Friday, July 27, 2012

Poetry Friday: School is in the Air

Our friends among us who are educators are heading back to school soon. During the next five weeks or so, teachers and students will be starting another school year. For me, it will be the start of my 12th full year of teaching. (Although this year for the first time I'm working as an instructional coach, so I'm teaching teachers so to speak.)

Back to school time is always a mix of pleasure and pain. Pain when I think about all the things on my to-do list that didn't get done (I will fix you soon, storm door!) and pleasure regarding the excitement of a fresh start--new students, new goals, new ideas, etc.

So today's poem goes out to all the educators out there. It's a poem with school as the setting, but it's definitely about more than just school.

Handwriting Analysis

On the first day of fourth grade, Mrs. Hunter
collected our penmanship samples to save

until June; by then, she said, we'd write
in the handwriting we would have all our lives.

Though she probably read that in a book
on child development, I was so excited

I could hardly stand it. In nine months
my adult self would be born, she would

send me a letter; in the ways she swooped,
careened, and crossed her t's, I could

read everything I would need to know.
We were writing ourselves into the future.

Read the rest of the poem here. I think it would be a great poem to read with students. I'm curious about what they would think. And about what you think!

Next week I'll try for four Poetry Fridays in a row. I think I can do it! Until then, you should check out this week's Poetry Friday Roundup, hosted at a blog that's new to me and that's definitely worth a subscription, Life is Better With Books.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Poetry Mixtape: Poems From Outer Space

I just love a poem that gets into my head. Maybe I'm the only one that happens to? I don't know.

What I do know is that lately, when Gotye or Carly Rae Jepsen isn't stuck in my head, it's been this poem:

Mars Poetica

by Wyn Cooper

Imagine you're on Mars, looking at earth,
a swirl of colors in the distance.
Tell us what you miss most, or least.

Let your feelings rise to the surface.
Skim that surface with a tiny net. 
Now you're getting the hang of it.

Tell us your story slantwise,
streetwise, in the disguise
of an astronaut in his suit.     

Read the rest of the poem HERE.

I just love the title's play on "Ars Poetica," and other subtleties such as the narration. Who's talking? Aliens? Cylons?

I also like the idea of telling a story "slantwise..." how does one do that exactly?

And the ending...the ending is tremendous: "how words mean things / we didn't know we knew." You're compelled to pause and think about that for a bit, and that's just beautiful. I would definitely enjoy teaching and discussing this poem with students, wouldn't you?

If you're like me when you read this, you get to wondering if there are any other poems out there about outer space. Well, you're in luck! I decided to make a little Poetry Mix Tape for you:

Ok, so some of those aren't exactly about outer space, especially the last few. But they have a celestial tilt to them, at least.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Please be sure to check out the amazing things happening at the Poetry Friday Roundup, being hosted today HERE.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Poetry Friday: Ending the Hiatus

I've had every intention of posting more often. I apologize, dear readers. Obligations with my teaching job and my side gig as CEO of a small educational consulting start-up have been more demanding than expected.

But I return today with a renewed commitment to at the very least participating in a few Poetry Fridays each month. I've been collecting poems with the plan of blogging about today I want to share a few that stood out.


The first is one that I'm sure I've shared before, by one of my absolute most favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye. It's called "Famous," and I read it at the end-of-year ceremony for my fifth graders, who finished elementary school last month. I think it was fitting for the occasion.

FamousBy Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so.   

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   
watching him from the birdhouse.   

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   

The idea you carry close to your bosom   
is famous to your bosom.   

The boot is famous to the earth,   
more famous than the dress shoe,   
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.  

Read the rest of the poem here at Poetry Out Loud. It's nothing short of brilliant.

To make up for my absence, here are two more poems I discovered. The first would be great for classroom use...the descriptions are incredibly vivid. The's one of those I'm not sure why I like it. But I do. A lot.

To The Field Of Scotch Broom That Will Be Buried By The New Wing Of The Mall

by Lucia Perillo

   Half costume jewel, half parasite, you stood
swaying to the music of cash registers in the distance
while a helicopter chewed the linings
of the clouds above the clear-cuts.
And I forgave the pollen count
while cabbage moths teased up my hair
before your flowers fell apart when they
turned into seeds. How resigned you were
to your oblivion, unlistening to the cumuli
as they swept past. And soon those gusts
will mill you, when the backhoe comes
to dredge your roots, but that is not
what most impends, as the chopper descends
to the hospital roof so that somebody's heart
can be massaged back into its old habits.

Read the rest here at

Saw You There

by Ander Monson

"Carrie says I should make my connections into a poem." —Dennis Etzel Jr.
   Sawed you there, through you there, girl whom I name
Carrie, shine of sun on bonnet-handle at that Walgreens 
on 28th. A Friday night. It looked like you came straight
from fighting something that looked like lightning.

You were all scorched up. Tired look but with a residue
of glow, not in the family way, as they used to say, 
and as I still do, since I venerate the old, but filled 
to the heart with stars. Looking light years away, the way

you operated that Redbox: how can a girl seem so far 
from Earth while at a Redbox?

Read the rest here at

I hope you enjoyed these three gems. I hope to be back next Friday with more. 

Be sure to check out the other Poetry Friday posts at today's host, Jone at Check it Out.