Thursday, January 12, 2017

One Little Word 2017

Isn’t it amazing how much we can put into our OLW for the New Year?
Several months before 2017 I started keeping a list…in church. Somehow, in church, my mind relaxes and unexpected ideas and emotions surface. It’s kinda nice. The Almighty seems to communicate in this way with me. 

I do love a creative Almighty.

If you were to look through my notebook you’d see lists, bits from sermons and hymns, reminders and lots of OLWs.  My list of OLWs got pretty long. Each word, when it came to me, was IT! And hey, blessed too.

Then, a week would go by and there would be another one or two – that were IT! I felt like I was looking for a blind date to show up.

I’ll be wearing the tortoise-shell glasses and
the black peacoat with a button that says I love poetry.


What’s funny is that my OLW showed up late. I mentioned to another poet in an off-handed way, don’t forget to look up, either New Year's Eve or the day before.

Just for giggles.....

But then, the word was there wearing those glasses and that coat. Gorgeous
My word, is LOOK.

(c) Linda Mitchell

The meanings of look are many…just layers to play with as we revolve around the sun for the next 365 days. It feels like a good beginning. LOOK and I are already holding hands. Below is our first poem together inspired by a photograph from National Geographic of a place I’d like to be in the moment captured. It’s a somonka – an absolutely irresistible form brought to us by the poetry sisters from last week.


Look! The rain dances.
My dress of silly sunshine,
now a dripping mess.
I’m in a yellow taxi
squishing to the airport

Mayfeng, Julie. "Rainy Street Your Shot Photo of the Day." National Geographic. National Geographic, 08 Jan. 2017. Web. 09 Jan. 2017. 

Plane delayed again…
I’m stuck with strangers waiting
for this storm to pass,
to rise above sullen clouds.
I’m thirsty for blue skies…you.

© Linda Mitchell

PS. I am really enjoying the #postcardXchange! My original postcard order was I panicked and quickly made another homemade batch...sent them out. BUT, my order was found. I will be sending my folks a bonus postcard just for fun....and because it IS nicer than my homemade ones.

Many thanks to Keri Recommends for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Truthiness #haikuforhealing

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Poetry Friday 1/6/17

I feel like the recess bell just rang. It’s Poetry Friday! I rush out into the playground over at Teacher Dance for some fun. Thank you, Linda Baie, for hosting. 

My mother was a sewer, a seamstress, and a certified tailor. She didn’t just sew fabric well. She created high-quality, extraordinarily precise textiles for her wardrobe, our family and many people that paid her for her work.

I once saw Mom take an antique size eight wedding gown and alter it to a today’s size twenty-two….using tea to stain the new fabric to match the aged fabric of the antique gown.
My mom was a miracle worker with fabric and thread.

I recently read Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins (Simon & Schuster 2016) with a mind to review it. However, novels-in-verse slow me down as a reader. It’s because I’m slowing down to examine the stitches, seams and detail. Jeannine is a genius with words and a page.

When I felt ready to share my thoughts about Finding Wonders, I turned to Doraine Bennet’s Poetry Friday post with interview questions and answers from Jeannine on Finding Wonders.
I started clicking on the links in Doraine’s post that led to Jeannine’s blog, Views from a Window Seat, and teacher resources and writing prompts.

And then, I simply went off the path. I started responding to the writing prompts – just as an exercise I thought. There’s a historical figure without a large body of written record left that fascinates me. Why not start there? I fell down rabbit holes of research. I now have several bits of phrases and scratches and scribbles that I think maybe someday might become something? That’s the thing that Jeannine shows and Doraine reinforces. One doesn’t sit down say, now, I will write a novel in verse. One has to trek through rabbit holes and stay off the path before getting down to business.

I’m still studying the seams of Finding Wonders, admiring the high-quality and precision of Jeannine’s work. I’d love to be on the inside of her creative writing classes, crit-group, or editor’s chats.  I don’t want to just pick-up and read another or any old novel in verse. I want to read and write to the level of Finding Wonders.

Getting back on the path to an actual review……

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science is a superb book about three young women at the bridge between childhood and womanhood but decided to pause and look over the side.

The observations of Maria Sibylla Merian, Mary Anning and Maria Mitchell led each young woman to respond to what she saw in ways that today we call science and art….these pioneers are our ste-A-m foremothers.

The verse will draw you in….though at first I questioned…how are these prose-y looking pages verse? They are. There are stanzas and line breaks to guide and wow. The figurative language is unique and thought provoking. The details and wonders readers to ponder are infinite.

There is a strong, luminous silken thread that connects the women in their lives to each other and to us. That’s the genius of Jeannine’s stitching that I admire most.

This is not simply a book for girls. As a middle school librarian, I can sell this book as a fast read to all students, teachers and staff members knowing full well they will come away with a learning wrapped up in beautiful words. I can also see Finding Wonders as a beautiful Father’s Day gift as each one of the women depicted had nurturing relationships with fathers.

As a poet, reader and a researcher, I say this book should come with a warning for the like-minded. Finding Wonders will slow you down. The novel will increase your curiosities and desires to dig, seek, sketch your way to new understandings—live a poetic process.

Thank you, Jeannine, for writing such a lovely and thoughtful novel. Thank you Doraine for asking questions and sharing the answers.  I have enjoyed learning…and look forward to more.

For more creativity related to Finding Wonders see Amy Vanderwater over at The Poem Farm.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Poetry Friday

What a busy season! A special thank you to Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference for hosting Poetry Friday today.

Fortunately, #haikuforhealing headed up by Mary Lee Hahn has kept me from feeling too overwhelmed. Noticing the beautiful or the banal and framing it in the pattern and tempo of a haiku is good for this busy teacher-mom. Thank You, Mary Lee Hahn!

Right on cue, weather in my neck of the woods has turned from cold to Arctic. Folks all around are talking about being cold....needing a sweater, needing a heater.

This poem popped up in my inbox and I laughed at how on point the title is...then I read it and I saw that it's not at all a funny poem. The Space Heater by Sharon Olds took me from my giggle to that oh, bless my soul, feeling. And, it was good on a Thursday in December.

The Space Heater

On the then below-zero-day it was on,
near the patients' chair, the old heater
kept by the analyst's couch, at the end,
like the infant's headstone that was added near the foot
of my father's grave. And it was hot, with the almost
laughing satire of a fire's heat,
the little coils like hairs in Hell.
And it was making a group of sick noises-

read the rest here...

I received a most spectacular gift yesterday! Michelle Heidenrich Barns has compiled a beautiful collection of poems contributed to her blog, Today's Little Ditty into a published work. The Best of Today's Little Ditty is gorgeous. What a lovely community Poets create. I'm so happy to be part of it.

Have a great week and enjoy the magic of this season, my friends.

Friday, December 2, 2016

#haikuforhealing Every Day in December

Happy New Year! I made it across the finish line of this year and with a haiku each day in December in response to an invitation to write a daily #haikuforhealing with Mary Lee Hahn @ A Year of Reading

The practice of focusing thought each day on this short & sweet form was good for me. It gave me a reason to make sure I was noticing life...being present in it. After December 2nd, I began looking for images to pair with haiku. These are known as haiga. On Fridays, I would submit this haiku gallery for Poetry Friday, an online community of poetry sharing. You will see breaks in the gallery as those weeks are introduced.

I hope you enjoy the gallery of December moments below as much as I did and do. Cheers!

WTOP News " in 1879, the wizard of Menlo Park demonstrated his bright idea. A look at things that have happened on Dec. 31 in history." 12/31/16. 5:45 am.

Poetry Friday 12/30/16 Happy Eve to New Year's Eve! I will be spending time today thinking about the past year and choosing a new one-little-word for 2017. In 2016 I chose "listen". Isn't it amazing how often an idea pops up once you notice it? Oh, I had such a hard time listening over the past year...and I aim to do better next. For this past month, I've been adding a haiku a day to this gallery. Not only has it been a joy but it's been a tremendous centering experience. Many, many thanks to Mary Lee Hahn for the challenge. The haiku gallery is my offering for Poetry Friday with gratitude to Donna Smith at Mainly Write for hosting this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up

(c) Linda Mitchell

Common Ravens. Photo: Colleen Gara/Audubon Photography Awards The 2016 Audubon Photography Awards Winners." Audubon. National Audubon Society, 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 28 Dec. 2016.

(c) Linda Mitchell

c Linda Mitchell 

(c) Linda Mitchell. Photo: Network, The Fabric Shop. "Free Pattern – Rhythm & Blues Quilt from Red Rooster."FabTalk - It's All About Fabric. FabTaalk, 19 June 2009. Web. 26 Dec. 2016.

"Virginian Partridge." Audubon. National Audubon Society, 24 Aug. 2015. Web. 26 Dec. 2016.

Associated Press. "Associated Press." The National Herald. The National Herald, 23 Dec. 2016. Web. 25 Dec. 2016.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Christmas Eve already? Have you baked your cookies yet? My little neighbor girls have. Christmas is really for the children. xoxo

photo credit: Connie Thompson

It's Poetry Friday -- December 23, 2016. There's lots more poetry creativity and sharing at Buffy Silverman's blog. Thank you, Buffy!

click here to see the video

It's first day of winter break -- I'm having too much fun playing on fb & twitter!

Kucko, John. "Facebook." The Winter Solstice,. John Kucko Digital, 17 Dec. 2016. Web. 21 Dec. 2016.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Unsplash. "Free Image on Pixabay - Milky Way, Galaxy, Night, Sky." Free Photo: Milky Way, Galaxy, Night, Sky - Free Image on Pixabay - 984050. Pixabay, n.d. Web. 18 

Hubbard, Ben. "Aleppo Evacuation Suspended After 8,000 People Removed." The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Dec. 2016. Web. 17 Dec. 2016. 

Bell, Vanessa. "Virginia Woolf - National Portrait Gallery." Home - National Portrait Gallery. National Portrait Gallery London, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016. 

NDSU Extension. "North Dakota State University." Assessing Tree Damage - Burleigh County Extension. NDSU EXTENSION SERVICE - BURLEIGH COUNTY, 21 Dec. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.

(c) Linda Mitchell

(c) Linda Mitchell

(c) Linda Mitchel

(c) Linda Mitchell


Hooray! It's POETRY FRIDAY 12/10/16. So far, I've kept up with at least one #haikuforhealing each day of the month. It's fun and keeps my writing brain in the "on" position in this busy season. Even though some of these haiku are dashed off, I appreciate slowing down to consider each word when I can. It's a stillness that's delicious. 

Hop on over to Jone's blog, Check it Out for more Poetry Friday. Thanks for hosting, Jone!

(Linda Mitchell)

Today's #haikuforhealing  takes the last line of Margaret Simon's haiku from 12/9 as the first. Thank you, Margaret for the line, "poems stand in line". See all of Margaret's offerings at her blog: Reflections on the Teche. And Michelle at Today's Little Ditty has a list of a dozen participants.

Photo credit: Connie Thompson

photo: "USS Arizona Memorial." USS Arizona Memorial Tour. Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2016. 

The next two haiku are inspired by Mary Hahn's comment to Margaret Simon's haiku offering for Dec 5th, "We're on the same page". 

Lambert. "A Young Boy and Girl Sit in Front of a Christmas Tree, Singing Carols..." Getty Images. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.

photo credit: Bender, Peter. "Trees & Stars.jpg." Flickr. Yahoo!, 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2016. 

(c) Linda Mitchell

(c) Linda Mitchell 

December 3rd makes me think of the song...and Three French Hens. There are several ideas of the symbolism of the birds. The most authoritative, I think, is Catholic News Agency.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Taking the last line of Margaret Simon's December 1  #haikuforhealing  as the first line of today's offering. Would anyone like to take this last line and keep it going?


December enters

on sweeping sweet pines, sighing

love, peace, joy to you

More #haikuforhealing authors
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Mary Lee Hahn at Poetrepository
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog
Jone Rush MacCulloch at DeoWriter
Diane Mayr, posted on Thursdays at Random Noodling
Julie Johnson at Raising Readers and Writers
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink
Carol Wilcox at Carol’s Corner
Julianne Harmatz tweeting @jarhartz
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
Michelle Heidenrich Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty