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.

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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: Interview with Laura Shovan

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Thanks to Catherine at Reading to the Core for hosting today.

Laura Shovan was interviewed at the CYBILS website earlier this week.  Here are follow-up questions for her.  These questions were generated from the CYBILS Poetry panel and judges.,

School closings like this don’t happen very often. Did you know of a school that was closing or where this idea come from?

School closings are quite common in Maryland. Schools here are part of large, county-wide systems. Boards of education will sometimes shift entire neighborhoods from one school to another to relieve overcrowding, or even close a school that’s below capacity. For example, in 2016, the year THE LAST FIFTH GRADE came out, a high school was closed in Carroll County, Maryland. There was a lot of push-back from the community and from families who wanted the school to stay open. Despite all the research that shows how important community involvement is in making a school feel welcoming and successful, community members are rarely consulted about such closings. They tend to be a financial decision.

How did you choose the character names and did you map out the characters and classroom dynamic in a visual way?

Some of the characters’ name have clues about their situation or personalities. One is Brianna Holmes (homophone for “homes”), whose family is temporarily living in motel. Another is Newt Mathews (the word “math” is embedded in his name), who prefers form poems where he can count out syllables. And the twins, Sloane and Sydney Costley, have the small word “cost” in their last name – a nod to the fact that they are somewhat wealthy.

I’m a visual person. I had my daughter’s fifth grade school photo taped inside my revision binder. Since I come from an education background, I had to make a seating chart. That helped me to see which characters might develop friendships … or tension. I also had a list of who lived in which neighborhoods, who rode the bus together, who lived close enough to the school to walk.
What choices did she have to make to keep each voice unique?

Giving each of the eighteen characters a unique voice was something I focused on during revisions. Instead of working on the book from the beginning to the end, I pulled out each character – one at a time – and only worked on that person’s poems. In that way, I could look at things like vocabulary, cadence, and formal elements. A free verse poem in Sloane’s voice, for example, will incorporate slang and have a lot of rhythms, to capture her attitude. A free verse poem in Norah’s voice will have longer lines and more descriptive language because Norah is more observant than Sloane.

Have you as a child or your children involved in a grassroots campaign?  

No. My family wasn’t very political when I was growing up. I don’t remember my parents talking about the Viet Nam war at all. I didn’t become politically active until I was an adult. My friends at All the Wonders recently did a post on this topic, featuring picture books.

What other books for children would you suggest if students want to learn more about becoming activists in their community?

There are many types of activism that are appropriate for children. I tend to like books about the Civil Rights movement of the 20th century and picture book biographies of civil rights activists. Three of my favorites are:

Andrea David Pinkney’s picture book SIT IN: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down

Debbie Levy’s WE SHALL OVERCOME: The Story of a Song.

Tony Medina’s LOVE TO LANGSTON, about Langston Hughes’ childhood.

Another great resource is this Nerdy Book Club list from 2014: Top 10 Picture Books for Activists 

What advice do you have for writers who are working on a novel in verse?

I hear from a lot of authors who love reading novels in verse. But because they don’t see themselves as poets, they’re afraid to give the form a try. My advice is to think about the poems as short monologues. In a novel in verse, the main character or characters take the stage and describe their thoughts, feelings, and a moment of change or realization. Poetic line breaks add rhythm to the character’s speaking voice. I think this is what makes the novel-in-verse form so well-suited for voice-driven books. The combination of monologue and rhythm helps the reader hear what the character sounds like.

Thank you, Laura, for your insight!

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Time for Student Poetry Postcards!  Sign-up HERE

 Happy Poetry.

Happy Friday.

Celebrate: Five Star Things About the Week

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It’s Saturday and time to reflect on the week. Thanks to Ruth Ayres Writes for a place to share our celebration.

ONE
Listening to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Little House in the Big Woods.. It’s been a long while since I read the books. I am reminded why I liked her books as a child. There’s so much in the simplicity of her writing that’s yet so descriptive. As I listen, I am thinking what a way for readers to learn about prairie life.

TWO

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Fall Leaves.

THREE
Kindergarteners. I was explains that I hope I don't need to use my "cranky pants" voice. A kinder said, "You don't have a cranky pants voice, you are telling us how to take care of the books."

FOUR
I’m celebrating commitment. Last May, I applied to the Darcy Pattison Retreat this coming January. It’s getting time to share our manuscripts with my critique group. I need to finish the polishing and remember it IS a revision retreat. It’s a bit scary to know that in two months we will gather to revise and dig deep. Plus I now have a query letter and synopsis to write as well.

FIVE
Yesterday. Our school had their second annual PE/Music Dash. This year we had a Superheroes theme. And for the first time in many years we were allowed to be really festive. I went with my superheroes being spiders (Grandgirls call me Grandma Spider due to my love of spiders). No pics of my cape so instead I leave you with the following:

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What are you celebrating?

Celebrate: Five Star Things About the Week

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It’s Saturday. Time to celebrate all the goodness of the week at Ruth Ayres Writes.

ONE

Summer vacation has begun as of today!  Our last day of school was yesterday. While bittersweet with eight people leaving us, it was a joyous day. So much love to be shared by students, staff, and parents.

TWO

Last weekend I was at my brother’s graduation from the Southern California Health Institute.  Forty years ago this month I graduated from Lewis and Clark College.  This weekend is our fortieth reunion.  Good to catch up with people.

THREE

Kindergartners who brought me cards for reading to them all year.  Singing “Metamorphosis” with the minders…it’s a song about change.

FOUR

I was accepted into the Darcy Pattison Revision Retreat along with 19 other people. In January 2015 (six months away).

FIVE

Getting my first summer poem in the mail for the Summer Poetry Swap from Diane Mayr.  Thanks, Diane.

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What are you celebrating?
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Celebrate: Five Star Things About the Week

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Time to celebrate the week.  More celebrations at Ruth Ayres Writes.

ONE

Monday! Our second day with Susan Blackaby, author.  She spent the day teaching students how to write a five-line poem.

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This was a group poem from Kindergarten.  And she will be back next Thursday for a final writing day.

TWO

A sign of spring.  I spied these on my way into school this week.

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THREE

The dad who volunteered to help the school play with the sound system.  The biggest problem with the school play is the sound system.  No one can ever hear us very well as we have limited mics for all the speakers.

FOUR

Working with kinders to write their own five-line poem.  I modeled the poem and then they wrote their own. It’s so exciting to see the ranges of writers; those who struggle with letters to those who get it!

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FIVE

Our first five-day week since the beginning of January.  Plus my asthma has subsided and I finally worked out this morning.

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And I started the SOLSC 2014 challenge to write every day in March at Deowriter.