Poetry Friday: “Honey At The Table” by Mary Oliver

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Renee LaTulippe is hosting the Roundup today at No Water River.

One of the things I love about reading Mary Oliver is that her poems take you to such unexpected places. You may begin with something tranquil and warm, but soon you are somewhere fierce and dense with weighted meaning.  I felt that with “Wild Geese”, and with this newly discovered poem, as well:

Honey At The Table

It fills you with the soft
essence of vanished flowers, it becomes
a trickle sharp as a hair that you follow
from the honey pot over the table

and out the door and over the ground,
and all the while it thickens,

grows deeper and wilder, edged
with pine boughs and wet boulders,
pawprints of bobcat and bear, until

deep in the forest you
shuffle up some tree, you rip the bark,

you float into and swallow the dripping combs,
bits of the tree, crushed bees – – – a taste
composed of everything lost, in which everything lost is found.

Mary Oliver

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Slice of Life Tuesday: The Kidlitosphere Poem arrives here!

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The Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is hosted by poet, Irene Latham, who had this wonderful idea that a poem could be a collaborative April feast, crafted line by line all month long.  I participated for the first time last year, and had forgotten all the anxiety of the process, remembering just the delight in being part of this creative process.  Well, that anxiety has returned…since it is finally time for me to provide the next line!

The poem takes shape bit by bit, of course, and each line comes as such a surprise.  In this case, there was someone to be with right away, and she seemed a vital and fascinating presence.  Just as I was settling into her presence, striding with purpose and swinging brown arms, she seems transformed into a mermaid.  Then there is grandmother with her memory-laden cuffed bracelet and wise words which resonate.  And then a startled fisherman with a choice.  So much to think about, so many vivid shifts in imagery and mood.  Ah, the anxiety of living up to this poetry community!  After weaving my way through the twists and turns, and writing many a trial line, here are the first twenty lines of the poem along with my addition for line 21:

She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms. Her hair flows,
snows in wild wind as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother’s oval cuffed bracelet,
strokes the turquoise stones, and steps through the curved doorway.

Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide… splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,

listens to the ibises roosting in the trees of the cypress swamp
an echo of Grandmother’s words, still fresh in her windswept memory.

Born from the oyster, expect the pearl.
Reach for the rainbow reflection on the smallest dewdrop.

The surface glistens, a shadow slips above her head, a paddle dips
she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy and turquoise eyes.

Lifted high, she gulps strange air – stares clearly into
Green pirogue, crawfish trap, startled fisherman

with turquoise eyes, twins of her own, riveted on her wrist–
She’s swifter than a dolphin, slipping away, leaving him only a handful of

memories of his own grandmother’s counsel: Watch for her. You’ll have but one chance to
determine—to decide. Garner wisdom from the water and from the pearl of the past.

In a quicksilver flash, an arc of resolution, he leaps into the shimmering water

Tomorrow Pat at Writer on a Horse will take bring us  one line closer to our completed 2015 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem.  And here’s the Progressive Poem team:

1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Poetry Friday: Zip Odes!

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Poetry Friday is hosted today by Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

Driving home from work yesterday evening, I heard a story on NPR’s The Takeaway about a form of poetry – zip odes:


As soon as I got home, I searched for more information and discovered that this new poem form was the brainchild of  O, Miami – the Miami Poetry Festival. the contest rules  are:

“Each ZIP code is five numbers, so we’re asking that each ZIP Ode be five lines—the number of words in each line is determined by the number in your particular zip code.”

To my great delight, I discovered that  zip odes could be found and enjoyed on Facebook, Tumbler and Twitter:

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I am a terrible poet, but this looked like so much fun that I just had to try my hand at creating one for my zip code :


Expanses of verdant and excessively manicured lawns

graced with giant oaks

and by distant Manhattan views


That was fun…now why don’t you give it a try?!

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Slice of Life Tuesday: That was then…this is now

Visiting my parents in London:


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…our annual visits were filled with playgrounds , museum visits,  jaunts around the city, and family time with Grandma and Grandpa.  We’d set off exuberantly in the morning, baby carriage and backpacks filled with snacks and sandwiches, and return in time for tea – exhausted and bursting with stories to tell of our day’s adventures.

My son, a whirling dervish of excitable energy and high spirits, lent our days exasperation and laughter.  By the time we were ready to pack and leave for home again, Ben was ready to go.  He was already looking ahead to life back home.



…our visit was replete with jaunts to museums and art galleries, and long walks through places well known and well loved.  Everywhere we’d been, we’d been before.  But we saw with new eyes.  We experienced in new ways. My once-restless son was a keenly observant and delightful traveling companion.  Humorous, thoughtful, and brimming with interesting perspectives and insights.

Sometimes, I miss the then…but I treasure and am grateful for the now.



It’s Monday and Here’s What I’m Reading #IMWAYR: Two new biographies by Kathleen Krull


It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and Sheila at BookJourney

This Spring, Bloomsbury is releasing Women Who Broke the Rules, a brand new young biography  series celebrating women who made history by defying the old adage that “well behaved women seldom make history”.  Two of such “misbehaving women” are  Judy Blume and Sacajawea.

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No matter how many new titles I add to our classroom library, our selection of Judy Blume books remain popular – they are checked out and passed around with enthusiasm year after year.  Judy Blume: Are You There, Reader? It’s Me, Judy! is the story of how Judy Blume bucked the trend of writing safe stories with happy endings.  I know my students will be interested in the way Judy’s writing career intersected with and reflected many of the changes taking place in American society, from the women’s liberation movement to a  willingness to be open about discussing topics that affected children, such as divorce.

Krull writes about Blume’s conviction that kids wanted to read honest stories about real life, and how she persevered at it, in spite of the fact that no one supported her early efforts.  Success came eventually, and with it, controversy.  Blume became a voice against the movement to ban “certain types of books” from school libraries (she was the most banned author from 1982 to 1996!), even as she continued to push boundaries and write.  I loved the fact that Krull shared so much about Blume’s writing process: she works at it, writes every day, and powers through writing blocks with movement – hiking, and kayaking her way back to the writing mode.  Judy Blume is as much fun to read about as she is to read.


Sacajawea: Lewis and Clark Would Be Lost Without Meis a fresh look at the only woman in the Corps of Discovery, and the one person in the Expedition who routinely arouses the greatest curiosity in my students.  So little is known about her, and she literally vanishes from history after the return voyage.  But Krull expands Sacajawea’s story to include the ways of the Hidatsa women, and the many instances in which her actions saved the lives of the men and turned the tide for the Expedition.  It’s a beautiful story, and well told.

Each of these titles includes a list of books and websites for further reading, a wonderful resource.  I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the titles in the series, which includes Sonia Sotomayor, Coretta Scott King,  and Dolley Madison.  Kathleen Krull must have had such fun writing about these women who “misbehaved” and made history!

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#sol15: March 31, 2015 – We made it!!

Well, here it is, March 31st.   I’ll admit, that there were days when I’d glance at the calendar and despair – so many more days, what am I going to say? what do I have to write about? will I make it?  Of course, I knew that there were many slicers who felt the exact same way as I did, and yet, when I logged on to Two Writing Teachers, there they were.  And that was motivation enough to get going on a post, to write.

So, here it is, March 31st.  I’ll also admit that there is a part of me that will miss this daily connection with so many writers.  We come from all over the place, and most of us have not had the chance to meet face to face, and yet I feel such a bond with all of those whose blogs I have read every day. Writing gives us so many pathways to learning about each other, and supporting in each other.  I’ve been so moved to tears so many times by the open honesty of some slices, and have laughed out loud at the hilarity in others.  I’ve learned about hobbies and children, pets and dear friends, new books to read and places to travel.

Our community of writers enriches my life.

We, at Two Writing Teachers, believe that we must practice what we teach. Writing is hard work, but it  thrives when practiced and nourished.  It is easier to practice when one is a part of a community like this.  When all of us, no matter how busy and distracted and pulled a hundred different ways by work and family commitments, take the time to read and comment on each others’ efforts, and support each others’ commitment to grow our writing craft.  We benefit, and our students benefit.

And here it is, March 31st. The last slice of the March Challenge. Here’s to all of us!


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#sol15: March 30, 2015 – Is it time for Spring Break, yet?!

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On Thursday my son Ben and I will leave for London – a Spring Break with my parents.  Between now and then I will:

  • get the house organized in such a way that my husband can find what he needs (my creative organization has to be less so).
  • pack for April in London, never an easy task.
  • decide what to read on the way there, there, and on the way back.
  • get a haircut, always a traumatic experience.
  • chaperone a sixth grade musical and drama event.
  • finalize plans for the mid April sixth grade field trip to Philadelphia.
  • get the girls’ rooms ready for their Easter stay (these rooms are part of my creative organization – so I’ll have to clear all the stuff that I’ve tossed into these two rooms to make the rest of the house look tidy. Thank goodness Ben will not be needing his room! Instant storage!).
  • find a way to keep my students attention on what we’re doing in the classroom, even as their minds wanter to what they will be doing come Spring Break.

Ready, oh so ready, for Spring Break!

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