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JoAnn's Blog

Chimney Swifts Drop In!

Chimney swifts roost together in fall before beginning their long migration.



Dusk. Look up. Listen:
whirling, chippering bird cloud.
Chimney swifts drop in.


Watch the video! 


You can find out more about chimney swifts from All About Birds or Audubon.


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Enjoy!


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Backyard Visitor, 8.30.21


hummingbird dashes
between socks and pajamas
clothesline obstacles


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Hillside Gardening, 8.22.21


perfect weeding day
except I keep misplacing
my garden trowel


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Morning Walk, 8.20.21


first one up the stairs
breaks through all the spider webs
after you, my dear


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April 30 Poems & Poetry Friday!


Happy Poetry Friday! In honor of the final day of National Poetry Month 2021, I'm posting three gardening haiku. Alas, this blog format allows only one photo per post; trust that they are all based on my personal experience. 



annual promise

I will pick my own tulips

before squirrels do



before it's too late

cage erupting peonies

corral the glory



whatever we plant

in our homemade compost

tomatoes come up



I'm happy to report that I've written and posted a poem each day for National Poetry Month. Please read on to see more!


I also wrote a guest post for Rochelle Melander's Write Now Coach blog about how you might turn a poem into a picture book.


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Enjoy!

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April 29 Poem


hyacinth perfume
follows me down the sidewalk
generous neighbor


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April 28 Poem


embrace abundance
time to catch up on reading
all those open tabs


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April 27 Poem


DIY lip balm
reusing old containers
no more plastic tubes


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April 26 Poem


Must all kitchens be
built for tall people? Forget
stepstools. Make them duck!


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April 25 Poem


marsh marigolds line
ephemeral waterway
mapping the flow


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April 24 Poem


winter survivors:
milkweed, lilacs, columbine,
maple trees, and me


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April 23 Poem & Poetry Friday!


hugs from my sister
+ 45 dinners packed
= well-spent day


I'm posting a poem each day for National Poetry Month. Read on to see more!


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Reading to the Core. Enjoy!


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April 22 Poem


oh to spend mornings
marveling at mayapples
best use of my time


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April 20 Poem


bright constellation
dandelion cluster spreads
conquers outer space


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April 19 Poem


giant snails return
weather forecast mentions snow
good thing they have homes


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April 17 Poem


after the face masks
my hands still remember how
to make shopping bags


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April 16 Poem


skull-and-crossbones signs
would give a clearer warning
of the danger here


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Visit, read, enjoy! 


Read on--more National Poetry Month poems below!


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April 15 Poem


favorite gardens
+ view of water =
daily walking routes

Today's Equation Poem was inspired by Laura Purdie Salas. She's posting one every day on her website for National Poetry Month. And don't miss Laura's brilliant book Snowman - Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations.


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April 14 Poem


open this little
brown leather wallet and find
magic coins inside


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April 13 Poem


I raked the front hill
still some weeding to do but
the front hill is raked

I slept well last night
remarkable clarity
this morning's thinking


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April 12 Poem


no amount of nudge
can convince this dog to budge
when she stops we stop


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April 11 Poem


election's over
but one yard sign still displays
its timeless message


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April 10 Poem


10-year warranty—
if they're so durable, why
wrap them in plastic?


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April 9 Poem, Poetry Friday, & Book Giveaway Reminder!


just a little bit
out of my way this fine view
neighbor's hellebores


Tabatha Yeatts is hosting today's Poetry Friday Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Enjoy!


And remember to enter the Book Giveaway of my new picture book Grow, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman and published by Boyds Mills & Kane, at the Teaching Authors blog. Good luck!

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April 8 Poem


haiku in progress
what I want to say won't fit
maybe tomorrow



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April 7 Poem


I never label
my plants. Oh, look—Pasqueflowers!
I love surprises.



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April 5 Poem


nose-to-nose greeters
side-by-side sidewalk walkers
puppy-pounce playpals



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April 3 Poem


heading home again
leaving sunset behind us
miss you already


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April 2 Poem


riverside sculpture
remarkable toothwork by
creative creatures


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April 1 Poem


seedlings already
optimistic gardeners
ignore calendars


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Morning Observations & Poetry Friday!


daylight lengthening
minute reasons to rejoice
winter's turning point


next door cat follows
squirrel between our houses
window to window


singing overhead
sunlit branches block my view
hope for a robin


I never intend to stop writing every day, but when I fall out of the habit, I sometimes find it easier to slide back into haiku--not because they are short but because using the traditional 5-7-5 form gives me a structure to hang my words on. What works for you?


Sylvia Vardell has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Poetry for Children. Enjoy!

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Morning Haiku for Poetry Friday

I don't know what this plant is. Do you? It inspired the first haiku.


frilly halos rim

delicate cone-shaped blossoms

fringe of tiny bees


mosquito seeking heat

lands to check out coffee mug

neighbor's AC hums


wren's morning circuit

clothes line, fence post, lilac branch

warble at each stop


can't ignore the crow

even when it's out of sight

ruckus in the tree


monarch leaves an egg

on one life-sustaining leaf

of each milkweed plant


Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Enjoy!

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Day 29: Haiku on Haiku & a Book Giveaway!

Yesterday, we walked around a lagoon in the park, and I posted a silly haiku about my photography skills. (Yes, that's my thumb again in the photo above.) What I wanted to say was something about the flashes of red in the not-yet-spring landscape. Alas, it still eludes me. Here's what came out instead:


               too much to say
               in three short lines
               make it a tanka

               making words fit
               I lose the logic
               try another draft

               haiku on haiku
               no nature in these lines
               look out the window

               which matters more
               the form or the meaning
                                          let go


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! 

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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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Winter Weather Haiku

a break at the lake during yesterday's quick walk

I love the challenges of writing haiku: creating a scene in three brief lines, making every word count, adding that little twist. Here are some I've written this cold, snowy winter.

Windblown shopping bag
rolls down our snow-covered street--
plastic tumbleweed.

Icy sidewalks thaw,
refreeze in brand-new patterns.
Surprise! Ice dancing!

How windy is it?
Constant droning creeps me out.
Tree trunk's swaying--yikes!

Poor dog, whisked outside,
rushed around the block. Long walks
have to wait till spring.

Today's view: fresh snow,
rabbit footprints, smudged window.
Spring cleaning starts now.

Under bird feeders,
melting snow reveals mountains--
sunflower seed shells!

Today's forecast calls for rising temperatures at last. Everyone in Wisconsin is celebrating. Sounds like an idea for a new poem, right? I'll get right on it.


P.S. I sometimes post poems on Facebook. Friend me if you want to see more. You can also follow me on Twitter.

P.P.S. It's Poetry Friday! Today's Roundup is at Reflections on the Teche. Enjoy!

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