Thursday, March 18, 2021

Poetry Friday -- A Poetry Challenge

My students love Poetry Friday. They've never experienced it the way we did it in the past -- browsing for a book on the tall white shelf full of poetry, sitting with a partner or two, heads bent over the book, looking for just the right poem, practicing until it could be said just right, then standing in front of classmates to read with loud enough and expressive voices...and getting the feedback of laughter for the funny poems, or sighs for the beautiful ones, and always the finger snaps of appreciation.

Poetry Friday these days is flying through the interweb to a breakout room, pulling up Irene Latham's or Amy LV's rich online resources, choosing a poem, practicing, then flying back to perform from separate squares in the Google Classroom.

Last Friday, several groups chose the same poem on Irene's site. Hearing the poem over and over again gave us a chance to think about the meaning of the title in relationship to the poem. Maybe you saw it? The poem is called WHY RIVER SMILES IN WINTER, but the poem is mostly about the snow. We wondered why the river was smiling, and figured it was kind of sneaky, greedy smile, since it is gulping the fair snow. A casual "We would love to know why you chose that title" resulted in an explanation and an invitation to join Irene for her last winter poem which uses Sleigh Ride by Winslow Homer for inspiration. (Thank you SO MUCH for your generosity, Irene!) One student took the challenge with me. Here are our poems:

picture via wikimedia commons

Sleigh Ride
By: J.L.
For: Irene Latham

Here we go, very fast
Off to make the good times last.
Our sleigh is zooming,
Our fun is blooming,
Out on our wondrous Sleigh Ride.

No need to hide,
No need to cry,
As we ride our worries away.
Here we go,
Happy today.
Out on our wondrous Sleigh Ride.


say the runners
sliding through the snow

say the reigns
asking horse to go

ching ching
say the bells
on the harness and the sleigh

flap flap
say the wings
of the crows that show the way

say moon and clouds
thanks for coming out to play

© Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Linda B. has a TIMEly post at TeacherDance for our Poetry Friday Roundup, and be sure to check in with Susan at Soul Blossom Living to share your NPM project and logo. She'll be doing the NPM project roundup this year because of some tech issues Jama's having. 


  1. How delightful these two poems are Mary Lee, almost makes me want to dive back into winter, but not quite. I love the anticipation in both too. What a grand challenge for all from Irene, thanks!

  2. Oh, this 'event' you've described sounds like the perfect storm, uh, snowstorm that is. I love Irene's inspiration and help and both yours and J.L.'s poem, swishing along on the sled wonderfully and the all the senses of yours, Mary Lee - perfect image. Thanks for sharing about Susan, too.

  3. What a fabulous challenge! Irene is a treasure for the poetry community, young and old alike. Both your and J.L.'s sleigh ride poems are fun and inviting, Mary Lee. I was swept away with J.L.'s line, "As we ride our worries away" - where do I get on this sleigh? :)

  4. First of all, may I congratulate you on keeping Poetry Friday alive in your classroom! I'm sharing this post with my teacher friends who may need a boost to share poetry love. And what better way to keep a tradition alive than with Irene and Amy! That picture and the poems you and J.L. created fill me with appreciation for winter's good times and sounds.

    1. It is one of the most joyful things we do!

  5. J.L.'s poem could be a song. Love the rhythm and rhyme. Did this come naturally to him? All of the poetry you are sharing with your kids is inspiring.

    1. SHE is one of the most gifted writers I've ever had in class. Even on small assignments or in the chat, she writes eloquently and with such VOICE.

    2. Wasn't that a interesting assumption? And isn't it grand to have one like that--or more?

  6. Yay for these joyous sleigh ride poems!!!

    J.L., what a beautiful mood you've created with that zooming and blooming... hurray! And I adore "Happy today" ! You are a poet!!! Thank you for sharing your poem.

    And Mary Lee, I am in love with your use of sound here -- the crows were unexpected and especially wonderful! I debated whether the scene was dawn or dusk... rich and wonderful Thank you! xo

  7. I love the sounds, the smack and the flap of your sleigh ride and the rhythm of your stanzas. Irene's poem is also fun to read aloud. It's wonderful that you are introducing your students to poets writing today who can inspire them to create. I love that you share your work on your blog.

  8. This post makes me so happy -- hearing how your students love PF, inspiration from Irene, and the two sleigh ride poems are exhilarating! Such rhythm and snap. Fabulous!

  9. So wonderful! I just love imagining your students on Poetry Friday. And these poems are lovely!

  10. Our sleigh is zooming! That's so perfect. Applause for J.L. What a wonderful response and dedication to Irene. Truly, there's nothing better than the learning and the celebration of it in a poem that neat and clean and bright. Wow!
    And, Mary Lee, I would love to use your poem with my students. May I? Such great sound words in it.

  11. Love these poems! The senses all take part... thank you!

  12. Both of these poems are such fun! And there are so many things this year that are not the way they were, but I am impressed at how you are creating new ways for you and your students to build community through poetry.

  13. Let it be happening anyway possible, sliding through the ethernetted interwebs on runners of snow, smiles and snaps. Thank you for this glimpse.

  14. What strikes me most in these poems is the joy - despite the cold, actually embracing it and the winter scenery. They resound with the joy of being alive. I especially love the rhythms in yours, Mary Lee.

  15. Oh, ride our worries away--and the shhhing sled runners. So peaceful. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Delightful! J.L. - Lots of talent evident in that poem - keep riding and writing! And, Mary Lee, yours brings a smile. Thanks for sharing - you are one resourceful, poetic human and your students are the better for it.


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