Thursday, June 25, 2020

Sharing Prompts from This Week

June 26th Already? How can this be?

Time flies in a pandemic despite the rise in cases across my nation.  This week, I'm traveling to south to visit family. I'd love your healthy thoughts along with the protection of my face mask, hand sanitizer and soap.

This past week, I enjoyed writing at Sarah Donovan's Ethical ELA. Margaret Simon and I teamed up to provide four prompts during the week to educators with experience levels from pre-service through retired PhDs. The response to the prompts was amazing. Teachers make great writers! And, I'm super inspired by their words. On Friday, we were treated to a prompt by author Melanie Crowder...outstanding!

Below is one prompt I shared--on Monday inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's Keeping A  Notebook video #50 Lift a Word.  Here's how the prompt appeared on Ethical ELA's blog:

"Lists, I know you have them...they may be three words or pages long, a series of to-do items, groceries? clothing sizes? What about lists you hear and love these days?

Peruse your notebook(s) for a list. Zero in on one word to write long about as suggested by The Poem Farm, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater in Lift a Word #sharingournotebooks #50. Note, Linda's poem remained a list. But, that's OK. It's the idea of looking at the lists that's the true prompt.

See what this prompt does for you. I'd love to see your response.

If you're looking for more fun, see how I shared (with permission) Linda Baie's recent prompt (February Poem Project) Small Fictions to write this poem:

I encourage writing teachers to check out the monthly writing prompts at Ethical ELA. It's fun, low stress and keeps my pen moving. Sarah offers much more for educators at her blog. Check it out.

Many thanks to Karen at Karen's Got a Blog! for hosting today's round-up.

I'm hosting Poetry Friday next week. I love kicking things off Thursday evening about Happy Hour time -- ya, know it's five o'clock somewhere! See you soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2020


Hooray for Juneteenth!

Before I launch into my regular blog post I have business items.

First, Thank you Carol of Beyond Literacy for such a thoughtful Poetry Swap. I squealed with delight as I opened it for a few reasons. The poems are original, personal and some are from Carol's famous galleries. I love the care she put into making a personalized chap book!

Beautiful hand-crafted chap book from Carol Varsalona -- Poem Swap 2020

I am in the process of leaving facebook. I've wanted to leave for a while....and I'd like to stay off until at least after the election if not permanently. I followed the advice of this article: 5 Steps to Leave Facebook the Right Way.

You will notice that I have unfriended every single contact. This is not personal. I'm not ticked off with's just that fb needs my information (including who my contacts are)more than I need it and, I need a break! I'm thinking about ways of staying in touch with folks after facebook. Stay tuned.

And, for the feature of today's post, JUNETEENTH!

Virginia just made Juneteenth an official state holiday. This is a major move for the former Confederate Capital. I am thrilled with this and many other culturally responsive changes in Virginia to #BlackLivesMatter. 

Simply put, Juneteenth is the day in 1865 that the Union Army freed slaves in the western most part of the former confederacy. Until the Army announced that slaves had been freed earlier, by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, slaves were not informed of their freedom.

Juneteenth has been celebrated ever since.

Except, I had never heard of Juneteenth in my kindergarten through post graduate schooling. It was well into adulthood that I heard the word, Juneteenth. 

This week, singer Pharell Williams stood with Governor Ralph Northam to announce the establishment of the holiday. 
I took words from the article below to create a found poem.

This is What Listening Looks Like see those stars moving up there, know that those stars are our African
ancestors dancing...  Pharrell Williams 6/16/20

Reflecting on a conversation
that black lives matter
finally being acknowledged

amid ongoing nationwide
protests over racial injustice

deeply rooted in the fabric of Virginia--

We embrace dancing in solidarity with
African American brothers and sisters
moving forward

to a high standard
a better future.

When we say Juneteenth
it is our chance to declare

a celebration of freedom.

words found by Linda Mitchell

Thank you to today'sPoetry Friday host

The Miss Rumphius Effect

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Celebrating Nikki Grimes

Good June To Ya,

Don't miss Poet-author, Irene Latham's beautiful Live Your Poem for a top-off to your poetry cup today.  This week she's invited us to celebrate poet, Nikki Grimes.

I met Nikki Grimes in the children's section of my local library. When my kids scattered amongst the shelves and puzzle tables, I picked up, Gorilla Goes Walking and simultaneously thought, Wow this is such a cool book and, I want to write like this!

Grimes, Nikki, and Shane Evans. When Gorilla Goes Walking. Orchard Press, 2007

Fast forward to my weekly Kidlitosphere's Poetry Friday blogging. I'm having a blast writing, have met this community of writers and today we celebrate the work of Nikki Grimes too.

Feel free to skip around this post. Nikki has written a lot of books for kids! (seventy-five and counting). But, that's just her published work. There is lots more to celebrate--I may have gotten carried away.

I spent some time watching videos of Ms. Grimes. This interview is from April 2020. In it, Nikki says, golden shovel is my newest toy, I love that form. And, she suggests word play for students and teachers such as, look up the word quarantine in the dictionary. That bit of the interview inspired this golden shovel.

Look up quarantine in the dictionary*

I’d rather not look
  at schoolwork today. What’s up?
 I ask Jesse when her face appears on the
screen. Nothin’, dude, I’m as bored as every word
in the dictionary except quarantine!
 That word’s busy these days. People in
home isolation to keep safe from the
scarier words: Covid-19, hot spot, infecting that same dictionary

(c) Linda Mitchell--draft

*Sreenivasan, Sree. “@Sree's Daily Covid19 Show.” Videos: Nikki's Jam, 27 Apr. 2020,

Word Play is something you'll see Nikki Grimes recommend to readers and writers of poetry in many interviews including Today's Little Ditty...

The above word play prompt inspired Scissor...


is a sharp word
a cut to the chase
blade against blade word
blood-flavored if I’m not careful
Scissor looks like Mom’s don’t touch fabric
laid out for yards on the dining room table
waiting for her surgical eye and hand
to tissue paper match cloth to pattern
with a quarter
inch seam allowance
that buys new clothes

(c) Linda Mitchell --draft

Ms. Grimes is much more than poet. She's a prose writer, painter, card creator, blue collector, Christmas decorator can I celebrate so much?

How to Celebrate Nikki Grimes

First read.
Understand poetry
 a facet
of her
see cobalt blue
and purple?
see roses in her garden?
a gallery of paintings
handmade cards?
There’s seventy-five books
written for young people
             --and counting

The body of her work
grows and grows

Not that
it’s been easy
her memoir
shows us that
in verse, of course

In hazards
our poet
discovered sparkles
            specks of childhood
            spots of love
to share
a world-wide audience
             with us
I think love is
a secret sauce
she's employed
connector of words
images, color

We celebrate in kind
poem begetting poem
we say thank you Ms. Grimes
thank you

(c) Linda Mitchell--draft

About those roses...who can resist Nikki's extraordinary love of roses? Not me. Not this haiku either...

words by Linda Mitchell. Photo by Capri23auto/pixabay

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Poem of Farewell

Hello Friday,

My goodness, how many heartbreaks can one fit into a week, two weeks, this year? When I write, I hope you are well this week, I mean more than just physically healthy. I hope you are waking to and equipping yourself for the work of healing in front of us with the strength that you have as we move forward. 

I'm answering a SWAGGER challenge to write a poem of farewell. Isn't it funny how sometimes a theme can pop up everywhere you look? Farewell seemed to this week.

I received a post from the Library of Congress Teachers Corner titled: Saying Farewell with Poetry at the End of this Unprecedented School Year by teacher Rebecca Newland. There's some wonderful classroom activities shared there--take a peek.

And, I heard this wonderful interview of Charles Waters on The Children's Book Podcast (#599) with Matthew Winner. In it, Charles reads, Release, from Dictionary for a Better World (Carolrhoda Books 2020). This poem is a farewell too.

Latham, Irene, and Charles Waters. Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z. Carolrhoda Books, 2020.

I've had an image haunting me from when students and teachers parted that last Friday of school. I wish I had time for a proper farewell with the student in this poem and all my students.

Friday, March 13th

Our principal announced
school was closing
for one month
a look of panic
spread over your face
A month? you mouthed
I looked at you, my stunned student
It’s OK
one month to make sure
no one gets sick
Miss, whole month?
Just one month
We walked to front doors together
tears in our eyes
burbling middle schoolers
a river around us
yellow busses idling
doors open
waiting to take you home

Without a true farewell

waiting to take you home
doors open
yellow busses idled
burbling middle schoolers
a river around us
tears in our eyes
We walked to front doors together
Just one month.
Miss a whole month?
No one gets sick
One month to make sure
It’s OK
I looked at
you, my stunned student
a month--you mouthed
Spread over your face
a look of panic
for one month
school was closing
our principal announced

(c) Linda Mitchell -- draft

For more poems of farewell please visit

Heidi Mordhorst
Catherine Flynn
Molly Hogan
and our host for this week's round-up Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Spiritual Thursday: Hope

Hello STJ Friends,

I hope you are well. Ruth has given us a beautiful jumping off place for Spiritual Thursday with a look at a quote meaningful to her by Henry Nouwen.

Often, I ask students to identify verbs in our lesson objectives so that they can see what we are doing in our learning. I thought of this as I read Nouwen's quote. This is the list of verbs I quickly listed as I re-read the quote:

I borrowed these verbs for my thoughts on hope

2020 Hope 

I Have found these days
I must let go of the privilege of planning
to live each day as best I can
finding joy in smaller doses
I choose to cover my face, share food, buy books
let go of calling out blasphemers—already well known

I trust that my hope in God is placed well
It begins with fear but grows with love
I wait not by measured time
I trust waiting is life’s work
choosing practiced patience

I hope this fresh generation can continue the work
without giving up
without letting a temptation of laziness to take hold
Define work with actions
living the work with love for all neighbors
It molds us into children of
a God who holds us so dearly
who moves mountains so that we can feel warmth of the sun

(c) Linda Mitchell Spiritual Thursday June 2020