Thursday, April 18, 2019

Spring Break Poems

Happy Poetry Friday!

I've had a full, rich spring break staycation with my family. I've enjoyed waking up early, reading poetry, writing and revising poems, cooking, walking the dog, catching up on adulting details (doctor visits and cleaning) while spring unfolds all around with Virginia Red Bud and Cherry blossoms. It's been so nice, I hate to see it come to an end. 

For those that celebrate, chag Pesach samech and Happy Easter this weekend.

This week I came across:

Jacqueline Woodson’s Lovely Letter to Children About Kindness, Presence, and How Books Transform Us

on Brain Pickings by Maria Popova

Woodson's letter hit me smack-dab in the middle of my reader and writer's heart. Her words stay with me. And, in my writing time I found myself returning to it, responding... 

Found haiku from Woodson's Letter

evenings of reading
this perfect moment, called now
my sister’s stories 

(c) Linda Mitchell

Skinny Found in Jacqueline’s Letter

“this perfect moment, called Now.”
Stories in this perfect moment

(c) Linda Mitchell

This week, The American of Academy of Poets shared Emily Dickinson's ...

...which reminded me of The Nerdy Book Club's Celebration of Poetry last Sunday with Laura Shovan. She gave a delightful presentation of teaching poetry to young people--loaded with resources. Make sure you check it out on facebook. 

Laura shared how a 'cross-out poem' can jumpstart kids into the reading and writing poetry. Isn't Dickinson's poem perfect for a cross-out poem?  Here's one I wrote using words from Woodson's letter:

To Make Now

To make now it takes a moment and one story,
One moment, and a story.
And inside the crook of my arm.
Inside the crook of my arm alone will do,
if stories are few.

(c) Linda Mitchell

I hope you are enjoying #NationalPoetryMonth as much as I am. Our Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is shaping up nicely with selected song lyric lines. My line was from Stevie Wonder's 'Isn't She Beautiful', less than one minute old added yesterday. What would you add next?

Finally, as I write this, we are celebrating National Poem in Your Pocket Day! It is a treat and a blessing to have received a postcard poem from Irene Latham to carry in my pocket...which was actually my book that I'm reading and sat down with in the late afternoon. Thank you, Irene! What poems do you carry?

How to Live Your Poem
by Irene Latham

Love without borders.

invite strangers to tea
Vow to be astonished
each moment you breathe.

Yank off the covers
open wide the door
Unbuckle your dreams;
release your inner troubadour.

Praise stones and blossoms equally.
Overflow your own banks.
Electrify your life with questions.
Most of all: give thanks.

Progressive Poem April 18

Got it, Amy!

I just caught a poem from one of my favorite poets, Amy Ludwig Vanderwater. She had the 17th line in this year's Kidlitosphere's Progressive Poem and told me to "take it away," because I have line 18 today.

Our progressive poem, contains lines contributed by a different authors. This month, kidlit poets from around the blogosphere each contribute a line from a song to the poem as it grows and grows. Kidlitosphere bloggers have been doing this since Irene Latham started our annual #NationalPoetryMonth tradition in 2012.

This year, poet author Matt Forest Esenwine challenged us to use lines from song lyrics. I have a handful of songs that immediately put me into a good mood. Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder is one of line is from that song.

First, take a look at the poem so far:

DAY 18

Endless summer; I can see for miles...
Fun, fun, fun - and the whole world smiles.
No time for school - just time to play,
we swim the laughin' sea each and every day.

You had only to rise, lean from your window,
the curtain opens on a portrait of today.
Kodachrome greens, dazzling blue,
It's the chance of a lifetime,

make it last forever-ready? Set? Let's Go!
Come, we'll take a walk, the sun is shining down,
Not a cloud in the sky got the sun in my eyes.
Tomorrow's here. It's called today.

Gonna get me a piece o' the sky.
I wanna fly like an eagle, to the sea
and there's a tiger in my veins.
Oh, won't you come with me waltzing the waves,
                                                                                          diving the deep?

It's not easy to know
less than one minute old


Below you can read the list of where each poem line originated:

Found Lines:
L1   The Who, 'I Can See for Miles' / The Beach Boys, 'Endless Summer'
L2   The Beach Boys, 'Fun, Fun, Fun'/Dean Martin, "When You're Smiling"
L3   The Jamies, "Summertime, Summertime'
L4   The Doors, 'Summer's Almost Gone' / Led Zeppelin, 'Good Times, Bad Times'
L5    Ray Bradbury, 'Dandelion Wine
L6    Joni Mitchell, "Chelsea Morning"
L7    Paul Simon, "Kodachrome," "Dazzling  Blue"
L8    Dan Fogelberg, "Run for the Roses" 
L9    Spice Girls, "Wannabe"/Will Smith, "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It"
L10  The Beatles, "Good Day Sunshine"
L11   The Carpenters, "Top of the World"
L12   Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Underneath the Lovely London Sky" 
          from MARY POPPINS
L13   Carole King, "Hi-de-ho (That Sweet Roll)"
L14  Steve Miller, "Fly Like An Eagle"
L15   Don Felder, "Wild Life"
L16   Nowlenn Leroy, "Song of the Sea" (lullaby)
L17   Sara Bareilles, "She Used to Be Mine" from WAITRESS
L18  Stevie Wonder, "Isn't She Lovely" 

And here is a list of the line finders:
Poem Line Contributors:
2 Kat @ Kathryn Apel
3 Kimberly @ KimberlyHutmacherWrites
4 Jone @ DeoWriter
Linda @ TeacherDance
6 Tara @ Going to Walden
Mary Lee @ A Year of Reading
9 Rebecca @ Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @ Live Your Poem
12 Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @ Dori Reads
14 Christie @ Wondering and Wandering
16 Carol @ Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Amy @ The Poem Farm
18 Linda @ A Word Edgewise
20 Buffy @ Buffy's Blog
21 Michelle @ Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @ Reading to the Core
23 Penny @ a penny and her jots
25 Jan @ Bookseestudio
26 Linda @ Write Time
27 Sheila @ Sheila Renfro
29 Irene @ Live Your Poem

Bounce to you, Heidi!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

April 12 Metapoems

Finally Friday!

 SPRING BREAK starts today. Wheeeeeeeee!

Thank you to Irene Latham for hosting this week's round-up at her blog, Live Your Poem AND the amazing Progressive Poem this year. My day is coming up and I've tuned into my Classic Rock station to be ready for my line on 4/14.

#NationalPoetryMonth stresses me out a tiny bit. I'm excited as a reader and writer of poetry.  I'm also a Poetry advocate and want spend my time getting poetry out to everyone. I find it hard to both as well as and as much as I would like. This month I've been sharing Poetry Pandemonium progress...but none of my own writing.

I've been playing with meta-poetry. Meta poems are poems in which the poem is about poetry. 


This poem doesn’t know
it’s being written.
This poem is fast asleep
chasing poem parts
round the garden
in a dream of hide and seek.
This poem might
run after rhyme
or rhythm for a beat,
words that can be dreamed up
when a poem is fast asleep.
Shhhh, dearest reader
poem parts still run around,
let's give this poem
some sleep time
so a more perfect poem
can be found.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Today, students vote in our final Poetry Pandemonium Match up. The two semi-finalists that won all rounds are:

She Was Beautiful by F. Scott Fitzgerald (poem of repetition)

I Ate a Spicy Pepper by Kenn Nesbitt (poem of hyperbole)

I will post the winner on social media as soon as we know and here after school.

Enjoy some pics below of my school's Student Literacy Council hanging poems up in the wilds of our hallways, windows, bathrooms for #NationalPoetryMonth in conjunction with Poetry Pandemonium. These were the "extra" poems not selected for Pandemonium brackets...but cheerfully used in this way.

Poem Placement: I wrote where to place poems
on sticky notes. Students selected a poem & sticky
then went out to hang it up.
Restrooms are a good place for, poetry breaks

One of my favorite kiddos (shh don't tell I have favorites) hangs, 'Still I Rise' by Maya Angelou

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Poetry Pandemonium II -- The Poems

Happy Friday and Happy Poetry Month to All!

I hope you are enjoying some reading, writing and listening already this April. There are so many wonderful kidlit poetry celebrations. For a full list, see Jama Rattigan's post of 3/29.

For this week's Poetry Friday round-up visit Karen Edmisten. Thanks to her, we have a lovely collection of blog entries to peruse this weekend full of Poetry Month postings. Thank you, Karen!

Last week, I detailed the implementation of Poetry Pandemonium at my school. This project is a review of Language Arts concepts embedded in a brackets style poetry competition before state testing begins at the end of April. For these details, click here.

So far, Poetry Pandemonium is going swimmingly. Teachers have commented on how much they have enjoyed sharing poetry in homeroom with their students. However, an anonymous survey at the end of the project may produce some tweaking that needs to be done. This is the first year my school's Literacy Council has hosted the project.

This week I'm sharing poems from the project. If you have resources you'd like to share back--that would be super! I love great collaborations among friends.

Winning poems are highlighted in yellow

As you can see, there are poems from

Imperfect: poems about mistakes: an anthology for middle schoolers, by Tabatha Yeatts Lonske (History House 2018)


The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations: Holiday Poems for the Whole Year in English and Spanish, by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell (Pomelo, 2015).

These are resources that I introduced to and reminded colleagues of. Both are available to staff in our professional collection. Teachers contributed poems from their various sources. And, I think the strength of Poetry Pandemonium is that it was created from contributions from staff members.

  As I mentioned last week, this entire project is heavily influence by NCTE

As Poetry Pandemonium has grown on our score board (aka bulletin board) so has the level of visual WOW! My favorite were the butterfly decorations until I saw the boarder our Library Media Assistant made from recycled book pages. Isn't it cool? Definitely keepers -- our assistant and the border ;)
Follow @LibraryMiddle for daily deets on Poetry Pandemonium

Getting a response from @poetry4kids (Kenn Nesbitt) over his poem winning the Hyperbole contest was  extra fun this week!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Poetry Pandemonium

Good Friday, Dear Poets.  Carol's Corner is hosting our round-up of links to more Poetry Friday goodness and kicking off the festivities with Ralph Fletcher's Daffodils. Lovely! 

Today I'm wearing my Teacher-Librarian poet hat is at the dry cleaners. 

Every April, I scramble a bit to be an active participant in Poetry Month festivities...AND share with students. This year, with the help of the Literacy Council in my school, I'm a bit more into the poetry-swing-of-things personally and professionally.

I asked my school Literacy Council if they would host Poetry Pandemonium*, a brackets style competition just before spring break. The poems would include examples of language arts content tested in end-of-year state exams.

Literacy Council was co-librarian and library assistant are fantastically creative. They helped lead this project. Hope and Mary make the "me," "we" in the following description.

Step 1: Gather poems. We asked Literacy Council teachers to submit poems that could be read aloud to students during homeroom. Each poem submitted was to be hi-lighted with figurative language or literary device concepts from our state standards.
  • repetition
  • rhythm
  • simile
  • metaphor
  • onomatopoeia
  • alliteration
Step 2: Choose two poems from each category. We narrowed down the poems by strength of the example of figurative language/literary device and length. Homeroom is short. We needed short poems that a class could vote their favorite within 15 minutes.

Step 3: Brackets. I had to ask for extra help with this. One of our Literacy Council teachers had no problem setting them up so that our Poetry Pandemonium would be complete by spring break, April 12th.

Step 4: Our library assistant took charge of the display with her flair for perfection, style, weeded book pages and fun paper butterflies that she made. 

Step 5: Prepping staff. Asking staff to add one more item to their early morning to-do list can be dicey. We sent out the following.

  • A "head's up" e-mail on Monday alerting staff that Poetry Pandemonium started on Wednesday.
  • Placed a paper copy of the brackets and directions in each homeroom teacher's mailbox.
  • Advertised on our school social media (@librarymiddle)
  • Timed our first Poetry Pandemonium to go out via automatic delivery at 8 am each morning.
    so that by 8:15 when students arrive, it can be up on screens in classrooms.
  • Provided very simple paper instructions with paper copy of the poems to our substitute coordinator. She made sure each substitute had the poems for homeroom.
  • Wrote an announcement for the principal to read over the PA at 8:15 alerting teachers to open up their e-mail for the Poetry Pandemonium link of the day.

Step 6 Delivery. We used google forms to share the date, featured figurative language and poem. Since formatting a poem is near impossible to do in google forms, I typed out each poem (that were carefully edited by my helpers) and took screen shots of them. I saved the poems as jpgs and then uploaded them as photos into google forms as a quiz question.

Each "question" in the quiz was a photo of the poem. There were a total of 3 questions. The third question was multiple choice of only two options the title/author of each poem. The poem that got the most votes is the choice the teacher clicked before submitting the survey.

Step 7 Announcing winners! At the end of each school day, the winning poem is announced in afternoon announcements by our principal. The winning poem is then displayed on our bracket bulletin board and shared on social media.

Our first poem featured rhyme. The winning poem was What Goes Wrong by our own Tabatha Yeatts Lonske from her wonderful poetry collection 'Imperfect: poems about mistakes: an anthology for middle schoolers'

Step 8 What to do with all the poems NOT selected for Poetry Pandemonium? We have printed them on bright paper that matches our bulletin board and next Friday, students from our Student Literacy Council will put them up all over the school for National Poetry Month. No poetry will go wasted!

Next week, I'll share how Poetry Pandemonium is going. Wish us luck!

*Poetry Pandemonium is heavily influenced by the great NCTE resource:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

March 22, 2019

Welcome, dear Poetry Friday.  I've been busy this week with work and family and writing. I look forward to the reading treasures I'll find in you. Thank you, Sloth Reads for hosting today's round-up. I see you've been busy too!

Andō, Hiroshige, Artist. Zoushigaya Fujimi Chaya. Japan: Tsutaya Kichiz". Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Kyoto: March

A few light flakes of snow
Fall in the feeble sun;
Birds sing in the cold,
A warbler by the wall. The plum
Buds tight and chill soon bloom.
The moon begins first
Fourth, a faint slice west
At nightfall. Jupiter half-way
High at the end of night-
Meditation. The dove cry
Twangs like a bow.
At dawn Mt. Hiei dusted white
On top; in the clear air
Folds of all the gullied green
Hills around the town are sharp,
Breath stings. Beneath the roofs
Of frosty houses
Lovers part, from tangle warm
Of gentle bodies under quilt
And crack the icy water to the face
And wake and feed the children
And grandchildren that they love.

Snyder,Gary.“Kyoto: March by Gary Snyder.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,


a forsythia
dons a yellow rain slicker
rain giggles and runs