Thursday, June 30, 2022


Any Poetry Friday poet has permission to use this image

Happy Friday!

Thank you, Janice, at Salt City Verse, for hosting this week's poetry round-up. I so enjoy her poems and have shared at least one with students.

Heidi challenged the Inklings to write a poem of persistence. I kept thinking I had more time to write a persistence poem. Time tomorrow or the next day...and look! It's July 1st. Uh, oh. It's time now! And, the prompt is not procrastination.

This draft will certainly change as I persist in revision.

Gladys is the star of show in the newest padlet poem. We are halfway through the year. I'm celebrating 26 poems written. Wheeeeeeee!

More Inkling responses to Persistence:

Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche
Catherine @ Reading to the Core
Heidi @ MyJuicyLittleUniverse
Molly @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Mary Lee @ A(nother) Year of Reading

Gladys in a mood

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Star-Catching, Poem-Chasing

Hello Poets,

I'm on the road and on my way home from a fantastic vacation full of fun and family. My heart and suitcase are bursting with memories. I've been star-catching too -- see?

This week's reading, between naps and visiting, has been Shirley McPhillips'  Poem Central. Word Journeys with Readers and Writers (Stenhouse 2014). It's fantastic! There are lots and lots of practical tips for immersing humans of all ages in language through poetry. 

Reading Poem Central relaxes me as a teacher and student, writer and reader. It's information at a pace that pleases me and gives me rest. Poem Central is packed full of poems and references to poems and all kinds of practical writing tips. Even if you don't teach language arts or poetry...this book is a keeper. 

McPhillips, Shirley. Poem Central: Word Journeys with Readers and Writers. Stenhouse Publishers, 2014.

Even though it's been a busy trip, I managed to get a tiny new star poem up on the padlet.

I hope you are enjoying summer! Three cheers and thanks to Catherine at Reading to the Core for hosting our round-up this week. 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Spark Arting with Jone II

Star collage--you have my permission to use for PF. Linda M.

Hello June Poets,

It's lovely to see you. Thank you, Michelle Kogan, for hosting our round-up today.

This post is part two of Spark-Arting with Jone Mc Culloch. Spark is a creative exchange that invites artists to share an inspiration piece with a partner, then respond. Last week, I shared Jone's inspiration collage and my responding pantoum.

This week, I share Jone's inspiration pantoum, Silences, and my responding mixed media collage also titled Silences

Silences. Mixed media collage by Linda Mitchell. 2022

This weekend, we are celebrating my Mother-in-law's eightieth birthday. Her stars are now on the padlet

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Spark Arting with Jone I

Hello, Hello, Hello! 

It's Poetry Friday and early June. Is there a better combination? I don't think so. Thanks to Buffy S., for hosting our round-up today. Did you know Buffy and I were at Ithaca College together? She was teaching, and I was earning a bachelor's. Our paths didn't cross then. But, isn't that cool?

This post is the first of a two-parter. 

Several weeks ago, Jone McCulloch reached out and asked if I wanted to participate in a Spark art exchange. If you don't know Spark, it's pretty fun -- especially when you can choose your partner. 

The way it works is that each artist sends an inspiration piece to their partner. The receiving artist responds artistically during the ten calendar days of the challenge.

Jone and I broke the rules. We wanted to send a poem and a collage to each other...resulting in four final response pieces to share.

The image below is Solstice Blessings an inspiration piece by Jone. It is a mixed media piece of paper, paint and acrylic paste on board. Furthermore, she created this piece as a response to a separate poem that I've never seen. My role was to respond to Solstice Blessings.

Solstice Blessings by Jone MacCulloch May 22

When I opened the image, I immediately thought of the upcoming Summer Solstice and of Jone's Scottish heritage. I looked for some Scottish solstice traditions, words, and phrases that I could tuck into a poem. I chose a pantoum because the inspiration poem she also sent me was a pantoum. We pantoumed each other!


*byre means barn. Dochas means hope and, beannaichte gu robh means solstice blessings in Scottish Gaelic. 

The star padlet has been updated with an ekphrastic of an amazing photograph. Have a peek. You'll have to click on the photo to see the poem.

SJT June -- a little thing

A little thing I am grateful for is the pool at my local fitness center. Technically, the pool isn't little. I try to stop by and swim at least once a week on my way home from school. I'm grateful for the routine of suiting up, warming up while I wait for a lifeguard to begin duty, and I can jump into the water.

Swimming laps has become one of my joys and a tremendous stress release. While I am swimming, I am counting, focused on where I am in my lane, and tremendously happy when I finish lap eight. 

Before the pandemic, I was swimming ten laps each visit. Now, I'm building back up to ten laps. To a practiced swimmer, ten laps are just a warm-up. I am a novice. I learned to swim when I was a child in summer recreation. I have no experience beyond that. I swim to exercise and to let the water soothe me.

Yesterday, I swam nine laps. 

I'm getting there. I am grateful.

photo from Getty Images. Pixabay

Ramona is hosting our SJT round-up today. I am grateful for her as well!

Thursday, June 2, 2022

A Sink Half Full

Hello Poetry Friday,

It's good to see you here. Make sure you don't miss the full round-up at poem curator extraordinaire Karen Edmisten's today. 

It's June and I'm all for that! Molly gave the Inklings a challenge to write a poem about spring cleaning because it's more fun writing about cleaning than cleaning, right?

My take...

Check out how other Inklings addressed the challenge:

Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche
Catherine @ Reading to the Core
Heidi @ My Juicy Little Universe
Molly @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Mary Lee @ Another Year of Reading

Last weekend, I had some much-needed quality time with my sisters. We went to the cemetery as a family. So many flags were waving for Memorial Day. Those flags reminded me of my veteran Father in Law. A poem for his stars is on the star padlet

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Poetry Friday Round-up is HERE

This is not the post I planned to share this evening...but this was not the week I planned to experience.

Monday, I was in a 6th grade Science classroom full of wiggling, chatty, full of questions almost 7th-graders. We were learning about our solar system, space, and our universe. This is a tall order for a topic. I broke it down into:

  • See-Think-Wonder warm up with library books about space
  • Listen to Countdown. 2,972 Days to the Moon non-fiction in verse by Suzanne Slade for 10 minutes
  • Five Fabulous Facts (known in the old days as notes)
  • A game of True/False in which you think the answer to questions from True or False. Solar System (World Book. 2018)

If the question I read is true, touch the wall with the poster of the astronaut...if you think the answer to my question is false, touch the wall with the bulletin board.

Bulletin Board of a collaborating teacher May 2022

My time in the classroom went so well! The teacher I collaborated with was pleased, and the students were engaged and smiling by the time the bell rang, I felt accomplished.

Tuesday's news of a school shooting in Ulvade, Texas hit me hard. Before work Wednesday morning I stood at my kitchen sink and wondered if my hands were shaking because I had low blood sugar, or my caffeinated coffee kicked in with gusto or, I was literally shaken by the news of more senseless murders by a shooter with an automatic rifle in a school. 

Fortunately, I got to work and the routine of my day, students, and work absorbed all my attention. But, still, I am shaken. I am furious. I'm grief-stricken. I am worn out from absorbing the difficulties of our world. My poem below reflects the opposite extremes of a great day at school and the nightmare news of a school shooting felt simultaneously. 

Seeing this picture differently after the latest mass murder by an automatic rifle

Star padlet addition:

I appreciate your reading. I am out-of-pocket Saturday morning through Monday evening. I will read as many posts as possible tonight through Friday night and catch up with the rest next week. Stay safe, and check-in with loved ones--especially any educators you know. It's been a long and difficult school year. 

Please add your Poetry Friday link below

Thursday, May 19, 2022

May 20, 2022 Imperfect II

Happy Poetry Friday!

Thank you, Carmela, at Teaching Authors for hosting our round-up this week. I'll be hosting next week and I'm already excited!

At school, we've just finished the fourth annual Poetry Pandemonium. It's lots of fun and also serves as a review for students of figurative language such as metaphor, simile, rhyme, repetition, rhythm, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. 

Poetry Pandemonium 2022
The winning poem? Nothing! by Kat Apel

One of our teachers mentioned to me that we have so many poems stored in our archives, "now you can re-use poems for next year and not have to go searching for new ones." 

Well, yes. But, for me, searching for poems is a big part of the fun. This past week, I spent my reading time with the poems of Imperfect II. poems about perspective. an anthology for middle schoolers edited by our own Tabatha Yeatts. 

First, what a project! Tabatha has edited a beautiful, beautiful book of verse from poets of varied backgrounds, ages, and experiences. Altogether, there are dozens of poems written specifically for middle school students. This collection is a wholly fresh and new source of poems for Pandemonium V. Thank you, poets! Thank you, Tabatha!

I am fortunate to have two poems included in Imperfect II. 

What You Don't See

How easy it is for me
to get lost in my head.

How following directions in class
is doubly hard
when you interrupt 
to add extra details, or
a story or tell that kid
to sit down again.

How doing anything
while you watch me
is impossible
as I wonder what 
mistakes you see
and then, I freeze.
Unable to continue.

I wish you knew 
how to help me
succeed with ADHD.

~Linda Mitchell (p 72)

Tabatha has enriched the experience of Imperfect II with a blog, Imperfect II . It's a wonderful place to read, think and write about perspective. 

Thank you, Tabatha, for creating Imperfect, Imperfect II and binding all our perspectives together through poetry. It is a real gift to be included in such a work. I so appreciate the chance to work with you in this way. And, I love how this community is providing important poetry for kids.

Another star poem on the padlet

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Artist Date with Margaret Ong

You know that feeling you get ... that you got ... when you were a little kid and were so surprised at something so cool all you could do was say, Oh! ? That's me when I saw a link to a review of an art exhibit by visual poet Margaret Ong.

Visual Poet...I didn't even know such an art existed...and, yet I did because I have been growing as a visual poet for some time, not understanding that there is a name for my urge to play with words on a page with paint and glue and rubber stamps and even a sewing machine.

I'm a happy beginner. Margaret Ong is a master. Come on-- let's go see some of her work!

Start by clicking on this article by John Yau in Hypoallergenic 
Yau, John. “A Poet-Artist Looks to the Stars.” Hyperallergic, 6 Aug. 2021,

As you can imagine, I started taking in Ong's work...and haven't stopped--likely never will. I have so much to learn. Ong's current exhibit in Chicago is also star-based. Isn't that the best? Now, I have to figure out a way to see her art in person. 

The image below is a visual poem draft of words found John Yau's article (

to arrange as a found poem.

visual poem draft -- Linda Mitchell May '22

I was a bit behind on the star padlet...but am caught up. Hooray! Nothing fancy...just two haiku that make me happy. 

Thank you, Rose at Imagine the Possibilities for hosting this week's Poetry Friday round-up. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Homage to Pick a Proverb

Thank you, Jama, for hosting our round-up today.

Our Inklings are paying homage to someone else's April Poetry Month Project (see a round-up of them at Jama's Alphabet Soup). I really enjoyed Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's Pick a Proverb project. She is a productive poet that's for sure. 

I had ideas and drafts and pfffttttthhhfffft. They fizzled flat. I had that, uh oh...what if I have nothing to show for Friday? feeling. But, I pitched this idea. So, I can't just not show up!

Keep it simple
Don't overthink
You've got this

These are all things I was telling myself Thursday morning during my creative time. 

I started with something familiar, stars.
'hitch your wagon to a star.' 

Where did that phrase come from? Is it a proverb or an idiom?

According to ongoing RHR (Rabbit Hole Research), the phrase is an idiom referring to hitching one's fortune to another who can raise one's status.


Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, originator of this phrase in American Civilization 1862, likely meant more than glomming onto someone's coattails. He meant...

Whoa. This is a horse of a different color. This is something more like wisdom...more proverb.  

"...we are strong borrowing the might of the elements..."

Linda Mitchell 5/22

Let's go see how the other Inklings responded to May's challenge:

Mary Lee

Thursday, April 28, 2022

And then in the fourth week, a poetic line

My grandmother ended a letter at the end of January 1949 with these words, "Victor sure has a dandy girl. She is worse than the weather if you ask me."  I can practically hear the humph in the antique ink.

Finally, after line after line of daily household details, something juicy. Now, what to do with those two sentences? I have a few attempts scribbled in my notebooks but this triolet makes me giggle.

But is it Love?

Victor sure has a dandy girl 
She’s worse than the weather if you ask me 
Sunny one minute then next a churl 
Victor sure has a dandy girl 
He’s a head-over-heels tilt-a-whirl 
wrapped ‘round her little finger don’t you see? 
Victor sure has a dandy girl 
She’s worse than weather if you ask me

(c) Linda Mitchell 4/29/22

I found stars at school again. These delighted me as they were in response to a read-aloud of, What do you do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada (Compendium 2014). This kid has no idea how delightful it was for me to grade their paper! it's on the padlet 

How can it be that April is over? I was just adjusting to the writing schedule? We Inklings are paying homage to someone else's National Poetry Project with our poems next week, the first week of May. If you want to look over some of the projects they are at Jama's 

Don't forget to stop by Jone's wonderful blog for the Poetry Friday round-up. She amazes me regularly with her interviews and interesting poetry posts.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

When You Need a Break

Hello Poets!

How can it possibly be time for Poetry Friday again? I'm still catching up from last week. I guess this is what happens when I travel for Spring Break and arrive home late on Sunday, diving back into work bright and early on Monday. It's a bit of a blur.

I've been stopping by Ethical ELA for Verse Love this month when I can. The prompts support my April Poetry Month project of using old family letters as inspiration for new poems.  A recent prompt, 'When You Need a Break, Go to a Place of Comfort,' by Leilya Pitre was a lovely jumping-off place for a poem.

The prompt directs writers to go for a mind walk to a favorite place for writing inspiration. Several poems were offered as mentor poems. I used Robert Frost's 'A Late Walk.' as a frame for details of a letter written by my Grandma in 1949.

First, Frost

My draft 

My spring break travels were full of star surprises as I visited with my sisters. These surprises became the inspiration for this quickly dashed off haiku...although it's not sure it qualifies as an actual haiku. See it on the Star Padlet:

Be sure to stop by Margaret Simon's Reflections on the Teche for the latest lines of the Progressive Poem. She's hosting our round-up. 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Caption These!

Hello Poets,

I'm traveling this week to have all kinds of spring break fun with my sisters. Before I began my travels, I had fun upcycling some images from weeded books for Easter cards. I'm wondering...what captions or greetings would you include on the backs of these postcards? 

I'll put my captions below. But, I'd love to also know what you'd say!

caption this #1

Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme is hosting Poetry Friday this holiday weekend. Thank you, Matt! 

caption this #2

There is a new star poem up on the padlet that comes from stars popping up wherever I looked at last week. I was out of the library in the wilds of the classroom and it seemed I saw stars everywhere. Isn't it funny how OLW can become such a focus? I felt blessed by those friendly stars. 

caption this #3

My captions:

1. Even though Papa had presented Junior with a specially trained Easter Egg Hunting Hound, this year's hunt proved a disappointment

2. How do you paint your eggs?

3. Franny didn't understand why the bunny ears she recently purchased were so deeply discounted until after she started pedaling. 

I should be back home to respond to posts early next week. Until then, Happy Easter! Good Passover, and Ramadan Mubarak to all those celebrating. 

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Poetry Friday -- playing with form and point of view

Are we having fun yet?

I am! Though it's raining like crazy, I'm on the cusp of Spring Break. The promise of seven whole days to sleep in,  see my sisters, craft, write...oh, the possibilities. 

Thank you, Janice, at Salt City Verse for rounding up our Poetry Friday blogs today.

My Poetry Month project has me scratching my head a little bit. These letters I have from my grandmother ... They are newsy I suppose, but also dry. Dentist appointments and weather and the baby sleeping are not great inspirations for poems at first. 

I remember my grandmother. She was sparkly and light. She told stories in all the voices. She taught me things. She bought me a forbidden Barbie doll.

I've been looking for poetic phrases within her letters and a spare form to play with. I've not settled on anything. However, I really like how a cherita serves my purposes. It's short, story-telling in nature, and is a distinct form. It might help me include what's not written on the old yellowed pages.,

First a cherita from a letter:

October 7, 1948 

Paul and the boys have gone to East Hill for more hens
I thought I’d get my letter writing done while it is quiet

The weather here has been swell all week
leaves are starting to come down a little faster
Yesterday was grand for drying

(c) Linda Mitchell

Then in Free Verse:

Letter writing 

A task to accomplish
Better in the quiet
with the boys out of the house.

Just you and your pen
scratching away
on personalized stationery
dutifully accounting for your spent hours 

Autumn leaves fall fast
swirl with wash on the line
Tomorrow is for ironing.

(c) Linda Mitchell

The padlet grows with star shenanigans.

Spiritual Journey Thursday in April

Dear Sojourners,

Our host, Karen, offered a prayer for us to consider before sharing our posts this month:

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need,
the wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

     - from the Northumbria Community

As beautiful as the prayer is, I struggled to see a lesson in it. I didn't see a reflection piece in a prayer in which the speaker has made this commitment. 

I've been quite fretful in these past years. I've worried over Covid, then vaccines, then boosters, divided politics, the behavior of school children, and now another war before the world has cleaned up after the past several. There is no shortage of things for any of us to worry over. I sometimes joke with one of my very anxious kiddos that I'll take their top worry for free! I don't charge. I'll worry over that stinker of a worry like a pro. The only hitch is, that they can't have that worry back. They have to let it go for good.

This is, of course, what God is urging of me.

Years ago, I was in professional development when I began asking quite a few "what if" questions just as my middle school students do. After I sputtered off several questions, the leader simply invited me to "trust the process." That was a moment I'll never forget. The leader was very quiet, and patient and welcomed my questions. The answer to them the process of what I was learning.

Lent has been a productive time for me. My church publishes a devotional each year written by members of our congregation. It is beautiful and funny and painful and wonderful to read. I draw closer to my church family as I read about the ways that they have approached life with God's help. I've used these devotions as writing prompts and the reward has been rich (OK, some giggles and tears too).

When I re-read the prayer above I realize I don't have to find a lesson. All I need to do is trust the process. Trust the beauty of the wonders of nature as true, trust the power of God to hold and lead, watch and hear, hearken and guide and protect. The invitation is there. I simply need to relax into it.

I need to trust the process. And, not take that worry back. Amen.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Progressive Poem Day 6


I'm glad you made it. Molly had to step out of the classroom for a moment and I'm minding the store until she gets back. How's that for some seriously and badly mixed metaphors?

Here's what we have so far...some rather back and forth between going or not going...I'm adding my vote for going on the adventure! Always choose adventure. 

My Line for 4/6 comes from Mr. Willy Wonka himself straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roal Dahl. 

"Come with me, and you'll be in a land of pure imagination" 

OK, Kim Johnson, your turn!

Want to follow along on the journey? This list shows where the poem has been and where it’s headed:

1 April 1 Irene at Live Your Poem
2 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
3 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
4 Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading
5 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
6 Linda at A Word Edgewise
7 Kim Johnson at Common Threads
8 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
11 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
12 Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch
13 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe
14 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
15 Carol Labuzzetta @ The Apples in my Orchard
16 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
17 Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken Town
18 Patricia at Reverie
19 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Kevin at Dog Trax
22 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
23 Leigh Anne at A Day in the Life
24 Marcie Atkins
25 Marilyn Garcia
26 JoAnn Early Macken
27 Janice at Salt City Verse
28 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
29 Karen Eastlund at Karen’s Got a Blog
30 Michelle Kogan Painting, Illustration, & Writing

Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Thing Is...

Well, Poets, here we are in the month of and for poetry (here in the US).

I'm not sure what greeting works best:
Merry Poetry Month
Happy Poetry Month
Good Poetry Month
Positively Pleasing Poetry Month to You

We're poets...what do you think? 

I wish you a productive and stress-free month. In past years I have felt a bit of pressure in April to be more in some way. I'm learning to let go of that and just enjoy.

I have a treasured box of letters one of my grandmothers wrote to our family decades ago. Each day of April, I will select one letter to use as inspiration for a poem. I might not write a poem every day...but every day I will read a different letter and jot down words and connections that begin a poem for me. I aim to complete some poems to share on Poetry Fridays.

Whatever your plans for this month, enJOY. 

Our Inklings are kicking off Poetry Month with a prompt from Mary Lee:

"Use “The Thing Is” by Ellen Bass as a mentor text. Keep the title, but choose a theme/message either from your own life or from current events."

The Thing Is


to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you down like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.

Poem copyright ©2002 Ellen Bass, "The Thing Is," from Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, (Grayson Books, 2017). Poem reprinted by permission of Ellen Bass and the publisher.

My take on The Thing Is...

The Thing is

Peace signs, besieged, fall

all around us, hands pressed

to faces, sobbing.

Peace signs ignored

with hard unmet eyes

earbuds in,

blasting god knows what.

Senseless, we miss 

crocus in the snow

     Peace be to you

a unequally divided pie

     And also, with you

Sleeping, newborn babe

      If that mockingbird won’t sing 

No paper crane on my shoulder


Olive branches, plowshares

fingers waving Vs in the air

     When will they ever learn?

  When will they ever learn?

(c) Linda Mitchell 4/1/22

As much as I am drawn to the stars, I'm finding I'm also drawn to the people also drawn to stars...especially women who had to determinedly carve out places in the scientific community to study space. Mary Golda Ross is one of these women. Here's what The Smithsonian has to say about Ross. The latest poem on the padlet is about her. 

Thanks and applauase for Tabatha Yeatts for her anthology prowess in creating Imperfect II: poems about perspective. anthology for middle schoolers. She has compiled another great book of poems that I'm delighted to have contributed to. It's available this month!

Now I'm skipping off to read blogs around the Poetry Friday blogosphere. I haven't been able to read as many as I like these days. I'm hoping to get to more...especially those new poets joining in. Inkling Heidi is hosting our round-up today at My Juicy Little Universe. 

More 'The Thing Is...' poems can be found at:

Reflections on the Teche
Reading to the Core
Nix the Comfort Zone
Another Year of Reading