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Hannah enjoying poetry workshop
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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich
Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
photo by Mel Hornsby
Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy
Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire
Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller
photo by Robyn Hood Black
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January 28, 2016
Confession: I was just looking online for a few fun, classic verses on snow to go with these silly pictures from last weekend, when I'd gotten snowed in in upstate South Carolina with my teacher-daughter Morgan (whose birthday happened to be last Saturday).
I ended up stumbling upon John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl"
(1866). If I ever read it in college, I forgot it. Is this one you remember?
Since I've been somewhat stuck in the mid-nineteenth century lately (hence my Industrial Revolution haiku and Bill Bryson book gift to Diane Mayr in the Winter Poem Swap a few weeks ago), I fell right into this long and layered Whittier poem.
Now, I was certainly rewarded with some wonderful snowy imagery just a few stanzas in:
Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingëd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts. ...
--but there is oh-so-much-more. The poem opens with a dedication:
"To the Memory of the Household It Describes
This Poem is Dedicated by the Author"
and excerpts from Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's Occult Philosophy, Book I
and Emerson's poem, "The Snow Storm."
And then there are 700-plus lines of Whittier's observations, reminiscences, abolitionist philosophy, character sketches of family members and associations, plus musings on religion (Quaker and otherwise), time, death, and hope for reunion in the afterlife. We even see "witches making tea"
whispered from an old rhyme (and many allusions I didn't fully get but fully recognized as allusions).
Sounds overwhelming, but I found myself floating through it, meeting these endearing earth-bound folks from Whittier's memory, alive in their quirks and capacities through his words - though he is now long gone, too.
No wonder the Poetry Foundation has this vast collection of subjects listed under the poem: Family & Ancestors, Religion, Living, Youth, Nature, Home Life, Winter, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Weather.
to read the poem in its entirety, and be prepared to fetch a second cup of coffee or tea in the process! But if there's snow on the ground outside, what better way to spend the day than in some cozy corner reading poetry?
When you do come up for air again, drift like snow over to Reading to the Core
, where the lovely Catherine has the Roundup, and a perfect-for-winter interview with my amazing bud, Irene Latham. (And if you need a break from all this substantive fare, be sure to catch Michelle's roundup of "nothing" poems this month at Today's Little Ditty
January 14, 2016
Got your party hats and blowers ready? Monday is the birthday of Peter Mark Roget. You know, the Thesaurus guy! (And much more, too.) He came to us via London on January 18, 1779.
Right after New Year’s – I’m not sure why – I gave MYSELF a gift. I finally purchased THE RIGHT WORD – ROGET AND HIS THESAURUS by the very gifted Jen Bryant
and illustrated by the so-very-talented Melissa Sweet
. Published in 2014 by Eerdmans, it won the Robert F. Sibert Medal and was named a Caldecott Honor Book in last year’s flurry of ALA awards.
I’ve so enjoyed savoring, pouring over, and relishing my own copy! Research doesn’t overwhelm the personal story in this inspiring, quirky biography, and the illustrations are clever and wondrous. [Those endpapers! Oh, my….]
Our own Keri shared a lovely post when this book came out over at Keri Recommends
, with great links and such. I know there are many fans of THE RIGHT WORD among the Poetry Friday crowd.
I learned from the book’s timeline that it was nearly birthday time, hence this post. And hence my need to share our own Heidi Mordhorst
’s ever-clever poem honoring this venerable volume which makes Roget’s name a familiar one two centuries later. Heidi’s poem is found in THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL (PFAMS) from Pomelo Books
If you haven’t yet read it, you’ll see why Sylvia and Janet couldn’t pass it up:
Meet The Saurus
I sound like a lizard, a dino or fossil;
Instead I’m a reference, a volume, a book.
If you need some help or require assistance,
check in for a peek, a perusal or look.
I’m small, undersized, miniscule or compact
but I’m powerful, potent, I’m mighty or strong.
Please trust in, rely on, depend on, believe me–
I won’t misinform or mislead, steer you wrong.
When you need to state or express or convey
a specific idea or notion or thought,
I can offer, propose, recommend or suggest
the word or expression that hits the right spot.
See me for that nuance, that hint or that shade
of meaning that captures what you want to say,
for I am The Saurus, Synonymous Rex,
King Onomasticon! Extinct? No way!
©Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved. Posted with very last-minute-permission, because that’s how I roll.
For a video of Heidi reading this poem herself, paddle on over to No Water River, where Renee included it in her PFAMS Poet Palooza
. (Scroll down the post to find Heidi.)
You can enjoy another video created by Karey Pustejovsky on the PFAMS blog from April 2013.
Like Mr. Roget’s Thesaurus, I don’t think Heidi’s poem or THE RIGHT WORD will go out of style any time soon.
For more stylish words today, visit our Round-up host, - WAIT – look who it is! That delightful Keri, at Keri Recommends
. (I really didn’t know until I just clicked to see!) She’s got some “big magic” over there.
[And a heads’ up for next week – I’ll be on the road as a visiting poet in a school next Friday – at Morgan’s school as a matter of fact! – and will be too involved with poem-loving kids to post. Hmmm… what’s a great word for, “can’t wait”?! See you at the end of the month!]
January 7, 2016
Just over three years ago, we rescued a three-pound Chihuahua. (Okay, I rescued a three-pound Chihuahua when something tiny ran in front of my car on a busy road. “You’re not even a real dog!” I said, dodging traffic.) Less than a year old, no tags or microchip, and though she’d been loved by somebody, we were unable to find an owner. So she joined the family, and son Seth named her Rita.
We’ve never been “tiny dog” people, but I have to say, this one steals everybody’s heart. More than one vet tech has marveled that she’s a nice
She’s also entertaining. Her latest antics involve stalking mice below the house from the comfort of indoors. Our small coastal cottage was built on slanted ground with pillars in the back. Boards run from the ground to the bottom all around, but there is open space between them. You can open a gate and walk on dirt underneath the back part of the house. With insulation tucked beneath the floor, it’s evidently an inviting space for little critters to make themselves at home. (Hubby was down there this week, and one of said little critters dropped down as he was tacking up insulation – not sure which one was more surprised! At least it was small.)
From inside the house, Rita has set up a couple of monitoring stations. One is below the dining room hutch. She can fit inside the space between its carved legs. She’ll sniff and then sit on high alert, head cocked and ears up, for quite a while. Then she’ll run around to the rug in the kitchen and adopt the same stance. Wonder what she’s listening to? I’ll ask her, “Rita – where are your mice?”
All this puts me in a mind to share Rebecca Kai Dotlich
’s beautiful poem, “Winter Home.” It’s from one of my favorite collections of all time, Sharing the Seasons
(Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010) by the incomparable Lee Bennett Hopkins
. The rich illustrations by David Diaz are pure magic.
by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
We build our beds
inside this barn,
with shreds of cloth,
old rags, twine. A room
where we can winter-dine
to chime of ice, by windows full
of snowflake art. With dreams of crumb,
cracker, tart, inside this old
wind-whistling place, this cold
and tiny mousekin space,
we cuddle to chase
the chill away,
imagining an April day.
©Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Used with permission.
Savor this poem – it’s one to read again; you’re sure to catch some new poetic treasure the second (or third!) time. So many luscious words/turns of phrase - do you have a favorite?
I wonder if these mice are distant cousins to the ones who usher us into and out of Jumping Off Library Shelves
(Wordsong, September 2015)? :0)
RKD fans, take note: If you haven’t seen her oh-so-clever One Day, The End.: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories
(Boyds Mills Press, October 2015) illustrated by Fred Koehler, you’re in for a treat. Keep your antennae out next month for another Boyds Mills title by Rebecca, The Knowing Book
, illustrated by Matthew Cordell. I was lucky enough to have a sneak peek of this one, and it’s going to be on my gift-giving list for all kinds of occasions. (“This picture book encourages readers to make the most of their lives….” School Library Journal
Thanks to Rebecca for sharing the perfect Winter poem today, and to all the wee critters that enrich our lives.
Keep celebrating a new year of poetry with our wonderful Tabatha, rounding up at The Opposite of Indifference
today. Stay warm and cozy!
January 1, 2016
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Just stepping in for a wave and a wish that you and yours are having a joyful start to 2016. Diane Mayr kindly said I could share her "Year of the Monkey" postcard she created and included with my Winter Poem Swap goodies
. For more about the postcard project she's participating in, please go visit her blog
Poetry Friday is ringing in the New Year with our fearless leader/PF host rounder-upper Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
Here's to a CREATIVE 2016 all around.... Cheers!
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