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)

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

Thursday, May 24, 2018

5/25/18 Photo Swap

Happy Poetry Friday! This week's round up is hosted by poetry friend and author Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. Stop by and spend time with her this week. 

Margaret has talents for writing poetry and making poetry friends.  A few weeks ago, Margaret announced a poetry-photograph swap. I joined and shortly after received two photos from Kim Douillard

Kim and I live on opposite coasts of the US and in areas that are iconic. It was really fun to take inspiration from her photos and I cannot wait to see what she's done with mine.

I sat with Kim's photos and let the ideas play around in my head for a bit...then poems showed up.

Photo 1.

The first is of the flower fields with the Encina Power Plant in the background—iconic images from Carlsbad. Kim Douillard

I'm taking a tip from Alice Nine and writing a little bit about my writing. When I first looked at this photo I was challenged because despite the gorgeous field of flowers, palm trees and Pacific Ocean there is that big ole power plant smack dab in the middle. After some doodling and brain storming the phrase "flower power" rather took over. Ha!

Photo 2.

Sun setting behind a lifeguard tower last week at South Ponto beach—also in Carlsbad. Kim Douillard

South Ponto Beach Carlsbad, California

tide                                       Twilights
to                                           unveil

moon                                   moon

gathers                                and
sunset                                 stars
                                                constellations               Nights
                                                and                                      watch
                                                milky way                         milky way
                                                unveil                                 count
                                                twilights                           galaxies

(c) Linda Mitchell

Writing about my writing--A sunset photo can be intimidating. After all, hasn't everything that can be written already been written about sunsets? When I feel intimidated I grab a form that helps me puzzle out an idea. The Skinny is a form that demands brevity. This series of three Skinny (or is that Skinnies?) allowed for me to write what I saw in a new way.

Thank you Margaret Simon, for continuing to widen my friendship and poetry circles.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


Happy Poetry Friday! May is flying by...thankfully with the flowers brought by those chilly April showers.

Today's Poetry Round-Up is hosted by talented Rebecca at Sloth Reads. Enjoy some time with her and a great book, I'm Just No Good at Rhyming(Little, Brown 2017).

I've been spending some time in the Great, I'm not depressed. I mean THE Great Depression, the Dirty Thirties. One of my favorite places for inspiration is the cache of online photos at our U.S. Library of Congress. 

This month, Michelle Barns interviewed Julie Fogliano who challenged us to write a poem about what we see outside our window. I had a tough time finding an original "in" to the challenge. 

It occurred to me that all the searching into the 1930s is a window to the past. I chose a random photo from the Depression era that intrigued me and a favorite form, pantoum, and started playing with words and ideas. I like the draft below. I'm fairly certain this is not a final poem. I'll fiddle with it some more...but its the poetry I've been working on this week.