Slice of Life: A Golden Shovel

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce ~

Every day, we encourage our students to swallow their fear and take risks. And every day, they take them. But how often are we that brave? Hitting the “Publish” button on our blog posts is one type of risk,  but this is usually only an individual risk. This year I decided to be brave and take part in Irene Latham’s Progressive Poem. “A poem that travels daily from blog to blog, with each host adding a line, beginning April 1,” this is the poem’s 8th year. (You can read more about this amazing project here.) Matt Forrest Esenwine got us started by challenging us to use “only FOUND lines” from songs!

I have been in a panic about my line all month. I feared my line wouldn’t measure up and I would let Irene, Matt, and all the other poets down. But I’d made a commitment. So I dusted off CDs I haven’t listened to in years, watched hours of YouTube videos, and read reams of liner notes. I gathered a list of lines I thought might work. But the poem is a living entity. It changes direction often. And it changed right before it was my turn to add my line! I did find a line I was happy with, but I had several unused lines that I really liked. I decided to use one as a strike line for a Golden Shovel poem. (BTW, the Progressive Poem is with Penny Klosterman today. Check it out here.)

This line is from “Upside Down,” the first track on Jack Johnson’s Curious George soundtrack.

We’ll sing and dance to mother nature’s songs

Also, happy birthday to William Shakespeare! And even though this post isn’t about him (although he was a master borrower), where would we be without the Bard?

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

#Progressive Poem 2019: Day 22

Welcome to today’s addition to the 2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem, the brainchild of the lovely and generous Irene Latham. This is the first year I have participated in this web-wide collaborative poem and I must confess I’ve been quite stressed this. When Matt Esenwine started us off using found lines from songs, I was doubly stressed about finding just the right line for our protagonist’s adventure. I had several lines in mind that would continue this outdoor odyssey, but in the past few days, the poem has taken a turn. Now our explorer seems to be on a journey of self-discovery. So many possibilities!

Scanning my extremely eclectic CD collection, I found Jack Johnson‘s soundtrack for Curious George. I love these songs and felt certain I would find an appropriate line in Johnson’s upbeat tunes.


Endless summer; I can see for miles…
Fun, fun, fun – and the whole world smiles.
No time for school- just time to play,
we swim the laughin’ sea each and every day.

You had only to rise, lean from your window,
the curtain opens on a portrait of today.
Kodachrome greens, dazzling blue,
it’s the chance of a lifetime,

make it last forever–ready? Set? Let’s Go!
Come, we’ll take a walk, the sun is shining down
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
Tomorrow’s here. It’s called today.

Gonna get me a piece o’ the sky.
I wanna fly like an eagle, to the sea
and there’s a tiger in my veins Oh,
won’t you come with me waltzing the waves,
diving the deep?

It’s not easy to know
less than one minute old
we’re closer now than light years to go
To the land where the honey runs

…we can be anyone we want to be…
There’s no stopping curiosity

I can’t seem to add this to the Playlist, which can be found here.

Found Lines:

L1 The Who, ‘I Can See for Miles’ / The Beach Boys, ‘Endless Summer’
L2 The Beach Boys, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ / Dean Martin, ‘When You’re Smiling’
L3 The Jamies, ‘Summertime, Summertime’
L4 The Doors ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’/ Led Zeppelin ‘Good Times, Bad Times’
L5 Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine “You had only to rise, lean from your window,”
L6 Joni Mitchell, “Chelsea Morning”
L7 Paul Simon, “Kodachrome,” “Dazzling Blue”
L8 Dan Fogelberg, “Run for the Roses”
L9 Spice Girls, “Wannabe”/ Will Smith, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”
L10 The Beatles, “Good Day Sunshine”
L11 The Carpenters, “Top of the World”
L12 Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Underneath the Lovely London Sky” from Mary Poppins Returns
L13 Carol King, “Hi-de-ho (That Old Sweet Roll)”
L14  Steve Miller, “Fly Like An Eagle”
L15   Don Felder, “Wild Life”
L16   Nowleen Leeroy, “Song of the Sea ” (lullaby)
L17   Sara Bareilles, “She Used to Be Mine” from WAITRESS
L18  Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t She Lovely”
L19 R.E.M, “Find the River”
L20 Carole King, “Way Over Yonder”
L21 Mint Juleps, “Groovin” by The Young Rascals
L22 Jack Johnson, “Upside Down”

Here are our Poem Contributors:

Matt @Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
Kat @Kathryn Apel
Kimberly @KimberlyHutmacherWrites
Jone @DeoWriter
Linda @TeacherDance
Tara @Going to Walden
Ruth @thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown
Mary Lee @A Year of Reading
Rebecca @Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @Live Your Poem
11 Dani @Doing the Work that Matters
12 Margaret @Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @Dori Reads
14 Christie @Wondering and Wandering
15 Robyn @Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Carol @Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Amy @The Poem Farm
18 Linda @A Word Edgewise
19 Heidi @my juicy little universe
20 Buffy @Buffy’s Blog
21 Michelle @Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @Reading to the Core
23 Penny @a penny and her jots
24 Tabatha @The Opposite of Indifference
25 Jan @Bookseestudio
26 Linda @Write Time
27 Sheila @Sheila Renfro
28 Liz @Elizabeth Steinglass
29 Irene @Live Your Poem
30 Donna @Mainely Write

Slice of Life: Making Space


On a recent episode of On Being, Krista Tippett’s sublime podcast, Lawrence Kushner explained the concept tzimtzum, or “god’s self-contraction to make spaces within god for creaturely beings to live” (Read more here.) (For the record, I am not Jewish, so I hope I haven’t muddled this or offended anyone.) Kushner went on to say that this idea manifests itself in our daily life when we make a space to create “so that something you love will have room to grow.” I love this.

Making space in my life to create, to write, has been an incredible challenge recently and I almost feel like I don’t even remember how to write anything. But I’m not giving up.

Undergrowth with Two Figures, Vincent van Gogh, 1890. Cincinnati Art Museum, via Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by Irene Latham’s Artspeak! theme of happy, I scrolled through Google Arts & Culture until I found a painting that brought a smile to my face. I found Undergrowth with Two Figures by Vincent van Gogh completely enchanting. I longed to step into the painting and gather armfuls of flowers. Instead, I gathered inspiration for this haiku:

Beneath silver trees
coruscating daffodils
illuminate the day

© Catherine Flynn, 2019

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

National Poetry Month: A Star-Splashed Fib

Many people have wonderful poetry projects planned for this month. I’m following Heidi Mordhorst‘s lead and will join in when I can as prompts strike my fancy or match up with my life.

In this case, Mary Lee Hahn‘s “Playing With Poetry” was the springboard. One of Mary Lee’s options for poetry playfulness was paint chip poetry. Thanks to our recent renovation project, I have paint chips everywhere. We chose “Milky Way,” a luscious shade of yellow for the guest room. (This color also makes me very happy, so I could add Irene’s project to the list of inspirations.)

I’d been toying with how to structure a Milky Way poem without much luck. Then, on Monday morning, the moon was a thin crescent, hanging on the edge of dawn. The arc of the moon got me thinking of spirals, which led me to Fibonacci sequences, which led to this poem.

System spins
At galaxy’s edge
The Milky Way’s spiral arms
Twirl like a ballerina’s silver-sequined tutu

© Catherine Flynn, 2019