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It’s Day 20 of our #WaterPoemProject — 30 days of water-themed poetry prompts from your favorite children’s authors.

If you’re looking for National Poetry Month writing prompts, we’ve got you covered. Start with Day 1 and you’ll have poetry prompts from now through the end of April.

New to this project? Please read the Introduction and FAQ. Or you can watch this video of me describing how to participate. It’s on the YouTube channel Authors Everywhere.

What a treat it is to invite our immediate past Young People’s Poet Laureate, Margarita Engle, to our project! Margarita’s writing prompt is tied to the places we might be missing while we’re sheltering in place.

Margarita’s prompt is: Ode to the Shore

Margarita Engle

When I was a child, I touched this river near my mother’s hometown in Cuba. According to legend, anyone who touches it will always long to return.

Is there a shore that makes you nostalgic? Were there mysteries in the water, such as the manatees, sharks, crocodiles, and caymans of Cuba’s estuaries? Does it comfort you to remember times when travel to that place was easy?

Can you join me in believing that times of joyful travel to beloved shores will gradually return?

Photo of Trinidad de Cuba by Margarita’s great-uncle Julián Santana.

Let your Ode to the Shore flow like water!

***

Readers, you know I’m a fan of odes. Read about my ode workshop here for some tips on how to write today’s poem. Your goal is to draft your ode by the end of the day tomorrow, Saturday, April 11, 2020.

If you’re doing the #WaterPoemProject with a group, be sure to share or post your rough draft, read other people’s poems, and cheer for their efforts. Or leave your poem here, in the comments.

Margarita Engle is the Cuban American author of 30 books for children and teens, including the Newbery Honor-winning verse novel, The Surrender Tree, and Pura Belpré Award-winning verse memoir, Enchanted Air. She was the 2017-2019 Young People’s Poet Laureate. Her most recent book is With a Star in My Hand.

***

#WaterPoemProject Series Posts:

Project Introduction
FAQ
Prompt 1: Irene Latham, The Language of Water
Prompt 2: Elizabeth Steinglass, What Would a Raindrop Say?
Prompt 3: Linda Mitchell, Found Haiku
Prompt 4: Shari Green, Fogbow Fibonacci
Prompt 5: Margaret Simon, The Taste of Water
Prompt 6: Heather Meloche, The Shape of a Wave
Prompt 7: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, A Water Memory
Prompt 8: Laura Shovan, Rainy Day Opposites
Prompt 9: Kathryn Apel, Silly Solage
Prompt 10: Buffy Silverman, A Watery Home
Prompt 11: Kara Laughlin, Frozen Fog
Prompt 12: Debbie Levy, Jump into a Limerick
Prompt 13: Joy McCullough, What Are Water Bears?
Prompt 14: Linda Baie, Frozen Water Skinny
Prompt 15: Chris Baron, The Hidden World of Water
Prompt 16: Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, Water Wordplay
Prompt 17: Susan Tan, The Sound of Water
Prompt 18: Mike Grosso, Waterplay!
Prompt 19: R. L. Toalson, Wishing Well
Prompt 20: Margarita Engle, Ode to the Shore
Prompt 21: Faye McCray, Poem in a Bubble
Prompt 22: Meg Eden, Surprising Connections

Please support the #WaterPoemProject authors by buying their books from your favorite independent bookstore.

9 responses to “#WaterPoemProject: Day 20, Margarita Engle”

  1. Linda Mitchell says:

    I so enjoyed this prompt! I feel like I just visited my famly.

    Haibun and Tanka

    In physical therapy, I lay on a table embarrassed over the tears coming out of my eyes.I had no specific sadness. My pain level was just a five. But tears, they poured out of the corners of my eyes and down the sides of my face right into my ears. The therapist, working my arm asked, Where is your happy place?
    The pond. Tell me…All my favorite ghosts are thereYou have favorite ghosts?
    They gather around the fire ring on the shore where we sat in lawn chairs holding clothes-hangers turned marshmallow roasting sticks. They are silent. But pines tattle Aunt Diane’s secret potato salad recipe. Goldenrod giggles over Grandpa’s purposeful drawl of ‘Holy Ghost’ at dinner prayer that made all of us “Holy Spirit raised kids look up. Maples weep over Rick’s taking of his own lovely life…his arms somewhere in the hardwood, embrace shaped. The peace of Uncle John worn smooth from monastic prayer is everywhere, everywhere, everywhere…sparks from the fire rising to the moon. Peepers have traced generations in mud that we tracked home without even thinking to wipe our feet.

    what can a pond do?
    a family gathers round
    its banks in summer
    taking all the sun and moon
    picnic for their hungry ghosts

    © Linda Mitchell#WaterPoemProject Day 20

    • Linda, If there was ever a form that fits you like a glove, it is this one. I am with you as you name the members of the family. And how things of nature weep and tattle. Love that personification. Lovely response.

  2. Ode to the Bayou

    Even as a water snake winds its way
    around concrete rick-rack, haphazardly placed
    for a bulkhead, I will wander
    through your neighborhood of cypress trees
    dodging knees, paddling a path of no destination.

    Perhaps we’ll head toward the bridge,
    stop to gather blackberries or chat
    with neighbors about wood duck eggs
    and such. Even as you stretch out like a snake
    for miles ahead, I will wander,
    wishing for longer days,
    photograph your evening haze,
    and end my voyage with this praise.

    © Margaret Simon, April 11, 2020

  3. Linda Mitchell says:

    Lovely…I love the idea of paddling past cypress knees and stopping to chat with neighbors. It relaxes me to read this.

  4. Thanks Laura, for sharing Margarita Engle with us, a favorite poet, writer of mine. And thank you Margarita for sharing this rapturous, memory image and prompt–I’d like to climb right in….

    ODE TO WATER

    Water…
    I have always lived
    within walking distance
    of your majestic shores.
    Your magnetic movements
    reel me in as if by magic,
    connecting us as
    two kindred spirits
    becoming one…
    Your rolling waves
    calm my breath and
    wash away discomforts.
    Your soothing sounds of
    morning’s lapping shores
    bring comfort where
    chaos once walked.
    I’ll forever fight for
    your environmental
    birth right, for
    without you
    where
    lies life…

    © 2020 Michelle Kogan

  5. […] Last week, as part of Laura Shovan’s #WaterPoemProject, former Young People’s Poet Laureate, Margarita Engle offered the following prompt: […]

  6. […] Tan, The Sound of Water Prompt 18: Mike Grosso, Waterplay! Prompt 19: R. L. Toalson, Wishing Well Prompt 20: Margarita Engle, Ode to the Shore Prompt 21: Faye McCray, Poem in a Bubble Prompt 22: Meg Eden, Surprising Connections Prompt 23: […]

  7. […] Tan, The Sound of Water Prompt 18: Mike Grosso, Waterplay! Prompt 19: R. L. Toalson, Wishing Well Prompt 20: Margarita Engle, Ode to the Shore Prompt 21: Faye McCray, Poem in a Bubble Prompt 22: Meg Eden, Surprising […]

  8. […] Tan, The Sound of Water Prompt 18: Mike Grosso, Waterplay! Prompt 19: R. L. Toalson, Wishing Well Prompt 20: Margarita Engle, Ode to the Shore Prompt 21: Faye McCray, Poem in a Bubble Prompt 22: Meg Eden, Surprising […]

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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