Friday, December 12, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Celebrating Emily Dickinson

Thanks to Paul at these 4 corners for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

* * * * *
Several weeks ago, I read a wonderful blog post by Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup about great gift ideas for poetry lovers. I found much that I coveted, but one item in particular caught my eye—a pendant necklace with the first stanza of one of my favorite poems inscribed upon it—so I ordered it as a gift for myself. (Which is not something I do very often, by the way.☺)

Here is a picture of the necklace, and below is the poem inscribed upon it, written by Emily Dickinson, who was born on December 10, 1830.
You can order this necklace here.
“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers
by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Emily Dickinson is one of my favorite poets of all time, and I’ve loved this poem from the very first time I read it, which was sometime in high school if I remember correctly. “Hope” is so important in our lives as writers, teachers, parents, etc., and the words of Dickinson’s poem remind us to hold on to hope despite the obstacles that arise so often in our paths.
In this crazy, busy, fun, hectic holiday season, HOPE is a necessity and a gift. Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: The Poetry Friday Roundup is here this week!

by Becky Shillington

Once again it's Roundup time,
So wrangle up a bit of rhyme.
Or rope a rhythm ’round the beat,
Then clap your hands and stomp your feet! 
If smart free verse is more your speed,
Let that lively prose stampede.
Just lasso in your favorite style,
Then hang your hat and stay awhile! 

I am so excited to be hosting my first Poetry Friday Roundup this week! I hope you’ll grab your favorite hot drink, settle in, and enjoy all of the wonderful poems and poetry-related fun our writer friends are sharing this week! I’ll be enjoying my favorite writer’s hot toddy today, a (non-alcoholic) ginger tea warmer:
For the quick and easy recipe, click here.

Please comment below and include your name, topic, and website. I will add them to the list throughout the day. I look forward to visiting you all! Have a beautiful Thanksgiving and happy writing!

This Week's Roundup:
To kick off our party this week, Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy is sharing a fun Thanksgiving poem and poetry prompt. Please visit Joy at:

Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge reflects on season of change and the blessings of friendship, and shares a wonderful Thanksgiving poem from an anthology complied by Lee Bennett Hopkins. You can check out her beautiful post at

Iphigene from the Gathering Books blog shares a moving original poem titled "Monsters in the Darkness" at

Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup is showcasing 21 Cool Gifts for Poetry Lovers! Please visit Jama at

Diane at Random Noodling has a fun poem by Robert Francis called "O World of Toms" on her blog:

At Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet, Kurious Kitty shares a wonderful poem from the 1949 anthology My American Heritage: A Collection of Songs, Poems, Speeches, and Other Writings Dear to Our Hearts 

At Today's Little Ditty, Michelle has two special guests, Bridget Magee (who's written a great limerick about a turkey) and Tom the Turkey:

Linda at Teacher Dance has a contemplative poem about a horse that she will be sharing with her class soon:

Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones celebrates National Adoption Day at her blog:

Matt at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme shares his original poem "Steam Train" on his blog:

Carol at Beyond Literacy Link has a monster-inspired poem to share today:

At Charles Waters Poetry, Charles recaps lots of fun literacy- and poetry-related goings on at!POETRY-TIME-BLOG-#18/c23vc/A57E4F53-09AF-4EC8-9420-45B325DBD4CB.

Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference has a poem by Rose Solari to share today:

On her blog today, Liz has an original poem about the cold weather that has been so prevalent this week:

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche shares a poignant poem about the bunk bed her girls shared when they were small:

Amy at The Poem Farm shares her poem "Morning Song" on her blog today:

At Hope is the Word, Amy shares a wonderful review of David Elliot's By the Sea:

Katie at The Logonauts talks about poetry memorization with kids and discusses a poetry anthology entitled "Forget-Me-Nots, Poems to Learn by Heart":

On her blog today, Karen shares a poem by David Kirby about the magic of poetry:

Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town shares "Ode to a Box of Tea," by Pablo Neruda:

Mary Lee at A Year of Reading has a review-ette of J. Patrick Lewis' and Douglas Florian's Poem-Mobiles at

At her blog Check it Out, Jone celebrates fellow Poetry Friday participant Margaret Simon, blogger at Reflections on the Teche and winner of the 2014 NCTE Donald H. Graves Award! Congratulations, Margaret!

At her Bildungsroman blog, Little Willow shares the beautiful lyrics to Brooke Fraser's "Brutal Romance."
Doraine at Dori Reads shares a pumpkin poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, and a resting posture to revive the pre- and post-holiday mind and body!

At On Point, Lorie Ann shares an original haiku titled "Fluttering Past."

And at readertotz, Lorie Ann shares a beautiful bird poem from On the Wing, a poetry collection about birds by David Elliot.   

JoAnn at the Teaching Authors Blog has a Thanksgiving thanku to share today:

Melissa at Here in the Bonny Glen shares a funny story from the Poetry Club she hosts for homeschoolers:

At Pleasures from the Page, Ramona discusses Manger, the new anthology from Lee Bennett Hopkins:

On her Booktalking blog today, Anastasia Suen shares a fun excerpt from Lisa Wheeler and Barry Gott's new book, Dino-Boarding:

Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe posted live from NCTE today about the Newtown Poetry Project, a program that began in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. Please visit Heidi at:

Friday, November 14, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: An Autumn Haiku

Thank you to Keri at Keri Recommends for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

* * * * *
The weather has definitely changed this week! Two days ago, it was almost 80 degrees where I live, so my boys and I set out for an afternoon hike with our dog, knowing that a cold front was coming and that it would likely be our last warm fall afternoon of the year. Well, it turned out that we weren’t the only ones who thought hitting the neighborhood trails was a good idea—the woods were teeming with people enjoying the afternoon, and we met joggers, walkers, dogs, and lots and lots of children playing in the woods. As we walked, we admired the leaves blazing in the sunlight. Most of the colors this week were deep gold and bright yellow, with occasional blazes of red. It was spectacular!

I’m a bit late for the Poetry Friday party this week, but wanted to share a haiku I wrote following our walk. I hope you enjoy it!

Yellow leaves break free,
Drifting, dancing in the breeze;
Autumn’s final fling.

I am so excited to host Poetry Friday on my blog next Friday! Have a wonderful weekend, and happy writing!

Friday, November 7, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Leaves, by Elsie N. Brady

Thanks to Diane at Random Noodling for hosting Poetry Friday today!

* * * * *

Last Friday I had the pleasure of talking with fifth graders about how much FUN reading and writing poetry can be! Since it was Halloween, I read and discussed several poems from one of my favorite poetry collections, Jennifer Cole Judd's and Laura Wynkoop's An Eyeball in My Garden, and then the kids wrote their own spooky poems. I had a blast, and I’m pretty sure the kids did, too! ☺

This week, as November has blown in, I have been caught up in several beautiful leaf showers. On my walks through the woods, red, yellow, and orange leaves have fluttered and swirled around me. And today as I sit and write, I see gold whirling right outside my windows.
Inspired by nature’s annual display of colors, I set out to find a “new to me” poem about leaves to share for Poetry Friday this week. I'm so glad I did, because I found this wonderful piece by Scottish poet Elsie N. Brady:

by Elsie N. Brady
How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow.

I love the way Brady’s poem captures the movement of falling leaves and the mood of autumn. It is especially fitting for cool, blustery days like today!

Enjoy the last few weeks of fall, and happy writing!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Taking Life "Bird by Bird"

October has come and (almost) gone, and I am marveling once again at how fast this month always flies by! It never fails—each October is always busier and more eventful than the previous October, but it continues to take me by surprise every year.

This month I am taking an in-depth online novel writing course, which has been wonderful and challenging and has really made me think through my current WIP. I am also participating in an online book study of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, working on a new set of revisions for two completed manuscripts, and preparing for a school visit this Friday. All of my writing synapses are zapping and snapping, and although my brain is starting to feel a bit fried, it is totally worth it! Add to all of this the sleepover with nine 11- and 12-year-old boys to celebrate my twins' 12th birthday last weekend and our family camping trip past weekend (with the resulting piles of laundry), and my plate is definitely overflowing! Every single one of these things is good, though, and for this I am thankful.

Which brings me back to Bird by Bird. In the midst of all of this “busyness,” Lamott’s whole concept of tackling one thing at a time calms me and reminds me to slow down, breathe, and focus on climbing one step, and then another, and then another. Viewed from this perspective, everything seems much more manageable and I can breathe (and sleep) much easier. I also really appreciated a quote from E. L. Doctorow that Lamott shares in an early chapter of her book: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” This is a wonderful notion, and can be applied to LIFE, as well.

One of the peaceful scenes I enjoyed this past weekend near Brevard, NC.

I hope your October has been just as inspiring and exhilarating as mine! Have a great week, and happy writing!

Friday, October 17, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Guiterman’s Harvest Home and A Climb to the Sky

Visit Michelle at Today's Little Ditty for a spooktacular Poetry Friday Roundup!
* * * * *
For the month of October, I am focusing on poems about fall. Here is a wonderful poem I came across awhile back by American poet Arthur Guiterman. I love Guiterman’s rich descriptions and playful use of verbs!    
Harvest Home
by Arthur Guiterman (1871-1943)
                   The maples flare among the spruces,
                   The bursting foxgrape spills its juices,
                   The gentians lift their sapphire fringes
                   On roadways rich with golden tenges,
                   The waddling woodchucks fill their hampers,
                   The deer mouse runs, the chipmunk scampers,
                   The squirrels scurry, never stopping,
                   For all they hear is apples dropping
                   And walnuts plumping fast and faster;
                   The bee weighs down the purple aster

                   Yes, hive your honey, little hummer,
                   The woods are waving, "Farewell, Summer."

Last weekend I visited friends in the mountains near Brevard, North Carolina. After a lovely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, we stopped near milepost 409.6 and climbed Frying Pan Lookout Tower, an old fire tower built in 1941 and now listed on the National Register of Historic places.
Here is a picture of the tower from way down the trail. 

Although though I am normally not afraid of heights, the prospect of climbing the tower was a bit daunting at first. But I talked myself into it and was rewarded with a stunning view of Cold Mountain and the valley below. The leaves were in the early to mid stages of their colorful fall display, and storm clouds were gathering in the distance. It was spectacular and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

Here is a poem I wrote that was inspired by this experience. I hope you enjoy it!

Climb to the Sky
I climb the tower,
October sky
Just out of my reach.
Miles below
Life is loud,
And often harsh.
But so high up
A keening wind is all I hear;
Trees and mountains sit in peaceful silence.
Sunlight filters through clouds
And rolls over the landscape,
Turning dying leaves into waves of autumn gold.
And I stand,
Gripping iron rails,
A thousand feet above it all.
Here is a picture of Cold Mountain from the ground.
I hope you have a wonderful autumn weekend! Happy Friday, and happy writing!

Friday, October 3, 2014


Thanks to Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup for hosting Poetry Friday today!

* * * * *
I have enjoyed watching the slow transformation of the leaves around my neighborhood this week; the yellows and reds are replacing the (still abundant) green a little more every day. I am looking forward to much cooler weather this weekend, and am especially excited about visiting the NC mountains twice in October. This is definitely my favorite month!
My fall-themed Poetry Friday contribution this week is a lovely poem by Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson titled Autumn Fires. We had a fire in our fire pit last weekend and will likely enjoy another tomorrow night, watching the last of summer's trimmings rise in sparks and ashes. This poem captures this moment of fall perfectly, I think! 
Autumn Fires
by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
Have a beautiful weekend, and Happy Writing!