It's been a good long while since I've posted here,
but I'm so excited to share that my newest picture book releases today!
THINK BIG, illustrated by the vivid and imaginative Vanessa Brantley Newton,
is a celebration of all things art. And when I say all things I mean all things.
(Including cooking? Yep.
Pottery, writing, drawing, song? Yep yep yep yep.)
If you want to know more about the how's and why's of that, here's a guest post I did at Cynsations today, thanks to the graciousness of author extraordinaire Cynthia Leitich Smith!
(And you should definitely pop over there if you'd like a copy of THINK BIG because there's a giveway!!! Wahoo!)
And if you'd like to know what the kind folks at Kirkus think of the book, you can have a look here. (That mention of Glee is, surely, the closest I'll ever get to having a TV show of my own so yay for that!)
But, blah blah blah and linkety link.
What I REALLY want to say is this.
It is summer. There are kids on vacation all over, at least, the northern hemisphere.
And there is a lot of competition for their attention.
Video games, blockbuster matinees, swimming and sleeping in and reading for pleasure.
There are also just an endless array of fun, creative, self-inspired artistic opportunities at their fingertips.
Maybe they'll make a pinata!
Or learn how to finger-knit!
Or write and direct and perform a play (like the truly renown Mystery at Palm Hotel I did with my cousins about 35 years ago).
Whatever it is, I hope you'll let them make a mess, make some noise and THINK BIG!!!
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It's been a good long while since I've posted here,
Well, it's been awhile since my beloved Poetry Sisters and I
have banded together to make merry.
Life, as you know, interferes.
But as we chatted during National Poetry Month,
we thought of an easy way to rectify that:
We worked together on a renku -- a string of haiku and 2-lined stanzas -- linked seasonally and semantically.
Andromeda debuted it on her blog this morning and I'm going to share it here, too:
The Poetry Sisters' Daisy Chain
fall leaf in April
wearing last season's fashions--
shunned by the green crowd lps
nature’s first green is gold
progeny emerge in flame aj
white melts into green
gardens blush Crayola proud
blooming shades of spring tsh
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On Friday, I left home at 5:00 a.m., drove to Houston,
did a full day's school visit and drove home again.
It was not the most haiku-ish day, if you know what I mean.
Which is why my piece for that day is about ... coffee.
First sip burns bitter
and still I take another.
Black sky grows milky.
And then it was the weekend.
I just love weekends.
And spring break.
And summer break.
I would rather have my kids knocking around here a bit than rushing off every morning like the world's a'fire.
A bare foot dangles,
feather duvets swell, settle.
Who says it's morning?
girl with basketball
dad with good time on his hands
Today is Monday, in case you hadn't heard....
like swimming cross-wise
each stroke long, effortful
until I give in
Each turn of the wheel
spokes fly and land, fly and land.
Am I bird or boot?
Dreams are weird sometimes.
The fan churns the air
Imagine sleeping outdoors,
birds on your pillow
Oh, blow me down.
We have had a true braided-string of crazy at our house this past week.
Some biggish hurdles, some little Murphy's Law-type stuff.
But all put together in one big pile, sheesh, it was enough to make me a little dizzy.
So, one casualty has been my blogged haikus.
Partly because we were down a computer (that was one of the Murphy's Law-type issues) and partly because I just could not make the time to make it happen.
BUT. The good news???
I still wrote a haiku each and every day in the notebook next to my bed and I'm going to post them all now.
And I have high, high hopes that this next week will go as planned, one haiku at a time.
Thinning out the garden plot
What goes next to what?
Running in the dark
Each step is an act of faith
The trail trips me up
12-day old baby
downy head against my neck
Is this a cliche:
"a tulip like a girl's skirt"
even if it's true?
Most things are better
in a boat, on the water
Spider thinks so, too
Cat in the garden
The wind shakes the old oak clean
Cat in the catkins
Wind chimes, crisp blue sky --
Is there a wrong side of bed?
The squirrel still complains.
springtime on the porch
each strand of wind like a string
sweetheart with guitar
bare branch without blooms
my ring is at the jeweler's
and I miss it so
For days now,
our Tall One's been suffering through
a late season flu.
I'm aching for her...
her fever rages
each soft cheek a burning bush
cool cloth can't slake fire
Today I read to 40-some kids in a grocery store in San Antonio, with a lovely mom-blogger next to me reading the same books in Spanish, and everyone happily munching on Cheerios the whole time.
You probably know already that the good folks at General Mills pair up with the good folks at First Book every year to get millions of books out to millions of kids via their breakfast cereal boxes. And I did say millions. Wow. This is the 10th year of the really smart and generous Spoonful of Stories campaign, and I am so honored to have been a part of it twice -- with All the World and Noodle & Lou.
It is powerful recognition that books feed children and help build whole and healthy people. What's not to love?
kids like little birds
choosing each O carefully,
making nests of books
We were lucky enough to be invited to the most lovely, organic, outdoor Passover Seder on Friday night. Lucky especially since we're not at all Jewish.
But these friends take their generosity seriously, so there we were -- sitting at one of four long tables -- a peach tree heavy with fruit on one side -- a buffet laden with love on the other -- and scripts.
We read around and around the tables -- those who know Hebrew and those who don't, the young and the old, the shy and the dramatic. The words were punctuated by song -- from gospel to reggae -- all live -- and sips of wine and bits of matzah along the way.
egg, wine, bitter greens
we are the mixed multitudes,
we have time to rise
right outside our class tonight
Focus flits and shifts
ginger and garlic
I know of other flavors
but why mess with these?
Bon appetit, my friends.... Read the rest of this post
I'm doing laundry
The birds sing like it is spring
They don't know I'm here
The trash truck rolls past
How could we forget again?
While I'm writing a haiku everyday this month, I'm trying not to be online much over the weekends, so I'll usually post my Saturday and Sunday poems on Monday.
Thus, this post:
creek water running --
is the drought really over?
all the birds say yes
that big, fat, full moon
echoed in the yolks of eggs;
breakfast's a fresh start
We're nearing the end of the first week of National Poetry Month.
Today's my day to catch up on reading what everyone else is writing and sharing -- and you can, too, by going to Read, Write, Howl for Poetry Friday, by signing up for Knopf's Poem-a-Day or Poem-a-Day from the Academy of American Poets, and by turning up your speakers and enjoying poetry read aloud at the Poetry Foundation.
Personally, my yearly April pleasure is a daily haiku. It is both very manageable and very intentional, and I find myself thinking about words and lines and turns and surprises throughout the day. This morning, for example, started early for me and my sweet new pooch. Just us and the moon and a few haiku...
Haiku 6 (plus 2)
moon hung like a prop
stretches shadows long and dark;
dog raises hackles
blossoms on the street --
pup thinks they might be tasty
but they're for the birds
who tipped the trashcan --
fat raccoon with kits to feed?
We have a teen and a pre-teen at our house.
We think they're both pretty amazing.
Thoughtful, funny, smart...
Tender, creative, full of heart...
I mean, we've always thought that and they've just spent the past 11-13 years confirming it all.
Somedays, they reveal new stuff.
And we glimpse not just who they are, but who they're becoming.
Last night my teen and I went together to a memorial service for a classmate of hers who died after 10 courageous years of navigating the craziness of Cancerland. He was way too young, and the hillside was full of middle schoolers holding little white candles and crying openly. It was the most painful and beautiful thing.
And there was my girl, 13 years old and taller than I am, tears streaked down her cheeks, walking right up to Liam's mother afterwards -- having never met her before -- to say something -- I couldn't hear what -- and to hug her. And then we drove home, holding hands, and she proceeded to do hours of homework and to bake hotcross buns, of all things, until the wee hours of the morning.
I have spent most of my life trying to figure out how to hold the good, the bad and the determined in my singular self, and my daughter, less than a third my age, is integrating it all, sage-like. I am pretty much in awe.
Hair like a curtain
Hiding from math or from me?
She looks up, moon bright.
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Some things that sound good:
arugula and chocolate.
What? It's my birthday!
Gratitude 19 -- Tuesday
My kids love school but boy-oh-man am I grateful for winter break.
Exchange a few candy canes, hug the teachers, and hit the road.
We are ready for a new pace for a couple of weeks.
A lazy pace.
The end of alarm clocks.
An emphasis on card games. And naps. And giggling.
Gratitude 20 -- Wednesday
The word grateful isn't really big enough to encompass how I feel when my husband gets a clean CT scan.
Cancer's in the rearview mirror.
So grateful... Read the rest of this post
Thursday, Gratitude 21
I am grateful for air travel.
Even after boarding zillions of planes, multiple flights every single year of my life, I cannot believe that I can hop on a plane in Austin, Texas, in the morning and -- by that afternoon -- be bowling with cousins in Wisconsin. It's kind of a Christmas miracle, isn't it?
It brings to mind this video that I think we should all watch now and again.
Everything really is amazing.
Friday, Gratitude 22
And speaking of those cousins.
Wow. I'm blessed with extended family that isn't actually all that extended.
We're tight, intimate, and so interested in and amused by and happy with each other.
The whole slew of us.
And if that's not enough, I'm blessed with that kind of family on both my maternal and paternal sides -- aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews scattered the globe over but there for each other in all the most important ways.
I love you guys...
Saturday, Gratitude 23
I'm sitting here looking at a nearly-frozen lake and a dusting of snow. My Tall One is baking a cranberry-apple pie. Yesterday there were two hikes, multiple hops in and out of the hot tub, lots of reading, a couple of naps, and some Christmas carols.
I love vacation.
I love tradition and I love twists on tradition.
I love lights and trees and big meals and I really, really love holidays.
I know Christmas can cause stress and shopping mania and over-commercialization and all that.
But it can also give us a really good excuse to gather, to pause, to celebrate goodness.
May you all, in whatever tradition you live and belong, enjoy the spaciousness of this season....
When you have children, nobody asks you if you're prepared to help with biochemistry homework.
(Or even if you know how to change a diaper, but you figure that out.)
(Nobody asks an author if she's prepared to become a marketing guru,
or a teacher if she's ready to double-up as a therapist, but there you go.)
Before long, we find ourselves doing what we weren't prepared to do because we have to.
Covalent bonds and ionic bonds and the families that make up the periodic table.
I sit there, wishing it would all come flooding back, but it doesn't -- it's as if I've never seen these words before, I learn from scratch with my daughter, and thank goodness for Google and friends who are scientifically savvy, thank goodness the 13-year-old goes off to school today prepared to take her science test.
Often I Imagine the Earth
Read the rest here.
Visit Poetry Friday here.
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I talk to my kids about feeling -- and recognizing -- their own feelings.
I talk to my students about writing emotional truth -- and how that's often more important than "fact".
I believe in emotional authenticity.
And paying attention to what we feel.
I believe that what we feel matters.
As an adolescent and a teenager, I put up all sorts of walls.
Actually, I put up walls inside of fences behind curtains.
(I probably only effectively hid things from myself, but there you go...)
It seemed like the thing to do.
(There were a lot of "messages" out there.)
But one of the great joys of being over 40 is wearing my heart on my sleeve.
Pouring stuff out -- on the page or around the dinner table.
My kids think of me as a crier.
And they're right...
Read the rest here....
And read all the other wonderful Poetry Friday entries here...
Happy weekend, friends.
Namaste. Add a Comment
Today it is April -- my favorite month of the year.
Because of birthdays -- my own and my sweetheart's.
And because of the weather.
And because National Poetry Month offers up an excuse to write and read poetry round the clock.
Welcome to another year of daily haikus.
Join me -- either as a reader or, write your own!
It will make you happy, I promise...
When you've been in a long, deep drought, the earth responds with the most incredible giddy vigor when it finally rains.
We've had nice easy soaks a number of times this winter and now it is a riotous, colorful spring.
Flowers push through every fence and line the highways; folks wear them tucked into baseball caps and lapels.
But, also flourishing?
And backyard bamboo.
weeds sprout overnight
green grass yellows with pollen
I am my yard's fool
A few of you have messaged me asking for a quick little refresher on the art of haiku.
I think we might need to be Japanese to truly understand and embody the form, but here are the basics on the English variation:
1. Three lines, often (but not always) of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables again. The syllabics rule is a strictly Western one, but I like to use it to give me some defined parameters to work within. Some people just prefer to think of haiku as "breath-length," which is lovely, too.
2. The use of a kigo, or seasonal reference -- or some awareness of the natural world.
3. The use of a kireji, or cutting word, or a turning point or juxtaposition or a-ha moment. This often happens at the end of the first line or the second line and, in English, this is also where we may employ punctuation -- a colon or semicolon or an em dash, for example.
4. Each line usually stands alone as a complete thought or grammatical phrase, rather than flowing over into the next line.
If you love the idea of the brevity and shape, but don't want to write about cherry blossoms for a month, you can write some haiku and some senryu, which is a very similar form emphasizing human nature and relationships.
And, all that said, for me, a month of haiku isn't so much about precise alignment with these "rules", but rather a practiced attentiveness and ritual. If you choose to join me, either one day this month or 30, I encourage you to use the guidelines that work for you -- that make this experience accessible and meaningful and right...
And now, without further babble, today's poem:
cat and cardinal
stock-still stare-down til cat wins
back to nonchalance
(Inspired by my dog and her Kong)
good old days gone by
sheep herding, hunting, roping;
pup still works for food
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