Saturday, April 29, 2017

Touched by Nature

"Seek  the resonance that enters a poem
only when it is touched by the stillness of nature." 
-Margarita Engle

On the days before my daughter's baby shower, I spent time in my gardens with Matt, my landscaper from Rockville Lawn. Our mission was to beautify the exterior of the home. Like in the past, chocolate mulch was added to the beds to provide a beautiful landscape for the plantings that awakened just in time for tomorrow's event at my home. Now, my gardens can have a taste of chocolate along with the rest of my guests to celebrate springtime and the birth of a new addition to our family.

verdant green gardens
filled with nature's bounty-
seasonal decor
showcased in chocolate
festively dressed for spring

spring emissaries
popping up through chocolate
sprouting, standing tall
showcasing seasonal joy-
a springsation to welcome

I always seem to slip into the challenge at the tail end but preparing for the shower has left me little time to unwind and write. These two poems are offered to Michelle H. Barnes' ditty challenge at Today's Little Ditty. My poetry flows from Michelle's interview with Margarita Engle whom I had the privilege of listening to at NCTE 16. Margarita's challenge was to write a tanka, a poetic form that suits me well since I am starting a spring gallery collection of poetic blossoms at #Springsations. 
My ditty challenge is:  Write a tanka poem.  Think of it as a travel diary, even if you are only moving around in your own garden.  You are free to choose any subject.  Your poem is only five lines.  The traditional tanka syllable count is 5-7-5-7-7, but since Japanese syllables are shorter, in English the poem could be awkwardly long. You don’t have to count syllables, but stick to the basic line pattern of short, long, short, long, long.  Keep the total number of syllables for each poem under 30, or even better, keep it under 26.  Less is more.  Shorter is more powerful.  Don’t try to be detailed.  Seek the resonance that enters a poem only when it is touched by the stillness of nature.
I traveled around my garden today from one bed to the next and the images and words are what flowed when my fountain provided the right softness to the night. The stillness of nature is a comfort. 

Friday is the day for Poetry Friends to converse in verse so head over to the Poetry Friday Round-up that can be found at JoAnn Early Macken at Teaching Authors.

The image poems in tanka format above are part of my #poetrylisciouspoetry collection for National Poetry Month 2017.

Please consider creating alongside me for my spring gallery of artistic expressions, Springsations.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Joy in Creating

There is a joy in the process of creating.                                                                                 AUTHOR--Dejan Stojanovic, The Shape
Creating means living.

When I get involved in a passion project, whatever it is, I immerse myself in the moment, finding fulfillment in what I am doing. Tonight, my passion project is baking cookies as part of a family tradition. In many of my blog posts, I have given high praise to my grandmother and mother for their baking talents. Tonight, I think of them as I continue baking specialty cookies for the baby shower I am hosting this weekend for my daughter. Many of the cookies are dipped in pink chocolate. Have I provided a clue? It's a girl tiny ribbons and heart-shaped trinkets are everywhere in my house. My grandmother and mother must be dancing for joy in their heavenly homes.

Finding joy in creating evolves as the process nears an end but not everyone realizes this. Some people have never experienced joyful feelings of accomplishment or learning for learning's sake. Some give up while creating, thinking that their work is not "good enough". Some can't move beyond their comfort zone. Others, find fault with their work and rather than revise, discard what they did.

While baking this week, I found enjoyment in the discomfort stage. Trying out new recipes was somewhat challenging because of the unknown but I remembered how creative my mother and grandmother were. That thought spurred me on. As I prepared my cookie dough, I remembered their hands busily preparing tasty confections for their family, working alone in silence to be able to concentrate. They enjoyed honing their craft. I commend their diligence to the tasks they were involved in and their ability to pass down their passion for baking so I can find the joys of creating and living a full life. If I gave up on improving my bakings skills because some of the cookies were a bit too brown around the edges or the frosting a tad too sweet, I would not have been able to create some new tastes for my guests to savor. 

Upon further reflection on the process of creating, I realize that I need to stay on task, focus, and find joy in the process of creating at all stages. 

Not every creation is going to be a great one but it is just one more step to honing our craft.

Cookies in the oven,
Baby cozy and warm,
Celebrate the wonder
of life about to be born.
©CV, 2017

I share this digital with you to show you that will the cookie dough was delicious, the final products were not picture picture perfect and that's okay! 

The image poem and inspirational message above are part of my #poetrylisciouspoetry collection for National Poetry Month 2017.

It's Tuesday! WRITE. SHARE. GIVE.
with Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life.

March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Celebrating the Earth

Each Earth Day, citizens gather together to find ways to protect our beautiful earth. Think Green is a popular mantra!

As residents of the earth, we need to take on the role of stewards, keep watch over the bountiful creation provided us, and teach students about the challenges of climate change and other local environmental concerns. Adults can model the slogan, Reduce-Recycle-Reuse, to take a small step forward in Earth Day efforts to save Mother Earth. 

Children can also help, as evidenced by the HBO documentary, Saving My Tomorrow, that aired last night at the close of Earth Day. You can view the clip below.

Classrooms can promote "Earth Day Everyday" by planting trees, recycling, reading about Earth Day at Wonderopolis' Wonder of the Day 1675, How Can You Make Earth a Better Place, and reflecting. To broaden the after-reading experience, 4th to 6th grade students can engage in a writing activity focusing on 10 of the highlighted words in the Wonderopolis text, i.e., earth, public consciousness, future, protection, legislation, global, recycling, rally, action, conserve, plant, trash. Using these words as prompts, students work in pairs to create poems that either celebrate the beauty of Mother Earth or provide insight into ways to save the earth. Recitation of the pair-created poem with another pair enhances the oral reading experience. Asking for feedback allows students to refine their poem. Students create Illustrations, posters, or videos of the class poems to publicize a celebration event.


The example I provide below is an adaptation of the Golden Shovel poetic format featured by Writer's Digest. While I enjoy creating this type of poem, I admit that it is challenging.

-Find a quote that appeals to you about your subject.
-Use each word in the quote as an end word in your poem.
-Keep the end words in order.
-Give credit to the person who wrote the quote.

The earth is what we all have in common. 
- Wendell Berry
There is beauty in fragile flowers, the
turn of light upon the grass. The earth
wrapped in shades of vibrant hues is
resplendent in springtime, but what 
if we neglect our mighty land?  Will we
deplete earth of its riches or of all
it has bestowed on mankind. Have
we forgotten what is necessary in
our haste to have superfluous interests in common?
©Carol Varsalona, 2017

Yesterday was Earth Day 2017 
EVERYDAY should be Earth Day! 

Let's band together to honor the earth through advocacy and simple steps to focus on becoming faithful stewards of the environment.

The image poem and inspirational message above are part of my #poetrylisciouspoetry collection for National Poetry Month 2017.

Thank you, Margaret Simon for suggesting the topic for #DigiLitSunday and creating the digital flyer below.

Thank you, Ruth Ayres for providing space each weekend to Celebrate This Week with fellow bloggers.

This post is also part of my Wonder Bundle of activities that I am creating for Wonderopolis as part of my commitment to being a Wonder Lead AmbassadorDo you often wonder how you can help protect the earth?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Digioetry is...

I often refer to digital poetry by the coined term, #digipoetry.
Digital poetry is a novel way of artistically blending images, art, and literacy using digital tools to create vivid and appealing poetic compositions. It often bends and turns in the creation process, bringing to life soft murmurings that stir within a writer's heart. Digipoetry often toggles between a nondigital world (writer's notebook) and a digital notebook platform to produce highly visual pieces of techno-artistic poetry. This genre of writing is imaginative in its possibilities and creative in its approach to letting voice fly. 

An element of "play" is seen in today's #poetrylisciouspoetry. In the above image, I smashed apps, Tagul and PicMonkey, to create an image poem in vivid hues. I meandered through different scenarios to let the eye design the final combination. In the image below, I digitized a photograph from Easter Sunday at the beach: families gathering, the ocean roaring, and kites flying above the water amidst the swooning seagulls. To recreate that moment, I blended a beach scene photo that I took with a digitally-drawn rendering of a balloon-like kite soaring high above the beach fashioned in Word. A poem emerged while focusing on the photo and was superimposed onto the image. After taking time crafting the digital rendering, a tranquil scene appeared, much like what I saw at the boardwalk. Mission accomplished, I designed a digital creation that was inspired by springtime and added the #imagepoem to my collection of #poetrylisciouspoetry. 

Spring at the shore builds summer hopes in the shifting sands for me each time I visit. 

This past week, the watercolored-sky provided the right backdrop for me to capture a spring day at the beach. I added the digital image poem, created using digital techniques and tools, MobileMonet and PicMonkey, that would highlight nature. 

For digital and non-digital poetry treats turn to Tabatha Yeatts' site for the Poetry Friday Round-up.
I would like to invite the Poetry Friday community to create a digital image poem to grace the growing garden at my upcoming spring gallery, Springsations.

Monday, April 17, 2017


Traditionally, Easter is a family day celebrated by Easter Mass and family dinner, but this Easter day was an unusual one. Without family around us, my husband and I took a ride to the Long Island shore. My son was at work and my daughter, son-in-law, uncle, and cousins were far from Long Island. With windows down and the air rushing in, my husband and I drove the short distance to Long Beach for a stroll on the boardwalk. The beach always provides me with inspiration.

As we entered Long Beach, I noticed a ceiling of sky blue with pillowy clouds hovering over the sandy beach and boardwalk. The temperature was high but April's breeze zipped across shore. Many seemed to be delighted by the winds, as evidenced by the shorts, sleeveless tops worn, and the lone parasailer who was whisking back and forth, crossing the ocean in a beautiful motion. I was grateful that I brought a jacket to ward off the cooling breeze.

My husband and I walked, jogged a few steps, and watched the waves roaring into shore as they splashed against the jetties. Two kites floated in the sky and groups of gulls circled, dipped, and soared higher. Various modes of acceptable boardwalk transportation, bikes, strollers, and skateboards,  were in motion. Vendors were selling their refreshments and beachgoers gravitated to the picnic tables or the beach in the No Beach Goers' ZoneThe beachfront was alive with the buzz of conversation, energy, and fair weather.  I was grateful for the time to reflect.

All was at peace. Spirits were renewed.
Easter at the beach was a wonder-filled experience. 

Easter may have been different this year but I was still able to celebrate with the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night and Easter dinner (complete with chocolate candy). Dinner may have been late in the day because my son had to work but we were together and that is what counts. While I missed the rest of my family, I was able to send Easter greetings to them via the phone.

At the close of the day, I was reminded that Easter is more than just a day. It is a holy day of great importance.

Easter tells us that life is to be interpreted not simply in terms of things but in terms of ideals.
-Charles M. Crowe 

Spring bursts today, for Christ is risen and all the earth's at play.
-Christina G. Rossetti

Hallelujah! Arise and Renew Your Life!

It's Tuesday and the Slice of Life community is coming together at Two Writing Teachers to enjoy another week of blogging.

The above image poem is part of my #poetrylisciouspoetry collection for National Poetry Month and an offering for #NationalHaikuPoetryDay.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Celebrating April

April found its stride this week as sunshine entered each day, a solitary cardinal made its way to my garden after a long winter, and life perked up. Nature reminded earth to celebrate with springtime renewal breath.

april's air stirs in
willow-leaves...a butterfly
floats and balances
-Basho Matsuo

This week balance was needed to restore my surroundings back to life. The mason rebuilt my  front entrance, the landscaper reenergized the front garden with a new blooming tree to replace the serpentine that lost many of its buds, and the meteorologist forecasted warming winds to replace the recent chilled dampness. Spirits were lifted by the start of the spring weather and Easter, the ultimate season of renewal. 

"We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."
-Pope John Paul II

nature brings new growth
new construction restores peace
springtime radiates

Springtime renews hope in living.

Let's celebrate spring and the hope Easter brings!

The image poem above is part of my #poetrylisciouspoetry collection for National Poetry Month 2017.

I celebrate April as National Poetry Month.  Because poetry is a year-round endeavor of creative expression, I have invited all interested in creating their own poetryliscious poetry for my newest gallery, Springsations. You can access the invitation here and add your offerings at the hashtag, #Springsations

I share my celebration of April with Ruth Ayres and her Celebrate This Week community. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Poetry Cubed

Poet/author friend Matt Forrest created a new writing challenge that he featured at Poetry Friday. It is called "Poetry Cubed" and includes the following requirements:

-Use the 3 images provided as inspiration to write a poem - any form, any genre, any number of lines, rhyming or not. Remember, it doesn't have to be very good - the mantra around here is to #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading! This is all about having fun and spurring creativity.
-The only hitch is that you need to include a reference to all three images in the poem - either via concrete imagery or something more abstract.

Steps in My Process: When I read the requirements, I was intrigued and wondered where my mind would lead me. Of course, the first instinct was to see Matt photo prompts in a digital collage format. That recreation was enough to start my word weaving process. Thinking back on my childhood and teenage days, I created a poem titled, Reminiscing.

Invitation: Since these words are first thoughts, I decided to go along with Matt's hashtag, #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!, but you are reading so you can comment.

Final Reflection:
I really like the way the digital composition fell into place. It might be more of a striking visual if I left the words off and place them below the image. Once you see the two images, you can decide if you have a preference. 

Silver screen moments,
Decades past,
Bloomed bright
Against dark skies.
Eyes riveted on
Drive-in delights-
Children's popcorn,
Teen's first kiss.

©CVarsalona, 2017
This image poem is part of my #poetrylisciouspoetry collection for National Poetry Month 2017.

I am not sure if DigiLit Sunday created by Margaret Simon is meeting this Sunday, but I wanted to let the writing community know of Matt Forrest's challenge. It is a fun activity for #digipoetry writers. 
DigiLit Sunday

Invitation to Springsations

"It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart."
-Rainer Maria Rilke

As troubadours of nature, I cordially invite all to join me in announcing the springtime season in bold, vibrant techno-colors for a new, sensational gallery of nature's handiwork

As the earth announces springtime with warm weather,
I invite all to uncover and capture the beauty
of the sensational springtime season.

Be carefree. Let your passions take over as you capture the whimsical side of nature that awakens the soul, re-energizes the spirit, and revitalizes life.

Springsations Gallery Awaits Your Offerings!

As in any fashion event, a mix of styles, a splash of color, and verve are needed.

What Else?
  • Be creative. Capture the splendors of springtime through an original photo or drawing. You can also choose a free image from,, or 
  • Write an accompanying poem or poetic expression.
  • Superimpose your words on the image using a photo editing tool, like FotoJet, PicMonkey or Canva.
  • Sign the digital composition with your name and location.
  • Save it in jpeg form (450 pixels is the best size) and send your jpeg offering to @cvarsalona at gmail with the subject heading, Springsations 
  • Post your work on Twitter under the hashtags: #Springsations and @cvarsalona.

Other Creative Options You Can Submit: 
  • A short video with a poem using iMovie or Animoto
  • An audio reading of your poem using SoundCloud, etc.
  • A collage of springtime
  • An original inspirational quote or one from a poet or philosopher about springtime
  • Original photo or artwork (any format) of springtime

Please make sure that all submissions have your name and locale at the bottom.

Deadline for Submission: May 20, 2017

Still Not Sure How to Begin ??? 

You can refer to last year's gallery, Spring Seeds, here to find mentor texts.  


Student Voice for Springsations Gallery

Please encourage your class and/or students to engage in this artistic creative writing project to amplify their voices and showcase their artistic talents.

This invitation extends the experience of writing poetry beyond National Poetry Month because poetry is a year-round endeavor of creative expression. The project is open-ended and integrates the arts, technology, and literacy. Have fun creating poetryliscious poetry.

Today, the Poetry Friday Round-up is at the blog site, Dori Reads, of Doraine Bennett, children's book author. There is a special give-away of Janet Wong's and Sylvia's fabulous book, Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book (a personal favorite of mine).