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Poetry Friday: The Art of Saying Sorry

poetry friday

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We are still in our Cybils streak! Joining us today is Joyce Sidman and her wonderful poetry collection, This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness. This book, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, received numerous awards including the 2007 Cybils Poetry Award, Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book. In this poetry collection, the sixth grade class of Mrs. Merz decide to write poems of apology.

“In haiku, pantoums, two-part poems, snippets, and rhymes, Mrs. Merz’s class writes of crushes, deception, overbearing, parents, loving and losing pets, and dodgeball accidents. Some poets are deeply sorry; some not at all. Some are forgiven; others are not. But each pair of poem reveals a relationship, a connection—between sisters, brothers, father and son, teacher and student, and best friends.” — Taken from the front jacket flap of the book

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We’re already one week into the month of February, which means that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Amidst the declarations of love, sweet nothings, and cutesy love quotes, I think that it would also be nice to celebrate this month by admitting our faults and apologizing for the wrong things we’ve done. But saying sorry is not an easy thing to do. Maybe these poems written by Mrs. Merz’s class would help us come up with our own apology poem in case we are too afraid to say it straight in their faces. Here are a few samples from the book. **Poem samples were taken by me and edited through an iPhone app. Round up post for Poetry Friday is happening at A Teaching Life.

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Here is the poem in case you can’t read from the illustration above:

Lucky Nose

I am very sorry for assaulting your nose
before every spelling test.

When I first came here
I noticed you right away
your kind eyes
your stiff hair rolled in a ball
like my grandmother’s.
Your nose looked so strange and magnificent.
I asked Mai Lee about it.
“Pale and smooth
from a thousand rubbings,” she said.
Before that first spelling test,
it felt like a cool stone
under my hand, calming me.

In a hundred years
your nose may be worn down to nothing
and so I am very sorry.
But think of all the little children,
again and again,
to whom you gave
that cool stone
of luck

by Bao Vang

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To The Girl Who Rubs My Nose

I was a child like you.
I used to run, I used to play.
Now I am old, and cold,
and frozen on my pedestal.
I see a lot from up here:
children
laughing,
crying,
fighting,
holding hands.
I have lots of time to think.
I think maybe spelling
isn’t so important.
Friends are important.
Kindness is important.
A gentle touch.

So, come rub my nose again, girl.
Come warm me up a little.

by Daron
(writing for Florence P. Scribner’s statue)

This poetry collection, being divided into two parts, does not only contain poems written for inanimate objects. Most are written for people, and the other part shows the responses to their letters. Here is an excerpt from Mrs. Merz poem of apology to her mother:

Sparkling Deer

Mom, I’m so sorry for breaking
your precious glass deer
all those years ago.

***

I plucked it from the rough cotton snow
by its tiny antlers.
Then
it dropped!
Later, when I heard you crying,
I felt small.
Please forgive me

Here is Mrs. Merz’s mother’s response to her:

For Little Ruth

***

You were a boisterous child. I cried
the day I got your poem. Not because
I was sorry, or because you should be sorry,
or any of that. No, no. I cried because
you were little, and now you are not.
Come visit me soon, will you?

How about you?
What sort of apology poem would you write?

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Winner, 2007 Cybils Poetry Award
AWB Reading Challenge Update: 11 of 35

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Read-A-Latte Challenge Update: 28 0f 150

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About Fats Suela

Cloud chaser. Sky walker. Tale weaver. Smile painter. Dream believer. Heart stealer. Book gatherer. Star-child of the universe.

10 comments on “Poetry Friday: The Art of Saying Sorry

  1. Oh, I do love this! I see so many possibilities for my students with this collection. Thank you, Fats!

  2. Powerful stuff, apologies. Sounds like a very worthwhile Cybils nominee! I like this suggestion to be reflective. We don’t do it often enough.

  3. The poem “For Little Ruth” speaks to me, maybe because my own children are no longer little. So like a parent to say, don’t worry, it was a small thing, let’s just stay connected.

  4. Hi, Fats! What a timely post – thinking about apologies as we approach Valentine’s Day. (That Joyce Sidman is just something else, isn’t she?) Thanks for sharing one of her many wonders. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

  5. Wow, these poems are so touching and so real – especially the response poem from Mrs. Merz. Sounds like my mom. =)
    I’m-sorry’s and I-love-you’s should flow freely throughout the world. Thanks for sharing Joyce Sidman’s collection today, Fats. Happy Friday!

  6. Love this book! Thanks for sharing those sample poems. Apologies and forgiveness = so very important always but as you say, good to remember at Valentine’s Day with its focus on love. :)

  7. This book is precious! Thanks for highlighting it.

  8. Hi Fats! I just shared this book with a group on Tuesday. Wonderful, as are the new ones by the students. Thank you

  9. Thank you for reminding of this book! I have several students who are in love with last year’s book of false apology poems FORGIVE ME, I MEANT TO DO IT by Gail Carson Levine. I’m going to pair this one with Sidman’s for them!

  10. What a wonderful book… I can see so many great student project ideas using this book as a starting point.

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