“What Will Your Verse Be?”

I can’t stop watching this commercial, which I first saw during the Golden Globes.  What a soul-lifting, heart-building, mind-blowing visual from Apple.  Absolutely beautiful and I hope people take the message to hear.

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering — these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love — these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman,

“O me, O life of the questions of these recurring.
Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

What will your verse be?

 

Tween Book Buying Guide for the Holidays- Poetry

In honor of Poetry Friday, here are some of the most popular poetry anthologies in my class this year!

Where the Sidewalk Ends 30th Anniversary Edition: Poems and Drawings- Shel Silverstein is always a winner with my 6th graders! Where the Sidewalk Ends is his most popular book with my students year in and year out. Inevitably, I end up with a few students who can recite some of the poems word for word.

During our poetry study I always use Poetry Speaks to Children (Book & CD) during our listening center. The anthology includes a variety of poems from poets like Nikki Grimes, Langston Hughes. Robert Frost, Roald Dahl, and many more. The CD includes the poets reading many of the poems and it is beautiful to listen to.

Another popular poet is Jack Prelutsky. I don’t think I have seen my copy of A Pizza the Size of the Sun in months! Every so often I catch a glimpse of it being moved from one student’s backpack to another.

And while it is not strictly a poetry book, I have a soft spot for William Carlos Williams. Jen Bryant’s A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams is one of my favorite picture books. The illustrations by Melissa Sweet are gorgeous and Bryant’s text is lyrical!  I love reading this one aloud.  It’s perfect for all ages.

Do you have any favorite poetry books?

A Mirror to Nature: Poems about Reflection by Jane Yolen

A Mirror to Nature: Poems About Reflection is Jane Yolen’s newest poetry book. The photographs in the book are absolutely stunning and are taken by Yolen’s son, Jason Stemple.

Each poem is based on a picture taken by Stemple and each picture is of a reflection in nature: seven wood storks with seven reflections, a frog sitting atop a floating bottle, a solitary cockle made less alone by its reflection. The poems are brief but powerful, describing the scene in each picture and digging deeper. One of my personal favorites is the frog on the the bottle, which Yolen points out is not biodegradable- yet the frog doesn’t know the difference between it and a log.

This is a gorgeous book, with full-page, full-color photographs. I shared it with my class today as a mentor for our observation door poetry and it was a big hit. The pictures drew a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” and the poems brought out laughs and sighs of agreement. A great book to share with students of all ages, this is a must-have for your poetry collection! It is also a great book to use for science/language arts connections, as each photograph is accompanied by a brief caption giving more information.

My Eighth of Eight Poems

Yellow

Sunlight on a summer afternoon…….laser lemon

Spring daffodils……unmellow yellow

The walls in my kitchen……..goldenrod

Towels in my bathroom……dandelion

The hair on my head…….dirty blonde

A new dress……canary yellow

My mother’s favorite color……soft yellow

My Seventh of Eight Poems

Today has not been a good day, professionally.  Needless to day, I am all over the place and couldn’t get anything down on paper for my poem.  Anything I did get down, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing over the internet.

Sometimes

life just doesn’t go the way you want.

But

when one door closes,

a window should open.

Even

if it takes a while

to find your way to that window.

My Sixth of Eight Poems

Thank goodness Stacey put up a poetry prompt today, because I desperately needed the inspiration! I enjoyed the “I Remember” poem, and ended up writing about the journals we were required to keep in eighth grade. We wrote everyday for ten minutes, and my teacher allowed us to pass our books around during that time. Essentially, we wrote long notes to each other, like notebook IMing, and responded to each other. Sometimes I wrote in 4 notebooks per period! Today, I love to look back through those notes to see the girls we were. :)

I remember sitting in a classroom, surrounded by my fellow eighth graders

I remember taking out my journal

I remember being allowed to pass the journal to my friends

and having constant notes going back and forth in them

I remember planning for the eighth grade dance

I remember when my best friend told me she was moving to Texas

I remember being heartbroken and angru

even though we would have gone to separate high schools anyway

I remember planning her goodbye party in our English journals

I remember filling that notebook with the hopes and dreams of 5 eighth grade girls

I love looking back through that notebook

Twelve years later.

My Fourth of Eight Poems

Couplets are not easy, let me tell ya! I definitely do not like being held back by a word or line count.

This is a couplet about my family’s newest puppy. She is about 6 months old now, but this picture was taken on her first night home. She was exhausted from playing with everyone and settled herself in for a nice, long nap!

My Third of Eight Poems

I swear, this poem is the story of my life. I am constantly making copies, coming back to my room, putting them down, and promptly forgetting where they are. I end up slowly getting my kids started while I walk around the room, hiding my panic, but eyes darting everywhere looking for that ever-elusive pile! I usually end up finding it, but I know the kids see right through my act. :)

Spelling Test/Lost Copies

While I hand out the lined paper, please number your papers 1-22

for our spelling test.

Where are the spelling lists? I know they are around here somewhere

Remember to write neatly. You should include your heading.

We will start in one minute.

I have no idea where the lists are! I know i copied them. I came back in here afterwards.

Where could they be? Did I put them on the shelf?

Yes, we are starting in one minute. I am just giving everyone a second to number their paper fully.

I know I always start right away, John. Today I am waiting.

WHERE ARE THEY? I can’t just make up spelling words. And the kids clearly know I am stalling.

That I am bluffing. Where could they…….

There they are! Phew!

Number one is monstrous….

Thank goodness.

I will definitely pay more attention the next time I put down copies.

Number 2, disastrous.

My Second of Eight Poems

In My Backyard

Sitting at my back doors

I watch as nature comes to my doorstep,

feeding on suet, thistle, and wild bird seed.

Tiny thistle seeds overflow the bird feeder.

The shy goldfinch couple timidly grips the wire feeder,

leaping into flight at the smallest movement

or noise.

The noisy chickadees peck at the seeds

that have fallen to the ground,

fighting over them with the mourning doves.

The cardinal couple regally hops along the patio,

pecking at stray seeds and suet,

dropped by the others.

The noisy bluejay squawks his annoyance

at not being able to grip the feeder

with his oversized feet.

On the roof, a wily squirrel plots

his breaking and entering…

how will he manage to get the seed from the bird feeder this time?

Maybe I have finally outsmarted him, I think.

Watching out my back windows,

it amazes me just how much of nature

is right in my own

townhouse backyard,

small as it may be.

Feeding the birds in my small backyard is one of my favorite hobbies. It’s so much fun to sit and watch the various species as they fly among the trees and bushes, making a quick pit stop at the feeders or on the ground. Until I put up my bird feeders, I didn’t realize how many different types of birds where right here in my own neighborhood! Now if I could just manage to outsmart that stinkin’ squirrel!

Music on Poetry Friday

I decided to share some song lyrics for this week’s Poetry Friday. This was one of my favorite songs in college and I heard it on the radio on my drive to school this morning. It’s a great song about moving forward in life while still remembering the good times.

In This Diary
by The Ataris

Here in this diary,
I write you visions of my summer.
It was the best I ever had.
There were choruses and sing-alongs,
and that unspoken feeling
of knowing that right now is all that matters.
All the nights we stayed up talking
listening to 80′s songs;
and quoting lines from all those movies that we love.
It still brings a smile to my face.
I guess when it comes down to it…

Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up
These are the best days of our lives.
The only thing that matters
is just following your heart
and eventually you’ll finally get it right.

Breaking into hotel swimming pools,
and wreaking havoc on our world.
Hanging out at truck stops just to pass the time.
The black top’s singing me to sleep.
Lighting fireworks in parking lots,
illuminate the blackest nights.
Cherry cokes under this moonlit summer sky.
2015 Riverside, it’s time to say, “goodbye.”
Get on the bus, it’s time to go.

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