Poetry Friday: Hello from Minneapolis!


This morning I’m in Minneapolis for NCTE’s Annual Convention. I’m looking forward to seeing poetry friends old and new at the Children’s Book Award Luncheon tomorrow, where Marilyn Singer will be honored with the Excellence in Poetry for Children Award.

Many wonderful poets live in Minnesota, so I thought it would be fun to do a mini-round up of three of my favorite poets from this beautiful state.


First up is Laura Purdie Salas. Laura has written two picture book poetry collections, and her work has appeared in many anthologies, including the stunning new National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry. Last year I had the honor of writing the activity guide for Laura’s Wacky, Wild, and Wonderful: 50 State Poems, part of her “Painless Classroom Poems” series. Laura graciously allowed me to share these poems with you today.

“Minnesota: The Birth of Old Man River”

A lake creates a lazy stream
That flows through pines and slips away,
Then picks up barges, logs, and steam,
Becomes a mighty waterway.

Walk on rocks across this sliver,
Cross the current, slow and mild.
It will grow to Old Man River
Though for now it’s still a child.

© Laura Purdie Salas, 2015

“Things to Do If You Are a Tree”
by Laura Purdie Salas

Wake up to geese honks and puddle splashes.
Grow a leafy shirt.
Hug birds’ nests and lost kittens.
Stretch toward summer sun.
Shade the backyard.
Drink plenty of rain.
Gulp nitrogen from the soil.
Eat a kite for dessert.
Dance with the wind.
Knit a scarlet fall sweater.
Drop your leaves to protect chipmunks and snakes.
Set your alarm clock for spring.
Settle in for a snowy winter sleep.

© Laura Purdie Salas

Joyce Sidman, a past recipient of NCTE’s Excellence in Poetry for Children Award, was born in Connecticut, but now calls Minnesota home. Her gorgeous picture book poetry collections have won numerous awards and honors.

by Joyce Sidman

I grow in places
others can’t,

where wind is high
and water scant.

I drink the rain,
I eat the sun;

before the prairie winds
I run.

Read the rest here.

Although she’s not a children’s poet, many of Joyce Sutphen‘s poems evoke the beauty of nature and are very accessible to young readers. Sutphen is currently Minnesota’s Poet Laureate.

“Some Glad Morning”
by Joyce Sutphen

One day, something very old
happened again. The green
came back to the branches,
settling like leafy birds
on the highest twigs;
the ground broke open
as dark as coffee beans.

The rest of the poem can be found here.

Please be sure to visit Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s lovely blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect, for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: What the Heart Cannot Forget


My head is still full of wisdom and inspiration from NCTE, but thoughts of Christmas are starting to push them away. As I pondered what to share today, my mind kept returning to my family’s Christmas traditions. My search for a poem that matched my thinking led me to this lovely work by Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota’s Poet Laureate.

 What the Heart Cannot Forget

by Joyce Sutphen

Everything remembers something. The rock, its firey bed,

cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub

of watery fingers along its edge.

The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,

remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,

gathering itself together for the fall.

The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and under

its belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping down

the sand under the beaks of savage birds.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Wildlifeppl at en.wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons
Wildlifeppl at en.wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons

Once I found “What the Heart Cannot Forget” I copied it into my notebook. I suddenly realized I was doing exactly what Linda Rief described during her session with Georgia Heard and Tom Romano at NCTE. Taking Georgia’s “heart maps” a step further, Linda has her students create “heart books.” These books are collections of poems that reflect a topic on their heart maps. (Vicki Vinton describes Linda’s process beautifully at her blog, To Make a Prairie. Linda Baie also wrote about using heart maps with her students at Teacher Dance.)

Maureen Barbieri introduced Linda as a teacher who “encourages her students to share their voices so readers will see the world in new ways.” Joyce Sutphen’s words made me see the world in a new way. More importantly, they spoke to my heart.

Please visit Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge for the Poetry Friday Round Up.