SOL: Following a Poem

Naomi Shihab Nye has famously said that “poems hide…What we have to do is live in a way that lets us find them.” I often find inspiration in images, and when I saw this photo on Twitter recently, I knew a poem was hidden within:

Indigo Milk Cap, by Dan Molter [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
What I didn’t expect was where this poem would take me. Which is, after all, the point of writing.

At a bend in the trail
I freeze, startled
by an upturned mushroom.
Suddenly,
I’m at your kitchen table,
wisps of morning breeze,
rich with melodies of songbirds,
drifting in through wide-open windows
as you set an ancient flow-blue
bowl before me.
Nestled within its chipped rim
are glistening blueberries,
which you rose at dawn
to pick,
making sure to leave a few
for the birds.

© Catherine Flynn, 2018

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

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A Golden Shovel: “We Share This Tender Planet”

 

As you may know, April is National Poetry Month. Many poets and bloggers are writing and sharing a poem a day in celebration. I won’t be posting daily, but I am following these projects and joining in when I can. Today, I’ve created a Golden Shovel (Mary Lee Hahn’s project) with a line taken from a recent episode of Krista Tippett’s program, On Being. This is one of my favorite podcasts. Tippett interviews a wide range of theologians, scientists, philosophers, poets, among others to, as explained on their website, “pursue deep thinking and social courage, moral imagination and joy, to renew inner life, outer life, and life together.”

In “Cosmic Imagining, Civic Pondering,” Tippett facilitated a conversation between the creator and editor of Brain Pickings, Maria Papova, and Natalie Batalha, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Their rich and thought-provoking exchange was full of insights, and I found myself nodding in agreement over and over again. After poring over the transcript, I chose this line to create today’s poem:

“We share this tender planet.”
Maria Papova

Photo by Douglas Mills via Flickr

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL18: An Ode to the Slices I Didn’t Write

For the first time in five years, I am NOT celebrating a month of slicing. Despite a record number of snow days, despite staying healthy, posting a slice every day eluded me. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I have. I just couldn’t get into a groove with slicing.

Photo by Aaron Burden via Unsplash

Even though I didn’t participate in the challenge on a regular basis, I did want to post something today. But as I drafted a few ideas last night, nothing clicked. Then, this morning, I read my friend Linda Mitchell’s Poetry Friday post. Linda had used Gary Soto’s “Ode to Pablo’s Tennis Shoes” as a mentor for a poem she read at a friend’s Bar Mitzvah. This was exactly the form I needed for my end-of-March slice.

Ode to Lost Slices

They wait in my notebook
half-baked, embryonic
ink-smudged
at the edges
where I feverishly
scribbled ideas
before they evaporated,
my attention grabbed
by a bird at the window.
Some thoughts made it
to page, to screen
to you (who are you?)
Others are gone,
out of reach.

Now it’s the end of March.
I sit at my desk, listening
to the birds chittering
it the treetops, grateful
for warm sunshine.
My ideas, friends
who flutter through my brain
are whirling.
I should not have slept,
But I did.
(Wisps of dreams
still cling to my hair.)

I want to tame
my thoughts,
still wild
and winged,
capture them
on this page
where they’ll make
some sense to me,
to you, a friend,
to whomever stumbles
across them in
this vast universe.
I love writing,
polishing ideas until
they shine, then
sending them out
to fly on their own.
But I’m distracted.
I skink into my chair.
My eyes sting
from the harsh words

that inundate our world.
I need eight hours (days?)
of peace and quiet
to let ideas settle,
grow their flight feathers,
and soar.

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, 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.

SOL 18 & Poetry Friday: Paint Chip Poetry

                        

During a trip to the hardware store earlier this week, I found myself standing in front of a rainbow of paint chips. They reminded me of my friend Margaret Simon’s recent post about the poems she and her class wrote using paint chips. The shades of blues were irresistible to me. Without reading the names, I selected a handful of cards.

Later, I sorted the chips into categories. Soon I had a list of weather words, ocean words, and a few miscellaneous words. Margaret wrote unrelated words on the back of the paint chips she prepared for her students. I added words that the color names brought to mind and came up with this draft. The color names are italicized.

celestial light dapples
iridescent opal waters
rippled by sea winds
blowing in from
distant shores

Photo by Sime Basioli via Unsplash

This was so much fun I may go back to the hardware store today for more paint chips! I can’t wait to introduce paint chip poetry to students.

Please be sure to visit Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe for the Poetry Friday Roundup. Also, thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, 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.

SOL18: Found Poetry

Last week, my lovely and talented friend, Robyn Hood Black, invited her Poetry Friday friends to find a poem in a passage she shared from Cassell’s Family Magazine. The passage reminded me of a collection of cut outs I have that my grandmother and her sister used as paper dolls that date to 1916 or so. A little digging revealed that most of these came from The Delineator, “an American women’s magazine of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, founded by the Butterick Publishing Company.” (from Wikipedia) I searched my grandmother’s collection for styles that matched the description in the passage Robyn shared, but it’s from the 1890s, so fashions had changed. But I was able to find a few stylish dresses that have some similar features.

Because I live in spring-deprived New England, I found all the weather words to create my poem.  Thank you, Robyn, for this fun exercise!

WHAT TO WEAR IN APRIL

The long cloak savors of SPRING; it opens at the neck and TRIMS with close feather bands, instead of fur. It is composed of ribbed silk AND EMBROIDERED velvet, the velvet is cut as a Bolero jacket, elongated into panel sides over which fall the long pointed sleeves, embroidered on THE OUTSIDE of the arm, and edged like the jacket with ball fringe in character with the hat. It is a mantle that completely covers the dress. The muff matches the hat, and I notice

women are wearing them WELL ON TO SUMMER, partially because they are so infinitesimal. The floral muffs are often carried by bridesmaids; they are made of satin and COVERED WITH FLOWERS so that little but of the foundation is seen. They let the odour of the flower be easily enjoyed by the holder, and are more to be DESIRED than BOUQUETS because they have a raison d’être.  (From Cassell’s Family Magazine)

WHAT TO WEAR IN APRIL

SPRING
TRIMS
AND EMBROIDERED
THE OUTSIDE
WELL ON TO SUMMER
COVERED WITH FLOWERS
DESIRED
BOUQUETS

Inspired to try found poetry with your students? Don’t miss Linda Mitchell‘s terrific work with her eighth grade library students!

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, 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 & SOL18: Book Spine Poetry

                     

National Poetry Month is just around the corner and, like many of you, I’m thinking about ways to share the joy of poetry with my students. One of my favorite poetry warm-ups is creating book spine poetry. Here are a few short verses using books old and new.

Hey world, here I am!
Save me a seat.

                                                        

This is the chick.
Handle with care.

The girl who drew butterflies
Finding wonders
under the egg.

                                                          

On a magical, do-nothing day,
another way to climb a tree!
What are you waiting for?

                                                                                                                      

Birdsongs,
voices in the air.
Feathers
soar
north on the wing.

Congratulations to Keri Snowden! Keri is the winner of a signed copy of Meet My Family: Animal Babies and Their Families by Laura Purdie Salas.

Speaking of Laura, please be sure to visit her at Writing the World for Kids for the Poetry Friday Roundup. Also, thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, 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.

SOL18: Planting in the Snow

The scene outside is all too familiar: fine, steady snow being buffeted about a persistent northeast wind. Inside, the scene is a little different: an flower pot filled with potting soil awaits a rooted begonia leaf. To heck with snow. It’s spring, and I’m planting!

This cutting is descended from a plant that originally belonged to my great-great grandmother and was kept alive for the better part of the twentieth century by my great-aunt. After she passed away, my mother inherited the plant. Now, my sister and I are keepers of this hardy, giant-leafed plant. Starting a new plant is as simple as cutting off a leaf and plopping it into a jar of water. It doesn’t take long for roots to erupt from the bottom of the stem. Once they’ve appeared, the leaf can be planted. Today’s plant is for my son and his fiancé’s new apartment.

The parent plant has taken over this part of my bedroom!

I’m not ordinarily a rebellious person. But planting this next generation begonia today was my act of defiance against all this snow. Happy spring, everyone!

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, Melanie, 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.