Linda Kulp Trout

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Stepping Out of the Shadows in My Writing Life

Dear Mr. Hughes
-After reading “Dreams”

It’s hard to dream
with an eviction notice
on my front door.

It’s hard to dream
when I'm sleeping on
a living room floor.

It’s hard to dream
when I’m still hungry
but there isn’t any more

It’s hard to dream—
but one thing I know
for sure:

When I grow up,
I don’t want to be

I rarely post my own poems, but I’m trying to push myself to step out of the shadows a bit and share more of my writing life.  So, today I’m posting a poem from a novel-in-verse I started a few years ago.  Although it’s from the main character’s point of view, much of the experience comes from my own childhood.  I abandoned the novel, but this poem stuck with me.  Growing up in poverty influenced my life in both positive and negative ways, and the fear of being poor again has never let go. I have always been a dreamer, but I’ve known children (and adults) who say they don’t have a dream.  To me, that is the worst kind of poverty. 

A big thank you to Karen for hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Change and Giveaway Winners!


The summer
still hangs
heavy and sweet
with sunlight
as it did last year.

The autumn
still comes
showering gold and crimson
as it did last year.

The winter
still stings
clean and cold and white
as it did last year.

The spring
still comes
like a whisper in the dark night.

It is only I
who have changed.

-Charlotte Zolotow

My one little word for 2017 is CHANGE.  Let me tell you why I chose this word.

Most of my adult life has been centered on the seasons of the school year. Every Autumn is a new beginning getting to know my students, developing relationships and discovering their strengths and needs. Winter, a time of digging deeper into the curriculum: assessing, extending, and anticipation. Spring, a season heavy with testing, planning for the next year, graduations, and good-byes. Summer is a blend of enrichment classes, reflection, and rewinding.

Predictable, yes, but for me  there is also a sense of comfort in this cycle I’ve come to know so well. Then, last fall, a series of events forced me to take a closer look at my life. Something inside me said it was time to make a change.

With the support and encouragement of my amazing husband,  I decided to retire from full-time teaching. It wasn't an easy decision. I spent many sleepless nights second-guessing myself. I had a ton of guilt over leaving mid-year, however, for reasons I won’t go into, I felt it was necessary. Change is terribly hard for me,  and this was a big one. 

Now, eighteen days later,  I know I made the right decision.  I’m living the life I always dreamed of—  the life of a full-time writer.  I can honestly say that I am happier now than I’ve been in years. I don’t know where this new journey will take me, but I’m grateful to finally be on the path.

On Sunday, my wonderful siblings threw me a surprise retirement party with this beautiful cake!

"Your best stories remain to be written!” I sure hope so.   This year, I'm trying to be more open and embrace change. After all,  sometimes change is a good thing! 

Congratulations to the five winners of YOU JUST WAIT! Please send me your snail mail address.

Sally Murphy
Leigh Ann Eck
Alice Nine
Molly Hogan
Jane  of raincitylibrarian

Have a great Poetry Friday!

A special thank you to Jone at  Check It Out for hosting today.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


I haven't participated in Poetry Friday in a while because of the big changes happening in my life. I'll share more about that another time, but I'm just happy to be back, and I'm looking forward to posting on a more regular basis. Today I want to tell you about a book I love and what happened with I shared it with my students.

To begin with, getting my sixth grade reading intervention students excited about reading and writing is CHALLENGING! They would rather eat a big bowl of Brussels sprouts than read. So, I'm always looking for books that they will find engaging and meaningful.  When I heard about JUST YOU WAIT by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, it sounded like the perfect choice.  JUST YOU WAIT is an interactive novel-in-verse with poems from the point of view of the three very relatable main characters: Paz, Lucesita, and Joe.  What makes this novel so different is that it includes activities and writing exercises in response to the poems. I love this feature because it encourages readers to become part of the story. Such a great idea!

My students were surprised to learn they would each have their own copy so they could write in the book. This was definitely motivating for them.  The program I teach is very structured so our time with YOU JUST WAIT was limited. In some ways, I think that worked to an advantage because students were eager to get back to "our book."

After we finished the novel, I gave my students a chance to share their thoughts about the book. Here are a few of their responses.  

What I liked about this book:
  • It had cool activities. 
  • One thing I liked about this book is the poems, and I want to know more about the characters. I hope the authors write another book like this one.
  • I really liked Paz because she reminds me of who I am.
  • I like Joe because he dreams of being in the NBA and so do I.
  • Lucesita, because she likes movies like I do, and she is funny.
  • I like this book because I'm great at it!
  • It's awesome to do the activities and write our poems in the book. 
  • Yay, we're working on our book today!

What I learned: 
  • I learned some things about myself thanks to this book.
  • I can be a creative person when I try.
  • I like reading other people's poems because they are fun.
  • Writing poems is harder than it looks.
  • I learned there are different ways to make a poem.
  • I learned how to write a poem. Thank you.
  • I have a lot of potential writing poetry.
  • Follow your dreams, be nice, and friendship is important.
One reason YOU JUST WAIT was such a hit with my sixth graders is because each of them connected with at least one of the characters.  As one student said, "She's a character in a book, but she's just like me.She loves her family the way I do." My students especially loved the activites because they found them meaningful and helpful in understanding their own lives a little better. 

My Spanish-speaking students loved reading the Spanish words and teaching all of us about some of the foods mentioned in the novel.  Some of my students brought in family photographs and found images online to tell about their favorite cultural foods. We learned many interesting things about each other that day.

Many students liked sharing their poems aloud and using the document camera to show their sketches.  This worked wonderfully for practicing fluency, especially when they took turns reading each other’s poems.

I helped students who were struggling with ideas, but I did not edit their poems. They were so proud of what they wrote, and I didn't want to take that away from them.  Seeing students who in the beginning of the year claimed they hated writing suddenly want to share their words with classmates was huge!  

Here are a few of their poems:

Cheerleading Extreme

I go up high
like I'm in the 
sky in my stunt

I do my dance,
have a chance
to shine

behind me
are other girls 
in crutches
waiting for their time
to shine

no lifts 
no kicks

Is is your time
to shine?
 - G.


My friend is
so energetic and fast

My friend is
generous and so joyful

My friend is
always there even
in the hardest times

My Friend

I like my friend
he is cool
like a pool
in the hot sun.

I like my friend
and he likes me
we watch TV
and play games

We have fun
I'll never give up
our friendship



Football is
the noise of 
helmets banging

Football is
the smell of
in the air

Football is
noisy fans
in the stadium.

I love it when a book makes a positive difference in the lives of my students (and mine too). I'm so glad they had the opportunity to read YOU JUST WAIT.   Not only did their attitude toward reading and writing improve, but an added bonus was that our classroom conversations became much more accepting and compassionate. Isn't it amazing how powerful one book can be?

Janet and Sylvia ( Pomelo Books) create books that get readers thinking and doing. They have a wonderful new book, HERE WE GO. This book is sure to inspire readers to change the world.  It should be on every elementary and middle school reading list.  Yes, it's that good!  We all hope to make a difference, HERE WE GO shows us the way!

Now for the GIVEAWAY!   I'm giving 5 lucky folks a copy of YOU JUST WAIT!  To enter the drawing, please leave a comment. Good luck!

A special thank you to Katie for hosting today's Poetry Friday at The Logonauts.