Thursday, April 11, 2019

Poem #11 - Mom Remembers Betsy's Favorite Season

Welcome to my 2019 National Poetry Month Project

Each day of April, I will write and share a new (first person, free verse, fewer than 15 lines not including spacing) poem. Taken together, these will tell a story about John and Betsy, two characters I posted about on March 22.  This will be new for me, and I invite anyone who wishes to join me in writing a collection of 30 poems that tell a story.

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

And's poem.

Printed Paws
by Amy LV

Students - This month's poems will tell a story about John and Betsy, and all of the poems will have three things in common: each will be written in John's voice, each will be 15 lines or shorter (not including spacing), and each will be written in free verse. I find it helpful to set writing boundaries for myself, so I chose three to work with over the next 30 days.

Everyone in John's family has something to say about Betsy, and today is his mom's turn.  This poem is different from John's dad's poem yesterday because that poem recounted one small memory in long detail, and John's mom's poem today shares one image - one quick snapshot memory - from each season.  

The stanzas of poems help writers keep like things together, so this is why I chose to keep each season together in its own stanza.  If you did not figure it out, winter was Betsy's favorite.  I tried to show this by having John's mom talk about it last and by giving her more lines to describe Betsy's winter look and actions.  This different stanza length helps a reader feel a shift in the poem, helps a reader know it is finished.

Do you know what alliteration is?  It is when a writer repeats sounds for effect.  Repeated sounds can sound good in the air and feel good in a reader's mouth.  I use some alliteration in this poem today.  Can you find where?

Yesterday I was lucky to visit some thoughtful students at East View Elementary in Olean, NY.  In a second grade class, we talked about how while there is a little bit of truth in John and Betsy's poems, they are mostly fiction.  Writers often choose to mix the true world and the imagined world when telling a story.  

We also spoke about the word bittersweet and how sometimes life can feel happy and sad at the very same time. Memories of Betsy are happy, but Betsy being gone is sad.  You might be able to think of a time when you had two opposite feelings at the very same time.  It is a normal thing to happen and interesting to think about.

One more thing we discussed is what will happen with John and Betsy.  This class had tried to "click ahead" to read the next poems, but you know what?  I really do write one every day, so there is no next poem yet.  I will write tomorrow's poem tonight, and so clicking ahead is impossible!  Isn't that funny in our clickable online world?

I know that it is taking a while to find out what will happen, but since this is a 30 day story, I cannot tell everything all at one time.  Each poem is a moment along this journey, and each day we will all learn a little bit more about what happens with these two good friends.

Each Friday (tomorrow!) of National Poetry Month, Heinemann has generously offered to gift a copy of my book POEMS ARE TEACHERS to someone who has commented during the week.  This book includes over 150 poems by contemporary poets and students alike as well as over 50 poem explorations written by me. I will keep track of comments and will draw one name each Thursday evening, to be announced each Friday of the month. To be entered into these drawings, please do leave a way to contact you along with your comment.  And...Heinemann is offering 40% of all poetry professional books throughout April...thank you Heinemann!

If you would like to learn more about other National Poetry Month projects happening throughout the Kidlitosphere, Jama has rounded up many NPM happenings over at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  Happy National Poetry Month 2019!

See you tomorrow!


Please share a comment below if you 


  1. Dear Amy Ludwig VanDerwater,

    We love the poem story so far and we are excited to see the next happenings in the story. One question we have is, "Did anyone adopt Betsy from the pound?" Spring break is starting today for us at QUEST Elementary in Hilton, NY. We are planning to continue to visit the Poem Farm over our break and can't wait to hear more of the story. We also have a Flipgrid that we are using with Ms. B Jones' class to share our thinking about the poems. Today we plan to write some poems about the John and Betsy story! If you are interested, we could invite you to our flipgrid postings after our vacation is over. Do you ever skype with classrooms? If so, we would love to skype with you about your story poem. Mrs. Harney, our librarian is promoting poetry by encouraging all of us to put a poem in our pocket that we write. We hope to put a John & Betsy poem in our pocket. Thank you for the amazing poems! Mrs. C Jones' Class

    1. Dear Mrs. Jones and Class,

      Thank you so much for your note. Soon you will more about what is happening with John and Betsy over here, and I would love to read what is happening with John and Betsy over there, so please do share your flipgrid with me. Mrs. Harney is wonderful; she always does such fun things for Poem in Your Pocket Day. Big hugs and happy vacation and happy Poetry Month to you all.


  2. Remembering is a kind of balm for the soul, even though the heart hurts. Thanks, Amy!

  3. Love this one. That last stanza is beautiful!!

  4. Oh, Amy, this is such a marvelous idea to write a beautiful story in front of your readers' eyes; discuss the process; reveling the story poem by poem, layer by layer. I imagine it as if you had a silk cocoon in your hands and pulling gently on it each day to show us a bit of a beauty hidden under it until April 30th comes and a whole" beautiful butterfly" (your story) comes to the end of process, shining beautifully at your readers and followers. I am in bed these days fighting pneumonia but besides medication that the doctor prescribed, I take a "pill" for my soul in a form of your poems every morning and it surelly makes me feel better more than enything else.:) The only complaint to it is the time I have to wait until the next poem is reveled. hehe Also, I hardly can wait until Sunday to show these poems to my granddaughter Bianca (whom I meet on Skype on Sundays regularly and with whom I discuss poetry regularly) . I'll ask her to write her comment so that I can share it here. Thank you again for a such wonderful poetry treat. Greetings from Bosnia

  5. I love seeing Betsy in every season of the year. The memories from different family members make us realize that she holds a special spot in everyone's heart. The alliteration in each stanza is fun, but in that last stanza it's spectacular.

  6. That last stanza just sings as I read it.

  7. Beautiful. And I look forward to catching up on your wonderful project! XO

  8. Amy, this poem written from Mom's point of view is one of my favorites. I love how you made the first three seasonal descriptions short and to the point. The last stanza has such lovely alliteration that the words form a lingering impression.