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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Blue Worlds by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

 

Greetings from the Georgia foothills, Poetry Lovers!  As I write this on Thursday, we are 300+ miles from our little coastal home and pondering the best time to head back, watching Florence updates.  Our prayers are with all in the path of this and other storms.

 

Poetry is always good medicine in times of stress.  Today I am grateful to Rebecca Kai Dotlich for allowing me to share her beautiful poem from the new anthology by Lee Bennett Hopkins, WORLD MAKE WAY - New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Poetry Friday regulars have no doubt enjoyed peeks into this gorgeous collection, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers in partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You'll see some familiar Poetry Friday names among contributors, too! (Click here for a wonderful interview with Lee by NPR's Scott Simon, which aired on March 31.) 

 

Rebecca wrote in response to Mary Cassatt's Young Mother Sewing (Oil on canvas, 1900).

 

 

Blue Worlds

 

I grow up in a world the color of water.

Sometimes when breezes blow just right,

when sun puddles in blue folds,

mama talks of blue things, wild things;

sea glass and butterflies,

peacocks and poppies.

 

While clocks keep perfect time

ships sail on seas yet named,

and birds sing odes to skyight.

Cornflowers turn to tufted stars

while mama threads light rain,

stitching my name

into air.

 

©Rebecca Kai Dotlich.  All rights reserved.

 

In my corner of the country, as folks react and respond to the power of water unleashed by a storm, I'm comforted by Rebecca's poem.  Its water imagery opens doors to wonder and connection, and to this exquisite painting of a tender bond between mother and child.

 

And, an aside about 'voice': When I first read, excerpted in Lee Bennett Hopkins's foreword, "cornflowers turn to tufted stars," I did not need to see who had written it - I knew that lyrical line must have come from Rebecca's pen. *Swoon*....

 

To learn more about Rebecca and her work, click here, and click here for the website of Lee Bennett Hopkins.

 

For the Poetry Friday Roundup, find some high ground and inspiration at The Poem Farm this week with Amy, who just happens to be one of the poets whose work graces the pages of WORLD MAKE WAY!

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Poetry Friday - Book Giveaway! WRITE LIKE ISSA by David G. Lanoue


Happy Summer-ing, Poetry Lovers (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway)!

Are you a haiku fan, or would you like to learn more about how to write – and/or teach – haiku? I have the PERFECT book, hot off the press and not even “formally” released yet, for you to tuck into your beach bag.

It’s Write Like Issa by one of my favorite champions of haiku, Dr. David G. Lanoue. (You’ve met David here before. Poet, author, and internationally recognized Issa scholar, he’s been the RosaMary Professor of English at Xavier University of Louisiana since 1981 and recently served three terms as president of the Haiku Society of America . Learn more about David at his rich website, haikuguy.com . For more about Issa, click here, and to search through an archive of more than 10,000 of Issa’s haiku translated by David, click here.)

Now for a little gushing about this new book. Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) is beloved around the world, partly because he’s, well, so much like us. Fellow haiku masters Bashō (1644-94) and Buson (1716-1784) have lifetimes of wisdom to teach, of course. But Issa, whose personal history included much hardship, loss, and tragedy, captivates us with his compassionate, down-to-earth poetry, which also still somehow conveys joy and humor.

In a little more than 100 pages, Write Like Issa offers the reader six lessons highlighting Issa’s approach to haiku, in easy-to-navigate chapters. Issa’s own poems serve as guides, but so do poems by contemporary poets – 57 of them – who have either participated in David’s “Write Like Issa” workshops in recent years, or whose writings exemplify an Issa-like sensibility.

Here are a couple of examples from Lesson 3 – “COMIC VISION. COSMIC JOKES”:


baby grass–
the stylish woman leaves
her butt print


Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

The author writes:

…the woman, we can imagine, is young, attractive, elaborately coiffed, and wrapped in a brightly patterned kimono of the latest style. The two images exude freshness and beauty, but surprisingly, when the pretty lady rises from where she has been sitting, she leaves an imprint of crushed grass. The “delicate” woman reveals herself to be, in fact, a gargantuan smasher of grass blades, viewed from the grass’s perspective….”

One of the contemporary poems offered to illustrate this approach is this one:

dinner time–
the old cat regains
his hearing


©Stanford M. Forrester. All rights reserved. Posted with permission.

David writes,

Poets who follow [Issa’s] lead find their own revelations of odd concatenations: a “deaf” cat that miraculously hears the call to dinner, [and other examples]… .

What’s a concatenation, you ask? I looked it up. “Concatonate,” which means “to link together in a series or chain,” was actually Merriam Webster’s “Word of the Day” on May 27. Here’s a short podcast explaining it.

(And if you can’t get enough cat haiku, check out our own Diane Mayr’s new series for summer launched last Friday.)

I’m honored to have a poem included in Write Like Issa, one of the most personal poems I’ve written. It appears at the end of Lesson 4 – “BOLD SUBJECTIVITY – THE ‘I’ HAS IT:

robin’s egg blue
how my father would have loved
my son


©Robyn Hood Black; originally published in Acorn 29 (Fall 2012).

If you’re serious about haiku, I heartily recommend reading as widely as you can in scholarly anthologies and books and journals to understand the history of English-language haiku and to inspire your own writing. BUT - whether or not that is your cup of tea, you can also start RIGHT HERE with this very accessible, hands-on, how-to volume full of insights and mentor poems to get you going.

If you’re a teacher, just a few enjoyable sittings will yield a greater understanding of haiku as you introduce it in the classroom, whether in an elementary school or a university. [Note – Some lessons explore Issa’s acceptance of all aspects of human and animal life – “potty humor” and lovemaking and flatulence not excepted! These discussions here, and in workshops I’ve taken with David, are actually helping me be a bit less uptight; in case you are on the somewhat reserved side like I am(?), I thought I’d pass along.]

By the way, have you had your Issa today? You can go to Yahoo.com (Groups) and subscribe to the DailyIssa Yahoo Group to have a randomly selected haiku, translated by David, appear in your inbox every day. (This is always the first email I open!) You can also follow @issa_haiku on Twitter .

In a note with one of this week’s poems, David writes:

Part of Issa's genius is his ability to imagine the perspective of fellow creatures.

In Write Like Issa, this idea comes to life in poem after poem, whether ‘fellow creatures’ are human or non-human. I dare you to reach the end of the book without trying out your own pen, writing like Issa to capture some honest moment experienced with sensitivity and compassion, or subtle humor, or delight.

Bu wait – there’s more! I love this book so much I bought an extra copy to give away in a random drawing. Just leave a comment below, and you’re entered! Make sure it’s connected to a valid email address (not published), so I can track you down for your real-world address.

[UPDATE: Just realized I never gave a "deadline" for adding a comment to enter the drawing. Let's say Wednesday, June 28, and I'll announce on Poetry Friday the 30th.]

Can’t wait? I understand. Order here at CreateSpace or here on Amazon, where an e-book is also available.

For more great poetry of all kinds today, pay a visit to the ever-curious Carol at Carol’s Corner for this week’s Roundup.  Read More 
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Poetry Friday - "May Night" by Sara Teasdale



Greetings, Springtime Poetry Lovers!

A simple post today, but I hope this poem makes you smile.

I've been away more than home the last couple of weeks, and on a trip to North Georgia dropped in a great used bookstore that's a favorite when in town. I came home with a couple of poetry treasures, including STARS TO-NIGHT - Verses New and Old For Boys and Girls by Sara Teasdale (New York - The MacMillan Company, 1946; 1930 original copyright; illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop).


May Night

The spring is fresh and fearless
            And every leaf is new,
The world is brimmed with moonlight,
            The lilac brimmed with dew.

Here in the moving shadows
            I catch my breath and sing -
My heart is fresh and fearless
            And overbrimmed with spring.



Click here for a brief bio of Sara Teasdale. (Sadly, her life was not as light and springy as this poem.)

Wishing you a fresh and fearless heart as you journey through poetry today with Kiesha, hosting our Roundup today at Whispers from the Ridge.
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Poetry Friday - Taylor Mali's "Silver-Lined Heart" for my Graduating Son


I'm discovering that when your youngest, your baby, graduates from college - it feels like a big deal!

We are celebrating Seth this weekend, our old-soul 22-year-old who will be taking his degree and his very broad worldview and compassionate heart to go spend a year living and working with homeless folks.

When he was in high school, one of our favorite people on the planet, history teacher Michael McCann, took him and a group of kids (as he has done countless times) to the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey. Seth was especially taken with hearing Taylor Mali that year.

So, for this occasion, for Seth, for life in general and in these times, the following poem seems perfect. I'm only sharing the first two stanzas; the entire poem is here. (Note: Not appropriate for young students - Thanks!)


Silver-Lined Heart
by Taylor Mali


I’m for reckless abandon
and spontaneous celebrations of nothing at all,
like the twin flutes I kept in the trunk of my car
in a box labeled Emergency Champagne Glasses!

Raise an unexpected glass to long, cold winters
and sweet hot summers and the beautiful confusion of the times in between.
To the unexpected drenching rain that leaves you soaking
wet and smiling breathless; ...


Click here for the rest.

I'm for poetry, and for all freshly-minted graduates out there! Congratulations to you and your families.

For more poetry that leaves you "smiling breathless" today, please visit another of my all-time favorite people in the world, Jama, at Jama's Alphabet Soup for the Roundup.

Thanks for stopping by.
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Poetry Friday - The St. Paddy's Day Roundup is HERE!


Grreeeen Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

Welcome to All. So glad you are joining us for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

For those of you in the US who can't see anything but white outside, sending warmest wishes from the South. Somewhere under all that snow must be a four-leaf clover bud.

Here's a perfect poem for today from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations from Pomelo Books. (You know - the volume Kirkus called "A bubbly and educational bilingual poetry anthology for children.")



ST. PATRICK'S DAY
by Esther Hershenhorn

March 17
the world turns green
to celebrate St. Patrick.
Green hats!
Green floats!
Green rivers, too!
March 17's green magic.



--and in Spanish:


DIA DE SAN PATRICIO
basado en "St. Patrick's Day"
por Esther Hershenhorn


El 17 de marzo
el mundo se vuelve verde
para celebrar a San Patricio.
¡Sombreros verdes!
¡Carrozas verdes!
¡Ríos verdes también!
El 17 de marzo es magia verde.



©Esther Hershenhorn. All rights reserved.

Many thanks to Esther for sharing her poem here today! A couple of years ago, she blogged about creating this poem over at Teaching Authors - It's always fun to check out the story behind a poem.

I'm sure the river, hats, floats, and fountains an hour south of here in Savannah are green, green, green. And my hubby (and our daughter's hubby) could wear those "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" buttons after our DNA kit adventures over the holidays. ;0)

Whether you are ancestrally Irish (is that even a word?) or honorarily so today, I wish you pot-fuls of good luck and golden poems. Please leave your links & short post descriptions in the comments, and I'll round up old-school-style as the day goes on. (Note - I'll be on the road Saturday and unable to add to my list after Friday eve, but make yourself at home all weekend!)

BUT WAIT, There's More...

Speaking of Pomelo Books, my ancient office kitty, May, (okay, with help from the partially-Irish husband) helped randomly draw winners of the five copies of HERE WE GO - A Poetry Friday Power Book, generously donated by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell! Those lucky ducks are: Charles W., Tabatha Y., Mary Lee H., Linda M., and Shaggers! (Shaggerspicchu - send me your address so you can use this with your class! :0) ) Please email me at robyn@robynhoodblack.com with the address where you'd like me to send your book, and I'll get the leprechauns right on it.

Sláinte

The Roundup:

Steven Withrow starts us off at Crackles of Speech with a poem celebrating the American Woodcock, gracing Cape Cod this winter and looking for love. (Ever the over-achiever, Steven has memorialized the little fellow in a Shakespearean sonnet!)

At A Teaching Life, Tara is eyeing spring with a gorgeous Jane Kenyon poem, and her own gorgeous thoughts about her farm.

Basketball fan? Okay, poetry fan? Linda shares a slew of poetic slam-dunks in honor of March Madness over atA Word Edgewise.

At Jama’s Alphabet Soup, you’ll find a new poem by one of MY favorite poets, Penny Harter. Take a tissue, as it will pull on your heartstrings, and enjoy the warmth with which Jama serves it up.

Oh, you might never think of a toothpick in quite the same way again. I see poems popping up in response to Helen Frost’s “ode” challenge on Michelle’s Today’s Little Ditty, and Kat has one that will stick with you at Kats Whiskers.

In another post dealing with loss and grief, Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales offers a simple, child-friendly and personal poem, “Sister Blue.” (Congrats to Brenda on its inclusion in an anthology!)

Here’s another ode in the TLD challenge: At Beyond Literacy Link, Carol offers up “Ode to Summer Sand,” which is definitely making me miss our beach here, closed since Hurricane Matthew hit last October. Sigh. (On the other end of the seasonal spectrum, Carol is working on her soon-to-be-unveiled Winter Gallery, too!)

I dare you to meander through St. Patrick’s Day without a smile if you pop in to enjoy Diane’s fetching haiga at Random Noodling. I dare you.

And we can’t have a Poetry Friday on St. Paddy’s Day without a sip of Yeats now, can we? Kurious Kitty’s got us covered with a delightful, woodsy cup.

At Teaching Authors, JoAnn has bagged a lovely way to fuel creativity AND help the planet while kicking off a new series on creativity. What’s your “one little thing”?

Need a walk on the beach, maybe after reading Carol’s poem? You know our wonderful Sally Murphy is always ready to share her encounters with seaside critters great and small. Her poetic crabby exchange will leave YOU anything but.

What would St. Paddy’s Day be without a limerick or two or ten? Alice Nine brings us blessings and limericks and lovely links to all things Lear. Enjoy!

Oh, Alice’s post has you thirsty for more? At Michelle’s Today’s Little Ditty, Carrie Clickard leads us up and down the hills of Limerick Land, with more amazing scribers of the form than you can shake a walking stick at. There’s even a mathematical equation that’s a limerick. Really. (And enjoy a Celtic tune by The High Kings on your way out.)

Linda has a gorgeous original crow poem at Teacher Dance, and I was struck by how this and Penny Harter’s poem at Jama’s today complement each other.

Michelle Kogan shares a plate-ful today: an original poem about the climate/current political climate, news of a new zine, Voices, words & art available through her Etsy shop, and an eerily timely poem by Adrienne Rich.

Our resident RainCity Librarian, Jane, celebrates the holiday and her Irish heritage with a beautiful photo and a glorious, bittersweet poem by Yeats. Sigh.

At Reading to the Core, Catherine shares lovely poetic images of the birds outside her kitchen window during the blizzard this week. Planes might have been grounded, but not these birds!

Greg at Gottabook is offering up a sneek peek at Spring Fever with a re-post of his fun poem, “Allergic to Homework.” Gesundheit.

Thank you, Fats, at Gathering Books, for a touching post pausing to honor the passing of Amy Krouse Rosenthal with a Mary Oliver poem, “Love Sorrow.”

At The Opposite of Indifference, Tabatha shares an amazing “Literary Scavenger Hunt” poem gifted to her by her ever-clever, talented daughter, Ariana. You’ll just have to read for yourself!

On a related vein, enjoy this delightful book spine poem from Ramona at Pleasures from the Page.

And more about St. Patrick’s Day, Irish roots, and sorrow, too – but with the winged hope and solace that flows from Irene’s masterful pen. Her poem is simply titled, “This Poem is Green.”

Margaret brings us a new poetic form based on fractals over at Reflections on the Teche. She got to meet an old SCBWI Southern Breeze buddy of mine (when Mississippi was in our region!), author Sarah Campbell, who has a new book on the subject. If you are a teacher, you MUST check out these terrific poems by Margaret’s students!

Raise a cupful of moonbeams to Laurie Purdie Salas, whose brand new book, IF YOU WERE THE MOON, launches today! She shares the poem that started it all at Writing the World for Kids. Awrrroooooo!

And now refill your glass – with flashlight beams this time, we’ll wait… - and offer up another toast, because Matt Forrest has an awesome cover reveal and release date for his upcoming debut picture book, Flashlight Night!

All this celebrating means we must dance. Yes, you. Join Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for some clever “Linguistic Jig”-ging complete with a rollicking Irish reel to get your feet & fingers tapping.

Oh my – see if you relate to snow-bound Donna’s post at Mainely Write today; how DO you keep those brilliant writing ideas from flitting away with the fairies? (She made a found poem out of her own post, too, which has a wee bit o'green jealousy in it.)

Join Jone at Check It Out for a feast of odes by students, answering the aforementioned TLD challenge. One second grader even wrote and Ode to Poetry! Rock on, young poets.

What else would you expect from a delightful poet whose name is an irresistible Spring color? Violet has a colorful, rhythmic “Note to Spring” so enticing, I bet Spring will arrive a day or two early in her back yard.

At bildungsroman, Little Willow shares the lovely opening lines of “Last Night” by Théophile Julius Henry Marzials.

Shhh! Don’t wake the precious sleeping grandabies at Dori Reads. But gentle open the door, and enjoy an Irish lullaby…. She even has The Irish Tenors! (And a link to two of her poems in an online literary journal.)

Echoing some other posts today, Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town has a few lines on the theme of sorrow, from Mary Oliver.

Kay invites us to slow down in this season of Lent, with lovely reflections in poetry and photographs at A Journey Through the Pages.

Jone is back with a magical “Library Time” cinquain at Deowriter - Enjoy!

Katie at The Logonauts has an “I Read” poem which definitely rings true for me… see if it does for you, too!

Rounding out the day’s selections is Leigh Ann at A Day in the Life, appropriately calling our attention to the small miracles all around us with a Walt Whitman poem.

Wait - 2 more! Visit Amy at The Poem Farm at http://www.poemfarm.amylv.com/2017/03/thinkinglook-at-some-old-photos-or.html?m=1 and Joy at poetryforkidsjoy.blogspot.com - :0)

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Poetry Friday - Hangin' with Hermine.... and a poem by Melanie Braverman


Well, Thursday has gotten away from me as we have found ourselves awaiting the arrival of Hermine, after her expected Florida landfall and march across Georgia. (Hope you fellow Southeastern & Florida poetry folks are safe!)

Schools and government offices are closed here Friday. I checked battery supplies and such and helped another K-Mart shopper find the flashlights... (we'd both been aimlessly circling aisles in some sort of grocery cart ballet). There were some empty spots on the display wall, but we finally found some.

With all of this in mind, I stumbled into what I think is a gorgeous poem - maybe some of you know the poet? I did not, but am happy to discover her.


I used to love the run-up to a storm

by Melanie Braverman

I used to love the run-up to a storm, watching from the porch as the grown-ups hurried to bring things in, my mother rummaging through drawers for a flashlight, cursing: nothing was where it was supposed to be in our house. ...

Click here for the rest.


Then put on your rubber boots (or cowboy boots, you'll see...) and stomp on over to A Penny and her Jots for this week's Roundup. Thanks for hosting, Penny!

Stay safe, and wishing you and yours a good Labor Day Weekend.  Read More 
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Poetry Friday - a Taste of the 1920s with Amy Lowell



Greetings, Friends! Happy Poetry Friday. Not exactly sure how last week slipped sand-like through my fingers, but summer sometimes has that effect...

Speaking of such, I'm all about time today. Over at my art blog I have a short post about 1920s accents found on Etsy in our daughter's wedding a few weeks ago. So, time as in periods of time. That got me thinking about a book I recently bought, published in the '20s. I actually bought this one to read rather than to repurpose!

It's an edition of Amy Lowell's Pulitzer Prize-winning What's O'Clock (Houghton Mifflin Company). Isn't that a splendid title? It's from Shakespeare's King Richard III.

I'm a fan of Amy Lowell's - well, all those early 20th-Century imagists. She died in 1925, the year What's O'Clock was published, along with her biography of Keats.

I'm still exploring the poems, but because of my Lowcountry locale must share these two from the collection, as Charleston and Middleton Place (where my hubby and I stayed one weekend last fall) are just a bit up the road.


CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA


Fifteen years is not a long time,

but long enough to build a city over and destroy it.

Long enough to clean a forty-year growth of grass

            from between cobblestones,

And run street-car lines straight across the heart of

            romance.

Commerce, are you worth this?

I should like to bring a case to trial:

Prosperity versus Beauty,

Cash registers teetering in a balance against the com-

            fort of the soul.

then, to-night, i stood looking through a grilled gate

At an old, dark garden.

Live-oak trees dripped branchfuls of leaves over the

            wall,

Acacias waved dimly beyond the gate, and the smell

            of their blossoms

Puffed intermittently through the wrought-iron scroll-

            work.

Challenge and solution -

O loveliness of old, decaying, haunted things!

Little streets untouched, shamefully paved,

Full of mist and fragrance on this rainy evening.

"You should come at dawn," said my friend,

"And see the orioles, and thrushes, and mocking-

            birds

In the garden."

"Yes," I said absent-mindedly,

And remarked the sharp touch of ivy upon my hand

            which rested against the wall.

But I thought to myself,

There is no dawn here, only sunset,

And an evening rain scented with flowers.




[**NOTE/UPDATE: The Middleton Place poem below contains French references as well as words of sadness and of death. When I posted this on Thursday, it was before seeing reports of the extensive horror that occurred in Nice. Our hearts are, once again and much too soon, with the people of France.**]



THE MIDDLETON PLACE

Charleston, S. C.


What would Francis Jammes, lover of dear, dead

            elegancies,

Say to this place?

France, stately, formal, stepping in red-heeled shoes

Along a river shore.

France walking a minuet between live-oaks waving

            ghostly fans of Spanish moss.

La Caroline, indeed, my dear Jammes,

With Monsieur Michaux engaged to teach her de-

            portment.

Faint as a whiff of flutes and hautbois,

the great circle of the approach lies beneath the

            sweeping grasses.

Step lightly down these terraces, they are records of

            a dream.

Magnolias, pyrus japonicas, azaleas,

Flaunting their scattered blossoms with the same bra-

            vura

That lords and ladies used in the prison of the Con-

            ciergerie.

You were meant to be so gay, so sophisticated, and

            you are so sad,

Sad as the tomb crouched amid your tangled growth,

Sad as the pale plumes of the Spanish moss

Slowly strangling the live oak trees.


Sunset wanes along the quiet river.

the afterglow is haunted and nostalgic,

Over the yellow woodland it hangs like the dying

            chord of a funeral chant;

And evenly, satirically, the mosses move to its inef-

            fable rhythm,

Like the ostrich fans of palsied dowagers

Telling one another contendedly of the deaths they

            have lived to see.




And, finally, of course I must share a few gems from

TWENTY-FOUR HOKKU ON A MODERN THEME

(Hokku technically refers to the first verses of a renga. We would say "haiku" now, and it could be argued some of these are more "haiku-like." The imagists were influenced by Japanese poetic forms.)


            I

Again the lakspur,

Heavenly blue in my garden.

They, at least, unchanged.



            XIX

Love is a game - yes?

I think it is a drowning:

Black willows and stars.



            XXIV

Staying in my room,

I thought of the new Spring leaves.

That day was happy.




Thanks for spending YOUR time meandering through Amy Lowell poems over here today.

Please visit our Chief Rounder-Upper and wonderful poet and teacher herself, Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for today's Roundup.

[--& HUGE congrats this week to our own Irene Latham, who was just awarded the International Literacy Association (ILA) Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award! Also - still celebrating our own Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, recipient of the first Lee Bennett Hopkins SCBWI Poetry Award this spring. So much talent throughout these Poetry Friday rounds....] Read More 
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Poetry FROGday - a Student Poem Postcard and More...


Rrrribbittt!

That’s amphibian for, “So glad you’re here!”

I’m delighted to share one of Jone MacCulluch’s 2016 student “poem postcards” today. If you’re not familiar with Jone’s terrific project, each year during National Poetry Month (April), folks can email media specialist/poet/Cybills volunteer, and all-around wonderwoman Jone to receive an illustrated poem from one of the students at her Vancouver, Washington, elementary school. Last week, Jone posted about this projects ‘ripple effects’ here.

Glad to share another ripple from an appreciative recipient!

Please celebrate with me Dakotah’s fine work, pictured above.


                       Fantastic frog
                  I am as slimy as a slug
        Jumping gliding swimming are ways I move
                I can live seven to nine years
                     Rana catesbeiana



Dakotah L.
3rd Grade



SO much to love about this poem and illustration. First, don’t you love both the poetic imagery and the scientific information presented so seamlessly here? Dakotah’s attention to structure, her syllable count and line length, but not at the expense of the poem itself? And, how brilliant is it to use the Latin name for bullfrog as a lyrical last line?!

Then there’s the art. Take a look at the wonderful facial expression on our dear bullfrog, and the hat! I love that hat. The cattails are beautiful, and the composition of the whole picture works wonderfully, with strong lines leading our eyes into and out of the poem and around all the elements.
Congratulations to Dakotah on a terrific piece!

Here’s a link to some National Geographic info about the American bullfrog.

As I prepare this post, we’re in the midst of a yearly occurrence around these parts, especially with all the recent (& current) wet weather. We have a cute plague of baby toads hopping all over yards and sidewalks. Zillions of them it seems. (That’s one on my hand in the picture.) And crazy choruses from the swampy low areas to the tops of trees at various times of the day and evening. Is this a springtime event in your corner of the world?

Not sure if these wee ones were frogs or toads (I found opposing opinions online), I did what any Poetry Friday hanger-outer would do: I emailed our own Buffy Silverman. Of COURSE she knew right away. In fact, she wrote a whole book on it! (I should have figured.)

Buffy says:

          That cute little critter is a toadlet (American toad.) We have swarms of them too, but ours are still in the toadpole stage. (HA! “toadpole”....) To be accurate, frogs and toads are really not distinct biological groups, more groupings that we use in common names.

(Hold on a sec. Let us pause, close our eyes, and delight in the word, “toadlet”.… Yep – it is in the Oxford Dictionary.)

When Buffy hosted Poetry Friday last month, she included some great pictures and an original poem paying homage to her own resident noisy toads. Here’s the link in case you missed it.

She also shared a couple of links for further hops into this field. This one from Animal Diversity Web tells us more about the little fellow on my fingers in the picture. (Did you know an American toad can eat up to 1,000 insects in one day?!) And this link at Wonderopolis explores the frog/toad question. Enjoy!

Then catch yourself a lily pad and glide on over to Margaret’s for this week’s Roundup at Reflections on the Teche. Something tells me she knows a few things about frogs and toads over there in Louisiana.

Many thanks to Dakotah, Jone, and Buffy for contributing to this fun froggy (toady) post today!  Read More 
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Poetry Friday - EVERY DAY BIRDS and Extra Credit Q&A with Amy LV!


Dear Poetry Friends,

Such a special treat today – No April Foolin’! If you’re a Poetry Friday regular, you know that our own Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is fluttering around with a beautiful brand-new book, EVERY DAY BIRDS, published by Orchard/Scholastic. If you’re a PF newbie, Welcome!

I’m one of those lucky ducks who can call Amy friend, as well as poetic inspiration in human form. You can learn more about Amy and her work here. And in case you haven’t heard… her debut poetry picture book, FOREST HAS A SONG, illustrated by Robbin Gourley (Clarion) just won the inaugural SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award!

EVERY DAY BIRDS, her second picture book for young readers, offers a closer look at many common birds, brought to colorful life with papercut illustrations by Dylan Metrano. Kirkus calls it “beginning birding at its best.” Here's a taste:


Hawk hunts every day for prey.

Cardinal flashes fire.

Woodpecker taps hollow trees.

Crow rests on a wire. …



Click around the Kidlitosphere and Poetry Friday blogs, and you’ll find lots of love for this book. Amy’s post celebrating its lift-off ihere. I thought it wouldt be fun to ask Amy just a few “Extra Credit” questions inspired by EVERY DAY BIRDS to give us a peek behind the scenes of her life poetic. Here we go!

Amy’s Extra Credit Q&A


Early bird or night owl?

I am a night owl who is trying to be an early bird!

Hummingbird drinks flower nectar. Coffee, tea, or something else for you?

Tea. I have a glass teapot, and my children and I enjoy trying all different kinds of tea, from flowery tea to fruity tea to herby tea. I like the varied colors of teas brewing, and holding a warm mug in my hands feels so cozy. This said, I am always happy to go out for coffee with a friend. And since I live in chilly Western New York, I am a fan of hot cocoa (lots of whipped cream) too.

Are you more chirpy bluebird or boisterous blue jay?

People often think of bluebirds as cheerful creatures, and I am a cheerful soul. To be truthful, though, I can also be bossy as a blue jay.

Chickadee wears a black cap. What’s your favorite hat?

My current favorite is a new crazy bird hat, a superb gift from Librarian Jim Worthington. I cannot stop laughing when I wear it because the birds’ wings flap on springs. Someone told me that she could not take me seriously in this hat, and I like this idea of not being taken too seriously.

In addition to being a poet, you’re a traveling speaker and teacher. How many times a year do you fly?

I try not to fly too frequently as I love being in my nest with my nest mates, but I do take three or four sky-trips each year.

Gull stares at the sea. What do you stare at when you are waiting for inspiration to strike?

Sometimes I stare out my window and sometimes into deep nothingness. Sometimes I stare at my empty paper and sometimes into my own head.


Thank you to my friend-with-the-beautiful-bird-name-Robyn for inviting me to your blog home today. I am a big fan of your work. xo, a.


Thank YOU, Dear Amy, for lighting on a branch over here this week to spread your sunshine!

For more great poetry sure to have you soaring, wing it on over to Amy’s home turf, The Poem Farm, where she happens to be our gracious host ringing in National Poetry Month today. Her blog is also celebrating its sixth anniversary this week. I’m sure there are still some cake crumbs around… (Which, by the way, Mr. Cornelius might find as he visits blogs for Jama’s roundup of National Poetry Month special events here, including links the 2016 Kidlit Progressive Poem organized by Irene.) Read More 
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Poetry Friday - Margarita Engle's "Young and Old Together"



I know there’s snow on the ground in some parts (my future son-in-law sent a picture from a north Georgia Thursday evening), but trees and flowers are beginning to bloom here at the coast. Folks are either digging in the dirt already or browsing seed catalogs, depending on zip codes.

So today I have a simple share – a beautiful poem by Margarita Engle found in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science (Pomelo Books). You might say it’s about gardening, or about radishes - and there are some great veggie-inspired "Take 5" activities in the anthology - but it’s also about so much more…



Young and Old Together


I love to help Grandpa in his garden,
planting tiny radish seeds
so we can watch the swift growth
of leaves and stems,
like green towers
on top of
tasty
red
roots.



And in Spanish, also in the anthology:


Jóvenes y Viejos Juntos


Me encanta ayudar a mi abuelo en su jardin
sembrando semillitas de rábano
parar mirar cómo crecen tan rápido
las hojas y los tallos,
como torres verdes
encima de
sabrosas
raíces
rojas.



©Margarita Engle. All rights reserved.


This poem makes me smile, the way it celebrates a tender relationship between grandfather and grandchild. I imagine the grandfather wondering at “the swift growth” of his “nieto” or “nieta”!

My thanks to Margarita for sharing this poem with us today. If you are not already a fan, please seek out her work! She’s won multiple Pura Belpré Awards and Honors. She’s also the recipient of Américas Awards, Jane Addams Awards and Honors, International Reading Association Award, the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and many others.

Just this year, Enchanted Air won the Pura Belpré Author Award, was selected as YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist, and won a Walter Award Honor from We Need Diverse Books.

Her Drum Dream Girl, illustrated by Rafael López ,won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award! It also won the Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book writing of 2015, was selected as Asian Pacific American Library Association Children's Book Awards Honor, is an Amelia Bloomer Top 10 of 2016 and a 2016 Notable Book for a Global Society, International Literacy Association

And, just a week and a half or so ago, Enchanted Air received the 2016 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award , granted by Penn State University Libraries, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, and Lee Bennett Hopkins!

We are all richer for Margarita’s mind, heart, and pen.


Here’s wishing you and your garden a hearty, poem-filled spring… Enjoy more inspiration with our wonderful Linda, rounding up today at Teacher Dance.  Read More 
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