Thursday, November 16, 2017

Swimming in Poetry

Oh, it’s good to be home.

I’ve been conferencing. While I was learning and speaking about librarianship, poetry surrounded me. I love how poetry is a part of all that I do as a person. 

Jump into Poetry Friday with me and this week’s host, Jane, at her blog, Rain City Librarian. She’s a poetry person too!

As I was packing bags between conferences these beauties showed up at my door. Some were ordered, some were won in giveaways….it was painful to set them aside until I could get back to enjoy them.

While at the National Association of School Librarians Conference in Phoenix, I had an opportunity to visit with a group of incredible authors and illustrators including Jack Gantos, Molly Idle, Mike Venezia, Juana Martinez-Neal, Wendy Watson, Lynn Avril.
It's always a good idea to sit next to
Lynne Avril, illustrator of Amelia Bedelia

We met at the home of librarian and kidlit bibliophile, Mary Wong. Every inch of Mary’s house is covered in original illustrator art--including the walls of her dining room where she invites kid-lit luminaries to illustrate and sign. She has shelves and shelves of first-edition kid-lit books, many autographed. To enjoy the company of so many creatives at once was beyond my wildest dreams.

Jack Gantos illustrating/signing Mary's Dining Room

You will be thrilled to know that there were sessions on reading and writing poetry for and with kids at conferences at my state and our national level.

Kwame Alexander caused an entire Shush of Virginian Librarians to swoon when he shared poems with us and a peek at his Newberry Medal. Although Kwame is famous for his most recent works, he’s been at poetry for a while. Our young people are in good hands with Kwame’s words.
Kwame Alexander with Newberry

Charles, Irene and me....yeah, we're friends!
In Phoenix, I was thrilled to meet and speak with Irene Latham and Charles Waters. They were sitting shoulder to shoulder writing something new….but graciously allowed me a selfie.

I also attended an author panel that included Irene and Charles. They brought an entire room of Librarians to tears with a reading from their forthcoming book, Can I Touch Your Hair?  And, did I mention that the panel was led by Carole Boston Weatherford? Poetry heaven!

I could not make every poetry session at AASL in Phoenix. However, I did attend a fantastic presentation by Jill Work, Media Specialist at Stuart Country Day School in NJ who shared how she uses poetry in her library teaching. She invited her audience to create right on the spot.

My little ditty from this session has a real-life connection!

But wait--there’s more! As I meandered through the exhibit hall, publishers and book vendors gave out ARCs of soon to be published works. These beauties were just calling to me and I snapped them up fast.

With so much poetry lacing my conferences I truly felt like I was happily swimming in poetry. I’m delighted that winter is fast approaching with dark chilly days and nights to snuggle up with so many beautiful works to read.

Update early Friday morning: I'm thrilled to add that I've been included in The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2016. This is a work of love by Michelle Barns and you can find out more about the collection at her blog, Today's Little Ditty

Writing Radar by Gantos is not an's out in the world and great!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

This week's Poetry Friday host is a favorite blogger at Jama's Alphabet Soup where Jama stirs literature with recipes for readers.  Stop over there and enjoy. 

Thanks for stopping by. I'm out conferencing with:
  • American Association of School Librarians

Centennial. “1934: Eleanor Roosevelt.” Celebrate 100 Years, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, centennial.journalism.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Poetry Friday is with the talented Linda Baie this week at her blog, Teacher Dance. She's celebrating with gratitude. Stop over there and enjoy. 

Thanks for stopping by. I'm out conferencing with:
  • Virginia Association of School Librarians
  • Virginia Conference of Social Studies
  • American Association of School Librarians

Centennial. “1934: Eleanor Roosevelt.” Celebrate 100 Years, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, centennial.journalism.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Poem Pairing with The Incredible Magic of Being

Written for a visit by Kathy Erskine to Prince William School Library Association Meeting.....but really, a review and poetry pairing.

I have the pleasure of welcoming author and our friend, Kathy Erskine, to our gathering at Bookworm Central. 

As you know, Kathy has won acclaim for her YA and MG novels. She has that wonderful amalgamation of curiosity, smarts, talent, open-mindedness in her very big heart for young people and the young at heart.

I've read almost all of Kathy's books. Mama Africa How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song was published almost simultaneously with The Incredible Magic of Being....which puts me a little bit behind -- but not for long.

If you have not had a chance to take a peek at The Incredible Magic of Being, I hope you do soon. This book is perfect for ages 7-14. The mission of its main character and unisensor, Julien is to let us know's going to be all right. The Universe really is an incredible place and none of us are going to slip through its cracks. Just take time to stop and notice. And, there are funny threads too like talk of burning s'mores and FARTS (Facts and Random Thoughts).

In the voice of Julien, Kathy asks readers to notice the unknown..the incredible...the magical and persist with questions even in the face of doubt, because it's how we all achieve the impossible.

What a beautiful message for today.

On her blog, author-poet Laura Shovan sometimes pairs newly published kid-lit novels with poetry. I'm going to give that a try. The Spinning Earth, by Aileen Fisher, suits Julien at age nine, the age he is in The Incredible Magic of Being.

The Spinning Earth

    The earth, they say
    spins round and round.
    It doesn't look like it from the ground,
    and never makes
    a spinning sound.
    And water never
    swirls and swishes
    from oceans full
    of dizzy fishes,
    and shelves don't lose
    their pans and dishes.
    And houses don't go whirling by,
    or puppies swirl around the sky,
    and robins spin instead of fly.
    It may be true
    what people say
    about spinning
    night and day...
    but I keep on wondering anyway.
    Aileen Fisher

    This next poem is for us, the readers -- grown-up Julien's. I think grown-up Julien would inscribe these words on his telescope.

    When I heard the learn’d astronomer, 
    When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, 
    When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, 
    When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, 
    How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, 
    Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, 
    In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, 
    Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
    Thank you for joining us and sharing some of the magic of the universe with us tonight, Kathy.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Spooked as a Child--You Too?

If you haven't had a chance to meet author Carrie Clickard, I recommend it.

I was introduced to her by Michelle H. Barnes in her SPOTLIGHT ON interview at, Today's Little Ditty, two weeks ago. 

Each month, Michelle holds a DMC (ditty monthly challenge) and I try to keep up with the rest of the poets that always have the best ideas.

This month's challenge is: Write a poem about a person, place or thing that spooked you as a child.

I accepted the challenge but then the blank page loomed large. I have no shortage of spooked experiences....but how to encapsulate even one. 

I shouldn't have fretted. Kat Apel saved me by introducing a cool poetry form, tetractys, She shared some on her blog last week. I knew this form was perfect for a spooky topic.

In an update to my posting on Thursday night, Kat and I had an e-mail chat. She is so kind. As it turns out, my Double Tetractys are missing a line! Once the poet reaches the first line of ten syllables, the next line needs to have ten, then four, three, two and one. So, these double tetractys are going to go back in the oven a bit over the weekend. For now, enjoy the first attempt. 

Free-Photos. Free Photo: Forest, Snake, Arts, Trees, Path - Free Image on Pixabay - 336496, Pixabay, 3 May 2014,

afraid of
slithering snakes
hiding in the tall grass, shadowy shapes.
Sometimes long sticks
look like snakes
and I

Once I got started, I kinda couldn't stop. So, I will limit this post to three tetractys. The first one is shared on the DMC PadletHave fun being creeped out over there!

“Sump Pump Gallery.” AquaGuard Foundation Solutions, Aqua Guard Foundation Solutions, 7 Oct. 2016,

Oscar awaits
in the cellar under the sump pump door.
Uncle Tom gently
opens the hatch.
He roars --

This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life. And, you can find her moderating #TeachWrite in her spare time (ha!) She's working hard in grad school these days but is graciously making sure we all have some poetry to enjoy this week. Thank you, Leigh Anne.

Slightly Different. “Free Image on Pixabay - Stairs, Light, Dark, Gloomy, Night.” Free Photo: Stairs, Light, Dark, Gloomy, Night - Free Image on Pixabay - 2799299, 30 Sept. 2017,

of basement
stairs – deepest dark;
shadows, cobwebs, spiders, hanging out there.
I’m less afraid
though, when my

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Aubade Practice

Happy Poetry Friday

Last week, Irene Latham shared several aubade poems on her blog,  Live Your Poem

As I read them I had an, I want to try that, feeling. There are several places in my current work in progress to place an aubade. However, I've never written one before.

I needed a mentor text to practice with. I went in search of poems of goodbye. The lyrics to Taps work even though the song is a vesper. All the feels are still there, don't you think? 
“Taps Lyrics.” Scout Songs, BSA,

My practice aubade is a riff on Taps prompted by this stunning autumn sunrise photo from my first home in western New York. Much applause to John Kucko for capturing this shot from Portageville and posting it on facebook--and friends for sharing it.

Be sure to enjoy Poetry Friday fun with this week's host, the aforementioned Irene Latham at her blog, Live Your Poem. You will love all her writing. I am so looking forward to meeting her in Phoenix at the American Association of School Librarians conference coming up in November. 

Brace yourself for a selfie, Irene!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Found Haiku

Thank you, dear Violet Nesdoly Poems for hosting the playground of Poetry Friday this week. I have such fun running around with my friends and all their words.

I'm having fun with found haiku. It feels as satisfying as what sudoku must feel like for some people (I have no idea...all those numbers that must be in the right spot gives me a nervous tick). Give me words....lots and lots of them!

It's October--time to play with autumn!

Adams, Ansel. “Merced River, Cliffs, Autumn, Yosemite Valley, California.” Art Object Page, National Gallery of Art ,

A Letter in October
By Ted Kooser

Dawn comes later and later now, 
and I, who only a month ago 
could sit with coffee every morning 
watching the light walk down the hill 
to the edge of the pond and place 
a doe there, shyly drinking, 

then see the light step out upon 

Hartley, Marsden. “Maine Woods.” Art Object Page, National Gallery of Art ,

Haiku Found in Kooser's Letter to October

watching the light walk
at the waiting window found 
no more than my face

sowing reflections 
at the waiting window found 
a garden of trees

later and later
at the waiting window found 
beyond me, darkness

Finder, Linda Mitchell

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sick Day, Aunt's Photo & Mentor Poems

I caught the yuck and spent last Friday fighting off a fever--giving me more than usual time on my laptop where I admired a photo of aspens shared by my Aunt Kathleen and more Poetry Friday blog visits than normal.

Amy Vanderwater's Falling in Love with Meter post got me.  Also, Brenda Harsham's  To Be a Covered Bridge and Diane Mayr's found Haiku in Frost's After Apple Picking
I want to do all of that!

So, what was a red-nosed, coughy kid (at heart) home in bed to do between naps and sips of tea? Started with aspens...

Aspens, by Edward Thomas

All day and night, save winter, every weather,
Above the inn, the smithy, and the shop,
The aspens at the cross-roads talk together
Of rain, until their last leaves fall from the top.

and ... read the rest here

Then read again and again....finding lines of haiku ala Diane Mayr.
Haiku Lines found within Edward's Aspens 

Continued the golden trail with Matthew Brenneman.
 "This was a family 's home from around 1880s Oh the stories it could tell of life back in that time"
Photo credit
 Kathleen Lauritsen

Finished up by taking a dash of Brenda Harsham's poem To Be a Covered Bridge at Friendly Fairy Tales and a pinch Amy's Vanderwater's Sitting & Writing as mentor texts for this response to Aunt Kathleen's photo paired with Brenneman's poem above.


I've seen friendship flourish
as aspens at high altitude. Not just sunny weather
flags-- but smile-warmed moments  
     piled on top of each other forming a foundation.
And, upon 
this one can build a home.

So, that you’ll seldom find one without another,
 falls of friends fortified against a winter of alone.
Friendship burns bright long past the wick and oil.
       And, see aspens full circling this old
house, holding hands--hearts aglow.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by the creative and generous Laura Salas at Writing the World for Kids. Do stop by and visit poets this Friday and on Thursdays when Laura hosts at 15 word poem challenge prompt. Thank you, Laura!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Poetry Friday: Hillwood Estate Visit

Today's Poetry Friday is hosted Amy Ludwig Vanderwater at her verdant Poem Farm

Amy is celebrating the publication of her newest book, Read! Read! Read!  (Wordsong 2017). Hooray!

I'm anxiously awaiting my copy to ... read. All accounts are that it is spectacular. Please drop by to pick some poems and enjoy the bounty she shares from her Poem Farm. 

On Sunday, I had a chance to visit Hillwood Estate in Washington, DC on the recommendation of my friend, Katie. This 25-acre estate was built and owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post who bequeathed it and her massive collections housed there to the Smithsonian Institution.

Hillwood writing prompts are infinite. I have a few haiku to share.

(c) Linda Mitchell

water, stone, and pine
beneath lantern light and glow
live sun and shadow


september maples
dressed for autumn’s masquerade.
flutter, gents bow. 


each pebble, each carp
a sky song -- earth’s

Inscribed on the Friendship Walk at Hillwood:

“Friendship outstays the hurrying flight of years and aye abides through laughter and through tears.” – Tsarina Alexandra Federovna, the last empress of Russia.

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,