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Apr 24

Creative Writing Week 3 and Word-Inspiring Books

Posted on Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Is it really just Week 3 of Ami’s Creative Writing Class? It seems like we are further along than that, because these lessons have been packed with writing principles and activities that are certainly building my daughters’ skills.

“This author uses a cliche right here!” one calls out from the couch.

“This author uses ‘said’ every time the character speaks!” another calls out, a little disappointed.

“Listen to this passage, Mommy, the author was showing, not telling!”

“Oooh, that’s a great word, I’ll have to remember ‘despondent’ as a good word for sad,” the nine year old comments as I’m reading aloud.

This week we focused on building a thesaurus of more interesting words instead of tired words like “said” and “ate”.  We also talked about showing versus telling.  These are lessons I was still learning far into my high school years.  ”Aimee, show that your character is having an epiphany, don’t just tell us that she is, and ‘gentle’ is a very common word, look for a better word to replace it.”

Wonderful Versus Wimpy

Here are some of the “wonderful words” they found to replace “wimpy words”.

Ate-devoured, nibbled, wolfed, gorged, masticate.

Mad-enraged, vexed, boiling, infuriated.

Walk-skip, stalk, tramp, saunter

Sad-sorrowful, melancholy, heart-broken

Show Don’t Tell

After finding a few examples of how the author of our read-aloud, The Dreamer, showed that the father was angry and showed that the main character was a daydreamer, they worked on re-writing a few generic scenarios.

The Scenario 1: Her coat was dirty and small.

(The 11 year old) The sleeves of the coat went up almost to her elbows, it was caked with mud from the streets.

Scenario 2:  He was hiding the money he took from his dad’s wallet.

(The 11 year old) He heard footsteps coming toward his room.  Where should he hide the money?  He placed the money inside his shoe and waited.

Scenario 3: He was excited that it was almost time for the birthday party.

(the 9 year old) Joey swung his legs under his chair.  ”How many more minutes?” “Ten.” Ten WHOLE minutes until his friends would get here! He wondered what the presents were, a new car for his collection? A new bike? A piece of candy? Or a guitar? A guitar would be awesome, he thought.

Words, Words, Words

In The Dreamer, Neftali collects his treasured words on slips of paper and placed them in his dresser drawer.  To further bring out the discovery of words taking place in our own home, I bought a small wooden set of unpainted drawers from Michaels and set the girls to painting it.

A tree emerged, along with a bird, a two quotes from this creative writing class.

The girls have plans to sneak their words in and then we’ll read them out loud at the end of each week.

And finally, we happen to pick up a book entitled, 13 Words, at the library this week.  Written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Maira Kalman, this is a picture book about playing with unusual words.  Fifth grade was the magic year that writing captivated my heart and one of the weekly assignments I loved was to take our list of vocabulary words and somehow make them fit together in a story.  A puzzle, a mystery, a chance to play with words.  This books reminds me of that assignment.

Three other books to enjoy:

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown-this is a picture book based on the real life poet that we are currently reading about in The Dreamer.

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter, Pictures by Giselle Potter

Apr 13

National Poetry Month

Posted on Friday, April 13, 2012

I do love when several elements in life and homeschool collide together and enhance our experience in a way that I didn’t foresee.

Over Easter is happened with our read aloud,  Treasures in the Snow.  Our slow, delayed reading of the book meant that we ended up readng it the week approaching Easter and it fit perfectly into our discussions of sin, hearts, and Jesus.

Last spring, a spontaneous study of birds through a program at the local nature center arrived along side our study of bird and animal artist Charley Harper and study of Poetry, forming a beautiful tapestry of learning.

Maybe I shouldn’t admit that these incidences seem to arrive by luck and not intellectual smarts and careful planning.

Ami’s Creative Writing class was a surprise, it certainly wasn’t on my horizon for this spring.  How could I know this past fall, that when I put The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan into our read aloud basket, I would pull it out just in time to coincide with our poetry writing. The Dreamer is  a chapter book about real life poet Pablo Neruda who loved words so much as a child he kept them on little papers in a drawer in his room and eventually his passion for words won out against his father who told him he would never amount to anything because Pablo was so absent-minded, a dreamer. (The audio of this book captures the accent and language of this Chilean poet in a way that I can’t quite do myself, though I try.)

And even though last spring we studied poetry and I knew that April was National Poetry month, I completely forgot about it until I read it on a blog last week.  A perfect fit with our writing and our read aloud!

I’m so thankful for these happy accidents, since often times my labored lists of plans only feel burdensome and forced.  I receive this month’s coincidences as a gift.

If you’d like to celebrate National Poetry Month, here are some resources for teaching poetry.

Resources for Teaching Poetry

Just One More Poetry Resource (Okay, Two)

And here are a few other posts related to poetry/writing:

The Partly Successful Poetry Lesson

When Push Comes to Shove

Creative Writing Week 1

Creative Writing Week 2

Dialogue Detectives: A Writing Exercise

Story Squares: A Project with Possibilities

Calender Idea for Writers and Young Artists

Apr 12

Creative Writing Week 2

Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2012

We’ve continued along with our Creative Writing Class, lessons and materials provided by Ami at Walking by the Way, and just finished Week Two.

The girls continue to enjoy picking a quote for copywork.

“Do you want to hear the quote a picked?”


“One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment. By Hart Crane.”

Exploring Sensory Details

Week Two centered around sensory details.

Ami’s lessons included reading through Owl Moon, a favorite at our house.  Since it’s already a well-loved book I almost looked for a substitute for the girls, something new and fresh.  I’m so glad I was running behind and grabbed Owl Moon instead, because we had never taken the time to go page by page, picking out the words and phrases that Yolen uses to draw the reader into the experience.  It was a rich lesson, and has made subsequent readings (because it’s now on the top of the 3 year old’s list) even more engaging.

We didn’t attempt to duplicate the sensory experience mentioned in Ami’s post (which included music and spray bottles and peppermint patties). I wish we would have done something similar, a hands-on full body and senses experience, after the reading of Owl Moon, before transitioning to the sensory chart.  Instead (because school with a 3 year old present is sometimes time-sensitive) we went right to describing an object.  It took more pulling and prodding to help them make the connection from the vibrant details of Owl Moon to filling out the sensory chart based on an object instead of an event.  If I repeat these lessons with my younger crew one day, I’ll set up something at my house, or have them recall a recent event (a snowy day, a roller coaster, etc) before moving onto objects.

I did help the girls by grabbing some questions from a similar assignment in The Writer’s Jungle to aid them in brainstorming for their sensory charts.  I particularly liked the questions that helped engage their memory.  In describing the peanut butter cups, the taste reminded one child of their brother’s chocolate peanut butter, banana and marshmallow sandwiches from his recent birthday.  It reminded the other of the peanut butter eggs they get at Christmas and Easter.  Both of these details enhanced their descriptions by making them more specific and personal.

Today they each wrote poems after creating a sensory chart for their objects.  Afterward I asked my 11 year old if she would have thought of all the descriptions related to each of the senses if she hadn’t been learning about it and using the chart and she said no, that it had definitely made her poem better.

The nine year old starts all of these assignments frustrated and then she ends up with a big smile on her face at the end, so that takes some Mama Wisdom to know whether to push, and in this case, I know she loves writing and that she needs the nudge to face a challenge.

Poems from Week 2

Here are their (unrevised or edited) poems based on observing chosen objects and recording descriptions for taste, touch, sound, smell, and sight.

(the 9 year old)
Easter Lillies

The breeze blows,
a quiet, sweet, papery voice whispers
“He is risen,
He is Risen.”


Silver moonbeams
curled into Spring.


(the 11 year old)

I open the cover,
but it’s not a cover.
It’s a door leading to a new world.

I rub the pages,
smoothed by all the other hands
that have touched them.
They make a sound
like a pleasant, fluttering wind.

I smell a dusty smell,
But a dusty smell full
of story.

Mar 27

Creative Writing Week 1

Posted on Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ami, from Walking By the Way and Homeschool Share, recently shared a 9 week Creative Writing course just in time to freshen up the last few months of school.

Finding the Right Way to Write

I’m passionate about writing and it’s a creative process that’s exciting to share with the kids.  I say exciting and I also mean absolutely scary.  ”Writing” and “petrified” find themselves butted together often when I talk to other homeschool moms.  We want our kids to be good writers and because most of us don’t like it or know how to do it or teach it, we turn to curriculum that spits out a very cardboard, yet properly formulated paragraph.

I saw it with my own daughter a few years ago.  We started one of those programs and all of her inventive ideas were quickly inhibited by “Am I putting this sentence in the right place?” and “Let me look at the book, okay, it said 3 adjectives about color in this sentence.”

We ditched the program, but then what?  The fear that maybe if we try this our own way, if we play, if we listen to some of the advice from Bravewriter, maybe my kids won’t learn the PROPER way to write.

Well, so far we’re continuing to hack through these doubts and comparisons and experience the joy of ideas that make it onto the page without a sensor blinking on and off, “wrong!”.

Still, how to teach revision, editing, how to approach non-fiction writing?  Well, we’ll hack down the barriers as we find them.

The First Week of Ami’s Class

Ami’s class on Creative Writing is designed for her co-op of 6th and 7th graders and she hits all of the important topics of writing like using metaphors, including sensory details and working through the revision and edition stages.  This is a completely FREE course with all instructions, activities, famous quotes, poems,and printouts included.

My kids older kids are 4th and 5th, but because we’ve done various writing projects and activities over the last year and half I thought they could understand the assignments and I plan to adjust as needed along the way.

Here’s some of the work from their first week, which focused on avoiding cliches and overly used words and instead using metaphors.  All of this work is unrevised or edited, as we plan to go back in later weeks and take a second look.

Assignment: Read the poem “A Loaf of Poetry” and write your own recipe for something.  You can write it as a poem or paragraph.

(Full Discloslure: The girls hemmed and hawed about this assignment, so we made up some examples together before they tried it on their own.)

(The 9 year old)
Recipe for a Book Birthday Cake

1/2 cup sillyness
2 overflowing cups climax
4 tsp sadness
3 tsp violence
1/4 cup creepiness
2/4 cup weirdness
1  1/2 overflowing cups happiness
1/2 cup adventure

Preheat 325 F.  Lightly grease cake pan.  Mix creepiness, weirdness, sadness, and violence in bowl.  Mix climax, sillyness, adventure, and happiness in separate bowl.  Mix both bowls together.  Pour into pan and bake for 15 to 30 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Serve, in a soft, cozy bed, relax, and read.

(note: her reference for adventure and violence come from books like the Narnia series!)

(The 11 year old)
Recipe for a Summer Day

10 cups of sunshine (the brightest you can find)
15 cups blue sky
1/4 cups of bees and wasps
2 cups birds
1 cup of green grass
1/2 cup flowers

Mix the sunshine and the blue sky together in an extra large mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl mix the wasps and bees and birds. Mix grass and flowers in another small mixing bowl, stir only until combined.  Let all ingredients sit for one hour.  Next get out a large pan, pour flowers and grass on the bottom, layer on bees, wasps, and birds and lastly the sun and sky. Bake for five minutes.  After baking is done sprinkle on the breeze and enjoy.

Next Assignment: Read the Metaphor Poems.  Go outside and find an object you want to write about, comparing it to something else, like the examples from the poems page.  The object you describe is also the title of your poem.

(Full disclosure: they also hemmed about this assignment as well, often it’s just, “go do it!)

(The 9 year old)
Train Tracks

Mountain of rocks
path of steel
on the top
for the train,
to come over

(The 11 year old)
Flower Pot

A natural tea pot sitting on your porch.
Your tea is not made with herbs
but with the soil of the ground.
When water is added the special seasoning spreads
and gives the tea flavor.

This week we start Week 2 and I’ll be sharing some examples soon.

Georgia Heard has two books that have helpful, explorative, writing exercises.  Check out all of her books, but particularly Awakening the Heart and The Revision Toolbox.   Also, check out this book for combining nature and poetry, A Crow Doesn’t Need a Shadow.

Does the subject of writing scare you?  Have you found a program that you’re satisfied with, or is there another subject that you find yourself sweeping away the doubts and heading down your own path?

(Thanks, Ami, for this inspired resource!)


Nov 23

The Partly Successful Poetry Lesson

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I stare at my daughter, mortified that the source of her crying came from my own hands.

She has just finished part three of her poetry assignment.  Monday was free-writing, Tuesday she created a poem from her free-write, and today is the big “R”, revision.

Until today they have done some light revision but we’ve never used the “R” word.  Last week they heard an author speak about his writing process and how his book went through five drafts before it become a published book.  He shared that the process was hard on him but he had no doubt that the final draft was a much better book than his first draft.

So I couldn’t hide the “R” word anymore.  But I tried to put the right spin on it.

I even started with an inspiring moment, designed to reveal that revision didn’t equal “wrong”.  Based on the idea from Georgia Heard’s book The Revision Toolbox”, I brought out a geode.

“The first draft is like this geode.  You definitely have something there. It’s a solid idea.”

And then I dramatically got out a hammer and we broke that small rock open to find the glimmering beauty inside.

“This is what happens when we go back to our first draft and crack open the first ideas to find the gems inside by looking at word choices, sharpening images, losing extra words.  It’s not that the first draft is wrong or bad, this is just the next step to finding your poem or story.”

Inspiring, right?

I set the two halves of the geode on the desk and handed them some questions to help them think over their poem. And left the room.

Which brings us back to the sobbing child in the chair beside me.

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

“My poem’s not poetical anymore!” cried my 9 year old.


“I loved my poem yesterday,” racks of sobs and broken breath continue, “but now that I’ve read those questions I don’t think my my poem’s even a poem anymore!  I hate my poem,” the sobbing turns into a heavy slump upon the table.

This is when teaching stinks.  All of my teaching is trial and error, which means sometimes I get it so right and sometimes I have a day like this one.  I don’t mind making mistakes, but I don’t like to do them at the cost of my daughter’s creative process.

I warned them when I handed out the questions.

“I’m figuring out how to teach this to you as we go.  This step of working on your poem might work great or one of you may love it or everyone may hate it.  We’re just going to have to try it.”

Well, the almost eleven year old (who’s also pretty relaxed about her creative process) worked through the questions and declared, “This is fun, these questions are great, they helped a lot.”

You already know how it turned out for the other one-who, by the way, is two years younger.  When the author last week said that in art, as well, the first draft is never the best, Jellybean declared he was wrong(privately, to me, later, thankfully).

“My first tries in art are always my best,” she explained.

Is it just age, is it also personality?  She had written five pages of a poem and then decided it was no longer a poem!

Sure I should have seen that one coming.  I should have handed her older sister the paper with questions for her poem, and allowed the younger to recite a beautiful rendition of her five page poem and call her poem done-but I didn’t. Because sometimes it’s trial and error.

The learning curve for this teacher is deep and wide,  how is it for you?  Have you had successes so far this year, or many nearly successful moments?

Nov 10

When Push Comes to Shove

Posted on Thursday, November 10, 2011

(The assignment discussed in this post is from A Crow Doesn’t Need a Shadow: A Guide to Writing Poetry from Nature by Lorraine Ferra.)

One of the challenges of being the teacher is facing the sigh.  The low groan.  The roll of the eyes, when I announce a certain subject or assignment.

Along similar lines, it’s also difficult to watch a child struggle with a lesson and be the teacher who has to keep her on the road through the hard stuff.

By 9:30 our day had ricocheted way off track from our original school plan, punted by outside circumstances with my Dad that couldn’t be avoided. After lunch I gathered the grumpy, out-of-sorts crew (myself included) together to get started with school.

The atmosphere was not ripe for a poetry lesson.  My ten year olds face looked so glum her frown was sliding off her chin like  unset jello.

We’re going to do a poem today about the weather.”  I pointed to window, indicating the autumn day taking place outside.

A heave of the shoulders and then through tight teeth, “Fine.”

“First you’re going to make a list of action verbs associated with people.”

“What do you even mean!”

“Not common verbs, pick interesting ones like ‘swallow’ and ‘erase’.” Picture a lot of enthusiasm in my voice, I was attempting to transfer it with the right intonation.

Then make another list of verbs associated with animals-”

“-I thought this was a poem about the weather!!” my 9 year old cried out, exasperated.

“It is. Just wait and see. Think of verbs like ‘pounce’ and ‘perch’.”

“It sounds hard,” my ten year old mumbled down to the floor.

Reader, this is is when it gets hard for me.  I forget that struggle isn’t a thing to be avoided and the mama in me wants to do something to ease it.  Especially when I’m the source of the frustration!  But I knew they could get this assignment.

“You don’t have to use all of the verbs but use some of them to write a poem about the fall weather.  Here’s an example by an 8 year old-


Wind nibbles
on the walls of the buildings.
When it hunts
in the forest it rubs its chin
on the trees
and wipes its mouth
on their leaves.

There was a slight lift in the frowns.  I grabbed at the moment.

“Grab a sweatshirt and your notebooks and go outside.”

Reality set in, they were really going to have to do this assignment.

The cheer in my voice rose hoping to cajole their spirits up and out of the dumps.

“Here put on Daddy’s warm sweatshirt.  You put on your big sister’s,” and then I added lightly,  ”Guess we better have some hot chocolate in a little while since it’s cold out today.”

I admit it, that last bit was pure bribery coated in chocolate.

Turning to math with my six year old, I occassionally glanced at the girls sitting on the driveway with their notebooks.

Twenty minutes later we heard someone burst through the side door and then my ten year old appeared.  Cheeks the color of gala apples, her dad’s sweatshirt hanging to her knees, and excitement buzzing around her entire body she said, “I’m finished!”

She waited.  She wanted me to ask to hear the poem.

“Can I hear it?”


Dramatic Pause.  A rush of breath-

Sometimes the wind
is a message bearer, whispering
to the trees news of what
I do not know.
But some days the wind
is a wild cat, pouncing
on leaves and dragging
them to its lair.
Some mornings when I wake up,
the wind flies through the window
and burrows under my covers, driving
me out of bed and into my clothes.
The wind is its own person,
changing each day.
To me
the wind is alive.

She’d had that moment.  That moment, determined to fail and yet looking at the wind, and giving it living breath on her page, she found out that with her own words the wind really was alive.


I tumbled into adulthood afraid of things that were hard.  I didn’t want to try anything new, worried that it might take effort or might end in failure.  It’s a fine line to walk as mom and teacher but when I get it just right between the “yes go do it” and  the “let’s celebrate with hot chocolate” the results are worth the earlier struggle.  I can see in the child a little more confidence and little less fear of the next challenge.


Nov 8

Just One More Poetry Resource (Okay, two)

Posted on Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let me tell you about one more poetry resource, I just picked it up from the library last night.

After flipping through it, I found myself wondering why it’s not on all of the tables at the curriculum sales (I found the title during a blitz of website perusal, maybe on my eleventh link from the first poetry site I tried).  With so much focus on nature study in the homeschool community, this book on writing poetry from nature can be incorporated easily into nature notebooks and field trips.

A Crow Doesn’t Need a Shadow: A Guide to Writing Poetry from Nature by Lorraine Ferra couldn’t be a better fit for our current study.  We’re just starting a six week study on nature, poetry, and art, focusing on book illustrators Barbara Cooney and Beatrix Potter, reading about the life of John Muir and poet Pablo Neruda, and reading and writing some outdoor poetry.

First of all I like the layout.  It’s easy to flip through the projects, with examples of each poetic assignment included in each section (written by children age 7-13), and even the illustrations make me feel like getting in touch with my natural side.

Some books are full of ideas but are hard to translate into workable assignments, but these don’t take any translating at all.  I might match them up with a specific book or nature activity for the week, but the ideas themselves are straightforward.

I expect my 9 and 11 year old to understand these assignments easily, and I imagine I’ll feel compelled to write along side them.

Excerpt from the book:

To write a different kind of poem about weather, start by making a list of action words (verbs) that you usually associate with people.  (Several actions verbs are listed as examples like swallows, carves, gossips, and yawns.) Make a second list of verbs you commonly associate with animals.  Words such as gallops, slithers, and perches.

Decide upon some aspect of weather for your subject; then choose two or three verbs from each of your lists to start your poem.  For example, if you subject is fog you might begin by describing how fog erases objects you ordinarily see or by telling where fog perches or grazes.

Example of using uncommon verbs by Tyler, age 8


Wind nibbles
on the walls
of the buildings.
When it hunts in the forest,
it rubs its chin
on the trees
and wipes its mouth
on their leaves.

(Assignment and poem excerpted from A Crow Doesn’t Need A Shadow)

The assignments in this book encourage what we’ve already begun with nature study-paying attention to the senses while outside, knowing specific names for trees and flowers to make the images in your writing strong, expressing how the sun’s warmth and the peace by the pond make you feel.

Check it out.

Another book that came home with from the library is Emily by Michael Bedard and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.  A picture book peek into the life of Emily Dickinson.

With more books coming in the from the library every day, expect to hear about more treasures soon.

Nov 7

Resources for Teaching Poetry

Posted on Monday, November 7, 2011

Last year we really enjoyed our exploration of poetry.  We tried out several poetic forms, read and copied favorite poems, and our 9 year old even won the local NPT story and illustrators contest for her collection of original poems.  You can see a video of her art and poems here (she’s number 2 on the video list, “Jael”).

Although we often keep a tradition of “poetry tea time” that is popular amongst homeschoolers, we’re looking forward to once again delving deeper for the next six weeks.

One outward motivation is the River of Words Poetry and Art Contest which all of the kids would like to enter this year.

Here are some of the resources that already have me feeling inspired and we haven’t even started yet:

At the River of Words website you can download a poetry lesson guide for free.  The guide suggests using a compilation of art and poetry they’ve published called River of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things.  It’s twenty-one dollars on the website but I found it used on Amazon for only a few dollars.


Poetry Tag Time is a compilation of great poetry for children.  The collection begins with a poem by Jack Prelutsky and then he “tagged” the next poet and she submitted a poem that was related/inspired by Prelutsky’s poem and so on as each poet tagged the next.  Thirty poems in all are included and there are short explanations between poems as to how they’re related.  If this doesn’t make sense (it didn’t to me right away), just go ahead and take a look.

The book is only published for use on Kindle and such, but I was able to download a free app to view it on my computer instead. I purchased this resource for a grand total of 2.99 on Amazon (no shipping of course since it’s digital). If you go to the Poetry Tag Time Blog, you will find suggested activities for each of the poems.  This resource is going to help our poetry time stay accessible to our six year old. The same women that compiled Poetry Tagtime, also compiled a similar resource for teens called Poetry P*Tag.


A Kick in the Head, edited by Paul B. Janeczko, is an introduction to the main poetic forms, from haiku to cinquain and sonnet, to many other forms I’d never heard of before!  Each page contains a poem along with more information about the form in small print on the page and an illustration by Chris Raschka. Janeczko has many poetry books worth looking at, but I highly recommend his other two books in this series,  A Poke in the I and Foot in the Mouth.


Wishes, lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry by Kenneth Koch has some interesting and simple ideas.  At the end of last year, we wrote “I wish” poems and they revealed the unique hearts of each of us.

Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School by Georgia Heard is the best book I own on teaching poetry.  It takes us beyond “just copy the form” to teaching the kids about expressing their heart, experiences, and reactions to the world through verse.  Filled with exercises, poetry stations, editing suggestions, it was worth the full price that I paid on Amazon (I think there are used copies available now).


The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan is a story based on the childhood of poet Pablo Neruda.  It’s a magical novel about words, dreaming, and following your passion.


Poetry for Children, a blog by one of the creators of Poetry Tag Time, regularly posts new poetry books and novels written in verse.  Many of her posts on poetry books include suggested activities to go along with the book.

Poetry at Play includes a Weekly Poet highlight, interviews, and articles on the world of poetry.

Notebooking Fairy, Jimmie’s other blog, has several free poetry notebooking pages.  As a note, Jimmie’s collage is hosting 10 days of Language Arts, go check it out. In two more days, poetry will be the focus of her blog post.

Practical Pages inspires me in many ways, but one area is how her family “plays” with Poetry.  Check her out-you’ll be hooked.

Find a source for nature poetry on this post.

Do you have any favorite poets you’ve studied in your home or other resources that have helped your poetry exploration?