Friday, December 21, 2012

A Candle No One Else Can See

(This is my final post for 2012 - Happy New Year!)


Candles
by Amy LV


 
Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.

Students - Today's poem, like Monday's poem, is a metaphor poem.  We know that people don't really have candles inside of them like in the drawing above, yet there is an invisible light that each of us carry...a light that we work to keep lit.  We all know people who seem to glow, people who make us feel warmer and more loved when we are in their presence.  Sometimes I will be shopping at a store, and the cashier will be so kind that I'll leave the store whistling!  So again, today's poem is about seeing something as something else, seeing a warm love as a candle's light.

Today's poem is also a bit of a bossy poem, it's written directly to a reader, giving instructions on how to take care of your candle.  If you believe something very deeply, you might decide to write a poem about it and tell your reader a little life secret as I have tried to do here.

This week, I have two happy writing announcements.  The first is that I received an F&G of FOREST HAS A SONG, and I could not feel more grateful. Students, 'F&G' stands for 'folded and gathered,' and in the publishing industry, that's just code for an unbound book.  For the first time, I can see the size and look of FOREST...and I am tickled.

F&G of FOREST
Photo by Amy LV

The second piece of poetry news is that I am a new member of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children Committee.  This means that I will have the good fortune to read many poetry books and have a voice in the next winner of this NCTE award.  It also means that I'll have more opportunities work with Mary Lee Hahn, also new to the committee.  It will be wonderful to meet great people, read oodles of poem books, and learn more and more.

Here are Peter, Paul, and Mary with Light One Candle, a reminder for all of us.



Thank you to Tabatha for organizing such a lovely Winter Poem Swap.  I was paired up with Joy Acey and found it to be joyful fun!

Over at my juicy little universe, Heidi Mordhorst is lighting the Kidlitosphere with today's Poetry Friday roundup.  May your world feel a bit brighter today because of the poems you find on your path.

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To find a poem by topic, click here. To find a poem by technique, click here.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Orion - Finding Peace in Nature

Friends
by Amy LV


 
Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.

Students - Whenever I look up at the sky and see Orion, I feel better about everything in the world.  For me, knowing a constellation, and recognizing it like a good friend brings a lot of happiness and peace.  One day, maybe soon, I will learn more constellations.

This poem is about a group of stars in the sky - a quiet group of stars.  It doesn't really hold my hand, and it doesn't really stare at me or whisper.  But I imagine that it does, and I imagine that Orion is a real person that does things a real person would do.  In poetry, we call this giving of human qualities or feelings or actions to non-human things personification.  Personification is a technique I use often when writing poems because in my mind, everything has feelings just like I do.

This is a poem I have had for years, and every several months, I bring it out and fiddle with it a bit more.  The poem probably isn't finished, but today felt like a good day to share it with you.  Do you have any old poems that you revisit from time to time?  Do you have favorite mountains or trees or constellations or anything else in the natural world that bring you happiness and peace?

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Monday, December 17, 2012

our dove - a poem about healing

Dove Ornament, 1976
Photo by Amy LV


 
Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.

Students - Today's poem is a metaphor poem.  This means that while it is about one thing, it is also about another thing.  In one way, this poem is about an injured dove and some wise children who care for it.  But if you read the poem again, holding it to the light differently, you may see that it is also about all pain and healing, especially the sadness we feel in the loss of so many children and grown-ups in Newtown, CT.

I write poems to help me understand things, and while I will never understand what happened in Newton, I believe that the power of kindness is very strong. We do heal each other with love, and when we see someone suffering...we can make the world more gentle through our own kindness.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Look Up - Nature Wonderings


Out My Window on 90E in NY
(Look closely or click-enlarge to see the geese!)
Photo by Amy LV



Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.

Students - Did you ever just look up at the sky and wonder about what you see? I marvel at migrating birds.  They are so strong, so capable, traveling many many miles, knowing just where to go.  Yesterday, as I drove two hours home from a school, many Vs of geese flew over my car.  I just kept thinking about them and their journey, wondering if they ever wished to spell words in sky.

This poem is written directly to a reader, asking direct questions and giving a little bit of advice at the end.  The idea came from a fleeting thought, now made into a small poem with a bit of time.  It's my way of honoring some Thruway beauty I was offered less than 24 hours ago.

If geese are not passing over your head today, there are other wonders to see. And here are some geese for you too...



This week you can also find me over at Jone MacCulloch's Check it Out blog with an interview on Wednesday and a poem from The Poem Farm stash today.  Thank you so much, Jone, for having me over to play!

To learn more about why geese fly in a V, visit the Library of Congress Everyday Mysteries page.

Jama Rattigan is hosting this week's Poetry Friday party, so head on over to Jama's Alphabet Soup.  As is always the case at Jama's place, you'll be fed in body and spirit.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stealing and Sharing - Passing it On

 Our Joke
by Amy LV


Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.


Students - Sometimes I plan to end a poem one way, but the poem decides to end itself another way. Writing today's verse, I planned to end with just a lonely waiting nose, no Grandpa.  The poem was going to have a sad ending.  But then the ending changed.  Partly because of difficulty with rhyme and partly because of the circle of families, I decided to bring this Grandpa tradition into the new generation.

If you are wondering whether today's poem is true for my own life, it is not. Both of my grandfathers died before I was two years old, and as my parents are both only children I do not have aunts or uncles or therefore, cousins.  So today's poemfacts are true for me, but the feeling of missing someone and wanting to keep that someone alive is very true.

This is a poem written in quatrains, and it has some near rhymes.  Notice that the second and fourth lines of each stanza end with words that have similarities in sound, but only one of the three pairs is a true rhyme.  Can you find it?

What do you long for?  What will you pass on?  Therein lies poetry.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Wherever You Are & Spark 18!



Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.

Students - Today's poem was my inspiration piece for Amy Souza as part of our collaboration for Spark 18.  I sent her the poem, and then she had 10 days to respond artistically to the words.  Look below!

Untitled
acrylic, pen, and collage on board and paper, played around with digitally
by Amy Souza

Isn't this a cool painting? I like to think that the poem holds a kernel of forgiveness, and the joyful colors in Amy's painting offer this same feeling.

Today's poem is written in quatrains, meaning there are four lines in each stanza.  Often I will write a poem in one big block, and only afterward realize that it should be broken up into quatrains.  You can do that in your writing too. Just get the words down, and then afterward...fly above the poem and see what shape it wishes to be!

Here is our Georgia, a long time ago, feeding one of abandoned kittens we found along our road.  Yes, this really did happen to us and so today's poem really is to a stranger who abandoned kittens... 

Georgia Feeding Kittens Many Years Ago
by Amy LV

You can see the inspiration artwork that Amy sent to me and read my poem response in Friday's post. 

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Quilt Map & Spark 18!


Untitled
acrylic, some pencil, and collage on board. 8" x 8"
by Amy Souza


 
Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.

Students - Once again, I have had the fun of participating in SPARK, brainchild of Amy Souza.  In this round, Spark 18, I happened to be paired up (again, yay!) with artist Amy Souza herself.  Ten days ago, she sent me a digital file with the above painting, and it was my job to write a poem (it could have been anything) inspired by her piece.  Now, on day 10, I am allowed to share it!   Many other Spark participants (82 this round) are also sharing their collaborations and will be posting the to the Spark website throughout the week.

Spark is a refreshing and invigorating community event here on the Internet, because it presses a writer or an artist to go in a new direction than he or she might have otherwise.  When I first looked at this painting, I fell in love with the colors...then I found a chameleon.  Later, I saw a quilt.  Then, one morning the rhyme patches/matches took hold in my head and Amy's image combined with my wordplay brought "Quilt Map" to life.

Here are the words I chose very carefully for this poem:  stitches, swatches, matching, patches, snuggle, batches, stacks, watch, sew, grow, map, flannel, patterns, lap, wore, tore, seas, snatches, quilted, land.  Do you notice anything special about any of them?  

Oh, how I adore shopping at the word store...where everything is free!

This poem is written in quatrains, except for the last stanza which I wanted to stretch out a little bit.  If you listen to me reading it, you will hear how the last two lines have a bit more of a pause in there...because those lines are the most important part.

This time of year always makes me think of making things: cookies, decorations, dinners for many, gifts! What do you like to make?  Have you ever written about something you made?  Have you ever made a poem as a gift?  Trust me - people like it.

You can see that her very vibrant work made me think of a quilt!

You can see all of my past SPARK collaborations here, and on Monday in this space, look for Amy Souza's artwork inspired by my poem, "Wherever You Are -."

If you have not yet visited Sharing Our Notebooks to read about Mary Lee Hahn's notebooks, she's still there with a a wonderful post and a giveaway too.

Robyn is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Read, Write, Howl!  Stop on by her place to learn the poetry news in the Kidlitosphere today.  You can also visit Robyn at her very cool etsy shop, artsyletters.

Please share a comment below if you wish.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Building Nests, Making Metaphors

An Artist
by Amy LV




Click the arrow to hear me read this poem to you.


Students - Robins won't be back to Holland, NY for a while, but that doesn't keep me from thinking about them.  Around our house, trees are getting browner and browner before the world will (soon) turn white.  We'll all stay hunkered down for a many months, feeding the fire with wood and ourselves with chili and crusty bread.  And then...many months from now...we will once again see that little red chest of a hopping robin, pulling spring up from the south in her beak.

Today's poem is not about something I can see outside right now, but it is about something I can see in my heart's eye.  One of the great gifts of poetry is that through the lines of a poem, we can relive our best moments and resee our favorite people and times.  The robin may not be in our yard...but I can still keep her close.  Can you think of something that is not happening right now, maybe something from a long time ago, something you would like to hold onto?  Close your eyes and try.  You can hold that thought, that place, that person...with a poem.

You may have noticed that today's poem compares a robin to an artist.  Making a comparison in a poem like this is called a metaphor, and if you read and listen carefully, you will find metaphors everywhere.  Life and writing is made more interesting when we can learn to see things as other things, when we can tie different experiences together in magical and unexpected ways.

Did you notice the repeating line in this poem?  It just appears twice, but it's there.  

For any of you wondering about the title of "Robin," this is a case where the title gives a reader a wee bit of information than the poem.  The poem does not actually name the type of bird at all, though careful readers would probably guess from one particular clue.  Which one?

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Snipping Snowflakes


Hope's Window
Photo by Amy LV


Students - Snipping paper snowflakes is one of the simple pleasures of life!  If you live in a snowy place, it is a way to bring snow inside.  If you live in a place with no snow, it is an easy way to create some.  Last week, when my daughter Hope was sick, she cut lots and lots of snowflakes out of red, green, and white paper.  You can see some of them above, in our living room windows.

If you're interested in knowing how I snipped this poem out, take a peek into my notebook below.  You'll see that I first started writing about fog and clouds and my notes turned to something I saw last night, raindrops on a twig.  Then, looking at the window, I began writing about Hope and her snipping...

Click to enlarge image.

...and then I began poem-ing!  One thing that helped me write today was something I did last night.  Before bed, I read aloud many many poems from J. Patrick Lewis's new IF YOU WERE A CHOCOLATE MUSTACHE.  Falling asleep with the rhythms of our Children's Poet Laureate in my head was a wonderful thing to do, and it is something I highly recommend.  Read ALOUD the work you admire, and those rhythms will sink into you.

Click to enlarge image.

If you have ever wondered about snowflakes all being different from each other, visit Wonderopolis to read all about the chances of that happening.

To learn about how to make paper snowflakes, visit Martha Stewart or High Hopes.

Over at Design Sponge, you can read a great tutorial about making doily snowflake garlands.

And at Spoonful, you can find a recipe for sweet tortilla snowflakes.  We will make these today!

There may be no snow in Holland, NY right now...but we can make our own!

If You Were a Chocolate Mustache

I am so happy to have Mary Lee Hahn as a guest over at Sharing Our Notebooks this week.  If you have not yet visited her notebook, please don't miss it!

And for those of you who knew that I was away for a bit, I am now back to posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  It is good to be home!

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