Friday, November 26, 2021

Poetry Sisters Write Odes to Autumn

This month's challenge was to write an ode to autumn. Fall is my favorite season, but I had a hard time thinking of topics, especially since the early directive was "not nature." If you can't write about nature, what DO you write about fall?

I did a little brainstorming and listed the things I love about this season and the events that mark it. I started to think about Thanksgiving and holiday rituals and before I knew it I was writing about a family recipe that only ever sees the light of day in fall. So, I may not have followed the rules precisely, but I do have a draft of a poem.

Ode to a Thanksgiving Recipe

The paper is well-worn
yellowed with age and
stained with splatters
from years of placing it
near a busy stove

It is sentimentally retrieved
each Thanksgiving
carefully unfolded, pressed flat
it has been taped and re-taped
along the seams
it was even ironed once in
a misguided attempt to
remove wrinkles
the singed edge still
haunts me

Copied in my mother's hand
her penmanship identical to
so many of her generation
I can picture her at the kitchen table
copying it from a women's magazine
on the back of a recycled
school lunch menu

I'll admit it's not
my favorite dish
yet I make it every year
my November love letter
to home, to holidays past
to my mom

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
Would you like to try the next challenge? We're writing about bells. That's it, no specified form, just the subject of bells.  We hope you'll join us. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on December 31st (that's New Year's Eve, so plan ahead) in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems! 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Poetry Sisters Write Wordplay Poems

The challenge this month was to write a wordplay poem. Laura set this challenge based on one offered up by Nikki Grimes in May 2015 at Today's Little Ditty. Here's an excerpt:

When I first began to write poetry at age six, it was the result of wordplay.  So try this wordplay exercise and create your own free verse poem.

When I talk about wordplay, I'm talking about studying a word from top to bottom, and inside out, considering every aspect of the word:  What it looks like, sounds like, feels like.  What it does, how it's used, etc.  The idea is to bring all of your senses into the act.  The poem you create may end up being complex and sophisticated, or very simple.  But whether you're writing a nursery rhyme, or a complex prose poem for adults, wordplay is a valuable skill in the process of creating dynamic, original, poetry, or lyrical prose.

Last year when we wrote hippo poems, I wrote in this form. I really love that poem, so I was a bit intimidated to try this again. It took a while to find a topic I liked, but I'm surprisingly happy with this draft about lemons.

Lemon
Lemon is a sour word
that makes you purse your lips
squinch your face
shiver at its taste

Lemon is a disappointing word
turn the key in a new-to-you
used car as it sputters
and chokes

Lemon is sunny word
recalling hot summer days
money-making schemes
grandma’s depression glass pitcher

Lemon is a scurvy word
eat the wedge
peel and all
daily dose of Vitamin C

Lemon is a chef’s word
brightening every dish 
a zestful ingredient
unheralded secret weapon

I started a second poem on migration. It's not finished yet, but here's what I have so far. I really wanted to include immigrants or refugees, but couldn't find a way to do that. I'm going to keep playing with this one.

Migration
Migration is a traveling word
whether whale or wildebeest
bird or butterfly
life is lived in motion

Migration is a seasonal word
summer, winter, spring, and fall
searching for greener pastures
warmer climes

Migration is a wandering word
upstream, downstream riding currents
north to south and north again
never ending back and forth

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
Would you like to try the next challenge? We're writing an Ode to Autumn. An ode is a lyrical poem, and like the ancient Greeks, modern humans also enjoy marking an occasion with a song. Whether you choose an irregular ode with no set pattern or rhyme, or the ten-line, three-to-five stanza famed by Homer himself, we hope you'll join us in singing in the season of leaf-fall and pie. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on November 26th (the Friday after Thanksgiving, so plan ahead) in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems! 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Linda Baie at Teacher Dance. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Poetry Sisters Write Tanka

This month's challenge was to revisit poems written by other members of the group and write tanka in inspired by or in conversation with those poems.

Tanka is a form of Japanese poetry that has been practiced for more than 1000 years. Tanka is generally defined as a poem composed of 31 syllables in a 5-7-5-7-7 format. Most tanka focus on a single event of some significance.

I started this challenging by visiting the blogs of my sisters and reading through some of their poems. I selected one from each and tried to write to every choice. I promptly got stuck. I did a lot of syllable counting and found I was having trouble making complete thoughts fit on each line, which I felt was necessary. Enjambment doesn't feel right in this form, at least not to me. I did a little bit of reading and found this bit from the article Tanka as Diary by Amelia Fielden to be helpful.
Tanka, meaning ‘short song’, is a 1300 year old Japanese form of lyric poetry. Non-rhyming, it is composed in Japanese in five phrases of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables.

In English, tanka are normally written in five lines, also without (contrived) rhyme, but in a flexible short/long/short/long/long rhythm. Due to dissimilarities between the two languages, it is preferable not to apply the thirty-one syllable standard of the Japanese poems, to tanka in English. Around twenty-one plus/minus syllables in English produces an approximate equivalent of the essentially fragmentary tanka form, and its lightness. To achieve a “perfect twenty-one”, one could write five lines in 3/5/3/5/5 syllables. If the resulting tanka sounds natural, then that’s fine. However, the syllable counting does not need to be so rigid. Though no line should be longer than seven syllables, and one should try to maintain the short/long/short/long/long rhythm, variations such as 2/4/3/5/5 or 4/6/3/6/7 or 3/6/4/5/6 syllable patterns can all make good tanka.
Kelly also did a series of posts about tanka and I found this one, How the parts of tanka relate to one another, also a good reference.

Ultimately, I tried to focus on short/long/short/long/long as opposed to strictly 5/7/5/7/7. I'm not sure I've done justice to the challenge, but I'll let you be the judge. Here are a few of the poems I wrote and the poems that inspired them.

Sara wrote a poem entitled I cannot. Here's the poem it inspired.

If you can boil
water, you can poach an egg
don't dream of omelettes
instead take joy in wheat toast
bathed in a lava-like flow

Andi wrote a poem entitled Living in the Space Between. Here's the poem it inspired about my parents.

from blind date to love
a lifetime together
extraordinary
years of highs, lows, in-betweens
sweet memories, no regrets

Laura wrote a poem entitled First Snow. Here's the poem it inspired. (I borrowed a phrase of hers for this one.)

welcoming winter
sisters make snow angels
freezing together
best yearly tradition
despite our age, nothing's changed

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

That's probably enough for today. I'll share the remaining tanka written to poems by the rest of the gang in the week to come.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
Would you like to try the next challenge? Next month our challenge is a Wordplay Poem, as invented by Nikki Grimes. You can read Nikki’s description at Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ blog in a post entitled Spotlight on Nikki Grimes and DMC Challenge. You've got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with us on October 29th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems! 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by our poetry sister Laura Purdie Salas. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Poetry Friday is Here!

Hello all. I've been away for a while, so I'm happy to be back and hosting this week. I lost my mother on June 30th and am still mourning her. I feel adrift, or perhaps untethered is a better word. I've had a hard time writing, starting many poems but finding myself unable to follow through and finish them. I have, however, been reading and reflecting.

Today I'd like to share a poem by Barbara Crooker. 

Grief
is a river you wade in until you get to the other side.
But I am here, stuck in the middle, water parting
around my ankles, moving downstream
over the flat rocks. I'm not able to lift a foot,
move on. Instead, I'm going to stay here
in the shallows with my sorrow, nurture it
like a cranky baby, rock it in my arms.

Read the poem in its entirety.

*****

I'm rounding things up old school today, so please leave your link in the comments and I'll add you to the post throughout the day. Happy poetry Friday all.

*****

Linda Mitchell of A Word Edgewise shares the poem The Office Building by Helen Hoyt.

Jama Rattigan is back from her summer blog break and is sharing Mary Oliver's dog poems.

Michelle Kogan shares an original poem entitled Winged Harvest-Eating.

Matt Forrest Essenwine shares an original poem about food at the fair.

Jone MacCulloch shares a photo accompanied by an original poem and a reminder

Robyn Hood Black shares an original poem, a poetic excerpt by Shelley, and a 9-11 remembrance.

Linda Baie of Teacher Dance shares a book review and an original poem for 9-11.

At Gathering Books, Myra is sharing the poem A New Language by Casandra Lopez.

Catherine Flynn of Reading to the Core shares the poem The Web by Alison Hawthorne Deming.

Becky Herzog of Sloth Reads shares a number of original poems written for her Poemtember poetry list.

Alan Wright of Poetry Pizzazz is playing with form and shares an original rondelet.

Carol Varsalona of Beyond Literacy Link shares original poems on 9-11.

Kat Apel shares the poem Farewell Town by Fan Yun and an original poem she wrote in Chines. (Don't worry, it's translated!)  

At Unexpected Intersections, Elisabeth Norton shares her poetic thoughts on history and timelines.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm shares an original poem entitled Make a Line.

Ruth of There is no such thing as a God-foresaken town shares Sonnet 73 by Shakespeare.

At Reflections on the Teche, Margaret Simon shares an original poem entitled My Favorite Things.

Janice Scully of Salt City Verse shares information on the Carnegie Library and an original poem entitled If Not For the Library and Books.

Susan Thomsen of Chicken Spaghetti shares information about the book The Best American Poetry 2021, which comes out at the end of September.

Mary Lee Hahn of A(nother) Year of Reading shares an original sonnet entitled Summer's End.

Karen Edmisten shares the poem Ode to Teachers by Pat Mora.

At The Apples in My Orchard, Carol shares an original poem entitled Goldenrod Prairie Walk.

Joann Early Macken shares an original chimney swift haiku and a video she filmed of a bird cloud funneling into a chimney.

Denise Krebs of Dare to Care shares two original poems about faith in dark times.

Heidi Mordhorst of my juicy little universe is sharing an original poem entitled Back to School.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Poetry Sisters Tackle the Zentangle

This month's challenge was to compose a zentangle poem.  Kat Apel does a really nice job describing them on her site. This is similar to blackout poetry, though doodles and lines are used to block and frame the words. 

All of these poems come from pages found in Maugham's Choice of Kipling's Best, published by Doubleday & Company in 1953. I found this at a thrift shop, so even though it sets my teeth on edge to destroy a book, I've committed to using this one for experimenting with this form.

When we met on Sunday I chose a page and wrote all the words that looked promising for a poem, in order, on a large sheet of paper. I underlined words that I thought might work together, and wrote a poem. Then I went back with another color and tried again.

When I felt like I had something, I boxed the words on the page. Sara suggested connecting the words, so I did, hoping for some organic shape to appear.

Here's the poem. 
Evening

smoke and shadow lay long
woods full of scents and sounds
pretty things lark about
sit still
enjoy

Of course, after I boxed them, I realized I didn't like the ending and should have done something different after "lark about," so I abandoned this one.

Before we met, I experimented with a page and a poem, but it's too busy and the words got lost, though I liked where the poem was going.
The hearts and flower are a bit much. Here's the untitled poem.

lovingly connected
without a word
caught in his eyes
hearts beating slowly
hands dropped
spoke
good enough to 
fill the silence

I wish that had been hearts beating quickly, but you can't change the words or the order in a poem like this, so it can be very frustrating. Perhaps this is a good way to generate a first draft of a poem.

The poem I landed on doesn't feel very zentangle-ish, but it's what I've got. Here is the page, some closeups, and the poem.


summer day
simple things
song
grass, sweet smelling
wind, light
friends together

My poetry sisters know that this last week has been hard. I've been struggling with some health issues, but in the midst of it all, my mother fell, had surgery, then suffered a stroke. She declined rapidly and was placed in hospice care on Tuesday. She has not woken since Wednesday. I can't be with her and am heartbroken about it. I'm finding it hard to write poems now, but I did manage this zentangle for her.

For June
I remember lots of things
the sea
dreams
your life
laugh
soul
I have loved you
every minute
mother mine

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
Would you like to try the next challenge? Next month we are writing villanelles on the topic of dichotomy - or, true opposites, if you will. Bifurcations. Incongruities. Paradoxes. Contradictions. We're talking Luke/Darth (or is that a false dichotomy, and they're two sides of the same coin??? Discuss), real/imagined, civilized/savage, winter/summer, function/dysfunction. Interested? Good! You've got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering (or someone else's) with the rest of us on July 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems! (Thanks to Tanita for writing this bit!)

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Poetry Sisters Write Ekphrastic Poems

This month's Poetry Sisters challenge was to write a poem in response to an image. We had a few to choose from, but I decided to write to a photo Sara shared of Spider Dress and Serpent. This dress was designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1946 for Martha Graham dance productions. It was worn by Graham for the performance Cave of the Heart, in which she portrayed Medea who, after being abandoned for another woman by her husband Jason, killed his wife and their children. 

Photo taken by Sara Lewis Holmes at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 

When we met on Zoom almost two weeks ago, I was still thinking about the 4×4 form that I'd seen in an earlier Poetry Friday post. Denise Krebs at Dare to Care invented this form. Here are the rules.
  • 4 syllables in each line
  • 4 lines in each stanza
  • 4 stanzas
  • 4 times repeating a refrain line–line 1 in the first stanza, line 2 in the second stanza, line 3 in the third stanza, and line 4 in the fourth stanza.
  • Bonus: 4 syllables in the title
  • No restrictions on subject, rhyme, or meter.
This felt like a good form to constrain my writing. Given the dress, a restrictive form seemed like the way to go. I wrote several different poems, but this one is my favorite.

Corsetted Heart

inside a cage
I'm tightly bound
can barely move
no breath, no sound

my heart is locked
inside a cage
the pain it feels
time can't assuage

these wounds don't heal
when locked away
inside a cage
a taut ballet

most tender souls
will disengage
when living life
inside a cage

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
Would you like to try the next challenge? Next month we are writing zentangle poems. If you are unfamiliar with this form, check out this post by Kat Apel. Share your poem on June  in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems!

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

Friday, May 21, 2021

Poetry Friday - Celebrating Mary Lee

When I started my blog late in 2006, I quickly found my way to kidlit blogs, Poetry Friday and an amazing community. A Year of Reading, so beautifully written by Mary Lee and Franki, became one of my regular reads. It has evolved over the years, much like this blog has, though Mary Lee and Franki have been more consistent than I. 

I'm grateful for all Mary Lee has taught me over the years about teaching, about poetry, about life. As a teacher educator, I find retirements bittersweet. I know how hard it is to find good teachers, especially those who serve for many years with a passion that is unabated. I also know how hard teaching is and how well-deserved a rest is when it is time to go.

I spent a week trying on different poetic forms and trying to find the words for a fitting tribute. In the end, I went with fishing, because this isn't an end, but a beginning. The poem I wrote is a lai. The Lai is a French syllabic verse form consisting of one or more stanza of nine lines with two rhymes, though the rhyme can vary from stanza to stanza. Here are features of the form.

  • 9 lines.
  • Rhyme scheme is a-a-b-a-a-b-a-a-b.
  • Lines ending with rhyme a are five syllables in length.
  • Lines ending with rhyme b are two syllables in length.
Mary Lee, I wish you many happy hours in a stream, up to your waders in quiet, and sun, and peace.

Fly Fishing
perfect and apart
river steals my heart
each swish
of line, each cast start
a rhythm to chart
a wish
that this quiet art
hook set will impart
a fish

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out the posts honoring Mary Lee today, as well as all the other wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering. Happy poetry Friday friends.