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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - The Roundup is HERE! :0)

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Welcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup.  Everyone's invited! :0)

 

Do you know about "mast years" when it comes to trees?  Oaks, particularly. In a mast year, trees drop zillions of acorns on the ground, on your driveway, on your metal roof making you jump umpteen times a day, on the top of your car.... (That was a scientific description.  For a folklore-ish one, click here.)

 

Here in the Lowcountry this fall, we're crunching acorns underfoot with every step.  

 

Sometimes poets (& editors!) have a mast year.  Or at least a mast season.  

 

Take Sylvia Vardell, for example.  No sooner did she welcome her wonderful new anthology, A WORLD FULL OF POEMS (DK Children) into the world, than it was time to launch the newest collection from Pomelo Books with co-poetic-superhero Janet Wong, HOP TO IT - Poems to Get You Moving.  (Here's the link.  And here's a link to my poem in it, and a graphic with the Blog Tour schedule.)

 

This fun new anthology features a hundred poems designed to get us all up and moving around, or at least to offer some much-needed mini-breaks during a long school day (virtual or in-person), sprinkled with fun facts and inviting illustrations by Franzi Paetzold. 

 

Each poem is complemented by Sylvia's always-terrific activity suggestions, a fun fact nugget, a spot illustration, a teeny language arts or poetry connection, and a book title on a similar subject.  But wait - there's more!  In the EXTRA! EXTRA! section at the end, you'll find even MORE resources and ideas to keep the poetry, and your body, hopping! 

 

And, speaking of trees, here's a poem from HOP TO IT by our own Margaret Simon, just begging to be acted out:

 

 

ZEN TREE

 

I am a tree.

A tree is what I want to be.

I spread my branches wide. 

I stand tall.

I reach my roots into deep earth.

I grow and grow and grow.

And at the end of the day,

when the sun falls down,

and sprinkles orange all over my leaves,

I wrap myslef in a holding hug.

 

 

©Margaret Simon.  Used with permission.

 

 

 I can think of a couple of other folks who are having a mast year when it comes to published books...

 

Check out Irene Latham's website here, and visit her book pages! So many wonderful new titles, just THIS year, including one co-authored with Charles Waters, DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD, which is a favorite of one of my daughter's students in Georgia. 

 

Then there's Laura Purdie Salas's treasure trove of new titles this year... Find out about them here.  And for nonfiction lovers, Laura shared so much goodness in her Small Reads November newsletter, including a long peek at NONFICTION WRITERS DIG DEEP, edited by Melissa Stewart. 

 

All of these books would make FABulous holiday gifts, don't you think? 

 

As would Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's follow up to READ, READ READ.  It's called... WRITE WRITE WRITE!  (Click here for  more.)

 

And Jeannine Atkins's new title in the footsteps of FIDNING WONDERS, this one about math:  GRASPING MYSTERIES - Girls Who Loved Math.  (Click here for more.)

 

If you need book ideas for the wee-est of wee ones, check out Heidi Bee Roemer's books here. What little one could resist a book called PEEKITY BOO - What YOU Can Do!

 

I've already gifted Morgan, my daughter who teaches third grade, a copy of HOP TO IT, and a few others!  And other folks on my Christmas list will be getting some poetry....

 

The great thing about giving poetry is that it both enriches the recipient, and supports everyone who works so hard to create these treasures.  

 

These ideas are in NO way complete or conclusive!  MANY wonderful titles (maybe yours?) have recently made their way into the world and would make a wonderful present for some young, curious soul - or a young-at-heart one!  Feel free to mention your own suggestions in the comments, and readers can peruse those, too.

 

For the best gift ideas ever, be sure to check out Jama Kim Rattigan's "Nine Cool Things on a Tuesday" posts over at her Alphabet Soup blog.  Here's a link to the post from Nov. 3, which I am thrilled and honored to have a mention in!  (Thanks, Jama, and Mr. C.)

 

In fact, a few of us Poetry Friday-ers have Etsy shops.  Michelle Kogan offers bright and colorul and inspirational art and products sure to delight a recipient.  (Click here.)

 

Last week's host, Susan Bruck, offers colorful wool wares and more at SoulBlossomLiving on Etsy. 

 

And here's a link to my shop, artsyletters.  (By the way, I'll soon send out my little holiday postcard.  If you don't receive it already and would like to be added to my real-world mailing list, shoot me an email with your real-world address.) 

And, can you keep a secret?  It'll have a 15 percent off coupon code good through Dec. 15.  Okay, I'll tell you the code, but shhhhh.... please don't post or share widely.  It's for my special peeps!  You can enter STAR15 in the Coupon Code box, or just use this link directly.  I will be listing several new items in the next couple of weeks, so feel free to keep that handy for Cyber Week shopping, or whenever you might need a gift for a reader or writer or POET on your holiday list. 

 

Your post, I know, will be a gift to readers this week!  Please include your link in a comment below, and I'll round up old-school-style and list the links right here starting Friday morning. Happy Poetry Friday!

 

 

*******************************

 

Little Willow starts us off this week with a lovely moonlit offering at Bildungsroman.

 

Ever-busy Laura Purdie Salas shares a personal post and poem today at Small Reads for Brighter Days.  She wrote "When Hope is Not Easy" just before the 2016 election, and revisits it now, with some light from the recent one. 

 

I'm beyond humbled and delighted that Linda Mitchell grabbed some inspiration here last week and shares two original haiku/haiga - one gentle, one sharp - perfect for November. Enjoy at A Word Edgewise!

 

Heidi, who has been oh-so-busy serving on the NCTE Poetry Awards Committee (!), chimes in with an aubade in response to a Sunday Swaggers challenge. Her poem, and post, brim with "extra unexpected joy" as always, at My Juicy Little Universe

 

You might guess from his blog's title, "Poetry Pizzazz," that Alan J. Wright loves alliteration.  He shares a fun original alliterative poem today, and some bits of bewitching backstory. 

 

This lifelong dog lover is wagging away at Laura Shovan's offering today... does your dog 'help' you do yoga, too? Enjoy Laura's original poem, a couple of book recommendations and of COURSE - cute dog pix. 

 

Michelle in celebrating World Kindness Day at Today's Little Ditty, with a remarkable poem by psychiatrist Helen Montague Foster.  (I'll be sharing this post with my psychiatrists hubby!)

 

Have you seen the movie, Arrival? Have you lived through a quarantine?  And answer to either or both of those will set you up to appreciate Tabatha's offering at The Opposite of Indifference today - a poem by Natalia Conte.

 

One reason I so love Poetry Friday, beyond the delicious poetry, is that I'm always learning something new!  The lovely Janice Scully shares a perfectly peaceful post and picture today at Salt City Verse, with a reflective haiku and an explanation of "meromictic" - what a fun word!

 

At Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, Matt Forrest Essenwine gives us a sneak peek at a new anthology featuring some poetic and artistic stars from New England - FRIENDS & ANEMONES - Ocean Poems for Children. (Is that a great title, or what?!)  One of Matt's poems in the book will have you taking a stern look over the bow....

 

More moonlight magic awaits over at Teacher Dance today, where the ever-lovely Linda shares a poetic treasure she found in an old book from the beloved bookstore where she helps out.  It's Walter de la Mare's "Silver" - how have I lived up to now without this poem? It's pure shimmer. 

 

The sparkle doesn't stop there.  Get ready for some serious ooh-ing and ahh-ing at Beyond Literacy Link, where Carol shares poems and GORgeous paintings inspired by her many recent "awe walks" in Autumn.

 

If your feet are more fidget-y than stroll-y, Kathryn Apel has the poem for you with some more HOP TO IT fun! I was delighted to 'meet' Kat in a recent Zoom gathering celebrating the release of the book.  Today, Kat shares her reading of her poem there, "Fit as a Fidget" - along with a writing prompt, too!  

 

At her Alphabet Soup, Jama offers the most delicious post featuring a delightful, diminutive kitchen diva and her multi-legged kitchen crew, who star in The Tiny Baker by Hayley Barrett and illustrated by Alison Jay.  This rhyming picture book will have you looking at any wayward bug that lands in your kitchen with a new eye!

 

I don't know exactly what time it is in Switzerland right now, but you'd have to get up pretty early to keep up with Bridget and her ever-clever way with words.  Today she enlightens us about the many mushrooms popping up all over, with plenty of puns and a fun wee poem!  (Is it a mast year for mushrooms over there?) Hopo on over to Wee Words for Wee Ones and see for yourself. 

 

Michelle Kogan is readying for an art show and also an online poetry reading through the Poetry Foundation, but she's got a few goodies to savor in the midst of the flurries, including some original haiku and art.  Good luck with all, Michelle!

 

At Lit Bits and Pieces, Fran extends the tree theme this week with a rich post of wonder, poetry, images - and even some science behind tree communication - it 'leaves' me both challenged and nourished. 

 

And twist my arm to share another post featuring haiku!  At A Year of Reading, Mary Lee brings us haiku from her daily diary (even if they all didn't make it onto Twitter).  You'll recognize our 'present moment' in many of them, with nods to current events. 

 

At Nix the Comfort Zone, Molly offers some thoughtful photographs and haiku, and an inadvertent life lesson on perspective. Thanks, Molly!

 

Kimberly Hutmacher brings us words from one of the geographical front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a somber haiku and a hopeful haiku. (I share Kimberly's frustration, as our family and extended family has experienced illness and loss because of the virus.)

 

Margaret, at Reflections on the Teche, reflects on another big news story, the election - with her couldn't-help-herself poem in response to events with inspiration from other poetic voices.  

 

Yay - Rose at Imagine the Possibilities is Hopping to It as well today, with a post featuring her oh-so-fun "Can You Wriggle Like a Worm."  Well, can you? ;0)

 

Our Dear Jan of BookSeed Studio has a Mast Year of a post today - with her responses to the election, and history, and Veteran's Day, and her beloved.  Grab a second cup of tea and enjoy all the thoughtfulness and links.  She also offers up a GREAT suggestion for a book for these times, Georgia Heard's THIS PLACE I KNOW - Poems of Comfort.  (Jan has excerpts.)

 

At There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town, Ruth shares a poignant and powerful poem by Miroslav Holub from Naomi Shihab Nye's anthology, THIS SAME SKY.

 

True to Irene's bountiful year this year, her post today at Live Your Poem is a buffet: she's highlighting three poetry books (including HOP TO IT!) which would make wonderful holiday gifts, and she's got a poem as part of her ArtSpeak series, which is a gift across space and time. 

 

Karen Eastlund is in this week with more beautiful fall photographs and an equally lovely poem. How many shades of yellow can you think of? :0)

 

The amazing Myra brings us a voice I look forward to learning more about:  Vidyan Ravinthiran.  She has his poem "As a Child" at Gathering Books today - so powerful. 

 

--I am off to keep shop a bit - running late!  - but will return this afternoon.  Thanks to all for participating!!--

 

And... Closing out the day (well, the Eastern time one here!) is Jone Rush MacCulloch!  What a treat to get to go on so many walks in Fall woods with you folks this week, and peek at journals, pictures, art. Jone shares all three this week, part of her #Autumn Gratiku series.  AND, you can sign up for her New Year's Poem Postcard Swap, too!

 

WAIT - There's more!  Carol at The Apples in My Orchard brings us along on a trip to their beautiful cabin celebrating the warmth of this cozy getaway with some hiaku.  Ahhhh....  AND, Carol is a long time Etsy seller, too!  Check out her lovely handmade jewelry and unique face masks at CarolsJewelryOrchard on Etsy. 

 

And don't miss Susan's post at Soul Blossom Living.  It made me slow down and tear up.  She takes us on a prairie walk, with a rich long look at gratitude this November, and her poem about it.  (It's multi-sensory - she has video links, too!)

 

I am so grateful for you all.

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Poetry Friday - Dictionary for a Better World

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

For the last decade give or take, I've written for a wonderful Character Education program, CORE ESSENTIAL VALUES, used by schools across the country. (If my editor happens to be reading this, I know I'm behind!  Sorry!  You'll hear from me soon…) A different core value is celebrated each month.  My bits of territory in the greater monthly offerings include an animal profile that somehow links to the value; a color that does the same, and quotations which reflect and expand its meaning.  I'll try to do a real post about it all.  I mention it now simply because I feel that such education is important – vitally important.  Perhaps it reinforces what a student is learning at home, or perhaps it introduces students to ways of being or conversations they don't often experience otherwise.

 

This interest is part of the reason I was so excited about the second book co-authored by my friends Irene Latham and Charles Waters, whose groundbreaking CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?  (Carolrhoda Books, 2018) has helped foster discussions of race relations for all ages. 

 

Chances are you've heard the buzz about, or are lucky enough to have read, DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD – Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z (hot off the press, also from Carolrhoda). "Rich" is the word that fills my mind and heart to describe this unique treasure.  It includes: poetry galore, in many familiar and off-the-beaten-path forms;  quotations that inspire and challenge (from contemporary voices and those that live on through their words); and thoughtful reflections throughout from both Irene and Charles. The back is chock-full of resources, making this volume oh-so-handy for teachers, media specialists, and parents.

 

And, the ART!  Oh, my.  Well, first, I'd dare you to resist the colorful cover.  It is a treat throughout – Mehrdokht Amini's varied images provide surprises at every turn, but are unified with an accessibility and sophistication through bold colors anchored with lots of (wonderful) dark shades, and a downright symphony of lively lettering and type. (Here is her website.)

 

The idea for the book sprouted two years ago when Charles and Irene were each waiting on flights home from snowy Michigan, after their school visit for that day got cancelled because of the weather.  Some free hours in a restaurant, some conversation… and, magic!  A book idea was born.

 

As Charles notes, however, these things are rarely an easy, straight shot.

 

"Through a rejection of another book idea, this book came into being," he says. "When one door closes, find that sliver of sunlight elsewhere."

 

Good advice!

 

And this book is full of good advice.  In addition to a poem to savor, each "entry" on an alphabetical topic (& some letters get more than one topic!) includes a quotation, a reflection (either "Charles says…" or "Irene says…" – or, for the four they co-wrote, "Irene and Charles say…"), and, finally, a "Try It" exercise suggesting ways to incorporate the theme into daily life. 

Many poetic forms will be familiar (cinquain,  persona, found poem), while others might be new to you (tricube, shadorma, etheree).

 

You'll see in the photo above that my Chihuaha's favorite poem was Irene's senryu. My little Rita does love mealtime!

 

SERVICE

 

helping hands fill plates

with meat-and-potato peaks

hope is gravy

 

©Irene Latham

 

The quote that goes along with this poem is from Lao-tzu (Tao Te Ching):

 

"The heart that gives, gathers."

 

Irene's response paragraph introduces us to some of her favorite childhood memories, when she lived down the street from a convent in Louisiana.  "One of my favorite things to do was to hang out in that enormous kitchen and help make cookies and soup to serve at retreats and community events," she writes.   The "Try it" piece invites readers to seek out service organizations and find one that fits.  "Sign up and serve just one shift, and see where it leads you."

 

Speaking of Japanese poetry forms, Irene says, "The poem that went through the most revisions -- and we still wish we could revise it at least one more time -- is 'Equality,' the renga. For that reason, it's one we ALWAYS read at school visits. So kids will know it takes a lot of work to find the right words... and even when a poem looks 'done' (as it does in a published book), there are often ways it can be improved."

 

I'll bet students are eager to add stanzas of their own.

 

Here are a couple from Irene and Charles:

 

...

 

star student, or one

who doesn't enjoy reading

we are all equal

 

whichever bathrooms we choose,

each of us wants to feel safe

 

 ...

 

This book will make readers of many different backgrounds feel safe, and, beyond that, inspired.  And beyond that, hopeful.

 

Certainly welcome in these challenging days! And a great jumping off point for National Poetry Month, don't you think? In fact, Naomi Shihab Nye has chosen DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD as the Young People's Poet Laureate Book Pick for April! :0) Here is a PDF with more of the book's story. (Learn more about Irene here and more about Charles here.) 

 

 

For more great poetry this week, visit our amazing and thoughtful Tabatha, who is always about making the world better, at The Opposite of Indifference.

*(Also, I'm working on my Spring artsyletters newsletter, which will include an old but timely poem and a quote or two, so I'll add the link here when it's ready.)* :0)

 

 Wishing you and yours the best of health.

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Poetry Friday - Wrap Your Arms (& Arms & Arms & Arms) Around Poetic Postcards with Irene Latham

--Interior detail from Love, Agnes by Irene Latham, illustrated by Thea Baker (Millbrook Press/Lerner, 2018).

 

 

Greetings and HAPPY NEW YEAR, Poetry Lovers!

 

I hope your 2019 is beginning with poetic inspirations.  

 

I had hoped to start off the year with a sparkly clean house, office, studio... but actually, I resonated more with David G. Lanoue's DAILY ISSA for Thursday:

 

     basking
     in the New Year's sun...
     my trashy hut

 

     year unknown

 

translation by David G. Lanoue.  Learn how to up for your own DAILY ISSA in your inbox here.

 

So organizing is going a little slowly, but at least I'm finally able to catch up on a wee bit of book-loving after the busy holiday/retail holiday season.

 

Here's hoping you've already joined all the fun fanfare for Agnes, the postcard-penning Octopus and star of our own Irene Latham's book, Love, Agnes- Postcards from an Octopus, illustrated by Thea Baker (Millbrook Press/Lerner). Evidently octupuses were a literary trend this fall, which Irene shares in her September blog post here; and be sure to swim around all the October posts celebrating Octopus Month and featuring wonderful poetry and art by fellow Poetry-Friday-ers and others!

 

Love, Agnes is not a poetry collection but is a wittily entertaining fantastical narrative, with lots of facts blended in and strong emotions deftly portrayed.  (So you see, it's much like poetry.) Characters include a young boy who writes about family frustrations; Agnes, an aged Octopus who is not afraid to speak her mind and who nurtures her zillions of babies; and a few more creatures, crabby and otherwise,  hanging out in the underwater neighborhood. Much of the story unfolds through postcards written by these salty personalities.  (It's worth a visual trip through the book just to see the postage stamps & cancellations created by Thea Baker!)

 

While it's not technically poetry, you'll find tasty rhymes and other poetic devices hiding in the pint-sized epistles as well as the regular text. 

 

Like this:

 

     Dear Crab,

 

     Okay, I'll leave you and

     your friends alone.  IF you'll

     promise me this:  BE QUIET.

     No skittering or scuttling

     near my nest. My babies need

     their rest.

 

     Thanks in advance,

 

     Exhausted Agnes

 

Each character has such a fun voice, and the voice of the whole book is definitely Irene's.  No wonder it has raked in rave reviews like coquina shells at the seashore.

 

One reason I was keen to share this book this week is that I've signed up to participate in Jone MacCulloch's Poem Postcard swap for January!  November and December were too much of a whoosh for me to get myself signed up for Tabatha's wonderful winter poem swap. But this I aim to do.  

 

As it happens, I've already received two WONDERFUL postcard poems in the mail on Thursday.  (Looking forward to sharing later.)  These poets are obviuosly way more together than I (you know who you are).  We are actually still doing family travel for Christmas, with my side of the family having celebrated just before and through the holiday, and my hubby's side meeting up this first weekend in January.  I haven't quite got both feet in the New Year yet!  

 

Be sure to take your poetic tentacles over to POETRY FOR CHILDREN with our amazing Syliva, and grab lots of great poetry to get your year off on the right foot (and arm, and arm, and arm, and - well - you get the idea.)  You can learn more about Irene and her lovely, lively work here

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Poetry Friday - Animals! TWO BY TWO, Trip Pictures, and New Books to Crow About...

 

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

 

If you might indulge a few more trip pictures (with no promise that these are the last), I thought I'd share a brand new animal-themed book with a romping rhyme, and a general celebration of our non-human friends today. (Keep scrolling down after the post, if viewing on a computer, to see all of the animal pictures and the book cover at the bottom. IDs and locations are in the caption at the very bottom!)

 

 

Upon returning home from our amazing Scotland/Ireland family adventure this summer, I realized I had snapped several pictures of animals along with the castles and misty vistas.  Of course, I thought to myself upon this discovery.  My life has always been animal-centric, benefiting from a free-range childhood in the woods of Florida, and a lifetime of sharing life with the furred, feathered, hoofed, and scaled, and 30-plus years as a vegetarian. 

 

 

On our first full day in Edinburgh, a pigeon came to call at our apartment window overlooking James Court. We exchanged pleasantries.  I never thought conversing with birds was unusual, since I've done so since I was little, but my kids once gently let me know that not everyone goes around acting like Snow White in the forest scene in the original Disney movie. (Why not?)

 

 

This week I had a tête-à-tête with a broad-winged hawk (from a safe distance, yard to pine tree), letting it know that, No, I would not be putting my tiny Chihuahua back on the ground any time soon, thank you.

 

 

Anyway, as is my practice with close encounters of the animal variety, while in Scotland I looked up pigeon "spirit medicine" and found that it held perfect messages for the beginning of a trip that originated in vials sent off to Ancestry.com. 

 

 

"As a totem, the pigeon teaches us to return to our roots and explore our heritage. …  Pigeon also serves as a reminder that we come from a clan and are not alone."

https://www.thoughtco.com/bird-totems-4062050

 

 

Yay, pigeons!

 

 

And yay, books (especially ones with poetry!) which celebrate our fellow animals.

 

 

In 2011, it was my privilege to coordinate a children's poetry retreat with Rebecca Kai Dotlich for the SCBWI Southern Breeze region.  Among our wonderful attendees was long-time member Lisa Lowe Stauffer  Lisa's first book for children, TWO BY TWO, a board book by Zonderkids, has just been released! 

 

 

On her website, Lisa mentioned our SCBWI poetry retreat and an assignment Rebecca gave everyone.

 

 

"TWO BY TWO started as a simple, steady poem about Noah's Ark," she writes, noting that the first lines haven't changed.

 

 

On the first colorful page we find animals entering the ark:

 

 

Two by two,

 

Board the boat.

 

Shut the door.

 

Time to float.

 

 

The monkeys become bored, however, and soon they want to do much more than float.  In fact, they "free the zoo" so that all the animals can party like it's, well, a long long time ago, BC.

 

 

Illustrator Angelika Scudamore's bright and lively characters are appealing and full of expression.  Young readers/listeners will have fun pointing out all the different animals on each spread.  The trim size is a generous 8 X 8, perfect for sharing with a wee one in your lap.  Here is another taste of the fun verse:

 

 

Anaconda limbo,

 

Tigers race in pairs.

 

Ring toss on

 

the caribou,

 

Pin the tail on bears!

 

 

Did I mention this was a FUN book?  Congratulations, Lisa and Angelika!

 

 

Interestingly, another rhyming board book was born not too long after that poetry retreat.  Prolific children's author Gail Langer Karwoski penned THANK YOU, TREES (Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner) – a terrific book to share with any inhabitant of the planet. (Here's my blog post about it.) 

 

 

Other Poetry Friday regulars in attendance that weekend included Doraine Bennett and Irene Latham.  (Did I miss any other PF folks?)  Irene has written about LOTS of animals in her novels and picture books.  Keep an eye out for LOVE, AGNES: POSTCARDS FROM AN OCTOPUS (Millbrook) coming soon to a bookshelf near you!

 

 

One last shout-out. While in Edinburgh, I got to catch up with my buddy Elizabeth Dulemba, and Jane Yolen joined us for lunch.  (She and Elizabeth had a literary event together in Edinburgh that week.) Elizabeth blogged about our meet-up here.   She also blogged about TWO BY TWO with an interview with Lisa and Angelika here

 

 

Elizabeth has lent her rich artistic talents to a book written by Jane with her son, Adam Stemple.  This wonderful new book from Cornell Lab Publishing Group, CROW, NOT CROW, debuts  August 28. (Here is Jane's blog post about it, with peeks inside the pictures from Elizabeth here.)   

 

 

I can't wait to add it to my bookshelf, right next to our Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's EVERYDAY BIRDS.  Young and not-so-young readers who love birds will soon be crowing about CROW, NOT CROW! 

 

Now, flap on over to Nix the Comfort Zone, where the Magnificent Molly has our Roundup.  [What?  MORE trip pix, you ask?  Well, click on over to my new post at artsyletters for a bunch of "animals in images" (& other related curiosities) from our trip!]

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Poetry Friday - Irene, Emily D., and a Bee… and Book Winner!



Happy Poetry Friday, and Happy November!

The end of October always brings a special week my way – and, most years, the most mentally and physically demanding week, but always wonderful. For several years I've had the good fortune to participate in Cobb EMC/Gas South Literacy Week in a couple of counties just north of Atlanta. These energy companies which fuel homes and bring light to read by brighten the lives of school children through sponsoring author visits, with a dozen or so visiting and local authors fanning out into dozens of schools. This year, I believe the tally was something like 44 schools and 24,000 kids! (I saw close to a tenth of those in my visits.)

I try to keep my presentations lively and interactive and multi-genre-friendly, and I always infuse them with poetry (my own and poems by others). This year I was happy to take along the hot-off-the-press POEMS ARE TEACHERS by our own Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (yep – our giveaway winner is announced at the end of today’s post! Click here for my celebratory post of two weeks ago. )

I remember a radio commercial from when I was growing up in Orlando, with a couple of country-fied male characters arguing at a car dealership. The gist and the hook was, “You can’t put two tons of fertilizer in a one-ton truck!” [I can still “hear” that phrase!] Of course, with school visits and life in general, that never stops me from trying.

I didn’t have time to share everything I’d brought with every group, but a couple of times I was able to share Irene Latham’s beautiful poem from POEMS ARE TEACHERS. (She recently shared it with an image of the Van Gogh painting that inspired it here .)


A Dream of Wheat

After Green Wheat Fields, Auvers
by Vincent Van Gogh



From a plain
packet of seeds

comes sun –
sweetened stalks

seasoned by wind
and rain –

birds diving
mice hiding

grasshoppers singing
mice weaving

in a sea of wheat
that will someday

become bread
to eat.



©Irene Latham. All rights reserved. Posted and shared with permission.


I paired Irene’s poem with this favorite from Emily Dickinson (1830-1886):


To make a prairie (1755)


To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.


Complete Poems. 1924.


I hope the kids enjoyed exploring how imagination can populate a field, or conjure up a whole prairie. And perhaps they learned a new word, if they didn’t know it already – “revery.” (Reverie – such a lovely word and state of mind!) Many thanks to Irene for sharing her poem today, and to Emily, and to bees.

In this season of harvest, I hope your own fields are golden with poems.

Now, drumroll please –

The randomly drawn winner of POEMS ARE TEACHERS, kindly offered by Heinemann, is…..

KIESHA SHEPARD! (Kiesha, email me your snail-mail address to robyn@robynhoodblack.com, and I’ll get it into the right hands at the publisher.) :0)
Enjoy!

For a whole bounty of poetic inspirations, visit Teacher Dance where our lovely and thoughtful Linda B. has the Roundup this week.  Read More 
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Poetry Friday: Running Hot and Cold with Irene Latham…


Happy Valentine’s Day weekend, Poetry Lovers!

Is it warm where you are? Cold? Frigid?

Today I offer up poetic goodies for climates of either extreme, with big heartfuls of thanks to our own Irene Latham, who agreed to stick around for a fun mini Q-and-A after the poetry.

First, let’s enjoy a couple of her poems from books featuring completely different parts of the planet. Both of these animal-friendly collections are from Millbrook Press, with lively paintings by English illustrator Anna Wadham.

From DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST – And Other Poems from the Water Hole:


Dust Bath at Dusk


Trunks become
dust hoses;
beasts strike poses

and preen in silhouette
created by the
hazy screen.

Soon skin
is powdered
in a red-grit shower

that banishes bugs
and becomes next day’s
sunscreen.

one final
wallow,
one last trumpet –

all clean!


©Irene Latham. All rights reserved.


That’s one way to splash around – if you’re an elephant on the blazing African savanna.

If you are way too cool for that, (and you are young and have flippers for wings), maybe this next poem’s for you.

From WHEN THE SUN SHINES ON ANTARCTICA – And Other Poems about the Frozen Continent:



Gentoo Penguin Jumps In


After cozy days
in the nest,

after meals delivered
by my parents,

after guarded naps
and hunting lessons,

after shedding fluff
and sprouting new feathers,

after long, sunny days
spent with others my age –

suddenly
      the sea

doesn’t seem
            too vast for me.

Splash!


©Irene Latham. All rights reserved.

Are you curious about which environment our oh-so-talented poetess might prefer? Let's ask her.

--Hot or Cold - Are you more of a warm-weather warrior or a cold-weather conqueror?

I am very much a fair-weather kind of gal... love spring and fall and don't tolerate so well the extremes! I enjoy the view of the beach far more than the heat-sticky-sunburn, and the best thing about winter are other people's pictures of snow -- and my cozy boots & scarves.

--What's your favorite hot drink? What's your favorite cold drink?

Hot chocolate! I visited Frankfort, KY a few years back and was introduced to Bourbon Ball Hot Chocolate...it's a bourbon truffle dropped into steaming hot chocolate, and it is divine! And for cold, there's Zaxby's Birthday Cake shake... sinful, and I love it. On a daily basis, I love hot tea (Harney & Son's "Paris" tea, anyone?) and iced tea (these days I take it unsweetened).

--Favorite summer activity? Favorite winter pastime?

Summer: Camp Buttercup (for Brave, Creative Girls) with my wee nieces & very young sister! I am the mom to 3 sons, so a few years ago I created an annual just-girls camp at my house. Highlights include poetry, outdoor adventures (horseback riding, tubing,...), movies, live theater, local attractions, art, food... each year it has a different flavor, and it is always an exhilarating, exhausting week.
Winter: I love to cozy up -- and read. (And quilt and play cello and write poems and make Valentines and work on scrapbooks and blog and make soup and ...)


--Favorite warm color? Favorite cool color?

I love a warm butter yellow and any shade of cool purple. (Which, I recently learned, are the colors representing the women's suffragist movement.)

--And, since you're a quilter, which fabrics: light cottons, soft flannels, or fleece?

Cotton, for sure! Anything soft and light and flow-y.

Many thanks for playing along, Irene! Raising our cups of hot chocolate to you.... (No worries - I won't ask anyone what's inside.)

For some great posts on Irene's ANTARCTICA book, which, incidentally, is HOT off the press, please visit these great features by other Poetry Friday bloggers:

Catherine at Reading to the Core and

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche and

Linda at Write Time. [Note - I couldn't successfully call up this link of Linda's when I posted this; if you have one that works, do tell!]

Be sure to dive in and wallow around at Written Reflections for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup!
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A Little Wild...



HAPPY TENTH BLOGIVERSARY to my dear friend and fellow poet, IRENE LATHAM! Couldn't resist the party at her place this week to honor this milestone - she's hosting a Wild Roundup (like the Poetry Friday Roundup) around the theme of her "One Little Word" for this year - wild!

I wrote an original poem with a nod to one of the most inspiring folks I know - thanks for all you generously share with the world, Irene. Here's to the next 10 years! XO


               A Little Wild


            You have a little wild in you.
            How do I know? I do too.

           When we stop to look around,
           hush ourselves to hear each sound….

           You have a little wild in you.

            Curl of leaf, expanse of sky –
            read each scent that shimmies by.

           You have a little wild in you.

            I do too.

            Grrrrr.


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Check out all the wild posts here at Irene's Roundup. Wishing everyone a wild and wonderful week....
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