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


  1. What is so wonderful about your post, Linda, is that, like Nikki's writing, all three poems are different yet follow the thread of celebration for Nikki with your "blade against blade" words! Bravo!

  2. Linda, you certainly celebrated Nikki's writing by touching upon her different creative aspects in her rich life of writing and other artistic endeavors. She is a woman of many talents and you have shared that in your own poetry. In hazards
    our poet discovered sparkles
    specks of childhood
    spots of love
    I think the rose haiku is something I want to take away with me this morning as I spend time sifting through the Poetry Friday review.

  3. What an amazing smorgasbord of celebration! Nikki Grimes is so multi-faceted, and so is your post! I love that you kept getting inspired!

  4. Yowzers, girl, you are on fire! What a fabulous post full of energy and insight. Loved whirling along with you - and especially loved your scissors poem and *this* masterpiece;
    with a quarter inch seam allowance
    that buys new clothes

    Have a fabulous weekend!

  5. What a fabulous post, Linda, chock full of goodies! Thanks for your wonderful poems; love them all. I have not seen When Gorilla Goes Walking (what a great cover!), and now must look for it.

  6. Your enthusiasm for Nikki's poetry is infectious, but luckily we don't have to 'quarantine' because of it! I really like your 'scissor' poem - that was a fun TLD challenge. :)

  7. What a wonderful celebration! I love your poem honoring Nikki Grimes. "I think love is
    a secret sauce" I love this! She does connect words with what seems like such ease, but reading Ordinary Hazards, we see there's been a hard struggle.

  8. Well this post certainly shows that Nikki is an inspiration--and teaches with her words! Love your quarantine golden shovel.

  9. Wow--a bonanza! Love these poems inspired by Nikki's work and words.

  10. This post is full of treasures. I love the evidence of the Great Conversation: your writing inspired by hers.

  11. What an outpouring of love and appreciation for an amazing woman! I love word play in "Scissors" and you're right, "quarantine" isn't bored these days. Well done, Linda!


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