Tag Archives: challenge

NPM 2019: Days 6 and 7

Somehow Saturday evaporated and Sunday appeared…it’s Spring Break, so my schedule is disrupted as I travel and enjoy some vacation time.  But I continue with the poem-a-day challenge…here are entries 6 and 7.

Day 6

Flight 297

They queue

single

file

into the heavy metal tube

soon

it will hurtle

through the sky

bird-like

but not.

Once inside

they vacillate

between

fear and boredom

seatbelts latched

tray tables too

eyes glazed

by movie after movie

restless to arrive

hours crawl

moving back in time.

As never-ending approaches

they

land.

©Douillard

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Day 7

A Blue Kind of Day

The day dawned blue

with light that warms

your shoulders

and your heart

Azure

Indigo

Ultramarine

Royal

Navy

Turquoise

Aquamarine

Sapphire

Teal

and all the colors nature invented in between

Blue that melts worries

lets you breathe deeply in and out

and calms the soul.

It was a blue kind of day.

©Douillard

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NPM 2019 Day 5

With clouds so low

you have to crouch

tunneling through

moisture as thick as mud

 

Afternoon rays

raise the ceiling

pelicans wing their way overhead

perfectly centered

between

blue skies

and

blue seas

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Spring whispers

in the sea breeze

dancing intricate patterns

with shore bird partners

 

All the while my heart

beats out rhythms of summer

a song of longing

and anticipation.

©Douillard

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When Life Becomes Poetry: NPM 2019 Day 3

It’s hard to top a day like yesterday…at least when it comes to poetry.  Today’s schedule was crunched, another minimum day and my last classroom day until after Spring Break. But we still made space for a bit of poetry inspiration.  Today I read a few poems from When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano.  Interestingly, she titles each poem in this lovely book by the date she wrote it, taking us through the seasons of the year.  We read April 3 (which was eerily a description of a day very much like the one we experienced today…I love this first line: “today the sky was too busy sulking to rain…”), June 15 (a piece about tasting sunshine), and July 10 (the title piece with the refrain “when green becomes tomatoes”).  And in a typical 8 and 9 year old fashion, my students, when they turned to their own writing, wrote about their birthdays!

Isla (who happens to share my birthday) was determined that her June 2nd birthday falls in the summer.  She wrote this piece inspired by when green becomes tomatoes:

June 2

When summer turns into my birthday

The sky is happy!

life is happy

it is the time to get…

everything I want

(more than sad)

(more than happy)

The best

When leaves are green and light is here

no thunder, no lightening

just…

wind blowing and birds chirping

when summer turns into my birthday

And Leah, who’s birthday falls a bit later in the month, gives a more tentative prediction using “I believe” to frame her poem:

June 23

On June 23rd

I believe it will be cloudy

with a hint of sun.

On June 23rd

I believe it will be hot.

On June 23rd

I believe flowers will bloom.

On June 23rd

I believe it will be my birthday.

I took my poem in a little different direction, thinking about how my three precious grandsons have grown from babies to active, sturdy three year old toddlers in what seems like a blink of an eye.  Just where does the time go?

April 3

 

When babies become toddlers

tiny fingers that used to grab mine

build towers as tall as they are

then topple them with belly laughs

When babies become toddlers

goos and gaas turn into words

that turn into stories

of wonder and adventure

When babies become toddlers

reading becomes play

finding objects, chiming in

anticipating

devouring each word, each page

with minds instead of mouths

When babies become toddlers

those once tiny feet patter

running faster than seems possible

running towards childhood

leaving babyhood behind.

©Douillard

This is Just to Say: NPM 2019 Day 2

Today we turned to William Carlos Williams for inspiration.  Using the book A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, I introduced my students to William Carlos Williams.  I wanted to continue the focus on the ordinary as well as show a poet who continued his writing while working as a doctor.  I’ve been working to dispel the myth that poetry has to rhyme…and this book definitely helped make that point!

Once we learned a bit about Williams, we studied two of his poems to use as mentor texts for our own poems.  The Red Wheelbarrow surprised my students.  It seemed so short and so simple at first glance…and then they started to notice.  The word glazed really caught their attention…and made them think of doughnuts rather than rain coated wheelbarrows.  Then we started to play around with how to put our own content into a poem like The Red Wheelbarrow.  My third grade students could hardly contain themselves…they were so excited about writing!  Here’s a couple of their efforts:

With Caleb’s you can see the influence of living by the sea

The Colorful Afterglow

So much depends

upon

a colorful

afterglow

swarming with

bright colors

beside the turquoise

ocean

Luca captured the beauty of the ordinary

The Tree Full of Leaves

So much depends

on

a tree full of

leaves

being a home to

animals big and

small

standing tall over

the dirt path.

And Sloane turned her attention to a rock and strayed from a “so much depends” first line to create her own version of a poem inspired by WCW.

The Rock

So much pressure

is on

the rock by the river

feathered in river water

beside the ringing sound

of the river

We then turned our attention to Williams’ This is Just to Say.  They noticed right away that it seemed like a conversation–that the poet was talking to someone in this poem.  And that he seemed sorry…but not really sorry.  This poem seemed to give them permission to be playful…and even try out teasing their teacher!

Sagan knew I would appreciate this one (can you tell what conversation we have over and over again?):

Oops…

I forgot to show my thinking

in my math homework

again

even though it said to

show your thinking

I’m sorry

but at the same time

it’s way faster

and way more efficient

And Piper stretched to see use how far she could take a bit of teasing, making me the subject of her poem

This is Just to Say

Mrs. Douillard

I have destroyed

your classroom

which you were probably

going to use

to teach kids in

Forgive me

I was just trying

to have a good time

Some students played around with different foods, inspired by WCW’s refreshing sounding plums

Nathalie tried cherries

This is Just to Say

I have eaten

the cherries that

were in the bowl

and which you

were saving for dessert

tomorrow

Forgive me

they were so sweet

and delicious

While Aspen imagined ice cream

This is Just to Say

I ate your ice cream

that was in your lunch

which you were probably

saving for after your

chicken

please forgive me

it just tasted so creamy

and so refreshing

We had so much fun on this second day of National Poetry Month!  Here’s my poem for the day:

Feeding Time

So much depends

upon the sea pulling back

revealing shallow

pools

teeming with tiny fish

and crustaceans

beside the hungry white

egret

©Douillard

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Fooling around with Poetry! NPM 2019 Day 1

It’s April 1st, the first day of National Poetry Month and a perfect day to “fool” around with some poetry!  Since my students are I are taking a poem-a-day challenge, we needed to generate some inspiration today to get us in the poetry frame of mind.

We started by reading Tiny Perfect Things by M.H. Clark, a book that focuses on the wonder and beauty of the ordinary.  Then we headed outside (it was an almost-summer day, 75 and sunny) with our iPads in search of tiny perfect things to photograph as inspiration for our poetry.  My students found lizards, beetles, and roly polys.  They found apple blossoms shaped like stars, California poppies peeking through the chain link fence, and cotton floating down from the cotton plant in the school garden.  They chased the monarch butterfly across the field in hopes of a viable photo.  And when we returned to the classroom, they wrote.

It’s conference week, so the days are short.  But I’m already loving their first drafts…and their willingness to share.  The variety was impressive…and the playfulness so satisfying! Here’s a couple to give you a taste.

Luke’s first draft poem played around with a repeated refrain:

Rose

You catch my eye

how white you are,

with yellow in the middle

and your pod red.

You catch my eye

on a pointy bush

and a soft flower.

You catch my eye,

you stand out.

Of all the flowers,

you are as white as snow.

You catch my eye.

And Alice couldn’t resist playing around with the idea of April Fool’s Day, inspired by her brother’s prank on another student:

Red Rug of Sap

It can be red,

it can be black,

my little red rug of sap.

It lays upon a tree

resting

til it is the day.

Check the calendar!

What is today?

April first!  April first!

April Fool’s Day!

Time to stain my finger

red or black

with my little red rug of sap.

My own first draft poem was inspired by the rusty chain and lock around the gate on the side of the school.

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Looped and Locked

 

Metal

weathered, rusted, oxidized

days, years, decades

outside

exposed

to fog

to rain

to sun

to briny sea air

still strong

linked like children holding hands

safety in numbers

comfort in connection

looped around the gate

and snapped shut

with a tiny, perfect

Master lock.

©Douillard

I’m looking forward to reading others’ first day of National Poetry Month entries today!

 

Reflections on SOLC 2019: Day 31

Thirty out of thirty one days in March I wrote a blog post and made it public.  (I missed a day somewhere along the way because I was sick.)  Today is the day to think about just what writing a slice of life each day has meant.

I know that writing every day makes writing every day just a bit easier.  Early in the month it felt hard to come up with topics, each day felt like a stretch.  And then, just like I tell my students, I started to live more like a writer.  Each and every experience I have during the day becomes fodder for thinking and writing.  I like that writing makes me pay more attention.  I notice details, make word associations, connect seemingly disparate parts of my life as I write and reflect.

I know that photography helps me generate writing.  It is yet another tool for paying attention to the world around me.  With my camera around my neck, the world slows down allowing me to notice what I might otherwise overlook.  When I go back later to view the images I captured, new thinking floods my brain, filling in the stories between the shots.  I re-view the things I noticed that I wasn’t able to capture through my lens and I see my experiences anew.

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I know that the Slice of Life Challenge community is a gift to me as a writer.  As I posted my permalink each day, I knew someone would read and comment on my writing. This community is accepting and generous.  Encouraging words keep a writer moving forward. As I read slices from others, I shared my thinking with them and learned from their words too.  I posted because I said I would, and because I knew that a community was there to listen.  That encouraged me to write, to revise, to push myself to continue to grow as a writer and as a responder.

And I love that writing each day creates a record of my thinking and my experiences.  I can return to my thinking later, reconsider those thoughts in light of new insights and experiences.  And as someone who tends to be an introvert, it invites others into my life in ways I don’t often make space for verbally or in casual in-person interactions.

March and my daily slices end today, but tomorrow I am taking on a new challenge.  My students and I will be taking a 30 day poem-a-day challenge for National Poetry Month. So look for a poem from me…and if things go well, poems from some of my students as well, each day of April!

 

Walking Toward the Storm: SOLC 2019 Day 1 and Skinny Poem

Influenced by some blogging colleagues and my desire to get back to my writing life, I’ve decided to participate in Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I’m choosing to ease into the writing challenge and try on a poetry type I saw described by Margaret Simon on her blog not too long ago.  She describes the process here.  I don’t happen to have any metaphor dice (although they are now on my wish list!), so I came up with my own first line based on today’s beach walk.  We’ve been having a very rainy winter and while today is not rainy, it’s clear that rain is coming.  (The forecast is for rain all day tomorrow.)  The clouds are hunched up low along the horizon, giving the beach a moody feel as I walked at low tide.  I love the way walking into the sea breeze seems to blow the clouds out of my mind, clearing the way for fresh ideas and improving my mood.  My feet find their own rhythm, accompanied by the constant backbeat of the waves ebbing and flowing.  This is my definition of exercise, adding squatting low to pick up bits of sea glass or examine an interesting rock or piece of driftwood and balancing atop rocks to frame a photo to round out my workout.  Mostly, though, the beach is an endless source of inspiration for my photography and for my writing.

Here’s my first attempt at a skinny poem (something I will be trying with my students one day soon!).

Clearing the Clouds

 

Walking toward the storm

alone

briny

billowing

breezes

alone

thoughts

twisting

turning

alone

clearing the clouds in my head

© Kim Douillard

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