Summer Poem Swap

2014 Summer-Poem-Swap emailEvery afternoon I hike to my mailbox, hopeful that I’ll find something other than bills and junkmail, and seldom is that hope realized. But during the summer poem swap, organized by Tabatha Yeatts, my mailbox is a treasure chest! My loot started with a poem of summer wishes from Mary Lee Hahn:  linda_toad lily

I’m happy to report that all of Mary Lee’s wishes came true for me (especially fireflies.  Many, many fireflies.) Mary Lee’s poem was in a frame with a magnetic back and its cool wishes have been hanging on my refrigerator.

My next treasure came from Robyn Hood Black who was inspired by a golden silk orb weaver (aka Nephila clavipes) who spun a giant web just outside her front porch:robyn_spider-1

Lowly scribe?  Leaden words?  I beg to differ.  Robyn’s gift also included another exquisite photo of her charming spider, who I hear was recently joined by Mr. Orb Weaver and is now busily weaving spider booties in anticipation of spiderlings.

Robyn’s spider poem was followed by a gem from Linda Baie featuring both flora and fauna:
linda_toad lily-2photo credit: ReinventedWheel via photopin cc

I have a weakness for merry toads and lilies in fashionable attire!  And for all the charming poems that have brightened my summer.  Thank you summer swappers!

I have to admit that my procrastination got the better of me this summer, and the first couple of poems that I wrote for the swap were more than a little late (in fact procrastination was the subject of my poem for Robyn.) My third swap poem was only a few days tardy, and I managed to send out the fourth one a day before the deadline. One more poem to go, and I’m pledging to send it out early!  I followed Tabatha’s writing prompts for poems 2-4 which were lots of fun (and made me wonder why I didn’t tackle them sooner…) I’m looking forward to receiving two more treasures in my mailbox this summer.

18923_originalFor more Poetry Friday treasures, drift down to Bayou Teche where Margaret has this week’s round-up.

 

 

Where’s My Sandy Beach?

Happy Summer!  Earlier this month my family plus pals spent a week at a cottage near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  We climbed the dunes, went on hikes, visited spectacular Lake Michigan beaches, paddled the Crystal River and hung out at Long Lake.

There were breath-taking views.

And much picture taking.

And much picture taking…

From all angles...

From all angles…

And serious poses.

And serious poses.

And waiting for photographers.

    And more serious poses.

And more serious poses.

And water bicycles!

Although I grew up in Massachusetts and visited many Atlantic coast beaches, I now prefer Lake Michigan–amazing sand, no salt in your eyes or hair, and more manageable waves.  The only thing missing is the chance to fill your pockets with shells, but searching for Petoskey stones (small stones composed of fossilized corals) can fill that void.

And I can write about shells even if they’re absent from the beaches I now frequent!  That’s what I did a couple of years ago when I had the privilege of attending a Highlights poetry workshop.  One of the exercises given by Rebecca Kai Dotlich was to write a mask poem from the viewpoint of whatever object was on a card each person picked.  My card had a shell, and the poem I wrote at the workshop is in Ladybug Magazine this month:

LYB1407_30_IF You Were a Shell.P30

The poem I submitted was slightly different than the one published above.  I had written from a child’s point of view, addressing a parent:

If I were a shell
and you were the sea,
You’d tumble and toss me,
warm me and wash me.

The editors at Ladybug thought it made more sense to write this poem from the adult’s POV and I agreed (although I missed that first stanza rhyme.)

Don’t you love Irene Luxbacher’s whimsical illustration?! And look what happened in Irene’s illustration–the parent that I imagined disappeared!

LYB1407_30_IF You Were a Shell.P31I love the band of young mermaids rocking that baby in the shell!  And I especially love discovering that an illustrator saw the characters in my poem in a completely different way than I had envisioned.

For more poetic discoveries, head over to Poetry for Children where Sylvia has all of this week’s Poetry Friday posts.

It’s Poetry Friday!

18923_originalWelcome to Poetry Friday!  Our nine-month sojourn in North Carolina is over, and I’m pleased to be back in Michigan and hosting Poetry Friday.  Last week I attended a three-day training for passage writers for a new Michigan assessment.  I’ve always had mixed feelings when writing test passages, and this gig is no exception–do Michigan high school kids really need another assessment?  But this assessment will be prepared with or without me, and hopefully the nonfiction and poetry passages that I’m writing are reasonably interesting and worth a student’s reading time (and there’s a paycheck at the end of the project, which is always nice.)  Writing these passages got me thinking about test-taking, so I fished out a poem that I’d started earlier this year (although I’m not sure if these tests are taken with pencils.)  I suspect that the teachers among you would like a break from thinking about this particular facet of school–I apologize in advance!

With Number 2 Pencils in Hand:pencil

brows furrow
teeth gnash
legs bounce
feet jerk
fingers scratch
knuckles crack
chins tremble
stomachs churn
palms sweat
hands smudge
papers tear
pencils break
clock ticks.

In other poetry news, I recently submitted a poem to a children’s poetry anthology being prepared by Carol-Ann Hoyte on food and agriculture, and was happy to learn this week that the poem was accepted.  I’m in good company with many other Poetry Friday folks–look for the anthology in October of this year.

Please post your links in the comment section, and I’ll update during the day.

Julie Larios is traveling, but she found time to post an original poem titled “Song of the Hog” that will go live at 12:01 a.m. on Friday at The Drift Record.

Over at Alphabet Soup Jama shares three poems from Anna’s Garden Songs by Mary Q. Steele and Lena Anderson.

On Today’s Little Ditty Michelle has the June ditty challenge wrap-up and is giving away a copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science.

If you’re looking for some time-travelling fun, head over to Author Amok for an exclusive interview with Emily Dickinson aka poet and performer MiMi Zannino, who is performing a one-woman show as Dickinson for Chatauqua this summer. And don’t miss Laura’s Thursday post where she shares her terrific news!

Emily Dickinson is also making an appearance at Tamera Wissinger’s journal where she shares a poetry movie inspired by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell’s challenge at Ditty of the Month Club.

We’ve definitely got an Emily theme going today.  Karen Edmisten recommends a gorgeous book: The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems.

Robyn Hood Black shares a terrific poem from the summer poem swap that she received from Margaret Simon, and a poetry confession that has absolutely nothing to do with me :).

Diane Mayr has two original Sketchbook Project poems about mill workers at Random Noodling; a poem celebrating Helen Keller by Langston Hughes at Kurious Kitty; and a Langston Hughes quote at KK’s Kwotes.

Myra shares the Poetry of Basho and some ruminations about the essentials in life at Gathering Books.

Matt’s been spending time at the beach and shares news of his latest published poem, “Oceansides.”

SORRY for the morning delay–I had internet woes, but hopefully all is working now!

Laura Purdie Salas is sharing a morbidly funny poem today by Kurt Cyrus from Your Skeleton Is Showing: Rhymes of Blunder from Six Feet Under.

Carol Varsalona posts an original poem “Connected Educators – Together We Are One!” and an invitation to submit a poem and photo of locale that affords each person a serene spot to her site.

Violet Nesody shares thoughts on writing with an original poem entitled “Writing”–and news of her new e-book!

Greg Pincus has an original homophoem called Bowled Over at Gottabook. 

Over at Teaching Authors, April Halprin Wayland mulls over Marion Dane Bauer’s terrific post about writing to market or writing what you love.  She also includes a revision of an original poem.

Lisa Santika Onggrid has an original free-verse, and shares a favorite poem by Indonesia poet Sapardi Djoko Damono with Lisa’s translation.

Mary Lee shares an original poem from what is developing into her “Wishes” collection.

Tabatha shares a gem of a poem she received from Donna for the summmer poetry swap!

Catherine shares a Halloween poem by budding poet eight-year old Matthew.

Liz Steinglass reports on two of her early favorites in her summer reading list: Laura Purdie Salas’ Water Can Be… and Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover.

Carol shares Mary Oliver’s, “Breakage” on her blog.

At A Teaching Life Tara shares some summertime thoghts through “Starfish,” a poem by Eleanor Lerman.

Irene has a look at Marilyn Nelson’s A WREATH FOR EMMETT TILL.

Jeannine shares her thoughts about revising poetry with love and doubt–I can relate to the doubt part!

At My Juicy Little Universe, Heidi continues her haiku study and has some reflections as well as a beach haiku for kids.

At Reading Through Life Crystal shares some poems by Sarah Kay and Phil Kay, and a book review.

Monica takes us to the edge with her original poem, “House Above the Creek.”

At Booktalking, Anastasia shares a lantern poem from If It Rains Pancakes: Haiku and Lantern Poems by Brian P. Cleary.

At Poetry for Children Sylvia plugs the ALA Poetry Blast and the poets who will be presenting there on Sunday.

Lorie Ann is on her way to ALA, but she’s still dropped by with an original haiku that’s cool as winter. At readertotz she shares a poem from I Saw Esau.

In honor of Helen Keller’s birthday, Kelly shares “Swimming to the Light,” J. Patrick Lewis’ villanelle about Helen Keller.

Jone shares an original poem about growing vegetables, flowers, and community.  Check it out!

Margaret reviews Barbara Crooker’s book “Line Dance” and shares one of her poems.

Holly shares an original poem that she was inspired to write after a recent writing retreat–she writes that her inspiration came partly from Mary Lee’s wishful poem and….Emily Dickinson (that’s number four for Emily this week!)

Over at The Miss Rumphius Effect Tricia shares “Wildflowers,” a poem by Reginald Gibbons.

Fifteen words or more

I’ve written before about participating in Laura Purdie Salas’ 15 word-or-less challenge.  It’s the one challenge that I try to do weekly.  Thursday’s prompt was a picture of colorful rubber bands, which made me think of braces.  I remembered the taunts that some kids faced after getting braces, and thought about how a shy kid might reply.  Here’s a revised, fifteen-word-or-more version of my poem:

After the Orthodontist Appointment

“Metal mouth,
tinsel grin,
rubber-banded
to your chin!”

Should I act like
I don’t care,
or give those beasts
a bracing glare?

Then I started thinking about a more self-confident kid considering her new look (and that kids now get to choose the color of those braces!) I wrote a second, less-autobiographical version that I think I prefer:

After the Orthodontist Appointmentchicago-braces

I’m metal-mouthed,
tinsel-grinned,
rubber-banded
to my chin.

At least my bands
are pretty pink–
Our bracing kiss
will clink, clink, clink.

Head over to The Opposite of Indifference, where Tabatha’s hosting today’s Poetry Friday Roundup (warning: you might be wandering for a long time through Tabatha’s directory of Imaginary Poems!)18923_original

The Progressive Poem is Here Today!

April 20, 2014

2014kidlitprogpoem

I’m happy to host day 20 of the Kidlitosphere PROGRESSIVE POEM, the brainchild of our poetic community organizer, Irene Latham. Nineteen poets have taken us on a line-by-line reflective journey that began with peacock strutting and elephant trumpeting, denied the fate of stars and stones, rode whirlwinds on eagle wings, stopped to pick up sage advice from Irene, and acquired maps and warm sapphire eggs from merry hens.  As we started toward the coast, Julie invited the birds and beasts to accompany us.

And I suppose it’s my job to give their answer.  Can I match the dreamy, mysterious quality that the poets before me have set in motion?  Or will my realistic bent creep into the reply? Perhaps a bit of both…

Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe
Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;
Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,
Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?
Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.
The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?
Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey
Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.
But, hold it! Let’s get practical! What’s needed before I go?
Time to be tactical— I’ll ask my friends what I should stow.
And in one breath, a honeyed word whispered low— dreams —
Whose voice? I turned to see. I was shocked. Irene’s
“Each voyage starts with tattered maps; your dreams dance on this page.
Determine these dreams—then breathe them! Engage your inner sage.”
The merry hen said, “Take my sapphire eggs to charm your host.”
I tuck them close – still warm – then take my first step toward the coast
This journey will not make me rich, and yet I long to be
like luminescent jellyfish, awash in mystery.
I turn and whisper, “Won’t you come?” to all the beasts and birds,
and listen while they scamper, their answers winging words

I’ll leave it to Renee to translate those scampering, winging words.  Or to take us in another direction altogether!  For a complete itinerary of our poem’s travels, please click on the links in the sidebar.

 

Puzzling Poems

I’m trying to keep up with my RhyPiBoMo pledge to write a poem a day for April.  I’ve got a poetry project that I’m hoping to finish this month, but those are poems that I’m not always able to draft in a day.  So I’ve also been finding inspiration in some online challenges.

Last week’s challenge at The Miss Rumphius Effect was to write a homophoem.  That’s a form invented by J. Patrick Lewis, and is “a two- to ten-line poem that contains at least one homophone, preferably as the surprise end-word.”   I discovered the challenge by following a link that Kate Coombs posted on facebook.  When I read Kate’s amazing homophoem I was daunted.  But then I figured what the heck, I’ll give it a try.  I found a terrific list of homonyms, and started jotting down likely candidates.  After a couple of false starts I found that I needed to plan the ending first.  Here’s the second poem that I wrote–with a bit of a groaner for an ending:

The Tragedy of Sunny Placed

Photo from BackyardChickens.com

Photo from BackyardChickens.com

Jack’s hen was a gem that he called Sunny Placed.
He took her on rides at the track where he raced.
The hen was content to attend Jack’s event,
believing that Jack was a singular gent.
He fed her fine seeds and he bathed her in dust—
She never suspected he’d serve Miss Placed, trussed.
     –Buffy Silverman, 2014

My original homophoem took quite a bit of revision–it’s not a poem that I would normally write. AND IT IS NOT AUTO-BIOGRAPHICAL!  Okay, I’ll admit it–I did have cold feet thirty years ago, on the day of my wedding.  Mostly it was because I’d gotten a baby-breath tiara, and I wasn’t sure I could wear it.  And I didn’t know why we hadn’t just gone off by ourselves to get married, as I’m not a center-of-attention type of gal. And why were we bothering to get married when we were perfectly happy living-in-sin, as we called it back in the dark ages?  But I didn’t regret my choice of spouse, as in the poem below. There was a string quartet playing, but no Wagner. Both my parents walked with me down the aisle–and Jeff’s parents walked with him.  Too much explanation before the poem?

Photo from sheldonbrown.com (we rode a tandem on our honeymoon, but not at the wedding!)

Photo from sheldonbrown.com (These folks rode a tandem to their wedding–we rode one on our honeymoon, but not to the wedding!)

Wedding Interrupted

The string quartet plays Wagner.
She heeds her father’s smile.
He holds her trembling hand
and leads her down the aisle

past closest friends and cousins.
They’re dressed in splendid style.
All watch her slow procession,
each step that’s like a mile.

She stops. She backs away.
They’ll judge, but that’s her trial.
She’d rather live alone
than on this desert aisle.
     –Buffy Silverman, 2014

David Harrison has a fun challenge on his blog this week, also from J. Patrick Lewis, to write “mini-mini-book reviews.”  There are some very clever examples on the blog post.  Here’s my attempt:

Bargain after Bargain

A foolish miller’s claim:
His daughter’s skill–a wonder to behold!
A greedy king’s demand:
Spin the straw, convert it into gold.
A bargain for her life:
A chain. A ring. Her future child sold.
A deal to save the child:
Find the name that no one’s ever told.
Rumplestiltskin’s fate:
Torn asunder, raging uncontrolled.
     –Buffy Silverman, 2014

Head over to The Deckle Edge where Robyn has all this week’s Poetry Friday goodness.  And 18923_originalplease come back on Sunday when the Progressive Poem visits my blog.

A Predatory Walk

I wish I had had a camera with me on my walk the other day.  A cooper’s hawk flew low over the road (practically over my head) with a screeching squirrel squirming in its talons, the squirrel’s tail thrashing from side to side.  We followed the hawk to where it landed and watched it for a minute.  When we tried to get closer the hawk took off, carrying its meal to a more private place.  It was amazing to watch this forest hawk zip through a suburban neighborhood.

I tried to capture the moment in a poem, and am not quite satisfied with it.  I wrote a tanka–a thirty-one syllable poem.  Traditionally a tanka is a lyrical poem that savors beauty, first used between women and men in courtship.  It is supposed to include a turn in the third line from an image to a response to an image.  Watching a hunting hawk and its struggling prey is awe-inspiring to me, and I find a certain beauty in it–but I’m not sure a form that celebrates lyrical beauty and courtship is the appropriate one!  And I really wanted to keep the focus on our observation, not on an emotional response (because then the world would know how strange I truly am, relishing the sight of a squirrel’s demise!)  Perhaps I’ll find a better form for this, but for now here’s my poem:Juvenile-Coopers-hawk-in-flight

cooper’s hawk flies low
weighted with a screeching squirrel
whose tail flails and jerks
—we gape while hawk lands atop
its now silent, limp-tailed prey
     –Buffy Silverman, 2014

Happy spring!  To find all of today’s poetry posts, visit Today’s Little Ditty where Michelle is celebrating her birthday bash and Poetry Friday.18923_original

Happy Poetry Month!

So many exciting poetry events online in April!  If you have not yet perused all of this month’s poetry goodness, check out the full list at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

My first stop for poetry inspiration this month was 100 Scope Notes, where Travis is inviting folks to write book spine poems.  I did not take many books with me for our North Carolina sojourn so  I wasn’t sure if I had enough titles on hand to make a sensible poem, but I managed to put two together with my large stack o’books from the Durham County Library:

IMG_7962

IMG_7964Catching fireflies on a summer night ranks high on my list of favorite activities.  Inspiration for this poem came from: Flicker Flash, a wonderful collection of light-related shape poems by Joan Bransfield Graham; Fireflies at Midnight, an animal poetry romp from dawn ’til dark by Marilyn Singer; and Starry Safari, a charming picture book for the youngest set by Linda Ashman.

Did you know that garter snakes swim in ponds and catch fish? Titles for this poem came from three exquisite poetry books: Splish, Splash, another book of shape poems by Joan Bransfield Graham, Tamera Will Wissinger’s Gone Fishing, A Novel in Verse, and Kate Coombs’ Water Sings Blue.  And look, my Garter Snake book is snuck in among these poetry greats!

I’m aiming to write at least one poem and read a poetry collection or picture book every day in April as part of the Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo pledge.  Usually I fall behind on internet challenges, but maybe I’ll keep up with this one–so far, so good.

Here’s my April Fool’s Day poem, inspired by Miss Rumphius’ Monday Poetry Stretch, which in turn was inspired by Laura Purdie Salas’ project of writing riddle-ku (riddle haikus) every day in April.  Can you guess the answer to my riddle?

Fuzzy scrolls uncurl–
spring spirals of greenery
wave and greet the sun.
–Buffy Silverman, 4/1/2014

Here are a couple of photos that I took this week to help you out:IMG_8059

IMG_8006

The fiddleheads are up!  It must be spring.

 

 

In other April news, I’ve got a story this month in Click Magazine about nesting trumpeter swans.  Grab your favorite six-year old and listen to it here: http://www.clickmagkids.com/read/swan-lake

Check out today’s Poetry Friday links at The Poem Farm.

The Madness Continues

UnknownIt’s the Sweet Sixteen over at March Madness Poetry, and I’m still in the game.  My word for this round is flagrant.  My first thoughts about flagrant had nothing to do with biology or natural history–would it be possible for me to write a non-science poem?!  Perhaps there would be a trial for some flagrant violation of the law–maybe a trial of a fairy tale character.  What about Jack from Jack in the beanstalk?  Or the giant?  Or both Jack and the giant?  I finally settled on Goldilocks, and thought of all that might be included in a summary for the prosecution and the defense of her breaking-and-entering trial. Surely Goldilocks had read the welcome mat and took it to heart.  She probably saved the house from being burned down by taking the porridge off the stove. I googled “Goldilocks trial” in case there might be other ideas lurking…and found that my idea was less than original.  There were plays, mock trials, you tube videos, and more.  Back to the drawing board.  Perhaps rules at school could be flagrantly ignored.  But by whom?

IMG_4543.5.3.10wCaterpillars, of course (so much for the non-science related poem.)  I thought about an inchworm school where caterpillars learned to pose as sticks and leaves and flowers, and didn’t move for hours.  What might happen if a flashy monarch caterpillar came along…would it flagrantly ignore the classroom rules because it’s distasteful to birds?MonarchCaterpillarI-87-8

 

Here’s the poem I wrote, with apologies to any and all teachers in the audience!

6-flagrant
The Kings of the Caterpillar Class
by Buffy Silverman

Today’s the start of Inchworm School. Ms. Mothstein reads the rules:
No showing off! No gaudy clothes! Always hide and cower!
Every day wear camouflage: a stick, a leaf, or flower.

We learn to slip away on silk. We never drop our guard.
Ms. Mothstein teaches safety tricks then leads us to the yard
where two new students wait for her. They’re creeping in plain sight.

They do not hide or dive or flee while crows and jays alight.
We stare in awe. We’ve never seen such stripy, curvy crawlers.
They’re dressed in black and white and yellow—bold, majestic colors.

Ms. Mothstein gasps! She shakes a wing in disbelief and glowers.
You are not dressed like sticks or leaves. You don’t resemble flowers!
Your flagrant disregard of rules will not be tolerated!

The monarchs laugh and munch their lunch. We’ll eat until we’re sated.
No bird will bother bitter-pillars, so stop your silly fussle.

And then a crow comes flapping by. No one moves a muscle.
We hear a snap! and then she’s gone: Ms. Mothstein lost the tussle.

If you’re reading this before 9:45 pm EST on Friday, you still have time to read and vote for the poem you prefer.  Please click on this link to find my match.  There are a lot more poems to savor at www.thinkkidthink.com.

18923_originalSpeaking of teachers who I hope I have not offended, visit A Year of Reading for links to all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings!

Dribble, dribble, shoot, swish…it’s time for more Madness!

r1f1-6-dearth-vs-11-appendage-1024x346March Madness Poetry has begun, and I’m matched with Matt Forrest in the first round of the games.  You can find our match here.  If you’re reading this before 2:00 p.m. on Friday, you still have time to vote for your top picks for most of the round one poems, including my match.  And if you’re a Friday night reader, rush over and vote for the second flight of the round one poems.

My assigned word for this round was dearth…and I had a dearth of ideas.  But Matt’s word (appendages) seemed promising.  I felt green with envy.  After knocking my head against the keyboard for quite some time, I borrowed it.  Who has a dearth of appendages?  A snake!

The poem I wrote is a departure from my usual nonfiction fare.  I started researching how snakes evolved from lizards into legless creatures and quickly realized that I was not going to write an interesting, child-friendly 8-line poem about the gradual shortening and loss of appendages that was better suited for tunnel-dwelling creatures.  Could I come up with a just-so story?  Well, I could try.  To heck with my evolutionary biologist husband.  I am now a proponent of Lamarckian inheritance–the more ridiculous the cause of the new trait, the better.

6-dearth
How the Snake Lost its Limbs: The Legend of Legless Lizzy
by Buffy Silverman

Long ago, in ancient times, a lizard left the ocean
to slog through bogs and stomp through swamps with leggy locomotion.
She raced past snails and paced with turtles, proud and in command–
until she spied Pteranodon who rose above the land.

For weeks she dreamed of soaring skies, then launched off from a mound–
but snapped her four appendages when crashing to the ground.
With loss of legs and dearth of hope, she never neared her goal.
She slithered through the swampy muck and snaked into a hole.

A modern-day legless lizard.

A modern-day legless lizard.

 

Matt’s approach to appendages was perhaps a tad more realistic–with a hint of pretzel and a side of tingles.  I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Check out all the Poetry Friday offerings today at The Drift Record!18923_original