Poetry Friday: A Response Poem

Thanks to Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass for hosting Poetry Friday

Back in April, during National Poetry Month, I had the opportunity to sub in a fourth grade class. I read the book CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?: POEMS of RACE, MISTAKES, and FRIENDSHIP by Irene Latham, Charles Waters. This was a 2018 CYBILS Poetry finalist.

As the students listened, I had them write down words and reactions to the book. Afterward we made a list of phrases. It doesn’t always work to finish the poem when I’m one day in a class and then gone for awhile as was the case with this sub job. But I know when I returned to the class we’d finish what we started.

This past Wednesday was that day. I prepared the strips and shared them. We read them aloud and determined that since we had some one that began, “Each night…” they would serve as the beginning of a new stanza. As I was writing, I noticed this line: “Fists clicked-Chains Cracked” and felt it would be a good repeating line. The first line and the end were givens.

Then each student placed their strip where they thought it might go best. We reread the poem, took away a couple lines, and came up with this response to Irene Latham’s and Charles Waters’ brilliant book:

Each Night

Each night we talked at the table
We didn’t know how
to explain the curse they gave
Some whites ashamed
about how they treated blacks
Fists clicked-Chains Cracked

Each night we plopped chains
classmates crumbled in shame
Classmates black and white
Some kids sat in shame
Fists clicked-Chains Cracked

Each night we gave forgiveness
We didn’t know how
to explain the forgiveness they didn’t give
Black and white forgiveness
Fists clicked-Chains Cracked

Each night we forgave classmates
with an apology
Classmates black and white apologized
Thunder cracked
Chains cracked
We forgave them
Shame hit
We cracked
In the end, we became friends.

© Mrs. Brown’s Fourth Grade Class

Today (as I’m writing this on TH) went into the class and we looked it over. We discussed tightening the poem and removing words. I explained how Stephen Kind reduces his drafts by 10% and Richard Peck tries to fine ten words per page to remove, I gave each student a draft and asked them to select at least five words that could be removed.
 

After the discussion, our poem looked like this:

This is the final copy:

It was a fun lesson to do with this class. I feel so lucky to be able to work with students on these mini-lessons.

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Poetry Friday: Two Verse Novels You Should Read and Announcements

Hooray it’s Poetry Friday. I’m a bit late today. But super excited to head over to to Linda at TeacherDance. Thanks, Linda.

On February 14, 2019, the CYBILS Awards announced Jason Reynolds’ LONG WAY DOWN as the poetry winner. I had the pleasure of sitting on the Poetry Round Two, something I haven’t done in a long time. The seven finalists were spectacular and it was difficult to select the winner.

If you have read the CYBILS Poetry winner and need a new read, please consider the two other verse novels which were finalists.

THE POET X
by Elizabeth Acevedo
HarperTeen; 1st Edition edition
March 6, 2018
978-0062662804

I had the pleasure to listen to the audio book.  The narrator pulled me into Xiomara’s life from the very first track.  Xiomara’s teenage life with strict parents and her coming of age made me reflect on my own teen years.  Her poetry book, her brother, and her life in the Bronx is vivid and rich. You can’t help but to fall in love with this book.  There were times when I sat in my car in the garage to hear how the chapter was going to end. Yay for poetry and the power it has on lives.

MARY’s MONSTER: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
by Lita Judge
Roaring Brook Press
January 30, 2018
978-1626725003

I have a confession.  I think the only Frankenstein book I’ve read was one adapted for early readers.  I think this is the year to correct that after reading Mary’s Monster. Lita

Judge created an amazing Gothic story about the creator/writer of this British classic.  I was drawn into the story of Mary’s life and so unaware of her hard life. The art in the book was incredible.  The darkness of the content is sure to give teens a book that they can’t put down. I read it in one sitting, or rather staying up way beyond my bedtime to finish.

I also really enjoyed the back matter that Judge put in the end of the book.

Announcement Time

March is an exciting month with a fantastic blog tour featuring Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

Return on Thursday, March 14 for an early Poetry Friday and an interview with Laura.

 

3/11               Mile High Reading

3/12               Reflections on the Teche

3/13               A Year of Reading

3/14               Check It Out

3/15               Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

3/17               Great Kid Books

3/18               Simply 7 Interview

3/19               My Juicy Little Universe

3/20               Live Your Poem

3/21               Reading to the Core

3/22               KidLit Frenzy

                        Beyond LiteracyLink

And on the heels of Laura’s new book, I can announce that GAIL ALDOUS won the copy of

Gail, please email me your snail mail address book.

Poetry Friday: A Poem From a Former Student

There’s a lot of poetry goodness happening today. It can be found at Writing the World for Kids. Thank you, Laura.

Last week, I heard from a mom how her daughter missed Poetry Rocks and was still writing poems. I sent a post card to the daughter and asked about her poems. Last night this appeared on my Facebook page.

Puppies Are So Cute

They are cuddly, too.

They like to play a lot

They like to run a lot too.

They are also a good pet

and sometimes they get a little
sleepy and they go to bed

And then in the morning they play,

play all day long.

©Rylee, 2nd grade

I love how much she knows about puppies. I believe she has a puppy at home.

She has an idea about line breaks. And the word sleepy and the repetition of play, play so fun.

Thank you, Rylee!

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Hope to see you all next week. The post will be available early. I will be revealing the CYBILS Poetry Winner for 2018. I’ve been working with some fabulous judges to decide. The finalists are giving us a run for our money.

Poetry Friday: An Interview with Ellen Hopkins

Thanks to Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for hosting this amazing community of poetry lovers.

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I am a long time fan and reader of Ellen Hopkins. Her book, CRANK, introduced me to novels in verse. It made me revise my WIP from prose to verse.

My oldest grand girl has been reading her since sixth grade. This year I purchased her latest, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE, to give oldest. I had to read (it was a CYBILS nomination after all). It’s a must read.

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Ellen Hopkins graciously answered the followings interview questions for me:

JRM: When and how did you get starting writing?


EH: I’ve been writing ever since I learned how. Poetry was my first love, but also short stories, essays, nonfiction, journalism. It’s a talent. It’s a passion.

JRM: What process do you use when writing in more than one voice?  Do you write the different voices as the story unfolds or each separately or a combo?

EH: I have to write chronologically, so I write each voice in succession. Often those voices connect somewhere, somehow, so it keeps everything in order in my mind, if nothing else.

JRM: If we could hear the actual voice of Violence, how would it sound? Old? Young? Or would it change?  What kind of picture did you have in your head as how Violence would look as a character?

EH: The call to violence is an ancient one, so for me the voice of Violence is ancient. Sometimes soft, sometimes loud. I picture Violence as a crone, but maybe one who can make herself beautiful if the need arises.

JRM: What kind of research did you do for this book?  Did you talk with people who’ve had first hand experience with Violence? Were you able to ask people the question of why pull a trigger?

EH: I mostly interviewed victims of gun violence… that, of course, includes the families of victims. I can tell you once someone crosses that line it changes lives forever. I was also raised in a household that had guns. My father hunted and also collected/traded them, so there has never been an aura of curiosity or inexperience with weapons surrounding me. On two occasions, as a child I witnessed my “responsible” gun-owning father (alcohol involved) put a loaded gun to my mom’s chest. She talked him down, but the fear was incredible.

Blending immigration, racism, violence and gun control seemed like a such tremendous task to weave together into one story.  Were there points when you needed to step away from the manuscript to allow it to percolate?

Stepping away from the manuscript was mostly for research. The percolation is in the pre-write for me. I generally have a real relationship with my characters before I sit down to write, especially with multiple viewpoints in the story.

JRM: How did you counter balance these hard themes when you were in the middle of writing? I wonder if it energized you or drained to write this book and how you balanced that out.

EH: Honestly, it depended on the day and what was going on, both in my life and in the world. There were several mass shootings in the news, which made it more difficult to write but also much more important. Without understanding the WHYS of gun violence we can’t work to mitigate it. Rarely do I have the luxury of stepping away from a writing project too long, by the way.

JRM: Would you like to share what’s next for you in the writing world?

EH: The next YA, which releases in October, is SANCTUARY HIGHWAY, a politically charged near-future look at where this country could end up if it keeps moving in the direction it has been. After that, I’m hoping to finish a middle grade novel about how a troubled kid who changes the lives of his new family negatively—-but much more positively.

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Stay tuned! In fourteen days, the CYBILs Awards will be announced.

Poetry Friday: Sneak Peak at Soaring Earth by Margarita Engle

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Thank you Carol W. at Carol’s Corner for hosting today’s Poetry Friday. A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have Margarita Engle send me an ARC of SOARING EARTH. This is the companion memoir to ENCHANTED AIR.

Now if you haven’t read ENCHANTED AIR yet, stop by your local library and borrow it. It was nominated for a CYBILs Poetry Award in 2015.

SOARING EARTH continues as Engle begins high school just as the social issues: Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, environmental concerns are heating up. In Engle’s lyrical language, she paints a landscape of what it’s like for a teen during the late 60’s.

Despite not being allow to travel to Cuba (thanks to the revolution there), Margarita finds other way to spread her wings through friends, writing and education.

Readers of both books are in for a treat of rich and delicious language. It’s sure to make your spirit soar.

Available in the world in February. Give youself the Valentine of a book and purchase a copy or make sure your local library has it in their collection.

Title: SOARING EARTH
Author: Margarita Engle
Illustrator:
Published: Available, February 2019
Pages: 192
Reading Level: 7th gr and beyond
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9781534429536
Source: ARC sent to me by the author

The ARC I have is available for the next reader. If you’d like to read it and share the love, leave a comment and I’ll draw a name next week.

Poetry Friday: Voices in the Air by Naomi Shihab Nye

IMG_1077Thanks to Irene at Live Your Poem for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

This week, I want to show case the title I nominated for the CYBILS Poetry Awaed:  VOICES IN THE AIR, POEMS FOR LISTENERS by Naomi Shihab Nye.  If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I consider her a mentor.  Last April, I attended the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture given by Naomi Shihab Nye.   I, of course, bought her latest book.

What if we were the listeners of all the voices in the air? Those who came before us or those we have yet to meet? What if we took the time to listen? What would we notice?

VOICES is divided into three sections: Messages, Voices in the Air, and More Worlds.

Nye begins with an introduction, a pondering of making sense of the strange world we currently reside in with a quote by Galway Kinnell, “To me, poetry is someone standing up to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.”

She reflects on a conversation student at the Yokohama International School in Japan. She said listening and writing poetry give us more yutori– a place to stand back to contemplate what we are living and experiencing…more spaciousness in being and more room to listen. I love this!

This ninety-five poem collection is contemplative and we should listen to one another read these poems aloud. Many of the poems were written for specific people. At the end of the book, Nye includes Biographical Notes.

We should take the time to slow down and listen.

Some of my favorite poems in this collection include: “Twilight”, “Train Across Texas”, and “Where do Poets Find Images, and For the Birds”.

Here’s the first few lines of perhaps my favorite (I’m not sure I can really choose)

Reserved for Poets
(Signs on first rows of chairs at poetry festival. La Conner, Washington)

Sunsets.

Trouble.

Full moons.

No really–they’re everybody’s.

Nothing is reserved.

I highly encourage to find this book, read it, and listen.

Title: VOICES IN THE AIR, POEMS FOR LISTENERS
Author: Naomi Shihab Nye
Illustrator:
Published: 2018
Pages: 190
Reading Level: YA
Publisher: Greenwillow
ISBN: 978-0-06-269184-2
Source: Personal purchase

Poetry Friday: H IS FOR HAIKU Book Talk

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Thanks to Linda B. at TeacherDance who is hosting Poetry Friday today. It’s going to be great.

This week, I’m starting a new chapter on this blog. The last few years, the blog has focused more on student work and less on book reviews/talks/ recommendations. Over the last month, I’ve been mulling over what to do with this blog. Certainly, when the opportunity presents itself to showcase student work, I will.

So I’ve decided to feature poetry books on this blog for Poetry Friday.

I am please to share with you H IS FOR HAIKU A TREASURY OF HAIKU FROM A TO Z by Sydell Rosenberg today. Rosenberg was a chartered member of the Haiku Society of America (HSA). She was a public school teacher and used her experiences as a springboard for haiku.

In Amy Losak’s introduction of her mom’s book, she speaks of the small moments that haiku makes big. This is what I love. It’s the very reason I write haiku and teach students about the form. In a society where the small moments can be missed, slowing down for discovery is so necessary.

H IS FOR HAIKU begins with Rosenberg’s definition. My favorite part of her explanation? “Haiku can’t be gimmicked; it can’t be shammed. If it is slicked into cuteness, haiku losses what it has to give.”

Here are a few examples as page spreads.

adventures over
the cat sits in the fur ring
of his tail and dreams

first library card
and a promise to read all
authors A to Z

queuing for ice cream
sweat-sprinkled office workers
on Queens Boulevard

Whether you are a first grader practicing a recorder or Xavier at the beauty parlor or seeing children with umbrellas as mushrooms, each haiku is a fresh small moment that still resonates today. It’s difficult to believe that the original haiku were written long before the publishing of the book. Rosenberg’s word choice is impeccable and rich.

Sawsan Chalabi’s illustrations are a bright complement to the text. Did you know she was responsible for the lettering of the haiku? To me it adds to the structure of the book. I’m not sure the book would work as well had the lettering been a standard font and size.

I would recommend getting this book if you need a mentor text in haiku. Losak addresses the English interpretation of haiku as being the 5-7-5 structure while explaining that many writers (including her mom) aren’t so strict about the syllable count. I think this is important when teaching young writers. I’ve been told that rules were created to be broken and the hard fast syllable structure should be broken when appropriate.

H is FOR HAIKU is nominated for the CYBILS Award in Poetry.

Title: H IS FOR HAIKU
Author: Sydell Rosenburg
Illustrator: Sawsan Chalabi
Published: 2018
Pages: unpaged
Reading Level: 3rd grade and up
Publisher: Penny Candy Books
ISBN: 978-0-9987999-7-1
Source: Personal purchase