Thursday, July 19, 2018

Summer Sandwich

Hello Poetry Friday Poets,

I hope you are enjoying this summer and soaking up sunshine memories. 

Poet, writer of memoir and friend Heidi is graciously hosting this week's round up over at My Juicy Little Universe. Please stop by and say hello there.

On Sunday I received my first Summer Poetry Swap surprise from  Molly Hogan. The package is such a classic American taste of summer I want to share it with you.

When I opened the package I found a beautiful hand-made card with Molly's signature and stunning photography, a pot of home-made strawberry jam and of course, a poem.  

Strawberry Wishes
by Molly Hogan

I wish you strawberry blossoms
transforming to juicy rubies
beneath warm sun
and gentle rains

I wish you sticky red fingers
the imprint of straw on your knees
and the heady scent of berries
simmering on your stove

I wish you a strawberry summer
ripe with moments to preserve
a growing memory shelf
of glowing jars
filled with sustenance
and sweetness

And come winter
I wish you slow, peaceful moments
to savor a taste of preserves
and sweet summer memories

of a time when
the pace was languid and lovely
and the sun lay golden
on the fields.

The experience of opening the package and opening the jam and enjoying all of it has been out of this world wonderful. I'm grateful to Molly for her thoughtful swap surprise as well as Tabatha for arranging some summer fun. 

Strawberry Jam by Molly

I am away from my desk on Friday...I will catch up with Poetry Friday posts a little slower than most weeks. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Celebrating Bayou Song

Happy Lucky Poetry Friday the 13th!

Many thanks to Sylvia Vardell for hosting this week's round-up at her blog, Poetry for Children

Today, I'm Snoopy-dancing over the publication of Bayou Song (Louisiana University Press 2018) by Margaret Simon.
Illustrations are by Anna Cantrell, photographs by Henry Cancienne. I'm in love with this book and I'm part of the growing momentum of praise for this gorgeous work.

Raise your hand if you know Margaret in any way. Oh, yeah, I SEE all those hands waving behind computer screens. 

Margaret is a tremendous friend of Poetry Friday. One of the biggest lessons I think I learn from her is the power of poetry friendship.

I asked Margaret some questions about Bayou Song recently, and I  hope you are as inspired to pick up a pen or drawing pencil as I have been after reading some of our conversation.

Linda: The word adventure pops up in your thoughts about writing this book. What is an early adventure in your life that you remember?

Linda: What does your reading history look like?

illustration by Anna Cantrell

Linda: Who do you hope to see reading Bayou Song?

illustration by Anna Cantrell

Linda:  What has early response to Bayou Song been?

Linda:  How does your work as a teacher influence Bayou Song?

illustration by Anna Cantrell

Linda: What have you learned from the process of creating this book?

illustration by Anna Cantrell

Linda: Do you creatively cross-train with other creative pursuits that support your writing/illustrating?

Linda: Give us a writing/drawing prompt from the book or a new prompt that will send us on a creative journey. 

I hope you'll paddle right out to purchase a copy of Bayou Song for yourself, a favorite teacher friend and a young reader...anyone that you would invite for a walk along the bayou.

Independent Book Store: Books Along the Teche or, at your familiar large online book (everything) store.

Upcoming reviews and information of Bayou Song are headed to our blogosphere. Have a peek at what these bloggers have to say:

Tuesday, July 17:
Laura Shovan 

Tuesday, July 24
Amanda Potts at Persistence and Pedagogy

Friday, July 27:
Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink

Monday, July 30
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance

Friday, Aug. 3
Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Poetry Friday 7/6/18

Happy Hot Poetry Friday!

It seems like yesterday, I was feeling like winter would go on forever...and today is an experience in hot, Hotter, HOTTEST! 

Thank you to today's host of Poetry Friday links, Tricia at
The Miss Rumphius Effect

Allow me to introduce you to a Flamingo named Bob. You can read Bob's story in The Audubon Magazine's 2017 Summer issue and...or in a haiku account I extracted from the story and share below.

Doest, Jasper. “The Busy Life of Bob the Flamingo.” Audubon, Audubon, 6 July 2017,

Bob the flamingo
crashed into a window -- ouch!
rescued by Odette

Odette doctors birds
especially injured birds
Bob accepted help

Bob's charisma
enchanted children in schools
a popular guest

four foot tall pink birds
teach conservation ethics
to human fledglings

curious children
ask about feathers and food
doesn't bother Bob

a student carries
Bob to Odette's car--careful
kids and birds better 

Words found by Linda Mitchell

Photos by Jasper Doest

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Poetry Friday 6/22

It's Poetry Friday. Isn't that great? This week's round-up is hosted by painter-poet, Michelle at Moreart4all. She has a review of a new book I am in love with, Bayou Song, by our Poetry Friday friend, Margaret Simon. I cannot wait until everyone sees this gorgeous book!

This week was one of those weeks, you know?

It's summer--I'm having fun with some paper crafting and at the ice-cream place with my kids. I've stayed up late watching stupid TV and been reading books. 

But, I've also gotten caught up in the news cycle and too much social media. I found myself stressing out over a work in progress...and it's only the beginning of my assigned time to recharge my inner batteries. Hoo Boy!

It's time to breathe and find some balance. We creatives can take on more emotion than the average bear sometimes.

So, I gave myself a joy assignment.

*Remember the last time you felt joy?

*Do something that brings you joy

*Find joy

This poem brings me joy


are birds
that arrive
with books
and spring

the wind
and trees
page from my paper-craft journal
can you guess what my first written word was?

some words
are messengers
that come
from far away
from distant lands

for them
there are
no borders
only stars
moon and sun

some words
are familiar
like canaries
others are exotic
like the quetzal bird

some can stand
the cold
others migrate
with the sun
to the south

some words
they're difficult
to translate

and others
build nests
have chicks
warm them
feed them

teach them
how to fly
and one day
they go away
in flocks

the letters
on this page
are the prints
they leave
by the sea

Francisco X. Alarcon, "Words are Birds" from Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems. Copyright © 1997 by Francisco X. Alarcon.  Reprinted by permission of Lee & Low Books.
Source: Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems (Lee & Low Books, 1997)

PS: I didn't know that 6/23 is National Pink Day....but Sandra Boyton did and it makes me giggle.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Poetry Friday June 15, 2018

Thank you, Karen Edmisten for hosting this week's poetry round-up. I'm enjoying summertime poetry!

My summer schedule gave me a chance to visit @justonemorepage to hear Kate Messner speak about reading, writing and her newest book, Breakout.

Messner, Kate. Breakout. New York. Bloomsbury. 2018. print.

Breakout is a novel in documents based on a real-life prison-break at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Donnemara, New York in 2015. 

What does, Breakout, have to do with poetry? 

Kate described writing several versions of a Breakout manuscript. Her challenge was telling a story of the prison-break for kids from many perspectives. Poetry offers ways of doing that. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson is a perfect example of how possible poetry makes such a challenge.

At one point,  Breakout was a manuscript entirely in verse. In her talk, Kate described the puzzle-solving of how to tell a story...and it had to be a different way that included lots and lots of stuff the way a kid would do. She shared pictures of massive hand-made looking spreadsheets. But, when it came down to it, the story drove the method of telling...and the published book we see today is not in verse.

Poetry remains, however. One of the main characters, Elidee, is a new kid in town. She's also a poet. She brings not only her love of reading poetry of famous poets such as Nikki Giovanni and Jaqueline Woodson to the story but also some of her writing. It's a wonderful way of allowing poetry to shine in a book for kids without the book being "a" poetry book. I love it.

Below is a page in Elidee's voice in which she uses a Nikki Giovanni poem as a mentor text. There are many of these throughout the book.

Learning from Nikki Giovanni p. 27

The current version of Breakout makes for a perfect genre-bending middle-grade adventure-mystery with non-fiction elements novel in documents. As a librarian for kids....I'm thrilled with the wide audience Breakout meets.

But wait....there's more for writers too!

Kate published a 23 blog post series about the writing of Breakout. The posts match 23 days all of Upstate New York was looking for the escapees and living in fear of two murderers on the lamb in the woods of the Adirondacks. One of her posts focuses on Elidee's poetry She writes lullabies for where she's from and where she's arrived. 

Furthermore, each of Kate's 23 posts includes a writing assignment, an invitation to write or revise. These 23 posts are like a mini writer's course. I highly recommend reading them.

I'm now enjoying some of my summertime writing lullabies for where I am from and where I live now. Someday, I'll share. 

How about you? Do you have a lullaby for a place? What would it sound like?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Poetry Friday June 8th

Good Poetry Friday to you,

Today is the last day of school for this Teacher Librarian. And...


Friday is not really an ending but more of a rest stop before continuing on this journey in library. I really needed this rest stop to shake out my limbs. Of course, I'll play a little focus for this year of writing.

This past week, a social media post from poet Jeanine Atkins caught my eye. 

From Jeanine Atkins Facebook Page 6/2/18

Isn't Jeanine's invitation to reflect simply wonderful? Her simple question gave me some lovely writing moments this week and I am grateful.

Her question took me to some reading too. This month's featured poet at The Poetry Foundation is a colleague of Jeanine and also a favorite poet of mine. She writes about an early wonder in this poem.

I was struck at how precious a young person's wonder is to protect. This summer I will refresh my energy for that task.

Turtle Came to See Me

The first story I ever write
is a bright crayon picture
of a dancing tree, the branches
tossed by island wind.

I draw myself standing beside the tree,
with a colorful parrot soaring above me,
and a magical turtle clasped in my hand,
and two yellow wings fluttering
on the proud shoulders of my ruffled
Cuban rumba dancer's
fancy dress.

Our friend Keisha is hosting this week's poetry round-up at Whispers from the Ridge. I love Keisha's reminders of the spiritual elements of poetry and invitations to respond to wonder. I often write in response to a visit to Keisha's Ridge. I hope you will too.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Poetry Friday June 1, 2018

Happy June, poem-lovers 

Welcome dragonflies, hello beach...campfires and late nights....summer thunderstorms and steamy streets.

Buffy Silverman kicks-off Poetry Friday Summer Edition. She's graciously hosting Poetry Friday. Click on her gorgeous dragonfly photo below to visit and congratulate her on a recent poem acceptance for Cricket Magazine.

photo by Buffy Silverman (c) from her facebook page May 22 at 10:19pm 

A couple of weeks ago a writing activity from Evolving English Teacher caught my interest. In essence, students
  • Matched a fine art painting to a poem and shared
  • Responded to the pairing with an original poem 
I want to do that I thought. Then, soon after I saw this neat resource in my twitter feed:

The resource links in the above article are plentiful and I've happily gone off in search of poets and poems in them.  

One link led me to John Masefield (1878-1967) poet of Sea Fever. He had a birthday on June 1st and an interesting life described by John Flood at the link above. I begin with his poem,

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again,

I searched Library of Congress for a photograph of where I first
remember falling in love with the sea, Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
Watch Hill light house, Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .

All there was to do next was write a poem in response. Rhode
Island is one of the oldest resort destinations in America. When my
family visited in the 1970s, not only did we play on the
beach and in the chilly Atlantic, we appreciated history there....lots
of folks came before us that felt the joy we did at the carousel and
salt water taffy shops. Our memories linked arms with theirs.

I just so happen to have an old poem ripe for revision and fit
Glenda's challenge


Why don’t we
go down to the sea?

Steal kisses from the sun.

Run with gulls.

Play in cold tumble surf--
sand pulling between our toes.

We'll catch and release
songs we know by heart into
swelling tides
           and suck on salt water taffy
pulled in shops 
cured by hurricanes
and boiling squalls.

We'll sail along the coast
tacking against the breeze 
of our shiny compass points
jib full to bursting.

(c) Linda Mitchell
My grandparents, my sister and me down at the sea