More Poems Inspired from A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE by Janet Wong

Have you read this book?

If not, you need to buy it now or find it at your local library. It’s a great mentor text for getting students to think about their cultural background. Janet Wong published this book twenty-three years ago and just recently added back stories to the poems. More about that next week when Janet shares the answers to some questions I recently asked her.

I was back in the library this week. I had the opportunity to work with fourth and fifth graders. This book provided excellent food poems as mentors. I decided given the time allotment of thirty minutes over class, the SKINNY poem would be a good form for students to use to write a poem about a food for which they had strong emotions (good or bad). And while the directions for the SKINNY poem are specific, I love how some students make it their own and use the template as a guide.

When I take poetry workshops from Paulann Petersen, she often has words lists available for participants. I decided that given the 30 minute time limit, having a word list for describing food would be helpful. I provided this for students:

Chicken Noodle Soup

By Ileni, 5th grade

My stomach waits for this dish

Chicken Noodle Soup

Salty

Hot

Delicious

Chicken Noodle Soup

Mouth-watering

Tempting

Sizzling

Chicken Noodle Soup

My stomach waits for this dish

+++++++++++++++++++++

Burgers

By Amiyah, 5th grade

We wait for them

Burgers

Savory

Delicious

Meal

Burgers

Bite

Chew

Gulp

Burgers

We wait for them

++++++++++++++++++++++

Pizza

By Brandon, 5th grade

Waiting for it to be done

Pizza

Doughy

Tasty

Crusty

Pizza

Crunch

Bite

Soft

Pizza

Waiting for it to be done

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sushi

By Vitali, 5th grade

Time for some more- sushi

Sushi

Yummy

Fresh

Juicy

Sushi

Delicious

Delightful

Heavy

Sushi

Time for some more-sushi

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Fries

By Gage, 4th grade

I like fries they are so good

Fries are so soft

Soft

Good

Hot

Fries are so soft

Smushy

Goodness

Awesome

Fries are so soft

I like fries they are so good

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sausage

By Elizabeth, 4th grade

The smell of smoke

Sausage

Tangy

Crispy

Spicy

Sausage

Flaming

Juicy

Burning

Sausage

The smell of smoke

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Mashed Potatoes

By Josh, 4th grade

Mashed potatoes, the fur of food

Mashed potatoes

Creamy

Fluttery

Fluff

Mashed potatoes

Clouds of food

Pillows

The edible foam pit

Mashed potatoes

The fur of food

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Kiwis

By Katherine, 4th grade

Oh, delicious

Kiwis

Don’t you love them too?

So fresh

So good

Kiwis

Semi-sweet

Mostly green

All the time

Kiwis

Oh, delicious

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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.

**********************************************************************************

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: Flashlight Night

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Thank you, Matt, at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, for hosting Poetry Friday. And happy almost book birthday to FLASHLIGHT NIGHT.

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One of the nicest things waiting for me at school in August was a galley proof of Matt’s book.  Besides getting a sneak peek, I love that I can show students as part of the book making and publishing process.

Today, I shared with Mrs. L’s second-grade class.  There were lots of “oohs” and “aahs” over the words and illustrations.  Here are some comments:

‘The fence looks like the zombie apocalypse.” ~ Carter

“The cat is also the tiger.” ~ Amy

“It looks like a haunted house with the crooked fence.” ~Chase

“You can imagine things that aren’t real.” ~Lani

The author wants you to imagine”. ~Naomi

“I like to play hand puppets with a flashlight.” ~Morgan

I can’t wait to get the finished copy when it arrives on the shelves.  I absolutely love the work play and rhymes.

And Fred Koehler’s muted tones of the book makes you want to pour over the drawings for awhile.

Congratulations, Matt, for a stunning first book.  It’s going to be fun to compare the galley proof with the actual book.

 

Celebrate: Five Star Things About This Week

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It’s Saturday. Time to reflect on the week and it’s goodness. Thank Ruth for providing that space at Ruth Ayres Writes.

ONE
Recovery from shoulder surgery. This coming Monday marks a month since surgery. Still a long road but so far it’s going well.

TWO
Summer Poetry Swap. This week I received a poem in the mail from Linda Baie as part of the summer poetry swap. Her poem reminded me of my childhood. It was as if she had played in the same neighborhood.

THREE
Reading. I love to read but I am also very active. My surgery has made it so I have more sitting time(which is difficult). I have tackled my pile of middle grade novels. REVOLUTION by Deborah Wiles is my current read.

FOUR
Time with my friend of forty plus years. We are like sisters. During the last three years she has spent more time as a snow bird in Arizona. These past few weeks we have had a lot of time together. Today’s her’s daughter’s wedding shower, so the celebration continues.

FIVE
The new CYBILS website. The season of the CYBILS is upon us. The call for panelists and judges goes out on Monday.
Also the eight annual Kidlit Con is coming up in October in Sacramento, CA. It’s a really great way to meet other bloggers. The theme is diversity and Mitali Perkins is presenting the keynote.

What are you celebrating?

Celebrate: Five Star Things About the Week

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It’s Saturday; time to celebrate the week at Ruth Ayres Writes.

ONE

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This on my white board on Tuesday. From my grandgirl when she visited for Family Library Night. She read “image” as “imagine.”

TWO
My cinquain for water and Poetry Friday. A great blue heron flew by me this week on my way to school providing the seed for the poem.

THREE
News that our library job will change with more technology responsibilities. It feels like our job will finally be moved into the 21st century. The proposal is lofty and not well defined but I think change is like that. Granted I am a bit of a rose colored glasses kind of person.

FOUR
Books! Books I put on hold at the library were ready for check out. Two were suggested by the book editor last week at the conference: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Glimpse by Zellie Wells.

FIVE
Another rose from the garden:

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What are you celebrating?