May 29, 2015

Poetry Friday: A Carolina Goose Haiku

Thanks to Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

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Last week, as I walked along the trail at Riverwalk (a river-front park on the Catawba River), I was struck by how many geese I saw. They were scattered on the rocks alongside the turtles that dominate that portion of the river, squawking away. When I visited a friend’s lakefront house a few evenings later, I saw a sweet family of geese scooting across the twilight-blue surface. I commented that they must be ready to head back “up north” soon, but my friend said that these geese live on the lake year round. 

Curious, I did some research and discovered that, despite my belief that all geese fly south for the winter and north for the summer, there are actually large populations that reside in the Carolinas year round. According to the SC Department of Natural Resources, “South Carolina is home to three distinct populations of Canada geese at various times of the year. Two groups of migratory geese are found in South Carolina only during the fall and winter in addition to resident geese which remain in the state year-round.” Which explains why I see geese around here all year long, both out in the country and hanging out at local ponds, parks, and parking lots. (Click here to read more.)
Image courtesy of

Inspired by my goose-related thoughts, I decided to write a haiku to share for Poetry Friday this week. Haiku is one of my favorite poetic forms because it takes an up-close, focused snapshot of its subject, and is most often about nature, which I happen to love. (To read more about haiku poetry, click here.) Here is my Carolina goose haiku: 
With spread wings, geese launch,
Swoop low, then take flight into    
Carolina blue.

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Writing!

May 22, 2015

Pointing the way to the Poetry Friday Roundup

Due to LOTS of end-of-the-school-year craziness this week, I do not have an official Poetry Friday post today, but I wanted to say thank you to Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme for hosting the roundup this week!

Head on over to Matt's to check out all of the fabulous links he's sharing today, and to hear his exciting good news. Happy Writing, and have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

May 14, 2015

POETRY FRIDAY: Kindergarten Poetry Fun

Thanks to Diane at Random Noodling for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

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On two days last week, I had the pleasure of talking about poetry with a class of kindergarteners at a local elementary school. On the first day we talked all about poetry, including different types of poems and different characteristics of poems—rhyming vs. non-rhyming, silly vs. serious, fiction vs. non-fiction, etc. Then we read LOTS of different types of poetry from books I’d brought with me to the classroom. It was especially fun to read several poems from the The Poetry Friday Anthology (one of my favorite poetry resources) aloud to the kids!  

Towards the end of our first session, I announced that we were going to write a class poem together. First, several kids suggested topics to write about and then they voted and decided that our poem would be about a butterfly. Next, the class voted on whether they wanted to write a rhyming or a non-rhyming poem, and rhyming won. Then they voted on whether to write a silly poem or a serious poem. Silly won the vote, but by a surprisingly slim margin. Finally, with our main points ironed out and about 15 minutes left on the clock, we started writing.

My main goal was to lead kids through a real-life poetry writing session and to model that there is no “right” way to write a poem, so we began by brainstorming aloud. Then together we came up with a great first line and I wrote everything down on a large sheet of chart paper. A little farther into our writing time, the kids decided that they wanted our poem to have a surprise ending, so I went back and scribbled through the first line and we came up with another. As we crafted our poem, I scribbled and crossed things out, and our words evolved into a funny, creative, messy, beautiful poem. I explained to the kids that this is the way writing often goes, and that it is perfectly fine to write a “sloppy copy” and then edit your work before you present your finished product. So when we were through writing and editing the poem together, the kids headed out to the playground and I copied the finished poem onto a clean sheet of chart paper. When they came back in from the playground, their cleaned-up poem was waiting for them!    

Tickle Surprise
by Mrs. Mayhew and Mrs. Dixon’s kindergarten class

I felt a tickle on my head
But had no clue what was there,
Until my best friend stopped and said,
“There’s a big BUG in your hair!”

  I screamed and yelled and jumped and shook,
And waved my hands up in the sky.
Then my best friend said, “Oh, look!
It’s just a pretty butterfly!”
The next day I came back into the classroom and read some more fun poems to the kids, and then we talked about acrostic poetry, which I’d introduced during our general poetry lesson the day before. Following this discussion, the kids each wrote an acrostic poem about their moms, most using “mom” or “mommy” as their focus word. Later on, the teachers helped the kids add handprints and frame the final products, and then each child took home a special gift to his or her mom for Mother’s Day. I was thrilled with how these precious poems turned out!

I LOVE talking to kids about poetry, and had such a wonderful time with these sweet, brilliant children. One of my favorite things in life is seeing children light up when being read a great poem or book, and reading poems and stories that kids have excitedly labored over. I’ve talked with lots of older elementary students about poetry and writing over the past several years, but this was entirely different and definitely just as fun. One of my favorite moments was when two little girls came and shared with me a poem they’d just composed together—on the playground!  
Awhile back I shared another poetry-writing-with-kids experience, and you can read more about that here if you are interested. Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend, and Happy Writing!
Thank you to Mrs. Mayhew, Mrs. Dixon, and their amazing kindergarten class 
at Sugar Creek Elementary School for all the fun!  

May 12, 2015

Jumping the Ramp

Before I “jump” into my post today (you’ll get that little joke later on ☺), I’d like to take a moment to say THANK YOU to two of my sweet writer friends. First of all, I was thrilled to find out that I am the lucky recipient of Tabatha Yeatts’ St. George’s Reward for 2015! St. George's Day was celebrated in Geoffrey Chaucer's time as a day to reward people who worked at artistic endeavors, and Tabatha had the lovely idea to select one of her blog readers to be the recipient of her own "St. George's Reward" each month for the rest of 2015 (you can read more about this on Tabatha's blog here). Thank you so much, Tabatha! Also, I want to send a special cyber hug to my friend and “blog Yoda” Joan Edwards for nominating me for a Liebster Blog Award. I had great fun with this award in 2013 (you can read about this here), but I wanted to send Joan a big “thank you” for her ongoing support of my blog. I am so very lucky to have you in my corner, Joan!
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Over the past few weeks, the little boys on my street have been perfecting their daredevil bike tricks—it is amazing what kids can do with a bicycle, a wooden ramp, and a whole lot of energy! 
Before I set off this evening for a twilight bike ride, I stopped in our cul-de-sac to adjust my seat. One of the boys, who was lapping around for another go at the ramp, rode by and eagerly inquired, “Are you going to jump the ramp?”
“No,” I answered, smiling. “I’m not quite brave enough to try it. I’ll leave that to you guys!” (I probably should have said “crazy” instead of  “brave,” since I saw firsthand how a big bike handled the ramp when one of my 12-year-olds tackled it a few days ago—very differently from the little kid bikes!) Then I set off on my ride, contemplating our little exchange.  
I have jumped lots of figurative “ramps” in my life. The majority of those have not been easy or comfortable, but they have been rewarding and worth the effort involved. Moving to a new state (which my husband and I have done three times since we were married), embarking on my adventures in teaching, leaving teaching to become a stay-at-home mom to twins—each of these were jumping off points and hurtled me through life until I landed somehow on my feet, taking a running leap into a brand new phase of life. 
I’ve jumped some “ramps” in my writing life, as well; joining writers’ communities in Texas and South Carolina, signing with (and losing) an agent, querying publishers and agents, starting a blog, diving into the sea that is Twitter, writing stories and poems and books, and simply putting myself “out there” have all been leaps that propelled me forward and continue to be integral in motivating, challenging, and encouraging me to keep working toward my goals, despite the obstacles that (often!) pop up along the way. And I know this will continue as long as I keep on riding down this road. But that is all part of the adventure, right? ☺
What are the “ramps” you’ve jumped or are jumping in your writing career? If you have any great advice on handling writerly hurtles, please share in the comments below. Have a great week, and Happy Writing!

OK, so this has nothing whatsoever to do with writing, but I couldn't resist sharing this pic of the baby bunny I found hanging out in my front yard when I finished my bike ride tonight. Luckily, he hasn't found the garden in the back yard (yet)!