Thursday, September 14, 2017

Poetry Friday -- September

Three cheers for Michelle H. Barns for hosting today's Poetry Friday on her blog: Today's Little Ditty.

I've learned so much from keeping up with her blog. Writing with Michelle feels like I'm participating in a workshop.

My poetry searches seemed to create a bit of a poem/painting conversation, this week. Enjoy. 

September 2

In the evening there were flocks of nighthawks
passing southward over the valley. The tall
sunflowers stood, burning on their stalks
to cold seed, by the still river. And high
up the birds rose into sight against the darkening
clouds. They tossed themselves among the fading
landscapes of the sky like rags, as in
abandonment to the summons their blood knew.
And in my mind, where had stood a garden
straining to the light, there grew
an acceptance of decline. Having worked,
I would sleep, my leaves all dissolved in flight.

Fall is coming

September 9

It’s turneresque in twilight. The word comes at me
with its headlights on, so it’s revelation and not death.
I figure I’m halfway home though I’ve only started.
Nothing is moving but me: I’m a blackbird. The neigh-
bor’s in labor, but so am I, pushing against the road.
Physics tells us nothing is lost, but I’ve been copping
time from death and can’t relent for every job the stars
drop on my back.

Turneresque: Ballew, Dave. “September Twilight by DaveBallew at Simpson Gallagher Gallery.” September Twilight,Simpson Gallagher Gallery,

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Abecedarian & Found Book Review

One thing I love about my work is that it's never the same from day to day. I can work with students, teachers, and books in all kinds of ways.

This week, I was hard pressed for a Poetry Friday topic. There's just so much angst surrounding us with fires, floods, and fools.  I found myself searching my library's catalog for ABC hoping for some inspiration for Carole Boston Wetherford's abecedarian challenge on Michelle H. Barns' blog, Today's Little Ditty.

I'm not sure why, but this book, Rhythm Ride: A Road Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Pinkney (Roaring Brook Press 2015) came up in the results.

I located the book....and couldn't put it down. 

It's beautiful

The story of Motown is one that I've never taken the time to learn. I just like the music. 

I wondered...could I....maybe....try to find lines from this gorgeous book for an abecedarian poem? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Well, maybe if I.....

So, it started out with finding one sentence. And, then there was another....and another. The first part of the poem is on the Today's Little Ditty Padlet--where Michelle collects contributions to her monthly challenge. You can't miss the abecedarian found poem. It has the book cover to Rhythm Ride as an illustration.

As for letters I-Z? check back someday soon to see if it's making some groovy waves.

I challenge you to find a book that you fall in love with....and turn it into an abecedarian found poem. It's a new way to get to know what you're reading. I'll bet middle school students would have fun with this too.

For Poetry Friday fun, stop by Radio Rhythm & Rhyme for this week's round up. Give Matt a hug and a high-five for publication of his first picture book, Flashlight. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Finally, like so many others.....I'm holding those in the Caribbean and the southeast USA in my thoughts. These hurricanes are no joke. Please check in as soon as you can, friends.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Poetry Friday--Mistakes

Geesh, it's been another long week here in the US: First week of school for many, relentless worry over loved ones in the path of Hurricane Harvey....and our president never ceases to keep the news cycle interesting.

Thank you to Kathryn Apel for hosting a brilliant and joyful space for poetry in the midst of all that distracts and stresses.

Last week, Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference put out a call for submissions for poems about mistakes for a middle school collection. Pshaw....easy, I thought. I teach middle school. I can fill buckets with poems about mistakes.

Perhaps I put a little too much pressure on myself. Because, when I sat down with a blank page...those poems were being really shy. It turns out that I don't really want to write about a personal mistake.

So, I went looking for mentor poems. This one struck my fancy...and set my course.

I searched for famous mistakes and found fun articles on how items such as the slinky and silly putty, penicillin, microwave ovens and scotch guard began as mistakes. 

Now, we're cooking with gas, I thought. 

I want to convey in a poem about mistakes that they have a silver lining...they are instructional. They are opportunities. So, here is the direction my foray into mistake poems is headed. Who knows where I'll end up?

(c) Linda Mitchell

If you are still with me, there is a great TedEd talk, How to Learn, from Mistakes. It's ten minutes long. If you want to get to the heart of it...skip to minute number Five. 

Happy Poetry Friday....I wish you lots of mistakes!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Poetry Friday

Many friends are remembering their little ones these days--me too. 

Many thanks to Check it Out for hosting this week's Poetry Friday.
Gell, Mark. “Vintage Cycling Advertising.” Flickr, Yahoo!, 8 Dec. 2009,

To A Daughter Leaving Home

When I taught you

at eight to ride

a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving

(c) Linda Pastan

Society, The Saturday Evening Post. “Gallery: Early Bicycle Advertisements.” The Saturday Evening Post, 10 Jan. 2017,

Thursday, August 17, 2017

About Last Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday Round-Up is at A Journey Through the PagesThank You, Kay.

And, thanks everyone for birthday wishes! What a way to kick off a new rotation around the sun.

About Last Friday

I celebrate birthdays when my age ends in a zero or a five. Because that happened last Friday, my husband and I planned a special weekend away celebrating together with--touring, theater, fancy dining. 

However, Life and Death had other celebration plans...

On Friday, my family buried one of our dearest, my Godfather, Uncle John. 

Since before I was born, my uncle battled mental illness. Sometimes, the illness made it difficult to be close. Sometimes, it was a shining example of how God can use one's weakness for God's own strength and glory.

Throughout his life, my Uncle never was judgmental or condemning or unaccepting of anyone...even if that person was in the wrong by his or anyone else's standards. 

My Uncle lived the words of  Saint Francis' prayer.

When it was my turn to speak at his funeral mass I leaned on poetry. 

What to do When a God Father Dies

Think how he’s not your Dad
     but he is a kind of a father
     chosen just for you.

Remember him present for birthdays
     and church – all the sacraments
     graduations and more.

God in an invited father
     who you see – always there
     and who watches over you, too.

Think about a Godfather
     watching you grow and grow
     as he slowed and slowed.

Remember prayers that covered all
     when you didn’t know you needed them
     even when you walked away.

God has gathered your godfather
     into His rest as you take steps in faith
     on a journey without him, but not alone.

This year, I celebrate a golden anniversary
     of knowing God the Father
     more because of Uncle John, my godfather.

I am grateful.

(c) Linda Mitchell

My family celebrating Uncle John's life after his funeral...Amen!

Everyone should be so fortunate as to have an Uncle John in their life. My life is rich beyond measure because I have. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Poetry Friday 8/11/17

Happy Birthday to my Birthday twin, Margaret Simon, at 

Reflections on the Teche this week's host of Poetry Friday.

I've never known a birthday twin before and have started close reading and writing with Catherine, Margaret, Julie, and Heidi.
It's so fun I'm throwing confetti as you read this.

Last week I enjoyed pairing a known painting and a known poem so much, that I wanted to the activity again. 

This might be fun with students....asking students to find (or create) an image to pair with a poem and give reasons why. 

Take a look at one of my favorite poets, Linda Pastan and painter Pierre Bonnard. Both had me at Vermilion.


Pierre Bonnard would enter
the museum with a tube of paint
in his pocket and a sable brush.
Then violating the sanctity
of one of his own frames
he'd add a stroke of vermilion
to the skin of a flower.
Just so I stopped you
at the door this morning
and licking my index finger, removed
an invisible crumb
from your vermilion mouth. As if
at the ritual moment of departure
I had to show you still belonged to me.
As if revision were
the purest form of love. 

~Linda Pastan
Pastan, Linda. “Vermilion.”, The Poem Hunter, 13 Jan. 2003,
Pierre Bonnard | The Green Blouse | The Met.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I.e. The Met Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Poetry Friday August 4

“MoMA Learning.” MoMA | Vincent Van Gogh. The Starry Night. 1889, Museum of Modern Art,

“Vincent Van Gogh. The Starry Night. Saint Rémy, June 1889 | MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art,

Whitman, Walt. “When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer by Walt Whitman.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,
St.Claire, Natalya. “The Unexpected Math behind Van Gogh's ‘Starry Night’ - Natalya St. Clair.” TED-Ed, TED CONFERENCES, LLC,

Visit Donna at Mainly Write for more Poetry Friday fun!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Poetry Friday 7/28/17 First Line Swap

Hello and welcome to Poetry Friday.  
Click to learn about Poetry Friday

It's so good to see you here. 

I will let you in on a not-so-secret SECRET.  

Come a little closer...
I really love life when Poetry Friday begins Thursday somebody saying, It's five o'clock somewhere while pouring.

Today, I wanted to use my turn as host to spark new writing.

My critique group has been working from 

First Line Auction*
Adapted to Poetry Friday = First Line Swap

I'm providing a bunch of first lines and image prompts from my writer's notebook.....and electronic journal. 
 Page of my current notebook

Take as many as you like from the ones I give in this post or from comments left by others--- in exchange for your prompts. Please give an equal number as you take in a comment below

Share what you do with the prompt when you are ready.  Or, if you would like to keep it to yourself, that's OK too. Just have fun and let the writing happen.

READY? Each bullet point is a first line prompt....each image is a prompt on its own. 

  • So many steps down
  • Someday, I’ll laugh
  • I am obsessed with
  • Peaches, ripe and sun warmed were the only items on the table.
  • Clouds swam past.

  • What is a house dress?
  • The sign, in the shape of a…
  • I met Glory after a long day and one long night.
  • Crow could not find her daughter
  • This poem wants writing

  • Mother Nature lost her slippers
  • A librarian can be
  • Coffee, I need coffee like…
  • I’m not going to lie
  • In the sliver between twilight and night

  • That’s some kind of poem
  • Pieces of sea glass
  • One…two….counting steps
  • Inconsequential, insignificant, irrelevant…
  • Peanut butter and jealous…

  • Don’t worry—there are ladders
  • Silver backed maple leaves
  • Roxy was Mama’s best sister
  • Buskers stood at the edges of the crowd
  • The face of our house
  • Whale Dancer

Any of these prompt stems or images are yours

Remember to leave as many prompts as you take in the comments below.

*Action: First Lines -- by the book directions

If we were face-to-face we would take turns reading a line aloud to the group. 

The group would then discuss the line in terms of what sort of poem they see coming from that opening line and why.

The person offering the line becomes an auctioneer. 

Group members make bids for the line. Each suggestion about the line and/or how it could be used becomes a bid.

The auctioneer agrees to give the line -- no strings attached -- to the person with the best bid. Best, might be a level of enthusiasm, creativity, the number of ideas....whatEVer the auctioneer likes. 

It's time to link up! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Mid-Summer Reboot

It happens every summer

I reach summer's mid-point and realize that I have not accomplished half of what I wanted to before heading back to school. You know the gist...I want to

write more
finish a wip

take up yoga
clean out closets
exercise an hour a day
read my entire TBR pile
live off my backyard garden
cook healthy and lose weight
keep my kids from summer slide
encourage my kids to independently fight boredom
fill up with enough peace and harmony to last all through next school year.


This leads me headlong into that ohmygosh, ramped-up feeling. Fortunately, there is a cure--for me, anyway. I stop, drop and read. Tuesday, I cleaned up a "corner" of the basement and found some books that a teacher weeded from her classroom (she moved schools. sob). These books are not even on my official TBR pile--yet.

I sat down on the floor and began with Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown (Holt 2011). This picture book is not new to me....but I've not picked it up in a while. So, it felt new framed in my current ohmygosh state.

Each page is filled with words from Neruada's  poetry and life. The love of words slowed me down. I read it again, slower...and again.

I read and loved-on the words...feeling their heft and weight and edges. And then, I went and picked up another book, You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, by Carole Boston Wetherford....which led me to make lists of setting specific words (you can see my list here).  Then, I read and delighted in My Seneca Village by Marilyn Nelson (namelos, 2015) and enjoyed finding her playful and joyful use of form. The author notes about writing the poetry in this book inspire me to write.  

I am finding my mid-summer center and my calm. It is good. 

I'd love to know what you do when you need a re-boot!

Thanks to Katie at The Logonauts for hosting this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up. 

Poetry Friday Post B

I had an entirely different post written for Poetry Friday.....then, I was cruising through my twitter feed and came across this tweet.

G, Lakshmi, and Hi. "Poetry Prize Winner Found Beauty in Urdu Poetic Tradition." NBCUniversal News Group, 19 July 2017. Web. 19 July 2017. . 

I read the article. Some of my students are Urdu speakers and I am always trying to get to know them and find ways of welcoming them to reading in my middle school library. 

This poet, Adeeba Shahid Talukderis a recent MFA graduate. She is certainly not writing MG that my students would read at school. But, I was curious...and google helped me find out more. I was able to find a few of her works. 

I hope to keep track of this poet as she makes her way in the world. I feel like I've already made a new friend.

Here's one of her poems...there's more out there.

Thanks to Katie at The Logonauts for hosting this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Poetry Friday 7/14/17 Where am I?

I have been traveling.....about 1,200 miles in four days but so worth it. I have collected bushel baskets full of words and am happily looking over the harvest and enjoying the fruits of my collection labors. 

One of the places I visited has been on my bucket list for a while now....and I finally got to spend some time there. Can you guess where?

trying to the cottage or at the's one of those grammar snafus for me!

July 12, 2017
Ah, a rendezvous in the country
to the cottage
where it is as common
to greet a king
or a firebrand
as a sugar maple.
Here, life is a
vanity fair gathering.
Walking the trail
dreaming grand dreams
playing truth or dare
with our lady who insists
“You must do the
things you think
you cannot do

Where am I? Update: Hmmmmmmmm perhaps I made my riddle a little too tricky. I was visiting the first National Historic Site dedicated to a US First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt's cottage, Val-Kill. If you can get to Hyde Park, just a train ride from NYC and totally worth it. At Val-Kill, ER entertained pals, royalty, political operatives and diplomats of all sorts with country charm. She made everyone feel welcome and valued as a guest. She inspires me. 

Despite the steamy heat of's #NationalMacAndCheeseDay here in the US. 

Our Poetry Friday host, Tabatha Yeatts, at The Opposite of Indifference is holding a feast. Dig in!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Poetry Friday 7/7/17 Rivers are never ending construction zones

I live on the east coast but my mind and writing attention are still in my recent visit to the Northwest Pacific.

When visiting the Suquamish Museum in Suquamish, WA, I was completely taken with the small but beautiful exhibits...especially the one about the Elwah River. There was a line in the exhibit documentation that I knew immediately was going to be a golden shovel poem as soon as I saw it.....and it became the title too.

Healthy rivers are never ending construction zones

People of clear salt water well know that  healthy
dances with death and lifeRivers
and sea, sky and forest give and partake. The Changer* knows people  are
meant to learn this with fasting, prayer, meditation and ritualNever
was sun to overpower moon. No  ending
forgets its start…a longhouse was red cedar, before  construction.
Each chinook thrived in salt before thrashing current to spawning  zones.

(c) Linda Mitchell

* Changer is the name of God to the First Peoples of Suquamish

"Elwah: A River Reborn." Suquamish Museum - Featured Exhibit. Https://, 28 June 2017. Web. 02 July 2017. 

Hop on over to Beyond Literacy for this week's Poetry Friday round-up with delightful Carol Varsalona. 

Tabatha Yeatts at, The Opposite of Indifference, is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up on 7/14 which also happens to be National Macaroni & Cheese Day.....she will be playing with that as a theme and we are all invited to cook up something to bring to the party.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Goodbye Vacation

Saying Goodbye to Vacation....hello to Poetry Friday at Random NoodlingThanks for hosting, Diane!

Vacation found word poem by Linda....smiles by sister, Jenn.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Riddle Poem 6/23/17

My family and I are traveling this week...and our first day in a new city I couldn't help falling in love with the poetry all around me including a real poetry garden -- which is new to me. We celebrated the almost twelve hours of this Summer Solstice being together discovering a new place...can you guess where we are?

Have lots more poetry fun at the wonderfully creative Heidi at
My Juicy Little Universe

Awwwwwwwwwwwww, couldn't fool you poets! Yes, I'm in Seattle and having a marvelous time with my family....not only do I love these people. I like them.

I've gone a little cuckoo over finding cool words here. Yikes!

Word art by Linda who is really enjoying Seattle!

(c) Linda Mitchell

Photos by Linda!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Poetry Friday

I recently joined Laura Shovan's 5th Annual February Daily Poem Project. Still going strong after four months, participants take turns selecting news articles and ten words from the article for a found poem.

Linda Baie introduced this month's news article, Ditch the grammar and teach children storytelling instead.  as well as ten words from the article to use in a found poem. I took chance on a found...concrete poem with nine of them. Can you spy which one is missing?   

internal, frustrated, storytelling, direction, craft, territory, happy, robots, natural, stuff

Swing on over to A Year of Reading for some fun on the Poetry Friday playground this week. Thank you, Mary Lee for hosting. I'll play you a round of checkers or two.