Poetry Friday: Welcome to the CYBILS Award Party


Welcome, welcome to Poetry Friday.  I’m so glad you’re stopping by and sharing poetry.


On Valentine’s Day, the CYBILS Awards were announced.  I am thrilled to announce the winner of these FANTASTIC SEVEN.


This was one of the most outstanding group of finalists for poetry. 

Such. Good. Reads!

It’s always a challenge to select between a verse novel and an anthology or collection.  Someone has said it’s like comparing apples and oranges. I couldn’t agree more. But we did it! We selected…..drum roll…..

LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds.

Here’s the blurb from the committee:

LONG WAY DOWN is a tour de force work of poetry. The entire novel in verse takes place on an elevator ride as a young man whose brother has been shot and killed descends to avenge his murder. Along the way, he is visited by the ghosts of those he has lost, the elevator filling with smoke as each enters to question, chide, taunt, and harangue him. This masterful narrative structure and the claustrophobic setting in that metal box filled with smoke, ghosts, and words create a gripping tension and kinetic energy that make LONG WAY DOWN nearly impossible to put down. Jason Reynolds’s spare, lyrical language and gorgeous, mesmerizing imagery stay with you and compel re-reading and discussion. This novel in verse makes maximum use of the format, using the poem placement, the background art, and the free verse poems themselves all working in harmony. Reynolds varies his approach to the poems to keep the tension high, repeating references, using anthropomorphism, and incorporating anagrams that startle, like a pause for a breath. His use of poetic language is vivid and powerful including:  “how do you hug what’s haunting you?”, “another piece of me, an extra vertebra, some more backbone”, “headlock that felt like a hug”, and “pushing the pistol under my pillow like a lost tooth.” The questions this book raises about the cycle of violence and the responses it evokes also make LONG WAY DOWN a natural for discussion with young readers themselves.  

Congratulations to all the finalists. In the coming weeks I’ll highlight some of the other finalists.

What is your good poetry for the week. Sign up here.



In Honor of Super Bowl Sunday

Are you ready for Super Bowl Sunday?  Are you a Patriots or a Rams fan or maybe a kitty bowl or puppy bowl fan? (I confess, I’m rooting for the RAMs from my home state.)

I have just the poem to celebrate this unofficial holiday thanks to the fantastic duo, Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell. Its part of THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY for CELEBRATIONS, published in 2015.

May you eat lots of pizz and chili today and jump up and down.

Poetry Friday: Third Grade Poetry

Kat at Kathryn Apel is hosting Poetry Friday today. Thanks, Kat. Here are some more third grade “I Come From” poems.

I Come From by Juno

I come from Mom and Dad

From mac and cheese

I am from puppies


I’m from playing with my sister

From Eleanor and Grandma Nikkie

I’m from the  family and kind

From Oregon

My family pictures are found next to the TV

My family means a lot to me


I Come From by Alicia

I come from cats and dogs

From lasagne, spaghetti and raviola

Tasty, meaty, and juicy

I am from roses of red

Bright red

I’m from board games and Apples to Apples

From Krysta W and Mikchall W

I’m from the most funniest and silliest in town.

From “Drink your water” and “Do your Reading”

I’m from Salmon Creek hospital


I Come From by Ellie

I come from an easel

From chicken pot pie

Flaky, juicy, bumpy, and warm

I am from a cactus

Prickly, spiky, and tall

I’m from kindness and surprises

From Amy and Zack

I’m from playing pranks and giving things

From “pick up after yourself.”

From going to Girl Scouts

I’m from America, Vancouver, WA

Cookies and cupcakes

My mom was a veterinarian

Dakotah’s is Great Grandmother Ruth’s middle name

My family pictures are on the wall
History and stories


I Come From by Jazlyn

I come from slime

From the ocean and the sunset

Beautiful and coming

I am from a carnation

A colourful thing

A beautiful,nice, loving family

I’m from

From Drew and Chena
My grandfather was in the Army

My family pictures are in the hall

They care for me


I Come From by Jonathan

I come from my tablet

From Doritos and my phone

Cheesy and crunchy


Sweet and lots of sugar

I am from my dad, my mom, me and my brother

We are funny

I’m from clocks, time, food, and days

I’m from California

From cheeseburgers and calderez

From my mom who went to Washington

From my grandfather who lives in Mexico

Poetry Friday: Process for I Come From Poems


Thanks to Sylvia at Poetry for Children who is hosting today. She has a teacher rarified Sneak Peek of the 2019 poetry titles.

DISCLAIMER: I usually am teaching poetry lessons with a limited time amount. It may be thirty minutes or forty-five minutes. And as when I was in the library, I had to do over several weeks. If I were teaching in a regular classroom, I would probably teach in a different way.

I’ve been thinking about my process for working with students with creating poetry. A lot of times, I’m a “pantser” (versus being a planner). So last month I had an opportunity to work with two third grade classes on a more complicated version of the “I Come From” poems that George Ella Lyons has offered to the world. If you search on the Internet, you will find a variety of templates to use.

I decided to adapt a template into a format that I have used with students for a several poetry forms.

The first week I subbed in December, I used this form after sharing a lot of examples (particularly ones that I’ve shared in earlier blog posts).

At the end of writing time, I gathered them up so that I could type their drafts (if I were in a classroom full time, I would probably have them type them).

When I returned the second week, I handed out the drafts. I shared from my own experience in submitting poems that I get to look at the draft and the “editor” suggestions. I had them reread and make changes.

I met with these two boys and they shared what they wanted. Students got to choose which lines they wanted to use.

On this second class, I offered this for those who wanted to write their poem.
Nathan reread his draft and decided that he wanted to revise in a big way by using the above format.

He was so pleased with the outcome.

To showcase the class poems, I’m in the process of creating a Padlet for their work.

Poetry Friday: Third Grade “I Come From” Poems

Thanks to Buffy at Buffy’s Blog for hosting all the Poetry Friday poetic goodness.

I had the opportunity to work in third grade the last couple of weeks. I found a template for the “I Come From” at Scholastic. Noticed that fourth and fifth grade had used the template with success as demonstrated in the hallways of school.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share third grade work.

I Come From by Joshua

I come from RoBlox and Fortnite

From Doritos, ice cream, and bologna

I am from rabbit of freedom

I’m from going for walks

From Marina and Gemma

I’m from the four of us and hiking

From “Respect Mom” and “Clean up your room.”

I’m from Washington soup and macaroni

My family pictures are found on my second floor

My family means a bunch of things like being nice


I Come From by Urijah

I come from MMA

From meatless pie

It’s real juicy and hot

I am from a rose

It’s spiky

From kindness and surprises

From Mel and Trey

I’m from playing video games

From my “Picking our after myself.”

I’m from Vancouver, Washington

From Coke and cakes

From my Dad was a roofing engineer

My Mom was boss of Hotel Rose

My family pictures are in my room on the wall

History and story


I Come From by Andrey

I come from Ukraine

From potato soup, good and tasty

I am from raspberry bush, juicy and sweet

From Lyudmila and Andiy

I’m from Vancouver

From borscht and Kasha


Poetry Friday: Sneak Peak at Soaring Earth by Margarita Engle


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.

Author: Margarita Engle
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.