Posted in Poetry Blooms, The Writing Life

National Poetry Month: Week 2 Wrap-Up


I hope you’ve  been able to join me over on Facebook for National Poetry Month. I’ve had fun compiling poems, links, activities, and more for you to enjoy. If you missed out, here is what Week 2 held.

Daily Poetry Plan (1)

Life happened during Monday of Week 2 and I was unable to do a live broadcast. Instead, I posted a link to Maya Angelou’s reading of her famous poem “And Still I Rise.”

Tuesday Daily Plan

For a poetry prompt this week, I shared from the site called NaPoWriMo. I encourage you to check out their site and look around. If you’re in the mood to write, they have some wonderful prompts. This one, I believe, is particularly accessible for all age groups.

Today, I’m going to share a prompt taken from the wonderful site: NaPoWriMo.

This site offers prompts for each day during National Poetry Month. You can scroll through the page and find many, many great prompts.

Here’s the prompt from Day 6.

“Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that looks at the same thing from various points of view. The most famous poem of this type is probably Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” You don’t need to have thirteen ways of looking at something – just a few will do!”

If you’d like to try this with kids, it would be a fun exercise in point of view–telling about something through various viewpoints and voices. It could be 3 ways of looking at a bag of candy! I’m sure the siblings could imagine the various points of view! Have fun. Experiment. And let me know if you give it a shot.


Wednesday Daily plan

On Wednesday, I shared about something that I love and something even my kids love: Poetry Teatime! What is this, you ask? Well, it’s a simple event where you gather a few poems, find some yummy snacks and drinks, and sit with your children to enjoy poetry. Believe it or not, it is a beautiful and fun time. So after sharing a fun infographic, I shared a few links to some of my favorite Poetry Teatime resources. ENJOY!

Who Loves TEA?!?!

Today I’m showcasing Poetry Teatime is all its awesome glory.

Poetry Teatime is something I came across when I was researching homeschooling. I read endlessly. Hours and hours. Looking back at my notes, there was one thing I had written down more than once: Poetry Teatime.

Poetry Teatime (from the wonderful Julie Bogart and her Brave Writer team) has brought a bit of enchantment to our homeschool. Many families do Poetry Teatime each week; however, we usually manage to do it once a month. The great thing about this bit of magic is that there is no ONE way it has to be done. The possibilities are endless!

Here are a few ways various families have interpreted Poetry Teatime:

For a great basic overview of Poetry Teatime, the lovely Mary from NotBefore7 has a great post called POETRY TEATIME FOR FAMILIES

Teatime with family, teatime with friends, teatime at the library! Check out Dachelle’s post at  Hide The Chocolate 

Bugs and Poetry?? Yes! A wonderfully creative way to share poetry with your children from Angela at Nurtured Roots.

One book you’ll see mentioned in these posts is the Poetry Teatime Companion: A Brave Writer Sampler of British and American Poems. This is a lovely book that pairs perfectly with children and snacks. 

Poetry Teatime Companion: A Brave Writer Sampler of British and American Poems by [Bogart, Julie, Graham, Nancy] (aff)

So if you haven’t yet, grab some snacks, check out a few fun poetry books and invite your children to join you. Trust me, you’ll be surprised!


THURSDAY daily plan

Week 2’s Classic vs Modern had a bit of fun with Sonnets. I paired two very different sonnets for a look at the power of language. Be sure to check out the Free Printable. I hope you enjoy these powerful poems.

Today on Classic vs Modern we’re going to look at Sonnets!

Poets have been writing sonnets for a LONG time. (Read more about sonnets.)

I’ve posted two sonnets for us to read today. One is a famous Shakespearean Sonnet and one is a painfully beautiful modern sonnet written by Marilyn Nelson. At first glance, you may be tempted to say that these sonnets have little in common; however, each poet shares something about the power of language. Two varied experiences. Two different moods. But a common thread about the undying power of words. I hope you enjoy them.

Here’s the printable!

week 3 poem

For little levity, here is a fun (yet educational) sonnet by Billy Collins. 🙂


All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
and after this one just a dozen
to launch a little ship on love’s storm-tossed seas,
then only ten more left like rows of beans.
How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan
and insist the iambic bongos must be played
and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines,
one for every station of the cross.
But hang on here while we make the turn
into the final six where all will be resolved,
where longing and heartache will find an end,
where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen,
take off those crazy medieval tights,
blow out the lights, and come at last to bed.

Hear Collins read his poem.


FRIDAY daily plan

This week’s Free For All showcases one of my favorite inspirations when I was a classroom teacher: Penny Kittle. I LOVE this activity and how accessible it is to ALL ages young and old! Give it a try!



I know it’s National Poetry Month, and hopefully, you feel drawn to write poetry. BUT there is a chance you prefer to enjoy poetry from the sideline. That’s perfectly fine!

However, here is an activity that will get even the most reluctant writer writing. And you don’t even have to write poetry! (but it may occur naturally!).

Penny Kittle is one of my favorite classroom teacher inspirations. She has many wonderful ideas about encouraging students to read and write. One my favorite things is the Writing Notebook that she uses in her classroom.

Check out this fabulous activity about hands. It even features a spoken word video by Sarah Kay.

Well! There you have it! Week 2 of National Poetry Month. Let me know if you have any special resources you’d like to share.  And don’t forget to join me on Facebook.

Copy of weekly

Week 1
weekly (2)

Posted in Poetry Blooms, The Writing Life

National Poetry Month: Week 1 Wrap-Up

April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, I’ve decided to share a daily poetry tidbit on Facebook. If you missed the 1st week, here is a wrap-up of everything that happened on Facebook. Join me there to keep up with the daily posts.

Up first, I kicked off the month by reading one of my all time favorite poems: “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” by John Donne. Click the link to watch the reading.
Daily Poetry Plan (1)

Tuesday Daily Plan

On Tuesday, I put out a prompt that kids and adults can enjoy. Give it a shot and let me now what you wrote!

Look around and take notice of what you see going on in nature. It is probably alive with signs of spring. Make a list of all the life you see, the sounds, the smells, the textures. Now, turn that into a spring-inspired poem. (We can share them at the end of the week)

William Wordsworth did something similar when he wrote: “Written in March.” Look and listen to his observance of spring:

Written In March
by William Wordsworth

The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter
The green field sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one!

Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The plowboy is whooping- anon-anon:
There’s joy in the mountains;
There’s life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue sky prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!

(Prompt inspired by Raising Little Shoots Exploring Nature With Children)

Wednesday Daily plan

On Wednesday, I shared various websites I have found inspiring. Hopefully, you will too!

Where can you find fun and engaging poetry resources for your family and/or homeschool?
Oh! There are so many!

You can, of course, search the endless depths of Pinterest and find oodles of inspiration. But here are a few great resources from legit sites.

1) Write to a poet! hosts this wonderful event where students listen to poets read their work, then respond to the poems via letter. Described as “a multimedia education project that invites young people in grades five through twelve to write letters in response to poems written and read by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors,” the Dear Poet Project is a neat way for young writers to engage with living poets. Read more about it here OR check out the Lesson Plans available.

While there, be sure to check out the awesome collection of resources for teachers (especially the classroom calendar which has links for poet birthdays and more!).

2) Poetry 180
“Poetry 180 is designed to make it easy for students to hear or read a poem on each of the 180 days of the school year. ” YES!!! Poetry was made for the ears, so pop on over to this site (which was initiated by Billy Collins, Former Poet Laureate of the United States) and take a listen to some great poems!  They even have a page to help you know how to read poetry out loud.

3) And while you’re listening to great poetry, why not adopt this as a family habit? Check out the wonderful Poetry Teatime. Begun by Julie Bogart and her team at Brave Writer, this site encourages and showcases a language rich environment for homeschooling families. BUT you don’t have to homeschool to adopt this bit of magic. We have been doing teatimes for a while and my kids LOVE it and have lost all fear of poetry. Sometimes we read silly poems; sometimes we read serious poems; sometimes we even write poems. Wonder what it looks like? Scroll through the lovely hashtag #poetryteatime on IG and be inspired!

And should you decide to have your own poetry tea time, here is a wonderful book of tried and true poems that your family will love: The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury (aff link).

Well, I could just keep going and keep going! I hope you enjoy these links!

THURSDAY daily plan

On Thursday, I shared two poems: one classic and one modern.

The hope is that these two poems will generate some discussion about similarities and differences–whether that be in theme, style, content, or some other poetic quality. I hope you enjoy reading them as much I as enjoyed putting them together!

Wordsworth & Berry

Enjoy these two poems.
A classic Wordsworth poem and one written not so long ago by Wendell Berry.

Want to take it deeper? Discuss the speakers’ thoughts on man and nature. How are those views similar? How are they different? What frustrates each speaker? Does either speaker have a solution to his individual problem?

Download a copy!

FRIDAY daily plan

This week, I decided to share a few poetry reading tips. 

While you’re reading poetry this month, why not improve your Poetry Reading Skills?

Believe it or not, how you approach and read a poem can sometimes drastically change your understanding. Here are a few tips to help you this month.


weekly (2)

Keep up with me on Facebook! Hope to see you there!

Posted in Poetry Blooms

Poetry Blooms: Week 3 Challenge

Week 3

There have been some exciting things happening in the Poetry Blooms Facebook Group, and it is because of the wonderful ladies who are currently participating in this eight week workshop. It has been fun to watch them post poems they are studying and poems they are writing. Because of these women, I’ve read new-to-me poems and even met some poets I didn’t know. How wonderful!

This week, the challenge is fairly simple: Pay attention to DETAIL. That means that while you are reading your third poem (by your chosen poet), notice sensory details the poet uses. Why does he/she use that detail and not another? What is so special about that detail? What if he/she had used a different detail…how would the poem change? Also, notice the line order. As I noted in this week’s video, sometimes we rush to the end of a poem and cheat our reader out of a stronger experience by placing the ending too early. Think about this as you study your poet this week.

Secondly, keep writing 15-45 minutes daily. In our FB group, I will post a daily prompt. This prompt is meant as a guide for your daily free-writing; however, begin to write with the hopes of turning it into a poem. Pay special attention to the sensory details you use. Remember, sometimes those details reveal more of the story than the story itself.

Here is a preview of this week’s prompts:

Monday: Write out of a sound from childhood: your father’s footsteps on the stairs, the slap of the screen door when your sister ran out to play, the shrillness of a particular voice . . .etc.

Tuesday:  Write about an article of clothing: the feel, smell, color of it, etc. See where this description takes you.

The other prompts will be posted through on the week, so use them as springboards into your free-writing and poetry.

So that’s it! I can’t wait to see what wonderful words fall onto your pages.



Week 3
Pin it!


Tips for Reading Poetry

Reading Poetry

*  Re: punctuation

Many new readers tend to stop automatically at the end of line. This often interrupts the natural phrasing of a poem especially if you are reading Shakespearean Sonnets. So listen for natural pauses, but don’t assume each line requires an end pause.

Happy Reading!!

Posted in Poetry Blooms

Poetry Blooms: Week 2 Challenge

Week 2 challenge

Hello Friends,

How did your week go last week? Did you find any time to write? It is so hard, isn’t it? I can push it all the way out of my day unless I am absolutely determined to get it done. But there are days when no amount of determination works–LIFE happens and before you know it, you’re falling into bed dead tired. Hopefully, this week you can add to your daily writing and even write a poem.

It has taken me a few extra days to get this posted, so I’m sorry for the delay. I will usually post each week’s challenge on Sunday afternoon/night.

For Week 2, the challenge is fairly simple:

  1. Choose another poem by your chosen poet. Read the poem throughout the week, and let your thoughts about the poem be the focus of your journaling at least once this week.
  2. Continue writing daily (15-45 minutes), but this week I want you to write a poem based on an image, phrase, or experience from last week’s journal. Stay with this poem all week, revise, change, add, remove words and elements you don’t like.
  3. Optional: Pull out a few lines (from your chosen poem) that you find particularly difficult or particularly moving. Keep them with you throughout the week and visit these lines repeatedly. See if by the end of the week, you gain a better understanding of those lines. You may just come back to the poem with a whole new insight.

So that’s it! A pretty simple challenge this week. Read. Write. Create a Poem. You have 6 days to do it. 🙂

Also, please post under the Weekend Share when it comes around again. I would love to see anything you have written, and we would all love to encourage each other.

I’m excited you are all on this little adventure with me! I have personally enjoyed reading Yeats (my poet) and find myself wanting to read much more than my one chosen poem (that’s a good thing, right?!). It’s been refreshing to jump back into poetry again…and to do so with some fellow moms makes it even more fun.

A little book-keeping note:  The FB group is officially closed. I won’t be adding more members at this time. My hope is that we become poetry friends and learn a bit about each other and ourselves through this project. BUT…it really does depend on your participation. So jump in.

Week 2 challenge
Pin it! 🙂



A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the words.

–Robert Frost

Posted in Poetry Blooms

Poetry Blooms: Week 1 Challenge

Week 1

Welcome to the Week 1 Challenge!

As I shared in the video, this week is focused on a few things. 1) Thinking about how and when you tend to create best, 2) Waking up and paying attention to how you notice/experience the world, and 3) Noticing what your poet is doing in a particular poem? These three things should be your focus.

The Writing

While you are pondering those three things, you should try to write every day for a minimum of 15 minutes (preferably 45 min., but let’s face it, if you’ve got kids, 15 minutes is a little piece of heaven if you can get it all to yourself, and 45 minutes is an anomaly that makes the evening news for happening once in 964 years of motherhood).  If you’re up for it, try to write at different times of day. Do you work best in the morning, or are you creative at night? Maybe you’re the person who comes to life when everyone else is reaching for afternoon coffee.

What to write? The goal is to stir the pot. Think of a pot of vegetable soup that has been simmering on the stove a while. When you look over in the pot, there seems to be nothing but some tomato-ey broth, but once you pick up the spoon (your pen), and start stirring (writing), you will notice all sorts of delicious bits rising to the surface. So when you are faced with a blank piece of paper, just remember that pot of soup–once you start stirring, something good will eventually come to the surface.  So just start writing (kind of like a free write), and jot down things you’ve noticed, things that made you angry, things that worry you, things you love…you get the idea. Just write. No grammar rules. No formatting. Just write.

Walt Whitman used a daily notebook to journal his experiences and thoughts–many of which became poems. I believe Natalie Goldberg  fills up notebooks this way. And contemporary poet Mary Oliver fills spiral notebook after spiral notebook in a free write fashion and gleans her poems for them.

So start paying attention. As Rita Gabis writes:

You must care about this life you lead and the world you live in. Writing comes out of your passions.

Gabis offers some ideas to help you connect with your creativity:

  1. Read a newspaper and free-write about something you find there.
  2. Write a letter to an old flame (don’t send it)
  3. Do a physical activity you’ve never tried before. (write about it)
  4. Read a favorite poem several times, choose one phrase from it, and use it as a springboard for free-writing.
  5. Look at family photographs. Imagine the photo that was never taken. What might it have revealed? Write about it.
  6. Use persona as a writing tool. Choose a stranger you saw in the course of the day or someone you know well. Make up a childhood event in that person’s life. Imagine how he/she would remember it or tell it. Write it down.

The Reading (and a bit of writing)

As you are stirring the pot, jot down any ideas you have about the poet you are reading.  If you want, make a list of poets you find intimidating. Or poets you’ve heard of but never read.

Once you have your “chosen poet,” focus in on ONE POEM, and read it multiple times a day. Have someone else read it to you. Read it out loud. Read it slowly. What do you notice about this poem? What do you like? What questions do you have? Do you have a favorite line? Favorite image? Write those things down in your daily writing at some point this week.

Try to stick with this poet for the next four weeks. Become a “poetry detective” and read about the poet. Do an online search. Look up words you don’t know (see Inspiration #1 below).

If you absolutely hate the poet you’ve chosen, then you may choose someone different next week. But as a warning: “if you only read poets who are easy for you, you may get in the habit of turning away from mystery, depth, deep feeling, complication, and conflict because they require you give too much of yourself–too much time, too much courage” (208).

Share your poems with others. Start a reading group (join a poetry hop 😉 ) Read poems to your kids.

Welcome to the wonderful beauty of poetry.

Week 1 (2)

Pin this for future reference


Reading a Poem: 20 Strategies (a wonderfully down-to-earth take on poetry reading)

How to Read a Poem (a lengthy, more academic take on poetry reading.)

How to Read Poetry (a nice little 8.5 minute video for those new to poetry; a bit school-y)

And why not watch Dead Poet’s Society sometime this week 😉

Posted in Poetry Blooms

Poetry Blooms: The Pre-Assignment

People often like to claim they “don’t get” poetry. It doesn’t make sense to them. I can agree with those people to a certain extent; there are poems that are difficult, and there are poems that seem abstract and confusing. But despite those poems, I believe poetry holds the power to impact readers like no other genre can.

Rita Gabis, the author of the Poetry section in The Portable MFA in Creative Writing,  says that when we listen to and read poetry, we do so “with our entire self” (198). Unlike prose, which contains transitional passages and filler paragraphs that orient the reader, poetry does not. Gabis writes,“In a poem every word counts, no matter how small, how seemingly insignificant.  . . . This is why poetry needs to be particular” (198).

As we venture into our eight week workshop, we need to keep a few things in mind.

  1. Poetry usually manifests from the writer’s desire to say something, perhaps express a feeling, share a particular moment, so be aware of those small urges.
  2. As we begin the journey, we need to wake up our awareness. If you do not normally notice the movements and sounds of life around you, now is the time to start taking note. Did you see the hint of yellow and black butterfly wings as it shyly landed on the buckeye’s red blooms? Did you hear the innocent giggle from your child as they laughed at their own imagination? Did you feel the change in the wind when the cloud crossed in front of the sun? These things and more happen every day. Let’s start to notice them.
  3. Even if you are uncertain about what a poem is or is not, you are still welcome to join us! Poetry is an ever-changing thing of beauty. All you must do is try to write one (200).

The workshop will consist of weekly challenges. These challenges have two parts: 1. A Daily Writing Challenge and 2. A Weekly Reading Challenge. But before those challenges begin, you have a Pre-Assignment assignment.

The Pre-Assignment: Find a Poet

For the first four weeks of our workshop, you will focus on one poet of your choosing. So your pre-assignment assignment is to find a poet that allows you to find poems, read them, and research about him/her. If you are at a loss, search The Poetry Foundation or The Academy of American Poets. You can easily find poets. Try to locate a collection of the poet’s work from your local library, or see if you can find a organization devoted to that particular poet (like this one). If you are still at a loss, drop me a note, and I’ll recommend someone.

So, once you have decided on your poet, please do tell! I’d love to know who you plan on studying.  Look for a post on the FB page.

Good Luck with your poet hunt!


If you missed the Intro to Poetry Blooms, it’s here.

Posted in Poetry Blooms

Poetry Blooms

Poetry (3)

Welcome to Poetry Blooms: an 8 week project to help grow your writing.

 It is my hope that this project will help us all delve into poetry and writing as we never have, that we will finally take our writing seriously, and that we will see the fruit of faithful work. That is why I have chosen to name this project Poetry Blooms.

Our creative desires to write and express things poetically often lie beneath the surface like a bulb in winter. It’s dormant. It’s full of potential life, but no one can see it or appreciate its beauty. It’s waiting for that Spring push to help it grow up through the soil and surface. It’s waiting for sunshine and nourishing rain to give it food for growth. Poetry Blooms  will hopefully help the dormant bulb of your poetry writing grow and bloom. So join us as we do the work of growing! Here is where poetry blooms.

In the coming weeks, I will post here and on our Facebook page. Each week I will introduce the assignment and the weekly goal. Presently, I am hoping to Periscope (@wHereLifeIsReal) or use FB Live to present the idea and assignment, but we will see if that manifests. 🙂

If you are curious about resources or required items, there are none. However, I will be using several texts to guide us through this process. The spine of our adventure is The Portable MFA in Creative Writing  by the New York Writers Workshop. I plan to pull from the Poetry section of the book and use their weekly plan as a guide. It is a great book which looks at fiction, memoir, magazine writing, poetry, and playwriting. You do not need to purchase this book, but if you are interested in improving your craft, you may consider buying it.

I am excited about what is in store and what will grow out of our time together. What goals or hopes do you have for this workshop? I’d love to hear them.