Monday, February 28, 2011

Teacher turned Author

On this, the last day of poetry month, I do not want to share a poem with you.  Instead I want to tell you about an Australian poet/ author.  His name is Steven Herrick.  He writes verse novels and poetry for young adults and children.  I first learned about him when I was (you guessed it) studying Children's Literature at university.  My favourite by Mr Herrick is a primary school teacher's dream... entitled Love Poems and Leg Spinners.

He writes for a range of audiences, from the average 10 year old to the confused adolescent.  Herrick somehow manages to use verse to capture the essence of the human experience and share it with his readers.  His verse novels are especially attractive to reluctant readers and readers of low ability.  Poems rarely fill more than a page, however the poems are so artfully connected that the reader can't help but continue on the journey.  Before they know it, they have read half the book.  His themes are poignant, relevant, humorous and even heart breaking.  His books, while fictional, have an uncanny realism.  I feel welcomed into the world of the main characters as they share their journey with me.  Reading a verse novel is nothing at all like reading a regular novel, an anthology or a collection of essays or short stories.  Verse novels are a genre all their own and they are well worth experiencing, even if it's only once.

So as February ends: I recommend to: you writers out there, to pick up a pen and have a go at a poem or two; the readers out there, to pick up a verse novel; my teacher colleagues to encourage your students in experiencing both.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wimping Out

As February comes to a close, I have to admit that I am a little sad that Poetry Month will soon end.  There are a number of poems still left in me and my head which will one day burst out of me (that sounds like a terrible mess doesn't it?!) and jump onto the screen.  Also, there were a few poetry structures that I had intended on presenting to you, which I haven't. 

The Sonnet was one such form that I had planned on trying my hand at.  Most of us are at least familiar with the term "sonnet" because one William Shakespeare is an household name and this young man quite enjoyed writing sonnets.  In fact many of them have been printed and reprinted, read by the fire, copied into love letters and studied in classrooms for hundreds of years.  The form itself has also been mimicked by many a poetry student.  I, however, have "wimped out" on this one!  It is simply impossible for me to write a poem (usually about "love"... ick) using such a restricting  formula.  Admittedly, I do like using the word Iambic pentameter, but I do not wish to use the actual literary tool in my own writing... not on purpose anyway.  

I love Shakespeare!  Mum claims we are distantly related to his wife and the mother of his children, Anne Hathaway (not the twenty-something hosting the Oscars this year!), and his writing will endure through the ages as it has already.  I simply can not bring myself to fall into step behind such a great writer... what if I get it wrong?

So there it is... my take on Sonnets!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Diamante: Poem of Opposites

Diamante is a seven line poem where the theme or topic of the poem ends opposite to the opening topic.  This is an excellent activity for students to use their knowledge of synonyms and antonyms.  When published and displayed around the room they also provide environmental print for students to use during other writing activities.  This form is more difficult than it seems so teachers should provide appropriate scaffolding for students, throughout the writing process.

Line 1 - Name (Noun) Theme/Object
Line 2 - Two adjectives describing the noun in line 1.
Line 3 - Three participles (-ing or -ed), relating to line 1 and 2 of the poem.
Line 4 - Four nouns (2 refering to the noun in line 1 and the other 2 refering to line 7).
Line 5 - Three participles (relating to noun in line 7)
Line 6 - Two adjectives (describing the noun in line 7)
Line 7 - Noun (names the Theme or object which is the opposite of the noun in line 1.

Confused? Yeah, me too!!! Here are a couple of examples.

Young, energetic.
Growing, playing, learning.
Boys, girls. Dads, mums.
Loving, working, providing.
Grown, tired.

Light, lively.
Awakened, Shining, Revealed.
Sun, Rainbows. Moon, Stars
Sleeping, Darkened, Covering.
Lonely, Quiet

Friday, February 25, 2011

Promised Attempts: 4 Cinquains

Colourful, Fresh,
Grow, Bloom, Wilt,
Basking in the Sunlight

Clear, Wet,
Babbling, Dripping, Soaking,
Cool, refreshing, cleansing flow.

Simple, Efficient,
Created, Connected, Constructed,
Designed for better living.

Dynamic, Structured,
Communicate, Grow, Connect,
Scholars journey - reaching goals.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Psalm of Praise

My God,
You're with me always.
Each day brings strength renewed.
Each night brings me peaceful rest.
Your Word tells what is true.

My God,
You give me comfort!
You know my inner thoughts,
You understand my weakness,
You bestow forgiveness sought.

My God, 
In storms I struggle,
Discouraged, pained and cold.
But I know you carry me,
Bringing me within Your fold.

My God, 
I know You love me.
Your Son's my trusted friend.
Your Holy Spirit fills me,
Guides me beyond the end.    

My God,
I thank you daily 
Father, thank you for Your Son.
Thank you for Your Spirit
Constant, Holy One.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


They kind of look like a triangle.  Here's the basics... as found at:

Cinquain poems have the following rules -
Line 1 - One word (a noun) naming the subject of the verse.
Line 2 - Two words (adjectives) describing the subject.
Line 3 - Three words (verbs) describing the subject's actions.
Line 4 - Four words giving the writer's opinion of the subject.
Line 5 - One word (noun) giving another name for the subject.

The Cinquain is a nice little poetry structure for use in the classroom.  This is a great way to use that knowledge of grammar in a meaningful way.  Usually this structure will fit into any unit/theme of work.  I first used the Cinquain structure when teaching a weather unit with year three students.

I will make an attempt of my own, but not today!      

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Portrait Poems

These are also known as Bio-poems.  There are a number of different structures that fall into the Portrait Poem category.  They are all useful for the beginning of the year/ term / unit because the only knowledge required is of oneself and the structures are simple.  When published they can form the basis of welcome/ meet the class displays.  If you want to know more about portrait poems and their different forms (including examples) see the following websites.

The first Portrait structure that I am going to attempt has three stanzas (poetry paragraphs).  Each line has a "starter phrase" to create a pattern.  Rhyming may happen accidentally but is purely unnecessary.

I am M

I am a teacher who has a blog.
I wonder how children see their world.
I hear voices and humming when I am alone.
I see my toys playing after bedtime.
I want a good night's sleep.
I am a teacher who has a blog.

I pretend to have no pain.
I feel freed by the written word.
I touch minds, searching for the open door and the light switch.
I worry what people think of me and I worry about the happiness of others.
I cry when friends leave, when I remember, when I can't stop the tears.
I am a teacher who has a blog.

I understand that there is more than this.
I say that God loves me.
I dream of the past, the present and future.
I try to learn new things and ask questions.
I hope that tomorrow will be better.
I am a teacher who has a blog.

So there is my first Portrait Poem, I'm not sure if I will get to the others before the end of the month.  GGM there is so much to do!

Monday, February 21, 2011


I borrowed this from a website that I have been using for "research" this month.  As you can see I have recognised all my sources.  I thought a bit of humour would be nice for a Monday morning. 
Have a Marvellous Day :)

The Opposite Day Parade 
by Timothy Tocher

Because the day was rainy, 
it was easy to persuade 
my folks to take me to 
the Opposite Day Parade.

The band passed by at twilight 
playing Sunrise Serenade. 
We liked the music so darn much, 
we booed them while they played. 

Sleek fire engines followed, 
covered in smoke and flame. 
I quickly called 119. 
Of course, no help came. 

Some paramedics raced by, 
tearing band-aids off the crowd. 
I couldn’t hear their siren 
because it blew so loud. 

The Boy Scouts never showed up. 
I guess they weren’t prepared. 
I’d hate to go back next year, 
and I hope to see you there.

© Timothy Tocher

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Four Haikus

Feathered winged creatures,
Flocking south for the season.
Soars on cool breezes. 

Skeletal branches,
Sleeps in Winter.  Grows in Spring,
Green leaves and blossoms.

Bright fluttering wings,
Dances over the flowers.
Lives a single day.

Distant fire bright,
Twinkling lights flung wide through space,
Nights' empty wishes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sounds of the Seventh

This one was written for No. 2 who is celebrating his 7th birthday.  When writing this one, I tried to think of what a 7 year old would hear on their birthday.  Here's what made the cut. 

"Good Morning, Baby,
Happy Birthday Darling"
Bam, footsteps, Sssshhhh.
Haha, hehehe, squeak, heeheehee
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, squeak...
"Oopps.... don't touch the balloons!"

Bbbrring - Bbbrrring, Bbrring-bbbring
"Where's the Birthday boy? 
Someone's on the phone for you!"

"Hey Kiddo, Happy Birthday.... did you get any cool presents?
I hope you have a nice day!... Bye bye"

Ring, Ring..."another phone call!"
"Happy Birthday, Tiger, How old are you today? 
Seven! Goodness Gracious Me! Are you sure?
Well, if you say so!  I will be coming over later with your present.  
Be good!"

Knock, Knock, Tap, Tap,
"It's Grandma, she's at the door!"
"Hey, Mr 7 year old! What did you get for your Birthday?"
"Wow, that is Cool! But I think I have something way better...
Here you go mate!"
"Oh, Mum... you didn't have to... Say thank you, honey!"

Knock, Knock
"Where's the coolest 7 year old on the planet?
Well there he is! Happy Birthday! 
This needs batteries."
Scrunch, rip, snap, la-la-la-la-laaa

"Time for Cake..."
"Happy Birthday to you...
Make a wi-ish"
hooo, hooo, hoo.  
"Don't touch the bottom!"
"Mmmm Yum!"
"Thanks Mum"
"Thanks Grandma"
"Thanks Dad"

Rrring, Rrring, Rrring
"My little man.... did you have a good day?
It sounds like you were very busy!  Happy Birthday,
See ya later Buddy!"

"Okay, my big boy.... time for bed!
Good night!"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Poem by a Friend

This Poem was written by a very good friend of mine and she has so very kindly allowed me to publish it here.  I am very grateful for her love and support and this wonderful gift that God has given her.  I truly believe this writing is God inspired and I am so glad that my lovely friend also gives God the glory while sharing her work.   

God's Word inspires our faith:
Acknowledge and revere God: - Jeremiah 10:6 – 16, 23-25a; 1 Chronicles 29:10-13.  


Wake up and know that I am God!
Honour and revere My Name!
Turn from your unbelief and shame!
Turn to Me and worship Me again!”

Can you not hear Him crying in pain?
Crying through cyclones, droughts and rain?
Wars and earthquakes freeze and flood?
Raging fires and sliding mud?

All through these times, these words were versed:
Prepare your homes -- prepare for the worst!
Secure your things -- make haste! -- take flight
to safer ground where you’ll be all right!”

I can’t explain my feelings – too much to comprehend!
Fear and terror – unbelief and grief as floods ascend.
And then the mighty cyclone raised its ugly head
And all who watched and waited thought many would be dead!

New meaning of “the fear of God” took hold of me that day.
I knew He was unhappy and I knelt to Him to pray.
All things are in the Father’s hands. – Yes, He is in control!
His mighty hands, - His heart of love henceforth from pole to pole.
Many lives were saved from disaster
As prayers went up to God, our master.
Confession of sins -- repentance and seeking
the heart of our Saviour for safety and keeping.

You, O God are the King of the nation!
You, O God are the God of creation!
Prepare for the worst? -- No! -- Prepare for the Best!
Turn to The Saviour and by Him be blest!!

Caroline Borrett. © 5/2/2011
Thoughts during and after the 2011 floods and Cyclone YASI
and the awareness of all the things happening around the world.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don't worry, you're not supposed to "get it!"

"Not Beyond" 

Not a child, not a parent,
Not a lover or a friend.
Not an eye, not an ear,
Not an arm or e'en a hand.

Deepest Darkest,
Desperate, Dwelling
Pulling, Pushing, 
Reddened, Swelling.

Sobbing ebbs and flows 'til passing,
Events all woven make the web
Bobs atop the river salty,
A Cross that shows the way to tread.

Love now sings it's light is shining
Eyes are open to the rain.
Pain continues, body's breaking
For it abides within this place.  
But in future hope will filter,
For this one is found in Grace. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Birthday Acrostic

Just a reminder, that Acrostics have the title noun down one side and the letters begin each line.  All lines describe or are related to the title.  Acrostics rarely rhyme.
This one is entitled Birthday and is dedicated to all the boys and girls who celebrate their birthday in February!

Balloons blown up, stuck on the wall. 

Ignited candles on the cake.

Ripping paper off the gifts.

Thanking friends and family.

Happy memories stored and shared.

Dollars in a greeting card.

Answering the phone.

Yahoo, it's my birthday!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love In Every Season

It's quite strange really.  I first wrote this one day last year when I was lying on the floor (a common occurrence).  I was stretching, and looking out the glass door at the garden.  The words simply formed in my mind and I rushed for paper and pen.  The BFF liked it, so there :P.  I have since made a few alterations, but you wouldn't know unless I'd told you! :)  I thought it rather fitting for today! 

Love In Every Season
Hold me in the Winter.
Dance with me in Spring.
Lay with me in Summer,
In the Autumn sing.

The fall's a time for pruning.
A path to newer ways.
Declare a love that's pure,
A love so strong and sure.

So, Hold me in the Winter,
Be fresh, and white and true.
Harder than before,
But I'll love you evermore.

Dance with me in Springtime,
Like the children do.
The sun shines brightly o'er the land,
Nature's colours shining through.

Lay with me in Summer,
Waiting for the breeze.
A time, we know, life starts to ease.
A smile now is just enough,
A simple look or single touch.

The Autumn comes, leaves will fall.
A purpose to renew.
This day I say "I love you"...
Do say you love me too.  

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Clicking. Ticking.
Stories. Memories.
Stop. Think.
Laughing. Crying.
Ice Packs

Stillness. Spasms.
Aches. Grinding.
Stop. Rest.
Exhausted. Sad.
Different Worlds

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Result of a Creative Writing Workshop

A favourite because Nan and I wrote it together.  


A game of Scrabble was her request,
At this time of night it was surely in jest.
But the look on her face told me I was quite wrong,
"Okay, Mum, I'll play, but it won't be for long."

And so it began, the barrage of words,
Communication was open, rest was for the birds.
Mum doesn't talk much, but the Scrabble board does,
It tells of her feelings, her hates and her loves.

COMFORT, GRIEF, DUTY, conspicuously placed.
When fathers were lost, was this what sons faced?
My counter attacks were feeble attempts
Of BOWLS and of CHURCH and of the FRIENDS who would fret.

Attacking from the right she formed the word SON.
With MOTHER smugly set down my BURDEN was undone.
I thought I had won when I changed MOTHER to SMOTHER.
And when I placed NURSING in front of her HOME,
We glared at each other,
Would this game be atoned?

She finally spoke , "Why son I'm Surprised,
You should know better than to break the guidelines."
My fear went away I'd only broken the rules.
Hyphens aren't permitted, I felt such a fool.

So the battle was lost, though I tried to live on.
But Mum was so smart, and I hadn't played in so long!
As I poured out the tea,
I gave in to the plan.
She would move in with me,
We would sell the land.

I thought it was over and retired to bed
To consider the things that my mother had "said."
Yet when I rang the agent, did as I was told,
The agent informed me, the property was SOLD!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Other Poetry Places

Today's entry is less of a "Thank you" and more of an acknowledgement.  This month I have already shared some new forms of poetry and I intend to try my hand at more of them.  While it would be nice for all of you to believe that I remember everything I learned in school, this is only partly true.  I have had to do a a bit of research. Below is a list of the websites that I have found useful including a description of the features they offer.  I suppose this list is more for the teacher or the poet within.  However, most of these web pages and blogs include full texts of famous and not-so-famous (but reasonable talented) poets of the past and the present.  So I suppose the avid reader would enjoy a look too. 
This page links to information pages for a range of poetry structures and examples.  This is probably the most useful site I have found for the budding author.  Not only does it describe the features of most poetry genres it usually gives an example of each and a step by step guide on how to write one.
A great web page for teachers to add to the resource list, it contains information and classroom activities for a small range of poetry genres.  There are also links to other web sites that include full texts of poetry suitable for children, with colouring pages.  Links are organised by theme.  The kid zone home page also includes teacher resources for thematic units, mathematics and craft activities that are well worth the look.
A page I came across in my research.  I found it a little bit useful.  The best thing about this one is that it has full texts of some great poetry of all genres.  There is also substantial information included about famous poets of the past.  This one would be great for the secondary school assignment.
While the categories may seem a little airy fairy, I think with some patience and a considerable understanding of what you are looking for, this site will be useful.  This is for those who are searching for a poem suitable to a specific occasion or theme.  There are links for children's poetry, vocabulary and genres, as well as information on poets.  A useful section on how to write poetry and some ideas to get started is also included.  However, for the teachers out there, I would translate this into "kid speak" before presenting it to the class.

So, there are the acknowledgements.  I am thankful for the people who contribute to these web pages, as it has provided me with the information I needed, in my very own "special" language.  These people (and their websites) are the reason that you - my dear reader - are being subjected to 28 days of all things poetry! 
"Don't ya just..... love 'em?"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Haiku: Butterfly

"Haiku" is a traditional form of Japanese poetry.  Haiku poems consist of 3 lines.  The first and last lines of a Haiku have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables.  The lines rarely rhyme.
Here's a Haiku to help you remember:
I am first with five
Then seven in the middle --
Five again to end.
Because Haikus are such short poems, they are usually written about things that are recognizable to the reader.  A truly traditional Haiku describes an element of nature. 
I found the best site for information on Haikus and activities to teach this form to students  was: 

Here's one I wrote:
Bright fluttering wings
Dances over the flowers
Lives a single day

So today's word is Haiku!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Attempt at a Limerick

The first attempt...the BFF helped!

There once was a bear, we called Hagrid
Who sat on my chair, when abandoned,
The chair was so soft,
He felt like he was the boss,
So he stole the remote single-handed!

The Professor

 I will try again....attempt number 2.

There once was a monkey professor,
Met Dharma and wanted to impress her,
He climbed up a tree,
Yelled out "hey, look at me!"
But fell down when she took back her ladder.  

One More... just for fun!

"RRuff" was the name of the Dog
Who was known as a great big bed hog!
He was cranky and floppy
And could be quite stroppy,
When he wasn't the star of my blog! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

About Loneliness

One of my best pieces at the time, I wrote this poem for a Writing Workshop at University.  

About Loneliness

Excluded, Isolated, Outcast,
Lost in the abyss of private pain,
Imperfect, powerless, quiet.

Darkness descending upon... nobody
Enveloped in sadness, silence, fear,
Wallowing in self-pity, melancholy, chaos.

Screaming in the storm.
Feeling cheated, devastated, restless.... cold.
Abandoned in a sea of memories.  

Sunday, February 6, 2011

An Acrostic

"Acrostic poetry is a form of short verse constructed so that the initial letters of each line taken consecutively form words.  The term is derived from the Greek words akros (at the end) and stichos (line)."  
- Jason Chang, 1999

This simple form of poetry is a popular structure for the novice poet.  Teachers use an even simpler form by asking students for a single word or phrase to follow each starting letter.  As it is Sunday, the word I chose for my Acrostic was CHURCH.  Acrostic poems are often written about specific people and use the letters of the person's name.  But nearly any noun can be used.  The words and phrases are not random but are relevant to the title noun.  

Cheerfully chattering,  friends and family to meet.  Together kneeling at their God's feet.
Hugs are given and Happiness proclaimed, as news of all matters is gladly exchanged.
Understanding each other, the Word and the times. Learning and teaching about a new life.  
Reaching for comfort, a place safe to abide.  Some are discouraged, some filled with pride.
Celebrations are shared among worries and woes.  Every family, has plenty of those.
Houses of Hearts commune in practical prose.  The seeds of  faith are watered and grow.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Light Bulb

Today I saw a Light Bulb
In all its shining glory.
Before you scoff, remember,
Every Light Bulb has a story.

It begins with doubt and darkness,
A task that is unclear.
There might be tears or anger,
Confusion mixed with fear.

This child doesn't get it
It makes no sense up there
'What is the point?' she questions
'I don't even care!'

The teacher frowns, uncertain
Into a smile her lips then curl,
"I'll show you a trick," she says
As she sits beside the girl.

Sometimes a child just can't see.
They think a different way.
This girl feels very lonely, 
The worksheet's suddenly "mislaid."

The teacher talks to others.
She tries lots of games.
She even gives the topic, 
A bunch of other names.

One day the teacher gets it right,
She breaks right through the wall.
The little girl before her
No longer slips or falls

Instead she gets the concept.
Something up there clicks.
This little girl is smiling,
She's finally found the switch!

Then we see the Light Bulb,
It comes on behind her eyes.
Her hand shoots up into the air,
'I know, I know,' she cries.

Today I saw a Light Bulb,
In all its shining glory.
I smile because I'm so privileged,
A character in its story.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Gift Embraced...My Thank you is for Second Chances!


A girl was lying at my feet,
She couldn't drink, She couldn't eat,
She looked up at me with saddened eyes.
What had she seen in her short life?

How could it be?
This little one,
Had been abandoned
By her mum.

I smiled at her and told her my name,
I said hers too, I was glad she came.
I picked her up and twirled her round-
She smiled at me as her feet left the ground.

We cuddled and
Our love rained down.
This precious one,
Was lost- now found.

I bought her food and clothes and shoes.
I had so much to gain and nothing to lose.
I rocked this baby in my arms,
She had to know, now all was calm.

As the days continued on
My baby girl became so strong.
She walked - well, ran – she talked non-stop.
She learned to drink juice from a cup.

She grew and learned,
She was doing well,
But loud noises scared her,
She'd lived through hell.

Now years have gone,
My baby's grown.
She's been to school,
How time has flown.

She's healthy now,
She's happy too.
Every day-
Our love's renewed.

I love my girl,
She'll always be,
The living gift
God sent to me.