Rana sylvatica #ThoreaulyInspired #NPM #NaPoWriMo #NationalPoetryMonth #ProgressivePoem

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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 #16: Rana sylvatica


A peek at my process

On April 16, 1858, Thoreau wrote in his journal, “The Rana sylvatica spawn at Hubbard’s Grove begins to kick free. This is early. I put some in a bottle, which being shaken in my walk, I find the embryos all separated from the ova when I get home. These are now regular little pollywogs and wiggle about in a lively manner when the water is shaken. They are chiefly tail and head. They look like the samara of the ash, and in both cases this winged or feather-like tail it is that transports them. I can already see their little feet or fins.” (The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, Journal X: August 8, 1857 – June 29, 1858, Chapter IX. April, 1858, p. 372)

Rana sylvatica refers to the wood frog that is abundant in our area. It is the species that I am head-starting here at home instead of my classroom. Thoreau refers to the hatchlings as pollywogs (can also be spelled polywog or polliwog), which is the term I grew up with. Nowadays, tadpole is used more commonly. These terms sent me down a research rabbit hole and I discovered that the translations from Middle English are pollywog, meaning head and to wiggle, and tadpole, meaning toad and head. Both perfect, wouldn’t you say?

Many educators like myself have many regrets about what we left behind in our classrooms mid-March when we were told to take what we thought we’d need for a few weeks. A few weeks has turned into, most likely, the remainder of the school year. While I took everything I needed for head-starting my little temporary houseguests, I did forget my stereoscope, which gives me and my students a much closer look at our tadpoles. Using this tool year after year inspired my poem, which I had planned to introduce to them next week online. Today’s journal entry selection inspired me to revisit is and refresh some of my word choices.

And now for…

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Our 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.  Here’s our sweet poem thus far.

Sweet violets shimmy, daffodils sway
along the wiregrass path to the lake
I carry a rucksack of tasty cakes
and a banjo passed down from my gram.

I follow the tracks of deer and raccoon
and echo the call of a wandering loon.
A whispering breeze joins in our song
and night melts into a rose gold dawn

Deep into nature’s embrace, I fold.
Promise of spring helps shake the cold
hints of sun lightly dapple the trees
calling out the sleepy bees

Leaf-litter crackles…I pause. Twig snaps.
gasp! Shudder! Breathe out. Relax…
as a whitetail doe comes into view.

Linda Baie takes over today. You can find the two lines she is proposing to the next host, Heidi Mordhorst, on her blog Teacher Dance. I’m excited to provide the 24th line next 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
28 Jessica Big at TBD
29 Fran Haley at 
lit bits and pieces
Michelle Kogan

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 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!

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Why not Slice some poetry? #SOLC19 #PoetryFriday

Happy first day of the 2019 Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers AND Poetry Friday, all! How exciting that the planets are in alignment for these two fabulous events — a twofer!

For this inaugural post for the SOLC, I’m slicing up a bit of poetry. Linda Baie is hosting this week’s gathering on her blog, Teacher Dance.  Won’t you join us there as well? Slicing poetry on Friday’s during the SOLC is a great way to flex those writing muscles. If you are ever wondering where to find the weekly host of Poetry Friday, you’ll find a list of hosts and their blog links here.

My poem today was actually inspired by an entry in my Morning Pages/Evening Pages notebook. (More on that here.) On Wednesday evening, during our weekly Teach Write writing accountability session, I wrote about the snow storm that was just about to begin, what I hoped it would be and what I hoped it would not be. The more I wrote, the more it felt like a poem nugget just waiting to be nurtured. I played around with it a bit, and it turned into the following.

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As it turns out, I got what I wished for. We had a two-hour delay, which was called the evening before. Love those! It was light fluffy stuff that you could easily push away with a shovel. And boy did we have fun at recess!


Thanks for wondering and wandering a bit with me today. 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 each Tuesday and every day during the month of March. And thanks to Linda Baie for hosting this week’s double celebration! Happy Friday, all!