

I chose to give today's title a job.  Its job is to give new, not-in-the-body-of-the-poem-information about my rock: where I keep it.  You may choose to have your title do a bit of extra work too.  Sometimes a title can lift a bit of weight on its own.

A new year often means a new notebook!  If you are starting a new notebook or curious about some newness in my notebooks, please visit my latest post at Sharing Our Notebooks where you will also find a call for notebook keepers willing to share.

Carol is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Beyond Literacy Link. Each week we gather together, sharing poems, books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  All are always welcome to visit, comment, and post....and I will host next week!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Goodbye to Gloria


Goodbye, Gloria!
Video by Amy LV


Students - Many times I have heard this quote by Italian writer Cesare Pavese: "We do not remember days, we remember moments." I will always remember a moment from this week...the moment when our first monarch butterfly walked up my arm and flew away.

Earlier this summer, I popped in from summer with a post about the milkweed plants in our front garden.  It was Welcome to monarchs.  Today, almost two months later, I say Goodbye.  

Yesterday, I was writing about the week and about Gloria in my notebook. It was at the top of my third page of writing that I wrote the sentence below.

August 30, 2018 Notebook Snip
Photo by Amy LV

Immediately, I placed asteriks around the four words and moved to a new page to begin a poem.

One of my favorite parts of notebook keeping is the not-knowing.  Which words will arrive?  Which words will those words next invite?

Rereading today's poem, I now realize that both this one and my poem from two weeks ago refer to actions not taken rather than actions taken.  It is curious to me how various themes and patterns emerge and repeat within a short writing time span.  Once again I find myself thankful that through writing, I come to understand and see.  You might consider trying this yourself.  Rather than writing about something that DID happen or IS happening, write about what DID NOT happen or WILL NEVER happen.  It's an upside down way of looking at things and often reveals a new thought.

I wish you had all experienced Gloria's glorious flight with me and am happy to offer you these pictures.

The Ghost of Gloria
Photo by Amy LV

Why, Hello, Girl!
Photo by Amy LV

Friendly Butterfly
Photo by Amy LV

A Monarch on Her Own
Photo by Amy LV

If you ever feel at a loss for what to write about - or at a loss for joy - spend some time with plants and animals and weather and sky.  The natural world is evergiving.

Robyn is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Life on the Deckle Edge. Each week we gather together, sharing poems, books, and poetry ideas all at one blog.  All are always welcome to visit, comment, and post.

Please share a comment below if you wish.