Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Slice of Life

Last May I made a commitment to join the community of poets that write and share regularly. It has changed my life. 

Instead of scratching my head and spending time thinking of what to write in my quiet times, I am full of ideas. So many of these ideas are taken directly from this community. And, my daily writing has increased in quantity and quality.

In January, I entered a postcard exchange coordinated by Poet Jone MacColloch for bloggers in the PF community. What a treat! For days I have enjoyed beautiful notes and gifts of poetry from such creative people. My life is richer for writing alongside these folks.

As I received postcards I would immediately use them as bookmarks….finding them all to get a photo was a little bit of a challenge as my reading materials are in every area my life is. But here are at least most of them.

A slice of my life is much, much richer from these gifts.

A goal I hold for the Month of February is to participate in A Slice of Life similar to how I joined the PF community.
 It’s truly better for me to be positively writing than wringing my hands about what in society plagues me.

Special thanks to the poets that have been the rock stars of my mailbox. Their names are enmeshed in this post

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Celebrating Special Young People

Today I am thrilled to be a guest blogger on Penny Parker Klostermann's 'A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt' with my two nieces and a nephew.  We invite you to check in and comment at her blog.

In other news, I've taken up a poetry challenge I saw on Amy VW's, The Poem Farm. She wrote a poem about a cactus by taking the meter and rhyme scheme of another poet. See her example, Once,  here. 

I loved Amy's example and wanted to try it. So, I went poem hunting! I settled on B.J. Lee's Garden Prayer that I found at Renee La Tulippe's outstanding poetry website, No Water River. It was fun and I want to try my hand at some more mimicry. 

Today's PF contribution is shared with some pretty special young people in my life!

Thank you, Carol at Beyond Literacy for hosting this week's poetry fun.

15 Words or Less

Thank you Laura Purdie Salas for the invitation to Fifteen Words or Less.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Thursday, January 19, 2017

If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas

Salas, Laura Purdie, and Jaime Kim. "IF YOU WERE THE MOON by Laura Purdie Salas , Jaime Kim." Kirkus Reviews. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2017. 
Thank you, Violet Nesdoly for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

A Review

One of my favorite visual thinking strategies to use with kids is called See-Think-Wonder.
See-Think-Wonder invites students to look at something with purpose, develop opinions and questions for further learning.

I had the lovely opportunity to read a pre-publication version of If You Were the Moon (Millbrook/Lerner 2017Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Jaime Kim. As I paged through the gorgeous illustrations and was touched by the lyrical story, See-Think-Wonder kept coming to mind. I see so much....I think and wonder too.

If You Were the Moon, begins with a child’s seeing the easy side of being the moon. But the moon has some gentle instruction to impart on the child and us all. We see the moon born and growing into a child that pulls close and pushes away from mother into a mature part of the universe that has important tasks. Kim's interpretation of Salas' text is playful and warm.

Science facts on each page keep readers grounded about what our moon actually does. A glossary and suggestions for further reading are provided for curious kids. (like me)

I recommend If You Were the Moon, for pre-readers through grandparents!

If I had an infant laying against my shoulder I would read these words about the moon and allow my baby to begin hearing the rhythm of the universe.

If I had a pre-reader snuggled on my lap, I would read pictures first…what do you see? What do you think? What do you wonder? Next, we would read the poetry of the text, stopping to delight over words like twilight and peek-a-book and pathway.

If I were a child, I’d have fun with spotting the games both the moon and I play.  And, I'd be curious about the physical science facts about our earth and its moon.

If I were a Teacher Librarian, I’d ask students to choose an object in nature and write a similar tale about something that we see in our world…something we don’t often consider. I’d ask those students to add facts as Salas has done so that they could show true and real learning instead of sitting down for a silly old benchmark test.

If I were a grandparent, who took walks with their grands…. I’d make a gift of this book for the days when I might not be able to be there for a walk. I'd write a special message on a special page.

I simply cannot think of a readers bookshelf where, If I Were the Moon, doesn’t fit. It fits and invites us to pick it up and read to the moon and back. 

My OLW for 2017 is LOOK. I’m so glad I got to look at this book and that now it’s a part of me. Thank You Laura Purdie Salas and Jaime Kim. Thank you! 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

One Little Word 2017

Isn’t it amazing how much we can put into our OLW for the New Year?
Several months before 2017 I started keeping a list…in church. Somehow, in church, my mind relaxes and unexpected ideas and emotions surface. It’s kinda nice. The Almighty seems to communicate in this way with me. 

I do love a creative Almighty.

If you were to look through my notebook you’d see lists, bits from sermons and hymns, reminders and lots of OLWs.  My list of OLWs got pretty long. Each word, when it came to me, was IT! And hey, blessed too.

Then, a week would go by and there would be another one or two – that were IT! I felt like I was looking for a blind date to show up.

I’ll be wearing the tortoise-shell glasses and
the black peacoat with a button that says I love poetry.


What’s funny is that my OLW showed up late. I mentioned to another poet in an off-handed way, don’t forget to look up, either New Year's Eve or the day before.

Just for giggles.....

But then, the word was there wearing those glasses and that coat. Gorgeous
My word, is LOOK.

(c) Linda Mitchell

The meanings of look are many…just layers to play with as we revolve around the sun for the next 365 days. It feels like a good beginning. LOOK and I are already holding hands. Below is our first poem together inspired by a photograph from National Geographic of a place I’d like to be in the moment captured. It’s a somonka – an absolutely irresistible form brought to us by the poetry sisters from last week.


Look! The rain dances.
My dress of silly sunshine,
now a dripping mess.
I’m in a yellow taxi
squishing to the airport ...you.

Mayfeng, Julie. "Rainy Street Your Shot Photo of the Day." National Geographic. National Geographic, 08 Jan. 2017. Web. 09 Jan. 2017. 

Plane delayed again…
I’m stuck with strangers waiting
for this storm to pass,
to rise above sullen clouds.
I’m thirsty for blue skies…you.

© Linda Mitchell

PS. I am really enjoying the #postcardXchange! My original postcard order was lost....so I panicked and quickly made another homemade batch...sent them out. BUT, my order was found. I will be sending my folks a bonus postcard just for fun....and because it IS nicer than my homemade ones.

Many thanks to Keri Recommends for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Truthiness #haikuforhealing

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Poetry Friday 1/6/17

I feel like the recess bell just rang. It’s Poetry Friday! I rush out into the playground over at Teacher Dance for some fun. Thank you, Linda Baie, for hosting. 

My mother was a sewer, a seamstress, and a certified tailor. She didn’t just sew fabric well. She created high-quality, extraordinarily precise textiles for her wardrobe, our family and many people that paid her for her work.

I once saw Mom take an antique size eight wedding gown and alter it to a today’s size twenty-two….using tea to stain the new fabric to match the aged fabric of the antique gown.
My mom was a miracle worker with fabric and thread.

I recently read Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins (Simon & Schuster 2016) with a mind to review it. However, novels-in-verse slow me down as a reader. It’s because I’m slowing down to examine the stitches, seams and detail. Jeannine is a genius with words and a page.

When I felt ready to share my thoughts about Finding Wonders, I turned to Doraine Bennet’s Poetry Friday post with interview questions and answers from Jeannine on Finding Wonders.
I started clicking on the links in Doraine’s post that led to Jeannine’s blog, Views from a Window Seat, and teacher resources and writing prompts.

And then, I simply went off the path. I started responding to the writing prompts – just as an exercise I thought. There’s a historical figure without a large body of written record left that fascinates me. Why not start there? I fell down rabbit holes of research. I now have several bits of phrases and scratches and scribbles that I think maybe someday might become something? That’s the thing that Jeannine shows and Doraine reinforces. One doesn’t sit down say, now, I will write a novel in verse. One has to trek through rabbit holes and stay off the path before getting down to business.

I’m still studying the seams of Finding Wonders, admiring the high-quality and precision of Jeannine’s work. I’d love to be on the inside of her creative writing classes, crit-group, or editor’s chats.  I don’t want to just pick-up and read another or any old novel in verse. I want to read and write to the level of Finding Wonders.

Getting back on the path to an actual review……

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science is a superb book about three young women at the bridge between childhood and womanhood but decided to pause and look over the side.

The observations of Maria Sibylla Merian, Mary Anning and Maria Mitchell led each young woman to respond to what she saw in ways that today we call science and art….these pioneers are our ste-A-m foremothers.

The verse will draw you in….though at first I questioned…how are these prose-y looking pages verse? They are. There are stanzas and line breaks to guide and wow. The figurative language is unique and thought provoking. The details and wonders readers to ponder are infinite.

There is a strong, luminous silken thread that connects the women in their lives to each other and to us. That’s the genius of Jeannine’s stitching that I admire most.

This is not simply a book for girls. As a middle school librarian, I can sell this book as a fast read to all students, teachers and staff members knowing full well they will come away with a learning wrapped up in beautiful words. I can also see Finding Wonders as a beautiful Father’s Day gift as each one of the women depicted had nurturing relationships with fathers.

As a poet, reader and a researcher, I say this book should come with a warning for the like-minded. Finding Wonders will slow you down. The novel will increase your curiosities and desires to dig, seek, sketch your way to new understandings—live a poetic process.

Thank you, Jeannine, for writing such a lovely and thoughtful novel. Thank you Doraine for asking questions and sharing the answers.  I have enjoyed learning…and look forward to more.

For more creativity related to Finding Wonders see Amy Vanderwater over at The Poem Farm.