Poetry Friday: Snow Day Edition

My kids are waking up to the news that there’s no school today because of the ice/snow storm.


NEX 5R — Minolta Rokkor 100mm Macro — f/4.5, 1/125s, ISO 1600

I whispered the news in Gearbox’s ear and the happy almost-teen went back to sleep. My youngest will soon wake up, jubilant. He’ll be running around the house dancing a jig, like Emily Dickinson.

Snow flakes
By Emily Dickinson

I counted till they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town –
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down –
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig –
And ten of my once stately toes
Are marshalled for a jig!

For more Poetry Friday, visit Robin Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge.

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Poetry Friday — holiday feast edition

Inviting a Friend to Supper by Ben Johnson

Tonight, grave sir, both my poor house, and I
Do equally desire your company;
Not that we think us worthy such a guest,
But that your worth will dignify our feast
With those that come, whose grace may make that seem
Something, which else could hope for no esteem.
It is the fair acceptance, sir, creates
The entertainment perfect, not the cates.
Yet shall you have, to rectify your palate

We have a feast of poetry for you this week. The best part? You can eat all you want because this feast has zero calories but will leave you feeling full and happy.(you can read Johnson’s full poem over at Poetry Foundation.)

Appetizers (haiku)

Carmela at Teaching Authors shares a thank you note to school librarians written in the form of a Thanku poem.

Matt Forest is celebrating the transition between fall and winter with a haiku.

Robyn Hood Black is continuing her “We Haiku Here” series featuring speakers from the recent Haiku Society of America regional haikufest in Atlanta. Up today: poet, speaker, college instructor, and editor Laurence Stacey.

Joy at Poetry for Kids also brings us a Thanksgiving haiku.

At On Point, Lorie Ann has a haiku, Santorini Sunset.

Salad Course (seasonal poems)

If you’re on the road this holiday season, you’ll appreciate Mary Lee Hahn’s contribution this week at A Year In Reading.

At Father Goose, Charles Ghinga celebrates winter.

If you’re spending a lot of time in the kitchen, be sure to head over to The Drift Record where Julie shares a Mary Czybist poem. Mary was just named the 2013 winner of the National Book Award for Poetry.

The Main Entree (Thanksgiving poems)

Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference has a several poems from Giving Thanks.

At Tapestry of Words, Becky points us to some books of Thanksgiving poetry and gives a wonderful example of a non-fiction Thanksgiving poem.

Diane Mayr has a smorgasbord for us: at Random Noodling she has an original poem about the Pilgrim women at the first Thanksgiving feast; at Kurious Kitty she presents us with a Valerie Worth Thanksgiving poem; and, in remembrance of the day president John F. Kennedy died, KK’s Kwotes has a quote by JFK.

Michelle Barnes has a clever little greeting card poem about something she’s grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Steven Winthrow at Crackles of Speech has an original poem about giving thanks called Rockhoppers.

Side Dishes (non-fiction, historical)

Laura Shovan at Author Amok has a new post in her kill-your-darlings series. It features an original poem “Freedom Seekers”.

Jone at Check It Out is celebrating one of the CYBILS non-fiction books.

Dessert (sweets and sweet writing projects)

Violet Nesdoly is thinking ahead to Christmas. She has an original poem with a hidden message — can you find it?

Hurry over to Alphabet Soup where Jama is featuring Alphabet Trucks by Samantha Vamos and Ryan O’Rourke. She is offering up lovely, edible trucks — dibs on the chocolate truck.

Amy at The Poem Farm has a poem inspired by a linty pair of pants and an old favorite book.

Alice at Supratentorial shares a writing project she did with her boys based on The Months by Sara Coleridge.

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche is writing poems with her 6th graders featuring repetition.

Cocktails and toddys (Friday additions)

Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe is posting from Boston today with a piece about Amy’s electromagnetic field.

This week at Keri Recommends, Keri shares a book trailer that caused her to fall in love with a book before she has seen it.

Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect offers an original villanelle for the holiday.

Let’s give a big Poetry Friday welcome to a new poster – Max at Teaching from Behind! Max shares an original poem
about waking up to the first real snow of winter and sharing it with his three-year-old daughter.

At The Drawer of M.M. Socks we have a poem called The Artist of Field 122.

Mariletta Robinson is letting us know what Antoine the Anteater is thankful for.

At Bildungsroman we get the first stanza of The Dream by George William Russell.

Liz Steinglass has an apology poem today.

And at Gathering Books we’re in for a yummy fairy treat from Jane Yolen.

Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town has a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem today called “Merry Autumn.”

At Mainely Write, Donna shares an original cold weather poem – “Rosy”.

Dia Calhoun has a poem inspired by a photo of a sailboat that caught the light on a dark bay.

Betsy at I Think in Poems shares an original poem about poetry singing a song as the sun sets in red.

Enjoy some Charlotte Zolotow at Semicolon.

*** Good Morning, Poetry Peeps. I think I’m all caught up so if I missed your entry… drop me a line. I’m looking forward to sitting down with a cup of tea later today and really getting to enjoy this poetry feast ***

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Poetry Friday Early Birds!

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early bird—
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.
– Shel Silverstein

Hello PF Early Birds!
Please feel free to leave a comment with a link to your blog. I’m posting this week’s Poetry Friday entry at 7am on Friday so all comments I get before 6am Friday will make it into that first post. After that I’ll add comments as the day goes on…

I’ve been busy unpacking and settling my kids into their new school but I’ve missed y’all.

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I’m hosting Poetry Friday this week and I’m so excited. I’ve been so busy getting everyone settled into our new house I haven’t had a chance to do anything for myself so it will be so nice to visit with everyone on Friday — like a day-long coffee party with all my poetry friday friends.

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Soft rains

Cover, Sheinkin's BombGearbox needs to read a non-fiction book this summer. Being a huge Sheinkin fan, he picked Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. It arrived in the mail today and I immediately stole it and read it before he could get his hands on it because that’s the kind of mother I am.

Bomb, like other Sheinkin books, brings an era to life in a way that is both fascinating and informative. Sheinkin has a rare gift; his non-fiction is as gripping as a novel you’d bring to the beach. The story follows three threads: the attempt to make the bomb, the attempt to keep the Germans from making the bomb, and the attempt by the Soviets to steal the bomb technology.

While most of the story is a tense and thrilling spy thriller, the descriptions of the devastation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are painful and effectively convey the horror of the bomb blast:

“Just as my brother reached out a catch the dragonfly, there was a flash. I felt like I’d suddenly been blown into a furnace… When I opened my eyes after being flung eight yards, it was still as dark as if I were facing a wall painted black.” [p195]

This eye-witness quotation reminded me of Ray Bradbuy’s post-apocalyptic short story “There will come soft rains”. In Bradbury’s dystopian short, a heavily automated house goes about it’s daily tasks of getting a family ready for the day long after the family is gone. Eventually the reader learns that the family was killed in a nuclear blast:

“The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick up flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titanic instant, a small boy, hands flung into the air higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him, a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down.”

In the story, the house recites a Sarah Teasdale poem that was inspired by the horrors of WW1:

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

For more Poetry Friday, visit Amy at The Poem Farm.

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The past couple of months have been a whirlwind. My youngest got injured. My oldest got sick. We found out we were moving and had to get our house ready to put on the market. Somewhere in there was a kiddo’s birthday that got woefully neglected and a wedding anniversary that got totally ignored. The end of the whirlwind is still miles away, but today, for just an afternoon, I’m in the eye of the storm. We put an offer on a beautiful old house today. If it comes through, the whirlwind picks up again. Next comes the moving. The packing and unpacking. The settling in. The painful goodbyes and awkward hellos.

When life gets crazy, I think about the Robert Frost poem that we read from at our wedding, “The Master Speed”

The Master Speed
By Robert Frost

No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have a speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will.
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still—
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

I could use a little of that “power of standing still” right now.

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2013 Progressive Poem

2013 Progressive Poem
Irene Latham’s fabulous Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is pausing here today; tomorrow Diane at Random Noodling brings it into the final stanza!

When you listen to your footsteps
the words become music and
the rhythm that you’re rapping gets your fingers tapping, too.
Your pen starts dancing across the page
a private pirouette, a solitary samba until
smiling, you’re beguiling as your love comes shining through.

Pause a moment in your dreaming, hear the whispers
of the words, one dancer to another, saying
Listen, that’s our cue! Mind your meter. Find your rhyme.
Ignore the trepidation while you jitterbug and jive.
Arm in arm, toe to toe, words begin to wiggle and flow
as your heart starts singing let your mind keep swinging

from life’s trapeze, like a clown on the breeze.
Swinging upside down, throw and catch new sounds–
Take a risk, try a trick; break a sweat: safety net?
Don’t check! You’re soaring and exploring,
dangle high, blood rush; spiral down, crowd hush–
limb-by-line-by-limb envision, pyramidic penned precision.

And if you should topple, if you should flop
if your meter takes a beating; your rhyme runs out of steam—
know this tumbling and fumbling is all part of the act,
so get up with a flourish. Your pencil’s still intact.
Snap those synapses! Feel the pulsing through your pen
Commit, measure by measure, to the coda’s cadence.

To see more of the poem’s progression, visit the Progressive Poem participants:
Day 1: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Day 2: Joy Acey
Day 3: Matt Forrest
Day 4: Jone McCulloch
Day 5: Doraine Bennett
Day 6: Gayle Krouse
Day 7: Janet Fagal
Day 8: Julie Larios
Day 9: Carrie Finison
Day 10: Linda Baie
Day 11: Margaret Simon
Day 12: Linda Kulp
Day 13: Catherine Johnson
Day 14: Heidi Mordhorst
Day 15: Mary Lee Hayn
Day 16: Liz Steinglass
Day 17: Renee LaTulippe
Day 18: Penny Klostermann
Day 19: Irene Latham
Day 20: Buffy Silverman
Day 21: Tabatha Yeatts
Day 22: Laura Shovan
Day 23: Joanna Marple
Day 24: Katja Czaja
Day 25: Diane Mayr
Day 26: Robyn Hood Black
Day 27: Ruth Hersey
Day 28: Laura Purdie Salas
Day 29: Denise Mortensen
Day 30: April Halprin Wayland


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Poetry Friday: March Madness Edition

When I faced down ‘androgynous’ in the first round of Poetry March Madness last year, I was sure that any word Ed threw at me this year would be easier. But I was wrong. This year I drew ‘bereft’. It’s a fine word, but I live in Connecticut. And ‘bereft’ is a raw word for me. A sharp, painful word. It brings to mind tiny coffins and sobbing parents. Not an easy word to write a children’s poem about. So I really, really, really struggled this year. Hours before my entry was due I was still fussing with several unsatisfactory entries.

My first finalist was a poem about the yearly mastery tests:

The school’s bereft of noise,
of running feet,
of shouting voices,
of raised hands,
and laughter.

Must be testing week.

The second was a sappy poem for my husband:

bereft of song
of yellow daffodils
of pink petals, falling
is more like spring
than I am me
without you

But the poem I was really trying to avoid writing was the following poem (still in a very rough stage). Originally it had bereft in the 2nd to last line…


Patiently the 6th graders fold the
paper squares six times and, laughing,
cut angles to match the
poorly printed diagrams. Holding
back tears I guide a hand
making a center star, thinking,
how can we make stars
when the night has lost so many.

To vote in the first round, go to Think, Kid, Think.
For more Poetry Friday, visit Check It Out.

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RunawayKingShhh… Don’t tell anyone!

Jennifer Nielsen’s The Runaway King (ebook) is on sale at Amazon for $5!
These sales don’t last long, so get it while it’s on sale.

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Reading slump

I’m in a reading slump. We’ve been dealing with a series of medical issues that have not been horrible but that have left me with no time or energy to read, write, or review. For months. Oy.

What I Read:

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (YA, graphic novel, tween , teen, middle school, friendships) ★★★★★
Just as Smile became Gearbox’s touchstone for dealing with his accident, Drama has become his touchstone for the rocky transition to Middle School that he’s facing this year. Drama deals with first loves, friendships, and the awkwardness of those first years of adolescence with refreshing honesty and warmth. Gearbox has re-read it dozens of times since I bought it for him. And so have I.

What I’m Currently Reading:

Nada. Zip. Zilch.

What I’ve Listened To:

Around the World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne (adventure, classic, travel, twists-and-turns, PG) narrated by Patrick Tull ★★★★☆
I wasn’t sure the boys would get into this one so I played it in the kitchen while cooking. Despite long passages that read like a geography textbook, the boys really got into the story. Patrick Tull is an amazing narrator — he really brings the adventures to life. The boys loved the book so much that we learned to play whist.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (fantasy, adventure, classic, PG) narrated by Rob Inglis ★★★★☆
It’s a classic. The boys loved it. What more is there to say?

The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud (MG, YA, fantasy, sardonic djinn, PG) narrated by Simon Jones (in progress – 15%)
The Golem’s Eye is a little harder to get into than The Amulet of Samarkand so this is the second time we are trying to listen to this book. I’m not finding Kitty’s story as compelling as Nathaniel’s; if I was reading, I’d skim those chapters. According to Gearbox (who has listened to the whole book), the story picks up in the second half so we’re pushing through.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (YA, autism, Sherlock Holmes, mystery, pet rat) narrated by Jeff Woodman (in progress – 20%)
So far I’m really enjoying this.

What’s on my TBR Pile:

Nothing. I’m in a reading slump. The Runaway King just came out (it’s the sequel to one of my favorite books from last year — The False Prince) but I can’t get past the first page on any book.

For more It’s Monday, What Are You Reading, visit Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Sheila at Book Journey.

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