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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Simple, Poetic Holiday Gems...


It's been a week... a year, in fact, if you want to know the truth. Some years are like that!

Since posting about the loss of Beaufort's Bennett last week, we swung to the other side of the emotional spectrum with a visit from son Seth, who found out while here that he got into Emory's Candler School of Theology for next year, with good scholarship news as well.

And then, Thursday, we had to say goodbye to the kitty Seth had gotten as a young boy. Lancelot had a good, long life, but it's never easy parting with a beloved four-legged family member.

My recent weeks have also been filled with artsyletters orders, so that's been great - but busy. As I'm still toting around a boot for the Achilles I re-injured last summer, some things just didn't get done this holiday season. Postcards instead of actual cards. And, written on the ones to folks I usually send little holiday goodies to, just a note saying, "Packages aren't happening this year - but sending love."

My hubby set up the tree after Seth got here, and Seth hung some ornaments. I was still hanging after he drifted out of the room. At some point I looked at the tree, looked down at the ornament box, and back at the tree. Despite the fact that several ornaments were still inside the box, I closed the lid. The tree was full enough, for this year anyway.

I finally just bought ingredients and loaf pans for cranberry bread. Maybe it will get made. Maybe some loaves will be given away. And maybe another reason I gave myself a pass on the home front is that we'll be travelling - three little trips - in and out this holiday season to see family, rather than hosting folks here.

So in the spirit of less-is-more because that's all I can manage this year, I went hunting for a simple holiday poem or two. I found a couple of gems in the 1952 edition of THE ARBUTHNOT ANTHOLOGY OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, a volume that my mother-in-law loaned me years ago and that somehow I still haven't quite returned....

Enjoy.


GLADDE THINGS

(Unknown)

Of gladde things there be four, ay four:
A Larke above ye olde nest blithely singing,
A wild Rose clinging
In safety to a rock, A Shepherd bringing
A Lambe found in his arms,
And Christmasse Bells a-ringing.


That makes me smile so!

And, because this time next week we'll be getting in from Hither and heading right back out the door to Yon, here's an early New Year's poem.


NEW YEAR'S DAY

by Rachel Field

Last night, while we were fast asleep,
      The old year went away.
It can't come back again because
      A new one's come to stay.



[Rachel Field lived from 1894 to 1942. She won the 1930 Newbery Medal for Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, and penned the gorgeous and beloved poem, "Something Told the Wild Geese."]

Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday season, and remembering those for whom holidays, and winter, are tough. The solstice is just behind us now, so on toward the light of a New Year! (See you in two weeks.)

Follow the light to this week's Roundup, graciously hosted by our beloved Buffy.
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Poetry Friday - Step On Over to Lisa's for the Roundup

Howdy, All - Working overtime with the elves in the shop again this week! (I'll even list a few new jewelry items in coming days, for procrasti- er, I mean, last-minute shoppers! ;0) ) Please visit Lisa over at Steps & Staircases for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup. Jingle jingle!
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Poetry Friday - Young America by Julia M. Dana


Poetry Friday Greetings!

This week, the news left me feeling heavy, again, and dashing off yet another letter to a Senator, explaining that while I appreciate his email survey/solicitation of feedback re. the tax bill, none of that will matter an iota if a big chunk of the world gets blown up because of recklessness. Maybe not quite enough sleep has me overreacting.

I craved something lighter to share, and stumbled upon this offering, one of the "brilliant gems of song" in my book, Among the Poets - The Best Poems by the Best Authors, selected by A. A. Smith (J. A. Ruth & Co., Philadelphia and Chicago, 1886). The book makes me smile, with its ornate cover, fancy type, and still-shiny gilded edges. It's one of the few in my studio that's safe from my, um, repurposing....

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the poem, which I found uncomfortably relevant. Make of it what you will. [I was not able to uncover biographical details about the poet except other publishing credits, some in children's publications. But if Julia were around today, I'd love to meet her for tea!]


           Young America
            by Julia M. Dana

"Come hither, you madcap darling!"
      I said to my four-year-old.
Pray what shall be done to the bad, bad girl
      Who will not do as she's told?
Too well you love your own wee way,
      While little you love to mind;
But mamma knows what is best for you,
"And isn't she always kind?"

So I told her of "Casabianca,"
And the fearful burning ship.
"Do you think," said I, "such a child as that
      His mother would have to whip?"
And my heart went out with the story and
      of the boy so nobly brave,
Who would not dare to disobey,
      Even his life to save.

Then her eyes grew bright as the morning,
      And they seemed to look me through.
Ah - ah, thought I, you understand
      The lesson I have in view.
"Now what do you think of this lad, my love?"
      Tell all that is in your heart."
"I fink," she said, "he was drefful good,
      But he wasn't the least bit smart."




Note - The poem "Casabianca" recounts a story (based on a historical incident) of the young son of a French commander, who would not abandon his post when the ship caught fire without a command from his father, and - died. Wikipedia says the poem was standard fare for schoolchildren in the UK and the US for a hundred years, until the 1950s. (Whew - I was barely spared by a decade or two!)

Speaking of tea, wouldn't you know Mary Lee at A Year of Reading has some ready for us, over at the Roundup? Thanks, Mary Lee!
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Poetry Friday - Little Bits & Leftovers (Found Poetry Ornaments)


Happy Post-Thankgsgiving!

I hope you and yours had a warm and wonderful holiday together. As some face empty chairs at the table, or empty pockets, and as we often cringe to turn on the news, shared times of celebration are to be especially savored.

As are leftovers! Today I have some little bits to share which don't add calories. In recent years, I've been able to find great little gold frames to use for found poem ornaments for my Etsy shop, but they are elusive. This year I found some silver(ish) photo frames made the same way, but they're a bit rough around the edges. They are lightweight - aluminum? - and they have scritches and scratches, particularly at the tops.

No matter - I had to conjure up a few ornaments with them anyway. Two regular sized ones; two tiny ones, for now. (I finished listing these while traveling, and one listing got swallowed up in some cyber black hole on Etsy. I'll get it posted later Friday after I'm back.[Update - fixed now!])

I used vintage stamps for the images on one side of these, and found poems/phrases clipped from GOLDEN DAYS For Boys and Girls, Vol. XVIII -- No. 6, December 26, 1896, (and one from January 22, 1898) [Philadelphia: James Elverson, Publisher] on the others.

The first is my wish for this season:

kind,
indulgent
Christmas Eve
People
everywhere.


It has a postage stamp with a classic painting of the nativity on the back. I'm not sure of its country of origin.

The second, from an article about making Christmas gifts:

you have made
beauty
perfectly
like
old gold and
scarlet


with a beautiful Australian Christmas nativity stamp on the reverse side, printed in a gorgeous red (on my handpainted verdigris background).

The third, a small one and the one temporarily lost on Etsy, has a Canadian Christmas stamp on the back - a jolly Santa! - and the following:

buried up
drifted
what fun it was
all bundled up



The fourth, also small, is perhaps my favorite. And I do hope you'll forgive/indulge me. The stamp side features a four-cent US postage stamp from 1977 which reads, "A Public That Reads - A Root of Democracy" (backed by the handpainted verdigris).

Here's the found text:

heathenish
Christmas
liberal


For this one, a quote by G K. Chesterton (1874-1936) floated in my mind: "Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly."

I've made lots of new magnets this year with letters and vintage literary stamps (new Emily D!), and I posted a bit of a magnet how-to on my artsyletters site. I also featured that Chesterton quote in my new artsyletters letter newsletter, and there's a sign-up button on the right at artsyletters.com. Seasonal only - I won't have my act together to conjure one up more often than four times a year! ;0) Here are links to my Etsy shop magnet section and ornament section. (Free shipping on orders of $25 & up this Black Friday through Cyber Monday!) ;0)

Whatever shape your own leftovers take - culinary or literary - I hope you have a relaxing and peaceful weekend before the whirlwind of December! Continue the poetic celebrating over at Carol's Corner, where Carol is Rounding Up and sharing Carole Boston Weatherford's SCHOMBURG: THE MAN WHO BUILT A LIBRARY.
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Poetry Friday - Head up to Canada & Pay a Visit to Jane!

Happy Poetry Friday! The elves are working me particularly hard in the studio this week, and I'll just be sign-posting to this week's roundup instead of offering a thoughtful post myself. (Next week, I'll feature some new found-poem ornaments and such that are almost done. Check in then as you're figuring out what to do with leftovers!)

Many thanks to Jane, our wonderful Raincity Librarian, for hosting today.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US, I'm deeply grateful for each of you in our Poetry Friday community. New folks always welcome! XO  Read More 
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Poetry Friday - Haiku by Liz and Yours Truly in ACORN



Greetings, Poetry Friends! For those in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you are having a lovely fall. Many recent weather challenges in parts of the US, I know.

Fall brings acorns, and if you are a serious fan of haiku, perhaps it should bring the haiku journal Acorn to your doorstep. When I first fell into the form, I fell in love with this gem of a journal. I enjoyed and studied it, and have been fortunate to have my own poems appear in it over the years.

Founded by A.C. Missias in 1998, Acorn was edited by Carolyn Hall when I discovered it. Susan Antolin took over editorial reins in 2012. The selective pocket-sized journal, with its simple layout and contributors from around the world, is published twice a year.

My poem in the current issue is one of several I've written after visiting our son, Seth, in Asheville. He is doing a service-year internship there with an urban ministry program which primarily serves those experiencing homelessness, as well as others in the community. After taking Seth out to breakfast one quiet Sunday morning, as we walked a few blocks back to our car, I was struck by the following image:


empty street
she stoops to pocket
a half-cigarette



©Robyn Hood Black
Acorn, No. 39: Fall 2017



This week Charlotte Digregorio asked if she could feature this poem as a daily haiku on her terrific Writer's Blog. (Thank you, Charlotte!)

(To simply move on from my poem without further explication, skip this wee paragraph.) Heavy-handed poetic devices are avoided in haiku, but subtle ones can be slipped in if they don't detract from the images. In this poem, I thought the consonance of "st" and "p" sounds worked, because the reader is stopped by them somewhat, as the subject stops to pick up a used cigarette. Also, the word "stoop" can carry more than one connotation. Its meaning as a noun might even come to mind, silently suggesting a resting place where an unhoused person might rest or sleep for a spell at the entrance to a building.

Back to Acorn...

I was delighted to see a poem by our own Elizabeth Steinglass in the current issue as well.

Liz is another big fan of the journal.

"I love holding a volume of Acorn in my hand," she says. "It's just the right size and the paper is beautiful, but in a subtle way that provides a perfect backdrop for the haiku."

In the way of haiku, hers is both timeless and timely. I believe many will find that it particularly resonates this week, so I leave you with her rich words.


hands cupped
around a fragile flame
candlelight vigil



©Elizabeth Steinglass
Acorn, No. 39: Fall 2017



(Thanks for sharing, Liz.) Love and light to those who especially need it this week.

One pocket of our Poetry Friday universe which always offers warmth and light is Jama's Alphabet Soup - Visit Jama today for both, and for the Roundup!
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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 - Go visit Brenda today!

GREETINGS, Poetry Friday friends! I am, in Irene's words, "living my poem" this week and need to skip my own post, as I'm finishing up a week of 20+ school presentations for Cobb County EMC/Gas South Literacy Week in Georgia. But I'm sharing lots of poetry with more than 2,000 kids. (The program involves a dozen authors; we will collectively reach 24,000 students.) If you missed commenting on my blog last week (below), there's still a few days to be entered into a random drawing for a copy of Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's POEMS ARE TEACHERS, compliments of Heinemann. :0). Please visit Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales for the Roundup this week - https://friendlyfairytales.com/  Read More 
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Poetry Friday - POEMS ARE TEACHERS author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, and a Giveaway!



As I pack up for a week of school visits in the Atlanta area next week, I am SO excited to be tucking in a brand-new, soul-enriching resource, POEMS ARE TEACHERS – How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres, HOT off the press this week from Heinemann. It is the result of the passion, creativity and smarts of our own Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm. A graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University, and a former 5th grade teacher, Amy is the author of picture books, professional works, and lots and lots of poems!

Each section of POEMS ARE TEACHERS includes a poem by a contemporary adult poet and two poems by students (grades 2 through 8). These are models exemplifying six topics: finding ideas, choosing perspective and point of view, structuring texts, playing with language, crafting beginnings and endings, and choosing titles. Of course, the poems are so rich that teachers and students will find cross-over examples of all kinds of techniques, leading to lively classroom discussions. And the book’s clear organization makes it easy to jump in and out according to specific objectives.

The quality of the poems by adults is a little breathtaking, with names you will surely recognize, including some familiar Poetry Friday contributors. I have to say, the student poems really choked me up (like “What Ifs” by Alex C., grade 8), or made me break out into helpless laughter (such as “A Bacteria Tragedy” by George M., grade 3). These and the other poems by young writers are honest and surprising and fully felt – terrific examples to share in any classroom. (Hats off to the teachers of these young writers.) Each student poem is presented in the author’s own handwriting, making the poetry personal and accessible.

Here’s a sample of a poem by a contemporary adult writer, Kristy Dempsey, in the “Writers Play with Language” section:


Rain Song

Rain taps out a rhythm,
a rapid skipping rhythm
a plitter-plinking, plopping,
hopping, bopping kind of beat.

It starts with just a drizzle,
a syncopated sizzle,
a sound that soon becomes a tune
as raindrops hit the street.

It sets my toes to tapping,
I’m twirling and I’m clapping,
Splashing, dashing, laughing
as I move my dancing feet.

Play the water music,
the thrilling, trilling music!
Spill the notes from every cloud,
DripDrop, PlipPlop. Repeat!


©Kristy Dempsey. All rights reserved. Used with permission. (Thanks for sharing, Kristy!)

Immediately following in “WORDS FROM THE POET,” Kristy says, …To me, all writing is made to be read out loud, to be heard and even performed! When I’m writing, both poetry and prose, you’ll find me tapping my hands or feet, dancing and jumping, and using my mouth and tongue to make sounds – almost like beatboxing – so I can listen to the rhythm of my words.

The book also offers a wonderful foreword by Katherine Bomer, and a heartfelt dedication to Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Ever Amy, the author encourages readers/users of this book to “fall in love first” with texts and poems, and then explore what techniques might be learned from the way those words are put together. The pages of this book are filled with play and with joy – I think lots of teachers will be falling in love! So happy Amy is joining us today for a behind-the-scenes peek.

Welcome, Amy! You are both an award-winning poet and a teacher of writing. How do your own poetic sensibilities inform your teaching?

Because I write and share regularly, I understand the terror associated with writing and sharing. So the more I write, the better I become at approaching young writers with gentleness. I know what it feels like to take a soul-risk, and so I work to listen carefully, to hear what is be most helpful to a writer now, be it encouragement or a tip.

How did the idea for this book come about? What is its own backstory?

Working in the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project office with Lucy Calkins back in the early ‘90s changed my life. During that time as a graduate student, I learned from many brilliant folks including Katie Wood Ray, Carl Anderson, Georgia Heard, and Isoke Nia. I got to carry Katherine Paterson’s backpack and listen in as great minds spoke to groups large and small. I heard gorgeous speeches and watched masterful teachers. Then, several years later, I met Lee Bennett Hopkins, my poetry teacher to whom this book is dedicated. My life changed again as I worked hard to write stronger, leaner poems. This book is a marriage of those two wonderful parts of my learning life.

No two students are the same, of course, but do you find students connect to poetry in a different way than they connect to other genres? (As readers and/or as writers.)

Poetry frees us. Many children and adults discover our beliefs and our voices through poems. Again and again, teachers share with me stories of students who did not connect - who even struggled - with other genres. But with poetry...their voices sang with rhythm, metaphor, and deep connection. Children know that poems are full of love.

What is an example of a bridge students can cross between poetry and fiction or nonfiction?

In poetry, we quickly see how repetition can tie stanzas and lines together. We speak often about repeating words and lines and sounds when we read poems. Yet we find repetition threading through narrative and information and opinion texts too: the recurring image, the last line echoing a first line, the surprising yet perfect alliterative phrase. Standing just on one page, a poem can illuminate all kinds of writing techniques. And once we understand, we can bring these techniques with us; we can welcome them to seep into our prose.

You’ve had lots of experience writing poetry and educational texts. What were some of the delights and challenges of being an anthologist of sorts, working with so many different poets, teachers and students?

It was a gift! To be in touch with so many fabulous poets of all ages and so many wise teachers...this whole thing was a gift for me. But difficult, as I am a disorganized person. And difficult, too, because I have read and admire mountains of professional books. I was scared to do this - What if it didn’t work out? Aside from that, the hardest part was knowing when to stop. How many poems? How many explorations? How many words for each? For there’s no end to the possibility. Fortunately, there was a deadline. My amazing editor, Katie Wood Ray, and everyone at Heinemann was marvelous, making extra space and bigger pages to fit so much goodness from so many talented people. POEMS ARE TEACHERS is: one third poetry anthology, one third professional book, and one third celebration of student writing. I can’t believe it’s out in the world.

Thank you, my friend Robyn, for having me at your place today. I am so happy to be able to share your clever poem “Word Wanted” in this new book...and now I think I’ll go celebrate by shopping at artsyletters!


[She really did, and she insisted on keeping that in there. Thank you, Amy!]

Here’s my poem; I’m beyond grateful to have it included in this treasure of a book:


Word Wanted

POEM seeking just the right word.
Must dazzle when written, spoken or heard.

Slight words, trite words need not apply.
Precise and concise words, give us a try.

Regardless of your part of speech,
a noteworthy job could be within reach.

Endowed with sound second to none?
Potential for growth, if you are the one.



©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


But wait – there’s more! Heinemann has kindly offered to send a copy of POEMS ARE TEACHERS to one lucky reader of this post! Please leave a comment below by Tuesday, Oct. 31 (Boo!), and I’ll announce the random winner on that Poetry Friday. Many thanks to Heinemann, and bouquets of gratitude to Amy for visiting with us today.

Now, please enjoy ALL the instructive poetry this week over at A Day in the Life, where Teacher/Reader/Writer Leigh Ann has the Poetry Friday Roundup! (Thanks for hosting, Leigh Ann.)
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Poetry Friday - Haiku Old and New (Anthologies)



Happy Poetry Friday the 13th!

Are you a fan of Dover Publications? I seem to have a few in various bookshelves and stacks, including some at my studio with such titles as Masterpieces of Illuminated Letters and Borders and Florid Victorian Ornament, among others. While online recently, I came across a Dover Thrift Editions volume titled THE CLASSIC TRADITION OF HAIKU – An Anthology, edited by Faubion Bowers. At just $3 for a new copy, I couldn’t pass it up! I’m not sure how it had evaded my haiku shelves before.

Originally published in 1996, it includes a short foreword with a bit of history and explanation, and then more than 150 poems written between 1488 and 1902 by Japanese poets, with translations into English by more than 40 scholars. Often more than one translation is provided for a poem.

I am enjoying making my way through this slim volume!

Here is an autumn poem, translated by Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi:

akikaze no / yama o mawaru ya / kane no koe

the autumn wind
resounds in the mountain –
temple bell


Chiyo-ni (1703-1775), one of the few female haiku master poets of her time


You can find this paperback collection at Dover Publications or on Amazon , with online versions free or nearly free as well.

Speaking of anthologies, I’m also enjoying the new Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology for 2017, on down the road, edited by LeRoy Gorman. I don’t always have my act together to submit on time, but I did this year.
(Our own Jone Rush MacCulloch has a beautiful haiku in this collection as well.)

My poem seems timely right about now, so here you are:


sea fog
the ghost story
I almost remember


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Speaking of ghosts, in my studio I’m conjuring up several pieces of haunted jewelry and slowly getting them listed in my Etsy shop this Friday the 13th. Mwah haaa haaa. (Update - I made a separate little "haunted jewelry" section this weekend - Click here if you'd like to see!)

And one more thing about haiku anthologies - The Living Haiku Anthology is an ambitious, online project seeking to collect and present "all styles and approaches to haiku ... from a global perspective, for the benefit of those able to discern those true gems assurgent in the current foment," as described by Dr. Richard Gilbert, Professor, Graduate School of Social and Cultural Sciences, Kumamoto University, Japan, in his introduction at the LHA site. He adds, "Please reach out to other poets and let them know the LHA extends an open invitation to published haiku poets of all countries wishing to be presented and represented." I submitted several poems and my page was added this week. :0)

For all kinds of Friday the 13th fun, please visit our Irrepressible and Iridescent Irene, who is bravely rounding up this week!  Read More 
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