Friday, April 13, 2018

A Celebration & Poem #13 - Simile

First things first!

Today we all send loving birthday wishes to wonderful teacher and friend, Lee Bennett Hopkins! I could not be happier to welcome Teacher Ann Marie Corgill and her first graders from Shades Mountain Elementary in Hoover, Alabama to the party. Their classroom work with SCHOOL PEOPLE (Wordsong, 2018), one of Lee's newest books, beautifully highlights the joy that grows from his work as an educator, author, poet, and anthologist.  Enjoy!

Please Enlarge if You Wish

And now, as we think about Lee, I turn toward this year's Poetry Month project, a project I never would have taken on had Lee not taken me under his mentoring wing 18 years ago. Thank you, Lee, for poetry. Today's Orion poem is for you...poets are travelers too.

Welcome to my 2018 National Poetry Month Project! I love projects!
It is wonderful to find so many folks are joining in at blogs and elsewhere. 
All are welcome!

This year at The Poem Farm, I will be writing a new poem every day about the constellation Orion.  Every day I will highlight a new poetic technique, a technique used by poets and by writers of other genres as well. After all, the techniques of poets are the techniques of all writers. I will be using my Fall 2017 Heinemann book, POEMS ARE TEACHERS, to lead me as I write all April long.

My hope is that some readers might also choose to dive deeply into writing about 1 Subject 30 Ways, to stick with one subject for a few days or for a whole month, approaching it from a variety of perspectives, in a multitude of structures, and with many playful word explorations.

Here is a list of this month's poems so far:

And's technique.

Simile Poem Drafting
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Today's poem compares Orion to something else - a stranger who gives directions. I knew that I wanted to compare Orion to something today, and at first I played with the idea of Orion being like that uncle you don't see so often but who has cool stuff like a sword. 

Then I read this bit:

by Bruce LaFontaine

in this book.

This little bit got me to thinking about travelers, and about how before paper maps and GPS apps on our phones, people found their way with stars.  Stars were the strangers I sometimes ask when I stop to ask for directions. Writing this poem made me think that I would like to play more with similes, and I think that I will begin collecting favorite similes that I find in books and also brainstorming lists of similes based on objects and moments I experience in day-to-day life.

You might wish to try this with your own writing today.  Think about your subject, and list a handful of things that your subject is like...or a handful of ways that your subject is as something else. One phrase in your list may just spark a new poem.

In my book POEMS ARE TEACHERS, I highlight similes with a poem by David Elliott. The title of his poem (page 140) is "a dream is like."  The two student poet mentors (page 143) are Corbin D. with "life" and Grady M. with "Leaves."  Thank you to these poets, and thank you to the teachers of the student poets in this book!

Remember, you can connect with all kinds of poetry goodness happening throughout April 2018 at my introductory National Poetry Month post HERE.

On Sunday, April 15 at 11:59pm, I will draw a winning name of a commenter on this post. This person will win a copy of POEMS ARE TEACHERS, compliments of Heinemann.  I will announce the winner on Monday. And if you visited the Google Slides party for Lee, then you know that this post is associated with another giveaway too, which I will also announce on Monday, April 16.

Robyn is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup at Life on the Deckle Edge with the roundup and with a magnificent central celebration of today's birthday boy, Lee Bennett Hopkins!  Each week, we gather our posts together at one blog, so if you visit Robyn this will be introduced to many new poets and blogs and books.

See you tomorrow...with a title straight from the text!


Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. How wonderful to hear those first graders! Thanks for sharing all, Amy. And, while I love your poem for today, I REALLY like this line in your explanation: "the idea of Orion being like that uncle you don't see so often but who has cool stuff like a sword." - HA! I don't see you, or Lee, as often as I'd like, but you both have all kinds of cool.

  2. LOVE your poem for Lee and the celebration provided by Ann Marie's students!!

    And yes, Orion has helped me find my way (not literally, but in my heart) many many times. Thank you for this poem, and for the snippet from the book that links me to other travelers (across land and of the heart) throughout history.

  3. Ann Marie and her students are amazing!

  4. Hi dear Amy. Love to hear the young Hoover creatives. (Such a vibrant teacher, she must be.) And your entire post today, your month project in April, year by year, all your sharing & poems are a celebration of Lee's tender teaching touching you with his magic 18 years back. No more tingly a tribute than coming to this space as I often do. Love.

  5. What fun to see the slide show and the students performing poetry. I love seeing the delight on their faces. What a labor of love - thanks to Irene who gave the book, to Anne Marie, to you for the pure joy of children sharing poetry.
    And today's poem is a delight - "...shows us the way home with a whimsical wink of a star."

  6. Ann Marie Corgill and her first graders' project for SCHOOL PEOPLE takes my breath away. And your birthday poem to Lee is lovely. What a celebration! Hooray!

  7. Such a great post, Amy! Thanks for sharing Ann Marie Corgill and her first graders. I'm sharing it with some first grade teachers. I've made notes on this post (like all of yours this month). One note in particular is how your thinking began with the "uncle... with cool stuff like a sword" and then changed as you did some reading / research. This is such a good example to show students. It's such a perfect example for students of thinking beyond the first "cool sword" idea. Thank you for another inspiring April reading.

  8. Your birthday poem is so sweet! In "Travelers Know," I love how you expanded the helpful stranger simile with logical details and the conversation. The wink is a perfect touch!

  9. Love the idea of Orion being like that person you ask for directions.... given how many people use him as a sky guide. Thanks for another poem-style arrow to put in my quiver.

  10. Love the slide show, the wonderful illustrations and the fact that the kids wrote out poems!

  11. Thank you for sharing where you get your inspiration. It's fun to see the process!

  12. Wonderful alliteration in "whimsical wink." Have you seen the TED talk "Metaphorically Speaking"? It's a wonderful presentation about how our lives are controlled by metaphor. I noticed in my grad classes that professors tend to conflate metaphor and simile, so I don't mind thinking about them as close cousins. Both are important rhetorical devices. I love the idea of thinking about the simile as a tool for poetry and prose.

  13. When you said you were going to write 30 poems about Orion, I wondered how in the world you were going to come up with that many things to say about one constellation, and yet every day, you blow me away with something really new and interesting. I'm intrigued by the way you have stretched this simile throughout the poem. I think I might like to try this one too!

  14. What a fantastic post Amy, I loved the art images and reciting by Ann Marie Corgill's first grade students–how inspiring to see where they've gone with "School People," and a grand Celebration of Lee Bennett Hopkins!
    I liked hearing about your journey to your poem "Travelers Know." Sometimes we still have to ask each other for directions or ask the sky–I think your poem makes Orion and constellations even more fascinating to learn about–rich poem, thanks!

  15. I taught first grade long ago, still watch them wistfully, wonder if I had stayed with that marvelous age. I loved the video, their clever art. What a wonderful teacher they have, to do so much, and show them they can say thanks to all their "School People" and Happy Birthday to Lee, whom they only know through books, but do a kind thing for him. Then, your stranger help, Orion must have also been a comfort with his faithful appearance. Thanks for that little snippet, too. I saved it. Great post, Amy!

  16. I'm so inspired by Ann Marie's students! I really do need to get this book. I'm thankful for Orion's presence in guiding us home. I have a simile poem nugget (tadpole, actually) ready to roll.

  17. Those first graders are amazing! I'm looking forward to playing with similes today! (Yep, I'm still a day behind)

  18. Those little ones are so adorable! I love the actions and how enthusiastic they are reciting your poem.
    As I read your poem today, I couldn't help but think that, no matter how much help we get, there is still so much we figure out for ourselves.

  19. I have loved all of your poems so far this month. I really liked this one and look forward to more!

  20. What a wonderful slideshow! Your poem for Lee is the icing on the cake, Amy. So very sweet. (I'm sure you're right about his name being written on the sun and painted in the sea.) I also love your Orion simile poem— especially that whimsical ending. Lovely poem-making as always, m'dear!

  21. I am playing catch up. You are amazing. I am going to send this to every teacher I know! Besides the poetry, your teaching about similies for instance, your creativity and brilliance shine like stars and guide so many. You should do a TED talk! Perfect tribute to Lee from Ann Marie and her students and of course, you!
    Janet Clare F.

  22. What a rich post! My students and I enjoyed writing simile poems. When Jacob said his topic was ketchup, I challenged him to write a 16 line poem (after yours) about ketchup. I thought he was being silly, but he did it! And he painted a picture of a ketchup bottle. You inspire my students every day to stretch beyond what they believe about themselves. Ann Marie is an awesome teacher. Loved watching her students.

  23. Like Carol, I wondered how you would write 30 different poems about Orion. I'm amazed every day when I visit your blog and see how the new poem grew. I really appreciate the insight into process and technique. So very helpful for those of us just beginning to write poetry.

  24. This is such a cool project...I'm so glad I found this site! Thank you so much!! Reading your Orion poem each day is such a joy! I'm more amazed each and every make it look so easy! I love that in each post you address our students, too. It gives us the feeling that you are there with us, guiding us on our own journey. Thank you for inspiring our creative sides. You have us truly believing in the power of poetry! :-)

  25. Oops...I'm not sure if I'm supposed to leave my email in case I win. Here it is, just in case and thank you for the chance!!
    tarafarah7 (at) gmail (dot) com