Mouse-galleries #ThoreaulyInspired #NPM #NaPoWriMo #NationalPoetryMonth #PoetryFriday

Thanks to Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for hosting this week’s Poetry Friday roundup, the first roundup of National Poetry Month! Here’s what’s happening in my neck of the poetry woods today.

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Each day during April, I will write a poem-ish piece inspired by a word or phrase mined from the pages of Henry David Thoreau’s jewel-laden journals. I have left my challenge open so that the poems may take any form — haiku, free verse, borrowed line, blackout –and who knows which direction they will go in.

Day #3: Mouse-galleries

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A peek at my process

On April 2, 1860, Thoreau wrote, “The leaves being thus cleanly burned, you see amid their cinders countless mouse-galleries, where they have run all over the wood, especially in shrub oak land, these lines crossing each other ever foot and at every angle. ” (The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, Journal XIII: December 1, 1859 – July 31, 1860, Chapter V. April, 1860, p. 239)

Mouse-galleries? Now that’s a term new to me. It refers to a mouse’s fair-weather nest that is but a slight depression made in the ground. There was the obvious choice of playing off Thoreau’s image of the shallow shelter. But when conducting an image search, I couldn’t resist going in a more playful direction when I stumbled upon this delightful image from mohair-mouse-artist Charlotte Huttner’s magical website, Mouse Land. You must visit Charlotte’s site and Instagram feed, Charlotte’s Mice.  As Charlotte says, “Just spreading a little happiness.” Charlotte graciously granted me permission to use her image to accompany my words today.

In other news…I am also excited to share that I have joined the Teach Write blogging team and will be writing a Poetry Ponderings blog post for them every month. My first offering, Finding Your Poetry Secret Decoder Ring, is now live. And today my blogging teammate, Paula Bourque, offers up Quick Write Sparks to Kindle the Poet In All of Us  for her first Think & Ink post. I hope you will take a peek!

And now for…

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On Wednesday, members of the Poetry Friday family launched the 8th annual Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem originally organized by author/poet, Irene Latham. Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche is taking over this year as the organizer. Many members of the #PoetryFriday family have signed up to provide a line for the 2020 poem. Jone MacCulloch takes over today, again offering a line choice for the next host. You can find Jone’s line on her blog, Deo Writer. I’m excited to provide the 24th line on Friday, April 24th. I hope you’ll join us to see what happens! Here’s the itinerary for the poem.

1 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
2 Irene Latham at 
Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, 
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff at
7 Catherine Flynn at 
Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at 
Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at 
Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at 
Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at 
Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at 
A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at 
Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at 
Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at 
A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at 
Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at 
My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at
 A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at 
Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at 
Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at 
Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at 
To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth,
24 Christie Wyman at 
Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at 
The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at 
Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at 
Life on the Deckle Edge
29 Fran Haley at 
lit bits and pieces
Michelle Kogan

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Drowning #PoetryFriday

It’s Poetry Friday! This week our hostess is Jone Rush MacCulloch, who is throwing our little party over on her blog, Deo Writer.  You’ll find her latest poetry swap arrivals and a giveaway for an inspirational journal which looks rather interesting.

I’m halfway through a stretch of two very challenging weeks at school — data cycle #2, report cards, parent conferences, etc… Thank goodness for several writing communities, of which I am a part of. Writing, while not always pretty or cheerful, is keeping me sane. Words tumbled onto the pages of my notebook at bedtime last night. They put themselves in the form of a list, so a list poem of sorts was born.

Drowning In a sea of

I just need to get through next week, and then all will be well.

Many thanks for hosting this week, Jone. Now let’s bring on the poetry!


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Love Is, Part Deux #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry Friday, all! Jone MacCulloch is hosting this week’s gathering on her blog, Check It Out. Won’t you join us there? Not only is she hosting the Roundup this week, but she’s also hosting a CYBILS Awards Party. Party on, Jone!

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Back on February 1, I shared poet/author Kwame Alexander’s latest poetic challenge to loyal teacher listeners on NPR’s Morning Edition. (Click here to read my post.) The challenge this time was to give the following prompt to your students: “Love is…” and see what they come up with. Participants could submit individual lines, an entire poem, or even an audio file.

After reading a book to my Kindergarteners about love, I posed the question to them. “What is love to you?” Here are some of their ideas. 


I submitted all of these wonderfully sweet ideas to Kwame’s challenge. I also included a poem I crafted (or midwifed, as my dear poetry mentor Amy Ludwig VanDerwater once taught me) using some of their ideas and some of mine. 

Love is...

Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, Kwame shared submissions and his crowdsourced poem with host, Rachel Martin. (Click here to listen.) Over 2,000 teachers sent in poetry. Amazing! Although we ended up on the editing room floor, I’m thrilled so many participated and that my students had a chance to be involved. That’s what it’s all about. All for the love of poetry. 

ADDENDUM ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: Would you believe that at our February all school meeting yesterday it was announced that a 3rd Grade teacher’s class would share a “Love is…” poem they had written? I was astonished, as I thought I was a.) the only NPR listener on our faculty, and b.) the only teacher participating in the “Love is…” challenge. I’ve since shared my poem with the teacher and we now have plans for our classes to share together after vacation and possibly work on a Kindergarten-3rd Grade collaboration. 


Thanks for wondering and wandering a bit with me today. I hope you’ll join us on this Poetry Friday by posting a bit of poetry — your’s or someone else’s — and leaving a comment here or there.  Thanks for hosting, Jone! 

Tiny Treasures #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry Friday, all! Tara Smith is hosting this week on her blog, Going to Walden. She’s feeling blue about the current state of the world, as are many of us. Some lovely treasures, carefully crafted by poetry pals, provided a bit of respit for me from the chaos that surrounds us. 

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I had the pleasure of participating in Jone MacCulloch’s New Year Poetry Postcard Exchange again this year. It’s always so much fun to receive these not-so-tiny treasures in the mail from friends old and new. 


This porcine beauty brought New Year’s greetings from writing buddy Linda Mitchell in Virginia. 


Next to arrive was Diane Mayr’s offering of a pair of poems interestingly enough referencing a pigskin purse. A neat connection to the year of the pig. 


Jone herself sent a lovely rainbow image — the perfect symbol for a new year — accompanying her haiku.

Next, these sweet creatures glided through my mailbox from dear Irene Latham, who even noted my OLW “move” in her message. 


My New England neighbor further north, Molly Hogan, sent me one of her stunning photos of a spectacular sunrise. Molly, a gifted poet and photographer, knows I love to wonder, as does she. 


And lastly, Robyn Hood Black‘s greeting made its way through the fog of South Carolina to my home in Massachusetts. (Hey Robyn! I have family in Beaufort. Small world!)

Such tiny treasures, one and all. Thank you everyone!


Thanks for wondering and wandering a bit with me today. I hope you’ll join us on this Poetry Friday by posting a bit of poetry — your’s or someone else’s — and leaving a comment here or there.

Gifts in the Mail #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry Friday, all! Rebecca at Sloth Reads is our hostess this week. She’s got a super review of I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: and Other Nonsense For mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups written by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith. I’ve been meaning to get a look at this book, and I’m grateful to Rebecca for lighting a fire under me. It looks terrific!

I’m sure you’ve seen lovely poetry postcards here and there from Jone MacCulloch’s students at Silver Star School in Washington state over the last month or so.  Each year her students lovingly create and send out these works of art during National Poetry Month. April was such a crazy month that I completely forget about signing up. And then these lovely gifts arrived in the mail.


Having just participated in Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s National Poetry Month informal study of her wonderful Poems Are Teachers (Heinemann, 2017), it was only fitting that I receive a poem that does just that — teach! Alexis does a lovely job here of teaching me about the importance of the Mandan people’s permanent villages made from individual earthen homes. Alexis whet my appetite for learning more about the Mandan people!


And Sarah D’s fun, amphibious poem was particularly appropriate for me as my focus for Amy’s challenge was vernal pools, which found me writing a poem every day for 30 days about vernal pools and their inhabitants. How fun that this particular poem hopped into my mailbox! Well done, Sarah!

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Frogs are fun to write about, aren’t they, Sarah D? This is one of my 30 poems that my Kindergarten scientists have been enjoying. Ribbit!


I hope you’ll join Rebecca and the rest of us for some Poetry Friday fun!

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