Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Riffing on American Children's Poets of 1920s

Happy Poetry Friday, friends.

This week's round-up is hosted by Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference . I hope you get a chance to spend time at her blog. She brings a fresh look to poetry every single week. 

Last week, Renee La Tulippe and Lee Bennett Hopkins teamed up to present the first episode in their series: History of American Children's Poets. I loved the interview and chat between these two. The poems from the 1920s were new to me. I chose two as mentor texts to write to.

The first is,

Something Told the Wild Geese

by Rachel Field (1924)

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered "snow."

read the rest here

My attempt at a similar poem was OK. It was an attempt with few surprises--a greeting card.

Something in the Dreaming Teen

Something in the dreaming teen
no one knows quite how
Amid playthings and games of youth
Something whispered now.

High school’s final year
projects finished,  prom attended,
between homeroom and final bell
a fish hook descended

into the small pond of big fish
set to swim out to the sea
into new unchartered waters
vast with danger and discovery.

Something in the dreaming teen
said it was time to grow.
Caps and gowns wave goodbye
tomorrow's sunrise beams hello.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Then, I took a look at Hills by Hilda Conkling. 


The Hills are going somewhere;
They have been on the way a long time.
They are like camels in a line.
But they move more slowly.

read the rest here

This poem reminded me of Amy Ludwig Van Derwater's challenge last week to write a persona poem as a place. 

                  If you do not know what to write about today, 

                 try making a list of places.  

                  Then  choose one. Become it.  Write.  

Read Amy's Poem, A Note From the Trail  included in the beautiful anthology The Poetry of US, (Harper Collins 2018) edited by J. Patrick Lewis.

I imagined being the hills seeing the girl that wrote Conkling's poem. This writing was more fun and playful.

a response of the hills 

The girl is going somewhere;
she has been
for some time.
scatters autumn bits –
and plum, gold and frost
about the
trees, brush and wild grape.
The color burns off a heavy dew.
She pays
less mind to our sunny tops
than the opal harvest moon.
Sometimes she lifts her hands
beyond our grey shadows 
to the sky – an overflowing basket

of fresh washed clouds.

(c) Linda Mitchell


  1. How terrific that you're using all of these mentor texts! Something Told the Wild Geese is a favorite of mine--I especially like your lines of "the small pond of big fish
    set to swim out to the sea."

  2. Beautiful! I think my favourite line is "an overflowing basket
    of fresh washed clouds" -so perfect!

  3. Beautiful "after" poems, Linda, and about your daughter going out into a new world for her. I love the repeating line "Something in the dreaming teen" and then "said it was time to grow."

  4. I liked both of your poems Linda, but the imagery and colors in your second adds a glow to it and lights up the poem–"than the opal harvest moon," beautiful!

  5. Oooh. "an overflowing basket
    of fresh washed clouds." Perfect! I loved both your poems and the two mentor texts too, but this phrase especially grabbed me.

  6. I love your poems today for their poetic-ness and the messages that speak to me, especially the dreaming teen. Love, love the end of Girl "an overflowing basket
    of fresh washed clouds." I need some inspiration this week. Feeling the sadness of loss and the emptiness of the page...

    1. You know I've been so absorbed in a project that I felt like I had lost my ability to write just a pretty poem. I love the series Renee and Lee are doing because it's not the project that has absorbed my brain. It gives me a new challenge and a different look at poems. So, I understand that feeling of " what?" Be gentle with yourself today. I'm sending you a wish of inspiration to comfort you in the loss and how it shows on the page.

  7. Wonderful poems, Linda. Like others mentioned, I, too, am swooning over the "overflowing basket of fresh washed clouds." :)

  8. It looks like you've got a winner on your hands with your "overflowing basket image." It certainly made me stop for a second to admire it as I read!

  9. Both poems are beautiful, but that first one grabbed me--maybe because it speaks to my no-longer-teen growing more and more independent.

  10. You picked such rich mentor texts! Since my daughter is a senior, your dreaming teen poem struck a chord. Glad we have a little more time before the "danger and discovery."

  11. What a good idea to use these lovely poems as mentor texts! Thanks for the reminder--I need some better exercises when I stare at a blank pages. I especially love the image of the girl goihg somewhere, hands lifted to the sky.

  12. Linda, it is always exciting to try a poem based on a mentor text and you offered two this week. While I know that your first poem is close to your heart, the second one's lines that speak to me are "She scatters autumn bits –
    red and plum, gold and frost
    about the trees, brush and wild grape."
    I am driving home heavy of heart because of this weekend's traumatic medical emergency the afternoon before my uncle's 90th celebration but the autumn trees are painting such a picture of the promise of what can be.

    1. I'm so sorry you were caught up in an emergency. It seems there is a few of those going around these days. We had one here this weekend too. Be gentle with yourself, friend.


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!