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The BEST Sentences are Poetic!

This poem is a call to ACTION:

   to see light through the color slide,

   to listen for the sound of the hive,

   to watch the mouse wander its way through the maze of the poem,

   to feel around in the dark for a light switch,

   to waterski and wave at the author who is standing at the shore

   (patiently smiling, I imagine).

This poem is also a REMINDER:

   to NOT tie the poem to a chair and to NOT torture a confession out of it.


Deconstructing poems to shreds of rudimentary grammar and mechanics, rhythm and rhyme scheme, always distracts the reader from the ability of poetry to resonate a wonderful thought provoking idea!

Reading poetry aloud helps us hear the lovely sounds of language.

Reading poetry on the page helps us see the way words work together.

This poem is comprised of four sentences. Each begins with a capital letter and ends with a mark—four beautifully simple sentences broken into bite-sized fragments. In four sentences, Billy Collins teaches us the purpose of every single poem.  And when a poet writes a poem to help us consider just exactly what a poem is, well that poem is a an ars poetica (click through to learn a little more).

Listen to Billy Collins narrate this wonderful poem here.



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Shakespeare’s Words

Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

But Shakespeare knew this long before Mark Twain spoke these words!

Have you ever received an invitation? Well, you can thank William Shakespeare for bringing that happy word into popularity! William Shakespeare actually invented 1700 words over the course of his lifetime and generously brought them into the wide world through his 154 sonnets and 38 plays.

Dis you know that the rate of words disappearing from English is greater than the rate they are appearing? Yes, the English language is shrinking! I, for one, am so thankful for William Shakespeare and the words he left us to chew on. 

Shakespeare used verbs as adjectives and nouns as verbs. We see the verb “impair” used as an adjective in his play Troilus and Cressida: “Nor dignifies an impair thought with breath.” In his play, Julius Caesar,” he uses the noun “dog” as a verb: ”Destruction straight shall dog them at the heels.” He generated compound words like starblasting and doghearted and so much more! He played with suffixes. He played with prefixes. His imagination was limitless!

Above all else Shakespeare reminds us, like Mark Twain, that every word has unique power to communicate!

Come December, we will be celebrating Twelve Days of Haiku. More details tomorrow, but let’s begin with the prizes! We will be giving away a wonderful pairing of Shakespeare’s Words: A Glossary & Companion and Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk. We will be offering this pairing to three three winners on the last day of 2023!










More details tomorrow!


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Three Ideas with Apples

It’s apple picking time! Apples are quintessentially fall. Following are three ideas with apples to help you “switch it up” with activities to enjoy those fall feelings…


Listen to an apple story (this one was a favorite in our house).

Another favorite is How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman.

Read an apple poem:

A Drop Fell on the Apple Tree (794) by Emily Dickinson

A Drop fell on the Apple Tree —
Another – on the Roof —
A Half a Dozen kissed the Eaves —
And made the Gables laugh —

A few went out to help the Brook
That went to help the Sea —
Myself Conjectured were they Pearls —
What Necklaces could be —

The Dust replaced, in Hoisted Roads —
The Birds jocoser sung —
The Sunshine threw his Hat away —
The Bushes – spangles flung —

The Breezes brought dejected Lutes —
And bathed them in the Glee —
The Orient showed a single Flag,
And signed the fête away —


Paint some apples. This painting is a “study” (a copycat!). Pick up a canvas, some brushes, and a few tubes of acrylic paint. Before you begin, do some research. Do you know Paul Cézanne? Listen to a story about his apple paintings. Now study the apple painting by Paul Cézanne that inspired the copycat above! The first step of a painting is to prepare the canvas. Create a light brown to wash all over the canvas. This will dry quickly and once it does, use a pencil to sketch the apples—four on the top, and six on the bottom. Notice how each apple has a beautiful organic shape? There are zero perfect circles here! The next step is to add your big brush strokes of color—red and yellow and green. Can you mimic the colors? Here’s a hint: never paint straight out of a tube. To get a Cézanne red, you must mix a tiny drop of green into a quarter-sized blob of the red. To get a Cézanne yellow, you must mix a tiny drop of purple into a quarter-sized blob of the yellow. To get a Cézanne green, you must mix a tiny drop of red into a quarter-sized blob of the green. Mixing with complimentary colors (colors opposite each other on the color wheel) make beautiful complex hues! Practice mixing colors until you have colors that are similar to Cézanne. The dark blue-black outline work is the very last step.


Draw an apple and write an apple poem! Following are two photographs to inspire a small poem.  Fall is the time of year when we enjoy back-to-school. The leaves are changing and there may even be a scrumptious apple pie baking in the oven! Fall is the perfect season to write our ideas! What better way to capture a wonderful fall feeling than to craft a haiku for a change in season!



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Write a Summer Sink Monster


As summer sizzles her sunshine, be inspired by a delightful collection of clever images at our Write it…! board on Pinterest to write a poem or two. Write about some whimsical or fantastical creature from your imagination. Begin with sentences that you break into poetic pieces.  Remember to “show” the reader concrete sensory details. Take inspiration from the creativity of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” and William Blake’s “The Tyger.”


Sink Monster

This one lived beneath the kitchen sink:

When I was a child, I could hear its

Subterranean gurgling from the pipeline guts

Of the basement. I could have sworn I saw

The tip of its fin peek out from the drain,

Or heard the snap of its jaws, with its many

Monstrously tiered teeth after turning the faucet off.


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Ars Poetica for April

A poem about “what-is-a-poem” is an Ars Poetica.


Sometimes a poem is as small as a list.

Sometimes it encompasses all the words we need.

Sometimes a poem is restless buttons  in a jar.

But always,

a  l  w  a  y  s

a poem

is translucent,

waiting to unfurl

its magic.


~Kimberly Bredberg

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Caterpillar of Birds


Write poem that is at once a story describing an image or event or memory. Be imaginative. Think Caterpillar of Birds. Be the blind man who thinks he is describing a snake but is actually describing an elephant. Draw more inspiration from metaphor and synecdoche.

“The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop overtly describes the catching of a fish, but subtly describes the concept of choice, the wonder of the natural world, mortality, beauty, and more.



“Dropping a Plate While Washing Dishes”


I nearly caught it—

the plunge of dish from hand

frame by frame was frozen

as the slippery china slid,

still fleeced with shining bubbles,

from my gloves, and the wild waltz

of slippery fingers grasping

still failed to stop

its spiral to floor: one frame remains

still rendering in loops—

my heartbeat expanded into

throbs of meaty bass

the second when the runaway

nearly seemed suspended

above the unforgiving tile,

I stood staring like a friend

left behind on a train platform,

even after the floor burst

into a kaleidoscope, shreds

of blue glass.



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It’s April… Read and Write Poetry!

Try Douglas Florian.

Winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and recipient of an ALA Notable Children’s Book Award, Douglas Florian is the author and illustrator of many children’s books. He believes there is only one rule when it comes to poetry, that there are no rules. Douglas Florian gives credit to his father as his first art teacher, who taught him to love nature. He begins his poems with research of the real thing and then uses that information to create an imaginary poem. Douglas Florian lives in New York City with his wife and five children.

Try Love That Dog.

What is a poem anyway?

I don’t want to
because boys

don’t write poetry.

Girls do.

Meet Jack, who tells his story with a little help from some paper, a pencil, his teacher, and a dog named Sky.

Although this guide includes many of the same elements as the other Level 1 guides, such as vocabulary and comprehension, the format is unique.Each week, your student will be encouraged and guided to write poems in the style of each poet being introduced in the story.

Try Locomotion.

When Lonnie Collins Motion – Locomotion – was seven years old, his life changed forever.

Now he’s eleven, and his life is about to change again. His teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper. And suddenly, Lonnie has a whole new way to tell the world about his life, his friends, his little sister Lili, and even his foster mom, Miss Edna, who started out crabby but isn’t so bad after all

Poetry bundleTry Exploring Poetry.

Discover the poet within you!

This unit will help you discover the craft of writing poems and the delight of reading poetry. Over the course of seven weeks you will be introduced to some of the basic techniques used by poets, explore excellent poetry, and practice writing original poems. Each section is designed to be completed in about two, one hour sittings.

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I bought these cookies at an after-Christmas-sale for $1 nearly 7 years ago. They have a shelf life in common with Peeps!

I keep them tucked in a drawer with my poetry trinkets. I take a peek every now and then when I need a reminder.

Much more than stale crumbs,

this is the wonder of chemistry


“Joy is intrepid!”




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Fox, Crow, and Mistletoe


Inspired by this Native Vermont image discovered while poking about on Pinterest, take inspiration from a food chain. Take inspiration from the “>”mathematical sign, from the chain of dominance in games such as rock-paper-scissors. Now, write a poem!




Rock Paper Scissors


Rock is greater than scissors,

Crushing is greater than slicing,

Stoic stone crumbles the sharp

Metal beaks of plastic cranes


Scissors are greater than paper,

Slicing is greater than folding,

Sharp metal beaks chew through

The crumpled skin of a dry lotus


Paper is greater than rock,

Folding is greater than crushing,

Long petals stretch their crumpled

Flesh over the face of stoic stone



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Haiku of Thanksgiving


These pumpkins don’t grow on vines but they have something in common with fortune cookies and piñatas.

The Recipe:
1. Take a lunch-sized paper bag and fill the bottom with torn paper.
2. Before twisting closed, insert a handcrafted thanksgiving haiku or two.
3. Twist the top of the bag tight.
4. Paint using pumpkin colors.
5. After the paint is dry, use ribbon and raffia to decoratively seal the stem.

Display during the Thanksgiving season and tear open when it’s time to celebrate gratitude.