If you give a writer a partner: small moments from Kindergarten #SOL21

Today was a big partner day in my Kindergarten classroom. We’ve worked with partners for various activities from day one, but today was different. Today was the day my young writers worked with a writing partner for the first time.

I wasn’t entirely certain how it would go. Partnerships don’t come easy. They take work. They take practice. They take trust. And that’s for adults! In Kindergarten, friends don’t always make the best work partners (adults, too?), but a less familiar classmate can be a risky proposition. All we could do was try.

So with much trepidation we dove in head first.

And guess what? To my amazement, it was a huge success! Well, first-go-at-it success, but yeah!

The room began to buzz with quiet chatter. “You forgot a period here, I think,” and “Tell me more about this picture,” began to fill the air. Nobody cried, nobody was frustrated.

And, the sign of true success? When our official Writing Workshop ended, and it was time for a bit of choice time at the end of the day, several teams asked if they could keep working.

I’m putting one in the “Win” column.

Thanks for wondering and wandering a bit with me today. And many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here every Tuesday throughout the year and daily during the month of March.

Wait! This is really important: small moments from Kindergarten #SOL21

“Wait! This is really important!”

In hushed tones I let him know we needed to transition from Reading Workshop to snack and recess. The window is short. The struggle is real. We’re five.

“No! This is so important! It can’t wait!”

“Go ahead. I can tell it is.”

“Everyone! Today I read for the very first time ALL BY MYSELF!” The room erupted with cheers.

“And how did that feel?”

“Amazing!” Knuckle bumps ensued.

“What book was it, buddy?”

“Knuffle Bunny!”

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Thanks for wondering and wandering a bit with me today. And many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here every Tuesday throughout the year and daily during the month of March.

Forgiveness #SOL21

Two months? How can it be two months?

Indeed it has been two months since my last Slice. I guess you could say I took the summer off. Well, took the summer off from Slicing, that is. It was anything but a restful summer here. It’s all in my notebook.

But I’m back and ready to get started. School has begun, new schedules and routines are in play, but they’ll settle down. As will I, with my notebook and pen alongside my writing community.

It’s good to be back.

Thanks for wondering and wandering a bit with me today. And many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here every Tuesday throughout the year and daily during the month of March.

Community Poem Part 2 #PoetryFriday

Welcome to Poetry Friday! I am delighted to play hostess for this week’s roundup, which comes to you live from Peaks Island in Casco Bay, Maine. We’ve been having the most exquisite sunsets, thanks in part to some beastly hot weather. Tonight’s, our last, is the grand finale! Wow, just wow!

All are welcome here at Poetry Friday — to read, to share, to comment.

In last week’s post, I shared the lovely Poetry Is community poem participants in my “Playing with Poetry” workshop in July contributed to. And guess what? I shared an invitation to add to our work and our poem has grown exponentially with poetry wisdom from some of you. Now it is a lovely patchwork of thoughts, ideas, and feelings about what poetry is to all of us. Thank you to those who joined us!

Poetry Is

Is it possible for poetry to be memory and discovery?
Come reader, I’ll take you to the sunspots that my mind is afraid of.
We’ll arrive at surprise itself and the journey will be worth it.

Poetry is the music of a whisper,
the shimmer of sun on a stream.

Poetry is our very best words
squeezed into tight spaces.
This is what causes the essential sparks.

Poetry is a particular pleasure,
a welcome word,
a heart sigh.

Poetry is indifferent to time or season,
and mostly requires the quiet.

Poetry is a doorway
a path, a conduit
to reading and writing.

Poetry is the releasing
of emotions, thoughts, hopes, and dreams
into the world.

Poetry is a sun note
opening day across a painted skyway,
a brushstroke of words illuminating a thought.

Poetry is playing with words,
our best friends,
in the sandbox.

Poetry is reaching into the depths–
an excavator of emotions
with gentle hands,
freeing anguish one time,
joy another.

Poetry is goose-bumpy wonder,
heart-piercing pain,
and shelter for seeker’s of solace.

Poetry is soul-feeding moments
of clarity, observation, memory,
reminders, connections, joy and more.

Poetry is music without a tune,
though when you know poems by heart
you can feel the symphony in your own body
when you recite, even silently to yourself.

Poetry is medicine
that heals and comforts,
cures loneliness, and brings friends.

Poetry is an unexpected delight,
like the first chocolatey bite
of an icy fudgsicle.

Even if you never meet the poet in person,
you feel a connection that makes you kin.

Their words linger longer.

Without poetry, what would we do?
It is as much a part of us as our fingers
and toes
and every cell of our being.

It is the air we need to live.

Poetry is a link to the past, a promise for the future,
a moment shared or stolen,
for those who pause to listen, to hear.

What exquisite thoughts from everyone! Many thanks to Michelle, Janet, Jone, Denise, Janice, Linda, Carol, and Alan for joining teacher poets Cherylann, Heather, Jonathan, Juliette, Kathy, and Marilyn. (Do let me know if I missed anyone!)

Thank you for joining us this lovely Poetry Friday. Click the link to join the roundup! And don’t miss Matt Forrest Esenwine’s post here. InLinkz is misbehaving for him!

Community Part 1 #PoetryFriday

During the month of July, my Teach Write “Playing with Poetry” workshop participants and I gathered virtually on Wednesday afternoons. We chatted, laughed, shared hopes and dreams for the school year ahead, shed a few tears, and built a lovely little community. Oh, and we read and wrote poetry, too! As personal and solitary as poetry can feel at times, it can also bring individuals together joyfully. Truth be told, we lingered an extra week, because we didn’t want it to end. One participant even suggested we get together from time to time for a mini reunion of sorts. That’s community to me.

To end our official time together, participant Heather Morris suggested we share a few thoughts on what poetry means to us for a community poem. Not a week went by when Kwame Alexander’s community poem collaboration with NPR didn’t come up in our conversation. (Google “NPR Community Poem” if you are unfamiliar with this wonderful, inspiring partnership.) What a wonderful way to celebrate!

Just like a potluck supper when every dish serendipitously goes with its neighbor on the table, the lines we contributed fell into place with a bit of community poetry midwifery. Several rose to the top, beckoning to serve as an introduction, while others found their way to the end, serving as our delicious dessert. It’s still a work in progress, as we await another dish or two.

Poetry Is (draft)

Is it possible for poetry to be memory and discovery?
Come reader, I’ll take you to the sunspots that my mind is afraid of.
We’ll arrive at surprise itself and the journey will be worth it.

Poetry is a particular pleasure,
a welcome word,
a heart sigh.

Poetry is a link to the past, a promise for the future,
a moment shared or stolen,
for those who pause to listen, to hear.

Poetry is a doorway
a path, a conduit
to reading and writing

Poetry is the releasing
of emotions, thoughts, hopes, and dreams
into the world.

Poetry is playing with words,
our best friends,
in the sandbox.

Poetry is an unexpected delight,
like the first chocolatey bite
of an icy fudgsicle.

Many thanks to teacher poets Beverly, Cherylann, Heather, Jonathan, Juliette, Kathy, and Marilyn for playing in the poetry sandbox with me this summer.

AN INVITATION!

And now, dear Poetry Friday community, I’d like to invite you to contribute your own poetic salad, side dish, or dessert to extend our Poetry Is community poem. I am hosting the roundup next week and would love to see what poetry means to you. If you wish to participate, please send your line or lines to me at wymanc@weston.org putting Community Poem in the subject field. By Wednesday would be terrific. All are welcome!

Many thanks to this week’s hostess, Mary Lee. You can find her roundup on her blog, A(nother) Year of Reading. I hope you will join us for reading, writing, commenting, and celebrating Poetry Friday!

No reply at all #PoetryFriday

This week, my Teach Write “Playing with Poetry” workshop participants are hearing voices. Figuratively speaking, that is! We are playing around with voices and perspective, including, but not limited to, writing to someone or something or as someone or something.

While preparing for this week’s time together, I reviewed my own body of work and discovered I have written more poems of address (or apostrophe poems) than I realized.

to a willow catkin
to our class wood frog babies
simultaneously to my writing notebook and Henry David Thoreau

No reply at all,” to quote the lyrics to one of my favorite Genesis songs.

My mystery bird of course hasn’t shown up since the Cornell Lab of Ornithology added “Sound ID” to their already amazing Merlin app earlier this summer. It figures, right?

Isn’t it interesting how we are drawn to certain forms and subject matter more than others? Who or what do you write about or to? Which poetic forms are in your comfort zone? And what about audience? In this week’s session we had a great conversation about who we tend to write poetry for — kids or adults — and what makes a poem a “kid’s” poem or and adult poem.

Many thanks to this week’s hostess, Rebecca Herzog, for hosting this week. You can find her roundup on her blog, Sloth Reads. I hope you will join us for reading, writing, commenting, and celebrating Poetry Friday!

Changeover Delayed #PoetryFriday

My “Playing with Poetry” workshop participants are playing around with ekphrastic poetry this week. We shared images with one another for inspiration — paintings, photographs, wood block prints, etc… Some of you here know me well enough to know that I leapt (bad pun intended) at the chance to write to the vernal pool photograph taken and shared by participant Marilyn Miner.

Pondering where to go with it, several influences came into play. The first was that we have had record amounts of rain here in New England this summer, giving vernal pools a much longer active season that usual. The second was that I’ve been reading Natalie Goldberg’s Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku. I love knowing that the haiku masters often ignored what we now consider the standard 5/7/5 format and were pithy and humorous. And lastly, we will soon begin a week in a vacation rental, which has me pondering the busyness of changeover day process.

Many thanks to this week’s hostess, Molly, for hosting this week and keeping the glass half full in regards to the progression of summer. (Anyone else live with someone who proclaims “Summer’s over!” each and every Fourth of July? Honestly!) Add porch rocker to the list for me, Molly! That’s where you’ll find me morning, noon, and night, reading, dozing, writing, and listening to my “every day birds” and the Assabet River rolling by. You can find Molly’s roundup on her blog, Nix the Comfort Zone. Thanks for hosting, Molly.

Summer Dreams #PoetryFriday

Summer break, all 72 days of it, goes by in the blink of an eye. Every year, within days of school finishing up, I try to make a list of all I wish to accomplish. The list is usually made up of a combination of chores and tasks as well as fun to-dos. This year I’m adding some of each to my Summer Bingo card, inspired by my notebooking buddy, Michelle Haseltine.

I used the squares on my personal Summer Bingo card to inspire this list poem, a form teacher-writer participants in my “Playing with Poetry” workshop for Teach Write dabbled with this week. Some of our lists were of a powerful and serious nature, while others were more light-hearted and playful. This time around, mine fell into the latter category.

Summer Dreams

Picnics packed

Hikes taken

Blueberries picked 

Kayaks paddled

Life List birds found

Garden beds planted

Junk purged

Ice cream flavors tried

Books read

Poems written

Friends visited

Family aided

Whoosh!

Summer’s gone

— Christie Wyman, 2021 (draft)

Many thanks to this week’s hostess, Margaret, for inviting us to join her on the banks of her beloved bayou for this Poetry Friday. You can find the roundup on her brilliant blog, Reflections on the Teche Thanks for hosting, Margaret, and congratulations to all teacher-poet participants who contributed to Bridge the Distance. I’m looking forward to reading your work when my copy arrives.

Miracle on the Shelf #SOL21

A miracle sat on a shelf

waiting

for the right moment

waiting

for the right soul

to walk through the door

confused

sad

angry

fearful

and (re)claim

her joy

her dignity

her life.

Thanks for wondering and wandering a bit with me today. And many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here every Tuesday throughout the year and daily during the month of March.

Chasing my tail #SOL21

It takes me a good week or so to settle into a teacher summer routine. You’re never really done on the last day are you? At least I never am. (If you are, I’d rather not know about that!) There are always loose ends to tie up in the classroom, PD for a day or two, and shifts to the general rhythm of the days and weeks to come.

But still, there I am on the first day off, wide awake at 5:00 AM. And then it hits me. I don’t have to have a “Manic Monday!” Phew! I can take my time and ease into the day.

Then I get excited! Which books will I read? Which new hikes will we try? Which plants shall I choose to finally finish off that garden bed? 72 days are waiting for something or nothing. Until then, I chase my tail. But at day 11, I’m beginning to slow down. Have you?

Thanks for wondering and wandering a bit with me today. And many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here every Tuesday throughout the year and daily during the month of March.