Getting Coffee

A Poem

person pouring latte in mug

I see two baby deer
Going for a run.
I wonder if they are training for a 
5K or
Half marathon.

My affirmation of positivity
Smells of salt and hot sauce,
Cheese on my porterhouse –
The whiff of an interaction
With a stranger.


Mist floats over the grass hills 
Holding the story.
Attention snaps back with,
“You have the same hair as my daughter”

The cup burns
The slow ordinary 
Explosion of life
Into my palm,
Retorted with
“I really like your shirt. It is so pretty.”

Resource Share

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Yesterday a couple people asked me about the poems I read daily. Here are two resources I use:

Poem-a Day https://poets.org/poem-a-day

Paris Review Daily Poem https://theparisreview.us17.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=b6c161007733f0d4c084f3fde&id=35491ea532

Other input from yesterday:

I reread Hills Like White Elephants by Hemingway. and Bullet in the Brain by Wolff

Here is a link to the poetry challenge I do every month.

Podcasts I listened to:

10 Things to Tell You

Fierce Womxn Writing (Kim Krans Episode)

Hope this helps! What are you reading or listening to that you would share?

Have You Seen This?

A list of inspiration things you may not have stumbled upon until now!

  1. Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party

This is an installation in the Brooklyn Museum which is a triangle table honoring 39 women with a place setting.

Judy Chicago (American, born 1939). The Dinner Party, 1974–79. Ceramic, porcelain, textile, 576 × 576 in. (1463 × 1463 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. (Photo: Donald Woodman

The triangle table is unusual. There is the thought of who would I honor in such a piece. I imagine this as short story with the description of the woman and the objects that are associated with them. This art piece has stuck with me for a while. I need to write the story!

2. Questions as Poetry Prompts

This is a picture of my copyright 1985!!! version of The Book Of Questions. I love this little treasure. I have used it to journal, have conversations, get to know someone, etc. Do you have a book you have had forever?

I heard an idea this week to use questions as poetry starters! I had not done this before and got out this book for the purpose. The poet (see #3) I was inspired by used Facebook questions that popped up on her feed for her poems.

3. Amy Watkins – Poet

Amy Watkins

While listening to The Drunken Odyssey podcast King interviewed the poet Amy Watkins. She wrote a book of poetry based on questions given to her through her feed on Facebook. She was actually angered by some of the questions. Check out her book LUCKY. Mine is on its way.

Three Wands – A Poem

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Please read this poem here to support my writing.

The rolling wind brings
The power of three.
A star looks out for me
In the distance
Atop of the mountains that are
Beckoning me to come.

There is no fear
Only delight
From the True North.
The crow stands tall
Confident
High above
Considering all that is around him.

True North is
Adventure
New lands to explore,
To move beyond.

Go after the dreams
You will not fail.
Fly to them
In this significant
Vast
Expansive life.

You will succeed.

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Other poems:Sleep MoonA Poemmedium.com

Souls of PeaceA poemmedium.com

Weekend Coffee Share – Hunter Moon

A cup of coffee and a conversation!

The weather finally cooled off in the middle of a rain storm! Here is hoping it stays that way. The fuzzy warm red blanket is on the bed now. It is a great time of year. It was also a full moon last night called Hunter’s Moon! I cannot say I am hunting anything except words for the page.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I made apple slices this weekend from the fruit we picked at the orchard last weekend. They are like flat apple pie with icing and delicious. The house smelled so good when they were baking.

If we were having coffee I would tell you this week was full. There were a couple days at work that got rearranged and not by me. I always handle it better when I am the one changing it but I have to roll with it.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a great day Tuesday at a training sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education. It was a day full of math rich tasks and was super fun. I spent the day with a teacher I am working with this year and we were able to chat in a more personal way. We laughed and had a nice lunch too.

You can read the rest of this post here.

Short Story Club

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Yesterday I hosted the introductory meeting of the Short Story Club for my 7th graders. It is a small group that is focusing on deep conversation about stories and time to write in response to them. After listening to Daniel Bauer’s School Leadership Series podcast I may have them name themselves. I would be curious where their minds would go as a label.

I handed out a copy of the Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. Sandra is an interesting author who attended the Iowa Writers Workshop, but did not have a pleasant experience. She also sometimes calls her stories, “buttons”.

Many of the students had read this story previously so this was a revisit. I asked them to read it through the lens of a writer. I wanted them to pay attention and notice particular things for them to purposefully use later.

  • What pops out to you in feelings from reading this selection?
  • What lines do you notice that you like or wish you had written?
  • What craft moves is the author using that you would like to try?
  • What aspects of your own life does the story remind you of?

I allowed them to annotate on their copy, and I followed suit with mine.

The discussion then followed after reading time, focusing on the above questions.

Noticings from students:

  • The details. It was noticed and remarked that the story has the structure of being taken apart and then put together again with added details.
  • The metaphors. There were trite metaphors used referring to onions and rings inside a tree trunk in paragraph 3. These examples caused quite strong opinions. There were mixed feelings about using familiar metaphors as opposed to new ones. The unfamiliar seemed to unsettle several writers. They said a mix of familiar and unfamiliar was the perfect mix for them as readers. They also remarked that unsettling new metaphors were best in stories where you were trying to conjure those feelings – like in a scary story.
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I also asked them to share what they would write (if we had time). If they were to give themselves a prompt based on the story. What did it inspire them to write?

The responses were a mix of expected and not. Milestone ages were one topic for several students but not traditional in my eyes. One student talked about being old enough to ride his moped to school (15 1/2 years old). Quinceaneras at 15 were also discussed.

Not feeling the age you are was a common writing topic as well.

For next time I gave them a longer piece to read and mark with the same noticings: The Doormakers Will Make No Doors .

I also gave them the poem, Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye.

We will use these pieces to write the next time we meet. A companion poem I like to use with the Eleven story is Billy Collin’s On Turning Ten poem.

I am always looking for great short stories! Is there a suggestion you have for me? Leave the title in the comments and I would appreciate it.

Mentor Text Monday

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Today’s Mentor Text is a picture book from Jacqueline Woodson.

Image result for this is the rope

This is the summary from Google Books:
The story of one family’s journey north during the great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto the car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.

After I use this book for interactive read aloud the discussion leads to sharing about items in our lives that are important to us. These items have stories attached to them. The book centers around one item. This is also a good time to talk about focusing on one idea for a story if your students are trying to squeeze too much into one piece.

One of the coaching questions I am starting to use is “Which 3 stories are ones only you can tell?” Stories are important to our lives and items can be touchstones to tell those stories. I love this book to illustrate the idea of an item being a souvenir for a chapter of our own lives.

After the group discussion I have students write 3 items that are important to them on a post it note or in their writing notebook. Then the students star one item that are willing to share. I will tell the students that starring and sharing does not lock them in to writing about that one during creation time.

Then we share out. I tell students that they may add or modify their list based on the discussion. Often when writers talk new ideas spring forth. We get reminded of something important. We need to teach students to take advantage of these sunny writing moments. The shared items are written on a chart so it is accessible to students during writing time.

We also talk about what they notice about the structure of how Woodson chose to write the book. We also talk about why she chose to use the repeated phrase. Noticing author moves is important to the writing process but we also have to make sure as the teacher we lead them to make the connections back to their own writing. To understand why an author chose to use a certain craft device also eliminates the need for students to throw everything they know about craft moves into one piece. It is much more effective for them to know WHY as the author they are choosing the way to write it. Connectons to other books we have read that have repeated phrasing is good to add here as well.

Woodson uses the repeated sentence stem: This is the rope at the beginning of almost every paragraph throughout the book, which is a great structure to start with especially with reluctant writers.

Writing Springboards from this book:

  1. Use a repeated sentence stem: This is the __________ (insert important item for each student)
  2. Brainstorm stories which go along with the 3 items the student has chosen.
  3. Write a poem or their own children’s book about their most important item.

Companion book: Another book that follows a repeated pattern is The Important Book. It is written in poem form and is a good mentor text as well.

Image result for the important thing

Weekend Coffee Share #SOLC Day 31

Today we are having coffee in a little cafe in my town, The Librarium Cafe. There is a Harry Potter theme and board games. The best part is the Butter Brew. We are going to have large mugs of butterscotch, caramel, toffee and espresso deliciousness. Then I will have black coffee after one Butter Brew to cut the sweetness! haha

If we were having coffee I would tell you, this year I enjoyed the slice of life challenge as I do every year but something about this year was special. The caliber of writing was great as always but it seemed there were a lot more teachers who completed the challenge. Congratulations to every one who wrote and a special congrats to those who wrote all 31 days!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I think this coffee post is the perfect one to end the month with for the challenge. It has been met with the most commentary. I am drawn to the conversational form and love that people love it.

In the challenge, I am blessed to have met many wonderful teachers I would not have any other way. The group was interactive and allowed me to connect with people all over the world. I really hope it continues.


If we were having coffee I would tell you I have high hopes for April. I hope teachers will continue to write at least once a week. I hope they will link to their blogs on Tuesdays.I hope the commenting will continue.I hope these writers will notice how powerful their daily practice is and share that experience with students. I hope to see some familiar names at CAMP NANOWRIMO.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am now on Spring Break and am so happy! It is going to be a good writing day tomorrow! I am meeting a writer friend and I also have a writers group Zoom call in the evening.

If we were having coffee I would tell you the rejections came in last week and it made me sad. I really had to get into a different mindset after a few came one after another. I am emotional about 5 days a year and one of those days was this past week.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am thinking about silence and slow living. I am thinking about being intentional especially about time. Part of this thinking is tomorrow is the anniversary of my Oma’s death. I miss her all the time and I can hardly believe it has been 19 years now.

Do you need a refill on your coffee? Another napkin, or a glass of water?

If we were having coffee I would tell you my top productivity tool has to be Google Keep. I share dictated and typed notes with myself. I make notes from podcasts and reading. I save websites and stories to read and pictures. I can make it into a Google doc and just transfer what I need from the app or opened in the browser. I can open up Keep on the right side of my screen and scroll through different notes to add to one document in Google too! I LOVE IT!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am still on my Bradbury Trio roll! I have been reading poems from Paris Review. I am reading Neil Gaiman, Kurt Vonnegut, and Octavia Butler essays. I am reading William Maxwell short stories and others. I SHOULD make a spreadsheet….

Thank you so much for joining me for coffee! I always enjoy our visits and today was no different. Let’s have coffee again soon!

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

English to English Translation #writingprompt #SOLC Day 29

One of the writing resources I use is Language is A Virus. Here there is a list of 66 writing experiments. I used the idea of English to English translation to work on craft yesterday.

According to the site:
Homolinguistic translation: Take a poem (someone else’s, then your own) and translate it “English to English” by substituting word for word, phrase for phrase, line for line, or “free” translation as response to each phrase or sentence. Or translate the poem into another literary style or a different diction, for example into a slang or vernacular. Do several different types of homolinguistic translation of a single source poem. (Cf.Six Fillious by bp nichol, Steve McCaffery, Robert Fillious, George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Dieter Roth, which also included translation of the poem to French and German.) Chaining: try this with a group, sending the poem on for “translation” from person to another until you get back to the first author.

I used the poem, “The Imaginal Stage” by D.A. Powell.

This is what I ended up with after utilizing a thesaurus and them rewriting for more cohesion.

Inventive Theater by T.L. Breitweiser

On the plane where we change

I move away into a view of abundant worlds.

Rather than suns,

Abundant corners are fancy to scorch.

Do not settle

Perpetually adoring

An ending opportunity

When instantly they indeed appear

To settle with the mundane.

Quiver and alter

The remains of my mind

The end game is we combust

Apt to escalate at dawn

When I share my feathers.

This was an interesting exercise and more difficult than I first imagined. I would like to try it with students. I would only give students one stanza as it can be frustrating to find words that fit.