Welcome to Poetry Friday!

When I began my blog a few years back, I had big plans of studying and reviewing poetry books that would hopefully inspire my own writing. Somehow that never happened. I think I felt unqualified to share my opinions with the world. But today I’m putting a tiny toe in the water and reviewing a new favorite.

Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, If You Were the Moon,  is a charmer. The book opens with a conversation between a young girl and the moon, with the moon explaining all that the child would do if she had her wish to be the moon.  The whimsical list begins with the moon engaged in activities familiar to a youngster: Hovering near her mother, spinning like a twilight ballerina, and teasing the Earth with peek-a-boo. Each spread includes a brief description that highlights the science behind the moon’s activities: the origin of the moon, its rotation around Earth, and why the moon appears to wax and wane. As the story progresses, the moon’s actions become more magical: lighting a pathway to the sea, weaving a spell over wonderers, and whispering wisdom from the sky. The nonfiction descriptions also move to less familiar and equally magical facts about the moon: leading sea turtles, inspiring artists, and guiding farmers. I can imagine a young child pretending to be the moon and acting out the simple text. And an older child would devour the facts that are explained so clearly.

As a writer, I found this book a creative and imaginative way to explore science. So I decided to see what I could come up with using it as a model. My first step was to type out the simple text. That led me to see more clearly what the book encompasses, from understanding basic facts about the moon (how the moon formed, its gravitational pull, orbit, phases, lunar surface, light) to how the moon has inspired people through music, art, poetry, human exploration, and a guide for agriculture. Wow! What topic could I choose that might have such a wide range of possibilities? I made a list and decided to try to write an “If You Were a Book” story. That’s not a usual topic for me (what, no creepy crawlies!?) But maybe that’s the beauty of using another story as a model–it got me to think farther afield. Here’s the opening of a draft:

“Another book! Another book!” said Emma.

But Mama said, “Goodnight.”

Emma looked longingly at the books on her shelf.  “I wish I could slip between your covers and sleep inside your pages. I wish I was a book!”

Emma’s books straightened their spines. They opened their hearts and whispered their secrets….

If you were a book, you would…

Play with kites and kittens.

Climb the tallest tree.

Walk in someone else’s shoes.

Swim with sharks and polliwogs.

Sail on a pirate ship.

Shine on a rainy day…

Although this was a fun exercise, I wasn’t really satisfied with this draft. Maybe it doesn’t have the cohesiveness of a more focused topic like the moon. I’m now playing with another draft with a rhyming opening and closing–we’ll see where it leads. But in any case, I found that thinking about a story as a reviewer led me to also think about it as a writer. It’s something I plan to do again!

Wishing you a Happy June, and a Happy Poetry Friday! Mr. Linky and I are glad to be your hosts today. Please leave your links below.

Happy 2017 Progressive Poem!!

It’s National Poetry Month and (gulp) I have posted nothing this April. I had high hopes for an April blog project, but family matters and work-for-hire projects derailed me. So I am especially thankful to be participating in Irene Latham’s Progressive Poem. Every April Irene corrals the kidlit poetry community into writing a line-by-line masterpiece. It’s great fun to watch the poem travel from blog to blog, growing, meandering, changing course. I expected that signing up for line 18 would be safe–the direction of the poem would be pretty much set, yet I would not have the responsibility of bringing it to a satisfying conclusion. And then I read Tricia‘s line and panic set in. Am I supposed to know what is in the narrator’s heart, what lines are set in stone? Should I journey back to fifth grade, where I memorized Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening? Or maybe utter a line from the preamble to the Constitution? If that’s all that’s engraved in my brain, maybe I should avoid setting down lines I know by heart–I can always procrastinate and give the next poet the option to choose those words! Instead I’ll find some dragonwords waiting in the wings. Without further ado, here’s my six (eight?)-word contribution:

 

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?
By hook or by crook, I deserve a second look!
I cheer. Please, have no fear. Find the book.

But wait! I’ll share the lines I know by heart.
Mythicalhowls, fierytones slip from my lips

I’m handing the baton to Pat–take it away!

Want to know where the poem has been and follow it’s upcoming journey? Check out these links:

April
1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

Play Time

A couple of years ago the husband gave me a magnetic poetry kit for Chanukah. I highly recommend buying one of these gems–there’s a treasure chest of delicious words inside, and it’s great fun to arrange them and try to make sense or nonsense.

The daughter pulled out the magnets several days ago, on the first night of Chanukah. She decided she wanted a constraint, and wrote an acrostic in honor of her favorite member of the family–our dog Dakota. This turned out to be more of a challenge than you might imagine, sorting through the limited words that started with each letter (it turns out there is only one word beginning with K) and then trying to string together something poetic. But she rose to the challenge:

I did not give myself any difficult rules, and strung together the following:

Of course, I look at it now and start editing. Maybe the first three lines on their own? But I like “ferocious women never bring you coffee….” That sounds like a line that belongs in a short story, one that I will never write. Help yourself–that’s the beauty of having all these words in one place.

The husband photographed some past creations before I pulled them down (a warning…rust forms underneath the magnets, making little pits on the refrigerator door. I now know that it’s best to put paper underneath.) Apparently the daughter has a thing for self-imposed rules (and dogs.) She wrote this one with the constraint that words other than prepositions/articles/pronouns had to contain the letter g:

And I have a thing for coffee:

Wishing you some poetry fever for the new year. And be sure to visit Donna at Mainely Write for this year’s final poetry friday roundup!

Poetry Friday–the Solstice Edition

Welcome to Poetry Friday! I’m happy to host the poetry party today. When I was a kid, I remember reading a newspaper article about Jewish policemen in New York City who volunteered for extra shifts around Christmas so their fellow officers could spend more holiday time with their families. The article made a big enough impression that I remember it today (probably inaccurately, but still…) and it inspired me to host the close-to Christmas poetry friday shift for the past couple of years. Not that being your host is difficult–but I’m glad to take away stress from others who don’t need it now.

img_4364Now for the good news–the sun set yesterday at 5:12 p.m. in southwest Michigan, but this evening’s sunset is at 5:13! Although one minute doesn’t seem like much, I’m always delighted by the noticeably longer days of mid-January. The promise of more light is encouraging at a time when many of us hunger for it. We’re drawn to light during December’s dark days, and it’s no surprise that many cultures celebrate this time of year with candles. I’m looking forward to eight nights of Chanukah lights starting tomorrow night. And of course, poetry can bring us light.

img_4355Many of you have filled your December with moments of hope and light in your daily haikus. I’m more of a haiku admirer than practitioner, but I’ve tried to write a few this month. My handsome hound adds daily light and levity (plus occasional annoyance, but no need to dwell on that here…) and he inspired these haikus:

 

Hound Haiku

tail swings a beat
black nose disappears in drifts…img_4404img_4321
first snow

with each new scent
four legs bound in pursuit,
breathing the moment

stories told in tracks:
paws sprint from swamp to woods, while
boots plod well-worn paths

swirling flurries
carpet snout, ears, back…
white stars on black dog

shaking off whispers
of winter’s icy fingers,
scratching at the door

img_4274dog-tired,
he turns and curls, snug
in snowy dreams
–©Buffy Silverman, 2016

img_4268Wishing you all a warm and festive holiday! Mister Linky is helping out while I’m down dogging this morning. Please leave your links below:

#haikuforhealing

Mary Lee Hahn has a #haikuforhealing project floating around the internets for the month of December. I’m unlikely to write a haiku every day of the month (okay…guaranteed not to as today is December 2.)  Although I like brevity, I’m never certain about what makes a good haiku. But I’ll try to write a few. Every day since November 9th I have awoken feeling anxious and discouraged. Time spent outside with the hound helps. Maybe hound haiku will help some more?

with each new scent
paws bound in joyful pursuit–
breathing the moment
–Buffy Silverman

Bridget Magee celebrates the Poetry Friday community at her blog, Wee Words for Wee Ones. Visit Bridget for today’s roundup.

Autumn Surprises

The other day Jessica Bigi posted on Facebook that she liked my poem in Cricket.  Hmmmm, I thought, I have a poem in Cricket? I figured she must be thinking of Ladybug, which I knew was reprinting a poem of mine this month. But out of curiosity I googled the October table-of-contents–and there was my poem! Because of an address mix-up I had not yet received any contributor copies (and had actually forgotten that it was in the pipeline.) I was thrilled to get a peek at it via email:life_of_a_leaf_cricket

This poem started life as a response to Laura Salas’ 15 word-or-less challenge. When I revised and expanded it, it grew a concrete oak leaf shape–and I was happy to see that the illustrator featured oak leaves falling near my poem. Thank you, Laura, for the original inspiration! And thanks to Shelly Hehenberger for the wonderful illustration.

And while I’m celebrating, here’s my poem that’s reprinted in Ladybug this month. It also started from a prompt–this one from Shutta Crum many years ago at a Michigan SCBWI conference. Shutta gave a talk about adapting fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Can you recognize the original nursery rhyme that inspired Five Little Bandits? 
five-little-bandits

It’s Friday–there’s lots more poetry on tap! Tricia has the Poetry Friday roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Summer Poetry Swap…part 2

Last week I posted the beautiful poems I received in Tabatha’s summer poetry swap. This week I’m sharing the poems I sent to my swappees (or is that swapees?) I used a few of the 10 billion photos I’ve taken this summer for inspiration. It’s handy to have a talented daughter to send photos and poems to, and get back a nice design!

After being entertained by the zillions of dragonflies that zip around our dock, I wrote this poem for Irene:

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

The drama that I saw outside my kitchen window (and grabbed a stool to photograph) inspired this poem for Mary Lee. I thought about trying to free the poor damselfly, but decided not to interfere. Do you see the webs hidden in the title? I cannot take credit for that bit of cleverness…

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

I raised monarch caterpillars again this summer. I restrained myself from taking as many photographs as last summer (some of those are accompanying an article I wrote for the October issue of Ask Magazine–I am ridiculously excited about having my photographs published!) But I managed to see a few things I had missed before, including a caterpillar devouring its skin after molting. Don’t worry-that’s not pictured in the poem I wrote for Donna:

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

It’s pretty noisy around our house in the spring and summer. The spring peepers dominate the evening chorus, followed in the summer by American toads, green frogs, and bullfrogs (and the occasional chorus frog.) That noisy choir and this photograph of a calling bullfrog that I took at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary inspired my poem for Keri:

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

I hope you enjoyed visiting my swampy home. Want to know what else is going on in the Poetry Friday world? Cowgirl poet Penny has the roundup!

Lucky Me!

Scan 2This summer I participated in Tabatha Yeatts’ summer poetry swap. My poetry swappers were more on top of the swap than moi–they sent beautiful poems and cool swag. I felt guilty when the deadlines whizzed by, but I finally managed to get with the program. Next week I’ll share the poems that I belatedly sent out. This week I’m sharing my wonderful gifts.

In June I received these flowers bursting with summer sunshine, and this joyful poem from Linda:

Sunshine

I rose in the dark to greet the sun –
wanting to know if I enjoyed its “good morning”
as much as I loved its “good night”?
Bird song clamored for the sun
while soft edges of trees became visible
like darkroom photographs emerging.

The colors changed sky from gray
to cream, peach, indigo-
into blue.
Broad streams of gold wrote onto the blue,
designing new pictures minute by minute.
The sun sparkled, insects woke and flew
in this, goodnight’s opposing view.
I felt joy to know the whole day lay before me.
–Linda Baie, all rights reserved

Next I got to sip some tea and contemplate the clouds in Mary Lee‘s garden, courtesy of this poem and photograph:

Scan 11GRACE

Sitting on the edge
of the third porch step,
hot tea beside me,
I ignore the garden’s weeds
and focus instead on the giant sunflower’s head
turned hopefully
toward the cloudy east.

There’s grace in knowing
the sun is there
even if it’s not showing.
I’m still learning to be that aware.
–Mary Lee Hahn, all rights reserved

Irene sent this poem inspired by her visit to the Butterfly House at Callaway Gardens and as a response to “Consider the Dragon,” a poem that I had written for her (along with some cool butterfly house swag!)

Consider the Chrysalis

Slightly creepy monarch chrysalis wearing a caterpillar skin cap. ©Buffy Silverman

Slightly creepy monarch chrysalis wearing a caterpillar skin cap. ©Buffy Silverman

Some darknesses
need not be unraveled.

Leave them to dangle,
these jeweled lockets
so tight with pain
and promise.

Allow them to
unclasp themselves,
to unfold.

Let them rest uninterrupted

before they harden
into bright truths
and flutter
flap
fly

across the waiting sky.
–Irene Latham, all rights reserved.

My final gift was from Donna, who wrote a poem about a dragonfly, and had it printed on a tote bag with the photograph that’s on the header of my blog! Very cool…I found out that you can’t scan a tote bag, so you’ll have to take my word on this one. But you can enjoy Donna’s Dragonfly poem:

Dragonfly patrolling our (his?) dock. ©Buffy Silverman

Dragonfly patrolling our (his?) dock. ©Buffy Silverman

Dragonfly,
I wonder why
You look the way you do –
Heaven’s wings
The lightest things
To flit across the blue;
Pencil thin,
No friendly grin,
Yet still I’m friends with you!

Eyes immense
With stare intense,
You sleep amid the dew:
Legs that clamp,
Big mouths that champ
And turn your prey to stew.
Glad I’m tall
And you are small
Or I’d be scared of you!
–Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved

Heidi has the round-up today, where you’ll find many more poetry gifts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Poetry Friday (where every month is National Poetry Month!)

Happy Poetry Friday! I hope you’ve been enjoying this month of poetic goodness. Liz Steinglass and I have been exchanging poems this month–Liz takes the gold for keeping our daily commitment. I come in a distant second…

Many of the poems I’ve written this month have been inspired by the ten zillion photographs I’ve taken of spring budding out around my house. We live at the swampy end of a small lake, and this time of year it’s a noisy place! Frogs call at all hours, swans trumpet, geese honk, and sandhill cranes bugle as they fly overhead. The toads are particularly persistent with their trills. One day I sat on our dock, surrounded by trilling, determined to find a toad in the muck. I finally spotted the closest triller and photographed him as he sang. If my friend Toad were to write a poem, this is what I imagine he might say:

Toad’s Swampy SerenadeIMG_9643

There’s a mucky, noisy choir
in the mire where I romp
making music every morning
that echoes through the swamp.

I paddle through a tangle
then I clamber up some slime
to join the crooning chorus.
My singing is sublime.

I’m puffing up my dewlap—
it swells like a balloon.
I’ll surely find a sweetheart
with my thrilling, trilling tune.
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

IMG_9668

This is one of those poems where I’ve changed one line back and forth and back and forth and back and forth…Do I include the word dewlap, whose sound I love, but the reader might not understand? Or should I change the line to: I’m puffing up my throat until…

 

 

IMG_9678

IMG_9681

I suppose if I were to try to have this published for kids I would go with throat, but you, dear Poetry Friday readers, are gifted a dewlap!

Mister Linky is kindly helping with today’s links:

Happy Earth Day!

I was driving home from my morning yoga class/workout and heard someone mention Earth Day. Dang, I thought, I should have posted an Earth Day poem for Poetry Friday.  When I got home I figured better late than never. I searched my files for something appropriate, and came across this poem entitled “Recipe for a May Day.” That’s easy enough to adapt…so here it is, Happy Earth Day, Happy Poetry Friday, Happy April is Poetry Month, Happy Passover, etc etc.

_MG_0372Recipe for an Earth Day Celebration

Gather colors while you walk:
Choose the hues of sky and feathers.
Stir with greens of grass and trees.

Pick a pinch of petal purple.
Whisk with streaks of wormy pink.
Top with golden sun and breeze.
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

_MG_0392

 

For more Poetry Friday deliciousness, visit Alphabet Soup (where Jama always serves up tasty wonders!)