Friday, July 31, 2015
We've reached it, almost: that time of year so precisely and richly
described by Natalie Babbitt that it changed me as a reader and a writer.
The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.
-- Prologue from Tuck Everlasting, 1975
This beginning to a book caught me like hands holding my 10-year-old head on both sides, looking me urgently in the eyes and saying, "Of words we can make art, art as true as a photograph layered with brushes of color, with sound and rhythm of blues symphony, full of the woven textures of weariness, curiousness, motion and suspense. Writing can do it all."
What about you, poetry friends? What piece of literature brought you to see writing as art, made you want to live in and even make this kind of art?
Keri has the round-up today at Keri Recommends. Happy Almost August.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Take a Walk
One leg a pillar
between earth and sky
the other, a pendulum,
swinging a single step
into a tap-a-tap-tap
Disguise doing nothing as a walk.
Make harmony of mind, body, and world.
Your movements matter. Be present.
Notice a leaf hanging loosely
wiggling like a worm
when the wind blows.
Notice your breath
in rhythm to your steps.
You are feeding the tree.
Walk through town.
Whom will you meet?
Start your own parade.
Summer Poem Swap 2015
Isn't that wonderful?! At home as my summer vacation began, it fit so well with the walks I was taking in familiar surrounding, reminding me to be both present to wonder and outward-facing. As I snorkeled the coast of Alonissos, I was the leaf hanging loosely at the surface, watching the seagrass "blowing" in the underwater wind. In Athens, the first stanza described architecture of both stone and bone, building and body, columns of marble and columns of people stepping and swinging in and out of sun and shadow. There were a LOT of steps!
Thank you, Margaret, and thank you, Tabatha, for organizing all this swapping! I'm afraid I can't seem to upload any photos--this ChromeBook is not playing nicely with Blogger--but I think Margaret's images are strong enough to carry the post. See more at the round-up today, hosted by--HA! I'm just seeing this--Margaret herself at Reflections on the Teche.
Friday, July 10, 2015
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The round-up today is with I can't tell who! Conserving data and seeing you on Saturday, maybe!
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Friday, June 26, 2015
you came to me--free, a
donation!--punched from stalwart
cardboard, with your glossy orange
miniature clothespins and your
fetching green striped sock monster.
For five years you were
scattered and matched and
scattered and stacked and
trodden and scratched and
lost and found and
as I hold you in my hands (all
but two of your little clothespins
popped and gone; your less-stalwart
storage box long since crushed by
a size 12 Velcro sneaker and replaced
by Dollar Tree plastic), I can not
let you go.
I wrap you tenderly in a ziplock bag
and place you in a hastily taped
carton, for who knows what purpose
may yet be found for your delicious
stripes? Tomorrow morning at 4 am
I will awake knowing that
it is your time, socks: your blessings
have been bestowed, your cunningly
combined colors have challenged
plenty of 5-year-old eyes, and it is
my time--to steel my heart and
Friday, June 19, 2015
And then they were gone.
Sometimes a meager harvest
The last half day--
walls stripped, treasure bags packed,
Jim Joe jumped one last time;
gifts given and received,
farewell hugs ceremoniously
hugged, fast and earnest,
because we'd run out of time again
one last time.
Now the room is hollow, dead--
nothing living but the teacher and
a single valiant sugar snap vine,
three feet high and climbing
a string up the Weather Window.
On the one vine, at the top, hangs
a single beautifully formed,
pleasingly plump green pod.
Teacher steps out of her sandals
onto a low chair and up onto
the radiator, plucks the fat pod
full of peas she forgot to share
and eats it, all by herself--
one last sweet crunchy mouthful
swallowed alone in the classroom
on the last half day.
all rights reserved
Mary Lee herself is rounding up remotely at A Year of Reading today. Go get yourself some farmyard fun and lots of poetry goodness from around the Kidlitosphere!
Friday, June 5, 2015
Oh wait--I do have a post! Here's one of Bobbi's early Things to Do poems, from her book Upside Down and Inside Out: Poems for All Your Pockets (1973).
Things to Do If You Are a Subway || Bobbi Katz
Live in underground caves.
Roar about underneath the city.
Swallow piles of people.
Spit them out at the next station.
Zoom through the darkness.
Be an express.
Make as much noise as you please.
You can see how great a mentor text this is for younger children in particular--it's pretend play in writing, with no plot or rhyme or syllable count--just pure metaphor.
Thanks for stopping by to read this post-that-created-itself!
Friday, May 29, 2015
|simulated daughter on closed course|
But Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally one for family outings. Ours took us around the DC metro area beltway--famous for requiring nerves of steel when it's flowing smoothly and the patience of Job the other 495% of the time.
While 16 drives
12 tells me he has
he can see the holes
in the hub caps spnning
at 60 MPH
and what does SPF stand for?
16 holds steady,
only a few wobbles within her lane.
Nearly 50 is coaching her
and I--51--I'm wobbling
a little too in the backseat,
letting go, holding nothing
but a slippery pink glitter gel pen
she doesn't use anymore.
all rights reserved
The Poetry Friday round-up today is at Reflections on the Teche with Margaret, who must be celebrating the end of another satisfying year of teaching. Cruise on over and enjoy the poetry scenery!
Friday, May 22, 2015
|sticker courtesy of Pomelo Books|
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) had it right:
—from “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet”
Matt Forrest Esenwine continues his Big Year of Breakout by hosting Poetry Friday today at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme. Go congratulate him on his first book contract!
Friday, May 15, 2015
taries on each poem, write their own poem "similar in content and style" to the poet's work, and analyze their own poem.
Daisy's first choice was Naomi Shihab Nye (I may have influenced that), but they ended up with Natasha Trethewey (also no slouch). Here's my favorite of the poems that they selected, an exquisitely constructed pantoum which manages to be both simple and as grand as the planets.
Rotation || Natasha Trethewey
You'll find the round-up this Poetry Friday at Random Noodling with the intriguingly in-sane Diane Mayr.
Friday, May 8, 2015
"When I talk about wordplay, I'm talking about studying a word from top to bottom, and inside out, considering every aspect of the word: What it looks like, sounds like, feels like. What it does, how it's used, etc. The idea is to bring all of your senses into the act. The poem you create may end up being complex and sophisticated, or very simple."
Second is the Five for Friday challenge periodically set by Michelle, which is an exercise in minimalism, a ditty of five words only (although I note that many poets endow theirs with expository titles, a practice which I wholly condone).
So--for Nikki's challenge I do not choose the word "bell" or "lemon" (done that one!), "blanket," "leaf" or "sun," as I might usually. Instead the news lately takes me to "bullet" and I'm a little afraid of it, but here's my Draftless Luck* effort. The title is both expository and five words long, if you allow me a hyphenated word, so that's my Five for Friday, too.
Thank you, Michelle; thank you, Nikki; and thank you, Poetry Friday people, for reading the raw and unpolished with interest and respect. We do each other a great favor in that.
May I also point you to this quote from George Eliot and this recording by Elvis Costello?
*With apologies to Erica Jong, this refers to my time-challenged technique of writing a poem right now, once, with the revision allowed by one hour, publishing it on the blog as though it were finished--and hoping for the best.
Friday, May 1, 2015
week-long poetry study, the most fun this year was noticing who learned what about poets' techniques--some clearly took in the lesson about creating strong feelings; some chose carefully where their words would go on the page; some used repetition (occasionally by accident!) and some went for juicy words or juicy rhythm. Once again, I consider it my greatest success as a poetry teacher that all but a couple had good ideas and felt capable of writing a poem.
As the teacher I often get both the first and the last word, but today I'll go first and let Anthony have the last word. You'll see why.
When illustrating, Anthony took a nickel out of his pocket and used it for tracing the round fluffy shapes of clouds. And truly, he knew--or created--the cloud bank image. So much goodness wow! Which kindergarten poems are your favorite?
The May Day round-up is with Ellen at Elementary Dear Reader--see you there!