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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - A Poem Postcard from Silver Star Elementary

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today's post is short, but big on color and creativity.

Many of you know that each year for National Poetry Month, our own tireless and terrific Jone Rush MacCulloch, a librarian in Washington State at Silver Star Elementary, puts together a Poem Postcard project. Students write and illustrate poems, which are sent out to lucky recipients (like me!) just for the asking in April.

I'm delighted to share the one I received this year, showcasing the talent of fourth grader L. G.:


                  Amazing American Eel
    I am as stealthy as a jar of cough syrup
                  sleek, slimy, and skinny,
                  I hope you're not hungry,
          because I am served as a delicacy
                  in some parts of the world.
                        Anguilla rostrata.


L. G.
Grade 4

Thanks for sharing, L. G.! ("Stealthy as a jar of cough syrup" - Ha!)
That eel would be safe in our house, since we're vegetarian. But maybe not safe from the big cat....

For more terrific student poetry from Silver Star, click here, and then scroll through April's posts.

For more delightful poetry of all kinds today, swim on over to A Teaching Life, where busy teacher Tara has the Roundup.
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Poetry Friday - Our Earth Day Haiku Weekend Recap!

“HONORING THE EARTH” – that was the theme of our Haiku Society of America Southeast Region’s meeting and workshop last weekend, over Earth Day. Eighteen of us from eight states gathered under the Spanish moss and ocean breezes at Epworth by the Sea, a Methodist conference center in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Epworth is home to natural beauty and a staff beyond compare.

Not sure how we managed it, but the weather was perfect. As regional coordinator and facilitator of this shind-dig, I was thrilled that even things out of my control went pretty smoothly, including travel Friday from New Orleans for speaker David G. Lanoue - poet, professor, Issa scholar, past president of the Haiku society of America, and author of several books You’ve met him here, when I recapped a terrific meeting put on by my predecessor, Terri L. French. Be sure to check out David’s multi-layered Haiku Guy website, where, like our lovely Linda Baie, you can learn how to sign up for Daily Issa poems!

Friday evening we got acquainted over dinner and later enjoyed readings by the “Coquina Circle,” a handful of haiku enthusiasts in the northern Florida/southern Georgia area. Paula Moore had a few poems by each member printed up on a gorgeous broadside and gave one to each attendee. (Thank you, Paula!)

I shared Robert Epstein’s new animal rights haiku books , and just before wrapping up, our other two speakers appeared at the door – Tom Painting and Stanford M. Forrester. Both are award-winning haiku poets; Tom and his students have been “regulars” here, and you might recall a brief blog wave to Stanford, a past president of the Haiku Society of America and founder and publisher of bottle rockets press.

The two travelers had driven from Atlanta, after Stanford’s flight from Connecticut was delayed. Stanford was not too weary to share his latest work – a wonderful, hand-printed, hand-bound mini chapbook titled “matcha.”

On Saturday, we added a commuting attendee to our ranks – our own Michelle Heidenrich Barnes! I loved having another Poetry Friday-er in the room. Tom led a workshop about bird haiku, and facilitated a writing exercise that was rich and inspiring. Then we grabbed binoculars and followed him outside. The birds were beginning to quiet down for the middle of the day, but we still encountered several, including an osprey and her chick on their nest at the top of a pole. Over the course of the weekend, expert Tom filled a list of 34 species; he said some more would no doubt come in the day after we left, because of an approaching front. (Of course, Tom was up and out at the crack of dawn each morning, and dusk, too.)

After lunch we had a business meeting, and then the aforementioned lovely and talented Terri L. French led us in a 10-minute standing yoga break outside on the grass. Perfect for loosening up muscles and brain cells. (Thank you, Terri!)

David led an afternoon workshop in an ongoing series he’s developed called “Write Like Issa.” Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), perhaps the most beloved of the haiku masters, expressed compassion for human and nonhuman animals through his poetry, and touches of humor, despite his personal history of loss and poverty. Children in Japan are well acquainted with his work. According to David, one trick to writing like Issa is to express emotion without using emotional words. (Perhaps not as easy as it first appears, eh?)

During an afternoon break, many of us took Tom up on his offer to lead another bird walk, and we were soon rewarded with observing some active blue-gray gnatcatchers flitting up in the trees, and a couple of gorgeous wood storks, striking in black and white, soaring overhead.

We also came upon a discovery that stopped us in our tracks. On the Epworth campus, in a peaceful setting looking across green space to the river, is a memorial plaque set along a walk in memory of Peggy Willis Lyles. Peggy was a very fine, highly regarded poet, and she had been active in a north Georgia haiku group among many other endeavors. I happened to get serious about haiku around the time she passed away. I remember feeling such a loss that I would never have the chance to meet her. A few folks last weekend had known Peggy, and it was a poignant moment to discover her and her work celebrated in such a way. The plaque is shown above; here are a few poems featured on it:


wind and rain
the hand I reach for
in the dark


I brush
my mother’s hair
the sparks


waves beat
against an ocean
full of stars


spring sunbeam
the baby’s toes
spread apart


dragonfly
the tai chi master
shifts his stance


into the afterlife red leaves



All poems by Peggy Willis Lyles, from a plaque in her memory at Epworth by the Sea, St. Simons Island, Georgia.


On Saturday evening we enjoyed some informal haiku sharing and folks finished up entries for a modified kukai (haiku contest). One of our attendees, Joette, is also a musician and played some beautiful Japanese songs for us. (Thank you, Joette!)

(A few of us might have gone out afterwards to a somewhat hidden local watering hole for more discussion and even some pool-playing....)

Sunday morning, Stanford presented a session on Santoka Taneda (1882-1940). Santoka’s life, like Issa’s, had been wrought with pain and heartache, and his haiku reflect Nature in a much harsher light than in Issa’s poetry. It was fascinating to look at this aspect of works from both men as we assembled on Earth Day decades, and centuries, later.

David led the last session, sharing from his new book, Issa and Being Human. Issa wrote about every class of people, David reminded us, with ability to see from each person’s perspective. (We could use some more of that these days.) Issa could see life from the perspective of even the “lowliest” animals, too.

Our last scheduled event before our farewell lunch was the announcement of the kukai winner. Dennis Holmes (a.k.a. Gobou) judged our contest – and took photographs all weekend. (Thank you, Dennis!) He didn’t know who penned each poem, but the winning haiku he chose was by one of my favorite haiku poets, and all-around great guy, Michael Henry Lee. (Congrats, Michael!!) He received a nice monetary prize donated by a generous member. I’m not including Michael’s poem here, in case he has designs on submitting it somewhere.

But I did ask Dennis for permission to share one of the haiku he posted with his photos. It’s the perfect way to end a post about a weekend which filled our minds and hearts with inspiration and camaraderie.

a tern
in the sunset...
Earth Day


©Dennis Holmes, aka, Gobou

(Thanks again, Dennis.) I’m deeply grateful to Tom, David, and Stanford for leading us, for all who helped behind the scenes, and to all who came - each talented, fun, kind person I’m honored to swim in the haiku soup with: Joette, Sandi, Terri, Raymond, Paula, Michael, Kent, Dennis, Shirley (from Oregon!), Robyn (like the way she spells her name...), Michelle - :0) - , David, Jane, Perry, and Toni (long-distance). Thanks as well to our current HSA president, Fay Aoyagi, who planned to attend but could not because of a family emergency. We missed you!

And now for this last Poetry Friday of National Poetry Day, enjoy all the great offerings rounded up by JoAnn today at Teaching Authors.  Read More 
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Progressive Poem Parks Here Today!

Greetings! The Progressive Poem parks here today. Thanks for coming by. (The Progressive Poem is the brainchild of our own Irene Latham. Here's a little history & previous poems if you've stumbled upon this for the first time. See the sidebar at left for links to this year's contributors. )

I think this is the first time I’ve chimed in this late in the poem. The trick is to stay true to the poetic tale as told so far, and hand off something usable to the poets who will wrap it up. (While realizing, of course, that everybody interprets the poem differently. My thoughts are much in line with Ruth's from a couple of days ago.)

The lines between fantasy and real experience feel a bit blurred, but that works for our creative child protagonist, I think. My take is that we still have a young storyteller who has overcome obstacles/fear to share a fanciful adventure from the stage.
A freckled youngster who was a knight in the second stanza is now on stage as a “dragon pirate,” weaving colorful tales of Dragonworld sea adventures for the audience.

With only five lines to go, I feel it’s my duty to help turn this pirate ship toward its storytelling port for whatever ending awaits. Of course, the parrot has been called upon to provide a little literary “echo.”) (Many thanks to Amy for naming the parrot – Ha! I’m happy to share this bit of poetic posterity with our other Poetry Friday Robyn, too.)

My line is at the end.

------


I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges–
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?
By hook or by crook, I deserve a second look!
I cheer. Please, have no fear. Find the book.

But wait! I’ll share the lines I know by heart.
Mythicalhowls, fierytones slip from my lip
Blue scales flash, claws rip, the prophecy begins
Dragonworld weaves webs that grip. I take a trip…

“Anchors aweigh!” Steadfast at helm on clipper ship,
a topsail schooner, with sails unfurled, speeds away
As, true-hearted dragon pirate, I sashay
with my wise parrot, Robyn, through the spray.

“Land Ho!” (“Land Ho!”) We’ve hooked the whole crowd.



-----

It's all yours, Renée! (Feel free to remove/adjust that period at the end if needed.)
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Poetry Friday - Haiku Flies When You're Having Fun...


Whew - I don't know about you, but I feel like April is flying by.

I can't believe it's already time for the Haiku Society of America/Southeast Region HONORING THE EARTH meeting & workshop I'm coordinating in St. Simons Island, Georgia! Hence, I'll keep this short, since the road beckons.

For our Earth Day celebration, part of our time will be spent on a birding ginko (haiku walk), led by haiku poet and teacher extraordinaire Tom Painting of Atlanta.

With birds on the brain, I thought I'd share this haiku of mine that appears in the current Frogpond:


our different truths
the rusty underside
of a bluebird



© Robyn Hood Black
Frogpond, Vol. 40, No. 1


Speaking of haiku and birds... Another of our speakers - poet, author, past HSA president and professor, David G. Lanoue - has agreed to allow me to use some of his ISSA translations in art and such. (His translations of haiku by Kobayashi Issa, who lived from 1763 to 1828, number more than 10,000.)

I got out my pointed calligraphy pen, ink, and pencils and such and designed a note card, above, with one of the poems David said he particularly liked. The colors might be more fall-like than spring, but I've gone ahead and listed it in my artsyletterEtsy shop. :0)

Here's the poem pictured above:


traveling geese
the human heart, too,
wanders


Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue


Thanks for lighting on a branch over here today, and enjoy all the poetic flights of fancy rounded up for us this week by the amazing Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.
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Poetry Friday: Edith Holden's Country Diary


Volatile weather, blankets of yellow pollen, blossoms and buds and greening of trees large and small – spring is definitely here! This week I turn to Edith Holden – do you know her? She lived a hundred years ago and captured spring, and all seasons, with her pen and paints. Best known for her “Nature Notes” which became THE COUNTRY DIARY OF AN EDWARDIAN LADY, she offers us a glimpse into a life connected to the land, and to words, and to art – much like that of Beatrix Potter.

Years and years ago, Jeff gave me a paperback copy of Edith’s COUNTRY DIARY, and I’ve managed not to lose it in all of our moves. I love that it’s reproduced as she penned it, with lettering in brown sepia and images brought to life in watercolor.

One hundred and eleven years ago today, on April 7, 1906, she recorded this:

Another glorious day. Cycled to Knowle. On the way found some Marsh Marigolds and Blackthorn in blossom. The Tadpoles have come out of their balls of jelly and career madly about the aquarium wagging their little black tails. A Gudgeon which had put into the aquarium has made a meal of a good many of them. Ground ivy in blossom.”

Isn’t that lovely?

She shared some poetry on these April pages as well. Here are the shorter excerpts:

”And wind-flowers and violets
Which yet join not scent to hue
Crown the pale year weak and new.”


Shelley


“Long as there’s a sun that sets
Primroses will have their glory
Long as there are violets
They will have a place in story.”


Wordsworth


”Now lav’rocks wake the merry morn
Aloft on dewy wing:
The merle, in his noontide bower
Makes woodland echoes ring
the mavis wild wi’ many a note
Sings drowsy day to rest,
In love and freedom they rejoice
We’ care nor thrall oppressed.

Now blooms the lily on the bank,
the primrose down the brae;
The hawthorn’s budding in the glen
And milk-white is the slae!


Burns


The book is apparently not currently in print, though I found some used copies online. I also found an English website devoted to it, and to Edith, at http://www.countrydiary.co.uk/ .
From the biography there:

As was common at the time Edith and her sisters were educated at home by their mother and they were taught to appreciate literature, including poetry which was a particular interest of Edith's parents. Sketching, painting and knowledge of nature were also considered an important part of a girl's education.

Here is also a short, interesting bio on a Unitarian Universalist site, which highlights her work as an illustrator of children’s books.

Happy Spring, to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and Happy Fall, to those in the Southern. And Happy Poetry Month to all! Enjoy poems blossoming all over this week at Live Your Poem, where the Incredible Irene has our Roundup, AND today’s line in the Progressive Poem, which is her brainchild, AND a new poem in her ARTSPEAK series. Enjoy!
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Poetry Friday - Old Words to Ring in New Poetry Month


Helllooo, Poetry Lovers!

Tomorrow we ring in "our" month - National Poetry Month! Read all about it here, at The Academy of American Poets.

I decided to celebrate in my studio with a new collage, made from antique elements.

The words simply read:


POETRY


poetry has

beauty


arrayed in

truth



poem found by Robyn Hood Black

The image is from the May 2015 issue of Woman's World. The text was clipped directly from A. A. Smith's introduction to Poetry and Art, Columbia Publishing Company, 1892. The "title" was clipped from The Poetry Book 5, Huber-Bruner-Curry, circa. 1926. Two vintage topaz-colored glass hearts dangle from the bottom of the fancy vintage bronze-colored metal frame (made in Italy).

Much poetic goodness will be springing up all over the Kidlitosphere this month. Our wonderful Jama wrangles together events and keeps a running list over at Jama's Alphabet Soup .

One highlight is always The Progressive Poem, started and coordinated by our lovely Irene Latham. It travels each day to a different blog, adding a line each day, and it's always surprising to see where the words take us. (It parks right here on April 25.)

A terrific-sounding new adventure this year will be The Poetry Mosaic at Bookology. A different poet reading his or her poetry will be added each day of the month. (I'm thrilled to get to participate, along with some other Poetry Friday regulars. (-- *hint*, you'll have to wait a while for mine... ;0) )

Many more celebrations are in the works, and terrific poetry posts throughout April. Visit the ever-amazing Amy at The Poem Farm today for a launch into Poetry Month!
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Poetry Friday - DAYENU & Extra Credit Questions for April Halprin Wayland


We’re slap-in-the-middle of Poetry Month! Does it get much better? Well, it does if you get to hang out with one of my all-time favorite people and poets, April Halprin Wayland.

Welcome to Life on the Deckle Edge, April, where I’m always running a wee bit ragged. Until I spend a few moments with something as wonderful as your just-launched More Than Enough - A Passover Story (Dial Books for Young Readers), which invites us to slow down and savor and be grateful. Katie Kath’s exuberant illustrations brim with joy, depicting a loving family’s preparations for their special Passover meal.

Today, I appreciate your playing along for a few “Extra Credit” questions!


April’s Extra Credit Q & A

“We wander the market surrounded by colors – Dayenu.”
First, what is Dayenu? Second, where are your favorite places to wander?


Dayenu (pronounced die-AYE-new) is the title of a song we sing at Passover . It's bright and bouncy and the chorus is a true earworm—it's simply the word Dayenu repeated over and over.

Dayenu means, "It would have been enough." So, for example, we say, if we had only been freed from slavery, that would have been enough—Dayenu! And, if the Red Sea had split and that was all, that would have been enough...etc.

Dayenu is a reminder to be aware of and grateful for the blessings in each moment.

Favorite places to wander? Meadows. And on verdant green hiking trails with my dog or my hiking buddies. Although I live within walking distance of the ocean in Southern California, rolling green hills are what light me up.

“We reach through the bars to lift one purring kitten.” Please, tell us about your pets!

Gladly, Robyn. I include an animal in all of my books.

• Eli is our licky, lanky dog (part Doberman, part German Shepherd, part knucklehead);
• Snot is our tiny tortoiseshell cat (she was the runt of the litter) with a squeaky kitten voice. (And don't blame me—my husband named her);
• Sheldon is our California desert tortoise. We had to get a permit from the state to adopt him because these tortoises are listed as a threatened species.
• We have about ten 10-cent gold fish in our pond (who have grown the size of submarines),
• and we have two red-eared slider turtles. We used to have four, named after the Beatles; we're not sure who survived, so their names could be any two of these: John, Paul, George or Ringo.

“We soak in blue bubbles and dress up for dinner.” What was your most recent dress-up occasion, or one on the horizon?

You can bet that I dressed up for the official More Than Enough book launch at our wonderful local independent bookstore. It was so much fun! I wore a bright hearts-and-rainbow dress, read the book, taught the Dayenu song and played the fiddle as the audience joined in.

Then we passed out coloring pages and I talked to the grown-ups about the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of how this book was born. [This is a must-read, Folks – click here for a tale of flexibility & determination!]

We served my favorite Passover food, charoset. Charoset symbolizes mortar which Jewish slaves used between bricks to build edifices for the Pharaoh. It's made of chopped apples, walnuts, honey, cinnamon, dates and either wine or grape juice. Put it on matzoh and it's yummy-crunchy-sweet—divine!

“We search high and low for the lost afikomen.” Do you have a favorite “found object”?

Such an interesting question, Robyn. My father was a farmer and an artist—and an appreciator of all things great and small. He found a crooked old plumbing pipe about the size of a child's arm, bent at the elbow; he stuck flowers and a chicken hawk feather in it, and brought it home. So quirky-beautiful... and so my father. That's the first thing I thought of.

(Not gonna lie… that made me tear up a little!)
“She wraps us in blankets, then sings Eliyahu.” You’re no stranger to music. Do you sing to the radio or iTunes while stuck in LA traffic? What station? Are you a humble hummer or a belter-outer?


Actually, I usually listen to National Public Radio 24/7—news, not music. And audio books. In terms of music, I'm all about sitting-around-the-living-room playing acoustic instruments and singing folk music with friends. Songs written by songwriters like Tom Paxton and Stan Rogers, to name a few.

But lately when I'm driving listen to the songs from the musical, Hamilton. Wow. I've never understood hip-hop before, I'd never taken the time to really listen to it. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the lyrics, the music, the book, and who stars in the musical knocks it out of the stadium. (I also listen to In the Heights, which Miranda wrote and starred in, too).

When I'm in the car, I'm a belter-outer. Which are you, Robyn?

Ha! Well, I’m an NPR addict as well. But bring on a classic rock anthem, and I’m belting it out -- if it's just me in the car, anyway!

The children enjoy “… a Passover sleepover.” Best rest for you – rain on a tin roof? Ocean? Crickets? Birdsong and window blinds?

Rain on the roof. (The alarm on my cell is birdsong. It's an almost liquid way to transition from dreaming to real life.)

Thanks so much for joining us today, April. We could never get enough of YOU!

Thank you for having me, Robyn—I love your questions (and you!)

Readers, for some extra fun today, I’m happy to report I’m a guest over at Penny Klosterman’s terrific blog as part of her “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” series, where you’ll also get to meet my super-talented niece, Sara, and my delightful great nephew, Carter.

And for even more Poetry Month celebrating than you think you can stand, bop on by Today’s Little Ditty, where the magical Michelle has our Roundup this week.
Dayenu!

[Note: I'm attending a history conference here in Beaufort today and will try to check in at the mid-day break. Go ahead and leave some love for April!]
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Poetry Friday - Spring Haiku from Terri L. French


Happy 2nd Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month!

I'm on the road but wanted to share a few lovely spring haiku by my friend, Terri L. French. Terri has been the fearless leader of our Southeast Region of the Haiku Society of America for several years, bringing lots of lively opportunities to our part of the country. I'm taking the reins this year, but she and the organization's powers-that-be have kindly agreed to let me get past a very busy spring first, including planning daughter Morgan's out-of-town June wedding. (Thank you, Terri and HSA!)

Much appreciation to Terri for sharing these poems here this week. Enjoy!



oodles of daffodils--
the beauty of an empty vase


Bottle Rockets, 2011



a succession of sneezes--
forsythia blossoms




gentle rain...
the chant of spring peepers
joins my zen




wind
blowing on the child
blowing on the pinwheel



Poems ©Terri L. French. All rights reserved.



These last two poems are from Terri's collection, A Ladybug on My Words, available from Amazon.

Terri was a guest on my blog three years ago during Poetry Month; click here for a bit of her background and more of her haiku!

Speaking of haiku and Poetry Month, The Haiku Foundation will once again celebrate International Haiku Day with a global "rolling haiku" on April 17. Mark your calendar and click here for more details!


If you're a fan of short poems, you've probably ventured over to Laura Purdie Salas's blog. She's our host today for the Roundup, so make like a ladybug and fly on over to visit Writing the World for Kids.
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Poetry Friday: The Roundup is HERE - Let's CELEBRATE with Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong!

Syliva Vardell, left, and Janet Wong celebrate National Poetry Month with a brand-new anthology!

Did you bring your confetti? We’re smack-dab in the middle of Poetry Month, and the Poetry Friday party is HERE. Let’s ~*§!^}celebrate{^!§*~ !!

I’m thrilled to welcome the incomparable team of Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong with The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations from Pomelo Books, featured as a “Hot off the Press” title from the Children’s Book Council in March. This is fourth in the series of praise-garnering Poetry Friday Anthologies, which offer fun and accessible ways to bring poetry to life in the classroom. Learn about each collection and connections to the Common Core and other teaching standards here. [I posted my own PFAC poem last week.]

This new volume explores more than 150 holidays and celebrations – 156 poems by 115 poets (!), including many familiar Poetry Friday names. And – in a welcome and wonderful feat – each poem is presented in both English and Spanish.

In the PFA tradition of “Take 5,” let’s ask Sylvia and Janet five questions about this terrific new resource.


Happy Poetry Month, Janet and Sylvia! What an undertaking. Whose Muse insisted on such a project, and what does this new volume bring to the world of poetry for children?

JW: It was definitely the Sylvia Muse on this one, the "Christmas-tree-in-every-room-of-the-Vardell-house" and "Happy Half-Birthday" Sylvia. The emphasis on Picture Book Pairings and the idea to have Spanish translations for every poem were also hers; Sylvia, please take a bow!

SV: Thanks, Janet! I do like savoring life’s many special moments and I think kids find something to celebrate in the smallest, silliest things, too. Plus, I think our poems offer great hooks for specific celebrations, but are also worth reading and sharing any ol’ time for their humor, lyrical language, or thoughtful themes.



The breadth of these poems is staggering – from silly to profound, acknowledging cultures across the globe. In the introduction you write, “A poem on an unfamiliar celebration is a thirty-second look out the window at what brings meaning to another group of human beings.” Why is that thirty-second look important?

JW: The best way to reach global understanding is to share in our happiness. You don't see the enemy in a smiling child.

SV: We need diverse literature that focuses on real and important issues such as discrimination—but we also need examples of joyful diversity for balance. Some of the diverse and joyful poems that you can find in our book are: Uma Krishnaswami's Diwali poem, Ibtisam Barakat's Ramadan poem, Debbie Reese's poem about making bread in Pueblo cultures, Margarita Engle's poem about the Dashain festival of Nepal, Renée M. LaTulippe's poem featuring friendship and disabled children, and Lesléa Newman's Gay Pride Day poem. I love that each of these poems offers a glimpse at something new (to many), but also points to familiar connections with family, play, friendship, etc.



I know faithfully translating poems from English to Spanish (as well as from Spanish to English) was very important to you both. How did you accomplish that?

SV: At a lunch after our ALSC Institute session last September, we brainstormed with Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy about ways to expand what we had done with The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, which includes a dozen poems translated by the poets themselves into Spanish. They liked the idea of having more poems in Spanish for this book and connected us with Liliana Cosentino, a professional translator whose work they admire. After we received the translations, we sent them to more than a dozen additional readers, including Alma Flor and Isabel, poets Pat Mora and Julie Larios, and David Bowles, winner of the Texas Institute of Letters (TIL) Translation Award.

JW: And then the shaping and reshaping began: one reader would suggest a change; another reader would modify it further; a third reader would suggest the original translation; and so on. Some of the most useful feedback came from a high school student who grew up in New Jersey but speaks Spanish daily with her friends and her Guatemala-raised parents and grandparents. She and I sat down together, discussing poems line-by-line. I still remember how pained she felt over one particular (now-revised) translation, saying, "Well, yes, those words might be correct; but no one would ever say it that way!" It was important to us that the poems be musical and poetic in Spanish too—and not necessarily word-for-word translations of the English poems.



This collection is offered in a teacher/librarian edition as well as a student edition, featuring just the poems with illustrations. How do you hope each book is used?

SV: The teacher/librarian edition is our “usual” format that provides guidance in sharing and teaching the poems. But we’ve often heard that people would like to be able to share the poems with children without the instructional component on the page and so the illustrated “children’s” or “student” edition was born. We hope classrooms and libraries will have BOTH—so that the poems can be savored on their own, but teaching tips are also available for anyone who wants to lead a poem lesson or poetry celebration.


Finally, you’ve set up a nifty website just for the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations at PoetryCelebrations.com. What will virtual visitors find there?

JW: This month at PoetryCelebrations.com, the featured piece is a lyrical Poet's Note by Ibtisam Barakat that accompanies her audio reading plus an illustrated mini-poster of her "Tree Day Celebration" poem, our Arab American Heritage Month poem (you can click on a link to see a translation of the poem in Arabic). In future months we'll feature videos of poems, additional holiday poems that do not appear in our book and also longer versions of some of the poems that do appear in the book. In August, there will a super-neat Thrift Shop Day feature; make sure to check the website in August!


Oh, I will! HUGE thanks, Sylvia and Janet, for sharing your anthology magic with us today.

Since we’re just past halfway through Poetry Month, let’s close with Janet’s wonderful poem from July 2:


On Halfway Day
by Janet Wong

We each had half a sandwich
then we waited half an hour –
so the food could sink
halfway to our feet.

Then we halfway-ran
to the neighborhood pool,
three whole blocks,
at the end of the street.

We shook off our shoes
and set down our towels.
My sister made sure
my suit was on right.

We swam until dinner –
half a dog and half a burger –
then we watched half a movie
and we said good night!


©Janet Wong. All rights reserved. [Thank you, Janet!]


Sylvia and Janet write, “We firmly believe that poetry is the ideal vehicle for inviting children of all backgrounds to enjoy language and literature.” Amen! Visit more with Sylvia at her Poetry for Children blog, and with Janet at her website .

[For more Kidlitosphere Poetry Month Goodness than any human could stand, remember to check Jama's Roundup of events at Jama's Alphabet Soup.]

What wonderful things are YOU celebrating for Poetry Month today? Please leave your links in the comments, and I'll round them up throughout the day. Thanks for coming by!

***The Roundup***

Penny Parker Klostermann starts us off with a terrific entry in her “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” series. Her guests, award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller with daughter, Sonia, offer an illustrated poem that will have you tapping your toes all day long.

Over at Teaching Authors, they’ve also been celebrating the PFAC. (Three of them have poems included!) Today, my buddy April brings us a poem for National Thrift Shop Day. It’s bear-y fun, so Jama needs to make sure Mr. Cornelius sees it…

Turn out the lights! Just for a few minutes. Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids continues her “Poetry Tips for Teachers” series with her poem, "Flowerful Flood," and a suggestion for reading poems in the classroom.

What can dodo birds teach us about meter? Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty brings us the always-entertaining Renée LaTulippe to explain. (There might be a surprise poem over there, and a prompt, too!)

Joy offers up a light-filled haiku and tells us about “the world’s largest collaborative poem on the internet” at Poetry for Kids Joy. [She’s given us the link if you’d like to participate. Diane gives us some insight into all this as well today!]

Over at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, Matt offers up a fun challenge (Poetry Cubed? – click to find out) and shares his own poem in response. (There’s a book giveaway too!)

At Jama’s Alphabet Soup, Jama brings us Margaret McNamara's A Poem In Your Pocket (illustrated by G. Brian Karas) – the PERFECT book for perfectionistic poets of any age. Plus, Mr. Cornelius takes “Poem in Your Pocket Day” to new heights (or depths -- of pockets).

What is Catherine Johnson wearing? Author Amok’s Laura Shovan continues her fun and insightful guest-blogger series on clothes, and Catherine shares "Getting Dressed" by Alexander Resnikoff.

Tamera Will Wissinger shares a short review of the new verse novel AUDACITY by Melanie A Crowder. (She’s doing an ARC giveaway, too, which you’ll want to try for after reading the review!)

Robyn Campbell (Robyn with a “y,” like me!) shares a clerihew today, written in honor of a Poetry Friday-er we all know and love.

For the fourth year in a row, Donna at Mainely Write is participating in the “A to Z Challenge” (a poem each day prompted by a letter of the alphabet). Whew! Today is “O” – for “Oversize Load.”

The 2015 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem has progressed to Buffy’s blog today; a mysterious connection made…

What is a Zip Ode, you ask? Tara at A Teaching Life has got your number. Warning: these look terribly addictive.

Irene chimed in (sent me a text) from the Land of No Internet Connection, asking if we’d make sure she’s in the mix! She highlights Lee Wardlaw’s new WON TON AND CHOPSTICK and offers up another gem in her Poetry Month series, “Artspeak,” original poems written to image prompts from the National Gallery. (Today’s wind poem is one of my favorites so far.)

Carol at Beyond Literacy Link offers “A Cordial Invitation to peruse the Winter Whisperings Gallery” just unveiled last evening. Take a deep breath and savor these thoughtful poetry/image (& sound, too!) offerings from around the world. Guaranteed to lower your blood pressure for a few moments.

Ever-clever Liz Elizabeth Steinglass has been bringing items from her desk to life in poems this month. “I'm still exploring the desk with my daily National Poetry month poems, but I find myself moving away from the usual school supplies,” she says. Her short but punch-packing poem today is "Stolen."

Long live haiku! Before I got immersed in the form a few years ago, Diane Mayr was a seasoned, published poet. She has a great post at Kurious Kitty celebrating National Haiku Poetry Day TODAY. She’s also got some great book recommendations (most of which I must confess are already on my shelves). Super entry point if you’d like to learn more about haiku poetry.

Now, it’s also International Haiku Poetry Day and at Random Noodling, Diane explores the international aspect of haiku (it’s not just Japanese and English, folks!), including the Earthrise Rolling Haiku collaborative poem Joy mentions above.

Speaking of haiku (and Carol’s “Winter Whisperings”) this April morning finds Linda at Teacher Dance sharing weather-inspired haiku from snowy Denver! [Linda, my hubby was on the phone with a snow-bound Colorado colleague last night – if you get tired of the snow, head over here to the coast....]

Over at The Poem Farm Amy continues her “Sing That Poem!” series with poemsong #17 and a poemsong by Joy Keller's fourth graders - both to the same tune! [I dare you to visit Amy’s blog and NOT try this song-matching challenge. But even if you don’t, Ms. Keller’s class poem is a fantastic tribute to the oceans, with or without music.]

Linda K. at Write Time is wearing her PFAC party hat. She’s sharing her poems from the book – “Welcome” and “Dear Veteran” – and offering a chance to win a free copy as well! And, in addition to being a terrific poet and teacher, did you know Linda is a veteran herself? Check out her pictures in dress blues and fatigues (1974) in today’s post. Linda, sincerest thanks for your service.

Celebrating from Down Under is Sally, who shares a (lump-in-your-throat-inducing) excerpt from her new verse novel, verse novel Roses are Blue. Said novel (illustrated by Gabriel Evans) was just named a Notable Book by the Children’s Book Council of Australia book of the year judges. Congratulations, Sally!!

Iphigene is in today from Gathering Books with a post which makes my day. You might know the poem about growing old and wearing purple, and red hats – have you seen poet Jenny Joseph reading “Warning”? Pure delight.

Mary Lee brings us another terrific entry in the PO-EMotion series today at A Year of Reading - such strong imagery in two poems. (Have a tissue at the ready.)

Mary Lee also shares this: Poetry PSA: Janet and I will be hosting the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Poetry Month Twitter Chat (#NCTEchat) on this coming Sunday evening (4/19) at 8:00 pm ET. Our guiding question is "What is the Role of Poetry in Literacy Learning?" We wrote this blog post to get you thinking: http://blogs.ncte.org/index.php/2015/04/poetry-in-literacy-learning/. Hope to hear many of your poet-voices chiming in Sunday night!
A reason to join Twitter, if you haven’t already!

At The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia continues exploring poetic forms (and the teaching of them) with some great article links (one from our own Laura Shovan) and examples from Ron Koertge and his character Kevin Boland (Shakespeare Bats Clean Up and Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs).

A hearty Poetry Friday welcome to newcomer Kathy at The Brain Lair, where today she features an intriguing original poem, “My Soul Looks Back.”

Much to ponder with Jan today at Bookseedstudio. She reminds us that it’s National Library Week, after all – and also Days of Remembrance (April 16-19). “The White Rose resistance of teens against Hitler is on my mind,” she explains, with links to resources and a call for others. Thinking about bullies, Jan offers up a poem about their cat, Ginger. (We have one of those! A bully cat, that is. Ours is black and white.)

Margaret shares some amazing acrostic poetry from a precocious third-grade student, Lani, at Reflections on the Teche. At the risk of repeating myself, you will be amazed.

At Reading to the Core, Catherine share’s Marilyn Singer’s poem “"Abraham Lincoln" to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death on this past Wednesday. She’s got some great resources, links, and teaching ideas, too.

Oh, my! At Keri Recommends, you’re in for a treat. Ever have a moment when you are watching a video online and you realize you’re smiling? An encounter between scientists via a deep-diving camera and a deep-diving sperm whale inspired an original poem by Keri, “Curiosity.” Her post title today? “Poetry Friday and Scientists Geeking Out.”

Speaking of delights and oddities and light, Tabatha continues to bring us wonderful poems about poetry this month! Today at The Opposite of Indifference you’ll find words from Dylan Thomas and Conrad Aiken.

Whether you’re trekking through snow or enjoying beach breezes today, celebrate spring with Brenda at Friendly Fairytales. Her original poem, “Yellowist Green,” brings you daffodils on the cusp of blooming.

Katie at The Logonauts also celebrates Lee Wardlaw’s new WON TON AND CHOPSTICK – A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku, with more fetching illustrations by Eugene Yelchin. Tune in to find out about Won Ton’s new challenge…

Our incredible Heidi loves a challenge. She shows off takes a “flighty leap” and posts “an immediate response” to Matt’s Poetry Cubed challenge. Visit My Juicy Little Universe for a seize-the-moment buzz….

Kay at A Journey Through the Pages shares a lovely and moving original poem, “Darkness Falls,” in response to Mary Lee’s PO-EMotion challenge today (“sorrow”).

In a similar vein, Kortney shares remembrances of her poetry teacher, Steve Kowit, at One Deep Drawer. Such a touching post, and I know I’ll learn much when I can circle back later and explore the links.

At There is no such thing as a godforsaken town, Ruth is “still doing the mermaid thing” (Progressive Poem reference!). She brings us a haunting mermaid poem by Thomas Merton, and a link to an earlier post featuring a haunting Pablo Neruda poem. I mentioned haunting, didn’t I? For both? Hold your breath….

At Think, Kid, Think, Ed reveals the classroom winners of March Madness Poetry #MMPoetry! Grand (and Second and Third) Prize Giveaway winners will receive a stack of wonderful poetry books to add to their classroom shelves. My guess is, after investing such time in the tournament, the students won’t be leaving that poetry on the shelves for long.

Holly Thompson continues her The Language Inside series of 30 prompts at HATBOOKS. Today’s prompt calls for a list poem about time, place, change and emotion – with an excerpt from her award-winning verse novel as inspiration.

Our special guest Sylvia shares more PFAC fun at her own blog, Poetry for Children.. All month, she’s sharing some terrific videos produced by her graduate students of PFAC poems being read by students. Up today: a poem for “National Cereal Day” by our own Matt Forrest Esenwine, “Picky Eater”! [The reader is 14-year-old Andy, a good sport and a good cereal-box-catcher!]

A classic continuation of some of today’s PF images… light? shimmering water? bee? Little Willow shares D. H. Lawrence’s poem, “Coming Awake,” at Bildungsroman.

Anastasia brings us a roaring snippet from An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns by Betsy R. Rosenthal (Author) and Jago (Illustrator) at Booktalking #kidlit.

Doraine checks in from Antarctica again, at least poetically, at Dori Reads. (What would it feel like to lose your ship in a sea-field of ice?!)

Renée might be a little late to the party today, but she’s fashionably late and worth the wait. In her amazing series on NCTE poets, she posts another interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins. This time the No Water River spotlight shines on Eloise Greenfield. Grab a cuppa something – you’ll want to savor this rich feature on one of our most important poets for children and readers of all ages.

Karen’s in today with a poem by Richard Wilbur from 1974, a perfect and timeless tribute to spring.

Charles Ghigna (Father Goose®) invites us all to celebrate Poetry Month at the Urban Family blog, where his colorful quartet of board books leads a pack of recommended titles for young readers.

At Pleasures from the Page, Ramona shares some “essential” poetry anthology titles with us. [She had to winnow down to six for a local bookstore’s April newsletter – I know, can you imagine?! So she’s sharing a few more collections she loves in today’s post.]

Head over to Check It Out, where Jone has another young writer, Cathy, who is wise beyond her years. I just love reading student poems that blow me away, don’t you? OH - and participate by leaving a comment, and you just might win a copy of the PFAC!

Jone’s back! She has an original poem for the “LL” challenge word QUILLS at Deowriter. (My kind of poem – you’ll enjoy, too!)

At Writing and Ruminating, Kelly, another PFAC poet, shares a post about her chapbook, The Universe Comes Knocking with one of its well-crafted poems, “Socratic Method.” [Thanks for sharing, Kelly - I can't figure out how to leave a comment without signing over my firstborn to LiveJournal.]

Close out this Haiku Day with an original haiku by Cathy at Merely Day by Day.
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Take a Break from Tax Day with the 2015 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem


Take a refreshing dip away from numbers, forms, and lines at the post office today. Here we are, smack-dab in the middle of National Poetry Month!

One of my favorite Kidlitosphere events is this annual communal traveling poem (a different blog every day), the brainchild of talented poet and my dear friend Irene Latham.

This year's poem is especially intriguing; we have a character who seems to be a bayou mermaid, with a mysterious bracelet and wisdom-filled whispers from her grandmother. She went from land to water, and as she reached me she was reaching and seizing something, thanks to Renée yesterday, under a surprising (ominous?) shadow at the surface, with a paddle dipping, thanks to Doraine...

I suppose she could have been reaching for a literal pearl underwater, but I prefer to think of the pearl metaphorically. The rainbow-topped dewdrop would suggest she needs to find her way back to terra firma. So in my line, she has seized the paddle instead...


Progressive Poem 2015


She lives without a net, walking along the alluvium of the delta.
Shoes swing over her shoulder, on her bare feet stick jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing at the ends of bare brown arms. Her hair flows,
snows in wild wind as she digs in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother’s oval cuffed bracelet,
strokes the turquoise stones, and steps through the curved doorway.

Tripping on her tail she slips hair first down the slide… splash!
She glides past glossy water hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,

listens to the ibises roosting in the trees of the cypress swamp–
an echo of Grandmother’s words, still fresh in her windswept memory.

Born from the oyster, expect the pearl.
Reach for the rainbow reflection on the smallest dewdrop.


The surface glistens, a shadow slips above her head, a paddle dips–
she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy and turquoise eyes.

Lifted high, she gulps strange air - stares clearly into



Into what? That's for the creative and insightful Ruth to decide! I'm quite curious to see where we go from here.

Below is the entire schedule, so you can follow along. If you'd like a peek at a Poetry-Month-themed little piece of art I just made (vintage mixed media/found poem) click over to my artsyletters blog ! Thanks for visiting today, and happy travels as you make your way through the rest of April.

2015 Kidlitosphere
Progressive Poem

1 Jone at Check it Out

2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy

3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe

4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids

5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog

6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson

8 Irene at Live Your Poem

9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository

10 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

11 Kim at Flukeprints

12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

13 Doraine at DoriReads

14 Renee at No Water River

15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

17 Buffy at Buffy's Blog

18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

19 Linda at Teacher Dance

20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots

21 Tara at A Teaching Life

22 Pat at Writer on a Horse

23 Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy

24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference

26 Brian at Walk the Walk

27 Jan at Bookseedstudio

28 Amy at The Poem Farm

29 Donna at Mainely Write

30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme


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