Archive for the ‘Poetry Books’ Category

Poetry Friday is Here – Welcome!

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Hello and welcome to this week’s Poetry Friday.  I will update this post with your posts throughout the day – in the meantime, please leave your links in the Comments below.

In honor of the mosaic of poetry that will make up the wonderful whole as created each week for Poetry Friday, I thought I’d highlight Jorge Luján’s gorgeous poem-turned-picture-book Sky Blue Accident/Accidente Celeste – beautifully translated by Elisa Amado and illustrated by Piet Grobler (Groundwood Books, 2007) (and the “beautifully” refers to both the translation and the illustrations, by the way).

Before the poem starts, two double-page spreads show a small boy cycling to school, at first concentrating hard on the task in hand and then being distracted by a bird in the sky…  And so:

Una mañana de brumas
me tropecé con el cielo
y a los pedazos caídos
los escondí e mi bolsillo.

Once on a misty morning
I crashed into the sky,
Then hid its broken pieces
In my pocket.

What follows is a joyous flight of imagination, as the child tries to show the pieces of sky to his teacher; and then all the children try and repair the hole in the sky by painting a new one, to get things back to normal (for without a complete sky “Lost clouds stumbled around/bumbling into corners,” – isn’t that a beautiful image? – and the moon is also behaving oddly…).  The boy then uses the fragments of the “real” sky to fill in the last remaining gaps.

The poem is a delight and Piet Grobler’s gorgeous illustrations are very clever as well as a joy to the eye – for they combine the flight of imagination in the poem (including a teacher who grows wings and flies out the window) with a school setting that has the boy drawing on his lined exercise paper; and there are also certain visual motifs that the reader catches up with eventually. You can see some pages from the Spanish edition on Jorge’s website.

So now we will see what kind of sky Poetry Friday brings us this week. Will it be cloudy, gray or blue – or maybe sparkly or rosy or velvet?  I can’t wait to find out… and if you have a moment on your hands while you’re here wondering too, do pause and watch this video of Jorge’s poem Tarde de Invierno/Winter Afternoon, illustrated my Mandana Sadat, and like Sky Blue Accident, beautifully translated by Elisa Amado and published by Groundwood Books (2006).  It’s still my favourite book video ever…

April at Teaching Authors is highlighting a book giveaway and interview with paranormal verse novel writer Carolee Dean, just in time for Halloween! Carolee shares a writing exercise and a poem from her spooky new verse novel, out on Oct. 2nd.

Renee features W B Yeats’ beautiful poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” at No Water River and, wait for it, has an interview withe the man himself!

Tabatha shares her own witty poem “What Changes?” ready for tomorrow’s  100,000 Poets for Change at Tabatha Yeatts: The Opposite of Indifference.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm has a real treat in store, with her own poem (and sketch), “Leaf Planes” – and some visiting poets from Mrs Luft’s second grade class.

Laura Shoven at Author Amok is also getting ready for 100,000 Poets for Change and will be at tomorrow’s Baltimore Book Festival presenting a tribute to Lucille Clifton, who died in 2010.  “Clifton is a well-known poet, but most readers don’t realize that she was also a prolific children’s author.”  In her post today, Laura has an interview with Lucille’s daughter Alexia about her mother’s picture books.

Liz Steinglass at Growing Wild provides a splash of sunshine with her poem “Black-Eyed Susans”.

What does the National Geographic’s new anthology of animal poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis have to do with buckeye candy?  Find out at NC Teacher Stuff where Jeff will reveal all…

… and Mary Lee is “on the same page” over at A Year of Reading – she has a proposal for the Book of Animal Poetry in light of 100,000 Poets for Change.

Tara at A Teaching Life has a poem “about finding happiness, however elusive it may be” – “Happiness” by Jane Kenyon.

Joanna continues her haiku series on endangered species with S-U today, over at Miss Marple’s Musings.  And if you haven’t seen A-R yet, I warn you, you’ll find yourself thoroughly distracted from doing anything else until you’ve caught up!

Robyn Hood Black says “”Hello to Fall with a few [beautiful] lines from Longfellow”

Diane Mayr offers her customary triple treat: “Dawn Revisited” by Rita Dove at Random Noodling; “a brand new book by Douglas Florian” (prepare to have your timber shivered) at Kurious Kitty; and she also quotes Florian at KK’s Kwotes.

Diane also asks if we are ready for some moon dancing – they certainly are at The Write Sister.

At Poetry for Kids Joy, Joy Acey introduces us to a work-in-progress that is definitely one to follow – a list poem introduction to children in each US state – Joy asks for suggestions and offers ideas for creating list poems in class.

Irene Latham contemplates journeys via “The Journey” by Mary Oliver at Live Your Poem – and I love the way she expresses it as “thinking about the journey, not just as writer, but as a human finding one’s voice”.

Jama has a delectable post over at Alphabet Soup,”a three-course meal” focusing on the wonderful “Poetry Friday Anthology” compiled by Poetry Friday’s very own (am I allowed to make that proprietorial kind of claim?!) Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.   And she sends out birthday wishes to Janet for Sunday with one of her special trade-mark photographs.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JANET!

Linda Baie at Teacher Dance has written a moving poem for 100,000 Poets for Change, reflecting on war and the soldiers who serve, and their families who wait at home.

David Harrison sends out a call to all poets regarding a new feature on his blog: “Each Sunday I now showcase poems by other poets who e-mail their work to me by the Friday before. It’s an easy way to share the stage, and comments from readers have shown this to be a welcome opportunity. You’re all encouraged to check it out and consider joining the fun. If you send a poem, don’t forget to include any links you’d like to have posted with your work.”

David also introduces what he hopes will become another regular feature on his blog: Caption the Cartoon, with an especially created cartoon by Rob Shepperson.  Have a go!

And one more from David: his poem “What was That” from his anthology Goose Lake – and it also appears in the above-mentioned-and-acclaimed National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis.

Jane Kenyon makes another appearance, thanks to Karen Edminston.

Doraine Bennett contemplates moments in the company of Margaret Atwood at Dori Reads.

Ben from The Small Nouns has lots of ideas for using persona poems in the classroom and highlights Nikki Giovanni’s “Quilts” as a mentor poem to inspire.

Matt Forrest Esenwine presents “something… a bit different” at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme – he sure does!

Donna shares an encounter between “Dog and Toad” at Mainely Write.

Sylvia Vardell takes us into pet poems for Week 5 of The Poetry Friday Anthology, with Jeannine Atkins’ “Good Dog! Bad Dog!”…

…and on her own Poetry for Children, Sylvia has a wonderful, in-depth post “about J. Patrick Lewis, his work, and a recent interview with him published in the September issue of Book Links” – including a couple of extra questions not found in the magazine.  A definite must-read!

At Check it Out, Jone highlights this year’s Poetry CYBILS panelists and reminds us to start getting our nominations in from 1st October – that’s Monday, folks!

Samuel Kent at has lots of witty poems for us to enjoy this week: “So Long Summertime” – a euphonious poem about the coming of fall; “Leaves” – wherein fall is fun for everyone but the trees; “I’m being chased by monkeys“– a problem for those bringing bananas to the zoo; “Flea Written” – where I consider the lacking literary skill of insects (and discuss rhyme scheme); and
Roly Poly Goalie” – where a Hippo is clearly cheating.

Anastasia Suen points to Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall over at Booktalking.

Catherine Johnson has a “fruity poem” – a wonderfully imaginative take on fallen fruit.

Violet Nesdoly‘s poem today is “a little one about autumn called ‘Shutting Down.'” – a gem, accompanied by a gorgeous photo.

At There Is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town Ruth shares a powerful and moving poem written by her friend Magalie Boyer following the Haitian earthquake.

Andromeda Jazmon shares Yusef Komunyakaa’ s intriguing “The Day I Saw Barack Obama Reading Derek Walcott’s Collected Poems”  at A Wrung Sponge.

Charles Ghigna takes us on a walk through “The Silent Forest” at Father Goose.

At Wild Rose Reader Elaine Magliaro shares some special moments withe her grand-daughter that inspired her “original mask poem titled ‘Busybody’ about a squirrel scavenging for food in autumn”.

Kort muses on “Antilamentation” by Dorianne Laux at One Deep Drawer.

Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect highlights a powerful poem on the theme of fairy-tales – “Reading the Brothers Grimm to Jenny” by Lisel Mueller.

In honor of Saturday’s KidLitCon gathering in New York, Mary Ann Scheuer turns the pages of the “wonderful” A Poem as Big as New York at Great Kids Books.

A close encounter with a dragon awaits you at On Point where Lorie Ann Glover has an original haiku…

… Meanwhile, at readertotz, Lorie Ann catches something new to me by the toe in “Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo”.

Join the feast at Gathering Books where Fats Suela has selected two poems that put poetry itself on the menu.

At The Drift Record, Julie Larios considers whether “whether a drawing (by the Maine artist John Whalley) can be a ‘poem'” – what do you think?

Betsy has an original poem “Fall Morning” at Teaching Young Writers, inspired by her morning commute to work.

At Mrs. Merrill’s Book Break, Amy is “celebrating libraries in honor of Library Card Sign Up Month . . . what better way to celebrate than to share poems about libraries”

Wow, what a rich round-up this Poetry Friday has gathered in.  Thank you, everybody; I’ve enjoyed reading all your posts and meeting some new blogs too.

Poetry Friday: International Peace Day

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Today is Peace Day.  It’s also a day of  Global Ceasefire.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the fighting stopped for this one day.  It’s certainly something to aim for, and beyond.

This week with my Cub Scout Pack in Kirkbymoorside, UK, we thought about Peace and what a global ceasefire might mean.  We made peace cranes, thanks to Stone Bridge Press’ wonderful A Thousand Cranes: Origami Projects for Peace and Happiness (2011), adapted from a book by Florence Temko (1921-2009); and then we held a short vigil by candle-light (one of our Challenges in our Diamond Jubilee Challenge was silence: hard but ultimately rewarding).

We shared Lao Tzu’s wise poem from 2,500 years ago:

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

It is one of the prayers in the beautifully presented Let There be Peace: Prayers from Around the World, selected by Jeremy Brooks, illustrated by Jude Daly (Frances Lincoln, 2009).

People around the world will be pausing for a moment’s silence today at midday local time.  Let’s hope the guns stop firing too.

This week’s Poetry Friday host Renée LaTulippe has a bowl of Poetry Candy over at No Water River, so head on over…

Poetry Friday: Searching for their owner… poems from Hiroshima

Friday, September 7th, 2012

The Japanese section of IBBY, JBBY, was an important presence at this year’s Congress in London.  I will post more fully on the session that they presented;  for today’s Poetry Friday I want to highlight a book that was part of a display of new picture books from Japan – “The Expression of Japanese Children’s (Picture) Books After March 11th”.

JBBY Board member Atsuko Hayakawa showed me a picture book published in July this year called “Sagashiteimasu”, which translates as “I Have Been Searching For…” or  “I Am Searching” .  It’s a set of fourteen poems by Arthur Binard (a long-term resident in Japan and translator of this book highlighted by Sally last year).   Each poem is in the voice of an object in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum – an object that was left behind when the owner was killed by the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.  Beautifully composed photographs of each object by Tadashi Okakura accompany the poems.

Here’s the blurb on the book from the leaflet I was given ( if it becomes available as a pdf, I’ll add a link) –

A stopped clock, a pair of gloves without an owner, a charred, radioactive lunchbox…  These are among the fourteen everyday items, all atomic-bombed on August 6th 1045, presented in this photography book as ‘storytellers,’ each one revealing its tale to the modern reader. Since the morning of that day when Pika-don (the atomic bomb) was dropped on Hirsohima, these objects have been searching for the life they once knew, or for the familiarity of their owners who suddenly disappeared.  The author, who was born and raised in the United States, is also a poet who has lived in Japan for many years.  Focussing on the devastation not as the history of the past, but as the reality we face now, the author alerts the readers to the catastrophic potential of nuclear fission with as little as 1.0kg of uranium, and advocates against the reliance on nuclear power.

The book is in Japanese but you can read this insightful article here about how Binard came to write the poems, with some translations of extracts: enough to make me wish I could read the whole book.   The image that really struck me was of a beautiful purple dress.  I think it must be this one.  It is very, very sobering, reading the stories behind the artifacts in the Hiroshima Memorial Museum’s Peace Database, and from the translations in the article, I can imagine just how powerful these poems must be.  Thank you, Atsuko-san, for showing this book to me.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat – head on over…

***Atsuko has kindly sent me the JBBY leaflet “ The Expression of Japanese Children’s (Picture) BooksAfter March 11” to share with you.

Poetry Friday: The Poetry Friday Anthology compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Author and educator Sylvia Vardell has just announced some exciting news on her blog Poetry for Children!  She and her friend/author Janet Wong have collaborated on another wonderful project:  The Poetry Friday Anthology.

The Poetry Friday Anthology is a new anthology of 218 original poems for children in kindergarten through fifth grade by 75 popular poets including J. Patrick Lewis, Jack Prelutsky, Jane Yolen, Margarita Engle, X. J. Kennedy, Kathi Appelt, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Georgia Heard and Nikki Grimes and many more.

The book includes a poem a week for the whole school year (K-5) with curriculum connections provided for each poem, each week, each grade level. Just five minutes every “Poetry Friday” will reinforce key skills in reading and language arts such as rhyme, repetition, rhythm, alliteration, etc.

Thanks to the lovely blog world of the “kidlitosphere,” I’ve been a fan of “Poetry Friday” since the beginning (in 2006). The idea of pausing for poetry every Friday is so appealing to me, maybe because Friday has always been my favorite day of the week. I think it is a natural fit for busy teachers and librarians who can build on that Poetry Friday tradition by incorporating a weekly poetry break into their regular routines. That’s the first “hook” in our book– the idea of sharing a poem every Friday! (More often is even better, but Friday is the hook!)

The other hook is the call for connecting with the new Common Core standards (and in Texas where the Common Core was not adopted– don’t get me started– connecting with the TEKS, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). We’ve always had curricular standards of one kind or another, but poetry hasn’t always been an explicit component. It is now! Of course this worries me a bit as poetry may also be abused and butchered in the name of test preparation. But the challenge is to provide guidance in sharing poetry that respects the integrity of the poem, celebrating the pleasures of language, while reinforcing the necessary skills. That’s the second book “hook”– we’ve tied every poem in The Poetry Friday Anthology to the Common Core standards (and TEKS standards in Texas) for poetry.

This book is first and foremost a quality anthology of 218 original poems for children written by 75 of today’s most popular poets. Children in any state (or country) can enjoy, explore, and respond to these poems. However, we have also come to realize that educators, librarians, and parents are looking for guidance in how to share poetry with children and teach the skills within the curriculum as well. Thus, this book offers both. It’s part poetry collection and part professional resource guide— quality poetry plus curriculum-based suggestions for helping children enjoy and understand poetry more deeply.

You’ll find more information about the book at the PoetryFridayAnthology blog here. Our official launch date is Sept. 1 when we hope to offer an e-book version of the book as well– projectable and searchable! But the print version of the book is available NOW to help jumpstart the school year with poetry. I’ll also be posting a few nuggets from the book here in the near future– as well as more about our new joint publishing venture, Pomelo Books.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Dori Reads so head on over and see what treasures are in store.

Poetry Friday: Be Not Defeated by the Rain…

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Back in March, Sally highlighted the launch of our current Book of the Month, Tomo, edited by Holly Thompson (Stone Bridge Press, 2012). Carrying the by-line “Friendship through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories”, this is a wonderfully rich book that readers will want to dip into again and again, and all proceeds go to organisations working with young people affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.  Our review is coming soon; in the meantime, I wanted to return to the poem that Sally highlighted in her post: “Be not Defeated by the Rain” by Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933).

I didn’t know the poem before I read its opening cited at the beginning of Tomo and I wanted to know more about it. I was not only bowled over by the poem itself, but I was also much struck by Holly’s description in her Foreword of how the poem came into her head and repeated itself over and over as she attempted to come to terms with the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last year.

The rest of the poem is no less powerful than the opening.  Although I am sadly unable to enjoy the poem in the original, I love the sonority and simplicity of David Sulz‘ translation, quoted in full here:

Be not defeated by the rain, Nor let the wind prove your better.
Succumb not to the snows of winter. Nor be bested by the heat of summer.

Be strong in body. Unfettered by desire. Not enticed to anger. Cultivate a quiet joy.
Count yourself last in everything. Put others before you.
Watch well and listen closely. Hold the learned lessons dear.

A thatch-roof house, in a meadow, nestled in a pine grove’s shade.

A handful of rice, some miso, and a few vegetables to suffice for the day.

If, to the East, a child lies sick: Go forth and nurse him to health.
If, to the West, an old lady stands exhausted: Go forth, and relieve her of burden.
If, to the South, a man lies dying: Go forth with words of courage to dispel his fear.
If, to the North, an argument or fight ensues:
Go forth and beg them stop such a waste of effort and of spirit.

In times of drought, shed tears of sympathy.
In summers cold, walk in concern and empathy.

Stand aloof of the unknowing masses:
Better dismissed as useless than flattered as a “Great Man”.

This is my goal, the person I strive to become.

Tomo has a blog running alongside it, featuring a wealth of interviews etc. with the book’s contributors.  Do read the interview with David Sulz, in which he discusses his translation of the poem and its impact.  He generously gave his translation to the World of Kenji Miyazawa website, who have made it freely available.  You can also read more information about Kenji Miyazawa and his children’s stories and poems, including background to “Be Not Defeated by the Rain” here, and other poems to download here.

Apparently Japanese children used to learn this poem at school, and perhaps they still do.  I think it would be a good poem for children to learn wherever they come from.  I’m certainly going to introduce it to my two…

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Rena J. Traxel at On the Way to Somewhere – and she also has a caption competition, so head on over…

Poetry Friday: The Young Inferno by John Agard, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Next week the UK organisation, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education will announce this year’s winner of their CLPE Poetry Award.  One of the books on the shortlist is Goldilocks on CCTV by John Agard, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura (Frances Lincoln, 2011) – I haven’t actually seen it yet, but I’m working on it, since they have already shown themselves to be a first-class creative partnership.  In fact, their previous collaboration, The Young Inferno won the CLPE Poetry Award in 2009.  I blogged about The Young Inferno a couple of years ago (and I refer you to that post for a longer overview) but it’s just come out in paperback, which gives me the perfect excuse to revisit it!

It’s Agard’s Canto 3 that resonates most with me at the moment – as the “Hoodie Hero” steps through the door of the Gate Cinema aka the entrance to Hell, into the unknown – wanting to go forward, but dreading what he is about to discover:


When I saw these words above a gate
I felt a sad and weird sensation.
‘Can we turn back?’ I said. ‘Is it too late?’

My teacher [Aesop] smiled and said, ‘This is Hell, my son.
What do you expect? A red carpet
and bunches of flowers that say Welcome?’

Then holding my hand, he whispered to me,
‘Nothing is more fearsome than your fear.
Just think of Hell as a scary movie.’

And with these words of encouragement
he led me down starless winding stairs.
I could hear voices coming from a basement.

Tantalising?  I hope so.  Just as would have been the case for Dante’s contemporary audience, this 21st-century update is filled with a blend of characters and stories (many from Aesop’s Fables) that will be both well-known and unfamiliar to today’s young readers.  Agard’s powerful, energetic verse and Satoshi Kitamura’s extraordinarily powerful illustrations together pack a rare punch. (Do take a look at our PaperTigers Gallery featuring some of Satoshi’s wonderful artwork) Now to seek out Goldilocks on CCTV

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Tara at A Teaching Life, where the title of her post seems to fit perfectly with the style of The Young Inferno!  Head on over.

Welcome to Poetry Friday!

Friday, June 29th, 2012



Everybody has a song,
be it short or be it long,
in the right or in the wrong key,
Like the hee-haw of a donkey,
Twitter, tweet, tu-whit, tu-whoo,
howl or growl or quack or moo.
Don’t be silent
nor afraid,
you must sing
as you’ve been made.

Translation by Stan Dragland of the South African poem “Elke outjie…” by Philip de Vos

Welcome, everybody, to this week’s Poetry Friday, which we are delighted to be hosting.  Please leave comments below with links to your “songs” and I’ll be updating this post throughout the day.

The above poem comes from the joyous anthology Under the Spell of the Moon: Art for Children from the World’s Great Illustrators.  This superb book, first published by Groundwood in Canada in 2004, then in the UK in 2006 by Frances Lincoln, is now available for the first time in paperback (Frances Lincoln, 2012). Produced by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the book is edited by erstwhile President of IBBY and founder of Groundwood Patsy Aldana, and has a thought-provoking Foreword by award-winning author Katherine Paterson.  It provides a fantastic showcase of 32 illustrators from across the globe, who have all donated their work to benefit IBBY – indeed 12.5% of the book’s proceeds go to IBBY.  Illustrators include Piet Grobler, who illustrated the poem cited above, as well as many others of my personal favorites such as Mitsumasa Anno (Japan), Peter Sís (Czech Republic/USA), Anthony Browne (UK), Isol (Argentina), Pulak Biswas (India), Luis Garay (Nicaragua) – and the book has also introduced me to many illustrators whose work I intend to explore further…

Each illustrator was asked to “illustrate a text of his or her own choosing, be it a poem, nursery rhyme, song, piece of prose, riddle or street game.”  The result is a wonderfully eclectic gathering of mostly verse that is given in its original language, sometimes incorporated into the artwork, and, where necessary, in English translation: and indeed a special shout-out must go to Stan Dragland’s virtuoso translations.  The quirkiness of the collection probably comes from this freedom of choice given to the global spread of illustrators: so each page turn brings a surprise, both in text and artistic style.  The one thing that links every page is the joie de vivre of the texts and the virtuosity each illustrator has brought to his or her contribution.

And now we turn to the eclecticism of the Poetry Friday gathering – what a joy it is to be hosting today!


Blythe revisits Peter Pan via Helen Marshall’s Skeleton Leaves.

Mary Lee has been as amazingly creative as ever: “I’m recycling words this week. I made a Wordle of some poems I wrote recently, then used only the words I found in the Wordle to create a new poem.”

Renee LaTulippe shares a video reading by Lori Degman (1 Zany Zoo) of her poem “A Snake Ate My Homework”, plus an interview with Lori and follow-up resources.

Liz Steinglass has four witty couplets animal couplets that I know will have me chuckling for the rest of the day.

Robyn Hood Black is “offering something hot and something cold from H. D. (Hilda Doolittle)” to help counter the heatwave in the US.

Joy has been posting poems all week based on her recent field trip to the Tambopata Research Center in the Amazonian rainforest – today she has A Room in the Jungle and challenges us to write a poem about “My Room”.

Tara brings sunshine to Poetry Friday with her focus today on Sunflowers, a poem by Mary Oliver, including a video reading.

Diane has a full platter of offerings – at Kurious Kitty’s Kurio Kabinet she has a very satisfying poem, “Perpetual Between” by Maggie Dietz; there’s a neat quotation from J. Patrick Lewis at Kurious K’s Kwotes; and an ekphrastic poem about “Degas’s Laundresses” by Eavan Boland at Random Noodlings.

Steven Withrow has a new poem, Cormorant that will have you grabbing the binoculars and heading for the sea, in your mind’s eye if you can’t manage it in reality.

Jama has a fabulous, lip-smacking feast today – oodles of brown-ness as well as a proposal for the UPS man… Excuse me while I go and raid my secret stash!

Heidi shares Denise Levertov’s What My House Would Be Like If It Were A Person as she reflects on her imminent move to a new home.

Irene Latham shares her favorite beach poem, along with her own poetic descriptions accompanying photographs of both of Florida’s coasts following a recent research trip.

Laura Shoven commemorates a very special meeting with Chu Chen Po’s Hedgehog: “I’ve been teaching the poem “Hedgehog” for years, but I met my first hedgehog last week. It was love.” Check out the beautiful photos too.

Carol shares Linda Pastan’s “To a Daughter Leaving Home” because her oldest son is moving to Phoenix to attend junior college today.

Jeff has a review of Out on the Prairie, a rhyming book set in South Dakota’s Badlands region.

Violet Nesdoly has an ode to a summer storm, “Lightning”, in a dramatic string of haiku format.

Linda Baie has a great review of our fellow-blogger Greg Pincus’ ebook The Late Bird, a collection of fifty of his witty, funny and thought-provoking poems first featured on his blog.  Go Buy!  (In her Poetry Friday post, Linda also asks us to take a look at her previous post – I’m glad she did – it’s a review plus giveaway of what looks set to becomg a very important book for teens feeling vulnerable because of their sexuality – The Letter Q.)

Andi at A Wrung Sponge has an original haiku with one of her equally beautiful photographs.

April Halprin Wayland says of her post over at Teaching Authors: “We teach you how to write a Hidden Words poem and give you a pretty stinky example of one I wrote. (We’re also announcing our latest book giveaway winner and talking about taking your writing to a different locale to refresh your creativity.)”  – And by the way, it’s not a “stinky” example at all!

Tabatha Yeatts focuses on James Flecker’s work today.

Iphigene continues Gathering Books’ focus on the Festival of Asian Literature and the Immigrant Experience with Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus.

Janet Squires takes a look at Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes.

Karen Edmisten has “some rambling”! This post about posting about poetry will make you smile and nod!

Father Goose aka Charles Ghigna has some new snickersome snickers – “a few for the funny bone”.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has a wonderful original poem about an imaginary mechanic.

Donna has “written about farming the land this week to add to my Tugging of Tides poem…”

Betsy has been inspired by Mary Lee’s Wordle idea (see above) and Teachers Write Camp.

Kerry Aradhya highlights the rhyming picture book Subway by Anastasia Suen and Karen Katz.

Lorie Ann Grover has an original haiku “Puckered Pear” (such a great title!).

Julie Larios is on a Poetry Roller Coaster at Books Around the Table (her critique-group blog):  “I offer up some thoughts about the up-and-down nature of my love of poetry, and I post a poem by William Jay Smith titled “Moon” which is not about the moon at all.”

Ruth brings us extracts from Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey “in honor of the nature on our vacation”.

Jone has been inspired to write Summer Room by Joy Acey’s call at the beginning of the day to write a poem about “My Room” (see above).

Greg Pincus points to his interview on Katie Davis’ podcast  in which he talks “about poetry (and self-pubbing poetry, too). Ya… a self-reflexive Poetry Friday!”

What a wonderful Poetry Friday gathering – a veritable feast.  I know the day’s not over yet in some parts of the world so if any more links come in, I’ll update them on my morrow… in the meantime, happy reading!

Poetry Friday: The Elder Project

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I was recently at the League of Canadian Poets annual conference held in Saskatoon.  There I met poetic entrepreneur extraordinaire, Wendy Morton.  Morton is widely known in Canada for her Random Acts of Poetry work which she started almost a decade ago.  “Poetry is the shortest distance between hearts,” believes Morton, and indeed her current work involving children interviewing their elders certainly proves that point.

The Elder Project, as it is called, had First Nations children in B.C. interview their elders, record their stories in short pithy lines of free verse, and then have their poems published in a booklet.  Both children and elder benefited greatly from the interchange.  In Xe’Xe (Cowichan Valley School District #79 and Wendy Morton, 2012), it’s striking how such simple and direct lines as “I went to Kuper Island/and Mission City residential schools/I was homesick and lonely./I cried myself to sleep.” can affect the reader.  Some of the descriptions of the food and conditions the Elders experienced were also revealing.  “I was born in the berry trails.” says one Elder.  “We ate fish, deer meat, soup,/fried and baked bread./We played in our canoe.” said another.

Morton, in partnership with First Nations educators, has conducted this project with several groups of children and so far, five books have been put together.  The books are published locally and distributed amongst the students and families involved in the project.   A B.C. credit union assisted in financing the publication of the books.  The Elder Project is indeed a unique initiative and Morton is enthusiastic about it.   As she says in a recent Tyee article about the project, “I’ve got a lot of books, so I don’t care about having a book anymore. All I want to do is do this.  I want to use my skills as a poet to get these stories into the world, and to give these kids a sense of self and elders a sense of pride, I just want that more than anything.”

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Amy at The Poem Farm.

Poetry Friday: Talking with Mother Earth/Hablando con Madre Tierra – poems by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Lucía Angela Pérez

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Mother Earth is not only a source of life in Talking with Mother Earth/Hablando con Madre Tierra, a profound collection of poems by renowned Salvadoran poet Jorge Argueta (Groundwood Books/Libros Tigrillo, 2006), but she also provides the young native boy Tetl, in whose voice the poems are written, with joy, a connection with his land and heritage, and, most importantly, a comforting stability in the face of racist jeering from his peers.

Argueta’s poems are written in succinct free verse, presented in both Spanish and English with smatterings of Nahuatl, the language of the Nahua people passed down from the Aztecs and that Argueta grew up with.  From the first poem in which Tetl presents Mother Earth, or “Ne Nunan Tal” in Nahuatl, readers are welcomed into Tetl’s life.  His joy in the creations of Mother Nature is contagious, from poems such as “Walking and Whistling”, “The Wind” and “Water”; and I love the wordplay in both languages in “Suenos Días/Gourd Morning.”

These poems alone would represent a lively collection that provides insight into Nahuatl culture – and this impression is enhanced by Lucía Angela Pérez’ vibrant illustrations that leap out from the pages.  What makes this book outstanding, however, is the way it draws young readers in to think about how they themselves might have behaved, whether deliberately or thoughtlessly, towards their peers from a different cultural background.  The first indication that Tetl has to deal with such abuse comes in the fiercely upright poem “Yo/I”:

 […] Sometimes I feel like yelling

From my toes to my head.
Yes, I am a Pipil Nahua Indian.
I wear feathers of beautiful birds to protect me
from the bad words and the looks
that come my way from some people
because I am Indian.

Immediately after “Yo/I”, the poem “Tetl” rings with the boy’s name, Tetl: “It is the name my grandmother gave me”.  The name Tetl runs in counterpoint to “But everybody knows me as Jorge” – a clue to the autobiographical nature of the poems.

A little further on, the poem “Indio/Indian” addresses the verbal abuse head on: and the illustration shows Tetl rising above it, proud of his identity, even if some people don’t understand or respect it.  Indeed, what makes this collection work so well, and makes it an excellent resource for young children discussing issues of racism and bullying, is that it presents a complete view of Tetl’s life so that the cruel behaviour of his peers towards him fails to define him.

To find out more, read our PaperTigers review of this beautiful book.  When I first opened it, I was expecting to be transported to another culture.  I got that and so much more.

Today’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.  Head on over!

Poetry Friday: Earth Magic

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Earth Magic by Dionne Brand (Kids Can Poetry, 2006), illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes of One Hen fame, is a delightful book of poems celebrating the childhood memories of acclaimed Canadian poet Dionne Brand.  Brand grew up in  Guayguayare, Trinidad.   The book was originally published in 1979 in homage to the Caribbean people whose lives Brand captures well in the poems.  In them, we meet, for example, the “Fisherman,” the “Bottleman,” and “Old Woman.”  We also meet the mystical forces of nature often personified — there’s the river of  “deep green face” in “River” or the ‘day’ coming in “on an old brown bus/with two friends” in “Morning” or the wind describing his/her actions in the first person:

I heard a song and carried it with me
on my cotton streamers,
I dropped it on an ocean and lifted up a wave
with my bare hands

Fernandes does a wonderful job of illustrating these personifications with her colorful signature imagery and style.   Check out some of the images from this book in PaperTigers Illustrator’s Gallery.   The combination of Fernandes’ art with Brand’s poetry makes for compelling reading and viewing.

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.