Poetry Friday: A Surfeit of Poems, Clunkers, and Manavelins

This week I wrote a lot of poems; I was not a student of meter. In fact, what’s meter? I was just cranking out poems. So, Linda, I’m sure I have lots of bad lines for the clunker exchange. Linda Mitchell is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today, and she has lots of “clunker” lines to exchange. Go on over and visit to join in the fun.

It was time for the June Open Write at Ethical ELA. That was fun! I have five days worth of poems from this lovely community of teacher-poets. Days One, Two, Three, Four and Five, if you are interested. Next Open Write will be July 17-21. You are welcome to join us.

There was also Margaret’s “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem,” where I pulled a couple of clunkers for Linda.

I was on the committee to create a keepsake book for our principal and his family who are leaving next week to go back to the United States. I wrote one for each of the family members. These are the pages from the book that I wrote, after I removed the photographs of family, students, and staff, for the sake of privacy.

Perhaps all my reckless poetry writing this week is getting me ready for The Poetry Marathon coming up on Saturday. Are you participating? Here is a link to my page on the Poetry Marathon site and a link to my follow-up blog post.

I did spend some time thinking about Poetry Friday before I got so busy this week. I wrote a definito poem created by Heidi Mordhorst. In Heidi’s words, a definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. Quite a fun way to learn and write about new vocabulary words. You can read lots of great examples here on her definito post.

This isn’t the first definito I’ve written. I tried a definito a few weeks ago at Margaret Simon’s blog when her post was about Rigmarole. Remember? In the comments, she asked us to try one with the word poignant. I tried, but I wasn’t happy with it and as soon as I submitted, I knew I hadn’t defined poignant. I’m trying again today on a brand-new-to-me word: Manavelins, which was one of Dictionary.com’s words of the day last week.

Merriam-Webster defines “manavelins– odds and ends of food LEFTOVERS


When your family’s had a busy week
and dinner plans look bleak, just bits and
smidges of food left in dishes in the fridge–
tofu tetrazzini, a few pieces of beet,
a tub of butter, stale bread of sprouted wheat
a bowl of Gramma’s pasta, some sticky, gooey treats,
a few peaches and some plums, so cold and sweet,
four hard boiled eggs, and just a shred of meat…
then dinner becomes a rehash of this mishmash.
All those leftovers for dinner are manavelins.

And finally, here is one more poem I wrote to read at a 5C class poetry slam, the only grade 5 class I continued to co-teach throughout the school year. I taped it up near my camera, and everyone thought I had memorized it. I’m developing some bad habits with Zoom! (Or at least habits I’ll miss after this Zoom chapter.)

5 C Poetry Slam Poem by Mrs. Denise


Have you ever used the word manavelins?
Do you think I captured it in my definito of manavelins?

Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise is the host of Poetry Friday today.


26 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: A Surfeit of Poems, Clunkers, and Manavelins

  1. Ha! My family creates and sometimes lives on manavelins! I did not know that word. But, I am quite familiar with the idea. Definitos are fun and challenging. I think I’m going to sit down and write one on a specific word….and end up writing one for a completely different word. I laugh at how sometimes words can boss me around!

    1. Linda, are you up early before your adventure begins? Have a great weekend! I love that last line, “I laugh at how sometimes words can boss me around.” So very true, my friend.

  2. No, I have never used (or heard of) the word, “manavelins”, but now I will remember, Denise! Yes, your mention of ‘a few pieces of beet’ and “just a shred of meat’, and on, made me smile. Writing from our refrigerator’s tastes makes the definition perfect. Hope you find your way to more! Also, what a lot, a lot of poetry you wrote this week. Congratulations!

  3. Denise, congratulations on the amount of poetry you have produced this week. I am touched by your fond goodby to a cherished family. The poems gave me insight into their lives and how you viewed each one. I am sure that they will always remember your kindness in creating these poems. I also visited your marathon poetry site. Good luck with that venture. Thanks also for the new word, manavelins. Your poem provided a sneak peek at what food your family enjoys. I am sure that leftovers are different in each household but it would be fun for a group to create their own poem about what lurks in their fridge.

    1. That would be a great adventure to have a group prompt about what is our refrigerators! It reminds me of a guessing game NY Times did in the fall of 2020 about refrigerator contents:

  4. Wow, you have really been a poetry whirlwind! I had never heard “manavelin” before, but it is a fun, useful word.

  5. Denise, thank you for broadening my vocabulary today. What a special gift for your Principal and family… and three cheers for reckless poetry! Keep going!!

  6. Thanks for the new word and the fun poem to remember it by, Denise!

  7. Seems you’ve been on a poetry marathon for a week or so now. Wow! I have never heard of manavelins. Don’t even know how to pronounce it. I love all the specific things you put in your poem. Did you actually look in your fridge and make a list? You are such a great example of living the poet’s life!

    1. Margaret,
      I started with my fridge, and then wanted to add some rhymes, so my actual manavelins were a bit different than those in the final poem. Thank you for your kind comment. I love “living the poet’s life.”

  8. I like your MANAVELINS poem, sounds like a good collection of
    “bits and smidges” for your meal, and it has a nice rhythm.

    “Adapting to unknowing” I like this treasure and the rest of your poem also.
    what a cornucopia-filled poetry week you had, thanks for all Denise!

  9. As an avowed logophile, I want to thank you Denise for the introduction to the word manavelins. It has so much more inherent beauty than leftovers.
    Sunday night is always a night for manavelins in our house. I enjoyed your poem. I like the idea of ‘definito poems.’ I shall indulge this little provocation in the coming week in my notebook to see what is revealed…

  10. I love your poetry slam poem! I’ve had 8 of those names in my classroom over the years!

    I’m in awe that you are setting up to write a poem an hour for the next TWENTY FOUR HOURS!!!! Yikes! At some point you’ll need to write short and sleep fast!

    I went to the dictionary to learn the etymology of manavelins, and was amused to learn that besides leftover food, it also means “miscellaneous pieces of gear and material; odds and ends.” I live a very manavelin sort of life! Thanks for a new word and a great definito!

    1. Thank you, Mary Lee. I did manage to do it, some shortly-written poems, to be sure! Thanks for sharing. I love that about a manavelin life~ I’m having a manavelin type of summer with a list of odds and ends I’m working on! Have a great one.

  11. Wow! Just, wow. The goodbye poems you wrote for everyone in your principal’s family will sure be treasured. And manalevins–I learned a new word! Love your poem for your students, too. Our younger daughter lives in Cyprus and works with refugees. She’s learning Arabic–such a challenging language!

    1. Yes, indeed, a challenging language. I have learned only a smattering over our eight years here. I am always so impressed with the students who learn in both languages. Thanks so much for your visit.

  12. You definitely captured the mishmash that is manavelin. And I have a new word! I’d love to try a definito, too. That’s right up my alley.

    Thanks for the smiles this morning, Denise!

  13. I love that you wrote goodbye poems! I’m sure they will be treasured by the recipients! I am a big fan of individualized poems for people.

    1. We created a 100-page book for the family. It is at the printers right now, and should be delivered by a board member tomorrow on his last day of school for this year. I know it will be a treasure. It was so fun to get to work on it for them. Thanks!

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