Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Three Letter Word Poems

To villanelle and back, an article in James Fenton's poetry masterclass, looks at a variety of forms and the challenges they pose. I particularly love this excerpt.
John Fuller, in response to a competition challenge, set out to write a poem consisting only of three-letter words. And in order to add to the interest, he decided on a form in which there were three three-letter words per line, and the lines came in groups of three.
What an interesting idea! Here is how the resulting poem begins.
The Kiss
by John Fuller

Who are you
You who may
Die one day

Who saw the
Fat bee and
The owl fly

Read the poem in its entirety (scroll down the page to find it).
This amazing poem has me wondering what kind of poems can be crafted using only three-letter words. That is your challenge. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Poetry Friday - The House on the Hill

I'm wrestling with writing a villanelle or two, so I've been reading some for inspiration. Sometimes I find this helpful, as it gets me thinking about the importance of those first and third lines. Other times I worry it will influence my writing too much.

When I set out to write a villanelle I always begin with the final two lines, largely because I want them to make sense together and the poem to "work." Because this is the way I write a poem in this form, it's also where I start when I read them. (Don't worry though, I'm not one of those "read the last page of the book first" kind of girls. I would never spoil the ending.)

Here are the first two tercets of a villanelle I'm quite fond of.

The House on the Hill
by Edwin Arlington Robinson

They are all gone away,
      The House is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.

Through broken walls and gray
      The winds blow bleak and shrill:
They are all gone away.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tara at A Teaching Life. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Children's Book Inspiration

I was thinking about selecting words for a prompt today, but then decided it might be more fun if you could pick your own, within some parameters. So, here's the challenge. Head over to the New York Public Library and check out the titles on the list 100 Great Children's Books: 100 Years, or try the Cybils nominations for 2014. Pick a title with at least three words. Write the words in the title down the page and use these words as the first lines in your new poem. 

For example, if I chose IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN, my poem starter would look like this.


And the starter for MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS would look like this.


Easy-peasy, right? I hope you'll join me in writing a poem that starts with a children's book title. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Poetry Friday - Jigsaw Puzzle

Did you know that January is National Puzzle Month? In honor of this month-long celebration I'm sharing a wonderful poem by Russell Hoban. You can find it in A New Treasury of Children's Poetry, selected by Joanna Cole (p. 210).
Jigsaw Puzzle
by Russell Hoban
My beautiful picture of pirates and treasure
is spoiled, and almost I don't want to start
to put it together; I've lost all the pleasure
I used to find in it: there's one missing part. 
I know there's one missing -- they lost it, the others,
the last time they played with my puzzle -- and maybe
there's more than one missing: along with the brothers
and sisters who borrow my toys there's the baby. 
There's a hole in the ship or the sea that it sails on,
and I said to my father, "Well, what shall I do?
It isn't the same now that some of it's gone."
He said, "Put it together; the world's like that too."
Now that you've read it, see and hear the poem in this amazing little video by Michael Sporn Animation.

We're big puzzle fans in my house. Here's a closeup of the puzzle we completed on New Year's eve to help bring in 2015. It's a Liberty Puzzle of a Blue Whale. Liberty Puzzles are wooden puzzles in which every piece is a different shape and many of the shapes feature whimsical items. This one included a sailboat, octopus, seahorse, scuba diver, and more.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Thematic Book List - Water and the Water Cycle

Water is a miraculous substance. It is the only compound that commonly exists in all three phases (solid, liquid, gas) on Earth. The unique properties of water are a major factor in the ability of our planet to sustain life. 

Here's an annotated list of books on our most precious natural resource.

Nonfiction Picture Books
A Cool Drink of Water (2002), written by Barbara Kerley - This gorgeous book from National Geographic highlights the importance of water in our daily lives while showing how people around the world use and conserve water.

Did A Dinosaur Drink This Water? (2006), written and illustrated by Robert E. Wells - Wells tackles the water cycle and the idea that the Earth's water has been recycled since before the time of the dinosaurs. Readers see water move through all three states as it moves through streams, rivers, oceans, clouds, rain, and more. The text is written in a kid-friendly, understandable manner and asks and answers good questions. For ideas related to using this book in the classroom, check out the Robert E. Wells Science Series Teachers' Guide.

A Drop Around the World (1998), written by Barbara McKinney and illustrated by Michael S. Maydak - Follow one drop of water as it makes its way on an amazing journey around the world emphasizing how essential water is every environment and how it is necessary for life. Traveling with Drop, readers see water underground, in plants and animals, clouds, ice and snow, and more. Told in verse, readers get a hefty dose of science and view water in all three forms as a solid, liquid, and gas. With four pages of back matter on the science of water, this book provides a good introduction to water and the water cycle.

A Drop in the Ocean: The Story of Water (2004), written by Jacqui Bailey and illustrated by Matthew Lilly - This title in the Science Works series follows a water droplet from the time when it evaporates from the ocean and becomes the water vapor that makes up clouds, to the moment it falls as rain. Readers learn how water is cleaned and used before being returned again to the water cycle. Back matter includes an experiment, facts about water, and useful websites.

A Drop of Water (2006, OP), written and illustrated by Gordon Morrison - This book begins with a child exploring the water in a creek and imagining how a drop on his finger made its journey through the water cycle. Water connects everything in the story. Without it there are no clouds, no stream, no pond, no rain, no meadow, and none of the living things that rely on water for life. An illustrated appendix in the back describes the plants and animals encountered in the text.

A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder (1997), written and photographed by Walter Wick - This book is a stunning exploration of water in its many forms. Inspired by science books written for children more than 100 years ago, Wick was inspired to try the experiments listed and photograph them. The photographs show readers water in a way most have certainly not seen before. Wick carries out a number of these "old" experiments and in doing so captures water in stop-motion and highly magnified. The text that accompanies these photos is clearly written and not only informs but encourages exploration. Photos and text explore water's elastic surface, floating and sinking, soap bubbles and bubble shapes, moving molecules, ice, water vapor, condensation, evaporation, how clouds form, snowflakes, and much more. There is so much to learn here! Back matter includes ideas for readers to carry out their own observations and experiments.

Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean (2000), written and illustrated by Arthur Dorros - This title in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series clearly illustrates where water comes from, how it travels, and where it goes. Readers will learn that water is always on the move, shaping our earth. They will also learn why it is important to keep water clean. (Check out this lesson from the Georgia Aquarium which contains good guiding questions to ask at specific points while reading the book.)

I Get Wet (2002), written by Vicki Cobb and illustrated by Julia Gorton - This title in the Science Play series looks at water. Using simple text and hands-on activities, Cobb encourages kids to explore and experiment to learn about the most basic properties of water. The boy in the book learns by pouring water into different containers, observing it drip and flow, and trying to absorb it with waxed paper and paper toweling. The interactive format of questions and answers guides readers through these activities using everyday objects.

One Well: The Story of Water on Earth (2007), written by Rochelle Strauss and illustrated by Rosemary Woods - In this book, Strauss tells the story of our planet's most precious resource and provides an instructive and often-times inspiring look at water. She reminds us that the amount of water on Earth hasn't ever changed. Since this water has been around for billions of year, it is entirely possible that the water you drink may have "quenched the thirst of a dinosaur" more than one hundred million years ago. The double page spreads provide both informational paragraphs and short, factual boxed insets, beginning with the distribution of water on earth, the water cycle, water's essential role in life on Earth and watery habitats. From here, the author looks at how people use, need and access water. The book concludes by looking at demands on the well, pollution, and saving our water.

The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story (2003), written and illustrated by Neil Waldman - In this book about the water cycle, water takes many different forms, but it's the form of snow in which this journey begins. In January a snowflake lands on the peak of a mountain. Over the course of year the snowflake changes both location and form. In February it's blown into a mountain pond, where it melts in March. This tiny droplet sinks into an underground stream where it continues its journey. That water drop travels to a farm and evaporates into the clouds before it comes back down to the ground to travel even further. Eventually it becomes a snowflake once more. This book emphasizes the idea that resources on Earth are finite. Kids have a hard time with this notion, but Waldman makes this message clear as readers learn that the water we drink, wash in, and play in is part of an amazing cycle that repeats itself over and over and over again.

This Is The Rain (2001), written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Jane Wattenberg - This picture book about the cycling and recycling of water uses the familiar cumulative pattern of "The House That Jack Built." Bold, vibrant photo-collages accompany the text. It begins this way. "This is the ocean,/ blue and vast,/ that holds the rainwater from the past." Can you guess where this goes? Next comes the sun to warm the oceans, which eventually forms vapor that fills the clouds, which produce the rain that falls. Here's the text from the page on rain. "This is the rain,/ falling all day,/ that forms in clouds,/ low and gray,/ full of vapor, moist and light/ made when sunshine,/ hot and bright,/ warms the ocean, blue and vast,/ that holds the rainwater from the past." After passing through all stages of the water cycle, Schaefer circles back to the rain falling "somewhere every day." The book ends with a short note about the water cycle on planet earth.

Water (2002), written by Emily Neye and illustrated by Cindy Revell - In this Penguin Young Reader, Neye introduces beginning readers to water in its many forms. The text combines simple words, repetition, and visual clues to help readers learn about the properties of water.

Water, Water Everywhere (1995), written by Cynthia Overbeck Bix and Mark Rauzon - This Reading Rainbow selection celebrates the many forms and properties of water. Easy to understand text is complemented by gorgeous color photographs. Readers learn about the water cycle, how moving water changes the earth’s surface, the importance of water to life on our planet, and why conserving water and keeping it free from pollution is so important.

Picture Books
The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks (1988), written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen - This very first book in the series takes Ms. Frizzle's students on a field trip to the waterworks. On their trip they learn that water is a substance that can naturally be found as a solid, liquid or gas. They also come to know the water cycle (personally!) and how water evaporates into a gas to form clouds, and how it later liquefies and falls to the ground as rain.

Poetry Books
All the Water in the World (2011), written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Katherine Tillotson - Where does water come from and where does it go? In this book length poem using occasional rhyme, readers learn who uses water, what it's used for, and why all living things depend upon water. The language is this one is exquisite with lines like this: "Thirsty air / licks it from lakes / sips it from ponds / guzzles it from oceans . . ." A terrific title about all the water in our world.

How to Cross a Pond: Poems About Water (2003, OP), written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Meilo So - This collection of poems is one of three in a series of nature books. The trim size is small, but don't let that fool you. These little gems are filled with Meilo So's gorgeous India ink drawings on rice paper (all shades of blue in this work) and Singer's fabulous poems that in turn will make you laugh then nod and smile in agreement. Composed of 19 poems, Singer deftly captures water in a range of forms and places.

Splish Splash (2001), written by Joan Bransfield Graham and illustrated by Steve Scott - This collection of 21 concrete poems shows and describes water in a myriad of forms, including crocodile tears, ice cube, popsicle, snow, hail, dew and more. You can preview a number of the poems at Google Books.

Water Can Be... (2014), written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta - This is a book length poem that begins with spring and cycles through the four seasons looking at the importance of water. The text is economical, but it doesn't miss a beat in highlighting the important functions and characteristics of water. For example, otter feeder relates to the fact the water in rivers sustains many of the life forms that otters eat. Back matter in the book does a terrific job of explaining the meaning of each water "nickname."

Water Music (2003), written by Jane Yolen with photographs by Jason Stemple - Inspired by gorgeous photos, this collection of 17 poems in a variety of  forms lyrically examines water in a range of forms, including soap bubbles, icicles, rivers, waterfalls, rain showers, and more. 

Water Rolls, Water Rises Water Rolls, Water Rises: El agua rueda, el agua sube (2014), written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Meilo So. In a series of free verse poems in English and Spanish, water rolls, rises, slithers, hums, twists, plunges, slumbers and moves across the Earth in varied forms and places. Mora’s three-line poems are filled with imagery and emotion. “Water rises/ into soft fog,/ weaves down the street, strokes and old cat.” (In Spanish: “El agua sube/ formando suave neblina/ que ondula pro la calle, acacia a un gate viejo.”) The lyrical movement of water described in verse is accompanied by Meilo So’s gorgeous mixed-media illustrations highlighting 16 landscapes from Iceland, to China, to Mexico, the United States and more. Back matter includes an author’s note and information about the images in the book. A joyous, bilingual celebration, this collection brings water to life.

Online Resources

For additional resources on water, consider these sites.
I also have a Pinterest board on this topic with many ideas and activities for instruction.
Follow Tricia's board Water/Water Cycle on Pinterest.

You'll notice that books on rain, snow, and clouds are sorely lacking in this list. That is the subject for the my next thematic list, so stay tuned!

P.S. - Put the following book on your TBR pile. It comes out in May and looks fabulous.
Water is Water, written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Shadorma

Welcome to 2015 and the first poetry stretch of the new year!

The shadorma is a sestet (six lines) written in syllabic form. The syllable count is 3/5/3/3/7/5. Not much is known about the origin of this form, but you can learn more about it at Wikipedia.

That's it! Easy-peasy, right? I hope you'll join me this week in writing a shadorma. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Ringing in the New Year with Poetry Friday

I'm pleased to host the first Poetry Friday round-up of the new year, but even more excited to share some work the Poetry Seven have been working on.

Last year for my birthday in late August I suggested that writing poems together would be an amazing gift. Kelly Fineman picked up on that, Liz Garton Scanlon made some suggestions, and we were off writing triolets on the topic of beginnings and endings. Our goal was to share with each other some time in October. During that time my life was in a bit of an upheaval and I was dealing with the approaching death of a beloved colleague. The poems that came out of that time were all dark and depressing. I lost my friend and mentor just 43 days after he was diagnosed with cancer. He'd probably be mortified that I was writing about him, but the poems helped me get through those days. Here are the first and current drafts of my triolet.
First Draft (untitled) 
I dreamt of you last night
Knowing nothing ever stays
Past wrongs not yet made right
I dreamt of you last night
Saw you loosed and taking flight
Slipping towards the end of days
I dreamt of you last night
Knowing nothing ever stays
37th Draft ... or something ridiculous like that. After all, "A poem is never finished; it is only abandoned." (A paraphrase of Paul Valéry by W. H. Auden)
Letting Go 
I dream of you each night
knowing nothing ever stays
glimpse that smile despite your plight
I dream of you each night
watch you loosed and taking flight
slipping towards the end of days 
I dream of you each night
knowing nothing ever stays 
Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below.

I am happy to be free of 2014 and ready to embrace 2015 and all it will bring. I hope you'll help me ring in the new year by celebrating all the amazing poetry folks are sharing this week. I'm and old-school style host, so please leave a note with a link to your offering in the comments. Happy new year and happy poetry Friday all!

As the hostess today I'm taking the liberty of sharing this one. A Year of Reading celebrated its 9th birthday yesterday with a look back at their nine most popular posts. Congratulations to Mary Lee and Franki! We hope you'll be with us for another nine years.

The Cybils
Linda Baie of Teacher Dance shares a bit about the Cybils finalists in poetry and also shares a poem by Michael Chitwood entitled Accomplishments.

Sylvia Vardell of Poetry for Children shares the book blurbs for the Cybils shortlist and reminds us of all the terrific books nominated in the 2014 poetry category.

Margaret Simon, a round one judge, also shares the Cybils finalists for poetry.

Jone MacCulloch of Check It Out, our fearless leader in the round one judging for Cybils poetry, also shares the Cybils poetry shortlist.

Original Poetry 
Robyn Hood Black of Life on the Deckle Edge shares an original haiku for the new year.

Sally Murphy also shares an original poem for the new year.

Greg Pincus of GottaBook started my morning with a laugh with his poem My New Year's Resolutions Are Making Me Loopy.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater shares her wish poem entitled A Box of Snow.

Matt Forrest Esenwine shares an original poem entitled Night Light.

Diane Mayr of Random Noodling has been participating in an annual New Year's haiku postcard exchange, called a Nengajo, for quite some time. She shares this year's postcard with us.

Mary Lee Hahn of A Year of Reading shares her one little word for 2015 and a poem entitled Expectantly.

Donna Smith of Mainely Write shares a poem inspired by her dog, Gingersnap. (What a great name for a dog!)

Jan Godown Annino of Book Seed Studio shares an original poem inspired by a marsh visit. She's also sharing an excerpt of the poem Purple by Alexis Rotella.

Carlie of Twinkling along shares her poem entitled The First Month.

Ramona of Pleasures from the Page shares her OLW for 2015 and her poem entitled Moving On.

Poetry of Others
Julie Larios of The Drift Record shares the poem Apples by Laurie Lee.

Catherine of Reading to the Core shares the poem I Dwell in Possibility by Emily Dickinson.

Michelle Haseltine of One Grateful Teacher joins us for the first time (welcome Michelle!) and shares a little gem by Emily Dickinson.

Myra Garces Bascal of Gathering Books shares a bit of T.S. Eliot.

Doraine Bennett of Dori Reads shares an excerpt from The Prelude by William Wordsworth.

Irene Latham of Live Your Poem shares her word for the year (wild) and some poetry on that theme. Included are poems by Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry.

Tabatha Yeatts of The Opposite of Indifference shares the poem Ode to the Hotel Near the Children's Hospital by Kevin Young.

Diane Mayr of Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet shares the poem Acceptance by Robert Frost.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes of Today's Little Ditty shares the poem Sea Glass by Donna JT Smith.

Keri of Keri Recommends shares a poem from the winter poetry swap entitled Winter's Cooking by Linda Baie.

Carol of Carol's Corner shares the poem by Walkers With the Dawn by Langston Hughes.

Tara Smith of A Teaching Life shares the poem To the New Year by W.S. Merwin.

Karen Edmisten shares an excerpt from the poem Journey of the Magi by T.S. Eliot.

Ruth of There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town shares her OLW for 2015 and the poem God Knows by Minnie Louise Haskins.

Little Willow of Bildungsroman shares the poem Entrance by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Colette Bennett of 100 Words a Day shares thoughts on loss and the poem One Art by Elizabeth Bishop.

Kim Doele of Flukeprints shares some thoughts on writing poetry for children.

Heidi Mordhorst of my juicy little universe shares how she selected her one word for the year.

Carol Varsalona of Beyond Literacy Link shares a link to the Finding Fall gallery of poems and images and invites readers to participate in the 5th gallery of artistic expressions, to be titled Winter Whisperings. You'll also find an original poem here!