Sharing Summer’s Bounty

I’ve had a fairly busy summer–working on more books for Lerner, a couple of Click articles, and some other small writing gigs. Often when I have work-for-hire assignments, poetry flies out the window. But this summer I’ve managed to write some poetry too. Liz Steinglass and I exchanged daily poems in July (which allowed us both to complete drafts of collections we started during our exchange in April.) My critique group held it’s annual retreat, which is always a productive and inspiring time. AND I participated in Tabatha’s Summer Poetry Swap! The main reason I signed up for the swap is for the deadlines–I wish I could say I always write every day, but without some kind of accountability I lose focus.

The summer swap has a wonderful added benefit: my mailbox fills with poetry! I shared a couple of earlier swap poems here. Today I’m posting the final three poems I received.

I could have used Tabatha Yeatts‘ inspiration when I was struggling to write my final March Madness poem about gargoyles! Tabatha’s laughing, splashing, open-mouthed gargoyle has so much spunk and attitude–and I appreciated that she wrote a “Things To Do” poem, as I had played with that form recently on my blog.

©Tabatha Yeatts

©Tabatha Yeatts

I guess I’ve earned a reputation as a dragonfly lover, because Irene Latham sent me my second dragonfly poem of the swap. I was also happy to recognize that Nikki Grimes’ challenge on Today’s Little Ditty inspired Irene’s iridescent, helicoptering dragonfly.

©Irene Latham

©Irene Latham

Linda Baie’s “Blowing Out the Summer Candles” was not the final poem I received in the swap. But it is full of the bounty and sweetness of summer’s end, and the perfect poem to close my post with:

©Linda Baie

©Linda Baie

Thanks to all my summer swappers! Be sure to visit Sylvia at Poetry for Children to share this week’s Poetry Friday harvest.

 

 

Buffy Silverman

August 7, 2015

I’m participating in the summer poetry swap again this year, organized by Tabatha Yeatts. Most of my mail is of the junk variety, so it’s a treat to open an envelope and find poetry! My first swapper was Diane Mayr, whose random noodling is a poetry delight. Diane took her inspiration from the dragonfly on my blog.

©Diane Mayr

©Diane Mayr

One of the things I enjoy about the swap is seeing the different approaches that poets take–I love that Diane’s poem combines science and art, and goes from historic to realistic to fantastic. Imagining a dragonfly making off with the occasional small child definitely appeals to my strange sense of humor!

When I received Diane’s poem I realized that I had better get moving on my first swap poem, which was meant to go to Diane. I thought I might write a dragonfly poem in return. But then I remembered that I had recently photographed a newly-emerged damselfly, complete with the damsel’s nymphal skin. And since Diane wrote about damsels and nymphs, I was set. Here’s the mask poem I wrote to go with the photo:

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

For the second swap, Tabatha gave an optional prompt of writing a small sonnet. According to Tabatha, a small sonnet has seven couplets, with an AB or BA rhyme scheme. Each line is 5 syllables, with the first line rhyming with the title. PLUS at least one line has 5 monosyllabic words, and at least one line is one 5 syllable word. Talk about a challenge! The poem I sent to Carol Varsalona did not have a 5 syllable word, but I think I managed to follow the rest of the form’s rules. And I got to include a dragonfly! The photo that inspired the poem was taken with my left hand because my right hand was otherwise occupied:

©Buffy Silverman

©Buffy Silverman

The poem that Keri Collins Lewis sent me for the second swap made me blush–it was about me! I’m pretty sure no one has ever written a poem with moi as the subject before, and it is unlikely to happen again, so I will treasure this one.

©Keri Collins Lewis

©Keri Collins Lewis

I’ve got more poetry swap treasures to share, but I’ll save them for another week. Tabatha has all this week’s poetry friday offerings at The Opposite of Indifference.

 

It’s Poetry Friday!

18923_originalWelcome to Poetry Friday! I’ve had a busy couple of months, filled with travel for young author presentations, school visits, and a big work-for-hire project. I’m looking forward to a more relaxed summer–but not so relaxed that I return to my slacker ways and forget to write! In an effort to jumpstart some summer writing, I participated in The Love of Poetry Challenge that was meandering around Facebook the past couple of weeks, and decided to write some poems to go with the gazillion and one photographs I’ve taken in May.

My inspiration for one poem was Elaine Magliaro’s “Things to Do If You Are a Pencil,” from Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems edited by Georgia Heard. I love the way this poem turns a pencil into a dancer who creates a poem:

Things to Do If You Are a Pencil

Be sharp.
Wear a slick yellow suit
and a pink top hat.
Tap your toes on the tabletop,
(read the rest of the poem here.)

Last week I got the chance to get up close and personal with a trilling gray tree frog, and think about things that froggy might do. My husband was clearing a clogged gutter and scared a calling male tree frog off a downspout. I further tormented the poor frog by moving him to a photogenic spot for his portrait. He leapt away after a few shots–here is the list poem I wrote as a tribute to him:_MG_2851

Things to Do If You Are a Tree Frog

Thaw in springtime. Climb a tree
and vault
from branch to branch.
Stick the landing with your toes.
Dress in barky gray or leafy green.
Join a choir.
Trill from treetops.
Wait for love to find you.
Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

This style must have seeped into my brain, because I found myself starting another list poem today for Laura Salas’ 15 word-or-less challenge.  The dangling window washer’s boots that were in the challenge photograph somehow disappeared when I expanded the poem, but the window (or at least the window ledge) remains in this draft:

Things to Do If You Are a Window Ledge:

Cradle a nest of falcons.
Feel the grip of ivy’s roots.
Adopt a flower box.
Wear a cloak of cat or squirrel.
Warm up in the summer sun.
Welcome an evening breeze.
Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

Come fill your Friday with poetry!  Please leave your links in the comment section, and I’ll add them throughout the day.

Jan Annino shares lines of a summer hat poem from E.B. White, an original summer poem, and a list of cool tips for a pregnant pal in humid hot, heated Florida.

Laura Purdie Salas and the other members of the Poetry Seven have been writing odes. Laura pays tribute to junk food.

Robyn Hood Black is studying nursery rhymes and offers a couple of views of “Mary, Mary.” I vote for the cowslips.

Jama’s Alphabet Soup is serving one of my favorite desserts–brownies–with a poem and recipe from Judyth Hill.

Penny Parker Klostermann features a trio of guests on A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt: the poetry and artwork of Carrie Finnison and Carrie’s son and daughter.

Diane Mayr has an original and updated take on “Summertime” at Random Noodling. At Kurious Kitty Diane celebrates National Donut Day.

Joyce Ray has taken up the fiddle! Her violin lessons inspired an original poem, based on the  “Say” poems by Nikki Grimes in her book Words with Wings.

Kelly Ramsdell Fineman has also been writing odes and shares one with an…errr… provocative title: “Ode to the F-word.”

Matt Forrest Esenwine shares an original poem and invites folks to check out his post about Poetry Voiceovers.

Over at Friendly Fairytales, Brenda is traveling by magic carpet ride with her original poem.

It’s time for a new challenge at Today’s Little Ditty. Michelle welcomes Corey Rosen Schwartz and her latest picture book, WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?

Tanita Davis also shares an ode today. She sings to her bling with an Ode to Adornment.

A special congratulations to Linda Baie who retires today after teaching for 26 years! She’s thinking less of what’s next and more of just being present.

Carol Varsalona invites Poetry Friday friends to contribute a poem/photo combination to her newest gallery. She shares “Envisioning Spring’s Symphony.”

Lorie Ann Grover has some thoughts of a feathered nature with her haiku, Beak Retreat.

Greg Pincus is also celebrating National Donut Day over at Gottabook!

Over at The Drift Record Julie is thinking of 1) squirrels, 2) transcendentalists and 3) talent, all via a little poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson called “Fable.”

Tabatha Yeatts shares shares an Australian bush poem today by Louis Lavater.

Today at The Poem Farm, Amy has an apology poem and an invitation to notebookers!

And here’s another ode from Andromeda–exploring the sad and rrrrrrippiting connection between frogs and knitting.

Speaking of odes (and seven of you are) Sara is thinking tangentially with her “An Ode to…well you’ll see–I think” at Read Write Believe. 

Heidi is back with a “Things To Do” poem, this one by Bobbi Katz (who Heidi thinks invented the form) who inspired the poem of Elaine that inspired the poems of Buffy.

Tricia has also been writing odes. I’ll admit that I often find myself thinking of new lines/rewriting a poem on the porcelain throne. Tricia found inspiration there too with her “Ode to Where My Backside’s Been.”

Kimberley shares a poetic recipe for bread starter that’s handed down from baker to baker…and teaching second graders!

Mary Lee shares a poem by Billy Collins and her own thoughts about silence as the school year comes to a close. Be sure to answer Mary Lee’s call for roundup hosts for July-December.

Over at Reflections on the Teche Margaret has written a poem from the notes she took while listening to a traiteur, a Creole healer.

Jim shares an original pantoum (which my auto-corrector wants to change to phantom..) that should put us all in mind for summer: “I’m Jealous of the Watermelon Seed.”

Donna has been playing in the tall grass, and has a poem to show for it at Mainely Write.

Liz is also contributing an ode–this one inspired by her curls and her girls.

There’s a birthday party (have a happy!) with plenty of cat love (or at least cat poems) at Gathering Books. 

Ruth shares “Deep Enough to Dream” a summery song by Chris Rice.

Sherry shares Tolkien’s “Goblin Feet” at Semicolon.

Janet reviews “Doggy slippers: poems by Jorge Lujan” (with the contribution of Latin American children), translated by Elisa Amado with pictures by Isol.

If you’ve spent too much time in the sun and need a little cool down, head over to Dori Reads for a n(ice) penguin poem by Dennis Webster.

Speaking of the weather, Joy knows what to do on a gray day. Read her poem, “Of this Day,” on Poetry for Kids Joy.

Jone shares three student poems at Check It Out.

At her Hatbooks blog, Holly writes about the Kenji Miyazawa poem “Ame ni mo makezu” often translated as “Strong in the Rain.”

Over at TeachingAuthors April shares 3 Ways to Inspire A Poem…with a poem about a little god who’s looking for a poem…and what the clouds say about that.

Cathy has been watching fluff floating in the air. She shares two poems about “summer snow.”

Happy Yesterday Birthday to Ramona, and her birthday twin–Joyce Sidman. Ramona is celebrating Joyce’s poetry, in honor of their shared birthday.

Over at Poetry for Children Sylvia shares this week’s exciting poetry news: Jacqueline Woodson is the new Young People’s Poet Laureate! Sylvia also shares a favorite poem from Jacqueline’s Brown Girl Dreaming.

That’s all for now, folks. If I missed your link or made an error please let me know!

 

Bicycle Tree

I’ve been exchanging poems with Liz Steinglass for National Poetry Month. It’s been a fun challenge and a treat to find Liz’s mostly desk-inspired poems in my inbox each day. I started the month looking for a theme and for a few days wrote poems about trees. Then I stumbled on a different theme, but today I’m sharing one of the tree poems. It was inspired by an amazing photo that my daughter found on the internets, taken on Vashon Island in Washington state. (We did not see this tree when we took our kiddos to Vashon, where my husband’s sister lives, almost 20 years ago. But it is high on my list if/when we return.)

Photo by Ethan Welty/Tandem from http://blogs.sierraclub.org/sierradaily/2011/08/bicycle-eating-trees.html

Photo by Ethan Welty/Tandem

Bicycle Tree

On a cool spring night
a boy leaned his red bicycle
against a young fir tree
and wandered away.

The bicycle waited patiently
for the boy’s return.

The tree grew and grew,
enveloping the frame,
embracing and lifting it
higher and higher.

Fifty years later
when the boy returned

along the road that had crumbled
past the house that no longer stood
through the woods that had grown
to the giant tree that shadowed the ground

the rusty bicycle, no longer leaning,
half-swallowed by wood and bark,

still waited.

–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

There are a lot of stories floating around the internet about how the bike ended up in the tree. Here’s one that may or may not be true.

Be sure to visit Renee at No Water River for the complete Poetry Friday roundup. Happy Final Friday of National Poetry Month!18923_original

 

 

The Progressive Poem: Who is that Fisherman?

Welcome to the Progressive Poem!

One of the highlights of National Poetry Month for me is participating in Irene Latham’s progressive poem. The poem is a group venture in the month of April, with each poet adding a new line and sending it on its journey. And today the poem has landed here!

Our girl/mermaid has had quite an adventure as she bounced around the internet (look at the sidebar on the right for a complete map of her trip.) She started in a net-less state on the delta, with bare feet, fast hands, wild hair, a mysterious handbag, and a beautiful bracelet. Then after tripping over her tail and slipping in the swamp, she listens to ibises, remembers sage advice from her grandmother, and seizes a paddle. Yesterday, after some spectacular research by Ruth, she looked into the eyes of a startled fisherman in his green pirogue and carrying his crawfish trap. Now what??

Maybe she thinks of escape… Maybe the fisherman will spark a new romance… Maybe he is her missing kin, the link to her mysterious, shape-shifting past…

Maybe I only need to write one line and let others decide the ultimate destination! So here it is:

 

She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms. Her hair flows,
snows in wild wind as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother’s oval cuffed bracelet,
strokes the turquoise stones, and steps through the curved doorway.

Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide… splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,

listens to the ibises roosting in the trees of the cypress swamp–
an echo of Grandmother’s words, still fresh in her windswept memory.

Born from the oyster, expect the pearl.
Reach for the rainbow reflection on the smallest dewdrop.

The surface glistens, a shadow slips above her head, a paddle dips–
she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy and turquoise eyes.

Lifted high, she gulps strange air – stares clearly into
Green pirogue, crawfish trap, startled fisherman

with turquoise eyes, twins of her own, riveted on her wrist–

Now it’s Sheila’s turn!

Happy Poetry Friday! Visit Life on the Deckle Edge where Robyn has this week’s round-up.

I Am Not a Squirrel!

I’ve been enjoying my daily poetry exchange with Liz Steinglass for National Poetry Month. Liz has been posting a poem inspired by the contents of her desk on her blog every day. Most of mine are not ready for prime time and are sitting in a file. But I’ve decided to share one poem a week in an effort to put some April poetry out in the world.

This poem was inspired by Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s challenge to write a somonka, which according to Tricia is “a Japanese form that consists of two tanka written in tandem. The first tanka is usually a declaration of love, with the second a response to that declaration. While this form usually requires two authors, it is possible for one poet to write from both perspectives.” My pair of tanka is far from a declaration of love and response. Rather it is a contrast between the squirrel-like critter I would like to be and the reality of my procrastination. I wrote it one morning after staying up until 2:00 am to meet a writing deadline.

Source: http://www.naturalheritage.com/news-events/event-detail.aspx?id=144

http://www.naturalheritage.com/news-events/event-detail.aspx?id=144

Squirrel gathers nuts:
digging here, burying there,
mapping his treasure,
driven to hoard and stockpile,
hustling from daybreak to dusk.

I squander my days–
no frenzy of gathering,
no furor of work
until a deadline draws near,
rousing my inner squirrel.
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

 

Don’t procrastinate in checking out all of the Poetry Friday treats around the internet. Laura Purdie Salas has today’s roundup on her blog.

Celebrate!

There’s so much poetic goodness going on in the kidlitosphere this month–that’s certainly a cause for celebration. For National Poetry Month I’ve paired up with Liz Steinglass, and we’ve agreed to write and exchange a poem each day of April. I love Liz’s poetry, so it will be a treat to receive a daily poem from her. And I hope that having a partner will keep both of us on track! Unlike Liz, I don’t have a specific topic for the poems that I’m writing this month (but I’m hoping a theme will emerge.)

I’m also celebrating the end of March Madness Poetry! It’s too late to vote in the final match, but you can read my gargoyle poem here if you’d like. I had a lot of fun writing six(!!) March Madness poems–but I am also happy for that challenge to be over. Thank you to everyone who read and voted for the March Madness poems and who shared links and spread the word about the competition. Your kind words, support, and enthusiasm meant so much to me!

UnknownOne more reason for me to celebrate is that tonight is the first night of Passover. I was delighted that Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong included my Passover poem in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. The seders of my childhood were led by my father, who did not believe in leaving anything out. He and his sisters would race along in Hebrew, while we kids would participate or not–there was always plenty of squirming. I tried to capture the mood of those seders in my poem, especially the pride I felt when I recited the four questions.

At the Seder

My family gathers together,
the table is gleaming and bright.
We tell a great tale of our freedom–
a story for Passover night.

My brother slides under the table—
he’s lurking beneath Grandpa’s chair.
He’s waiting to snatch the afikomen*
while Grandpa is leading a prayer.

My cousin has learned the four questions,
she blushes and sings them with pride:
Why are there matzos, salt water, and herbs?
Why must we lean to one side?

The answers are part of the story–
each year we recite it anew.
We remember a season of slavery,
we’re thankful that season is through.
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

The afikomen* is a piece of matzo that’s broken during the Seder and eaten at the end of the meal. In some families children steal the afikomen and ask for a reward for its return. In other families an adult hides the afikomen and the child who finds it receives a prize.  Neither of those options happened in my family–my dad was an oral surgeon and everyone got toothbrushes when someone found the afikomen! I recently learned from a cousin that toothbrushes are still featured in her family’s seder. My kids made out much better when they were young.

Happy National Poetry Month and Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Amy at The Poem Farm for the complete roundup of today’s Poetry Friday posts.

More Madness: The Predatory Edition

To my great surprise I am in the final fours of March Madness Poetry. I was in Florida for a few days this week, spending some time with my sister and visiting other relatives. My assigned word was ignominious, so I thought about what animals had an ignominious end. When my sister and I went to MacArthur Beach State Park, the leatherback turtles that nest there seemed to fit the bill.  The poem was written yesterday in the airport and in the sky (and finished when I finally arrived home at midnight.) My match is with my pal, poetry critique partner, and uber-talented writer Renee LaTulippe. You can read our poems here. I will most definitely be happy to bow out to Renee this round–it will not be an ignominious end! This poetry competition has been fun and gotten me to write five poems that I otherwise would not have (hey, wasn’t otherwise my first word?) but I am tired! Two of the poems were written on the road, and the rest were written between some work-for-hire deadlines.

If you’ve read other poems that I’ve written for March Madness, you might think I have a predator obsession. You would be correct. Here’s a slightly revised version of my round 4 poem, where my assigned word was paunch:

How to Eat a Frog: A Snake’s Manual

source: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/02/02_pesticides.shtml

source: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/02/02_pesticides.shtml

Flick your tongue and taste the smells
of mucky snails and crayfish shells.
Weave your way through marshy grass,
past the lodge where Muskrat dwells.
Stare intently. Slide, explore…
Slow and stealthy, wait to score.
Watch each ripple in the pond,
glide along the swampy shore.
Lunge and grab! Your mouth’s agape,
an endless cave with no escape.
Inhale the head. Legs dangle out–
Muscle down that froggy shape.
Feel the bulging deep within,
a swollen paunch that stretches skin.
Enjoy your meal, your lump of blisssssss,
guaranteed to make you grin.
–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

Happy Poetry Friday! Jone has all this week’s poetry links at Check It Out.

More Madness: The Feathered Furry Edition

I’m still shooting the hoops in March Madness Poetry.  The voting is happening now for the third round. Surprisingly I did not write science-y poems for the first two rounds, but animals played starring roles in them. I decided that it was time to go back to a nature/science poem for this round. My assigned word was vaunted, and when I brainstormed what might be vaunted, I thought about a barn owl’s sight and hearing. Did you know that a barn owl, whose ears are not placed symmetrically, can find its prey by listening on a dark night? So what does a mouse do to avoid this well-adapted predator? If an owl flies far overhead, it freezes, so that the owl can neither see or hear movement. If the owl is close enough to spot it, it tries to zigzag or make a beeline to a hole or brush. Of course many mice (and shrews, voles, rats, and bats) are caught by these predators.

From: http://animal-kid.com/barn-owl-catching-prey.html

From: http://animal-kid.com/barn-owl-catching-prey.html

In the middle of the night I thought that the mouse might write a letter to the vaunted owl, and tease her about not being as great of a predator as her reputation (insomnia is great for coming up with ideas–the only problem is if I can read my scribbles in the morning.) Then the owl could reply–my original idea was to have the owl swallow mousey while mouse read the letter, but I opted not to go the bloody route. I tried to give both characters formal voices to go with their letter writing habits. You can read the poem here. Be sure to also enjoy the fun kid-friendly poem that Darren Sardelli wrote about a principal’s litany of woes.

Radar, our sweet neighbor

Radar, our sweet neighbor

We have not had a dog for several years, but my daughter took care of our neighbors’ pets for about 6 weeks this winter. The dog came over for daily visits, and sweet old soul that he is, spent a lot of time snoozing and snoring. He inspired Three Dog Night, my round 2 poem:

4-sandwiched
Three Dog Night
By Buffy Silverman

A gusting windstorm slammed the door as snow swirled overhead.
The frosty breezes froze my toes and followed me to bed.
I lay there sandwiched by my pups: Bella, Bear, and Bree,
and snuggled in their furry warmth till sleep washed over me.

Someone bellowed! Someone cried! A squeak! A bleat! A moan….
Who was hooting, wailing, whooping? I blinked and heard a groan.
I found no owl, no fox or moose—no wild menagerie.
‘Twas just the roaring, snoring snorts of Bella, Bear, and Bree.

For all the Poetry Friday posts, stop by Reading to the Core.

It’s Time for the Madness!

I’m participating in March Madness Poetry again this year, and the first round is over. My word was otherwise–a tad bit easier than my unlucky opponent’s word–megalomaniacal!

buffy2

I have no kangarooster photo. Here are some photos of this week’s school visits instead.

I was happy to have a softball word, because I was out of town visiting the awesome kids at Schickler and Emma Murphy Elementary Schools, in Lapeer, Michigan (I especially enjoyed being part of a family literacy event one night, and an ice cream with the author event the second night.) My school visits meant that I wrote my poem in the Best Western–and the internets were out, so I could not bounce ideas off the usual suspects. So I thought back to an idea that I had during PiBoIdMo–to write some poems about chimera animals. I have made no progress on that, but “otherwise” made me think of a kangarooster. Why? Who knows…  Here’s the poem:

Henny and Kangarooster: A Love Story
By Buffy Silverman

A lonely bird, a loveless hen, pined and daydreamed in her pen,
until she eyed the kangarooster. She begged a chick to introduce her.
The day she met this Romeo, she hoped that he would be her beau.
Otherwise, she’d wilt and mope. She’d die alone. How could she cope?

She watched him sproing, she heard him crow. His boinging thumps set her aglow.
She clucked and flapped a wingding show. An arrow flew from Cupid’s bow.
Kanga gaped and was entranced. He cock-a-doodled as she danced.
And thus began their grand affair: this boinging, clucking, mismatched pair.

11026184_1629781780585723_1568833437268050723_n

Demonstrating one of the many hats an author wears–this is my “think-like-a-kid hat.”

10339660_1630204460543455_327157021263283422_n

Kindergartners transformed into gliding garter snakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was a little disappointed with this poem when I finished it, and too tired to start something new. But the voters seemed to enjoy it, and after rereading it six million times it no longer seems quite as lame as it did when I wrote it. I think if I were to revise it I’d like it to be a love affair between two different chimeras. But that’s a task for another day. Or maybe not at all.

The  next round of March Madness poems will be posted on Sunday night. You can read all of the contest poems here and vote for your favorites from Sunday night through Tuesday morning.

Laura is all dressed up for Poetry Friday at Author Amok, where you’ll find links to lots of poetry goodness.