Friday, December 2, 2016

Celebrating Simple, Humble Objects with Our Words



Winter Projects
Photo by Amy LV



Students - Today's poem is a celebration of simple mittens.  I love mittens, I love yarn, and I love the short 'i' sound.  And so today's small temple of words comes together around these three loves.  

Sometimes in life, one goes through times of despair and worry, grumpiness and uncertainty.  I've been feeling these things lately, and so this week I decided to turn my attention toward humble objects that bring me and the world small measures of joy and beauty.  You can see yesterday's notebook words around this idea here --

December 1, 2016 Notebook Snip
Photo by Amy LV

I do spend bits of winter days knitting cozy projects, and today the words and wool come together as one.

Any one of us can choose to turn our attention to the humble nouns around us. Check your closet and pockets.  What do you see, feel drawn to, love?  Try choosing something that does not require batteries or electricity.  Go as simple as you can.  Appreciate small things.  And write about them.

Hand-stitched Notebooks by Stitch Buffalo Refugee Artisans
Photo by Amy LV

In case you missed it last month, just like last year, The Poem Farm will be giving a Christmas gift of free shipping for anyone who would like to order two or more hand-stitched notebooks or bird ornaments.  These are beautiful pieces made by refugee artisan women in Buffalo, NY through Stitch Buffalo.  They do not ship, but only sell locally, so this is a special opportunity. You can read my post and learn more information HERE.  

To read last year's Stitch Buffalo post and poem, visit HERE.  I am so happy and thankful to share that in two weeks, The Poem Farm readers have purchased over $1600 of birds and notebooks, most all of which will go directly to the individual artisans who made each item.  Thank you!

Over at Sharing Our Notebooks, you can find the winner to my latest book giveaway.  And I am currently seeking a new writer over there, so if you are a young student notebook keeper, please let your teacher know if you would be interested in sharing your notebook pages.  Together with your parents and teacher, I would love to celebrate your notebook!

Bridget is hosting today's Poetry Friday fiesta over at wee words for wee ones.  Join her, and all of us, in finding goodness in poetry and life all week long.  Everyone is always invited to Poetry Friday!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Milkweed - Feeling Thankful in the Cold


Wishes 2016
Photo by Amy LV



Students - Today I am thinking that Thanksgiving comes at just the right time.  Here in the Northeastern United States, the colorful leaves have mostly fallen, and we can feel snow and a long winter in the air.  Winter lasts for many months 'round these parts, and so the cold days of November are a beautiful time to think about gratitude.  

Today, as I walked up to the pasture with our dogs, I marveled at the exquisite milkweed plant you see atop this post.  It was easy to feel thankful as I touched their little angel wings and felt warm and hopeful inside.

Notice the repetition in today's poem.  Sometimes repetition can emphasize what a writer wishes to express. And I am, indeed, thankful for small natural beauties.  

If ever you're unsure of what to write about, I recommend a walk outside.  Just look around and up and down and here and there.  I imagine that you, too, will find something that fills you with gratitude.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to my friends far and wide.  I am thankful for you.

Stitch Buffalo Stitched Birds - Free Shipping Through December 15
Photo by Amy LV

In case you missed it last week, just like last year, The Poem Farm will be giving a Christmas gift of free shipping for anyone who would like to order two or more handstitched notebooks or bird ornaments.  These are beautiful pieces made by refugee artisan women in Buffalo, NY through Stitch Buffalo.  They do not ship, but only sell locally, so this is a special opportunity. You can read my post and learn more information HERE.  

To read last year's Stitch Buffalo post and poem, visit HERE.  I am so happy and thankful to share that in one week, The Poem Farm readers have purchased $935 of birds and notebooks, most all of which will go directly to the individual artisans who made each item.  Thank you!

At the moment, I am in Atlanta, Georgia for the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention.  I look forward to speaking with and meeting up with good friends.  If you're at NCTE, please look for me.  I'll have a bag full of poems to share and would love to give you one or two.


This month I am grateful to have artist Tim Needles visiting my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.  His notebooks are inspiring and great fun, and I encourage you to check them out.  Too, the book giveaway on his post ends this Sunday, November 20.

Brenda is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Friendly Fairy Tales.  All are always welcome in this warm community of folks who love poems and people.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Birds, Hope, and A Way to Give

Handstitched Bird by Stitch Buffalo Artisans
Photo by Shelby Deck

Find this poem at The Poetry Foundation
It is in the public domain.



Students - Today I was thinking about Emily Dickinson's poem, the one you just read.  It is a poem that stays inside of one's heart, a poem you can pull out and hold when you need it.

Today I also wanted to write something, and when I did not know what to write, the words of Emily whispered into my ear.  Her words helped to write my own.  

Handstitched Birds by Stitch Buffalo Artisans
Photo by Shelby Deck




When you read my poem, you will notice that many of the words are the same words that Emily used, but I have used them in different places and ways.  You will also notice that the rhyme scheme and meter of my poem matches Emily's.  Her poem helped me write today, in more ways than I feel able to explain.

The other week, I wrote about poems having friends, and I hope that the poem I wrote today, below, might be a good friend for Emily's words.  The more poems we know, the more poems will come to our minds when we need them.  And every once in a while, a poem we love may inspire us to write a new poem in its honor, to be its pal.

Writing can help us make sense of the world, and it can help us do good, each in our small way.  Today I am happy to share that just like last year, I will be offering free shipping on the gorgeous handstitched birds you see above, birds made by refugee artisan women of Stitch Buffalo, living in Buffalo, NY.  

Artisans of Stitch Buffalo
Photo by Shelby Deck

And this year, I have something new and lovely to share.   Just for us, and just announced today, these artisans have begun making writers notebooks with pen pouches, small notebook covers designed to hold 5" x 8" Moleskine-style notebooks. Each includes a notebook and pen.

Sewn and Handstitched Notebooks by Stitch Buffalo Artisans
Photo by Shelby Deck

In the words of activists Dawne Hoeg and Shelby Deck --

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 two and a half years, Stitch Buffalo has grown from one Congolese woman to more than than 50 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.

Each item sold creates financial and artistic opportunity in the life of the woman who made it and a truly unique connection for the person who purchases it.

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



The cost of each embroidered hanging feathered friend is $20, and the cost of each writers notebook with pen holder is $25.  I will pay your shipping for an order of any two items or more. 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, either birds or notebooks, The Poem Farm will pay shipping to send your order to your home (or a friend's home) in the continental US.  Please just drop me an e-mail to me, and I personally will mail your birds or notebooks!  All orders (and checks) must be received by December 15.  I am also happy to hand carry birds and notebooks to NCTE in Atlanta later this month.

To order birds and notebooks, please:
  • Send an e-mail by December 15 to me at amy@amylv.com with STITCH in the subject line.
  • Include what you wish to order.  (Colors will be a surprise!)
  • Include your address.
  • Wait for an e-mail with information about mailing your check.

If you wish to make a donation of stitchery materials, gorgeous buttons, glass beads, or money to Stitch Buffalo, please let me know, and I will connect you with them.

You can learn more about Stitch Buffalo HERE.

You can learn more about our refugee population in Buffalo, NY HERE.  The family story of one Stitch Buffalo artisan is highlighted in this BUFFALO NEWS series from Fall 2016.

Thank you for being here for each other, for me, and for our good, beautiful world.

Love,
Amy
xo


This month I am grateful to have artist Tim Needles visiting my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.  I've admired his work on Twitter for a while, and it's a treat to peek into his fabulous notebooks and to learn about his faith in process.  Don't miss.  (And there's a book giveaway for a commenter too!)

It is now Friday, and I would like to invite everyone over to this week's Poetry Friday roundup over at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  All are always welcome in this warm community of folks who love poems and people.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Find Ideas In Your Reading, Your Friends' Writing, Everywhere!






Students - I have been reading the book atop this post, THE SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL EATING, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.  It is a very beautiful book, all about a snail that keeps a Elisabeth company when she is very ill. Of course, the snail does not realize that it is good company...but it is.

This is an amazingly humble book, very gorgeous in its writing...yet about the smallest of creatures.  One we do not often think about.  The book is in my bloodstream now; I keep thinking about it.

So when it was time to write this week, I knew I would write about a snail.  But how?

Then, last night, I visited Laura Purdie Salas's Poetry Friday roundup, up early, to see what was going on.  I saw that she had written a terza rima, a form of poetry I have never attempted, one invented by Dante Alighieri, which he wrote in the 1300s.

All night long, I dreamt of rhymes, mostly "gastropod" and "odd."

All day long, I was busy doing not-writing things.  But the back of my mind kept thinking:  SNAIL...TERZA RIMA...

So, tonight, Poetry Friday Evening, I tried a terza rima myself.  And you just read it - "Snail."

You can read more about this form at The Poetry Foundation, but in short, notice these things:

1.  The poem is written in tercets (three line stanzas).
2.  Each line is in iambic pentameter (da DA da DA da DA da DA da DA).
3.  The first and third lines of each stanza rhyme..and they also rhyme with the second line in the next stanza.
4.  The final stanza is a couplet, with these last two lines rhyming with the second line from the second to last stanza.


This was a fun exercise, and I am so happy that I peeked ahead at Poetry Friday on Thursday evening as doing so gave me this idea from Laura.  I love trying new forms.  It feels like a brain stretch.

Do visit Elisabeth Tova Bailey's website to learn more about her experience.  You can even hear recordings of a snail eating!  And here is the book trailer for her magnificent book.


Remember, ideas for writing are all around us. This week I am especially grateful to Elisabeth for offering a content idea (snail) and to my friend Laura for offering a structure idea (terza rima).

This month I am glad to introduce you to artist and art teacher Tim Needles over at my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.  I've admired his work on Twitter for a while, and it's a delight to peek into his fabulous notebooks and to learn about his faith in process.  Don't miss - and please leave a comment to be entered into a book giveaway.

Laura is hosting today's Poetry Friday party over at Writing the World for Kids. Enjoy all of the poetry fun over there. All are always welcome to all Poetry Friday parties!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sometimes A Poem Needs a Friend: Write a Poem for a Poem


On Tuesday, this book, edited by Kenn Nesbitt, illustrated by Christoph Niemann,
and published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers will be born.
It is chock full of all kinds of poems and spare, whimsical pictures.

Image result for one minute till bedtime
Available at Your Local Book Shop

I am so happy to have a poem in this collection. You can read it here.

(Click to Enlarge)



A friend read an early copy and asked,
"How much of 'Our Kittens' was taken from real life?"

I love questions like this one.

Q:  How much of "Our Kittens" was taken from real life?
A:  All of it!

"Our Kittens" is a true story from our family, and it happened about two years ago.
Considering my friend's question, I realized that my poem needed a friend poem.
It needed the other point of view.
And so I wrote a poem in the voice of Fiona, that last kitten from "Our Kittens."

Fiona
Photo by Hope VanDerwater




Students - Sometimes a poem needs a friend poem.  This week when I got my own copy of ONE MINUTE TILL BEDTIME, and when I thought about my friend's question, I realized that there was more to this story. And so I wrote "My Boy," the poem I imagine our sweet Fiona really would write for Henry if only she could hold a pencil.

At twelve years old, Henry really did read books to a frightened tiny Fiona, and he helped her trust him and helped her trust the world again.  Now she seeks him out, snuggles him, touches his face with her paw. Fiona loves Henry.  And he loves her.

Sometimes an image stays in your mind for a long time.  The image of my boy reading to a lost creature is one of my favorites, and honestly...I think it's been rattling around in my heart, just waiting to find a home in a poem.

Sometimes a poem needs a friend poem.  Sometimes an image you've carried for years finds you when you are writing.

Creating is funny like that.  We never know...so we must just keep at it.

On this thread of creating, I am thrilled to welcome artist and art teacher Tim Needles to Sharing Our Notebooks this month.  I've admired his work on Twitter for a while, and it's a delight to peek into his fabulous notebooks and to learn about his faith in process.  Don't miss - and please leave a comment to be entered into a book giveaway.

Halloween is Monday, and Election Day is on the horizon.  If you have not noticed, I have placed poems to go with each in the left sidebar here. Enjoy!

This week, Linda is hosting the Poetry Friday extravaganza over at TeacherDance.  So waltz, fox trot, or tango on over and enjoy the good fun and good people.  All are always welcome to read, comment, and link on in.  Happy Poetry Friday!

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, October 21, 2016

October - Writing When Your Breath Has Been Taken Away


Our Barn on October 20, 2016
Photo by Georgia VanDerwater




Students - Yesterday, driving to our home with my children, my daughter said, "Look at the hill!  It's breathtaking.  Really, my breath is taken away."

The Hill from the Road
Photo by Amy LV

Later, she took the photo atop this post.  This time of year in Western NY always takes my breath away, and today's post is simply a celebration of fall.  And, well, I suppose it's a celebration of repetition too.  Did you notice the rolling repetition in this poem?

Look for beauty.  It's here.  Even on a down day, it's here.

Through tomorrow, if you are a bilingual primary teacher (English/Spanish), you may enter my giveaway on Twitter.  You can see the information below, and primary teachers of bilingual classrooms may retweet to enter.  Teachers - you can find me on Twitter at @amylvpoemfarm.  If you are not on Twitter, please just comment with the bilingual grade you teach, and I will enter you! 


Tricia is hosting today's Poetry Friday party over at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Please know that everyone is always welcome to Poetry Friday: to read, to celebrate, to share.  Happy PF!  xo, a.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Writing Grows from Questions We Carry: A Voting Poem






Students - Above today's poem, you see a question.  I cut and pasted the image from Twitter, where Mrs. Miller's fourth graders at Glacier Ridge Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio often share their learning and questions.  

When I first read their question, it felt like a piano had fallen from the sky onto my head.  Would I write about the election?  Why had I not already written about the election?  What would I say?  I have strong opinions about this election, so how could I write a poem about the election without pushing my opinions on other people?

I thought about this for a week.  And then, in my bed late one night, the first few lines began to form.  I followed them, thinking about my own life as a voter and as a citizen, and I offer this poem to Mrs. Miller's students and to all who are thinking about the election and to all who care about their communities, who work to make good lives for others.

I carried this question in my hand for a week and let it turn around and around in my mind before I began writing. What questions do you carry?  You might wish to list such questions or make a quick note of them as they come to you.

Here, in this document from the North Carolina Citizenship Project, you can learn about the U.S. Voting Timeline, who got the vote when.  It is very interesting, and a reminder that all people have not always had voting rights in the US. This document only goes up to 2002, so I also recommend visiting the American Civil Liberties page about the Voting Rights Act.  

Making sure that United States citizens have access to free and fair voting something that the ACLU is always working hard to do, and this is deeply important.  Learn more HERE about current work to end restrictive voting laws.  Don't miss the great map where you can click on states with such laws.

Around the world, it is true not all people have this very human right, to help choose leaders.  This is something we can continue to talk about, work toward, speak out about.

In the name of community and celebrating how differences make us stronger - and make our vote stronger - I am offering a giveaway on Twitter.  You can see the information below, and primary teachers of bilingual classrooms may retweet to enter.  Teachers - you can find me on Twitter at @amylvpoemfarm.


Irene Latham and a thoughtful scarecrow are hosting today's Poetry Friday Palooza over at her joyous home, Live Your Poem.  Please know that everyone is always welcome to Poetry Friday: to read, to celebrate, to share.  Happy PF!  xo, a.

Please share a comment below if you wish.