Monday, January 30, 2012

Technological Error - Channeling Amelia Bedelia

Computer Virus
by Amy LV

Students - I am going to call today's poem a Channeling-Amelia-Bedelia-Poem! When I was a little girl, I loved the way Amelia Bedelia took words at face value, mixing up all sorts of household tasks. She did not understand idioms, and her mistakes helped me understand the complexity of language at a young age and in an entertaining way. Amelia may have been my first window into wordplay, and I was charmed by her good-hearted mistakes.

For today's poem, I took a phrase that we hear all of the time and made my little speaker take it literally, treating the computer as one would treat a sick child. And while "computer virus" isn't exactly an idiom, I used the idea from Peggy's "Amelia Bedelia" books and wrote a confusing-meaning poem. You might wish to try this little exercise. Here's a fun list of idioms from Tammy Worcester that you might wish to start with.

You can read about Peggy Parish, the author of the Amelia Bedelia books, here.

World Book Night is coming up on April 23, 2012 the anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and death. I've signed up to be a Book Giver, and I hope I'll be chosen to hand out copies of THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot. Check it out - you may wish to sign up too!

If you like poetry-related crafts, check out The Poem Farm facebook page. I've been finding some neat ones.

And at Sharing Our Notebooks, author J. Anderson Coats is sharing her notebook!

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Poetry Friday & ...and then we play

Mr. Fluffles
Photo by Amy LV

Henry's Cross for Mr. Fluffles
Photo by Amy LV

Students - I'm sometimes confused by life, how it comes and goes and is so quickly full of hellos and goodbyes. Our bunny Fluffles died in the fall, and his empty hutch still sits out in the yard. This morning as I walked up to the barn, I saw it and felt that small sad pang in my heart.

But even as I remember that fluffy little guy, there are so many today-joys to bring me forward. Yesterday I met with Suzanne Hunter's second grade class in Holland, NY, and we talked about how our bodies are full of all kinds of feelings: happy, sad, serious, silly...and when we write, we can explore any one we wish.

Today when you write, just be quiet inside for a few moments.  See what feeling, what idea comes to the top.  Listen to it; let it guide your pencil.

Margaret Brown's THE DEAD BIRD, reminds me to love life even in the face of loss. This book surely rang in my heart as I wrote today's poem.

Taking a rainy drive through a country cemetery yesterday, I thought about one of my favorite poems, a perspective-helping poem, W.S. Merwin's For the Anniversary of my Death.

        Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
        When the last fires will wave to me

Read the rest of the poem here.

Today's npr StoryCorps speaks to cherishing our days too.  Life is so precious.

Thank you to Jim for hosting today's Poetry Friday over at Hey, Jim Hill! There you will find all kinds of poetry goodness to sustain you through the week.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Water - Writing about Contrasts

Watery World
by Georgia LV

Photo by Amy LV

Students - Sometimes it is fun to trace back the family tree of a piece of writing - where did it come from? Well, this one came from a few places. One place it came from is a poem that I've read a few times this week, The Place I Want to Get Back To by Mary Oliver. The last few lines read -

If you want to talk about this
  come to visit. I live in the house
    near the corner, which I have named

Mary Oliver's poem got me thinking about what I'm grateful for.

Then, I came across the drawing above that my daughter Georgia drew.

I did some reading about informational texts, particularly compare and contrast.

I also remembered this book -

And all of this led to to today's poem!

Try it - find a piece of writing you've done (or write a new one) and then trace it back.  Find its relatives and see where it came from in your attic-mind.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Library Book

Students - this is a poem that I wrote a few years ago, a poem about something I love to do...take books out from the library! (Our family is much much better at taking books out than returning them on time, but fortunately the library likes our overdue fines too.)  Is there something that gives you a so-full-happy-cannot-wait-feeling?  If so, then you must write about it!  Maybe even today...

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Poetry Friday & Patience

Oh No!
by Amy LV

Students - Strange to say, but I've always loved the rhyming sounds of alligator and elevator. I think they're just funny words, each with four syllables, each with the stress on the first syllable. This pair has kicked around in my head for quite a while and even made a cameo in a poem once. Well, today they're back in center stage!

Today's poem is what I might call a "fake advice" poem. It's a how-to poem of sorts (I know that many of you have written how-to books and articles) only this time, it's got a splash of imagination too. You might want to try this twist on procedural writing. Make up a fake set of directions, and set them to a poem beat!

As for word play, here's something to try. Choose a word with two or three syllables. Take the word brother for example. Now, write that word on the top of a page, and try to think of other words that have the same stresses, the same beats, the same emphasis on the same syllables. Don't even think about rhyme for now.

Let's look at the word brother together.

BROther has the same stresses as WEEKend and PRAIrie. When we read the words, we naturally lean heavily on that first syllable. Can you hear what I mean? Say those words aloud.  Can you think of some other two syllable words with the stress on the first syllable?  Make a list!

BROther has different stresses than forGET, rePLY, and exCUSE. Those three words have the accent on the second syllable, and our voices press down more heavily on that second syllable. Say these words out loud to hear those stresses. Can you think of some more two-syllable words with the second syllable accented?

Fun, isn't it? You might even want to keep lists in your notebook or charts in your classroom of such stresses; sometimes I do.

If you find some great words or would like to share something you discover, please do so in the comments or by e-mailing me at amy at amylv dot com.

Elaine is hosting today's Poetry Friday over at Wild Rose Reader! I'm so happy to be back into more frequent blog reading and writing (partially thanks to the 2012 Comment Challenge), and can't wait for the weekend when I can truly dive into this Poetry Friday Extravaganza!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Sage at Two Months
Photo by Amy LV

Sage at Eight Months
Photo by Amy LV

Students - once again we have a list poem, this time simply a list of many of the ways that one thing changes into another. In making this list, I wanted to focus mostly on natural you will notice many images of animals and plants and outside beauties.

Usually when I write rhyming list poems, I begin by making lists! Lists of rhyming words. These help me to find pairs of words that will go well together in the different stanzas. With a bit of shuffling, the words find their proper poemhomes.

I do like writing about changes and cycles, and I've done it over and over and over. And sometimes, when you think about something a lot, more things in your life point toward that idea.  Just last night, I drove by this sign on 20A in Wales, NY.

These Signs They Are A'Changin
Photo by Amy LV

If you write a lot, you will notice patterns and themes in your writing. What about you?  Hike through your old folders or notebooks and ask yourself, "What dreams and themes do I keep circling back to?"

Here's another change: the Poem Farm is back to more regular posts, now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If you are a student who would like to share your work or a teacher with a neat poetry idea to share, I would love to showcase it here. Peek at some of the examples of Classroom Poetry Peeks in the left hand sidebar to see what this might look like.

If you are a dog person and like today's photographs, do not miss Michael Rosen's THE HOUND DOG'S HAIKU: AND OTHER POEMS FOR DOG LOVERS. Each dog is haiku-ed with the perfect few words.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Wintertime Treasure

Sparkles Everywhere!
by Amy LV

Students - It's COLD here in Holland, NY this week, and the forest is aglow with chilly crystals. If you've never noticed, the world becomes more sparkly as it gets colder. So last night (8 degrees Fahrenheit) was simply glittering! If you look below at my draft for today's poem, you might notice the numbers 1 and 2 in the margins. This is because I switched the order of the stanzas after I wrote them! Then I switched a few lines! All of this as I flipped back and forth between my trusty rhyming dictionary and thesaurus. Writing is like that: back and forth, forth and back. The revising is as much fun (sometimes more!) than the writing.

Give it a try - switch a few things around in your own writing, and see what you think.  Sometimes moving words around will surprise you in wonderful ways....

Poem Draft

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Finding Luck & Throwing Eyelashes

This week it's Poetry Saturday in Holland, NY! We had a big snowstorm, and it interfered with our satellite. Please excuse my tardiness to the Poetry Friday party!

Eye Self-Portrait
by Georgia LV

Students - Sometimes you might find a poem or writing idea inside of an old writing piece. Today's poem grew from a two-week-old notebook entry. As you read the entry below, you might notice small snips that appear in "Finding Luck."

January 4, 2012

The day began, like many days, with a shower. A hotel shower where so many men and women I will never meet have washed their bodies, breathing deeply, readying themselves for a day ahead. As I looked to the white curtain, I could see a small eyelash curled against the fabric. Someone else's eyelash. Not mine.

In these moments, I decide and re-decide what I will say inside my own head, how I will react. A part of me wants to squeal, "Gross!" and live like my Grandpa Norman who would not stay in hotels or eat in restaurants lest he get the germs. But another side of me is superstitious. This side of me says "Pa-diddle!' and kisses a fool when I see a one-headlight car. This side punches Hope when I see a punch buggy. An eyelash? Why you throw it over your shoulder, of course.

I stood there in the shower, eyeing the tiny line of hair, thinking back to the many small eyelashes I have gently brushed from the cheeks of Hope, Georgia, and Henry, throwing them over their shoulders.

Warm water poured down my back as I heard a clear voice in my head say, "Oh, what the heck!" And I watched as my own hand gently brushed the eyelash from its curtain and threw it over my own wet shoulder.

Again, like always, I thought, "It's lucky!" and wondered if the luck would be mine or if somebody somewhere today had a wonderful day with no idea where the luck hailed from.

I would not consider myself a very superstitious person, but there are certain little habits I have, like tossing eyelashes and avoiding cracks in the sidewalk. Back in 2010, I posted a poem about lucky socks along with a recommendation for Janet Wong's great poetry book about superstitions, KNOCK ON WOOD.

Lately I have been posting more links to great poems and quotes on The Poem Farm Facebook Page. Please 'like' it to receive these links and poems and quotes on your news feed.

Tara is hosting this week's roundup over at A Teaching Life. You may well have already been there, but in case not...enjoy! Happy week ahead!

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Goodbye to Christmas Trees


Ewes Taste Christmas - 2012
Photo by Amy LV

Students - it's that time of year when Christmas trees line the roadsides. When I was a girl, this was always a tough week. I'd want to keep the tree up for as many weeks as we could, and I fantasized about it becoming a Valentine Tree and a St. Patrick's Day Tree, and an Easter Tree. But one day or another, the needles would begin to fall, and out it would go...down the concrete steps, down the driveway, straight to the curb. And there it would lie, and there I would stand, kissing the tips of its needles and saying, "Goodbye."

If you have read this blog for a while, you know that I have a soft spot for inanimate objects. I feel what I imagine they feel. You can see this in Pumpkin and Christmas Tree Lot too. Today's poem is about imagining the feelings of something else, and it's about goodbyes. So if you ever imagine what something else is thinking, or if you have a certain type of goodbye that is tough for you, that might be a good place to begin today's writing. Too, this is a poem written TO something, to a Christmas tree. Such a poem is called a poem of address. Is there anything you want to talk to? If so, then go ahead and address it in a poem!

You may notice that the first line of both the first and third stanzas match the song, "O Christmas Tree." This was a fun way for me to begin, by jumping into the words of a familiar song from the season.

Back in my girlhood days, I was comforted to know that our small town of Vestal, NY recycled old Christmas trees as mulch for town parks. Today I am comforted to know that our Icelandic sheep happily munch our old tree right up!

If you haven't yet peeked into how third grade teacher Mary Bieger uses writer's notebooks and seen Arya's entries...there's a new notebook up at Sharing Our Notebooks, my blog devoted to writer's notebooks.

Joann is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Teaching Authors. Have a great time in the garden of poetry!

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