Thursday, October 27, 2022

Dansa Poem #PoetryPals Challenge

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: 
it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity. 
-William Wordsworth

Tranquil Thoughts
It starts with a gentle flow,
Like leaves dancing in the breeze.
Pleasant, slow movements that please
Awaken emotions. You know,
It starts with a gentle flow.

Body and mind are at ease.
Breath relaxed. Slow down, please.
Feel the rush of letting go.
It starts with a gentle flow.

Yogi listen, bend  your knees,
Down dog pose leads to heartsease.
Breathe in, breathe out, joy will grow.
It starts with a gentle flow.
©CVarsalona, Fall 2022, Virginia

Yesterday, while in the yoga studio, I listened intently to my teacher. She led us through a series of gentle flows. This practice allowed me to relax while pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and reminded me of autumn's gentle flow. Yoga and nature's movements set the stage to write alongside the Poetry Sisters who challenged us this month to compose a dansa poem. Since I have never heard of a dansa poem, I really needed to pay attention to the format and start the process by using a simple refrain. The poem opens with a quintrain of 5 lines and an AbbaA rhyme scheme. Quatrains of 4 lines with a bbaA rhyme scheme follow. The  A repeats because it is the opening line of the first stanza and the final line of every stanza, including the first. 

Do you know what belsnickeling is? It is a Christmas practice, inspired by early 20th-century German Americans, in which costumed groups would visit neighbors' houses, offer a short performance, and then, were rewarded with food if the neighbors couldn't guess their identities. My granddaughters and I enjoyed a variation of belsnickeling last weekend when we walked around the neighborhood with baskets of homemade cookies. My oldest granddaughter wore dentures to make the neighbors laugh. 

Belsnickeling Fun

Little creatures march around
With toothy grins and small treats,
Delivering gooey sweets.
For all the neighbors earthbound,
Little creatures march around.

Stomp, stomp they walk up and down.
See that pumpkin who overeats.
Down the dark and lonely streets,
Little creatures walk around.

They skip, sway, and eat a piece.
Head home when cookies decrease-
Belsnickeling fun found.
Little creatures walk around.
©CVarsalona, 2022, dansa poem, digital art & Pumpkin photo by Margaret Simon for This Photo Needs To Be A Poem

It is time for the Poetry Friday Roundup.
Join me at Jone MacCullock's blog here to find out what our Oregon poet/photgrapher/librarian has as a sweet surprise. It will sure to be filled with poetic goodness and maybe a nature photo or collage.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Pre-Halloween Fun

The end of October is almost here and I have been busy adding the final touches to my October decorations. With Halloween just a week away, I thought a bit of digital magic would add the sparkle needed to wrap up my October decorations. All I needed was my little granddaughters to inspire me because what is Halloween without children? My wish was granted. 

The little girls spent last weekend with us. I had a variety of ideas planned to entertain them. One was a morning walk around the neighborhood with baskets of cookies for neighbors to taste. While adding Halloween decorations around the house, my oldest granddaughter found two accessories in my Halloween box that made her eyes sparkle. She giggled with joy upon finding a LI Duck whistle and dentures. I started taking photos that made my younger grandgirl and me laugh. One in particle sparked an idea. Why not digitize the photo with some photo apps to create a party invitation. The photo chosen for the invitation was carefully placed on the outside wreath for the parents to see before entering the house.

Dressing in costumes is part of the fun of a Halloween party so of course the question was asked, "What can the girls wear?" Luckily, I had costumes made by my talented mother for my children when they were young. The grandgirls decided they would be happy to wear the robot and clown costumes made by Grandma Kay.  Their parents were surprised when they walked in and I was delighted to have my first Halloween House party in Virginia with the family and my little grandgirls.

Join me at Slice of Life celebrated at Two Writing Teachers,
a meeting place for a world of reflective writers. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Remembering Summer with Digitals, a Poem Swap...

Do you remember the lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer? Do you wish that summer could always be here, especially now since the temperature dropped to thirty degrees?

Nat King Cole reminds us of frolicking summer days.
Pause and listen.

My last summer poem swap was sent by a poetry friend, Janet Fagal. She made summer reappear during Virginia's second summer season with her swap which was such a lovely surprise. She sent me Georgia Heard and Rebecca Kai Dotlich's gorgeous book, A Field Guide to the Heart, Poems of Love, Comfort & Hope. I will cherish this poetry book/journal because within its pages I will add memories and poems created.

Besides the book, Janet sent two beautiful photo cards, a mini-notebook to take on walks, a lovely blank card, a small star for my desk, and two of her poems.
What a fine swap. Thank you, Janet.
Janet does not know how my Mom and I loved to make zucchini bread.
Some of Janet's summer memories found at home in the above poem.

I send this postcard poem from Virginia to Janet, while thinking about the beauty of autumn in Central New York.

Autumn's Second Summer Days
second summer days
glitter in gold and linger
crunchy leaves scatter 
©CVarsalona, 2022, digitized photo, Virginia


Talking about friends, I was delighted to write a book review about Matt Forrest Esenwine's new book, A Beginner's Guide to Being Human, and spread the news around social media.  

Thank you, Poetry Friday friends, Linda Baie, Michelle Kogan, JoAnn Macken, 
Heidi Mordhorst, Laura Purdie Salas, Buffy Silverman, Jama Rattigan, for offering your artistic expressions,  alongside mine, at the Finding Fall 2022 Padlet. I hope others join in and add their artistic expression. The updated padlet is below.


November 3, 2022 marks the second professional development workshop sponsored by the Reading Specialists Council of Suffolk. I am preparing now for my keynote address, Inviting and Encouraging Students to Discover the Writer Within, which will air on Zoom. 

Today is Poetry Friday. Bridget Magee, poetry friend, teacher, editor, and publisher is hosting the Roundup this week. She is also celebrating the 1st Year Anniversary of the  10.10 Poetry Anthology: Celebrating 10 in 10 Different Ways and is also the creator of Poetry Palooza which is being featured at Bridget's blog this month. I thank Bridget for spotlighting my poem, Celebrating Baby's Digits in the 10.10 Poetry Anthology on October 13, 2022. You can read what Bridget wrote and see another Smidgey photo op here.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

A Busy Week & Strange Occurrence

As I was decorating for Halloween, a strange occurrence happened. I turned to my computer and opened my blog to read a comment from slicer friend, Chris Margocs. She alerted me that my slice, A Busy Week, may have disappeared. Sure enough, it did! I know that I wrote the blog post because another slicer friend, Bob Hamera, aka arjeha, responded. Below is the missing slice that I happened upon when I opened my iMac. Internet prank??? or just Happy Pre-Halloween, Friends!!!


Since last Tuesday, I have been on a whirlwind path of meeting my To Do list. In the space between then and now I prepared and presented my first keynote address for the Reading Specialists Council of Suffolk, entertained out-of-town guests, and dealt with week two of recuperation of my husband's hip replacement. All went well so I am grateful.

In addition, there were business and personal calls and writing a book review of my poet/author friend Matt Forrest Esenwine's creative nonfiction book, A Beginner's Guide to Being Human. Today is the official release of the book on its #blogbirthday. This book is one that should be in the school library and read aloud in classes from elementary to middle school. Key topics, like humanity, kindness, and compassion are introduced and supported through vivid illustrations. 

This busy week reaped rewards but I must admit that I am exhausted. Now, if I could only write before the midnight hour calls.


Join me at Slice of Life Tuesday celebrated at Two Writing Teachers
a meeting place for a world of reflective writers. 

Monday, October 17, 2022

A Beginner's Guide to Being Human - Book Review

Today's world needs a shot of kindness and empathy to navigate the social-emotional side of living. Medical, political, social, and economic issues press on humankind creating a snowball effect on relationships. When Kidlit author and poet, Matt Forrest Esenwinefinished writing his new book, A Beginner's Guide to Being Human, I was very interested in writing a review of it because it is a timely topic for children.

This book is a wonderful mentor text to use when introducing the topic of humanity. Discussions on being human need to spread across the world. To support my thoughts, I found a quote from Asheville Citizen Times. " This book might be the start of something wonderful. It focuses on empathy, family, and all the best parts of humanity. Soak this one in, read it over and over again to little ones, and be part of a revolution of kindness."

Release Date: October 18, 2022

Upon first looking at this wonderful book geared for elementary and early middle school students, I was delighted with the cover art. The cover is beautifully illustrated by Andre Ceolin. Friendly conversation, smiling faces, and a sense of community are felt. From the cover alone, a pre-book discussion could evolve on topics, such as inclusivity, diversity, and humanity. I believe that many children, parents, teachers, and librarians will be interested in reading this book with its hopeful message, well-stated by author Matt Esenwine:

"I wanted to try to help young people understand the simplicity of things like kindness and empathy. Hopefully, it works!"
However, to get the most out of your human experience
there are a few things you should know.

Matt offers Five Pro Tips spread throughout the book 
to help children understand timely topics.

There are wisdom and life lessons in this book.

For the Poetry Friday Roundup,  Matt offered the following poem based on the above excerpt from the book.


may  not seem
like a big deal,
but to the other -
the child whose eyes rain tears -
it could mean everything.
Set aside your parental pride
and ask for the forgiveness you need.

©2022 Matt Forrest Esenwine

Since the book is a departure from his other books, I asked Matt how his own children received his book.

"My kids seemed to like the book, although they are never good critics because they always tell me they love my books! I don't know if they expect to get an extra dessert or something, but they're always very complimentary, ha! They did seem to genuinely like it, though - my tween son is a big nonfiction kind of fellow while his younger sister is a reluctant reader, so the fact they both gave it positive reviews makes me happy."
About the Author

Closing Thought by Matt Forrest Esenwine
My hope (when writing the book) was to introduce words and concepts while providing some examples of what they look like in the real world - in a child's world. Kids learn by example, after all!


Thank you, Matt, for creating this book that should be available in public and school libraries, classrooms, and children's bedrooms. If we can build a better world through kindness, we will touch the heart of humanity.

"Kindness is another way to tap into our everyday powers. It has positive effects on how we see ourselves and find the humanity in others." (

Congratulations to Matt Forrest Esenwine!

You can hear more at Dr. Diane Schnoor's online conversation with Matt Forrest Esenine here.

Stay Tuned teachers, librarians, parents, and students. Tomorrow is the release date for a Beginner's Guide to Being Human.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Teacher Writers-Awakeners of Learning

With an enthusiastic, upbeat attitude I looked forward to my first keynote address on Zoom last night. I had been preparing for the Reading Specialists Council of Suffolk professional development program for weeks with the topic of Teacher Writers, Awakeners of Learning. As a writer, I felt the jitters of vulnerability. I was placing my years of study on this topic in the hands of my audience. Could I deliver my thoughts in a forty-five-minute session? 

I did and this morning, I woke to the quiet of a "Second-Summer" October day and peace in my heart. I accomplished my task last night, delivering a presentation, The Power of Writing, Determining Your Why as a Teacher Writer/Awakener of LearningAs I sat at my desk, I scrolled through my mail and found an interesting one from a passionate author friend of mine, Ruth Ayres (editor of Choice Literacy). Her article, Get in the Pool: Teachers Who Write, held a truism, " If we want our students to grow as writers, then we must be teachers who write." 

Quick Write Thought

like threads sewn by nimble hands
writing flows
like winds that blow through the sky
writing flies
like thoughts that come and go
writing knows
heartbeats and sorrow
today to tomorrow
writing grows
©CVarsalona, 2022

Today is Poetry Friday and a wonderful poet/Kidlit author, Matt Forrest Esenwine is the host of the Roundup. If you travel to his website here, you will find exciting news about his new book, A Beginner's Guide to Being Human, which will be released on October 18th. To celebrate the occasion, Matt is writing a collection of poems based on topics in his book.

Join me at my blog, Beyond LiteracyLink, for my review of Matt's book. It is one that should be in school libraries and read aloud.

November 3, 2022 marks the second professional development workshop sponsored by the Reading Specialists Council of Suffolk. I am preparing now for my keynote address, Inviting and Encouraging Students to Discover the Writer Within, because I am in the writing zone, a very good place to be. 

My Finding Fall 2022 Padlet is growing as a gallery praising autumn. Please feel free to add your artistic expression or send it to me for insertion on the padlet. Thank you.

Responses to Poetry Friday friends will be spread throughout the weekend since we have friends staying with us. Happy October!

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

RSCS Presentation-The Power of Writing

As I sit preparing my keynote address on Zoom for the Reading Specialists Council of Suffolk professional development series, my mind wanders back and forth between the content component and the creative process. 

The "Second Summer" October days we are having provides a beautiful Autumn scene outside my library window. The light streaming in promotes creativity and helps me keep on task. Below is an example of a slice from my upcoming presentation.

Writing is an art form that moves thoughts to paper. It is a process that reveals pieces of the inner self while splashing thoughts across the page. Writing starts as a glimmer of an idea, a seed that sprouts in the quiet corners of your mind, and takes form when the muse beckons you. Writing can be an arrangement of free thoughts or an on-demand task. It can be a messy synthesis of ideas or an elegant rewrite. With faith, the writing process allows thoughts to germinate, grow, and give voice to a learning life.
I look forward to my first keynote address at a professional development program. CTLE credits are being provided for all educators who participate. There is even a book raffle of Buffy Silverman's newest Kidlit book (donated by Lerner Books).

Join me at Slice of Life Tuesday celebrated at Two Writing Teachers
a meeting place for a world of reflective writers.