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

Thursday, March 24, 2022

We Belong. A Review

Hello Poets,

T'was Friday before April and poets in our land were writing poems on computers, cell phones and on paper by hand. Oooof. Pardon the rhyme crimes.

Do you know what you are doing for Poetry Month? Whatever it is, I can't wait to see and celebrate with you. If you don't have a specific plan yet, I highly recommend bouncing from blog to blog and finding inspiration from other poets. That's what I did last year in April and, I loved it!

Thank you, Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, for hosting Poetry Friday this week at The Poem Farm. It's a favorite poem-stop for me. I hope you are enjoying the celebration of If This Bird Had Pockets.

What new book begins with the word, WELCOME! and includes perhaps the most diverse illustrations of children in any picture book I've read in a long, long time and ends with the words, YOU ARE ENOUGH? I'll tell you. 

It's We Belong by Laura Purdie Salas.

We Belong by Laura Purdie Salas. Carolhoda Books. March 2022

I so enjoy how the poetry of We Belong opens with very simple, concrete examples of differences between people: quiet and loud, tall and short and grows into more and more abstract differences that children, and we all, experience in our everyday lives. 

"each feeling a gift"

Is your skin as light as River Birch? Hazlenut? Chestnut, Cherry? Jack Pine, Mahogany, Oak, or Mulberry? Isn't this the most delightful way to address race? I love it.

And, be still my heart, there's even a line that includes star! 

"Let your own heart be your guiding North Star." Thank you for that special line. Suddenly, I feel an urge for writing a golden shovel with such a gem of a striking line in We Belong.

We Belong by Laura Purdie Salas. Carolhoda Books. March 2022

The best part of We Belong is the message, 'You are enough...we all belong.' 

Carlos Velez Aguilera's illustrations make the words of this book sing. Jewel tone pages include every kind of child under the sun from able-bodied to physically challenged, sick, well, happy, sad, alone or with friends, boy, girl or, more choices--hooray! So many children will be able to find themselves in the words and illustrations of We Belong. I am taking this book to my school library for read-alouds immediately! 

Thank you for such a joy of a book for us to read to all of our kids, Laura. And, congrats on continuing to write great kids' books. We are lucky to be able to read more and more books from you.

A couple of weeks ago, we drove my youngest to the train station to head back to college after spring break. Youngest rode in the front seat and I sat in the back looking out the window and giggled when I saw this sign. But that giggle turned into a poem! See it on the padlet: 

I'm off to leave positive reviews of We Belong in my favorite places. I hope you will too.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

If This Bird Had Pockets, A Review

Dear Poets,

My goodness, for those of us waiting for life to ease up a bit, I'd like to remind the universe that we're still waiting here! 

Sensitive souls are feeling our feelings these days, that's for sure. Fortunately, bright spots of poetry exist for us to refuge in. Thank you, Ruth, at There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town, for hosting this week's poetry round-up and refuge.

Guess what? I am a lucky recipient of this book! 

Wordsong March 22

Let me tell you, receiving and opening this package book on after a long week at school was like opening pages of sunshine. The collection begins with a child who imagines what animals would write if they had pockets for beautiful, and innocent and sweet. Each animal's mask poem then shares what the animal would write if they could with important animal details. What a perfect read-aloud for Poem in Your Pocket Day

Since Poem in You Pocket Day is April 29th this year, you have time to request If This Bird Had Pockets for your favorite library branch to purchase or order from your favorite independent bookseller.

And, oh, my stars! There are even poems about stars -- easily my favorites. Here's a video with a narrator you're sure to recognize introducing If This Bird Had Pockets: A Poem in Your Pocket Day Celebration.

Emma Virjan's illustrations cheerful and bright illustrations, compliment the burst of sunshine feeling I got while reading the poems. I cannot tell you how much this book brightened my whole mood AND reminded me to start getting ready for Poem in Your Pocket Day '22. 

Thanks for the giveaway You made my day. I will be sharing this gem of a poetry collection with my students immediately! 

Last week Irene Latham introduced many of us to the poetry form, rispetto. According to Writer's Digest, rispettos were originally written to pay respect to a woman. How perfect for Women's History Month! There's a rispetto on the padlet for this amazing lady, Vera Rubin. 

illustration by Matteo Farinella -- see his AMAZING 
collection of illustrations of women at: 


I'm off to leave positive reviews for If This Bird Had Pockets at my favorite places. I hope you'll read the book and do that as well. 

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Get Sparked

It's Friday...which means poetry...hooray!

Thank you, Sylvia Vardell, for hosting this week's round-up at Poetry for Children. Your work as an anthologist and curator of children's poetry is an inspiration and I depend on it more times than you know.

Recently, Margaret Simon asked me to partner with her for Spark #50. I agreed and waited for her to send me a poem as an inspiration piece. Here is her poem.

Half-hearted Love 
By Margaret Simon

Butterflies open wings
gripping cellophane shells.
Overnight the light changed,
a metamorphosis for the season.
Paperwhite blossoms pop on grass.
The yellow house with the wrap-around
porch flies an American flag in the midst
of rusty farming equipment set in a circle
like a sculpture garden,garden of ghosts
hanging low on moss-covered oaks
twisting my words in the wind,
“What’s love got to do with it?”
I give my love every day,
a slice of chocolate,
a soft rose petal
oh, yes, this
poem is yours,

Wow, right?! Not only is it a poem full of energy, but there are also lots of visuals to create a response piece from. I sat down at my craft table to look through a book weeded from the public library to find a cottage...a spark. Everything I looked for after that had to work with that spark.

Response to Half-Hearted Love. Mixed-Media collage By Linda Mitchell March '22

Find more Spark 50 participant inspiration and response pieces at 

There's a new poem on the star ekphrastic poem based on this painting by Sara Pulvers that I first saw on Jama's Poetry Friday post last year. See the poem here 

Painting by Sara Pulvers

Thursday, March 3, 2022

What She Said

Hello Poetry Friday People,

Goodness, what a year this past week was. I'm very glad that Friday is in just a few hours and I can have some weekend time to re-charge. Thanks so much to Kat Apel for hosting this week's Poetry Friday. It's been so fun to watch her publish and publish and publish more! 

This month's Inkling challenge comes from Margaret: 

Today’s Poem 

Is no midsummer 
fairy tale buttercups and daisies 
waving in the sun. 

Today, our princess is simply a girl 
in sweats and a knit hat 
slogging to class 
studying hard 
reading long
sticky-noting a library of books 
until closing 
burning all the ends 
of all her candles  
Our damsel doesn’t have time  
for any woodsman 
Isn’t inclined to seek a knight 
or spend seconds spinning  
magic wheels for gold. 

She pushes up her sleeves  
ponytails her hair 
writes a thesis on Rumpelstiltskin  
weaving female cleverness  
into a degree  
affording a life  
free from want  
clear of need 
for father, rescue hero 
or prince on bended knee.

(c) Linda Mitchell -- draft 2/3/22

As you see, Ukraine is heavy on my mind. The latest entry on the padlet is an ekphrastic poem based on a painting by Ukrainian artist Tatyana Vezeleva.

And last, but not least...I had fun playing with words and poetry in eighth grade this week. We wrote N+7 poems. A few observations:
  • In the past two years, very few students have had opportunities to pick up, let alone use, a print dictionary.
  • Using an old-fashioned print dictionary can help anyone better understand what information a digital dictionary provides users
  • Word-nerds can't hide! Give them a dictionary and they start having more fun than before they know it
We used 'There was an Old Lady That Swallowed a Fly' as our base poem