Poetry Friday – At NCTE

It’s Friday and Irene Latham is hosting Poetry Friday today with thoughts about the last poem.

I’m at NCTE this week, and today, as I wandered the Exhibit Hall feeling overwhelmed with all the busyness and people, I chanced upon this collaborative poetry project called Tend the Flame, sponsored by Traveling Stanzas and the National Writing Project. I love poets and people who love poetry, and there were both hanging around this exhibit. It was a delight to take time out to sit at a picnic table and write and draw–just what I needed for a sensory-overload break.

“Poetry Sparks” was a deck of cards, each with either an adjective, a noun or a verb, along with more specifics and definitions. I randomly chose three cards: moon, echo, and distant. I chose to use them when I wrote my addition to the collaborative poem:

I give my students
a rocket 
and they give me back
the moon
with a distant echo
of where we 

This is the deck of cards that sparked my poetic thinking today. I bought a deck for future use.

Poetry Friday – Poetic Thinking

Today is Poetry Friday and the roundup is over at Karen Edmisten’s clever blog with some autumn love.

I started a new book this week, The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. This is a beautiful epic history of the Great Migration of Black people from the U.S. South to American cities over seven decades in the 20th century.

The title was inspired by the following poetic excerpt from Richard Wright’s  memoir, Black Boy, which documents his life from growing up as a boy in the South to migrating to Chicago as a young man and becoming a writer. It has a history of being banned in the United States for several reasons, the most significant of which is for the historical truth it tells from the perspective of someone who lived life as a black child and man in America:

 So, in leaving, I was taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil, to see if it could grow differently, if it could drink of new and cool rains, bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns, and, perhaps, to bloom . . . And if that miracle ever happened, then I would know that there was yet hope in that southern swamp of despair and violence, that light could emerge even out of the blackest of the southern night. I would know that the South too could overcome its fear, its hate, its cowardice, its heritage of guilt and blood, its burden of anxiety and compulsive cruelty.

Wright, Richard. Black Boy [Seventy-fifth Anniversary Edition]
(pp. 420-421). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

From 1942-1966, Orville Prescott was the chief New York Times book reviewer. After Wright’s autobiography was published in 1945, Prescott wrote: “If enough such books are written, if enough millions of people read them maybe, someday, in the fullness of time, there will be a greater understanding and a more true democracy.”

It’s been 80 years since Prescott’s hope for the fullness of time to come. How many “such books” will be written? How many of those will continue to be banned? When will we “overcome fear, hate and cowardice” as Wright dared to hope?

On a much less significant note, “poetic thinking” was in my poem last week, and it’s in my NCTE presentation next week. I hope to meet you there!

And here is where I’ll be some for some of the other sessions! Do you have any recommendations? Or will you be presenting at any other sessions? I would love to meet you.



F.14 – “Building Networks: Bringing Together Teachers, Researchers, Families, and Communities to Explore, Expand, and Interrogate Writing Instruction” with Sarah Donohue and Margaret Simon and others
H.10 – “Acts of Assemblage: Bringing Art, Science, and History Together in the Storytelling Classroom” with Glenda Funk
I.18 – “Connecting English Language Arts and the Climate Crisis” with Trish Emerson and others

K.19 – “Authors are Real People: Connecting Students to Children’s Book Creators” with Margaret Simon, Sally Donnelly, Mary Lee Hahn, Heidi Mordhorst, Amy Ludwig VanDerWater, Laura Shoven, and Laura Purdie Salas and others.
L.29 – “Relational Poetic Practice: How Poetic Thinking Empowers Teachers to Author Their Own PD” with Sarah Donohue, Mo Daley, Jennifer Guyor Jowett, and me, Denise Krebs
M – 4:00-4:30 – Laura Purdie Salas signing Finding Family



Poetry Friday – Renewal

Today is another day to expect joy and hope.  I’ve just been watching a National Writing Project video interview with Stacey Joy and Gholdy Muhammad. It’s making me feel more hopeful. Peace to all of you this day–Spiritual Journey Thursday and Poetry Friday in one.

Reading these times through eyes of empathy
Engaging in poetic thinking, reading, and writing
Noticing God at work in a broken world
Embarking on a new chapter
Watching my kids and six of their friends drive up yesterday
Anticipating joy
Laughing in the midst of tears


Thank you to Fran Haley for hosting at her beautiful blog Lit Bits and Pieces.

Thank you to Buffy Silverman for hosting today and celebrating early-flying flakes.


Poetry Friday – Beast

Oh, my goodness. Is there any goodness?

With the killing and dying in Israel and Gaza, the House of Representatives in disarray, mass shootings daily and now this horrific one in Maine, and an election-denying radical as the new Speaker of the House.  On the other hand, there was a bit of goodness for today–I submitted three poems to Carol L.’s Nature Poetry Anthology, I took a walk around a mountain, and I cleaned my house.

I couldn’t think of anything else to write about for my Inktober “beast” word today than about who was elected in the House. This is a Golden Shovel poem with a striking line from something he said yesterday. “At the end of the day it’s the problem of the human heart, not the weapons…we have to protect the second amendment.”

October 27 – beast

At the End of the Day,
Mike Johnson, that is B.S. It’s
definitely the
guns that are the problem.
As if people of
other nations don’t have the
same worries of human
mental illness and evil heart
condition. But in the U.S. we cannot
resist using the
we’ve stockpiled. We
must stop. We have
to keep and save humanity, to
lift life and protect.
It is well past time to abolish the
gun-worshiped second

More Inktober poems

Today is Poetry Friday, and I’m late, but I came anyway. Thank you, Carol, for hosting and bringing out the bats! 

Poetry Friday – #WhyIWrite

Today is Poetry Friday and the dancing, nurturing, running Bridget Magee, at Wee Words for Wee Ones, is hosting. (She has a birthday gift for us too.)

Today is also the National Day on Writing, and Day 20 on my Inktober writing small poems in October. Today’s word is frost.

October 20 – frost


As Kafka said, “A book
must be the axe
for the frozen sea
within us.”
A pen then is balm
for the axe wounds
I write to heal
to process
to contemplate
to go deeper
I write to leave
a small mark
I write to thaw
the frost that is left

Tomorrow begins the October Open Write–five days in a row to pick up your healing pen and write poetry witnessed by a nurturing community. Join us at EthicalELA.com


Poetry Friday – #WriteOut

It’s Poetry Friday and thank you to Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core for the lunar goodness she shares and for hosting today.

I’m still writing outside each day this week (so far). The weather is perfect and the beauty is deep, but perhaps it’s the painful conflict in Gaza and Israel that keep me running outside, praying, writing and seeking hope. More info about:  Write Out – Place-Based Learning with the National Writing Project, which continues for 12 more days.

Climbing Abel’s Mountain
makes me feel
powerful and plucky
There’s no path
just rock upon rock and
cactus and dried brush —
thorns jump out to bite my legs
and poke through my boots
I feel that weeks-old
sprained ankle
but I keep going with
twinges of pain
I feel powerful and plucky

It’s a short hike to the top of the
mountain and unlike the bear who
went over the mountain
to see what he could see
and all he could see was
the other side of the mountain–
there is a reward on top
A place to sit
for travelers like me
Joshua’s Perch is here
to rest and ponder the
big sky view wider
than my eyes can hold
Panorama upon panorama
the breeze is more than
a breeze up here
it’s windy and I’m glad
I brought my jacket

I sit and write and pray
and I know poetry
is in this place
in every place
and remember that
the view is always wider
than my eyes can hold
God, I still believe
your eyes can hold it

The mountain from the road in front of our house
Our house from the mountain
Joshua’s Perch
One panorama view

Inktober Poemtober poetry continues here.

Poetry Friday – Fly and Flowers

Today is Poetry Friday, and our host is Matt Forrest Esenwine, who has some beautiful stargazing opportunities for us! 

Fly: An Anthology of Poetry with contributions from Poetry Friday friends Marcie Flinchum Atkins (I learned about it from her here) and Michelle Kogan. (And others too, I believe?) My copy has shipped, they say, but I haven’t seen it yet. I’m looking forward to this book full of monarch beauty!

Look at that amazing wing cover artwork by Jeanette Barroso.

Here’s a Zeno #smallpoem about this art.

October 6 – Golden

Cracks on the sidewalk form backdrop
for golden wing
fit to
butterflies of
black veins
and escape to
fill the

October is a great time for writing #smallpoems. Join me using the Inktober prompts? (Poemtober Week 1 and Week 2)

On another note, after a week in Minneapolis and then home for another week in bed with Covid, I finally got out for a short walk. Since the Hilary storm came through here in August, the growing has been going crazy. We usually just see flowers like these in the spring.

And, for Bridget and Tabatha, my pineapple top and avocado pit plants!

Poetry Friday – A Diminishing Poem of Presence

Today is Poetry Friday and Jama Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup is hosting today. She has a sweet post that includes smiles from Helena Nelson.

Last week I spent the week in Minneapolis and one of our many adventures was to visit an independent bookstore called Paperback Exchange. We had so much fun browsing, and we each chose all the books we wanted. My daughter was recommending titles to us. The store owner was chiming in. I found the poetry section, and the first book I picked up was this Poetry of Presence volume.

Look at that partial list of contributors

The editor Phyllis Cole-Dai writes a poem in the introduction: “On How to Pick and Eat Poems”. Two lines from her poem:

So put a poem upon your lips. Chew its pulp.
Let its juice spill over your tongue.

Read the whole poem at Phyllis’ web page here. Listen to her read it here.

Reading that poem at the store sold me on the book. After we got back to my daughter’s house with all our books, I was sorting through my books, looking for the poetry book. After a few minutes, I found it in my husband’s pile, where it’s been ever since. Yesterday, I came home and he was copying Sifter by Naomi Shihab Nye into his journal. It begins with:

When our English teacher gave
our first writing invitation of the year,
Become a kitchen implement
in 2 descriptive paragraphs,
I did not think
butcher knife or frying pan,
I thought immediately
of soft flour showering through the little holes
of the sifter and the sifter’s pleasing circular
swishing sound, and wrote it down.

Find the rest of the poem on page 30 in Poetry of Presence.

Weeks ago, I made a note that the Poetry Sisters’ challenge was a diminishing poem in September. I’m giving it a rough try, inspired by Nye’s poem. (I have no idea what that last line means, haha! I’m going to have to try that again!)

Be a tender sifter
of time. Just sift
the bad and sit
with the good–it
weighs on we, then I