Thursday, April 19, 2018

Poetry Friday -- OOOPS! mIsTaKe!

Happy Poetry Friday!

My goodness we are two-thirds through National Poetry Month. How are you holding up? I like Amy Vanderwater's description of this month for's like being at an all you can eat buffet after you just ate. Yes, yes it is like that.

Today I am excited to share some MISTAKES!  Our host for this week's Poetry Round-Up, Tabatha Yeatts Lonske, is introducing her shiny new anthology, IMPERFECT: a poetry anthology for middle schoolers about mistakes. Today is the Imperfect anthology's book birthday--Hooray!

I am a Middle School Teacher Librarian in the trenches with those pre and young teens making, fixing and recovering from mistakes.


Tabatha was kind enough to include a poem of mine in her anthology. (you would NOT believe the number of re-writes it took to get this very simple diamante just write---er, RIGHT!)

One of the coolest things about this anthology is how Tabatha likens it to the Japanese art of Kinsugi, repairing broken objects with gold rendering them unique and even more beautiful than before. If you are a pinterest pinner, you can see more on that here.

For me, the gold repair, is humor. Many mistakes that make me feel like diving deep into the nearest hole to the center of the earth are the source of bust-a-gut-laughing stories later.

My friend Deb likes to tell me....someday, you'll laugh at this. And, honestly I do!

One funny mistakes happened with my neighbor. We used to meet at the bus stop and chat while waiting for our kids to ride off to school. I marveled over her beautiful and smart little girl and she told me about her older son who I had never met.

One day, I was out walking and came across my neighbor walking with a handsome young man. I said,
     Oh, this must be your son!

There was a long, looooooong pause before my neighbor could sputter,

    This is my BOYfriend.

OOOOPS! Unbeknownst to me, my neighbor had started dating after a divorce and, I had never met her son...and he IS young and handsome and....well, let's just say the gold that covers this mistake is a lot ... A LOT of giggles years later.

I love Anne Lamott's words about a serious way of dealing with mistakes--simply letting it go:

Quotes, Anne Lamott. “ ~@ANNELAMOTT” Twitter, Twitter, 15 Apr. 2018 

Isn't that what writers do? We try to turn our mistakes into writing gold? I hope that this anthology makes it into the hands of lots and lots of middle schoolers so that they can see it's not the mistake that matters so much as the response it it.

Below is my poem for Imperfect. Many, many congratulations to Tabatha for bringing this book into the world. I wish it lots of success.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Progressive Poem on Lucky Friday 13th

It's National Poetry Month. Readers and writers everywhere are celebrating! 

Thanks to Robyn Hood Black, Children's Author, Poet and Artist and her blog, Life on the Deckle Edge, we can all enjoy this week's round-up of Poetry Friday contributions. 

One celebration is a Progressive Poem that has been growing line by line each day of April. This annual project was created six years ago by author/poet Irene Latham at her blog, Live Your Poem

I've summoned courage to jump in with a line on lucky April 13. Yikes!

Before authors began this year's poem, Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe interviewed Irene and, Elizabeth Steinglass who kicked off our 2018 with a first line. If you aren't familiar with the Progressive Poem Project it's worth a few minutes with Heidi's interview to see this year's challenge and twist.

I keep notes from things that wow or inspire me on Poetry Friday in a digital journal where I copy and paste snippets of posts, words, quotes, ideas or anything that strikes my fancy. I try to keep the url of where I found the idea too. 

Heidi asked us to record our thoughts about line one to reflect on later. My thoughts about this year's first line are in the bottom right corner of my journal page in blue.

Here is the poem thus far with my line for day 13. Enjoy clicking on each line to find the author's thoughts on their contribution. I am just tickled to share this story poem with other poets who I truly admire and even fan girl over....without further ado....the poem.

 4. the pulse of a thousand stars, sweet Jasmine

“Birthday Wishes: Best Happy BDay Wishes, SMS and Messages.”, 17 Jan. 2018,
Follow this poem to its end with these poets who are also celebrating the master poet, Lee Bennet Hopkins, birthday today with our hostess, Robyn Hood Black. Happy Birthday Lee.

14. Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
15. Donna at Mainely Write
16. Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
17. Ruth at There Is No Such Thing as a God Forsaken Town
18. Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19. Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20. Linda at Write Time
21. Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
22. Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
23. Amy at The Poem Farm
24. Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
25. Keisha at Whispers on the Ridge
26. Renee at No Water River
27. Buffy at Buffy's Blog
28. Kat at Kat's Whiskers
29. April at Teaching Authors
30. Doraine at Dori Reads

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Poem Found in Smith Interview

Hooray for April! National Poetry Month is upon us--a festival of writing amongst friends. 

Please visit Amy L.Vanderwater at The Poem Farm for a super fun look at her project of a daily poem about the constellation Orion in conjunction with the lessons of her new book, Poems are Teachers (Heinemann 2017)...and..this week's round-up.

To tell the truth, I'm a bit overwhelmed with the plethora of poetry prompts, new poems to read and craft ideas to consider. Oh, and hey! I do have a project that I've been working on.

So, I've decided to focus on just a couple of favorite places for inspiration and craft. So far, I've settled into a nice morning routine of checking out Amy's Poem Farm and Renee LaTulippe's No Water River where she is introducing a poet, their books and a prompt with opportunities to share writing that create a month long community poetry project. It's like auditing a master class. 

Finally, I'm part of the Progressive Poem project hosted by Irene Latham, who is writing daily poems inspired by art of the Harlem Renaissance on her blog, Live Your Poem. My day is lucky Friday the 13th. Be sure to stop back and say hello as this poem grows and grows.

Today, I'm sharing a poem found in Time Magazine's 9 Questions with Tracy K. Smith, US Poet Laureate. I love her spunk that shines through. 

Begley, Sarah. “9 Questions With Tracy K. Smith.” Time, Time, 2 Apr. 2018, 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ode to Jeremy's Shoes

Happy Poetry Friday! Make sure to swing by My Juicy Little Universe where Heidi is hosting this week's round-up.

Last weekend, hundreds of my friends were out marching. I was not. I was at temple with my thirteen year-old friend, Jeremy, celebrating his call to Torah. His family invited me to read something in the service.

I've been watching Jeremy grow up. He's gone from the adorable kid that is open to every question and conversation from me, his neighbor lady, to a composed thirteen year old young man.

The Neighbor Lady & Bar Mitzvah Boy

Because I am a poetry person, I needed a really good poem!

Fortunately, I knew from J's mom that the theme of the reception was going to be shoes....sneakers to be precise because J loooooooves himself some good kicks.

A poem about sneakers.....for a young man. Well, there's only one that fits the bill---er foot.

Ode to Pablo’s Tennis Shoes
By Gary Soto 

They wait under Pablo’s bed,
Rain-beaten, sun-beaten,
A scuff of green At their tips
From when he fell In the school yard.
He fell leaping for a football
That sailed his way.
But Pablo fell and got up,
Green on his shoes,
With the football Out of reach.
(read the rest here)

Mr. Soto's perfect poem became a frame to hang words of a personalized Jeremy poem.

Ode to Jeremy’s Shoes
By a neighbor who loves watching you grow up

They wait by Jeremy’s front door,
weather beaten, teen-age things
A scuff of dark
at their tips
From where he swerved
at the bus stop.
He faked out a friend
dribbling his basketball
and his kicks
couldn’t keep up
with his speed.
Neither did his friend.

Now it is night
Jeremy is in bed listening
to his parents chatting--
reminding Ethan to feed Speedy.
His shoes, twin pets
that snuggle his toes,
guard their home.
He should have showered,
But he didn’t
(Dirt rolls from his palm,
Blades of grass
Tumble from his hair.)
After touch football
at Boy Scouts.

He wants to be
Like his shoes,
A little dirty
From the street,
A little worn
from racing to Religious School
and martial arts
and the water fountain.
It’s a bit of giving up
of his childhood
to get all these places
where he’s becoming a man,
And his shoes get him
There. He loves his shoes,
Laces like rigging of an explorer’s ship
Rubber like
A lifeboat on rough sea.
Jeremy is tired,
sinking into bed
His eyes close after
learning Hebrew and
He needs a whole night
of sleep
to cool his shoes,
The tongues hanging
out, exhausted.

Mazel Tov, Jeremy

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Freddie Found a Poem

Happy Poetry Friday

Thank you poet, author Laura Purdie-Salas for hosting this week's round-up at her blog, Writing the World for Kids. She's celebrating the publication of her newest book, Meet My Family which I reviewed with a meet my family story of my own a couple weeks ago.

My Library Partner and I and our assistant, have been having fun with the eighth graders at our school. Found poetry is our game and its word play with no complicated rules to follow. It's been so fun that we've set out a box of old book pages with markers, crayons and colored pencils for our student poets that return to write more. It's a poetry maker-station!

I enjoy student word play so much not only because of the poetry I see teens uncover but for the side of their personalities I get to see when they make friends with language. 

It's fun sincerely complementing students on their imagination and creativity. They love making something meaningful that isn't producing a grade or score. The photo below includes three young people that are a little nearer and dearer to my heart because of our shared experience.

Freddie Found a Poem

He was late—as usual
No-pencil-Freddie, carried on
all through the lesson.
His elbow partner
giggled at all his jokes
burps and farts.

The teacher
passed out pages
ripped out of old books and--

nvited students
to circle a favorite
on their page….any word
that could be an anchor
for the boat of an idea.

Borrowed pencil in hand
Freddie bent over his page
and circled...thoughtful,quiet, still 
an artist at work.

By the time the teacher
guided the class through
circling more words--
other boats to tie-up
to their anchors,
Freddie had found
a flotilla.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Student X March '18

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Eavan Boland

Happy Saint Patrick's Day...A bit o' the green has peeked through the cold breeze in Virginia. Today, I am preparing to spend time with Librarians in my region learning about ways of teaching and learning through librarianship.

Poetry Friday is hosted by poet, reader, grandmother, leader.....Linda Baie at Teacher Dance. Enjoy pearls of poetry she so graciously shares there. She's kicking off spring with some words from Robert Loveland.

I'm discovering Irish Poet, Eavan Boland (click on her name for video). Spoiler alert...she's great!

The Lost Art of Letter Writing (video here)
By Eavan Boland

The ratio of daylight to handwritingWas the same as lacemaking to eyesight.The paper was so thin it skinned air.
The hand was fire and the page tinder.Everything burned away except the onePlace they singled out between fingers
Held over a letter pad they set asideFor the long evenings of their leave-takings,Always asking after what they kept losing,
Always performing—even when a shadowFell across the page and they knew the answerWas not forthcoming—the same action:
First the leaning down, the pen becomingA staff to walk fields with as they vanishedUnderfoot into memory. Then the letting up,
read the rest

I was fortunate enough to be able to read some letters of my Irish ancestors after they made their way to New York. My Uncle has a beautiful collection of them and last summer I spent a few days enjoying the voices of people I wish I could have known. Eavan Boland really gets the Irish-American connection.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Meet My Family!

Happy Poetry Friday!


Please enjoy lots more Poetry Friday with Michelle Heiderich Barnes at her blog, 
Today's Little Ditty. She has an amazing playground of poetry for all ages. I love every visit with her there.

I am pleased and honored to be part of a blog tour of Laura Purdie Salas' newest book, Meet My Family (Lerner 2018). This book is a whimsical, loving and current peek at all kinds of families in our world through the eyes of animal babies.

Meet My Family has a place in the heart of my immediate family. Each of the six of us, Me-mom, My husband-Dad and our four kids were born in a different place to different biological parents. 

How can that be you ask?

The miracle of adoption.  When my husband and I decided to grow our family by adoption we not only fell in love with our children as they came to us but also celebrations unique to our family.

One favorite is celebrating GOTCHA DAY--which is the anniversary of the day we adopted each of three of our children we were in various locations of China. To this day, we celebrate with a meal of Chinese food. Sometimes, it's at fancy Chalin's in downtown DC. Other times, when our schedules are full, it's take-out around our kitchen table. The important thing is being together.

Our kids love retellings of when we met and details about how we learned to be family. One child would not allow me, her mother, to hold her for three days....another giggled like a little old man and another came to us running and hasn't stopped.

Even though one of our children has ventured off to college, we still celebrate GOTCHA DAY. It's a special thread in our fact, you might even call it "the red thread" .

Laura Salas has a family tradition to share as well...take it away, Laura!

My Favorite Family Tradition - Advent Celebrations

When I was a kid, my parents put more stock in rules than in traditions. But we did have a couple. The one I remember most is our advent gatherings.

Each Sunday night for four weeks before Christmas, my parents and all four of us girls would gather in the living room. Mom or Dad light the advent wreath. My sisters had helped my dad make it, and it featured a gold spray painted plywood base, plastic holly and poinsettias, and plenty of glitter. We thought it was extremely fancy! Mom would light the proper number of candles, and one of us girls would pass out that week’s “program”—scrawled after forcing everyone to commit to a particular song or story. If it was cold enough (this was in Florida), Dad would light a fire, and we’d drink hot chocolate. 

Then came the music. Someone would play an instrument, and the rest of us would crowd around to read the lyrics (who knows more than the first verse of any carol by heart?). Mom played the piano…I can still hear “Friendly Beasts.” Dad usually played saxophone. We girls would bang out tunes on the organ, piano, clarinet, recorder, piccolo…. For an hour, our faces glowed in the candlelight and twinkling tree lights, and our voices warbled, shook, and soared. Giggles and shushes occasionally broke the mood. And at the end of the hour, we bickered over who got to snuff the candles. Then, before the smoke finished wisping away, we drifted off to do our own things and the slightly mysterious together time would be over.

I don’t have any pictures of our advent celebrations, but here are my sisters and I in the living room (I’m the smallest), with the piano right behind us. As I look at this photo, the notes of Friendly Beast are starting to chime in my head. 


Thank you for visiting A Word Edgewise today, Laura. It's been really nice letting our families get to know each other here.  We'd love to get to know your family too! Share a family tradition that makes your family unique.