{posting our january poetry plan}


I love this statement from Audre Lorde’s poem of the same title – poetry is not a luxury, but a necessity to remind of us thoughts and feelings and ways of seeing. This ‘ways of seeing’ is going to be a recurring theme for me this year, as the Poetry Sisters celebrate our unique and varied visions and our ability to all look at one thing and come away with seven different ideas about it. Viva la difference!

Welcome to another Poetry Friday Poetry Peeps Adventure!

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge for the month of January! Here’s the scoop: We’re writing ekphastic poetry on… piñatas. No, really. Those hollow-hearted paper beasts we love to beat might not be something you think are poem-worthy – usually – but you’ve NEVER seen piñatas like these. Featured on PBS’s fabulous Craft In America series, we’re celebrating the humble piñata as elevated by Robert Benavidez. Check out his work. Are you game? Good! Whichever of his creative creatures and absolutely out-there works of art that you choose, you have a month to craft your creation and share it on January 26 in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

HAPPY 2024!

May you offer art without apology as you celebrate YOUR way of seeing.

{DISCOVERING DYSCALCULIA interview}

It was my absolute delight to be able to do this interview with Laura Jackson, author, parent, and all around calm and understanding human being. I absolutely love to get a chance to talk to people about how they’ve managed their disabilities and advocated for their loved ones, and how Laura did it for her daughter’s was to write a book and start a newsletter and do her darnedest to demystify the situation and educate adults and kids alike. I have so much respect for the work and love she put in for her daughter.

You should check out Discovering Dyscalculia. I’m so glad to be able to recommend it as a resource.

{pf: pp go mano a mano with monotetras}

Welcome to another Poetry Friday Poetry Peeps adventure!

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge for the month of August! Here’s the scoop: We’re doing Exquisite Corpse poetry. These collaborative poems necessarily involve yourself and at least one other passing lines or stanzas along, so now’s the time to start choosing poetry compatriots. Are you in? Good! The Poetry Sisters are continuing with our 2023 theme of TRANSFORMATION somehow wedged or sneaked into this form – and we’re going to also sneak in a few of Linda Mitchell’s clunkers to give us more to play with. If you’re still game, you have a month to craft your creation and share it on August 25th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


It’s eleventy billion degrees here as I’m writing this (though tomorrow is forecast to be a whole five degrees cooler) and I view the calendar with horror… After a mostly mild summer which has suddenly hit ridiculous temperatures, it’s almost August… Which means it’s all but over. What?! My tomatoes haven’t even bothered to ripen!! In our neck of the woods, by August 1st, many teachers report back to school. At my nephew’s school, August 13th… is the first day of classes.

As the Bard says, “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

As always, my imagination takes me back to school this time of year (no matter how former, no teacher ever seems to lose the idea that September begins a new year) and I was thinking about the differences between my nephew at the beginning of his junior high experience, when he was a talkative, shorter, rounder person – and who he became by the end of it – a lanky, tall person who won’t use two words when a grunt and a side-eye would do. These thoughts fit well into our poetic theme of transformation — though for a while it felt like not much fit a monotetra. This is such a deceptively simple form, just four lines and eight syllables per line – but the final line repeating the same four syllables was… hard. With such a short syllable allotment for the stanzas, it feels as if each word should do more work than simply sitting there, so a repetition seemed pointless. I tried to make it work with homonyms – and I’m aware I wasn’t entirely successful (and at one point just gave myself an out to do what I wanted) but did I mention that it’s eleventy billion degrees out? I’m doing a patented L.P. Salas One & Done today, since normally we’re all a mite envious of her ability to just crank a poem out and call it good. We peeps are here for the PRACTICE of poetry, not the perfection of it, and I’ve officially practiced. I’m out.

(Gotta admit, though, that I did like playing with the homonyms, and sometime when I’m in a better mood, this might be a form to revisit. For someone who usually doesn’t mind requirements of rhymes and rules and syllables … the final line thing felt unnecessary, and for me, didn’t add anything. Others may have had a MUCH better time, however, so don’t miss the Laura Salas special, or Sara’s poemsmith-ery, or Mary Lee’s wordswimming. Tricia’s poeming is here, and Liz’s poem is here. Michelle K’s parrot poem is here, and Heidi’s nototetra slays me, while Linda B’s is scary. Carol’s gorgeous flowers (and poem) are here. Kelly isn’t with us this month, but other Peeps may be checking in with their masterful monotetra-ing throughout the weekend, so stay tuned.) Don’t miss the Bookseed Studio Dragonfly Bonanza – thanks Jan, for hosting Poetry Friday today!


EIGHTH GRADE

when you walk into a classroom
in eight grade, you won’t assume
that you’re a bud about to bloom:
(Cramped petals push: Make room! Make room!)

In every classroom, eyes compare
Those newly tall, some longer hair
Such change! Arriving from nowhere!
Of who, what, where – you’re quite aware.

Suddenly, last year’s playground joy
Is sneered at – who’s got time for toys?
The things you once loved now annoy.
You’re moody, coy, your moods decoy.

Fast as the year is passing by,
The sparkling social butterflies
Befriend the world. You’re so tongue-tied
You get a high from saying “hi.”

But then – the last class of the year!
One final test, and then a cheer
Erupting, you launch into gear.
You leap like deer. You disappear.


One thing the endless round of school years reminds us is that time. just. flies. The days get shorter and the years blur faster and the what you wanted to do won’t wait for the when you thought you would do it… No matter what happened yesterday, there is still a road forward into tomorrow. Now is the best present we’re ever going to get – so grab it with all your senses and make it count. Here’s to leaning open-heartedly into your one wild, precious life. Happy (Breathlessly Hot) Weekend.

{pf: poetry peeps write quote-ably}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge for the month of July! Here’s the scoop: we’re writing monotetra poems. This four-line stanzas form is in tetrameter, with a total of 8 syllables per line, and can be a single quatrain, or several. Each stanza is mono-rhymed (each line has the same end rhyme), and the final line of each stanza repeats the same four syllables Writers’ Digest has an example. The Poetry Sisters are continuing with our 2023 theme of TRANSFORMATION somehow wedged or sneaked into this form. You have a month to craft your creation and share it on July 28th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Thought-provoking words from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: “We may not have wings or leaves, but we humans do have words. Language is our gift and our responsibility.” Those are the words before the sentence Mary Lee proposed for this month’s writing quote, which is, “If grief can be a doorway to love, then let us all weep for the world we are breaking apart so we can love it back to wholeness again.”

…language is our gift and our responsibility. Though perhaps not in the way that Kimmerer intended, because my mind is far from the natural world, this phrase has really resonated this month. I’m always conscious of when I make a social expression of concern… – promising to keep friends in my thoughts or prayers, to find a way to help, if I can; to keep a daughter/son/husband in mind if I hear about a job/hear about an opening/tutor/book they might need or like. We promise each other so many tiny things in the name of care, a hundred small words that we genuinely mean in the moment they emerge. How many of them do we carry through? Because I AM Me, these are the types of things that revisit my thoughts late at night.

I am always disappointed in myself when I fail to fulfill the social exchanges I have promised. I feel, frankly, like a liar. We all fail, though, to follow through sometimes – sometimes on smaller, and sometimes on a larger scale. What would happen if we let that sting of feeling bad about it …change things? What if it all… meant something? What if we could go backwards and fix all the times in the past, from bad faith treaties to outright grift and lies, that have made the social contract has fallen apart? What wouldn’t we all give for a time machine that we could flip, and get a do-over.

I started out trying to use a villanelle for this poem, but a four-stanza pantoum – a form I normally struggle with – suggested itself, and, shockingly, worked out. The shorter lines conveyed a sense of my theme without drowning me in it, hinting at multiple meanings and not locking me into one way of looking at grief, change, or loss. I also took the opportunity to use one of Linda M’s clunker lines while revising. I swapped a clunker of my own with “for minute sips of time,” which worked amazingly, and is an absolutely BRILLIANT line, so thank you, Linda, I’ll take it!

I like the way this reads, laid out differently, too:

Time Machine

If grief can lead the way/ ‘cross the threshold of the world,
For minute sips of time /recreate our past again.

Cross the threshold of the world/ where our words, no longer lies
Recreate our past again/ bedrock-solid as we stand.

With our words no longer lies/ we, who never kept our word,
Bedrock-solid, make a stand/ make this lever pivot worlds.

We, who never kept our word/ if grief can lead the way
Make this lever pivot. Worlds,/ for minute sips of time.

I’m so glad I’m not teaching this poem, so I don’t have to force it to mean something that makes entirely coherent sense to anyone but me. ☺ Other poetic thoughts on quotations can be found at Cousin Mary Lee’s place, at Laura’s blog, at Tricia’s, and at Liz’s website. Michelle K’s lovely responsive poem is here. More Poetry Peeps will be checking in throughout the weekend, so don’t forget to pop back for the round up. And, Poetry Friday is ably hosted today by Irene Latham, who invites you to celebrate the moon in June and read more remarkable, thought-provoking, creative poetry. Happy Friday, and enjoy the supermoon and Independence Day.

{npm23 – headline cinquain}

It’s so weird to end a month on a Sunday – and it always feels a little sad to end the daily practice of NPM poems. I’ve had fun playing with cinquain. I don’t feel like I’m any better at them, but I do love how the five-line poem can be both so concise and full, depending on syllable count. I found I preferred the Crapsey; ten syllables for an end line feels simply too long – and too hurried, everything all at the end.

Today’s poem is a bit of a cheat; this isn’t news from the world, but from the microcosm of my garden. My alyssum sprouted and immediately burst jubilantly into teensy-tiny (I’m quite squatted down for this shot), scented flowers, so I figured that was the best news of the world I could get. Happy May, friends – fresh breezes, sunny days, more rain soon, and plenty of flowers. The best of the season to you.


{story chat: angie thomas & books of wonder}

A breezy, sunny weekend, good books and avid readers! Looking forward to hanging out in the North Bay this Saturday night!

And, then Sunday afternoon, I’ll be virtually jetting to New York to talk with even more great book people!

I hope you can join me one place or the other – you can definitely still reserve your spot on Crowdcast with Books of Wonder, so if you can, do! If not, there will be recordings and photographs posted from both events, and I’ll tell you all about them later.

Until then…

{welcome to your poetry friday post!}

You are cordially invited to March…

In this hemisphere, March is the month of seeds, the month of being in the raw cold, pushing seeds into the clammy earth with cold fingers.

I haven’t yet gotten to the second part of that last sentence, the pushing in of the seeds with cold fingers. I’m still in the indoors stage, waiting for the raw cold to abate, trying to possess my soul in patience at each new frost warning. This is why half the dining room table is covered with seedlings, strawberry plants and lavender bushes straining toward the light. This is why both my lasagna pans are filled with mini pots of soil. This is not a month for company at my house; I have little packets of seeds and pots on most flat surfaces, and nowhere to put you that isn’t covered with proto-plants. I think I’m worse than usual this year, because it’s been such a cold, gray time. Not just winter, of course; winter is supposed to be cold and gray. I mean the cold grayness of book bans and disheartening political chicanery, of climate threats, and mass shootings, of war anniversaries. I have never needed the hope and anticipation of a garden more.

For moments like these, there’s Poetry Friday.

Join the Roundup here.



The Poetry Sisters have been riffing off of the word “transformation” as part of their poetic peregrinations this year. One of the synonyms for the word, evolution, has been quietly reverberating through my poetry practice. With my Deeper Dive group, I’ve been “diving” into some of the exercises in The Practice of Poetry, with the goal of keeping better track of how my poems change, and where I begin with them as opposed to where I end up. It’s been kind of intriguing to see some of them come together, and to feel like I am finally beginning to find my feet as a semi-sorta-kinda poet. (Don’t @ me – it’s a process.)

In doing an exercise to imaginatively embody inanimate objects, I tried to apply the idea of change. I tried to imagine what typically comes to mind when I think of this or that object – and then toss it, enabling me to think past my first reflexive thoughts. Most of my beginnings weren’t poems, they were lists – beginning with the word “I am.” Three objects later, I returned to look at my lists and try and figure out what lines, moved and rearranged, had some kind of theme to them. A few more switches and refinements, and I began to hear… something. Is it a poem yet? Maybe? All I know is, it’s a …start.

The key to having gotten this far is having… started. It sounds kind of obvious when stated so baldly, but it took me a while to figure that out. So many people want to “be a writer,” and state this desire with a fervid sort of earnestness… but writers learn that desire alone cannot be the endpoint. It’s desire and. Desire and work. Desire and beginnings, middles and endings. It’s desire and editing and rewriting. How do you get there from here? You…desire, and then you begin. Somehow in prose I knew that, but just hadn’t figured it out for poetry.

So, anyway, here you are – land cleared and furrow turned. Here you are with seeds in your back pocket, looking at this expanse of earth, wishing for a garden.

I’ve got great news for you – you can take the next step to whatever your goals are. Transformation is at your fingertips. Are you game?

A frequent saying of mine is that anything I write, I’m also writing to myself. As I have a meeting with my editor (triumphantly back from striking) in a few hours, I’ll be thinking of the transformations ahead – the beginnings and the work to be done. As I continue to noodle with various poems, as I look out at the gray world, I’ll be thinking of the transformations necessary. The seeds in my pocket. The call to… begin.

Good luck, all. Remember…


Poetry Peeps! A little reminder for our challenge in the month of March: We’re writing an etheree. 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. You have a month to craft your creation and share it on March 31st in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

{poetry sisters do some poetry planning}

Greetings, & welcome to the Poetry Peeps adventures in …2023!

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to join us for another year of random poetry adventures wherein we challenge, entertain, and confound each other, and sometimes surprise ourselves, too. The Seven Sisters chose a word this year which will reverberate through our poems in various ways. The word is “transformation,” and many are the paths winding their way to it within our minds.

Here’s the scoop for January: This month, 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 some inkling of the idea (or word) transformation as you write. You have a month to craft your creation and box it up on January 27th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

Welcome to the fun. Here’s to the TRANSFORMATIONS of 2023!