Thursday, September 16, 2021

Partly Cloudy, by Tanita Davis, is here!


I love Tanita and love her writing. 
This is her latest; my copy just arrived. I'm so excited! 

For a rundown of Tanita's upcoming book launch activities and events, visit her website here

Friday, September 10, 2021

Poetry Friday: Ode to Teachers by Pat Mora

Atticus and Betsy Ray have been back in their classrooms for a month. (Can I still call her Betsy Ray now that she's grown up, married, moved away?) As of last week, I'm back in the Brave Writer classroom, too, currently teaching "Passion for Fiction." And Ramona has been meeting new teachers now that she's started college. 

Obviously, it's time for an ode to teachers. 

This one, from Pat Mora, is so touching. The teacher in this poem is the teacher who made a difference — who listened, encouraged, and said, "Come on!/Join our conversation/let us hear your neon certainties/thorny doubts, tangled angers....”

As Clint Smith once put it, "I’ve said this before, but one of the only reasons I’m a writer is because I had a teacher in 3rd grade who looked at my poem about clouds & said 'You can be a writer when you grow up.' It stayed w/me forever. Teachers, don’t underestimate what your words can do for your students." 

Ode to Teachers 

 I remember
the first day, 
how I looked down, 
hoping you wouldn't see 


The round-up is being hosted today by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Poetry Friday: September 2 by Wendell Berry

It's a Wendell Berry kind of week. I'm reading Jayber Crow, which I'm liking and expect to love, as I adored Hannah Coulter. 

This week, I'm sharing Berry's "September 2." It's an observation of the season, but also a poignant meditation on the inevitability of time and change, and the value of what we've invested. He has such a deft hand, wielding precise words in all the right places and ways: 

"... there grew an acceptance of decline." 

I read him, I nod, I exhale, I scribble his words in my journal. 

September 2 

In the evening there were flocks of nighthawks
passing southward over the valley. The tall 
sunflowers stood, burning on their stalks


Heidi Mordhorst has has the round-up this week at My Juicy Little Universe

Friday, August 20, 2021

Poetry Friday: I Am From

Carol, at The Apples in My Orchard, is hosting Poetry Friday this week. She and her workshop students have been looking at various kinds of "I am" poems. So this week I decided to share the latest incarnation of an "I Am From" poem that I recently had to write for a conference. 

I've written a few versions of this, some shorter, some longer. But one thing that never changes? That laughter with my sister. (I didn't get her permission to share her picture, thus her lovely smile.) 😀

I Am From

by Karen Edmisten 

I am from knee socks, Hostess cupcakes, and patent leather Mary Janes worn home from the store, from hollyhock dolls, dandelion bouquets, and lightning bugs in the backyard at dusk. 

I am from Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and a squishy pillow at the drive-in, a six-year-old’s comfort in the dark cocoon of the car.

I am from “I’m rubber, you’re glue,” and “Nuh-uh is not a word, Karen.” (“Nuh-uh,” I’d retort, “I can make it a word if I want to.”) 

I am from Alaskan glaciers, and the sunrise on the Florida coast, from everywhere and nowhere, the child of a pilot and his bride.

I am from Air Force brats bonding through a shared, strange life, from always being the new kid in class. 

I am from laughing with my sister so hard it makes my stomach hurt. 

I am from the shock of having life turned inside out and upside down, from learning that sometimes things have to be deconstructed before they can be rebuilt. 

I am from celebrating the rebuilding. I am from being remade again and again. 

I am from Tom, and from Emily, Lizzy, and Kate. I am from five other babies I never met (but whom I feel cheering me on daily.) 

I am from bewilderment at the idea that marriage and motherhood could make me happy.

I am from that happiness. 

I am from my discovery of home education. 

I am from Anne-with-an-e, Betsy-Tacy, and Ramona Quimby, from George Eliot, Madeleine L’Engle, and Rumer Godden, from endless authors and perennial poets, from read-alouds, and verse, and the joy of the book log. 

I am from the simplest of pleasures, from dark chocolate, steaming coffee, iced coffee, walking, friends, talking, theater, autumn and spring, and letters. Still letters. 

I am from words, paper, typewriters, desktops, laptops, manuscripts, and books. 

I am from nomads, from possibilities, and from imagination.

I am from a longing for roots, found finally, magically and forever, in everyone and everything I love. 


Friday, August 06, 2021

Poetry Friday: In the Middle, by Barbara Crooker

The leaves haven't fallen, as Crooker's have in this poem, but a season is turning at our house. 

Atticus has a meeting for school today and returns to work next week. How does August barrel in at such an alarming speed every year? Couldn't it, just once, take its sweet time and meander into town, instead of plowing through and uprooting everything? Time is that strange, wibbly-wobbly* thing and we are somehow always in the middle of it. In honor of Barbara Crooker, this poem, and the arrival of August, maybe today would be a good day to steal some hammock time from Time. 

In the Middle 
by Barbara Crooker 

of a life that's as complicated as everyone else's, 
struggling for balance, juggling time. 
The mantle clock that was my grandfather's 
has stopped at 9:20; we haven't had time 
to get it repaired. The brass pendulum is still, 
the chimes don't ring. One day I look out the window, 
green summer, the next, the leaves have already fallen, 

 (Read the rest here.)


Be sure to catch the entire Poetry Friday round-up this week at 
A(nother) Year of Reading, where Mary Lee is adjusting to August and the passage of time 
in her own way, as a newly-retired teacher. 

(Photo thanks to Pixabay.) 

*Thank you, Tenth Doctor, for "wibbly-wobbly": 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Poetry Friday: "Books" by Billy Collins

I'm in the middle of a buddy read. Well, to be more precise, I'm a third of the way into a buddy read. My daughters and I are reading this trilogy (a reread for three of us, a new read for Ramona): 

Ramona has never read this series. What?? 

But she decided this was the summer to dive in. So Anne-with-an-e, Betsy, and I decided to jump in and reread them, too. Not that we need an incentive to stay in close to touch with the now-married-and-living-elsewhere Betsy, but we all decided that buddy reads would be a fun aspect of our in-touch-staying. And we're just about ready for our discussion of the first book. I can't wait! 

The Hunger Games series has a long history in our house. Some of my thoughts on the entire series are here

Ramona here, dictating to Betsy:

I personally have never read The Hunger Games, but, I don't want to have anything to do with it. At all. Whatsoever. Because I do not want to have anything to do with it, I very much loathe Karen Edmisten. So I say farewell to all of you, and I love you very much.

Dramatization. I really actually love Karen Edmisten.

Obviously, she was not allowed to read them at that age, so she greatly disliked how much everyone else was talking about them. I can't blame her for feeling like she wasn't part of the club. But now, she's in the club. She's almost finished with the first book and can't wait to get to Catching Fire. And I can't wait to have all sorts of rich discussion again. 

As Stephen King said, "Books are a uniquely portable magic." 

Billy Collins captures the magic, too, in his practically-perfect-in-every-way poem, "Books." 

by Billy Collins 

From the heart of this dark, evacuated campus
I can hear the library humming in the night, 
an immense choir of authors muttering inside their books 

(Read the whole thing here, at the Poetry Foundation.) 


Friday, July 09, 2021

Poetry Friday: My daughter got married!

The bride at age ten. 

This global pandemic brought lots of "firsts" into our lives. Anyone on board for planning a wedding?

From the masked gown-shopping last fall ... 

From the moment she put it on, she
knew this was the dress.

... to the wedding day, it's been another experience of being "a new mom."  No, no, it's not about me, of course, but a mother can't remove herself from these equations entirely, nor should she. I did not, as Janice Mirikitani's perfect poem mentions, weave my daughter's wedding slippers, but my girl is woven into my life and I into hers. 

My daughter's wedding slippers (along with her bridesmaids) were pink Converse: 

No weaving required. But I did pack an emergency sewing kit, just in case, and I helped with all those tiny, silky buttons: 

I was indebted to the seamstress for suggesting
I bring a tiny crochet hook with us. Also? I 
was really glad I didn't change into my heels 
until later. 

My sister-in-law caught this moment at the reception: 

I did a lot of gazing, marveling, enjoying, talking, and living the day,
but pictures? Not so much. I mostly forgot to take any, but I know
the photographer had it all in hand.  

The same sister-in-law caught this moment for me:

Atticus and our Betsy Ray (whose real
name is Lizzy) dancing to "My Girl." 

And here's the beaming couple later, watching a fireworks show (a fringe benefit of getting married over the 4th of July weekend): 

It's time for Atticus and me to let go of the little girl we raised, but we will never stop embracing the wonderful woman she's become. 

Zech, welcome to the family. You joined us too late for me to assign you a blog name. Can I just call you son? 

For a Daughter Who Leaves

"More than gems in my comb box shaped by the
God of the Sea, I prize you, my daughter. . ."
 ~ Lady Otomo, 8th century, Japan

A woman weaves 
her daughter's wedding 
slippers that will carry 
her steps into a new life. 

[I'm skipping to the end of the poem, but you absolutely must read it in its entirety, especially if you are a mother, a daughter, or just a human being with a heart and soul and tear ducts. The next line will wreck you, in a good way.]


Now she captures all eyes 
with her hair combed smooth 
and her hips gently 
swaying like bamboo. 
The woman
spins her thread 
from the spool of her heart, 
knotted to her daughter's 
wedding slippers.

(Read the whole poem here, at 


The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

Friday, June 25, 2021

Poetry Friday: "In Summer Time"

I haven't had much time this summer to "simply be" but this poem captures the feeling of summer so vividly that I've made it a goal to lean into the feeling when life settles down a little. I look forward to "... drinking in the summer air/The summer sounds, and summer sights/That set a restless mind to rights." 

In the meantime, I look forward this weekend to joining the lovely Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise for the Poetry Friday roundup. Enjoy!  

In Summer Time
by Paul Laurence Dunbar 

When summer time has come, and all
The world is in the magic thrall
Of perfumed airs that lull each sense
To fits of drowsy indolence;
When skies are deepest blue above,
And flow'rs aflush,—then most I love
To start, while early dews are damp,
And wend my way in woodland tramp
Where forests rustle, tree on tree,
And sing their silent songs to me;
Where pathways meet and pathways part,—
To walk with Nature heart by heart,
Till wearied out at last I lie
Where some sweet stream steals singing by
A mossy bank; where violets vie
In color with the summer sky,—
Or take my rod and line and hook,
And wander to some darkling brook,
Where all day long the willows dream,
And idly droop to kiss the stream,
And there to loll from morn till night—
Unheeding nibble, run, or bite—
Just for the joy of being there
And drinking in the summer air,
The summer sounds, and summer sights,
That set a restless mind to rights
When grief and pain and raging doubt
Of men and creeds have worn it out;
The birds' song and the water's drone,
The humming bee's low monotone,
The murmur of the passing breeze,
And all the sounds akin to these,
That make a man in summer time
Feel only fit for rest and rhyme.
Joy springs all radiant in my breast;
Though pauper poor, than king more blest,
The tide beats in my soul so strong
That happiness breaks forth in song,
And rings aloud the welkin blue
With all the songs I ever knew.
O time of rapture! time of song!
How swiftly glide thy days along
Adown the current of the years,
Above the rocks of grief and tears!
'Tis wealth enough of joy for me
In summer time to simply be.

(This poem is in the public domain.)

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Poetry Friday: Summer Song by William Carlos Williams

June is slipping away amidst some major busy-ness and plenty of heat. Somehow the last two weeks of Poetry Friday slipped away from me too. I'm happy to be back with this short one from William Carlos Williams.

Summer Song

by William Carlos Williams 

Wanderer moon

smiling a

faintly ironical smile

at this

brilliant, dew-moistened

summer morning,—

a detached

sleepily indifferent

smile, a

wanderer's smile,—

if I should

buy a shirt

your color and

put on a necktie


where would they carry me?

(This poem is in the public domain.) 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Poetry Friday: Jane Hirschfield

I came across this piece — Spiritual Poetry: 22 poems about spirituality and enlightenment— by Jane Hirschfield and got lost in it. She groups the poems into categories, "gates" that she calls, "points of entry into spiritual life." 

Her gates: 

  • Permeability 
  • The Great Yes 
  • Issa's Cricket 
  • Horace's Zen 
  • Four Poets, One Theme: Spiritual Residence 
  • Four Poets, One Theme: Abundance 
  • Longing 
  • Spiritual Dialogue 
  • Realization 

She includes an expanse of poets from such varying times, places, and spaces that the result is a feeling of being in the room and sharing your sturdy and fragile humanity with the most interesting people you know. 

Here's an example of one of the poems she chose to convey "Abundance":

Of all that God has shown me

I can speak just the smallest word,

Not more than a honey bee

Takes on his foot

From an overspilling jar. 

    ~ Mechtild of Magdeburg (13th century) [translated by Jane Hirshfield]

Enjoy getting lost with me as you wander in and out of Hirschfield's gates


Michelle Kogan has the roundup today. 

Photo courtesy of Daria-Yakovleva at Pixabay

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Poetry Friday: Congratulations to Marvelous Mary Lee!

Mary Lee Hahn is retiring and the whole Poetry Friday-o-sphere is congratulating, celebrating, and honoring this queen among poets, teachers, and PF schedulers/organizers. 

I've known Mary Lee online for a longish time. I think I started participating in Poetry Friday in 2006 or 2007, and I'm sure I "met" her early on. We've never met in person, but I've visited her online home so many times that I know I can kick off my shoes when I'm visiting and spending time with this kindred spirit. 

In honor of Marvelous Mary Lee, I'm sharing a few haiku that I wrote for her. Congratulations, friend, on a marvelous career. May retirement bring you new poetic joys! 


Poet Mary Lee: 
a teacher, mentor, and friend,
crafter of wordscapes. 

An original. 
Empathy and compassion, 
evident always. 

Scheduler for all. 
So kind when I am tardy 
for PF sign-up. 

Mary Lee retire? 
Congratulations, but please ... 
don't go far away? 


Friday, May 14, 2021

Poetry Friday: Hope is the thing with feathers

Light beginning to dawn 
after the long night of Covid. 
Family fully vaxxed. 
I still gasp at this truth. 
Daughters seeing their grandparents.
Me, seeing my parents, 
alive and walking and talking, 
after Covid maimed and 
nearly claimed them. 
Recovery. Light. Daybreak. 

It's been an outlandish year, 
But also a bizarre few years. 
It's all just life, yes. 
Still, life leaves its mark. 
One thing 
after another
after another 
after another 
has changed me, affected me, 
silenced me, touched me, 
spoken to me. 
As a writer, a poet, 
a human, a mother, a wife, 
friend, sister, aunt. 
Dawn returns, that's an eternal truth. 
A time to stretch 
and reclaim what's been lost.

 And now it's time for Emily. 

Hope is the thing with feathers 

Hope is the thing with feathers - 
That perches in the soul - 
And sings the tune without the words - 
And never stops - at all - 
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard - 
And sore must be the storm - 
That could abash the little Bird 
That kept so many warm - 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land - 
And on the strangest Sea - 
Yet - never - in Extremity, 
It asked a crumb - of me.

(This poem is in the public domain.) 


The Poetry Friday round-up today is being hosted by the incomparable Irene Latham, at Live Your Poem

Photo thanks to fokustier at Pixabay

Friday, April 30, 2021

Poetry Friday: Spring Morning by Marion Strobel

Spring mornings — they're in full swing here and I couldn't be more gleeful. I used to think of autumn as my favorite season, and maybe I still do. There's nothing like that first moment when you sense the heat of summer breaking apart, its shell cracking, and you embrace the respite to come, the cool breezes that will revive your summer-wilted self.

But the promises that come with spring offer a unique form of happiness. Everything is fresh and expansive, everything is possible. Both seasons offer their own brand of rebirth. A chance to embrace enormous changes, to dream up a future that looks different, could be different, will be different. 

"O day — if I could cup my hands and drink of you," wrote Marion Strobel. Today is such a day. And everything in a weary world is possible. 

Read more about Marion Strobel here

Spring Morning
by Marion Strobel

O day—if I could cup my hands and drink of you,
And make this shining wonder be
A part of me!
O day! O day!
You lift and sway your colors on the sky
Till I am crushed with beauty. Why is there
More of reeling sunlit air
Than I can breathe? Why is there sound
In silence? Why is a singing wound
About each hour?
And perfume when there is no flower?
O day! O Day! How may I press
Nearer to loveliness?

(This poem is in the public domain.)


The Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Photo credit: jggrz, Pixabay

Friday, April 23, 2021

Poetry Friday: Dear Poet


"I think it is important to be reminded every once in a while that there are 
all kinds of beings having all sorts of experiences that are different from mine." 

"When I put words down on a page, I am listening to their music, their rhythms 
and quiet places, their moods. A poem on the page is like sheet music: it's the score 
for an experience that happens only once it's been played. The instrument is the 
reader's own life and tongue and ears. And just as with music, the poem is never 
exactly the same." 

Jane Hirshfield, in response to Zoe 

(These excerpts are part of the "Dear Poet" collection at 

I didn't have anything planned for Poetry Friday today. April is National Poetry Month and I always have such good intentions. As much as I love poetry, you'd think I'd carve out the time to do something unique and noteworthy for NPM but I always end up being so busy in April. I'm usually teaching for Brave Writer, I'm currently writing another book, and then there's all the other minutiae of life that seems to expand to fill time, no matter how much I try to simplify. I'm resigned to being an NPM failure of sorts. 

This morning, I had the familiar, Oh-my-gosh-it's-already-Poetry-Friday-again feeling. Maybe I'll do something for Poetry Friday related to my birthday, (which is this weekend), I thought. That would be fun and different. Or maybe I'll write something about being too busy to tackle National Poetry Month in precisely the way it deserves to be tackled. 

At, I typed "busyness" into the search bar. That circuitously led me to the beauty of the "Dear Poet" series, specifically to a set of letters written in April of 2016 to Jane Hirshfield. Even more specifically and serendipitously, I landed on a letter from a girl named Zoe, written on my birthday five years ago, to Hirshfield, who sent Zoe a lovely reply, which I hope and have a feeling will be treasured forever by a certain former ninth-grader. 

Zoe is probably in college now, and I hope she is still writing to poets. I'm still busy, still teaching and writing, but somehow Zoe, Jane Hirshfield, and I met at an intersection today. Poetry has a magical way of bringing people together and sparking unexpected conversations. Today, Zoe and Jane have me pondering "all kinds of beings having all sorts of experiences that are different from mine," and "the score for an experience that happens only once it's been played." They've got me thinking about the nature of busyness, and the beauty of solitude, of a thing that "slips into the heart/without hurry, as if it had never been." 

To read the poem that prompted Zoe to write to Jane Hirshfield, go here, 

Go here for all the 2016 "Dear Poet" letters, and see one from an eleventh-grade girl who begins, "I feel that you are the kind of person who would understand what it's like to be overwhelmed by the very act of being."


The roundup this week is at Reading to the Core

(Photo courtesy of Erik Karits at Unsplash.) 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Poetry Friday: The round-up is at Jama Rattigan's place


My day is packed, so no time to even throw together a post. Fortunately, though, Jama is in charge of all-things-poetry this week and you can visit her for the round-up at: 

Enjoy the feast!