Friday, November 2, 2018

Pretending and Remembering...


Ghost and Jack
Photo by Amy LV




Students - I often think about the days before and after holidays.  Today found me thinking about the sheet I still use on a bed sometimes, the sheet with eye holes cut into it.  See, four years ago, I was a ghost for Halloween, back when our black cat Fiona was small.  And I haven't had the heart to throw the sheet away.  You can see it in the picture (taken today) above, with Jack and in the picture below, with Fiona.

Amyghost & Fiona, 2014
Photo by Someone LV

I so like pretending to be other things, and today, as I sit beside a lit pumpkin after the holiday, I like thinking about how special days come and go and how our memories remain.  This is not the first time I have done this...perhaps I am a wistful and nostalgic gal.

Not sure what to write? Think about the days before or after a big holiday or event.  Write from your point of view or from the point of view of someone or something else.  Switching perspective helps a writer understand something in a whole new way.

And I have a question for you to think about.  Just when did you realize that the speaker in this poem was a bed sheet, anyway?  I considered using the word sheet in the title...but then, instead, I chose to preserve a bit of mystery until a few lines in.  Remember this: as author, to a certain degree, you control when readers make various realizations.  These decisions are in your hands, my friend, so have some fun with them.

I very much look forward to the Rochester Children's Book Festival tomorrow! It is always a treat and an honor to attend this wonderful event in Rochester, NY.


Jama is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup with a wise and beautiful call to vote and a poem by Judith Harris. Please know that each 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 26, 2018

Let's Write from Museum Postcards!



Iran, Public Domain
Draft by Amy LV




Students - This week I had the good fortune to visit two schools in Glen Rock, New Jersey.  At Coleman School, I led two assemblies and loved meeting the children and teachers.  And at Hamilton School, where I have visited before, I did some notebook keeping with second graders and wrote about art with fourth graders.  Delightful!

Librarian Lisa Tomaselli asked if I would do this art writing with the two fourth grade classes as she had fallen love with Lee Bennett Hopkins's beautiful WORLD MAKE WAY: NEW POEMS INSPIRED BY ART FROM THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART (Abrams.) My poem, Young Ashoka Sundari, lives in these pages.


So we did!  I spread out all kinds of art postcards, each depicting a piece of art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We looked at several postcards, we each chose one, we took some notes...and we wrote.  I chose the STORAGE JAR DECORATED WITH MOUNTAIN GOATS, and as I wrote about it, I fell in love with it more and more. I now feel connected not only to the goat and the pot...but to the potter.

Poetry about art is called ekphrastic poetry.  Writers and artists of all kinds are often inspired by each others' work, and sometimes when I do not know what to write about, I turn to art.  Many writers do.

If you choose to write about art, consider the point of view you will take in your writing. In this poem, I chose to be the potter, someone you do not even see in the piece.

Grey shared her draft with me at the end of class, and she was kind enough to allow me to share it here with you. Note how Grey clearly chooses which girl's voice to use in her poem. Note how specific she is with her descriptions and imaginings, offering us a possible insight to this young pianist's thoughts. Thank you, Grey! I have invited all of these young poets to all share poems here when they are ready.

Untitled Poemdraft by Grey
Postcard of TWO YOUNG GIRLS AT THE PIANO 
by Auguste Renoir, Public Domain
(Click to Enlarge)

                                                    Father's watching in the parlor,
                                                    Sister's helping read the notes,
                                                    I'm looking for the last note G,
                                                    black keys white keys candle hooks,
                                                    I cannot find the last note G,
                                                    I make do with B instead.

                                                    by Grey, 4th Grade Poet, Hamilton School

If you wish to read many wonderful poems inspired by art, I encourage you to visit Irene Latham's Live Your Poem, where each April, she writes and shares ekphrastic poetry under the project heading ARTSPEAK!

This weekend I look forward to the New York Reading Association Conference, where I will speak twice about POEMS ARE TEACHERS.  Will any of you be at this conference?

Kay is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup today at A Journey Through the Pages with lovely words inspired by today's morning - chicken feeding - sunrise. Please know that each 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.