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Today I have the absolute honor and (as Esther would say) knee-buckling responsibility to write the last line of 2013's Progressive Poem. Yay! And yikes!
The brainchild of Irene Latham,
this Progressive Poem has been moving from blog to blog, growing poet
by poet, for 29 days until it's come here for one final line. For the
poem and a list of contributing poets, see below. .
At the end of a
month posting rough drafts of poems about dogs, I think you could say
that this, too, is a rough draft. As Laura Puride Salas says, it's
poetry improv. Yes, and a poetry game. It's been fascinating to
read the process of those who've proceeded me.
When I got the line by Denise Mortensen,
it's such a great line, I thought I should just write THE END. Then I
could talk about how a poet needs to know when to quit and when a good
line's a good ending. That would be funny. If only I had the courage!
But I don't. So off we go!
is the list of the poets who each contributed a line (in this space, some appear to be a line and then some, but they are all really one line each), and below their
names is the (yikes!) finished poem. Take a bow, poets!
BARNUM'S GREAT TRAVELING MUSEUM, MENAGERIE, CARAVAN, AND HIPPODROME* by Thirty Poets on a mission in the Kidlitosphere...see list above
When you listen to your footsteps
the words become music and
the rhythm that you’re rapping gets your fingers tapping, too.
Your pen starts dancing across the page
a private pirouette, a solitary samba until
smiling, you’re beguiling as your love comes shining through.
Pause a moment in your dreaming, hear the whispers
of the words, one dancer to another, saying
Listen, that’s our cue! Mind your meter. Find your rhyme.
Ignore the trepidation while you jitterbug and jive.
Arm in arm, toe to toe, words begin to wiggle and flow
as your heart starts singing let your mind keep swinging
from life’s trapeze, like a clown on the breeze.
Swinging upside down, throw and catch new sounds–
Take a risk, try a trick; break a sweat: safety net?
Don’t check! You’re soaring and exploring,
dangle high, blood rush; spiral down, crowd hush–
limb-by-line-by-limb envision, pyramidic penned precision.
And if you should topple, if you should flop
if your meter takes a beating; your rhyme runs out of steam—
know this tumbling and fumbling is all part of the act,
so get up with a flourish. Your pencil’s still intact.
Snap those synapses! Feel the pulsing through your pen
Commit, measure by measure, to the coda’s cadence.
You've got them now--in the palm of your hand!
Finger by finger you’re reeling them in—
Big Top throng refrains from cheering, strains to hear the poem nearing…
Inky paws, uncaged, claw straw and sawdust
Until… CRACK! You’re in the center ring, mind unleashed, your words take wing--
they circle, soar, then light in the lap of an
open-mouthed child; the crowd goes wild.
* * * * * * *
* Barnum's circus was originally called "P.T. Barnum's Great Traveling
Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome,"
which is pretty much what
our poem is. ("Greatest Show on Earth" was
added later...that's us, too!)
Baca has devoted his post-prison life to writing and teaching others who are overcoming hardship. His themes include American Southwest barrios, addiction, injustice, education, community, love and beyond. He has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in prisons, community centers, libraries, and universities throughout the country.
Welcome April, month of poetry!
from Healing Earthquakes (1989)
If it does not feed the fire
of your creativity, then leave it.
If people and things do not
inspire your heart to dream,
then leave them.
If you are not crazily in love
and making a stupid fool of yourself,
then stop closer to the edge
of your heart and climb
where you’ve been forbidden to go.
Debts, accusations, assaults by enemies
go where the fire feeds you.
Turn your attention to the magic of whores,
grief, addicts and drunks, until you stumble upon
that shining halo surrounding your heart
that will allow you to violate every fear happily,
be where you’re not supposed to be,
the love of an angel who’s caught your blood on fire
again, who’s gulped all of you in one breath
to mix in her soul, to explode your brooding
and again, your words rush from the stones
like a river coursing down
from some motherly mountain source,
and if your life doesn’t spill forth
unabashedly, recklessly, randomly
pushing in wonder at life,
then change, leave, quit, silence the idle chatter
and do away with useless acquaintances
who have forgotten how to dream,
bitch rudely in your dark mood at the mediocrity
of scholars who meddle in whimsy for academic trifles–
let you be their object of scorn,
let you be their object of mockery,
let you be their chilling symbol
of what they never had the courage to do, to complete, to follow,
let you be the flaming faith that makes them shield their eyes
as you burn from all sides,
taking a harmless topic and making of it a burning galaxy
or shooting stars in the dark of their souls,
illuminating your sadness, your aching joy for life,
your famished insistence for God and all that is creative
to attend you as a witness to your struggle,
let the useless banter and quick pleasures
belong to others, the merchants, computer analysts
and government workers;
you haven’t been afraid
of rapture among thieves
bloody duels in drunken brawls,
the essence of your soul work
as poems rusted while you scratched
at your heart to see if it was a diamond
and not cheap pane of glass,
now, then, after returning form one more poet’s journey
in the heart of the bear, the teeth of the wolf,
the legs of the wild horse,
sense what your experience tells you,
your ears ringing with deception and lies and foul tastes,
now that your memory is riddled with blank loss,
tyrants who wielded their boastful threats
to the sleeping dogs and old trees in the yards,
now that you’ve returned form men and women
who’ve abandoned their dreams and sit around
like corpses in the grave moldering with regret,
steady your heart now, my friend, with fortitude
long-lasting enduring hope, and hail the early dawn
like a ship off coast that’s come for you,
spent and ragged and beggared,
if what you do and how you live does not feed the fire
in your heart and blossom into poems,
leave, quit, do not turn back,
move fast away from that which would mold your gift,
break it, disrespect it, kill it.
Guard it, nurture it, take your full-flung honorable
heart and plunge it into the fire
into the stars, into the trees, into the hearts of others
sorrow and love and restore the dream
by writing of its again-discovered wild beauty.
Luz Maria Umpierre has wrought a legacy, a challenge, a history, a love letter, a sinuous and sentient record of personal identity, revealing the crosshatched scars and singing victories of a warrior, the yielding body and the body politic in "I'm still standing- 30 Years of Poetry -available through her website http://luzmaumpierre.com
"Luz Maria Umpierre is, quite simply, one of my heroes in a postmodern world that insists on ridding us of icons and pedestals in an attempt to level all people and institutions. Paradoxically, some institutions seem to merit such debasement when they never miss an opportunity to hound the historically marginalized and alternative voices out of the academy." Dr.Eric Pennington (Seton Hall)
She is an established scholar in the fields of Puerto Rican, Caribbean, Latina/o Studies, Poetry, and Gender Studies, with multiple publications in leading journals, including Hispania, Latin American Theatre Review, Revista do Estudios Hispánicos, Bilingual Review, Chasqui, Explicación do Textos Literarios, Chicana/Latina Studies and The Americas Review. Co-founder of the journal, Third Woman. Also published in internet journals, including La Acera, Diálogo Digital, Cruce and La Bloga.
Author of two books of literary criticism, ten collections of bilingual poetry, numerous book chapters and over 50 articles of literary criticism on Latin American scholars and writers from several generations, including a seminal article on writers and migration published in MELUS in 2002 and currently included in an anthology of essays in honor of Isabel Allende.
Her collected works and personal papers currently housed at De Paul University, Latina rare book collection housed at Bryn Mawr College.
She is recognized internationally as an authority on the interdisciplinary study of Literature, the Social Sciences, History and Language, especially regarding race, culture, gender identity and ethnicity. Complete list of publications available on request.
What do you believe is the purpose of poetry? The purpose of poetry is to liberate the spirit, our soul, so that it has a concrete expression that is palpable. And as Julia Alvarez said in one of my favorite poems of all times, to be able to say "Whoever reads this poem, touches a woman." I am hoping that I am quoting her correctly because my copy of her book is at my rare book collection at Bryn Mawr. I can and will accept to be corrected in my quote but not in my idea. LOL
What do you consider to be "Latino/a" themes? All themes are Latina themes. It is the vision or the approach we take as Latinas what gives them a sabor or authenticity that is ours. For example, many years ago I took Vanguardista poetry which was highly non-politicized and turned it into political poetry. From there, for example, emerged my Poemas Concretistas.
To say that there are Latina themes is to reduce us. Granted there are subject matters such as identity that we explore more than other groups of writers but I would not say that there are Latina themes and non Latina themes. All themes are human themes and that is overall the most important theme to me.
Describe the intersection of sexual identity and culture as it lives in your writing? I learned from Audre Lorde years and years ago that I cannot be asked to divide my Self into separate pieces of identity and ignore some in favor of others. That to me would be mutilation. I refuse to mutilate my rich identity for the sake of pleasing the eye of a beholder or for an aesthetics of a political correctdness of beauty. Thus all aspects of my identity and culture live in harmony in my works.
What would you say to critics of your lesbian-identified work? That they get a life and start living in the 21st. century. I never forced them to leave their heterosexist and nationalist macho agenda views through meanness, non inclusion or actual shuning. On the contrary, I questioned them publicly and made my dissenting opinions known to them. I did not go back stabbing them, making calls to bad mouth them into being denied jobs, I did not refuse to teach them in my classes. To the contrary, I included them because I wanted to have an open dialogue about difference. But "I'm Still Standing" as the only dancer on that inclusion floor because some of these people are so petty that they refuse to engage me in public and face to face or, as Lorraine Sutton marvelously said in one of her poems: "to cunt-front" me.
How has academia enhanced/impinged upon your creative process? They have always wanted to deny me a claim to my poetry as an academic achievement. However, I have not allowed them to infringe on my freedom to write. I have used my academic struggles precisely to question antics and tactics in academia and make fun, mock and criticize their elitism and snobbery.
Who are some authors who move you and why? Adrienne Rich, her book The Dream of A Common Language has been my Bible since the 1980s. Nemir Matos Cintron has poems in her collections A través del aire y del fuego pero no del cristal and in Aliens in NYC that have made me cry time and time again because of her portrayal of genuine human identity angst. I recently re/read a poem by Ana Castillo entitled: "I Ask The Impossible" and I am afraid that I ruined the Thai Lemon Tilapia dish that I was eating while reading it because I began to cry uncontrollably. I feel that we have all have wanted to be loved that way and her poem is a voicing of a human need that I had never read exposed in poetry. Lorde also moved me with some of her poems on women. Marge Piercy's book The Moon is Always Female has some of my favorite poems of all times because of her delving into what constitutes to be a strong woman. Julia de Burgos, of course she is part of our collective unconscious as Puerto Ricans. The theme of the river in her poetry and the sea attracts me.
What are some thoughts you would share with newer poetas/poetisas/Nuyorican poets? To remember that many people paved a path for them and they should be honored, not bullied, harassed, shunned and most importantly, not disrespected.
I think Puerto Rican poets of the younger generation have no respect towards their elders, their sages, those who broke a path for them now to enjoy. They are not like other Latina groups. I am marveled by the respect of Mexican Americans towards their wiser older Latinas/Latinos something that is totally lacking among young poets be they Puerto Rican or Nuyorican.
I would like to let them know that one day they will inevitably be older and if they do not change their ways and attitudes, they too will be the subject of disrespect.
What sustains your creative and spiritual longevity? The power to love, to find love, to see everything with fresh eyes, to be able to marvel at beauty and to be passionate about living. But also, as the poem says: "To be of use."
Does the place where you live fill you with inspiration? Is the view from your window of crashing waves, or a rugged clifftop, or maybe fields of poppies dancing in the breeze? No? Me neither. Just a view of houses and gardens, roads and pavements. Except there is inspiration there – in the street names.
The area where I live is called Poets Corner, where as you might guess, the streets are all named after poets. Amongst them we have Longfellow Road, Tennyson Road, Shelley Road, Keats Road, and various others who I have to admit I know little about, such as Meredith Road and Herrick Road.
Seeing as I walk or drive along these streets every day, I thought it only right to find out who these poets were. Obviously I'd heard of Longfellow, Tennyson, Shelley and Keats. But as to Herrick Road, I had to ask Google.
I discovered that Robert Herrick was a 16th century clergyman and poet who wrote more than 2,500 poems, which makes me feel slightly ashamed to say I hadn't even heard of him. I have now though and I've enjoyed browsing some of his work. Here's one of his short poems that you may not have read:
Four Things Make Us Happy Here
Health is he first good lent to men;
A gentle disposition then;
Next, to be rich by no by-ways;
Lastly, with friends t' enjoy our days.
We have an Omar Road too, named after the Persian scholar and poet Omar Khayyam. I knew the name but was amazed to learn that he was an 11th century writer – such a long time ago yet we all remember the name.
And then there's Lord Lytton Avenue. Research reveals that this was Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton a 19th century English statesman and poet. I was fascinated to also learn that he was the first person to use the phrase: "The pen is mightier than the sword". It was a line from his play Richelier.
And through checking him out on the good old internet I discovered that he also wrote under the name of Owen Meredith – which solves my query regarding who Meredith Road was named after. Two for the price of one here!
Under the pseudonym of Owen Meredith, one of Lytton's works was a 24 verse poem called Vampyre which I've copied and pasted into a file to read at length – possible inspiration for a scary story at some point, maybe. Here's the first verse:
Robert Bulwer Lytton
I found a corpse, with golden hair,
Of a maiden seven months dead.
But the face, with the death in it, still was fair,
And the lips with their love were red.
Rose leaves on a snow-drift shed,
Blood-drops by Adonis bled,
Doubtless were not so red.
And here's a verse that Lord Lytton penned under his own name:
A Night in Italy
Sweet are the rosy memories of the lips
That first kiss'd ours, albeit they kiss no more:
Sweet is the sight of sunset-sailing ships,
Altho' they leave us on a lonely shore:
Sweet are familiar songs, tho' music dips
Her hollow shell in thoughts's forlornest wells;
And sweet, tho' sad, the sound of midnight bells
When the oped casement with the night-rain drips.
Robert Bulwer Lytton
And to finish with, one from John Keats. We all know the opening line, but as for the rest of his poem I had long forgotten it.
A Thing of Beauty
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowers band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkn'd ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season, the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms;
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
And endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring into us from the heaven's brink.
Okay, so where I live is just an ordinary street which may not seem inspiring, until you delve a little deeper. How about you? Are there hidden depths behind where you live?
Okay, today is the final day of the poeming part of this challenge. Beginning tomorrow (if not already), you’ll begin the process of revising and assembling a 10-20 page poetry chapbook manuscript. Click here to review the guidelines.
Here’s Violet’s prompt: Write a milk poem. This could be about the moo-juice kind of milk. Or it could explore milk metaphorically, as in the expression “milk of human kindness.” Of course it could also be about the act of milking something. And no, it doesn’t have to be nourishing.
Robert’s attempt at a Milk Poem:
“The Final Poem”
The final prompt, the final day,
and here I am milking the situation
as if tomorrow won’t come, as if
it won’t bring more prompts, more
poems, more lines to break.
Recently on NPR's Science Friday there was a piece on how our many online social media opportunities raise a question about the multiple identities we all inhabit and how we present ourselves to the world. I think I'm what you might call a "casual user" of this technology, but even I am splintered across this blog and my static website, two accounts on facebook, LinkedIn and twitter (as yet unused), three email addresses (personal,"writer" and teacher), about a dozen listservs (three different usernames) and a charter school identity. And who knows how many sites (Evite, Groupon, amazon.com to name a few) think they know who I am and what kind of cookies I like?
But long ago--ten whole years and then some--before any of this, when most of us were pretty cutting-edge in having any email address at all, I considered redefining my poet self by writing under a pen name instead of under the same old scary-looking, mispronounceable Mordhorst (which, by the way, is spelled just the way it sounds and pronounced just the way it's spelled, so please don't say MordhUrst). I came back to poetry almost the minute my daughter was born (talk about identity crisis: "You are now Mommy"), and while taking workshops at the wonderful Writers' Center here in Bethesda, I started signing my drafts "Heidi Zingerline."
The new surname choice was totally legit and even served a historical purpose, I thought. My mother's maiden name is Zingerline and with only one set of cousins on her side of the family, both girls, the name is in danger of disappearing from use. Plus, how perfect is that for a poet--zinger-line? Get it?
Then I realized that there was no way to communicate all that information in a byline, and that anyone who didn't know that Zingerline was a real name, mine to use by rights, might see it as a cheesy joke. I briefly considered "Heidi Zingerline Mordhorst," but it's not like "Heidi Mordhorst" needs any further distinguishing feature--maybe, if I had been Lisa Smith my whole life, Lisa Zingerline Smith might have made some sense.
But what really changed my mind was a poem written by a fellow workshopper and instant friend from the Writers' Center. He arrived at a critique group meeting one week in 2000 with this to share, and now the only vestige of my flirtation with Zingerline is in my writer email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, Lawrence, for your faith in Mordhorst.
Nom de plume For "Heidi Zingerline," newly named
Mordhorst. A commanding sound -- so majestic! It could be a painting by Vermeer: View of Mordhorst.
Or a short story, no? One of Edgar Allan Poe's more fearsome inventions -- "The Fall of the House of Mordhorst."
to Visit Seattle in Honor of Women's History Month
Seattle Poetry SLAM * Seattle Central Community College Women in Society * Elliot Bay Book Company
March 1 & 2
Sonya Renee Taylor, easily one of the most distinguished, accomplished, and recognizable women in the world of Performance Poetry, will be performing in several events in the Seattle area on Tuesday, March 1st and Wednesday, March 2nd.
Sonya Renee Taylor will kick off her Seattle tour as featured poet at Seattle Poetry SLAM Tuesday, March 1, 2011 from 8:30pm-10pm at the Rebar.
On Wednesday March 2nd, Sonya Renee will be the guest lecturer at Seattle Central Community College’s Women in Society Lecture Series. This is a free event and open to the public, and is scheduled in conjunction with the 3rd annual Free Women’s Health Fair at SCCC. Sonya Renee’s presentation will take place in BE-1110 from 12:00-1:50pm. The health fair runs from 9am to 2pm.
On Wednesday evening, Sonya Renee will give a reading of her poetry book, A Little Truth on Your Shirt (Girlchild Press, 2010) at Elliot Bay Book Company. The reading will take place from 5pm-6pm followed by a book-signing event.
So here I am, putting these songs out into the universe for everyone to hear, and I hope that you feel them and enjoy them as much as I do.
Broke Wide Open "Unplugged"
March 12, 2011
Sandbox Studio*15 McGraw St*Seattle*98109
(Queen Anne Hill)
tix $10 at the door or pre-purchase at: http://www.brokewideopen.com/home.html
About Broke Wide Open
Broke Wide Open was born from one man's quest to search for answers to his identity. Luckily for us, this man is Rock Wilk; a beautiful soul, a skilled poet and musician. Initially produced as a musical journey in form of an album, the one-man play was created while riding on the NYC subway system and explored issues of identity stemming from his personal history as an adopted child. A man who grew up with great admiration of, and love for, his adoptive mother, and a mystery for his biological mother.
I tried to reveal myself, to strip down naked and open my personal window, to let you see who I am, in hopes that you might allow me into your world, briefly, one song at a time.
About Rock Wilk
An actor, a playwright and a poet, New York City's own Rock WILK is also a socially and politically charged vocalist and an accomplished multi-instrumentalist. He creates all of this art while riding the subways of NYC. Along with being a Nuyorican Poet's semifinalist and 2010 runoffs qualifier for The Nuyorican's national team, Rock also was recently a featured performer for Amnesty International at an event for human rights.
My father and my grandmother were both great storytellers. Just sitting around after a meal with them was a gift. You would hear the most amazing stories. They both had this ability to make you hang on every word, to make you laugh until you cried.
He has worked as a studio and touring background vocalist for many years, most recently singing with the legendary Patti LaBelle and contributing vocal and horn arrangements to the Grammy Award winning Les Paul compilation album, LES PAUL AND FRIENDS.
Rock's music can also be heard on such TV shows as MTV's "The Real World" and "Making The Band", among others.
La Bloga friend Vanessa Acosta of Cultural Arts Tours & Workshops will be sponsoring an extensive series of workshops and festivals for writers and artists. The first workshop event comes this weekend at Church of the Angels at 1100 Avenue 64, Pasadena, CA 91105.
Naomi Quiñonez, noted poet and scholar, conducts the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. workshop. Enrollment continues through the day of the event, but reservations strongly advised as Dr. Quiñonez prefers a small group and will close registration at 15 poets.
Writers who have been writing poetry and are comfortable with their voice and satisfied with their themes and style are encouraged to attend. The workshop will help writers develop their language use as a tool to create stronger and more powerful metaphors, symbolism and imagery and to create awareness of how language serves to establish tone, enhance themes and improve style.
For details, click the images below, or call / email Vanessa at 323.300.0060 / email@example.com .
Both of my daughters, pictured above, enjoy my crazy sense of humor, including puns. I have discovered through the years that many writers, especially poets, relish puns, and it makes perfect sense--since poets love playing with words:
1. Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married.The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent. 2. A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'llserve you, but don't start anything." 3. Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.
0 Comments on Poets Love Puns as of 12/7/2011 3:42:00 PM
1. CHILDREN’S ANTHOLOGY – Collaboration opportunity for writers and illustrators
An opportunity for children’s writers and illustrators to collaborate in an anthology of humorous stories has been created by bloggist Lyn Midnight [Violeta Nedkova]
Poets Corner is calling for submissions from poets and interest from artists for an anthology of illustrated verse to be called “Musings; A Mosaic”.
===CALL FOR SUBMISSION===
from poets around the world !
“Poets Corner” is coming up with an anthology of English original poems complemented with illustrative sketches, real soon.
Title of the Book: Musings : A Mosaic
About the Book:
Out of the entire submission best 45-50 poem will be selected and each one of them will be illustrated with a sketch by an artist .
Submission Date :
April-13-2012 – April-20-2012
Send to :
firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject of the mail should be MUSINGS-YOUR NAME, Poems should be in the body of email as no attachment will be entertained)
Editor (Poetry) :
Editor (Art) :
Please send ONE poem, of not more than 25 lines, and a brief note on the theme of the poem for the benefit of the artist. Please note that submission does not guarantee publication as the best 45-50 will be selected.
To Any Reader - Robert Louis Stevenson. Click READ MORE. As from the house your mother sees You playing round the garden trees, So you may see, if you will look Through the windows of this book, Another child, far, far away, And in another garden, play. But do not think you can at all, By knocking on the window, call That child to hear you. He intent Is all on his play-business bent. He does not hear, he will not look, Nor yet be lured out of this book. For, long ago, the truth to say, He has grown up and gone away, And it is but a child of air That lingers in the garden there.
Last week Poetry Friday passed me by entirely as I attempted to plan for the next 3 months, during which I will be writing (not entirely by myself) an approximately 200-page charter school application--all in a revolving series of poetic forms, beginning with the following limerick:
A girl with too much on her plate
begins before it is too late
to "publish" a school.
Is she a fool?
If not, the result will be great!
Just kidding--the application won't be written in poetic forms, but I hope there will be some poetry ribboning through our vision for a small K-8 school--Global Garden Public Charter School--that aims to educate the whole child in a way that our huge, factory-model public school system doesn't.
But what I really want to do this morning is start following the advice of Lee Bennett Hopkins, who wrote to me this week after we met at the NCTE Poetry Party in his honor. (He interrupted my cherishing of his tribute book and his autograph to say that he would cherish MY book and MY autograph--fancy that!)
So here's a little poem that's been around for a few years, visiting with children whenever I do workshops at this dark time of year. I've thought it was right just as it is, but Lee has got me reconsidering the "and"s and "the"s...
We Light a Candle
see how the wick waits
cold and curled
hear how the match scrapes
hiss and burst
see how the flame leaps
tongue leaf horn
now how the light creeps
comfort is born
Those "empty connectors" are important to the rhythm, but I'm going to try reworking the poem without them and see what happens. What is it with me and the challenges?
Poetry Friday is at Random Noodling with Diane Mayr... Can't get enough of "natural light" at this time of year, and if it's not sunlight, then I'll go for wood fire or candle flame or . Here's another source, by Kay Ryan, making me want to brush up on my hagiology.
He Lit a Fire with Icicles for W. G. Sebald, 1944-2001
This was the work of St. Sebolt, one of his miracles: he lit a fire with icicles. He struck them like a steel to flint, did St. Sebolt. It makes sense only at a certain body heat. How cold he had to get to learn that ice would burn. How cold he had to stay. When he could feel his feet he had to back away.
I can't quite go cold turkey, but here's my candlelighting poem reworked with fewer empty connectors. My first-graders memorized this without effort after three readings. I think that's a good sign. (I still don't know how to get Blogger to respect my indents so I'm putting ellipses in their place. It's not ideal, but...)
We Light a Candle
see how the wick waits .....cold........curled hear how the match scrapes .....hiss........burst see how the flame leaps .....tongue.....leaf....horn now how the light creeps .....comfort .......................is born<
A sleepover on Christmas Eve at the grandparents' in Baltimore is part of our holiday tradition, elegantly (if I say so myself) incorporated into our family's 12 Days of Yuletide. I got a lovely gift this year from my mother--two books of poetry, The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins and Voices by Lucille Clifton. Lucille (I stand in awe and yet presume a first-name basis) is one of my favorite Revered Adult Poets because of the brevity and simplicity of her writing, which enables her also to speak to the youngest children. If you don't know them, go find the Everett Anderson books soon. The variety in Voices is stunning, and I particularly liked this one and shared it with D the elder:
why was i born to balance this two-leg on my back to carry across my snout his stocking of oat and apple why i pray to You Father Of What Runs And Swims in the name of the fenceless field when he declares himself master does he not understand my neigh
It reminded me of the following, which I once used as the basis for a writing project with Year 2 children in London:
The Prayer of the Little Ducks
Dear God, give us a flood of water. Let it rain tomorrow and always. Give us plenty of the little slugs Add a Comment
On Monday morning my partner-in-charter Janet and I drove to the Central Office to deliver 15 binders, each full of 350 pages of public charter school application. It was finally completed at 11:30 the night before with the substantial participation of about 40 teachers, parents and general citizens and included 100 pages of public support letters and petition signatures. Working on this project was an exhilarating experience of grass-roots collaboration, and yet what kept me going as the "lead writer" on the project (I came as close as I ever will to "pulling an all-nighter") was working some carefully selected poetry into the Academic Design section.
Here are the first two: an epigraphical gem that opens the whole application, and a really fine, serendipitous summary of what it is we want children to learn at our school--a poem from Marilyn Singer's Footprints on the Roof. Lyric from Ancient Arabia
Our children are our hearts developing feet and walking.
~Hattan Ibu Al Mu'alla Home (incorrect formatting; I still haven't learned to make blogger obey my indents)
Ask me where is home and I will tell you a house a street a neighborhood a town Someplace safe and solid where I eat I run I sing I nap Someplace I can pinpoint on a map But what if I were an astronaut with the world dangling below me like a yo-yo from a giant's hand and home was the whole planet? Would I be wise enough to understand the worth of my new address: Earth?
Happy Poetry Friday: share the love at Some Novel Ideas, a middle-school focused blog that I'm happy to discover.
Since my last post I've participated to my great benefit in two poetry stretches and the public charter school application has passed the Technical Review--and of course, while the district was doing their checkthrough to see if anything was missing, so were we. I-yi-yi we found some glaring omissions! So yesterday I stood in the Asst. Superintendent's office with one of the stalwarts of the project and replaced or added to 20 binders eight pieces that had gone wrong somehow, and crossed out a really important "not" on every page 95.
More interesting for you all in the Poetry Friday audience is page 29. Here is where I included the following perfect poem by Countee Cullen, a move which many considered too risky for a charter school supplication (which may be a better word than application, since if approved we would be the first public charter school in our district ever).
Once riding in old Baltimore, Heart-filled, head-filled with glee, I saw a Baltimorean Keep looking straight at me.
Now I was eight and very small, And he was no whit bigger, And so I smiled, but he poked out His tongue and called me, "Nigger."
I saw the whole of Baltimore From May until December; Of all the things that happened there That's all that I remember.
This poem leads the section about how, in addition to "what children know and can do," our schools must address what children feel, value and demonstrate as attitudes towards each other and the planet. This, to me, is what reading is for (among a few other important things), and what poetry is particular is useful for crystallizing.
"But, the word "nigger"?!" some said. I said, "That's precisely the point."
Soy hombre: duro poco y es enorme la noche. Pero miro hacia arriba: las estrellas escriben. Sin entender comprendo: tambien soy escritura y en este mismo instante alguien me deletrea.
I am a man; little do I last and the night is enormous. But I look up: the stars write. Unknowing I understand: I too am written, and at this very moment someone spells me out.
~Octavio Paz / translated by Eliot Weinberger
"Most of what we learn--about ourselves, about the physical world and about our place in it--we learn through our relationships with or in the company of other people. At GGPCS social studies holds a special place in the curriculum, because its focus on people and their relationships with each other and the environment mirrors children's learning through their interaction with people in the environment...."
April 1 is a very important day for me and it has nothing to do with National Poetry Month--or it has everything to do with National Poetry Month! Back in 1999 I was faced with the fact that while I seemed to be very good at growing a baby, I was not going to be good at pushing a baby out. Although it was disappointing to think that I had been carrying around those child-bearing hips since age 12 for nothing, it was fun to choose my daughter's birthday, and if you can choose April Fool's Day, why would you pick March 31 or April 2?
Thus arrived our little April Fool, two weeks late and by appointment--and shortly thereafter, following a hiatus of 15 years, I felt the urge to write poems again. (More on this funny twist to my writing life in my interview later this month with Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect). This year, on April 1, when I might have been posting for Poetry Friday, we were with our shiny new 11-year-old in Charlottesville, touring Monticello, eating outrageous desserts and swimming in the hotel pool.
Today I post the next two poems inserted in the public charter school application--the ones about reading and writing. Just see who authored the poem I chose to open the section on the place of writing in our school's curriculum...
The First Book
Go ahead, it won't bite. Well...maybe a little.
More a nip, like. A tingle. It's pleasurable, really.
You see, it keeps on opening. You may fall in.
Sure, it's hard to get started; remember learning to use
knife and fork? Dig in; you'll never reach the bottom.
It's not like it's the end of the world-- just the world as you think
you know it.
~Rita Dove (who, in a superb coincidence, is a professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville)
Recently I was privileged to send some love and best wishes to one of my childhood heroes (seen below) Beverly Cleary on the occasion of her 94th birthday!! Judy Blume sent greetings too, and Lauren Myracle, and other truly splendiferous authors. Read the whole thing and bask in the goodness that is the World Of Cleary.
(photo from the SLJ website, photo credit to Kate Ward)
<=== That is the United Kingdom paperback version of CHAINS, published by Bloomsbury. I adore this cover. CHAINS has been named nominated for SPELLBINDING, the Cumbrian Primary School Book Award, in England.
Plan now to attend all three days of Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow on the USC campus September 15-17. The schedule packs each day with a constantly advancing roster of writers reading their own work.
The free, three-day literary event brings nearly fifty poets and fiction writers to Doheny Memorial Library Friends Lecture Hall. Wednesday and Thursday the first reading is at 1:00 p.m. Friday's readings start at 10:00 a.m.
Wednesday's capstone event features the father-son team of Jose Montoya and Richard Montoya. Thursday's capstone event features "Celebrando Chicana Poetry: Diana Garcia, Maria Melendez, Emmy Pérez." The reading is sponsored by University of Notre Dame's Letras Latinas in partnership with the Poetry Society of America.
Friday brings an early highlight, a special presentation at 11:45 by Juan Felipe Herrera, of the UCR Tomás Rivera Lifetime Pioneer Award to Cuca Aguirre. Friday culminates with a closing reception for the festival and opening of a photographic display featuring Michael Sedano's 1973 photographs, Sueños by the Sea: Celebrating Los Festivales de Flor y Canto.
Parking will be tight Wednesday, but this veteranas veteranos day is not to be skipped. Consider the bus.
Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow
Here is a pair of fotos illustrating two pauses. Alurista savoring the moment in 1973, Alurista savoring another moment in 2010. Still making poetry. This portrait comes from a reading at Highland Park's Avenue 50 Studio and its monthly poetry reading, Palabra. The reading is part of a commemoration observing the 40th year since the Chicano Moratorium march.
Ryan, Pam Muñoz. 2010. The Dreamer. Illustrated by Peter Sís. New York: Scholastic.
The Dreamer is a book that almost defies description. Is it poetry? Is it biography? Is it fiction? This fictional account of real life poet Pablo Neruda's childhood is all of these things. Born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, he was a shy, stuttering, skinny youngster with a larger-than-life domineering father. Working with Neruda's prose and poetry, along with anecdotes of his early life, Pam Muñoz Ryan invents the thoughts, hopes and dreams of the shy young man who quietly refuses to become the man his father wishes. With beautifully poetic language, she paints a portrait of a boy determined to be true to himself. This is a book for thinkers and dreamers and poets and all children who yearn to be nothing but themselves.
A better artist than Peter Sís could not possibly have been chosen for this book. The white spaces of his signature illustrations are filled with symbolism - the image of the small and frightened faces of Neftali and his sister swimming in an ocean whose shoreline is the outline of his domineering father speaks volumes without words. Illustrations are abundant throughout the book.
Dave the Potter was an outstanding artist, poet and potter whose influence is still evident in South Carolina pottery. He lived in the 1800s and created his pottery with amazing skill, building enormous pots that could up to 40 gallons. He was one of only two potters known to have the strength and skill to create such large pieces. Dave was also a poet, inscribing his verse on his pottery, offering two lines of poetry and then a date. His poems have the beauty and simplicity of Haiku and offer a unique perspective of a poet surviving in slavery. This is a picture book that makes an important figure in history come alive, revealing his art and poetry for children.
Hill has created a free verse of his own to tell the story of the life of Dave. Hill’s verse is simple and striking, drawing together the connections between the simple ingredients of the clay and what it can become and the simple life of a slave and the wonder of what Dave created. The poem leads children through the stages of making a pot from the gathering of the clay to the magic and work of creating pottery. The book ends with more of Dave’s poetry as well as an author’s note and an illustrator’s note. All of them speaking to the influence and importance of Dave the Potter.
Collier’s art work here is stunningly beautiful. His watercolor and collage art speaks to the strength of Dave, the skill of his hands and the glory of his work. The colors are rich and deep, filled with a warm earthiness that evokes pottery and clay.
A radiant tribute to an artist, this picture book echoes the transcendent artist that Dave was. Appropriate for ages 5-8.