National Poetry Month: A Star-Splashed Fib

Many people have wonderful poetry projects planned for this month. I’m following Heidi Mordhorst‘s lead and will join in when I can as prompts strike my fancy or match up with my life.

In this case, Mary Lee Hahn‘s “Playing With Poetry” was the springboard. One of Mary Lee’s options for poetry playfulness was paint chip poetry. Thanks to our recent renovation project, I have paint chips everywhere. We chose “Milky Way,” a luscious shade of yellow for the guest room. (This color also makes me very happy, so I could add Irene’s project to the list of inspirations.)

I’d been toying with how to structure a Milky Way poem without much luck. Then, on Monday morning, the moon was a thin crescent, hanging on the edge of dawn. The arc of the moon got me thinking of spirals, which led me to Fibonacci sequences, which led to this poem.

Star
Sun
Solar
System spins
At galaxy’s edge
The Milky Way’s spiral arms
Twirl like a ballerina’s silver-sequined tutu

© Catherine Flynn, 2019

Slice of Life 19: Making a Poem Out of Legos

Another March is coming to a close. After five years of successfully blogging every day, this is the second year that I haven’t been able to keep up with the pace of slicing. As my friend Heidi so wisely stated: “It might be okay to miss a day, because, you know, LIFE.”

And meetings. Have there always been so many meetings? It seems like they’ve multiplied exponentially lately. At a recent meeting in our Library/Media Center, I happened to be sitting at the end of the row, near a table where a bin of Legos awaited the next day’s students. They intrigued me because they were many more colors than I remember from my children’s Legos. There were brown bricks, orange bricks, gray bricks! I confess, my mind started to wander. The next thing I knew, this draft of a poem was in my notebook.

Brown earth thaws, softens
Green shoots peek out of the soil
Gray clouds skitter across the sky, unveiling an
Orange sunset blanketing the sky, cradling a
Yellow crescent moon.

© Catherine Flynn, 2019

Naomi Shihab Nye is absolutely correct: “Poems hide…What we have to do is live in a way that lets us find them.”

What I didn’t know as I jotted down my ideas was that I was inadvertently warming up for Mary Lee Hahn‘s National Poetry Month project, “Playing With Poetry!” And though I doubt I’ll get a poem up every day, I’m looking forward to joining in the fun!

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

Slice of Life 19 & Poetry Friday: Pancakes!

          .

Congratulations, Heidi Mordhorst! You are the lucky winner of a copy of In the Middle of the Night: Poems From a Wide-Awake House! I know you and your second-graders will LOVE Laura’s new book.

There is a lot going on at my house these days. Our renovation project is winding down and we’re hosting an engagement party for my son and his fiancee next weekend. I know we all have busy lives, and kudos to all of you who juggle everything so well, but my attention has NOT been on my writing. I have managed to jot down a few ideas and make some notes, but not much more than that. I am looking forward to writing more in April, but have no particular project in mind for National Poetry Month.

Last week, it was my turn to post a prompt for Laura’s Food Poetry Project. Deciding what to favorite food to post was more difficult that I thought it would be. In the end, I went with the my idea of the delicious breakfast food ever, the pancake.

Writing about pancakes turned out to be just as difficult as choosing them. Sometimes when I’m stuck, I write acrostics to get ideas flowing. This week, after a bit of tinkering, I decided to stick with the form.

Pancake

Piping hot,

Awash in butter

Nine in a syrup-

Covered stack

Abounding with blueberries

Keeps hunger away and

Energizes me for the day!

© Catherine Flynn, 2019

Be sure to visit Carol at Carol’s Corner for the Poetry Friday Roundup! Also, thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Poetry Friday & A Slice of Life 19: Soup

       

I’m a recipe follower. Before I got married, I told my mother I wasn’t moving out unless I got a Betty Crocker cookbook so I’d have the recipe for apple pie. After many years of trying new recipes, though, I learned to be a little more flexible about improvising when I cook. In fact, when it comes to chicken soup, I just start tossing ingredients into the pot. So when my poetry pal and critique group partner, Linda Mitchell, suggested writing about soup, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. This poem, which is basically how I make chicken soup these days, is still a very rough draft.

Soup

In a pot as blue as the sky,
a poem simmers.
Corn kernels
become a hundred tiny suns.
Carrots and potatoes
are the warm, rich earth
while parsley and rosemary
are fresh and green and fragrant.
Chunks of chicken add
more earth and sunshine.
Water,
bubbling up as if from a spring,
mixes and melds
with salt,
with pepper,
with love
sating my soul.

© Catherine Flynn, 2019

Please be sure to visit Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads for the Poetry Friday Roundup. Thank you also to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Slice of Life 19: A Writing Friendship

In a separate post, today I’m hosting a stop on the blog tour of In the Middle of the Night: Poems From a Wide-Awake House, by Laura Purdie Salas. (Leave a comment on that post, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for your very own copy!)

There is a direct link between being part of Laura’s blog tour and participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge. I “met” Laura when I responded to a tweet she sent out looking for teachers to write activity guides to a series of poetry books she was self-publishing. Designing activities to support favorite books is something I love to do. But I wasn’t confident I had the writing experience that Laura was looking for. As I worked to summon up the courage to write to Laura, I reread past blog posts and people’s comments, many from fellow Slicers. Indirectly, this community gave the push I needed to send the email. And, miracle of miracles, Laura put her trust in me! A few months later, Wacky, Wild, and Wonderful: 50 State Poems, part of Laura’s “30 Painless Classroom Poems” series, debuted with an activity guide written by yours truly.

Thanks to a supportive administration, I was able to attend NCTE later that year and meet Laura in person. Since then, we’ve seen each other at other conferences and connected online through Twitter and our blogs. This is exactly the kind of supportive friendship that I’ve been fortunate enough to develop with many other teachers and writers, all thanks to everyone, past and present, at Two Writing Teachers!

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

In the Middle of the Night: Poems From a Wide-Awake House by Laura Purdie Salas & a Giveaway!

Welcome to the next stop on In the Middle of the Night’s blog tour! What a whirlwind! If you missed any of the previous stops, click below for interviews with Laura about how she came up the the idea for these “Poems From a Wide-Awake House,” her writing process, and more. There are also suggestions from teachers on different ways to use In the Middle of the Night in classrooms to support and inspire student writing.

When I first read Laura’s book, I immediately noticed her word choice. Laura has chosen exactly the right words to bring so many everyday household objects to life. A “Mixed-Up Mixing Bowl wobble[s] and sway[s]” in a “bowl ballet.” After a day of pounding the floor, an aching basketball’s “head is sore” and he’s sleeping “in ice.” And who can’t relate to “Lidless Marker’s Lament?” With an aching head and a throat that “feels dry,” this marker is “useless since/you lost my lid.” Angela Matteson’s exuberant illustrations capture the wide range of emotions felt by all the wide-awake objects frollicking through this book.

I shared these poems and more with a fourth grade class at my school as a spark for their writing. They loved the poems and were eager to write their own “wide-awake” poems. Here are just a few.

“Sneaky Button”
by H.

I’m a sneaky button
creeping through the night
clinging to some clothing
to see which one looks right.
Then I see a woodland shirt
that seems to shine with light.

Now the sun is shining
And I am all attached
waiting for my owner
to grab me with with a snatch.
Then
we will go fishing
to get a big fat catch.

 

“Utensils Vs. Pot”
by E.

The pot grabbed the spoon
From its napkin cocoon
The fork went to help,
But he began to yelp.

The clock struck four
When Mr. Spoon opened the drawer
He whacked the pot of soup
And it began to droop.

The pot dropped the spoon
and he began to swoon.
Dang! It’s 6AM so soon!

 

“Pineapple Escape”
by J.

Pineapple feared the big knife
would bring an end to his life.
So he tried to delay
by rolling away.
Now the pineapple
hides out in the stairway.

Your students can write their own wide-awake poems! Laura has created a Padlet where they can share their work and read poems by other students. There are also fun activity sheets available here.

Thank you, Laura and Angela, for this clever, inspiring book! And thank you to Boyds Mills Press for generously donating a copy of In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House to one lucky winner. Be sure to leave a comment by Tuesday, March 26th, to be entered in the drawing.

Blog tour links:

Monday, 3/11 Mile High Reading
Tuesday, 3/12 Reflections on the Teche
Wednesday, 3/13 A Year of Reading
Thursday, 3/14 Check It Out
Friday, 3/15 Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
Sunday, 3/17 Great Kid Books
Monday, 3/18 Simply 7 Interview/Jena Benton blog
Tuesday, 3/19 My Juicy Little Universe
Wednesday, 3/20 Live Your Poem
Thursday, 3/21 Reading to the Core
Friday, 3/22 KidLit Frenzy       Beyond Literacy Link