Poetry Friday: Bayou Song Blog Tour

Poetry Friday round-up is with Mary Lee @ A Year of Reading

I am thrilled to be the final stop on Margaret Simon‘s blog tour for her recently published book, Bayou Song. Because we are friends, I have been a listening ear and occasionally have given Margaret input on a few in-progress poems. It has been a joy to watch this book come to life!

The interactive elements in her book are like nothing I have ever seen in a poetry anthology. The way Margaret creates entry points for readers to take the reading experience to a writing experience is unique, inviting, and fun. Teachers will find this book crosses multiple content areas and can bring students along in a beautiful journey of learning about the landscape of south Louisiana.

In preparing my blog tour post, I decided to choose three forms of poetry Margaret shows us in Bayou Song and use the landscape of northwest Montana where I live to be my inspiration. I still consider myself a developing poet, and owe any success I have had in my writing in this genre entirely to Margaret. Her encouragement, teaching, and gentle nudging as I dipped my toes into what has been unknown territory for this writer have kept me coming back to poetry time and time again when I didn’t think I knew what I was doing.

Here is my zeno poem. It is a ten-lined poem with a specific syllable count of 8, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1 where the one-syllable lines rhyme. I enjoy syllable count form poetry, although this was more challenging than I expected.

Using a repeated line in poems is another form I like to play with. In her book Margaret uses the repeated line “There is always” to describe a place in nature. Here is my poem about my most favorite place in Glacier National Park: Going To The Sun Road.

My last poem is a word play piece where I add the ending -ing to words describing all I observed at a recent day on Whitefish Lake near where I live. Each summer we enjoy a 2-week “staycation” with friends who have a cabin there. It’s where we gather most afternoons to enjoy warm Montana lake days that, after the long winters we endure, come and go all too quickly.

If you haven’t read the other posts on Margaret’s Bayou Song blog tour this summer, I encourage you to stop on over at the following links.

Friday, June 22:
Michelle Kogan

Tuesday, June 26:
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

Friday, June 29:
Ruth Hersey at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town

Friday, July 6:
Kimberly Hutmacher at Kimberly Hutmacher Writes

Friday, July 13:
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise

Tuesday, July 17:
Laura Shovan 

Tuesday, July 24
Amanda Potts at Persistence and Pedagogy

Friday, July 27:
Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink

Monday, July 30
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance

If you don’t already have a copy of her book, I highly recommend you get a copy! I am certain you will enjoy it, and will find you are greatly inspired to bring poetry into your writing life. If you are a teacher, it will breath new life into your classroom for your students to try for themselves.

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone!

Poetry Friday: More Than Meets the Eye

Poetry Friday round-up is with Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

This week for Poetry Friday I am participating in a poetry photo exchange, arranged by this week’s host, Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche. She is calling it “More Than Meets the Eye.

Margaret has paired me with Christie @ Wondering and Wandering. Christie and I have exchanged photos with one another, and will write a poem to the photo we each received. These are photos that we have taken in the area where we live. I am from Montana, and Christie lives in Maine.

I love this unique and fun idea that Margaret thought of, and am excited to read the other exchanges in those who participated. Be sure to head over to Margaret’s post and click on the Inlinkz at the bottom of her post to read other poetry photo exchanges.

The photo I received from Christie is of Walden Pond, famously known by many thanks to poet Henry David Thoreau. She shared with me that the pond is not far from her home, and that she has recently been spending quite a bit of time there, exploring Thoreau’s “ordinary, yet extraordinary home-not-so-far-away-from-home through a different lens.”

I found the image haunting at first examination. Knowing the long-standing history this place represented, I began to imagine Thoreau there among the still trees, seeking to deepen his understanding of his life through the beauty of nature.

“I suppose that what in other men is religion is in me love of nature.”
                     -Henry David Thoreau Journal, October 1842

As I continued to spend time simply looking more closely at the photo, my eyes were always drawn to the moss covered trees (at least I think that it’s moss covering the trees; I am actually not entirely sure what it is). Regardless though, I found myself seeing it like a blanket, covering the trees as if to keep secrets left behind from Thoreau and others who walked these woods long before Christie did.

The reflections, the stories, and the wisdom of those sojourners lie in silence, full of mysteries unheard by the ear, but perhaps seen through our eyes? I would love to know what Christie has discovered during her quiet moments at Walden Pond.

I share with you my tanka, entitled Walden Pond:


Poetry Friday: Winding Down

It’s the middle of May. For most teachers, the countdown has begun. Some are closer to the finish line than others, but regardless of the date, we are all beginning to wind down a full year of teaching and learning with our students.

For some, it can be a time of some sadness. My friend Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche recently published a blog post titled “May Blues” where she shared her own struggles in finding joy at the end of the year. I think many teachers can relate to her own reflections, struggling with worry about whether or not we did all we could do to get our learners where they needed to be by year’s end.

And the last day goodbyes. Those can be the toughest part about winding down. For me, I already feel myself getting choked up thinking about what it will look like on kindergarten graduation day. While I will likely see many of the faces of my students next year when they return as 1st graders, some won’t be there, having moved to a different school. Either way, they won’t be mine anymore.

My time, my influence, and my relationships with them are winding down, and will soon be no more.

Join me over at Sloth Reads, where our host for Poetry Friday is Rebecca Herzog! She is giving away a very funny book of poems titled I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups. Thanks for hosting, Rebecca!

Poetry Friday round-up is with Rebecca at Sloth Reads

Five for Friday: Celebrating Mom

While pursuing other #PoetryFriday posts this morning, I came upon Michelle Barnes’s post over at Today’s Little Ditty. Her “Five for Friday” topic was to write a five word poem about a special gift you had either given or received from your mom.

I immediately began thinking of gifts my mom gave me. One of the first thoughts that came to me wasn’t a material gift, but instead it was the give of time that my mom gave so generously in her life. When I remember my mom, I see someone who was always willing to sacrifice her time for others.

When I first became a mom, my mother was right there by my side for those first overwhelming, emotional, and unbelievably exhausting 2 weeks as I transitioned into being a mom. One of the things she loved most was giving my daughter Erica her evening bath. This ritual was a bonding time for both of them, and gave me a chance to rest after a tiring day. Watching her talk, sing and coo with her granddaughter brought me such joy, and I know was equally gratifying for her as a grandma.

I went on to have two more daughters, and her sweet bath time rituals were once again repeated with each of them. These moments and memories placed deep roots in their special relationships with each other. I know she treasured her role as a grandma deeply, and sharing bubbles and giggles together was one of her most coveted routines with her granddaughters.

Meme is gone now, but when I remember her on this Mother’s Day, one extra special gift I celebrate that she gave me was her love and devotion to my daughters. She exemplified selfless love and helped me become the mom I am today.

And one day, when I get to hold my first grand-baby in my arms, the first thing I will be longing to do is savor sweet bath times together, just like Meme did.

Poetry Friday: A Diamante Poem

Poetry Friday round-up is @ Jama”s Alphabet Soup


Our #PoetryFriday gathering this week is over at Jama’s Alphabet Soup where you’ll find delicious blueberry muffins & tea waiting, along with a plethora of wonderful poetry for your enjoyment. Won’t you join us today?

On a few of my morning walks with our two cockapoos this week, I have been greeted by the aftermath of a spring rain shower. The smell is simply glorious, and is another reminder that spring is here. There is nothing like the fragrant smell of spring rain. Even the rain itself seems different than rain at other times of the year. It has a gentler spirit and a different presence. It’s almost like it is telling us, “I am only here for a brief moment, and the sun will return shortly.”

I left school this evening and walked out into another rain shower. With all of my moments experiencing this pleasure of spring, I decided to try a diamante poem to celebrate what has brought me such quiet pleasure this week.

Poetry Friday: Hello, Spring!

Poetry Friday round-up is with Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales.

Back in  February I wrote a #PoetryFriday post on a bitterly cold and snowy Friday. We had recently watched several inches of snow fall, which meant there was a whole lot of snow removal that needed to be done. Winter felt like it was never going to end. February can be a long month in Montana, with many days of very cold temperatures, and often our heaviest snowfalls.

Fast forward just three months, and winter is a long departed memory from everyone’s minds. It was a long winter season, and it almost felt like we slipped from winter to spring in only a few day’s time. I took my kindergartners for a spring observation walk only a couple of weeks ago, and the buds on the trees were still tightly closed, but it took only a week of warmer temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s to encourage those buds to open up and reveal their beauty within. In February what looked like dead, skeleton-like trees have now transformed into budding green trees of beauty.

For my February post, I took a picture on a quiet block here in my neighborhood. Despite the cold that day, it actually was quite picturesque. Today on my way to school, I drove to the same spot and took a picture. The side-by-side comparisons are something to behold. I can see beauty in both images, but somehow my spring photo brings a warmth to my heart and joy to my spirit.

Welcome, at long last, Spring!

Celebrate Poetry Friday: Kinders Meet Middle Graders!

For today’s #PoetryFriday, I am linking up with others with Tabatha Yeatts @ her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. Thank you for hosting our gathering today, Tabatha.

Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Tabatha @ The Opposite of Indifference

I am also linking up with Ruth Ayres to #Celebrate a very exciting day of poetry writing in my class this week. Click here to read other celebration posts, or better yet, add your own. The more the merrier!

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

In my first year teaching kindergarten, I committed whole-heartedly to teaching my littles poetry during the month of April. We have read a lot of poetry over the months in anticipation for the time they would begin composing their own poems.

I am happy to report that we are making great progress! With the help of Regie Routman’s book, Kids Poems: Teaching Kindergartners to Love Poetry, I have found the process to be a great deal of fun. My kids arrive at the rug each day, eager to read poetry from other young writers, talk about what they notice, and then try it out for themselves. Most days before I send them off to write, I model writing a poem through a shared writing experience, and some days we write together.

This week our focus was food. I told them they were “foodie poets” for the day. I shared with them how much I love sweets, and that one of my favorite sweet treats is cupcake ice cream. We decided to interactively write a poem about this delicious treat together.

When we finished, we were so excited. In the moment, I suggested we share our piece with a teacher friend of mine (and maybe yours too..she’s pretty well-known in the #PoetryFriday world!) Margaret Simon. We practiced reading it several times, then I took a video of them as they read it aloud. I sent it off to her, hoping we would get her feedback before day’s end.

While my students were at lunch, I was thrilled to receive a response from not only Margaret, but two of her students. They had watched our video and decided they would write a poem in response to ours! They posted a picture of the poem along with a Voxer recording of them reading it aloud. I couldn’t wait to share this with my students!

Later that afternoon, we listened to their poem and celebrated the joy of poetry. I’m not sure they completely understood how amazing it was that technology made it possible for kids all the way across the country to see us read our poem and then send one right back to us. I tried sharing my When-I-was-in-kindergarten-we-didn’t-have-computers stories, but I’m not sure they really got it.

What I do know they got was joy in writing and sharing poetry! This experience fueled them for the next day of writing, and the next, and the next. They have yet to tire of coming back to the blank page each day and trying another poem. Sharing our pieces with each other spurs on more excitement, as our folders begin to bulge with growing anthologies. I am hoping each student will find one gem they want to take all the way to final publishing and reciting at graduation in June.

It’s right around the corner!