Gone camping?

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, we have finally made the turn into warm weather and this week I have been reading poems about camping.

Full disclosure, I put this book on my to-read list because I was interested in the illustrations. (It’s Matthew Cordell – can you blame me?) Lucky me, Tamera Wissinger wrote a truly delightful little verse novel about camping and family and overcoming fear. Bonus – it has great back matter on poetry craft and form.

If you have plans for some outdoor adventures and may or may not be in love with the idea of sleeping in a tent, far away from a comfy bed and a familiar bathroom, this might be the inspiration you need. For me, it certainly brought back memories of an old backyard tent.

Kids and a Summer Night

We were given an old tent –
an old tent from the old couple next door
an old tent with old stains and wooden poles
an old tent with a rusty zipper and old smells
smoke, basement, mold.
We wrestled it into shape
willed it to stand tall
crawled into our old canvas triangle
and from inside
everything was new.

©2022, Marilyn Garcia

Now go grab a tent, make some s’mores, and snuggle in with someone you love!

A is for an Abundance of Poetry!

I fell in love with poetry when I could still sit on my mother’s lap. To me, it is irresistible. I think I’ve wanted to be a poet ever since. As early as second grade I was trying to flex my rhyming skills. (Actual poem I wrote for Mother’s Day.)

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Candy is sweet

And you’re neat!

And of wonder of wonders, I was published,(PUBLISHED!) in the local paper in fourth grade.

Profound, I know. Of course, to follow up on this writing success, I stopped writing poetry completely. High school and beyond was a poetry desert. Which could have been the whimpered end to my poetry career.

But, a few years ago, this old dog decided to learn some new tricks. I took classes, attended webinars even before we were all Zoom-dependent, and read and read and read. I found a welcoming community of writers who were willing to read my clunky, ham-handed drafts, encourage me to keep going, and offer up their own work as master class for me.

Paraphrasing Stephen King, if you have sent your writing into the world and received money for it, if your writing has paid a bill, you are a professional. Finally, finally, I sit here today, a professional poet, completely hooked (obsessed).

This is the first National Poetry Month that I comfortably claim “poet” in my bio. Now that I am in the community of poets, honestly, April is… a little overwhelming. Every poet I know is cranking out daily poems, participating in daily readings, visiting schools virtually and in person, etc., etc. It’s a lot.

It’s too much for me. If there’s one thing I have learned about my writing process, it’s that I am a S…L…O…W writer. I need time to let thoughts percolate, to dig in and figure out what I really want to say, to face the deep emotions. So here’s my plan.

I will write what I can for the love of writing. I will visit many blogs and poet’s websites. I will participate in a progressive poem. I will share one spoken poem with kids across the world. And I will read, read, read. Come join me.

Find the progressive poem here

1 April 1 Irene at Live Your Poem
2 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
3 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
4 Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading
5 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
6 Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
7 Kim Johnson at Common Threads
8 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
11 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
12 Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch
13 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe
14 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
15 Carol Labuzzetta @ The Apples in my Orchard
16 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
17 Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken Town
18 Patricia at Reverie
19 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Kevin at Dog Trax
22 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
23 Leigh Anne at A Day in the Life
24 Marcie Atkins
25 Marilyn Garcia
26 JoAnn Early Macken
27 Janice at Salt City Verse
28 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
29 Karen Eastlund at Karen’s Got a Blog
30 Michelle Kogan Painting, Illustration, & Writing

Watch poetry readings here

http://www.poetryboost.com/

Happy April!

Butts, Poop and Other Challenges for Mentors

For several years, I have been a volunteer reading mentor with A-OK Mentoring and Tutoring in Howard County, Maryland. Before that I worked with Partners in Reading in Harford County, and before that, and before that, etc. Let’s just say I have worked on reading skills with LOTS of kids besides my own.

Many of these kids, identified as “behind” (no pun intended) grade level in reading are also English language learners. Turns out there’s a relationship between the language spoken and read at home and a child’s ability to read, write, and comprehend English thrown their way at school. Who would have guessed?

From my observations of these kids, boys and girls of varying ages and cultures, kids think butts are funny. Kids think underwear is funny. Diapers? Toilets? Poop? Funny. Funny. Funny. Even when they can’t read the words or know the English words for said hilarity, it’s still funny. Which can be a challenge for mentors.

How do you explain “wedgie” or “urinal” if you don’t know which words of your explanation will be understood? I mean, you’re not going to demonstrate, right? And, my goodness, there are a zillion English words for poop – poo, doo, doo-doo, crap, guano, feces, etc. and I haven’t even touched diarrhea! (Ewww!)

These are real examples of words I have had to explain to kids. The moment when my carefully chosen words have bridged the gap of comprehension, when the meaning and context dawn on them and they realize I am explaining what I am explaining, might be more funny to me than butts are to them. And a good laugh between the two of us is one of the best parts of mentoring.

I humbly suggest, if you are in the business of reading to kids, you need to get real comfortable talking about body parts and body functions and, maybe, learn to laugh about it all. Like a kid.

%d bloggers like this: