Thursday, January 25, 2018

Postcards '18 Write the poem you wish to read

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is hosted by our friend Carol at Beyond Literacy. Pop over and say hello. If you're lucky, her vivacious creativity will rub off on you.

I love the 2018 Poetry Postcard Exchange!

Over the course of the past week, I've searched for poems about postcards to share in the celebration of this year's exchange. There are quite a few poems about postcards at The Poetry Foundation and at Poem Hunter and in various corners of Google. None really suited me. 

You know what that means, right?  It means I had to write the poem I was looking for. 

Lately, I've been playing around with 'definition' poems. This is just what I call them. I have no idea if there is a proper form to call what I've been writing. If there is---I'd love to know!

Thank you, poets! I so enjoy your creative postcards.

What things call out to you for re-definition through your eyes as a poet. I'd love for you to share in comments.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Playing 1/19/18

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by A Journey Through the Pages. Please stop by and say hello to our friend, Kay.

Stuart Brown of the National Institute of Play takes "play" seriously. He gave an enlightening flyby (26 minutes) on play as a Tedtalk in 2008. He mentions the vital role play has in our lives--as important as sleep and dreaming.

Another thing Brown suggests is that a person deprived of play can become vulnerable to the conditions that lead to negative behaviors. The absence of play is depression. (

One thing Brown and his researchers do is to take a play inventory of a person. They try to find out what a person's earliest remembered moments of pure joy from play are.

I tried making a list of early play memories. It was fun, put me in a great mood and....gave me lots of writing prompts. Ha!

From one special memory, I searched for a poem about a carousel. Then, I wrote a response --- but consider it a prequel to the action of the mentor poem I selected, Carousel by Rebecca Kay Dotlitch.

Carousel by Rebecca Kay Dotlitch.

On thin golden poles
gliding up, sliding down,
a kingdom of horses
goes spinning around...

Carousel at Watch Hill, RI  

Following star trails
every dip of the oars
pulling ocean toward us
reaching for shore.

At last, feet on land
navigating surf's edge
hopscotching crabs
lured by music ahead.

Racing our parents
into Bay Street’s bright glow
bee-lining for tickets
Mom and Dad tail--slow.

Hand in hand, we swing
to the white picket fence
flying horses make rings
we're so excited.
DarkThunder is mine!
Sir Snow
 for my sister.
come, come for a ride
they glitter-whisper.

Finally our chance
saddle up at the bell
for a flying horse trance
on Watch Hill’s Carousel.

(c) Linda Mitchell

The Flying Horse Carousel at Watch Hill RI is real and a place of very fond memories of my family playing there. We'd row from my grandparent's sailboat in a dinghy to the beach and walk into town. It seemed like such a big adventure at the time and good bits for this memoir poem exercise. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review: Voices in the Air by Naomi Shihab Nye

It must have been precious...the look on my face when I realized publishers were giving away ARCs of books at a recent conference.

I quickly became a happy pack-horse.

On the last day of the conference, I told myself, not one more book, when I found myself browsing in the manner of a dieter that's going to start on Monday. The sweet sales rep asked what I was looking for.


     "Hold on a sec, I've got just the thing," popping around the corner returning with Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners by Naomi Shihab Nye.

You could have knocked me over with a feather--not kidding. I had tears in my eyes. I might have scared the poor woman.

I tried reading Voices in the Air several times. But, the hubbub of holidays and raising teens left me too keyed-up to settle into it.

And then, snow days.....ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. God does love a Teacher Librarian, doesn't She?

Here's the thing. I don't feel at all qualified to actually review Nye's work. I mean, it's Naomi Shihab Nye (I'm screaming like a Beetles fan in 1967 here).

But I can give you some impressions that I hope will urge you to get a copy of these poems and make them part of your heart.

First, as I read the poems I was struck by the sense of place--in every poem, Nye grounds this work in place. From a seat at a poetry conference to an airplane to a beach to imagined places of the mind, a reader is taken to a place. I was so fascinated, I created a word cloud of all the locations I found as I read.

And there were moments when I knew this poet was speaking to me. I'm not sure by what magic....but she does. 

A Lonely Cup of Coffee
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Far preferable

to a sociable cup

which tastes more

of talk

the lonely cup






the quiet mouth


Nye pens journeys far, far from blessed moments alone with a cup of coffee. We join Syrian refugees and Palestinians and North American First Peoples. 

"Bombs have no mothers," in Invitation to the NSA (111)

She shares what poets know well, "saying your words, between daylight and the dark, swinging them like small lanterns..." Longfellow's Bed (85).

Nye knew, For Caroline M. (71)  would bring me the release of tears I needed as my friend, Amy, lay dying surrounded by her loved ones....literally while I read the poem enabling the goodbye that had felt wrong to say.

Nye's wisdom reminds, "Some people are born to be present, hold the note."  Showing Up (69).

As a poet, I am supremely unqualified to review the nuts and bolts Nye's work....but as a human and a reader...I'm telling you, this book is for me, for my students and for you. Even if you don't know that you need it, you do. 

Please go directly to our beautiful friend, Jan's blog at Bookseedstudio. She is hosting this week with treasured topics.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 Kick-off

Happy Poetry Friday, People!

Isn't it a great new year already? I like even numbered years best.

I'm  a complete fool for tradition. Though I don't always follow, I do recognize the shape tradition gives life.

This is a traditional New Year's post with all the trimmings!

My word one-little-word OLW for 2018 is...

Play has so many nuances and variations of covers many bases which suits me fine. And, I tend to be an overly serious person.

In third grade, Mrs. Faruggia gave me a nickname to help me loosen up and play a bit more. It was a disaster that resulted in a stern phone call from Mom. But, the writing (ba dum dum) was already on the wall for me. Play is something I must make room for in my life.
William Carlos Williams, William Carlos Williams, William Carlos Williams, William Carlos Williams. “Play by William Carlos Williams.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,

Jen Vincent's Writer's Manifesto from TeachWrite Chat caught my fancy in the days leading up to this new year. I'm taking a page from her book and sharing mine below. I wonder if and how this manifesto might change. Time will tell. 

(c) Linda Mitchell 

Finally, these are my writing hopes (far less intimidating than resolutions).  What are yours?

*Complete a work in progress.
* Find photographs and documents to illustrate my WIP.
*Fine-tune existing poems
* Write new poems
* Strengthen my talents/skills as a poetry reviewer 

Happy New Year to YOU! I look forward to many playful Poetry Friday encounters in 2018. Get started with our friend, Catherine Flynn who is hosting this week at Reading to the Core.