Poetry Friday: Bridges

It’s been a dry month for poems that are Poetry Friday material. My challenge poems for the Poetry Sisters and for the Inklings are drafted and I am filling a project folder with poems that…well, you’ll have to wait and see! Luckily, I have the well of Laura Shovan’s February Poetry Project in which to dip, and look what I found! In lieu of a traditional Irish blessing, I wish you all the books you can read and all the time you need to read them and the joy of getting lost in the story as you cross its bridge.

In other news, I still haven’t nailed down my National Poetry Month project, but three poems from last year’s project were published in The Be-Zine! Click on the “Introduction & Table of Contents” button and scroll down to find the link to my poems. While you’re there, check out the poems from Michelle Kogan, Heidi Mordhorst, and Laura Shovan, too!

Laura Purdie Salas has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup. She HAS nailed down her National Poetry Month Project, and I’m tempted to join in! She also uses the word doohickey in her post, which makes me love her even more!!

Poetry Friday: Anaphora

Remember that time when you had your poem ready to go weeks ahead of time, but when you got ready to post, you double-checked the definition of “anaphora” and realized that your poem was an excellent example of repetition, but not at all a poem demonstrating anaphora? Yeah, me too.

What can you do except create a flash draft definito to clarify in your mind the difference between repetition and anaphora?!?

Margaret gave the Inklings our challenge this month. Here’s how the rest of the crew wrote using anaphora:

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

Tanita has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup.

The image comes via Unsplash.

Poetry Friday: Ekphrastic Poetry

Outside the Dayton Art Institute stands “Pathway,” by John Safer, always reaching skyward with energy and beauty, and looking different in every season and from every angle. It draws the eye up and the mind in.

Here is a closeup I took on one visit last year:

The lower part seems to blur the sharp architecture of the building, while the upper part seems almost transparent. Here’s where that combination took my imagination:

Fitting for the Poetry Sisters’ yearlong theme of transformation, this poem commemorates the twenty-fifth anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis/surgery/chemo/radiation year.

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

Tabatha has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Next month, the Poetry Sisters are writing etherees. This ten-line form begins with a single syllable, and each line expands by one syllable until the tenth line has ten. We’re continuing with our 2023 theme of transformation, but how you interpret that topically is up to you.

Poetry Friday: Smells

My prompt for Laura Shovan’s 11th Annual February Poem Project was to “search your memory archives for a smell, and then tell the story that smell evokes.”

No, I didn’t write about the smell of coffee (but just looking at those beans can you just about smell and taste it?). Alas, I couldn’t find a picture in my files of The Little Building — a green metal garden shed with a white rollup door. But I could definitely remember its smell.

Molly has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Nix the Comfort Zone.

Image is via Unsplash

Poetry Friday: The Original Verse Novel?

When my friend from undergraduate honors English sent this book to me for my birthday, she gave me the out to trade it in for something I really wanted to read. I found out later that it was one of those gifts that you give someone because it’s what YOU want. I assumed she also had a copy and that we’d be reading it together to revisit our freshman year of college. Nope. I was on my own and I decided to go for it.

It’s a hefty volume with an extensive introduction and translator’s note, but when I looked at the table of contents and saw that it contains 24 “books” (or chapters) it occurred to me that I could “eat this elephant one bite at a time.” I divided the introduction/translator’s note into seven chunks and over the course of January, I reread this classic!

If you’ve never read THE ODYSSEY, I highly recommend this translation. The introduction itself is an education (or re-education if it’s been decades since your first read). Wilson prepared me so well for the ins and outs of each of the books that I did not need to skip to the endnotes as I read to clarify the action. (The endnotes contain a one-paragraph summary of each book, along with some clarifying information about characters, lineage, word definitions, and puns woven into the Greek that she attempted to replicate in her translation.)

In the translator’s note, Wilson elaborates on what makes her version different from others. She states, “THE ODYSSEY is a poem, and it needs to have a predictable and distinctive rhythm that can be easily heard when the text is read aloud.” She goes on, “I used iambic pentameter, because it is the conventional meter for regular English narrative verse…”

“Homer’s music is quite different from mine, but my translation sings to its own regular and distinctive beat.”

p.82 THE ODYSSEY by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson

In the translator’s note she also talks about word choice, length (hers has exactly the same number of lines as the original), staying true to the “Homeric style,” dealing with Homer’s repeated epithets, what it means to be a woman translating “a poem that is deeply invested in female fidelity and male dominance,” and her treatment of slavery and sexism…among other things. She states

“Throughout my work on this translation, I have thought hard about my different responsibilities: to the original text; to my readers; to the need to make sense; to the urge to question everything; to fiction, myth, and truth; to the demands of rhythm and the rumble of sound; to the feet that need to step in five carefully trotting paces, and the story that needs to canter on its way. I have been aware, constantly, of gaps and impossibilities in providing escort to Homer from archaic Greece to the contemporary anglophone world, as I have woven, unwoven, and woven up again the fabric of this complex web.”

p.90 THE ODYSSEY by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson

Doesn’t she make you want to read her version? Go for it. Savor it a bit at a time over the course of a month. It will stay with you forever.

Carol has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup.

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.

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.