Poetry Friday: The Joy of Making


Catherine chose the Inklings’ challenge for this month. She found her inspiration in an “Invitation for Writing and Reflection” from How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews. Using Sally Bliumis-Dunn‘s poem, “Work” as our mentor text, Catherine (and Crews) asked us to consider

…a time when you felt so consumed with the act of making something that you lost all sense of time, and your mind seemed to clear? What allowed you to enter this mindful creative space?

I wrote a draft about embroidery (no surprise), which makes a fine companion to Catherine’s knitting poem. But I also lose myself when I’m baking, especially when I knead the dough. The recipe I use for white bread is my paternal grandmother’s, and I feel a visceral connection to her and all my other bread-baking ancestors when I’m kneading.

Here’s how the rest of the crew met Catherine’s challenge:

Linda @A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Molly @Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine @Reading to the Core
Margaret @Reflections on the Teche

Laura Shovan has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup.

The kneading image is via Unsplash.

Poetry Friday: Permission

This month, the Poetry Sisters wrote Cascade poems that perhaps address our year-long theme of “Transformation.” The form is cookie-cutter easy, but evocative-images hard. I wrote plenty of the first kind before I found the first stanza of this draft in my notebook jottings on January 2.

Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with this month:
Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell (stay tuned…it’s written, but not on the cruise with her!)

In February, we’ll be writing Ekphrastic poems. If you’d like to join us, find a piece of art that moves you to write. Bonus points for including the theme “Transformation.”

Jan, at Bookseed Studio, is our kind and gracious hostess for this week’s Poetry Friday roundup.

The image of the hawk is via Unsplash.

The Power of Choice

Last week, I took part in the @textileartsite (textileartist.org) #StitchCamp. I learned to use paint on fabric, cut apart and recombine bits of painted fabric, and add all kinds of stitching to blend the pieces into a unified whole.

Then, on the day when the final video dropped, I lost interest. I finally had a big block of time and I wanted nothing more than to dig into the servicing of my (formerly my mom’s) Singer Featherweight sewing machine.

At first, I was hard on myself for not finishing what I’d started. But then I reminded myself that #StitchCamp was not the boss of me. In fact, as the week progressed, I had realized that #StitchCamp was actually a very slick marketing tool to get me to sign up for #StitchClub. For the low-low price of $38/month I could learn from fabric artists around the world! And yes, I was tempted. But “Look what you can create in just 30 minutes a day for a week! Imagine the amazing artist you will become if you take our classes!” gradually morphed in my mind into “You’re going to PAY someone else to steal time away from the projects YOU choose to do? Are you NUTS?”

Needless to say, I’m not signing up for #StitchClub. I’m going to follow my own path of learning, most of which won’t cost me a dime. I’ve got a quilt to make and another to repair. There’s a jean jacket yoke to finish embroidering and hoop that’s a playground when I just need to drop some random stitches or some beads and sequins. And yes, I’m going to finish the scrap I made in #StitchClub and use it to embellish a canvas bag that I’ll donate to the Casting for Recovery Ohio online auction in March. Stay tuned for the final product and information about bidding!

These lessons about choice are ones I’ve already internalized as a writer, and which I whole-heartedly embraced when I was a teacher of writers. It’s interesting to me that when I switched my media from words to stitches, I had to learn about the power of choice all over again.

Poetry Friday: Taking Down the Tree

after “Taking Down the Tree” by Jane Kenyon

“..​​.If it's darkness
we're having, let it be extravagant.”

We took down the tree
packed it in its box
swept up the plastic needles
carefully stored the ornaments
shelved the quiet holiday we’ve
learned to make our own –
mostly pagan and secular
yet there are angels and carols –
though the images and words
burned deep in memory
now hold no truths.
We took down the tree
coiled and stored the lights
added another blanket to the bed
welcomed juncos to the feeder
pulled on hats and scarves 
while we wait for longer warmer days
that come a minute at a time
as the earth flings itself
towards tomorrow.

© Mary Lee Hahn, draft 2023

Marcie has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup along with a fantastic text set to accompany her book about dormancy, WAIT, REST, PAUSE.

The image of the junco came from Unsplash.

Poetry Friday: Rhyming Fairy Tales

My work so far as the Kids Club Reading Specialist has been very peripheral, very fragmented. I’m at each site weekly, and I’ve met with students one-on-one or in small groups every other week…if we’re lucky and their parents don’t pick them up in the middle of a lesson or before we even get started.

I’m not complaining, but I AM looking forward to next week when schools are closed for two days following Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for a Professional Development Day and a Records Day. On Tuesday and Wednesday, 24 students will participate in all-day Kids Club, and I’ll have the opportunity to work with them as a whole group!

Tuesday will be Fairy Tale Day. We’ll start with TELLING STORIES WRONG by Gianni Rodari. This is the story of a grandfather who just can’t seem to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood the way it’s supposed to be told. Clever readers will be able to figure out why. This book doesn’t rhyme, but it will lead us to others that do.

Next up, I’ll have some of the older students prepped to perform a poem from VERY SHORT FAIRY TALES TO READ TOGETHER by Mary Ann Hobermann. Then I’ll invite pairs of students to practice and perform a poem from one of the You Read To Me, I’ll Read To You books.

Finally, in the upcoming weeks when we’re back to the regular schedule, my read aloud with small groups and individuals will be…

…ENDLESSLY EVER AFTER: PICK YOUR PATH THE COUNTLESS FAIRY TALE ENDINGS by Laurel Snyder. This rhyming picture book is a tour de force of planning. I literally have no idea how she must have plotted this book so that the reader has SO many different paths to follow! And in RHYME, no less! I love that not all of the endings are happy and not all of the paths are long. Plus, Dan Santat’s illustrations are tons of fun! I can’t wait to explore this book with readers of all ages and see what they think. I’m not sure we’ll get much past read aloud in those sessions…and that’s just FINE!

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Susan at Chicken Spaghetti.

And here’s the lowdown on the Poetry Sisters’ January Challenge: We chose the word TRANSFORMATION to guide our work throughout the year, and for January, we’re writing a CASCADE poem. The Cascade form takes every line from the first stanza of your poem and TRANSFORMS those lines into the final lines of each stanza thereafter. (The link helpfully creates a little form that shows you how easy this might be.) Beyond that, there are no additional rules. Long or short, free verse, sonnet, or sestina, find a way in which you can incorporate the idea (or word) transformation as you write. We’ll post our poems on the last Friday of the month (1/27/23). I hope you’ll join us!

Poetry Friday: Change

Heidi gave the Inklings our January challenge: “Write a poem which weighs the pros and cons of #change. For extra fun, use any form, but consider starting in one form and gradually transitioning in the course of the poem to a quite different form.” Oof. Not a small challenge to tackle in the midst of the holidays, and other assorted moves, births of grandchildren, and COVID episodes (none of these mine).

This past Monday on our Zoom, sensing (hoping) that we were all slightly poem-less, I changed up the challenge and suggested an Exquisite Corpse Poem. One line would be written and sent to the next poet via private chat, who would send only her line to the next poet, and so on until we had, if not a poem, then at least some words to use as seeds to grow a poem.

Here’s what we wound up with:

Leaves on the forest floor understand and submit
Submit without challenging the direction of the wind
to wander and wind along our way
the wind unwinds us day by day, shifting
clouds, shining light or casting shadows
Where steps and stones still lie.

Eight drafts later, I offer this:


Our planet’s slow, interconnected natural changes are sharply contrasted by the selfishly rapid changes humans have caused, presumably to benefit our species, but which in reality are destroying our home.

Here’s how the rest of the crew met Heidi’s CHANGE challenge and/or CHANGED the lines we began with on Monday to make a new poem:

Linda @A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Molly @Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine @Reading to the Core
Margaret @Reflections on the Teche

Catherine has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Reading to the Core. Link up and/or check out ALL the posts there!

Thanks to all who signed up to host Poetry Friday in the first half of 2023. Let me know if you need the code for your sidebar.

The change image is via Unsplash.


In January of 2006, Franki and I started blogging at A Year of Reading. We had no idea what we were doing, but we jumped in and gave it a whirl. The blog was intended to be a place where we would chat about books and make our Newbery predictions.

The first few months of posts sound like a text thread. We were definitely just talking to each other when we started. Comments weren’t really a thing that first year.

In June of 2006, the term Kidlitosphere was coined.

We figured out hyperlinks in the first month, but our first post with a picture didn’t happen until July. Also in July was the first time we posted a Poetry Friday post, but there’s no mention of a roundup and no comments. In July 2006, we started our “100 Cool Teachers in Children’s Literature” list.

In August we were tagged by another blogger.

September was big — we wrote fib poems AND received a comment from Greg Pincus, the inventor of this then-new form!

October brought the first Cybils.

There is mention in November of a Poetry Friday roundup, but no link.

We hit 150 Cool Teachers in December.

Between 2007 and 2021 there is a decade and a half of great content, but also many broken links and innumerable images that need to be resized, replaced, or deleted. Hence, the reason we left Blogger and came over to WordPress.

So here we are, but now what?

Now that we’ve retired from full time teaching, we’ll continue to try to figure out who we are and/or what we’ll become.

As for this blog, because information now flows in so many streams and channels and tidal waves, we’re going to go back to the way we started: we’re just going to keep giving this a whirl and let it evolve as we do!

Here’s to whatever’s next for however long it lasts!

Poetry Friday: Box

The topic for the Poetry Sisters’ December Challenge was Box. We met to write and brainstorm on Boxing Day, after opening a few boxes on Christmas. Box is such a rich topic: boxes of chocolate, thinking outside the box, boxes of family heirlooms in the basement, feeling boxed in. They constrain and contain, have sides, edges, vertices, volume (we study them in math). They store ashes for interment and prisoners for internment. Flat ones are glowing digital screens. And there are windows, doors, blank notebook pages, the space for a signature, the place to mail a letter. A delivery van is a rolling box filled with boxes in which are boxes…all headed to the building-box known as the food pantry which is a place where those who are boxed in by financial constraints can fill a box and some bellies.

Such a rich topic.

There are also poetry forms that pose as boxes. The 4 x 4 poem is a kind of box, and Lewis Carroll, the avid mathematician, gives us the square poem form.

I combined “thinking outside the box,” my boxes of embroidery floss/threads, and these two forms in my poems. “What next?” is a big question for me as I finish up the year of weekly embroidery mandalas. My 4×4 poem addresses that question, while my square poem reassures me that I will find my way.



Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with this month:
Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon
Kelly @ Kelly Ramsdell
Andi @ A Wrung Sponge

Patricia has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Reverie, and the call for roundup hosts is here. January’s looking a little thin, but I have faith! The schedule always fills!

The box image is via Unsplash.

Poetry Friday: Umbrella Arts

This poem was obviously not written about the current bitter Arctic weather, but rather last week’s morning walk in a mild rainy mist. There’s always weather, whether or not we choose to go out walking in it! (I’ll pass today, thank you very much!)

Best wishes for whatever year-end holidays you celebrate! And if you are so moved, how about hosting a Poetry Friday roundup in the new year? The call for hosts is here.

Irene has this week’s roundup at Live Your Poem. Good advice for us all.

image via Unsplash

Poetry Friday: Call for Roundup Hosts

It’s that time again. Six months have passed since last we queued up to host the Poetry Friday roundups.

What is the Poetry Friday roundup? A gathering of links to posts featuring original or shared poems, or reviews of poetry books. A carnival of poetry posts. Here is an explanation that Rene LaTulippe shared on her blog, No Water River, and here is an article Susan Thomsen wrote for the Poetry Foundation.

Who can do the Poetry Friday roundup? Anyone who is willing to gather the links in some way, shape, or form (Mr. Linky, “old school” in the comments, or ???) on the Friday of your choice. If you are new to the Poetry Friday community, jump right in, but perhaps choose a date later on so that we can spend some time getting to know each other.

How do you do a Poetry Friday roundup? If you’re not sure, stick around for a couple of weeks and watch…and learn! One thing we’re finding out is that folks who schedule their posts, or who live in a different time zone than you, appreciate it when the roundup post goes live sometime on Thursday.

How do I get the code for the PF Roundup Schedule for the sidebar of my blog? You can grab the list from the sidebar here at A(nother) Year of Reading, or I’d be happy to send it to you if you leave me your email address. 

Why would I do a Poetry Friday Roundup? Community, community, community. It’s like hosting a poetry party on your blog!

Put your request in the comments and I’ll update the calendar frequently. Feel free to share this post on all the various socials.

And now for the where and when:

6 Catherine at Reading to the Core
13 Susan at Chicken Spaghetti
20 Marcie at Marcie Flinchum Atkins
27 Jan at Bookseed Studio

3 Laura at Laura’s Blog
10 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
24 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

3 Tanita at {fiction, instead of lies}
10 Heidi at my juicy little universe
17 Laura at Small Reads for Brighter Days
24 Rose at Imagine the Possibilities
31 Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading

7 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch
21 Karen at Karen Edmisten*
28 Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town

5 Linda at TeacherDance
12 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
19 Janice at Salt City Verse
26 Patricia at Reverie

2 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
9 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
16 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
23 Linda at A Word Edgewise
30 Irene at Live Your Poem