Thursday, March 28, 2019

Poetry Pandemonium

Good Friday, Dear Poets.  Carol's Corner is hosting our round-up of links to more Poetry Friday goodness and kicking off the festivities with Ralph Fletcher's Daffodils. Lovely! 

Today I'm wearing my Teacher-Librarian poet hat is at the dry cleaners. 

Every April, I scramble a bit to be an active participant in Poetry Month festivities...AND share with students. This year, with the help of the Literacy Council in my school, I'm a bit more into the poetry-swing-of-things personally and professionally.

I asked my school Literacy Council if they would host Poetry Pandemonium*, a brackets style competition just before spring break. The poems would include examples of language arts content tested in end-of-year state exams.

Literacy Council was co-librarian and library assistant are fantastically creative. They helped lead this project. Hope and Mary make the "me," "we" in the following description.

Step 1: Gather poems. We asked Literacy Council teachers to submit poems that could be read aloud to students during homeroom. Each poem submitted was to be hi-lighted with figurative language or literary device concepts from our state standards.
  • repetition
  • rhythm
  • simile
  • metaphor
  • onomatopoeia
  • alliteration
Step 2: Choose two poems from each category. We narrowed down the poems by strength of the example of figurative language/literary device and length. Homeroom is short. We needed short poems that a class could vote their favorite within 15 minutes.

Step 3: Brackets. I had to ask for extra help with this. One of our Literacy Council teachers had no problem setting them up so that our Poetry Pandemonium would be complete by spring break, April 12th.

Step 4: Our library assistant took charge of the display with her flair for perfection, style, weeded book pages and fun paper butterflies that she made. 

Step 5: Prepping staff. Asking staff to add one more item to their early morning to-do list can be dicey. We sent out the following.

  • A "head's up" e-mail on Monday alerting staff that Poetry Pandemonium started on Wednesday.
  • Placed a paper copy of the brackets and directions in each homeroom teacher's mailbox.
  • Advertised on our school social media (@librarymiddle)
  • Timed our first Poetry Pandemonium to go out via automatic delivery at 8 am each morning.
    so that by 8:15 when students arrive, it can be up on screens in classrooms.
  • Provided very simple paper instructions with paper copy of the poems to our substitute coordinator. She made sure each substitute had the poems for homeroom.
  • Wrote an announcement for the principal to read over the PA at 8:15 alerting teachers to open up their e-mail for the Poetry Pandemonium link of the day.

Step 6 Delivery. We used google forms to share the date, featured figurative language and poem. Since formatting a poem is near impossible to do in google forms, I typed out each poem (that were carefully edited by my helpers) and took screen shots of them. I saved the poems as jpgs and then uploaded them as photos into google forms as a quiz question.

Each "question" in the quiz was a photo of the poem. There were a total of 3 questions. The third question was multiple choice of only two options the title/author of each poem. The poem that got the most votes is the choice the teacher clicked before submitting the survey.

Step 7 Announcing winners! At the end of each school day, the winning poem is announced in afternoon announcements by our principal. The winning poem is then displayed on our bracket bulletin board and shared on social media.

Our first poem featured rhyme. The winning poem was What Goes Wrong by our own Tabatha Yeatts Lonske from her wonderful poetry collection 'Imperfect: poems about mistakes: an anthology for middle schoolers'

Step 8 What to do with all the poems NOT selected for Poetry Pandemonium? We have printed them on bright paper that matches our bulletin board and next Friday, students from our Student Literacy Council will put them up all over the school for National Poetry Month. No poetry will go wasted!

Next week, I'll share how Poetry Pandemonium is going. Wish us luck!

*Poetry Pandemonium is heavily influenced by the great NCTE resource:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

March 22, 2019

Welcome, dear Poetry Friday.  I've been busy this week with work and family and writing. I look forward to the reading treasures I'll find in you. Thank you, Sloth Reads for hosting today's round-up. I see you've been busy too!

Andō, Hiroshige, Artist. Zoushigaya Fujimi Chaya. Japan: Tsutaya Kichiz". Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Kyoto: March

A few light flakes of snow
Fall in the feeble sun;
Birds sing in the cold,
A warbler by the wall. The plum
Buds tight and chill soon bloom.
The moon begins first
Fourth, a faint slice west
At nightfall. Jupiter half-way
High at the end of night-
Meditation. The dove cry
Twangs like a bow.
At dawn Mt. Hiei dusted white
On top; in the clear air
Folds of all the gullied green
Hills around the town are sharp,
Breath stings. Beneath the roofs
Of frosty houses
Lovers part, from tangle warm
Of gentle bodies under quilt
And crack the icy water to the face
And wake and feed the children
And grandchildren that they love.

Snyder,Gary.“Kyoto: March by Gary Snyder.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,


a forsythia
dons a yellow rain slicker
rain giggles and runs

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Listening to Poems About Climate

Poetry Friday, you've arrived. Thank you. It's been a long are welcome respite.

Harris & Ewing, photographer. Joseph Burton Kincer, Principal Meteorologist, Chief of Division of climate and crop weather. [or 1939] Photograph. Retrieved
from the Library of Congress

Heidi, at My Juicy Little Universe has invited us to address today's school strikes around the world in protest of climate change. There is much to learn about today's events...starting with Greta Thunberg of Sweden ( @GretaThunberg ).

I'm watching with interest. Truth be told, I'm scared to death of actually being IN a protest. I have opinions to be sure. But, the act of getting out in the mix of a protest crowd is not anything I've done. These young people are teaching. I am learning. 

I looked for the perfect poem to share for today. I'm not sure there is ONE perfect poem. However, I stumbled upon twenty astoundingly beautiful poems here:

The best part? Each poem is read by a British actor....all one needs is a set of earbuds. The text of each poem is provided so you can read along if you wish. And, you can download the poems to a device. 

by, Michael by Jeremy Irons

Wind-wounded, lopsided now
Our mighty beech has lost an arm.
Sammy the demolition man
(Who flattened the poet’s house
In Ashley Avenue, its roof
Crashing into that homestead,
Then all the floors, poetry
And conversation collapsing)
Slices the sawdusty tons,
Wooden manhole-covers,
An imagined underground.
Beneath a leafy canopy
The poet, on my seventieth,
Gazed up through cathedral
Branches at constellations.
Where is he now? Together
We are counting tree-rings.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

International Women's Day

Happy Poetry Friday!

This week, I am answering a call from our round-up host, Catherine at Reading to the Core, who asked us to write something related to International Women's Day.

I've never celebrated this day. I had to look it up.  How could I have missed it? I do love this year's theme


The theme points to the goal of gender balance in our world.

I have two short items today.

First a skinny inspired by Mao Zedong's often repeated quote, Women hold up half the sky.

Women hold up half the sky
half the sky, women hold
(c) Linda Mitchell 2019


Some branches of my family tree


Huldah the prophetess said, “ because you humbled yourself...tore
your clothes and wept before Me...I truly have heard you,”
2 Chronicles 34: 24-27

Huldah 1843-1910

windswept hilly land
farm without grace…or reward
soil for thistle

family bible
a hand-scratched name my only
connection to you

granddaughters live in your dreams
poetry foretold

II. Resolved, that the women of this nation in 1876, have greater cause for discontent, rebellion and revolution than the men of 1776. -Susan B. Anthony, Seneca Falls, NY

Huldah's daughter, Mary 1876

born one hundred years
after her nation’s first cries
American girl

molasses cookies
milk fresh in the tin bucket
a farm girl’s fancies

widow and mother
sweat and tears provide her salt
bitter seasoning

married fresh anew
father for growing daughter
boy’s birth a blessing

III. The work of today  is the history of tomorrow,
       and we are its makers. -Juliette Lowe 1916

Mary's daughter, Mabel 1900

my beautiful one
one thousand stars shine for you
night sighs with envy

missing a father
does not diminish your drive
teacher’s diploma

bringing up brother
makes step-father happy
all rise with this sun

Da’s rosary beads
religion and ritual
the only true faith

no beau no marriage
for Mabel…an auntie
for generations

(c) Linda Mitchell