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.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Reflections: 6th Annual February Daily Poem Project

Poetry Friday is hosted by poet and poetry teacher, Renee La Tullipe.

If you want to grow as a poet, take The Lyrical Language Lab with her. Her website, No Water River, is a treasure trove of poetry for writers, readers, and poetry lovers.

This past month I've played with words during Laura Shovan's 6th Annual February Daily Poem Project. It has been challenging and fun. Each day a piece of art was featured as a prompt for an Ekphrasis poem.

Schreiber, Mark. “Can I Get an Amen?! ;) #Makered #Innovation”Twitter, Twitter, 28 Feb. 2018,

A few things learned in February...

Ekphrasis poetry seemed difficult...I wasn't sure that I could write a different piece every day. The art prompts offered were all over the map from modern to traditional to fine to inexpensive to sentimental to made by professionals to made by children. 

I learned to give myself permission to skip...go back to a prompt later or cheat

My cheat is haiku I can haiku anytime. And, I'm ridiculous about keeping to 5-7-5 even though there's no rule for that. 

Also, I emphasized quantity over quality of work. I just drafted, posted and ran. I tried my best to read others work....but it wasn't always possible. As the month progressed, drafting got easier. I learned that just writing all the time really does prime the pump of creativity.

For the first half of the month, I refused to read any other poems before sketching one...I worried that reading the work of others would dampen my own imagination. But, toward the end of the month, I didn't worry about that so much. I learned to have more confidence in my voice.

Finally, I learned to use powerpoint as a journal/sketchpad. I would paste a snip of the art onto a slide and work with text next to it. It seems easier to do that than work in word or with paper/pencil for me.

powerpoint is a great digital notebook

I'm happy with the results of the month. I'm sharing a draft that surprised me--I don't really know where the words came from. They just showed up. 

Painting by Patty Gulledge
One of the very best aspects of this monthly challenge was writing daily with poets I don't see face to face in life but see online. It was fun growing with them in community. I already look forward to next year's challenge.