Friday, March 18, 2016

SOLC 2016 18/31 and Poetry Friday: 42 Miles by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, Beth, and Anna
for hosting this meeting place each day in March
and for nurturing our writing lives.
with Robyn Hood Black
for this week's poetic goodness.
Thanks for hosting, Robyn!

Today I'm sharing a favorite poetry book, 42 Miles by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, with slicer friends and poetry lovers,  It's not one I own, but I have copies of all my favorite poems from the book.  So last week, when I shared Sketches from a Spy Tree, I knew that this week I wanted to share more Tracie Vaughn Zimmer goodness.  42 Miles is another book of linked free-verse poems.   It explores the life of almost 13-year old, JoEllen, whose divorced parent's homes are just 42 miles apart.  During the week, at her mom's place in Cincinnati she's Ellen. On the weekends, at her dad's place she's Joey.  As her birthday approaches, JoEllen hatches a plan to unite her two very separate lives. One of the things I love about the linked poems in the book is that they can also stand alone.

"Mondays" takes a perennial writing prompt, If I were a teacher . . . down a poetic lane.  I adore the final stanza:
When spring finally packed away her winter coat, 
I'd hold every class under the ancient elm,
who could finally hear the lessons
he'd only spied on before 
from his seat outside the dirty windows."

"I Love" is a perfect mentor list poem.  Notice the sensory detail in these few lines:
The weight of my backpack
after a bookmobile visit.
Mom's fingers
braiding my hair.
Dad's voice 
soothing the farm animals.
and then the comforting final two lines - 
and making lists
like this one."  

"The Poems I Like Best" also appears in Paul B. Janeczko's book, A Foot in the Mouth:  Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout (and I might add and Taste) and is one you may know.  I never tire of the invitation posed in these lines:
My favorite poems
squeeze your hand 
on a crowded street and say:
My favorite poems
hold a wooden spoon of words
and whisper:

Thanks again, Robyn, for hosting our word journeys and for today's opportunity to look and taste many samples of poetic goodness. 


  1. These are just splendid - Thanks for sharing, Ramona, and thanks to Tracie for such inspired writing! I'm going to have to decrease the miles between that book and my reading chair...

  2. What delightful words to share! I just checked my library and they only have one book by Tracie, Reaching for Sun. I will continue my search for 42 Miles.

  3. The examples you gave are wonderful, Ramona. I am going to have to check out this author. Thanks.

  4. I'll have to look for this book, Ramona - thanks for sharing these examples, too!

  5. The sharing of words we wish we'd written is important, whether with our students or our peers. I thank you Ramona for first of all noticing, then internalizing and finally sharing. There is indeed some gold here.

  6. Wonderful share with us Ramona. Poetry packs unique power.
    Bonnie K

  7. these are lovely lines, and lovely prompts as well. Thank you.

  8. I think we really need to live near each other, Ramona. We can then lend each other books! You are making my list of books I "need" very long. This is a beautiful post, so filled with gorgeous words. How can we forget that "wooden spoon of words". Thank you!

    1. Oh Linda, wouldn't it be fun if we could drop in on each other? I can't wait for you to discover these poems in Tracie's book 42 Miles!

  9. Poetry always leaves a good taste in my mouth. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I loved 42 Miles, but I don't know Sketches From a Spy Tree! Gotta check it out!