Poet Slam Artist Malcolm London

The best slice of my day at the Michigan Reading Association today was keynote speaker Malcolm London.  He is a Slam poet with an incredible message. Growing up in a harsh area in the city of Chicago, he attended high school an hour away in Lincoln Park. London described the viaduct the bus would pass under and where the two worlds changed.

Now graduated from high school and attending college, he has been featured in a TED Talk for his work in creating “Louder than a Bomb,” A youth poetry festival and poetry slam.  This year’s event is being held tonight representing 130 Chicago area schools and 1300 participants.

Some of my favorite gems from his talk today  . . .


“Poetry allows for the relativness to my life.” “ It allows for youth autonomy.”


“Poetry allows for young people to bring in the expertise of their own experience.  Allows “Who are you?”


“–not only tell their story but to change their story—give their poems feet.”

The last poem he delivered began “The richest man can never purchase yesterday” and ended with this line, “It is never too late to purchase a new beginning.”


Malcolm London offers poetry to youth as a way to start a new beginning.  A powerful gift.

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Found Poetry Today

I wrote a ” Found” poem this week while sitting at the airport.  I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge this month and I new it would be late when I arrived home, too late to write.  It was  a Yellowstone National Park brochure I noticed in my carry on bag that proved to be my inspiration.  I knew the subject of wildlife warnings would interest my third graders and my poem might encourage them to try  some Found poems of their own.

My slice inspired a fellow slicer and her third grade class to try a Found poem from a book they were reading.  How fun to share our poems!  I suggested that we email each other the  class poems to share with our students.

“Poetry Friday! ” the first student through the door declared.  I smiled to myself.  I wake up feeling the same way.  When everyone was assembled  I shared my “Wildlife Warning”poem and showed them the brochure I had worked from.  I read a few poems from Georgia Heard’s book, The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems. We looked at the poem the other third grade class had written and I showed them the book they had used for their poem.     

I pulled out the April lunch menus I had discovered in my mailbox and suggested we give it a try.  Here is our poem.

April Lunch Menu


Ice cold milk

Ultimate nachos

available daily

chicken nuggets

mashed potatoes

*Menu items contain pork

Spring Break — April 6-10

Cole’s garlic toast

Chef Zucchini makes

the best bean burrito

Grab and go tasty turkey

burger tidbits

Fresh nuts and green beans

Chili dog on a pancake

Diced grapes with dip

Fiesta For Fifty Cents

Ice cold milk

Check with the school cook for

Ordering details


There was a lot of joyful giggling and fun with this “found” poem!

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Michigan Reading Association Conference this Weekend

I’m sitting in my comfy living room chair with my dog at my feet.  Conferences tonight and it has been a long day.  I am working on a presentation I will give on Sunday, at the Michigan Reading Association Conference.  I’ve titled my talk, “Weaving Poetry Throughout Your Year.”  I enjoy sharing my love of poetry and giving ideas to teachers to incorporate poetry into their day.  I have a suitcase packed full of children’s poetry books, professional books, and even a few giveaways from some poetry friends.  I’m both excited and nervous.  My Google Slideshow is really ready if I would just stop changing and moving pictures around.  I’m never sure how the timing will go and if the tech involved will work.  I remind myself that I do this for fun.  I know it will be a blast once I begin but ohhhh–anticipation has me feeling a little nervy tonight.

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Poetry Club on Wednesdays

Every Wednesday afternoon I eat lunch on my feet. That is, if I remember to eat at all. When 11:30 arrives my classroom evolves into a Poetry Club (but smells more like a cafeteria.) Between 30 and 40 third and fourth grade students enter, notebooks in hands, and settle in to eat their lunches.  They IMG_3230
 are eager to begin writing, and it doesn’t take long for their lunches to disappear.  Soon, they are ready to write.

I usually begin our Poetry Club meeting by reading a few poems, sharing a new book of poetry, introducing a poet, or playing a recording of a poet reading.  This group is not only hungry for lunch but also for writing ideas and I try to fill them up. They each keep a list in the front of their notebooks which they add to each week. I float among the third and fourth grade poets during our workshop.  “Float” because that’s how it feels when you are lingering over a young poet’s shoulder watching words pour out into a notebook.  I will admit that sometimes it feels more like flying because it seems everyone wants me to hear a poem at the same moment.  We read, we write, and make sure to leave time to share.  I am in awe of this poetry-loving group.                                                                                                                                 


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A Book Spine Poem

IMG_3481                     A New Song

Dust tracks on a road

An unspoken hunger

The solace of open spaces

Listening to whales

Animal, vegetable, miracle

A new song-

Spotting improbable moments of Grace

Small victories



My daughter, home from college, thought it looked like fun and created this one:

Spinning Inward                                                                      IMG_3482

A child is born

The lonely victory

Their eyes were watching God

Spinning inward


Pathways to the common core

We had a blast but now there are books all over the living room and no one wants to put them away!

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A “Found” poem from a Yellowstone pamphlet

Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and   sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning.
–Definition from Wikipedia

Yellowstone Warning!
Are you hiking?
Wild animals are dangerous. 
Visitors have been gored by
Buffalo and elk that can sprint
Faster than you can run-
Three times faster. 
     Keep your distance. 
From bears and wolves-
At least 100 yards. 
Do not feed or approach wildlife,
Birds, squirrels, and coyotes. 
Respect wildlife. 

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“Grizzly Country, No Cages”

Horses wake, backs toward the sun

“Livingston, Big Timber, Billings”

Butte with tree and telephone pole

“Yellowstone National Park Exit”

Black dots stand and turn into cattle

“52 miles ahead Park Entrance, $25.00”

Yellowstone River ripples and flashes light

“Sweet Water Fly Shop”

Two swans at river’s edge

“Paradise Valley”

Horses graze

“Mine for Sapphires and Garnets”

Mountains rise and cut the sky


Bare branches stretch, brown green river winds

“Pinto Ranch”

Gray hawk glides

“Wildlife Crossing Next 6 Miles”

Pronghorn hide in brush

“White Water Scenic River Tours”

Shaggy elk soak in sun

“Devil’s Slide”

Steaming puddle

“Canyon Campground”

River rushes snow edged

“Yellowstone Village”

Dry yellow, gold grasses, sun

“Yellowstone North Entrance — 1872 — For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”


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Montana Sky

Don’t tell,

but someone

spilled powdered sugar

on those hard angles of brown

sugar left in the cupboard too long.

Left it there and didn’t dust  ’til spring

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I’m Excited to Celebrate National Poetry Month in April

Today is not only the first day of spring but it is also Poetry Friday.  I am leaving a link to my Poetry Port for my Slice today.


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Anticipating my personal days — a ski trip to beautiful Bozeman, Montana.

Drinking coffee at 5:00 a.m.

Typing up two days of lesson plans. Yikes!  Can’t leave anything out-

Remembering to add the Fire Drill.

Gathering materials for our Biography project, life size figures.

Packing  What will I need? Always comes last!

Thinking about flying and meeting up with my husband and daughter.

Worrying a bit about skiing. (Four years since my last trip out west-”Just like riding a      bike“)

Hoping to have time to relax and that this feeling in my throat isn’t a cold.

Planning visits to small  bookstores and reading at coffee shops.

Finding internet and Slicing about my trip.

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