Friday, December 01, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Lai

Another year of writing poetry with my sisters is coming to a close. The challenge this month was to write poems about hope, light or peace in the form of the Lai.

The Lai is a French syllabic verse form consisting of one or more stanza of nine lines with two rhymes, though the rhyme can vary from stanza to stanza. Here are features of the form.
  • 9 lines.
  • Rhyme scheme is a-a-b-a-a-b-a-a-b.
  • Lines ending with rhyme a are five syllables in length.
  • Lines ending with rhyme b are two syllables in length.
I wrote a few poems about hope and peace and they were all really depressing. I gave up and stopped writing for a while. Last night I brainstormed a bunch of light topics and came up with stars, the Northern lights, fire, and daylight savings time. After this, I wrote several lists of rhyming words and then just tried to make something work. Here's what I came up with.

The Perseids
They wait on midnight
close round the campsite
no sound
the sky in their sight
no bright city light
to drown
the meteors bright
hot streaks glowing white
fall down

Crowning a Fairy
Orange embers glow bright
root fae to the site
Warmed by heat and light
Earth’s cold losing bite
The queen of the night
the flames her birthright
is crowned

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Poetry Friday - Marathon

I've spent the last three months training for a half marathon. Imagine my dismay when I threw my back out two weeks ago, just 13 days before the race. I spent an entire week flat on my back. I've iced and heated, been to therapy, had a massage, and done everything possible to get myself ready to run on the 11th (that's tomorrow). I'm not really sure I am in any shape to do this, but last week when I joined my team for the last Saturday of training, they all encouraged me to come for the race, even if all I can do is walk. I haven't actually run since October 28th, but my hope is to lace up and see how I feel. I have so many folks supporting me that I just can't imagine being anywhere else come Saturday morning.
Since all I'm thinking about is running, this poem is most appropriate for today.

by E. Ethelbert Miller

it’s a strange time which finds me jogging
in early morning
the deadness of sleep alive in this world
the empty parks filled with unloved strangers
buildings grey with solitude

Read the poem in its entirety.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Triolets

This month Liz challenged us to write a triolet that included at least two of the following words:
  • orange
  • fall
  • chill
  • light
  • change
I like triolets, but man, are they hard to write. Even though a triolet is an 8-line poem, it uses only two rhymes used throughout. Additionally, the first line is repeated in the fourth and seventh lines, while the second line is repeated in the final line. Because of this, only five different poetic lines are written.  The rhyme scheme for a triolet is ABaAabAB (where capital letters stand for repeated lines).

Here are a few poems I scratched out while flat on my back this week.

Triolet 1
Despite the orange and red of fall
some folks prefer the green of spring
choose lilacs over pumpkin haul

How bright the orange and red of fall
that usher out the bat and ball
and welcome geese upon the wing

Oh glorious orange and red of fall
you far surpass the green of spring!

Triolet 2 
She fell in love with a flier
  but it’s dangerous to fall
  for the chills and thrills of a wire
She fell in love with a flier
  knowing he'd walk through fire
  to answer a curtain call
It’s hard to love a flier
  when it’s dangerous to fall

Triolet 3 
I prefer things stay the same
 yes, change is overrated
Since life is but a waiting game
 I prefer things stay the same
Won't fall for highly specious claims
 what's meant to be is fated
I hope to God things stay the same
 for change is overrated.

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Linda at Teacher Dance. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Autumn Hymns

Tanita served up this month's challenge, which was to write an autumn themed poem in hymn meter. Hymn meter is defined as "a lyrical quatrain based on English folk poems and ballads that consists of four lines of alternating rhyme in either the abab or xaxa pattern." While there are three categories of hymn meter, I chose to write in short meter, which consists of two lines of iambic trimeter, a single line of iambic tetrameter, and a final line of iambic trimeter to complete the quatrain.

Fall is my favorite season, so this should have been a piece of cake, but everything came out rather trite. I still haven't figured out what I want this one to be, but I'll just have to keep working on it. The nice thing about these challenges with their deadlines is that they force me to write and let things go, even if they're not perfect or simply incomplete drafts.

Here's my poem. (I dare you not to sing it to the tune of Gilligan's Island while you read it.)

Autumn Song 

It’s not the geese in flight
or curling chimney smoke
that draw eyes skyward in the night
as summer sheds her cloak

It’s not the harvest moon
low hanging in the sky
or kitchen smells that make us swoon
with thoughts of apple pie

It’s not the turning leaves
or acorn grabbing squirrels
that run among the golden sheaves
and stash their precious pearls

It’s not the crisp cold air
or early morning frost
that make us lift a silent prayer
as summer days are lost

It’s all these gifts and more
that mark our love for fall
the time and season we adore
all things both great and small

Raise a hymn to autumn
sing out in wondrous praise
of scarecrows and chrysanthemums
of short and cooler days

Sing out to orange and gold
on vibrant colored trees
to beauty that October holds
and brings us to our knees

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Violet at Violet Nesdoly Poems. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Ekphrastic Poems

This month's challenge was to write a poem inspired by a photo Sara shared. She took it while staying at the Highlight Foundation retreat center near Honesdale, PA.
I had a tough time with this one. I started and abandoned numerous drafts. I put the picture away for a while, and then pulled it back out a few days ago. When I looked again, I found my way to a few new ideas. Here are my poems.


This small frayed basket holds
buttons, coins, small stones,
other ephemera
reminders of people, places,
events and experiences
a life in trinkets
each one a tiny TARDIS

Thread the string between your fingers
to bring back childhood
(though you can't play Cat's Cradle alone)

Hold tight the wooden nickel,
rubbed nearly smooth as you
remember Niagara's spray

Flick the top, watch it spin
then flip over to show
the Knoxville World's Fair logo

Balance the small stones from Tibet
into a mini cairn, as you dream
of Lhasa and the bluest sky

Grab the Wade turtle and duck,
set them by the saucer as you sip
your not Red Rose tea, toasting your grandmother

Worry the gray stone engraved
with the word PEACE
that no longer sits with the other
bits and bobs
but lives as a prayer in your pocket

Since the word wish figured so prominently in the image, I decided to try a triolet or two focused on wishes. Here are two untitled poems.

Wish Triolet 1

It’s absurd to wish upon a stone
that will weather, crack, and break
other rituals aren’t unknown
it’s absurd to wish upon a stone
instead blow out candles on your cake
let shooting stars keep you awake
It’s absurd to wish upon a stone
that will weather, crack, and break

Wish Triolet 2

Send your wish into the world
for love and truth and peace
on dandelions, blown and twirled
send your wish into the world
on stars your prayers release
or a fountain’s worth increase
Send your wish into the world
for love and truth and peace

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. And Andi's back! She's back!
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Kathryn Apel. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write About Statues in the Park

The challenge the poetry sisters took up this month was to write a poem with the title "Statues in the Park." Beyond this simple directive, the rest of the prompt was wide open.

When I first began brainstorming, I couldn't get past freeze tag and the image of children as statues in the park. That's where I started writing my first poem, but when I chose to write a pantoum, the form took my poem in a different direction.

Statues in the Park

Around the statues in the park
scores of children run and play
it’s only quiet after dark
when the day’s been put away

Scores of children run and play
under watchful eyes of stone
when the day’s been put away
the statutes still are not alone

Under watchful eyes of stone
rabbits turn to watch the sky
in the park they’re not alone
there’s an owl flying by

Rabbits turn to watch the sky
there’s more than quiet in dark
when an owl’s flying by
they freeze like statues in the park

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

In case you're wondering, there are animals that freeze in defense. (In regards to this poem, rabbits are not actually nocturnal, but rather are crepuscular, or most active in the twilight hours of sunrise and sunset.)

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. Andi may not be poem-ing right now, but she's still in our hearts and keeping up with us as time allows.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Donna at Mainely Write. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Conference on Teaching Race in the Classroom - Part 2

In Part 1 of this series of posts I provided an introduction to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the site of the professional learning event I attended last week entitled Let's Talk: Teaching Race in the Classroom.

Why attend an event like this? I suppose I'd respond by asking, "Why NOT?" Why don't more educators think deeply about issues of race and racism and how they impact classroom practice, the development of racial identity, and the health and well-being of children?

On our first day, after brief introductions, we worked together to develop some ground rules and group norms.
After we agreed to these norms, we spent the morning and early afternoon getting to know one another. This was painful for me and many of the other introverts in the room. These are just not activities I enjoy doing, but I understand the necessity for learning about one another, honoring our similarities and differences, making connections, and developing a level of comfort with others that allows us to view the classroom as not just a safe space, but a brave one. After this we did some active listening activities and then got into small groups to define and discuss race and racism. The small group then broke into pairs and we shared personal stories. When all the groups came back together we took some time to do a quick written reflection, and then shared one word that described how we were feeling.

We ended at 4 pm and I had the opportunity to spend the rest of the afternoon in the museum. I took advantage of the lack of a line to hit the history galleries and spent all my time on Concourse 3, reading and taking in all that I could.

On the second day we began with a gallery exploration before the museum opened. What a change from my time in the gallery the prior afternoon! I can't tell you what a gift it was to have so much time in the museum, but even more so, to have time to explore before the crowds descended was incredible. We broke into groups and participated in the Zinn Education Project activity entitled The Color Line. Each group was responsible for making a series of predictions before we entered the gallery. Here are the questions we tackled.
  • Predict the measures that were taken to keep Indians and blacks from uniting, or that may have even made them to feel hostile toward one another.
  • Predict laws or policies adopted to discourage white indentured servants and black slaves from running away together.
  • Predict how poor whites and white indentured servants were taught to believe that they were superior to and didn’t have anything in common with blacks.
  • Predict how blacks and whites were kept separate, so that whites would not even imagine getting together with blacks.
  • Predict the measures adopted to ensure that on every plantation there were enough white overseers in relation to black slaves.
After our walk through the gallery it was clear that numerous colonial laws were enacted to create division and inequality based on race. The roots of race as a social construct were planted here. In examining this history it is possible to understand the origins of racism in the United States and who benefits from it.

Our day continued with two outstanding presentations. The first, Bias in Childhood: When Does it Emerge and How Do We Reduce It? was delivered by Melanie Killen of the University of Maryland at College Park. She shared the fascinating results of the work she and her graduate students have been conducting. I learned so much from this presentation. I was struck by some of the misconceptions people hold about bias in childhood. These include:
  • Children are colorblind.
  • Children only learn prejudice from adults.
  • Children are not selfish and do not care about fairness and equality.
Melanie shared the results of a study she led that was commissioned by CNN. In this study, a group of 145 African-American and Caucasian children, ages 6 and 13, from six schools across three states were shown images that were designed to be ambiguous and asked the following questions:
  • "What's happening in this picture?"
  • "Are these two children friends?" 
  • "Would their parents like it if they were friends?" 
The study explored how children’s interpretations of the images changed when the races of the characters were switched and found differences between the races as young as age 6. You can learn a bit about that study in this introductory video.
You can view the remaining segments on this research in Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture Part 2 and Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture Part 3.

The results were astounding and frankly, a bit depressing. We did learn that school diversity reduces implicit bias and boosts expectations for inter-racial friendships in school. We also learned that there is NO RESEARCH to suggest that a colorblind approach is effective. What we do know is that:
  • We do not create bias by talking about it.
  • Children already have opinions about race.
  • Teachers can give children the tools to notice and reject bias and discrimination.
The second presentation of the day, Middle Childhood & Teens: Cognitive Development, Racial Identity Development, and Talking About Race, was delivered by Erin Winkler of the University of Wisconsin. Through the lens of Piaget and Vygotsky, we looked at how racial identity and bias develop. Once incredibly discouraging note from this presentation was the cyclical nature of bias. We know that society primes us for implicit bias, and implicit bias reinforces inequality in society. So, the question becomes, how do you break this cycle?

Erin shared a lot of good information about the development of racial identity for African Americans (Cross' model) and White Americans (Helms' model). We learned that taking a colorblind approach backfires because racism and bias cannot be addressed if we fail to recognize it. Children exposed to a colorblind approach often have trouble recognizing not only subtle racism and racial bias, but also explicit racism. Ultimately, colorblind language renders structural racism invisible. Let that one sink in for a moment ... This means we must get comfortable talking about race, racism, and inequality. We must normalize talking about race in the classroom.

After taking all this in, we ended our day in small groups based on grade-level affinity (I went with the elementary folks) and continued to process what we were learning in the context of the issues we face at our own institutions.

I learned so much in these first two days that I was a bit overwhelmed. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to share this information with preservice teachers. We teach human growth and development in our program, but I'm not sure that the formation of racial identity is something that is even addressed. You can bet this is something I'll be lobbying for.

This was just the beginning of my journey during this incredible week of learning. Stay tuned for more. I'll be back tomorrow to share the content of the conference from days 3 and 4.