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JoAnn's Blog

Morning Promise

I had to go buy a new computer yesterday (Coffee! Keyboard!), so I put blinders on and ignored my notebook all day even though I could hear it calling me. But before I went to sleep, I read some poems from Naomi Shihab Nye's Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners, and a quote in her poem "Tomorrow" stuck with me: "All that is truly ours now is the day that is beginning." This morning, I woke up and started writing before I got out of bed.

      The good thing about today is that
      it gives me another chance
          to laugh
          to leap
          to sing
          to play
          to work
          to pray
          to dance.
      I make this promise to myself
      each day that I’m lucky to live:
      I’ll take the opportunity
          to help
          to hope
          to fight
          for right
          to lift
          to love
          to give.

Happy Poetry Friday! Brenda has today's Roundup at Friendly Fairy Tales. Enjoy!
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Day 6: Helping the Planet, Poetry Friday, & a Book Giveaway!

          If you walk along the river,
          you’ll find trash among the bushes,
          snagged in branches,
          stuck in trees.
          You will find a plastic bag.
          Plastic bags are everywhere.

          Pick one up. This is important.
          Fill it with the trash you find.
          Yes, I know you didn’t drop it.
          Help the planet anyway.
          Someone has to be a steward.
          Someone has to care.

For the past year, a group I cofounded (Bring Your Bag Shorewood in Shorewood, Wisconsin) has been sewing reusable shopping bags from donated fabric and stocking them in a local grocery store. People who forget their bags can borrow one and bring it back for someone else to use. I wrote about it on the Authors for Earth Day blog. Tonight, we’ll be at the Shorewood Conservation Committee’s free screening of Bag It at 7 p.m. at the Shorewood Village Center. We'll talk about reusable shopping bags and our group’s efforts to reduce the use of unnecessary disposable plastic.

I'm giving away a copy of Write a Poem Step by Step every day in April. The book is based on my school visit presentations and includes a simple plan you can follow to create your own poems. I wrote it for students, teachers, and writers of all ages.

Post a comment here to enter. I'll choose one at random tomorrow and drop a copy of Write a Poem Step by Step in the mail—U.S. addresses only, please. I’ll email you for your mailing address if you win. And if you don't win right away, please try again. I'll have 31 copies to share!

If you get this error message

     V1 SHUTDOWN ON 2018-03-31
     Direct site owners to

type anything in the box! (I'm working on it.)

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at The Poem Farm. Enjoy!

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The View from Our Kitchen

              Through the Window

              Woodpecker tilts his head
                       flash of red
                       banded cheek
                       pointed beak
              pecks at the suet
              peeks in the window
              watches me watching him
                       cautiously motionless
                       watching him watching me
                       taking in that feathered scene
              both of us filling up

              JoAnn Early Macken

Buffy Silverman has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Buffy's Blog. Enjoy!

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Recipe for Morning

              Recipe for Morning

              One dog
              One sunrise-red sky
              One wind-chilled field
              One ball—watch it fly!
              One scramble-sprint-leap
              One catch dropped at my feet


              JoAnn Early Macken

This poem was inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Recipe for Joy." Check it out and try your own recipe poem.

Amy's new book Read! Read! Read! brought back memories of reading comics, road signs, and cereal boxes. Enjoy!

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Random Noodling.

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Spring in Wisconsin

                                                            Cold, damp, dreary day.
                                                            Robin’s sunny reminder:
                                                            Cheeriup! Cheer up!

                                                            JoAnn Early Macken

Happy National Poetry Month! Happy Poetry Friday! Tabatha Yeatts is hosting the roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Next week, I'll host the Poetry Friday Roundup at the Teaching Authors blog. Enjoy!

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Owls, After the Storm

              Nightly Owl Check

              We heard their gentle hoots before we found
              the great horned silhouettes in their new tree,
              one doting parent tearing prey apart
              to feed their fluffy feather duster chick.

              Too young to fly, it must have fallen when
              the storm hit their dilapidated nest,
              now draped like curtains down the old tree’s trunk.

              The crows cried out their warnings all day long.
              They must have seen the flapping owlet climb.
              We missed it, but all’s well. We head back home.

              JoAnn Early Macken

Happy National Poetry Month! Happy Poetry Friday! The roundup is at Dori Reads. Enjoy!

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              Gravitational Pull

              A constellation of daffodils
              brightens our dining room table,
              stems aligned in a spiral ascending
              to petal stars.

              We cluster around,
              planets in orbit,
              drawn to the light.

              JoAnn Early Macken

Happy National Poetry Month! Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Live Your Poem. Enjoy!

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Orchid Spray

              Star-shaped, dawn-colored,
              freckle-faced flowers
              perch on their branch
              like a flock of finches
              peering over each other's shoulders.

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Today's Little Ditty. Enjoy!

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Open the Door!

In a few weeks, I'll be heading to a part of the country I've never visited before to take part in Western Washington University's Poetry Camp. I'm excited about the trip and the people I'll meet there--fellow poet/presenters whose poems are included in the Poetry Friday Anthology series compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong and the audience of teachers, librarians, and writers.

This summer has been loaded with distractions, so on a recent trip to the library, I grabbed an armload of poetry books to study so I could focus on poetry again. I started with Ted Kooser, whose work feels so comfortable, comforting, and at the same time eye-opening. I read his sweet Valentines and then his brilliant Delights and Shadows. That one made me want to write a bit, so I contributed a quick draft to Laura Purdie Salas's 15 Words or Less Poems yesterday. I felt a little bit like a poet again.

Today, I started my morning with Mary Oliver's Owls and Other Fantasies. Here's what jumped out at me:

         ...Listen, everyone has a chance.
         Is it spring, is it morning?

         Are there trees near you,
         and does your own soul need comforting?
         Quick, then--open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
         may already be drifting away.

         --from "Such Singing in the Wild Branches"


         ...Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

         even in the leafless winter,
         even in the ashy city.
         I am thinking now of grief, and getting past it;

         I feel my boots
         trying to leave the ground,
         I feel my heart
         pumping hard. I want

         to think again of dangerous and noble things.
         I want to be light and frolicsome.
         I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
         as though I had wings.

         --from "Starlings in Winter"

I'm always looking for something when I read; often, I don't know what. I found something today in the poems quoted here and also in "Yes! No!"

         "To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work."

Always a good thing to remember, I think, both for writing and for life.

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Poem Farm. Enjoy!

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Back to You-Know-What Book Giveaway!

Wisconsin River canoe trip, July 2014

My husband and many other teachers return to their classrooms next week. Every year around this time, I can't help thinking about trying to cram in every last summer activity I can before it's too late. (We finally took our first tandem bike ride of the year!)

This morning's mysterious fog curtain inspired a haiku:

              Last vacation day--
              swim, bike, soccer, jump rope, skate?
              Rain! Write a poem.

              Book Giveaway: Write a Poem Step by Step!

              Add a comment to this post by midnight on Labor Day (September 1) to enter to win an autographed paperback copy of Write a Poem Step by Step. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you for mailing and personalizing info. (You can email it to me if you prefer--use the "Write to JoAnn" link on the left.) I'll choose a random winner on Tuesday, September 2, when the students go back to school. Good luck!

              Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Live Your Poem... with Irene Latham. Enjoy!


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