Sunday, April 13, 2014

Guest Post: Janet Fagal Brings Us the Next Line in Our 2014 Progressive Poem!

Please join me in welcoming Janet to Live Your Poem!
JANET: I am so happy to participate in the Kidlitosphere’s Progressive Poem again this year, even though I am not a true blogger! For those who may not know me I am a retired teacher, poetry-lover, poetry advocate and poet. I also read many blogs and comment often. Watching third graders embrace all kinds of poetry and poetry opportunities has been the happiest experience of my teaching career, though I only came to it in the last seven years in the classroom! I am thankful to Irene for allowing me to be a guest once again this year on her blog. I was lucky to meet her at NCTE 2012. I so enjoyed the 2012 Progressive Poem and couldn’t wait to read the next line each day. I loved the aura of that poem. Last year I joined in and must have composed 200 versions of my line before I committed! What fun we had with our dancing, daring poem.

And now some time for rhyme and reflection. We have a thinker who is debating, planning, wondering and a gift: some wisdom from Irene. With Mary Lee’s surprise, I could sense our poem turning, but where and how. After much debating I offer the latest line!
Can’t wait to see and hear what happens next.
Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe
Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;
Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,
Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?
Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.
The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?
Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey
Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.
But, hold it! Let's get practical! What's needed before I go?
Time to be tactical— I'll ask my friends what I should stow.
And in one breath, a honeyed word whispered low—
dreams — 
Whose voice? I turned to see. I was shocked. Irene's?
Each voyage starts with tattered maps; your dreams dance on this page.”
Now on to Deborah, where will these maps and the dancing dreams take us?
Now for some background about Janet for those who may not know her!
Third grade students reciting “School Daze Rap” by Carol Diggory Shields at Poery on Parade Night 2012
I am on FB as Janet Clare and I comment as Janet F. You can see a little of my work in this video. I believe poetry should be at the heart of the classroom and that we should joyfully highlight poems every day, whenever possible, in all kinds of ways and in all subjects. As you can imagine I am a big fan of Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry Friday Anthology books as well as so many new titles by poets I have met because of Poetry Friday and the Kidlitosphere. When I speak at teacher conferences like NCTE, IRA, NYSEC, CRA and NYSRA I focus on bringing the rich world of poetry, new poets and Poetry Friday bloggers into other teachers’ and students’ lives. When I work in schools I share different blog posts and send home links so children can follow on their own.
In my “adopted” third grade class which I visit at least weekly, we continue to learn poems by heart, learn about poetry and poets, write poems and bask in the glow of the words in all the books I bring in to share and read. My life is so much richer thanks to the poets and teachers I have met or learned about online via Facebook, Blogs and at conferences and workshops.

     I advocate learning poems by heart and believe we are all capable of learning more poems than we can imagine. That said, the quantity of amazing work I have found in the last three years makes me wish I had started sooner. And prolific writers like Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and others who write about places I love like the seaside, Kate Coombs and Eric Ode to name two, challenge me to keep adding to my repertoire. Having poetry literally at hand and heart is a true blessing. As Pat Lewis, recent Children’s Poet Laureate has said, “the two worst words in the English language are “poetry unit.” And I completely agree! So do the students I work with who literally cheer when I arrive, but not for me. They say, “Yay! We get to do poetry!” In this day of new standards and high stakes testing I think we all need poetry more than ever. 
Ooh, I agree! We all need poetry more than ever. Thank you, Janet! 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. So you've given two ways to go, Janet, map reading/making or writing. You've opened it up! Thank you!

  3. Life is full of "tattered maps", isn't it? What a great line! I look forward to where our next poet takes us!

  4. Nice, Janet! I think our speaker might be ready to take that first step. We'll see what Deborah comes up with!

  5. Fun reading your post and pondering where to go next. We will see tomorrow!

  6. A am a big fan of those "tattered maps" in today's line! So mysterious and wonderful.

  7. Good to "see" you again, Janet! I'm glad you were able to visit us at highlights last fall. A nice line to show us Irene's 'honeyed' words...and good luck to Julie, who'll have to come up with a rhyme to "page!"

  8. Oh, I'm sorry, I meant Deborah gets to continue the poem - I was looking at the wrong dates! (I'll go back to sleep now...)

  9. Wonderful post Janet and great line too!

  10. I'm another fan of that a wonderful phrase, "tattered maps"... and I think Irene would advocate for dreams dancing on pages!


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