SOL 17 & the Poetry Friday Roundup: “Out of Wonder”

                                        

“Writing is a tool to carve out our dreams”
~Kwame Alexander ~

Welcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup! (Not sure what Poetry Friday is? Find out more from Renée LaTulippe here.) I’m happy you’re here because I have a stunning new collection to share today. Just in time for National Poetry Month, Newbery-Medal winning poet Kwame Alexander has teamed up with Chris Colderley, Marjory Wentworth, and Ekua Holmes to create a spectacular gift to poetry lovers of all ages, Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets (Candlewick Press, 2017).

In the Preface to Out of Wonder, Alexander explains his mission for this book is introduce readers to “…twenty of my favorite poets. Poets who have inspired me and my co-authors with their words and lives.” He and his co-authors also hope readers will see these poems “as stepping-stones to wonder” about the poets, poetry in general, and the poetry within themselves.

The book is divided into three parts. Part I, “Got Style,” includes poems written in the style of Naomi Shihab Nye and e.e. cummings, among others. “In Your Shoes” includes poems written about favorite topics of celebrated poets. Emily Dickinson’s love of flowers, Walter Dean Myers love of basketball, and Judith Wright’s love of the earth are just a few of the themes used to inspire new poems. The final section, “Thank You,” pays tribute to beloved poets themselves, including Gwendolyn Brooks, William Carols Williams, and Sandra Cisneros.

Ekua Holmes’s mixed media collages explode off the page, adding another layer of beauty to these pages. Her color schemes are perfectly suited to the poems. Subtle, muted hues create the winter woods of Robert Frost, while bold primary colors give wing to Maya Angelou’s “free bird.”

A brief biography of each celebrated poet is included at the end of the book, as well as a chronological listing of the poets and their country of origin. This section is a jumping off point for teachers and students who want to learn more about these poets.

In an interview with Rachel Martin on NPR, Alexander stated that he had “three aims for the book — to encourage kids to read poetry, to introduce them to great poets, and to inspire them to write poems of their own.” He goes on to say “It’s a lofty goal.” Lofty yes, but one he and his collaborators exceed in this joyful book.

Want to know more about Kwame Alexander’s thoughts about poetry? Read his conversation with Nikki Grimes here, and his article with co-author Chris Colderley about why poetry matters at the Poetry Foundation. In addition, Poetry Friday’s own Mary Lee Hahn wrote a terrific Teacher’s Guide that is chock-full of suggestions for sharing Out of Wonder to inspire your students.

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

And now for the Roundup! Please click to add your link and read more poetic offerings.

SOL 17: Seasons on the Brink

One of the most satisfying benefits of joining fellow writers in this month of Slicing is the cross pollination of ideas. One person’s writing sparks and idea in another and so on. The chain is really never ending. This morning, my friend Margaret Simon was inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye’s statement that “nothing is to small to notice.” She noticed the light of spring and wrote a stunning poem full of “the slant of light.” This reminded me of a quick glimpse of shadows I had the other day as I drove past a patch of woods. Here, in honor of the first full day of spring and World Poetry Day, is the poem my noticing inspired.

Photo courtesy photos-public-domain.com

Season on the Brink

Shadows lumber,
crisscrossing soft winter snow,
a maze of light and dark.
Patches of soil emerge,
inhaling a deep breath of
waking,
exhaling the rich scent
of earth,
full of life
stirring and squirming,
restless for
spring.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

 Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL 17 & Poetry Friday: Birds in the Blizzard

                           

On Tuesday, as Stella raged outside, I spent what seemed like hours at my kitchen window, marveling at the hardy birds at the feeder. Their comings and goings inspired this poem.

During the blizzard, trees and bushes
tremble as birds flit and flee.
Scoffing at the wind,
cardinals, jays, and chickadees
jockey into position.
Like planes lining up for take off,
they wait for their turn at the feeder,
for their share of suet and seed.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Please be sure to visit Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge for the Poetry Friday Roundup. (Not sure what Poetry Friday is? Find out more from Renée LaTulippe here.)

And thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL 17: Poetry Is…

Stuck for an idea for a slice, I reached for Karen Benke’s Rip the Page: Adventures in Creative Writing. (Read another post inspired by this book here.) On page 56, I found “Juxtaposition.” This exercise begins by folding a piece of paper in half lengthwise, then choosing ten words from one of the many word lists in the book. Next, add a descriptive word in front of each of the chosen words. Turn the paper over and follow the directions for what to write next. When you unfold the paper, write “Poetry Is” at the top. Try various combinations from the assortment of words and phrases you wrote until you find a “juxtaposition…two unlike things (side by side) to wake up your ears and make your mouth smile.” Some of these pairings aren’t really a surprise, but I liked the images they conjured.

Poetry Is…

Poetry is a blizzard of fireflies
blinking with joy
in a meadow teeming with life.
Poetry is crickets
buzzing autumn’s song.
Poetry is an iridescent peacock
strutting under the mellowing sun.
Poetry is popcorn
jumping and jittering
in a cobalt blue pot while
the grandfather clock chimes
on a Tuesday afternoon.
Poetry is the glimmer of dawn,
tip-toeing onto my pillow,
creeping through my eyelashes,
into my imagination.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL 17: A Pi(e) Poem

Outside my window, a blizzard is howling. What better way to spend a snowy Pi day than thinking of warm, luscious pies? Baking apple pies with my grandmother is one of my favorite memories. So here is a Pi poem (literally; the number of words in each line correspond to the digits in Pi; read more about the form here). I didn’t follow the rules exactly, but every poet and pie maker knows that it’s okay to be flexible about some ingredients.

Juicy, red apples
peeled,
coated with sugar, cinnamon,
nutmeg.
Topped with dollops of butter
and a dash of salt; layered and sealed into
your favorite
pie plate, blue with fluted edges.
Ready to bake, magically transform
into sweet memories.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

You can read last year’s Pi poem here.

 Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL 17: By the Book

Every Saturday, my day begins with the New York Times Book Review over breakfast. One of my favorite features is “By the Book.” In this column, an author with a recent or upcoming book is interviewed about his or her reading. I’m always astonished at the breadth of reading of these authors. So many books and writers I’ve never even heard of! Still, I’m fascinated by the responses and each week come away with a list of books I’ll probably never read.

I’d always thought this would be a good format for a Slice of Life, and last year, another Slicer (sorry, I don’t remember who) thought so too. Now I’m going to borrow their idea.

“The New Novel” Winslow Homer, 1877 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What books are on your night stand now?

I always have at least three books going at once. I just started Dava Sobel’s The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars. In another life, I might have been an astronomer. Everything about our universe fascinates me. The jacket copy states that this book “is the hidden history of the women whose contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed the understanding of the stars and our place in the universe.” Dava Sobel is an excellent writer who makes her subjects engaging and accessible. Her book Longitude is one of my favorites.

See You in the Cosmos, by Jack Cheng, was just published by Penguin Random House. I have an ARC on NetGalley that I was hoping to read this weekend, but life got in the way of that plan. Maybe I’ll get to it on Tuesday during the blizzard.

My book discussion group is currently reading Dispatches, by Michael Herr. This first-hand account of Herr’s experiences as a war correspondent in Vietnam is brutal and unsparing, but written with the style and grace of a poet.

Speaking of poetry, I also have Billy Collins’s latest The Rain in Portugal, in the pile. Elaine Magliaro’s charming Things to Do is right underneath. I have long been a fan of Elaine’s poetry, and am thrilled for her that her first book has been published. I’m looking forward to sharing it with our Kindergarteners and writing “Things to Do” poems with them soon.

Finally, there is Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer, edited by Bret Anthony Johnston. This book is chock-full of ideas and ready to come to the rescue when I need one. There’s a section on “Getting Started,” “Character,” and more. I’ve been dipping in and out of each, and I’m sure one will show up here in the next few days.

There are at least ten more books beneath these, patiently waiting their turn. What books are on your night stand?

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL 17 & Poetry Friday: “Ode to a Blanket”

                          

Each month I look forward to Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’s Ditty Challenge. This month, Helen Frost challenged Michelle’s readers to “choose and object…[then] write five lines about the object, using a different sense in each line.”

Choose an object? That narrows it right down, doesn’t it? I decided not to obsess about this. I just went through my days with this challenge in the back of my mind. Sure enough, the word “blanket” came up as I was preparing a lesson yesterday. I instantly saw the possibilities with this word. Here is my Ode to a Blanket:

Clutching your satin edge, soft as a dog’s ear,
I wrap your sunny yellow self around me.
Cocooned inside, I breathe in the air of summer.
Night whispers are muffled as I snuggle deeper,
take the first sip of a dream.
Do you sleep with me? Or are you always
on guard, steadfast and loyal through the night?

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

Please be sure to visit Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty for the Poetry Friday Roundup. (Not sure what Poetry Friday is? Find out more from Renée LaTulippe here.)

And thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.