Friday, March 02, 2018

Ekphrastic Poems With My Poetry Sisters

This month Liz offered up a photo as fodder for our poems. She took this at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Photo ©Liz Garton Scanlon

I did a quick brainstorming exercise, but had a hard time getting away from "between a rock and a hard place." Eventually, the word wedge came to me, and I spent some time thinking about examples of wedges -- a Trivial Pursuit pie, summer sandals, a tool for splitting wood, and more. In the end, it wasn't the noun that moved me, but the verb.

On Learning Vocabulary
Research on vocabulary learning contends we need 12 to 20 meaningful exposures to learn a word (McKeown, Beck, Omanson, and Pople, 1985). These exposures are most effective if they appear over an extended period of time.
1. force into a narrow space
Age 3
That painful ear wasn’t
due to infection
but rather a small plastic toy
from the gumboil machine
stuck where it didn’t belong

Age 4
No, my head wasn’t meant
to fit between the support
bars underneath the kitchen table

Age 5
Playing hide and seek
in the house
my favorite spot was
between the furnace and the wall

Age 7
When my older sister’s boyfriends
came to the house
I regularly charmed my way
into the space between them
on the couch

Age 11
First day of junior high
changing classes in a crowded hallway
turning sideways didn’t make it easier
to pass, but flying elbows did

Age 16
The thrill of my first subway ride
accompanied by the terror
of bodies pressed on every side
wondering how I'll ever get out

Age 17
First time on a plane
Continental airlines flight
from Buffalo to San Francisco
middle seat between two smokers

Age 19
Friday night dance lessons
female cadets in dress blues lined the wall
surrounded by Conn College coeds
in beautiful civilian clothes

Age 20
Before you set sail you learn
that you can't turn around in the head
or sit up in the bunk

Age 22
Raised voices, fists flying
trying to separate two eighth grade boys
close enough to both
to feel the spit and tears

Age 25
It's an interesting dance
trying to fit into too small
clothes - that dress, those jeans

Age 35
Eight months pregnant
stubbornly trying to thread the gap
in public spaces I clearly wasn't meant
to navigate

Age 52
Preparing dinner
Cooper jams his head
between my legs and the counter
hoping for some scraps

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2018. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Renee at No Water River. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

#nf10for10 - Inspiring Future Scientists

I've been away from blogging for a while, only checking in when I'm writing with my poetry sisters. Now that the spring semester is well underway, I'm trying to get back in the swing of things. Since it's February 10th and I love book lists, the nonfiction 10 for10 seemed a good way to start.

This academic year (17-18) I've been fortunate to go back to teaching a stand alone science methods course. This means I have 14 full weeks to spend with preservice teachers thinking about best practices in teaching elementary science. One of skills we develop is in keeping a scientist's notebook. In addition to using it for close observations, wonder questions, experimental data, nature observations, and more, we are using it to compare our work to the work found in the notebooks of naturalists and scientists. In doing this, I've been sharing a number of books about scientists. Here are just a few of my favorites. I hope you consider sharing these with your future scientists.

written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by‎ Raúl Colón

written by Matthew Clark Smith and illustrated by Giuliano Ferri 

written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Jessica Lanan 

written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by‎ Maris Wicks 

written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by‎ Daniel Rieley 

written by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens 

written and illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson  

written by Jeannine Atkins  

written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky  

written by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by‎ Jill McElmurry  

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but I'm sticking to 10, though I do want to cheat and throw in a few more. I guess that just means I'll need to revisit this topic.

You can read more about nf10for10 at It's Coming: February's Nonfiction Picture Book Event.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Writing Tanka With My Poetry Sisters

Last month we wrote sonnets on any subject. This month Laura challenged us to write in response to those sonnets in the form of a tanka. Tanka is a form of Japanese poetry that has been practiced for more than 1000 years. Tanka is generally defined as a poem composed of 31 syllables in a 5-7-5-7-7 format, though varying syllable lengths are allowed as long as the general from of short-long-short-long-long is followed. Most tanka focus on a single event of some significance.

My challenge was to respond to Laura's poem about the comfort offered to us by animals, in this case, a horse named Mae. Laura's poem was so vivid, I could see myself approaching Mae in the cold and snow, eventually taking in her warmth. You can read Laura's poem at Mae's Wall of Warmth.

I generally do better with these monthly exercises when I have a form and/or topic, and this time I had both. Honestly, if you look at these pictures of me from childhood, you'll understand why I was thrilled to write in response to Laura's poem.
This poem brings back so many happy memories.

Midnight haunts my dreams
my brother's sturdy pony
walking through the snow
bridle-led he carries me
from barn to field and back again.

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2018. All rights reserved.

Here's a picture of my brother and his pony, and one of me and Midnight.
You can read the tanka written written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Donna at Mainely Write. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Welcoming the New Year with My Poetry Sisters and Sonnets

I'm so thrilled to be embarking on another year of writing with my poetry sisters. This month the challenge was to write a sonnet. I chose the curtal sonnet form for a bit of a challenge. The shorter length actually made this a bit harder than a traditional sonnet. If you know the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins, you'll recognize this form. You can read a bit about the curtal sonnet at The Poet's Garret.

I'll admit that I have a hard time with these challenges when there is no theme. I was the kid who had a terrible time in English when the teacher said "free write." I do much better with direction, so I hard a really hard time picking a topic. Because I've been spending so much time doing yoga, I thought I'd focus on breath. As often happens, this poem didn't go where I expected it. And though I like the form, this feels unfinished. I could have used the additional 3 lines. Oh well ...

Deep Breath
From that first moment on the earth we learn
to breathe. The lungs expand give power to
our cries, not feeble chirps but gut deep wails
proclaiming we are here. Each breath in turn
like heart beats marks the days. In and out through
years we deep inhale, swelling chests like sails
that catch the breeze. Before we undertake
a daunting task, or dive beneath the blue
of water’s wake, we’re strengthened by the tales
of those who came before. Breathe deep, awake,
blaze trails.

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2018. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Lai

Another year of writing poetry with my sisters is coming to a close. The challenge this month was to write poems about hope, light or peace in the form of the Lai.

The Lai is a French syllabic verse form consisting of one or more stanza of nine lines with two rhymes, though the rhyme can vary from stanza to stanza. Here are features of the form.
  • 9 lines.
  • Rhyme scheme is a-a-b-a-a-b-a-a-b.
  • Lines ending with rhyme a are five syllables in length.
  • Lines ending with rhyme b are two syllables in length.
I wrote a few poems about hope and peace and they were all really depressing. I gave up and stopped writing for a while. Last night I brainstormed a bunch of light topics and came up with stars, the Northern lights, fire, and daylight savings time. After this, I wrote several lists of rhyming words and then just tried to make something work. Here's what I came up with.

The Perseids
They wait on midnight
close round the campsite
no sound
the sky in their sight
no bright city light
to drown
the meteors bright
hot streaks glowing white
fall down

Crowning a Fairy
Orange embers glow bright
root fae to the site
Warmed by heat and light
Earth’s cold losing bite
The queen of the night
the flames her birthright
is crowned

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Poetry Friday - Marathon

I've spent the last three months training for a half marathon. Imagine my dismay when I threw my back out two weeks ago, just 13 days before the race. I spent an entire week flat on my back. I've iced and heated, been to therapy, had a massage, and done everything possible to get myself ready to run on the 11th (that's tomorrow). I'm not really sure I am in any shape to do this, but last week when I joined my team for the last Saturday of training, they all encouraged me to come for the race, even if all I can do is walk. I haven't actually run since October 28th, but my hope is to lace up and see how I feel. I have so many folks supporting me that I just can't imagine being anywhere else come Saturday morning.
Since all I'm thinking about is running, this poem is most appropriate for today.

by E. Ethelbert Miller

it’s a strange time which finds me jogging
in early morning
the deadness of sleep alive in this world
the empty parks filled with unloved strangers
buildings grey with solitude

Read the poem in its entirety.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Triolets

This month Liz challenged us to write a triolet that included at least two of the following words:
  • orange
  • fall
  • chill
  • light
  • change
I like triolets, but man, are they hard to write. Even though a triolet is an 8-line poem, it uses only two rhymes used throughout. Additionally, the first line is repeated in the fourth and seventh lines, while the second line is repeated in the final line. Because of this, only five different poetic lines are written.  The rhyme scheme for a triolet is ABaAabAB (where capital letters stand for repeated lines).

Here are a few poems I scratched out while flat on my back this week.

Triolet 1
Despite the orange and red of fall
some folks prefer the green of spring
choose lilacs over pumpkin haul

How bright the orange and red of fall
that usher out the bat and ball
and welcome geese upon the wing

Oh glorious orange and red of fall
you far surpass the green of spring!

Triolet 2 
She fell in love with a flier
  but it’s dangerous to fall
  for the chills and thrills of a wire
She fell in love with a flier
  knowing he'd walk through fire
  to answer a curtain call
It’s hard to love a flier
  when it’s dangerous to fall

Triolet 3 
I prefer things stay the same
 yes, change is overrated
Since life is but a waiting game
 I prefer things stay the same
Won't fall for highly specious claims
 what's meant to be is fated
I hope to God things stay the same
 for change is overrated.

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Linda at Teacher Dance. Happy poetry Friday friends.