Friday, February 29, 2008
An Early BluebirdPuzzled by syrinx? I was too, until I pulled out the Oxford English Dictionary. A syrinx is (1) an ancient musical instrument (pan pipe) or (2) the organ of voice in birds.
by Maurice Thompson
Leap to the highest height of spring,
And trill thy sweetest note,
Bird of the heavenly plumes and twinkling wing
And silver-toned throat!
Sing, while the maple’s deepest root
Thrills with a pulse of fire
That lights its buds. Blow, blow thy tender flute,
Thy reed of rich desire!
Breathe in thy syrinx Freedom’s breath,
Quaver the fresh and true,
Dispel this lingering wintry mist of death
And charm the world anew!
Thou first sky-dipped spring-bud of song,
Whose heavenly ecstasy
Foretells the May while yet March winds are strong,
Fresh faith appears with thee!
How sweet, how magically rich,
Through filmy splendor blown,
Thy hopeful voice set to the promise-pitch
Of melody yet unknown!
O land of mine (where hope can grow
And send a deeper root
With every spring), hear, heed the free bird blow
Hope’s charmed flute!
Ah! who will hear, and who will care,
And who will heed thy song,
As prophecy, as hope, as promise rare,
Budding to bloom ere long?
From swelling bulbs and sprouting seed,
Sweet sap and fragrant dew,
And human hearts, grown doubly warm at need,
Leaps answer strong and true:
We see, we hear (thou liberty-loving thing,
That down spring winds doth float),
The promise of thine empyrean wing,
The hope that floods thy throat!
The round up this week is being hosted by Kelly Fineman over at Writing and Ruminating. On this fair leap day, do be sure to stop by and take in all the wonderful poetry being shared. Before you go, don't miss this week's poetry stretch results. Happy poetry Friday, all!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Noah the Great addressed the sea in Interviewing the Ocean.Speaking of Laura, I couldn't get the image from this week's 15 words or less challenge out of my head, so my poem is to that tree, and the one like it in my front yard.
Tiel Aisha Ansari at Knocking From Inside is back (we've missed you!) with To Whomever Abandoned a Pot of Zinnia Seedlings on Our Porch Steps.
cloudscome at a wrung sponge wrote a lovely sonnet for her grandmother.
Diane Davis was thinking politics when she wrote Election Race.
Daisybug at Things that make me say... addresses that thing attempting to take over her garden in Exiled Wisteria.
Mad Kane is in with an apostrophe in the form of a limerick, called Ode to a New York City Walk Signal.
Marianne Neilsen at Doing the Wrie Thing! gives us a poem entitled To My Self-Motivation.
sister AE at Having Writ is thinking of her spreadsheet in her poem, Caged.
Laura Purdie Salas is also thinking computers and gives us To My Backup Disk.
To the Winter Tree
oh giant one,
with your bony limbs
beneath your boughs
just a hint
When will you
the gown of spring?
- Nic Bishop Frogs by Nic Bishop - This engaging text is accompanied by gorgeous photographs of frogs in their natural habitats. Readers will learn an amazing array of facts, both scientific and quirky. (You can read my review.)
- All About Frogs by Jim Arnosky - Accompanied by beautiful acrylics, this book introduces amphibians and then discusses the characteristics, habitats, life cycle, diet, and more about frogs.
- Frogs by Gail Gibbons - In steady Gibbons' style, full-color illustrations show readers the life cycles of frogs, exploring the stages from tadpole to adulthood. One helpful feature is the presentation of scientific terms in phonetic form. If you download the teacher's guide from her web site, there are two pages devoted to this book.
- What's In the Pond? by Anne Hunter - This volume in the Hidden Life series looks at the frogs, tadpole, painted turtle, red-winged blackbird and more. On 10 double-page spreads, readers are presented with information on the left and illustrations on the right. Each section of text describes the physical features and behavior of each animal.
- Frog Heaven: Ecology of a Vernal Pool by Doug Wechsler - Vernal pools are temporary wetlands that dry each summer, then refill during the fall, winter and spring. This book examines the changes in a vernal pool in the woods of Delaware and describes the creatures that live there.
- From Tadpole to Frog by Wendy Pfeffer - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series introduces readers to the life cycle of frogs.
- Red-eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley - Accompanied by the amazing photographs of Nic Bishop, this book describes the life of the Central American red-eyed tree frog.
- The Moon of the Salamanders by Jean Craighead George - One of the books in the 13 moons series, this title describes the emergence of a spotted salamander from his winter hibernation.
- The Frog by Sally Tagholm - Part of the Animal Lives series, this book focuses on the common frog (European) and describes its life cycle in rich detail.
- Pond Life by Barbara Taylor - A title in the Look Closer series, this book uses amazing photographs and snippets of text to describe newts, jelly babies (frogs from egg to tadpole), adult frogs, and other pond inhabitants.
- At the Frog Pond by Tilde Michels - Originally published in Germany, this English translation begins, "Did you ever wonder how a tadpole turns into a frog?/Did you ever stumble onto a secluded spot where you could hear and see the wondrous ways of nature--a clearing, a marsh--or a small frog pond?" From here, readers discover the ecology of a frog pond.
- Toad by the Road: A Year in the Life of These Amazing Amphibians by Joanne Ryder - Grouped by season, readers learn about the life cycle of the toad in pages that include a poem, illustration and brief bit of informational text. Read Elaine's terrific review and sample a few of the poems.
- Lizards, Frogs, and Polliwogs by Douglas Florian - In 21 poems, brilliantly illustrated, Florian introduces readers to all manner of amphibians and reptiles, including polliwogs, the midwife toad, glass frog, wood frog, red-eyed tree frog, bullfrog, poison-dart frog, and spring peepers.
- Pollywog Fishing in Water Pennies and Other Poems by N. M. Bodecker - This book contains poems about a variety of pond creatures. This one begins:
--where did Polly go?
- Don't I Look Delicious? in Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by Joyce Sidman - This concrete poem describes a toad.
- Listen for Me in Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman - The first poem in this book describes spring peepers waking from their winter hibernation. It begins:
Listen for me on a spring night,
on a wet night,
on a rainy night.
Listen for me on a still night,
for in the night, I sing.
- It's a Frog's Life: My Story of Life in a Pond by Steve Parker - Written in journal format and accompanied by illustrations in different styles, a frog describes his life in spring when he wakes from hibernation, to winter, where he prepares for another long sleep.
- Tuesday by David Wiesner - This Caldecott medal winner is a wordless picture book (almost!) in frogs riding lily pads like magic carpets sail over the countryside and into an unsuspecting town for an evening of fun.
- The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka - We all know the story that ends when the princess kisses the frog, but do you know what happens next? This humorous tale lets readers know that they did NOT live happily ever after. Here's a lesson related to the book called Slimy Advertising and a Wicked Resume.
- Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel - This is my favorite of the books that describes the adventures of two friends. Also in the series are Frog and Toad Are Friends, Frog and Toad All Year, and Days with Frog and Toad.
- A Toad for Tuesday by Russell Erickson - This is the story of an unlikely friendship between an owl and the toad he intends to eat for his birthday dinner. Read Puss Reboots review of the book.
- A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson - A frog in a bog, sitting on a log, eats nearly everything in sight, from 1 tick to 5 snails. Now that he's fat from his meal, imagine his surprise when the log he is sitting on turns out to be alive!
**Updated on 2/29/08** - Elaine at Wild Rose Reader has written a fabulous post called Leaping Lizards! It's the year of the Frog. In it she presents an original poem and highlights a number of outstanding poetry titles for studying frogs, toads and other amphibians.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Starting February 29th (Leap Day), more than 70 members of the AZA will be holding fun, family-friendly events and programs to educate people about amphibian conservation. Zoo and aquarium visitors can take part in a variety of activities including leapfrog contests, frog calling, zookeepers and aquarist talks, amphibian scavenger hunts, investigating salamander habitat, and close encounters with our colorful frog friends! Learn more about events near you.
In support of Year of the Frog, National Environmental Education Week has developed a section on amphibians and reptiles for its EE Week Curricula Library.
This year we'll not only be jumping into froggy activities, but reading these froggy titles.
- All About Frogs by Jim Arnosky
- Tuesday by David Wiesner
- Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
- A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson
- From Tadpole to Frog by Wendy Pfeffer
- Toad by the Road: A Year in the Life of These Amazing Amphibians by Joanne Ryder
Books of any kind compete with so many digital diversions that just about any fiction that encourages long reading hours is worth a look — pulp or sports or Western or murder mystery or classic novel. Reading researchers believe that sheer volume of reading plays a large role in the acquisition of basic literacy skills and vocabulary, and that print matter of even child-oriented books can be more verbally challenging than some of the best television shows.It's an interesting piece. Do read the article and the comments, and when you get a chance, stop by the iPulp Fiction Library and check it out. There are titles by Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game), Bruce Coville (Wizard's Boy) and more.
Despite this flexibility, there's a certain sterility in reading in ready-sized portions. Perhaps it's a little too reminiscent of homework. Then there's the problem of reading a screen, a sensation which, in my opinion, doesn't really lend itself to fiction.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Edgar Allen Poe - To ScienceNow that you've read a few examples for inspiration, who or what will you write to for your apostrophe? Leave me a comment about your poem and I will post the results here later this week.
Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
Percy Bysshe Shelley - Ode to the West Wind
O Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being
Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
John Pierpont - The Fugitive Slave’s Apostrophe to the North Star
Star of the North! though night winds drift
The fleecy drapery of the sky
Between thy lamp and me, I lift,
Yea, lift with hope, my sleepless eye
To the blue heights wherein thou dwellest,
And of a land of freedom tellest.
William Shakespeare - Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 1
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Here is William's natural pigment piece, created with charcoal, grape juice and "something green."
Here is his pastel piece on the food chain. If shows a snake, meerkat and scorpion. (Yes, we're faithful Meerkat Manor watchers!)
Here is his final piece, the self-portrait.
William has always been highly engaged in looking deeply and reflectively at the art in the picture books he reads, commenting on the aspects that appeal most to him. This experience has given him additional tools with which to look at art, and given him a new appreciation for the work that illustrators do.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
One of the things I love about Poetry Friday is that we often have new people join us, and when they do, I learn about new blogs. Today I found my way to these two blogs that I'll be keeping a close eye on and visiting regularly.
Paper Doll - Lara, this blog's author, worked at one of the oldest literary agencies in the country for nearly 3 years, and before that interned at an educational publisher and was an independent contractor for a well-known children's publisher. She is willing to answer questions about agents, submissions, or children's publishing in general if you e-mail her. I predict lots of mail in her future.Fun Stuff
Oh, and by the way, her mother is this amazing writer!
Audiobooker - Mary, this blog's author, is a middle school teacher-librarian, audiobook addict, and author of Book Link Magazine's audiobook column "Voices in My Head." Her post today highlights the book Blues Journey, by Walter Dean Myers and his son, Christopher. It includes an audio sample that is simply lovely. I must have this book in both print and audio format!
Horton Hears a Who - Teachers can register to receive a free animated e-book for this year's Read Across America event. This looks like great fun. (Thanks to Audiobooker for the link.)
I will put Chaos into fourteen lines
I will put Chaos into fourteen lines
And keep him there; and let him thence escape
If he be lucky; let him twist, and ape
Flood, fire, and demon --- his adroit designs
Will strain to nothing in the strict confines
Of this sweet order, where, in pious rape,
I hold his essence and amorphous shape,
Till he with Order mingles and combines.
Past are the hours, the years of our duress,
His arrogance, our awful servitude:
I have him. He is nothing more nor less
Than something simple not yet understood;
I shall not even force him to confess;
Or answer. I will only make him good.
Afternoon on a Hill
I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.
I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.
And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Mary Lee at A Year of Reading (the creator of this challenge) gives us a chant about home, entitled The Solace of Open Places or It's Not the End of the Earth, But You Can See it From Here.I've been working on several different chants. This one highlights some of my favorite animals. When you say it (sing it?) think in the rhythm of the William Tell overture (not too fast and with feeling). Here we go.
You know I love any post that includes the words "a poem for Miss Rumphius." Sam Riddleburger is in with an Empire Strikes Back poem (just for me!).
Diane Davis was not only thinking lines and meter, but lines, color, shape and more in her poem, An Art Lesson.
Madelyn Ruth joins us with a tribute to the Carter family. (Now I must go dig out some CDs and listen!)Daisybug at Things That make me say ... basks in the glow of a day off and gives us a rhyming chant called Snow Day.
sister AE at Having Writ went to the kitchen for inspiration and gives us Searching My Spice Rack.
Beth at Endless Books joins us for the first time with a chant inspired by Harry Potter.
African Mammal ChantIt's not too late if you still want to play. Write your rhyming chant and leave me a comment, then I'll add your poem to the list.
mongoose, leopard, impala
Eland, puku, bontebok
zebra, cheetah, bat-eared fox
ring-tailed lemur, bushbaby
kudu and lechwe
Antelope, red hartebeest
serval, camel, wildebeest
baboon, eland, tsessebe
Meerkat, gemsbok, nyala
giraffe, warthog, hyena
aardvark, aardwolf, pangolin
oribi and lion
On safari, at the zoo,
in some books you'll find them too.
Every color, shape and size,
beauties before your eyes.
If you haven't heard of some of these animals, you can learn more about them at the Southern African Mammals Guide.
Everywhere I look (read) these days, people are writing and talking about reading. In Sunday's Washington Post, Howard Garnder wrote a piece entitled The End of Literacy? Don't Stop Reading. In it he says:
But now, at the start of the 21st century, there's a dizzying set of literacies available -- written languages, graphic displays and notations. And there's an even broader array of media -- analog, digital, electronic, hand-held, tangible and virtual -- from which to pick and choose. There will inevitably be a sorting-out process. Few media are likely to disappear completely; rather, the idiosyncratic genius and peculiar limitations of each medium will become increasingly clear. Fewer people will write notes or letters by hand, but the elegant handwritten note to mark a special occasion will endure.
I don't worry for a nanosecond that reading and writing will disappear. Even in the new digital media, it's essential to be able to read and write fluently and, if you want to capture people's attention, to write well. Of course, what it means to "write well" changes: Virginia Woolf didn't write the same way that Jane Austen did, and Arianna Huffington's blog won't be confused with Walter Lippmann's columns. But the imaginative spheres and real-world needs that all those written words address remain.
Then, in today's New York Times OpEd column, Timothy Egan writes about Book Lust. In it he says:
Reading is something else, an engagement of the imagination with life experience. It’s fad-resistant, precisely because human beings are hard-wired for story, and intrinsically curious. Reading is not about product.
For most of my lifetime, I’ve heard that reading is dead. In that time, disco has died, drive-in movies have nearly died, and something called The Clapper has come and gone through bedrooms across the nation.
But reading? This year, about 400 million books will be sold in the United States. Overall, business is up 1 percent — not bad, in a rough economy, for a $15 billion industry still populated by people whose idea of how to sell books dates to Bartleby the Scrivener.
- In the six years that the No Child Left Behind law has been in effect, 62 percent of the school districts surveyed had increased the amount of time spent in elementary schools on reading/English language arts and/or math. Those districts, on average, added 141 minutes a week to reading, while others added 89 minutes a week, on average, to math.
- About 44 percent of the districts increased time for reading and/or math while cutting time spent for elementary school science, social studies, art and music, physical education, lunch or recess. On average, time spent in those subjects was cut by 32 percent.
- The average time for social studies decreased by 76 minutes per week, 57 minutes per week in art/music, 50 minutes per week in recess and 40 minutes per week in physical education.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
A book won't move your eyes for you the way images on a screen do. It won't move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it. It won't do the work for you. To read a story well is to follow it, to act it, to feel it, to become it--everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is not "interactive" with a set of rules or options, as games are; reading is actual collaboration with the writer's mind.I think this might have been what Sara was getting at yesterday when she wrote I don't need you to be me.
Monday, February 18, 2008
I'm starting my lists now. How about you?
How's this for a poetry stretch -- could you take the names of a group of, say, 10-20 rodents, or mammals (or even poets, authors or bloggers) and make them into a rhyming chant? I'm heading over to Miss Rumphius right now to suggest it!Gauntlet thrown and accepted. For me, the ultimate rhyming chant is Tom Lehrer's song The Elements.
All my chant attempts so far have fit this tune (a parody of Modern Major General from The Pirates of Penzance). It's sad, really, because I can't get it out of my head. I began with this:
Counting 1 and 2 and 3I'm not sure I have enough math to write about, so I set it aside and began thinking about mammals. Here's how it started.
Shapes and patterns, symmetry
Elephant, rhinocerousThe rhyme works, but I have a strong desire for these animals to be related in some way. Perhaps I'll try continent or biome.
kangaroo and platypus
Rabbit, fox and polar bear
Bats are flying through the air
So fair poetry writers, your challenge for this week is to write a rhyming chant of your own. What will you choose? Will it be cities, food, flowers, or something else? I'll continue working on my mammal chant. Leave me a comment when your poem is complete and I will post the results here later this week.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Maus was the first graphic novel I read. I fell in love with the form and have not been disappointed since. I was particularly moved by his recent book, In the Shadow of No Towers, a collection of comics in response to the events of 9-11. You can learn more about this book at these sites.
Little Lit. You can read more about Little Lit in this interview with Françoise Mouly.
Art Spiegelman celebrates his 60th birthday today. You can learn more about this talented comic artist, author and illustrator at these sites.
- Comic Creator: Art Spiegelman
- Book Sense interview
- Video interview with Charlie Rose
- RAW Profile: Art Spiegelman
BabylonThe round up this week is being hosted by Vivian over at HipWriterMama. Do stop by and read all the great poetry being shared this week. But wait! Before you go, be sure to check out this week's poetry stretch results. Happy poetry Friday, all!
By Robert Graves
The child alone a poet is:
Spring and Fairyland are his.
Truth and Reason show but dim,
And all’s poetry with him.
Rhyme and music flow in plenty
For the lad of one-and-twenty,
But Spring for him is no more now
Than daisies to a munching cow;
Just a cheery pleasant season,
Daisy buds to live at ease on.
He’s forgotten how he smiled
And shrieked at snowdrops when a child,
Or wept one evening secretly
For April’s glorious misery.
Wisdom made him old and wary
Banishing the Lords of Faery.
Wisdom made a breach and battered
Babylon to bits: she scattered
To the hedges and ditches
All our nursery gnomes and witches.
Lob and Puck, poor frantic elves,
Drag their treasures from the shelves.
Jack the Giant-killer’s gone,
Mother Goose and Oberon,
Bluebeard and King Solomon.
Robin, and Red Riding Hood
Take together to the wood,
And Sir Galahad lies hid
In a cave with Captain Kidd.
None of all the magic hosts,
None remain but a few ghosts
Of timorous heart, to linger on
Weeping for lost Babylon.
just paisley shares a poem entitled fire, or the lack there of.It's not too late if you still want to play. Write your metaphor poem and leave me a comment, then I'll add your poem to the list.
cloudscome at a wrung sponge has a photo and the poem In February.
Daisybug from Things that make me say ... gives us a Glimpse of Stillness.
Laura Pudie Salas wrote A Dream Is ..., while she was unable to sleep.
sister AE at Having Writ shares a poem entitled Criminals.
Elaine at Wild Rose Reader has a number of metaphor poems for us.
Amy at My Breakfast Platter joins us for the first time and shares A Classroom is ....
Cheryl Rainfield also joins us for the first time with this lovely piece.
Marianne at Doing the Write Thing! is another first timer who shares a poem entitled A Leak.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Le Guin has an interesting response. Do try and get your hands on a copy of the magazine. This is provocative stuff.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
America the Beautiful Scavenger Hunt - School Library Journal is sponsoring a contest where participants submit 10 questions and answers that reveal the most wonderful and wacky facts that answer the question: What should everyone know about your state? Hurry, the deadline for this one is March 15th. Two winning librarians in each state will receive a free collection of America the Beautiful, Third Series and the scavenger hunts will be published in an additional title of America the Beautiful WOW! WEIRD, wacky and OUT of this WORLD state facts!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
"Australia apologized Wednesday to its indigenous people for past treatment that "inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss," in a historic parliamentary vote that supporters said would open a new chapter in race relations in the country."
This is thoughtfully written and makes for good reading. Do take a look.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Homework is of little benefit to students from junior kindergarten to Grade 6, say the authors of a just-released Canadian study, who also found it is often the source of stress and burnout in children, as well the cause of conflict – even marital stress – for many families.I spend a lot of time with my students discussing the merits of homework. I recommend a lot of games for math homework as a fun way to practice skills. What do you think? What are the advantages/disadvantages of homework?
A Book Is LikeElaine left a comment suggesting this poem would work better as a metaphor poem (taking out all the "is like" statements). I completely agree. Here's what it would look like with this revision.
by Kathy Leeuwenburg
A book is like an open flower, scented pages, fragrant hours.
A book is like a crafty fox, surprising in its clever plots.
A book is like a fairy's wings, with princesses, enchanted kings.
A book is like a windowsill, where breezy thoughts are never still.
A book is like an hour glass, whose pages flow as hours pass.
A book is like a lock and key that opens doors and sets minds free.
A book is like an ancient clock that speaks the times but never talks.
A book is like an open letter, when read again the friendship's better.
A book is like an apple core with seeds inside for growing more.
A book is like a trusted friend that keeps its secret to the end.
Leeuwenburg, K. (1994). A book is like. The Reading Teacher, 47(6), 463.
A Book IsSo, your challenge is to write a metaphor poem. Once you're done, leave me a comment about your work and I'll post the results here later this week.
adapted from a poem by Kathy Leeuwenburg
A book is
an open flower
scented pages, fragrant hours
a crafty fox
surprising in its clever plots
a fairy's wings
with princesses, enchanted kings
where breezy thoughts are never still
an hour glass
whose pages flow as hours pass
a lock and key
that opens doors and sets minds free
an ancient clock
that speaks the times but never talks
an open letter
when read again the friendship's better
an apple core
with seeds inside for growing more
a trusted friend
that keeps its secret to the end
Friday, February 08, 2008
Wherever in the wastesThe round up this week is being hosted by Gina at AmoXcalli. Do stop by and read all the great poetry that's been offered up. Before you go, be sure to check out this week's poetry stretch results. Happy poetry Friday, all!
by William Butler Yeats
Wherever in the wastes of wrinkling sand
Worn by the fan of ever flaming time
Longing for human converse, we have pitched
A camp for musing in some seldom spot
Of not unkindly nurture, and let loose
To roam and ponder those sad dromedaries
Our dreams, the Master of the pilgrimage
Cries, "Nay -- the caravan goes ever on,
The goal lies further than the morning star."
Thursday, February 07, 2008
cloudscome at a wrung sponge shares a haiku.
Diane Davis gives us an untitled piece.
sister AE at Having Writ gives us a limerick.
Laura Purdie Salas also shares a haiku.
I Had It Good
I shudder when I pass them in the market,
the Ramen Noodles and Mac & Cheese,
sometimes even peanut butter.
I wonder how I made it through the
weeks and months on cheap food,
sleepless nights, and days upon days
in front of wide-eyed kids,
wondering if I was doing it right.
I entered adulthood
earning $8000 a year,
living in a tiny space, made larger
only by the Murphy bed.
Exactly one mile from school,
I walked when the snow wasn't
blinding or deep.
My window looked out on the zoo
just across the street.
In the dead of winter
over howling winds,
I could still hear the elephants trumpet
and lions roar,
so far from their homes.
See those yams? They remind me of
Ramen Noodles. Do you think
those women ever hate
that which nourishes them?
Get tired of it? Regret not having more?
I did. But those yams,
baking in the sun,
feeding the hungry,
remind me how good I had it,
even when it didn't feel that way.
It seems that this year's Willesden Herald International Short Story competition is over, and that the winner is ... no one. Due to the judges' inability to a find truly outstanding entry, the decision was made not to award a prize.
Here is an excerpt from Zadie Smith's post, breaking the news.
And we received a whole bunch of stories. We dutifully read through hundreds of them. But in the end – we have to be honest – we could not find the greatness we’d hoped for. It’s for this reason that we have decided not to give out the prize this year.There are many thoughtful comments, but this one had me nodding in agreement.
The little Willesden Herald Prize is only about good writing, and it turns out that a prize faithfully recognizing this imperative must also face the fact that good writing is actually very rare. For let us be honest again: it is sometimes too easy, and too tempting, to blame everything that we hate in contemporary writing on the bookstores, on the corporate publishers, on incompetent editors and corrupt PR departments – and God knows, they all have their part to play. But we also have our part to play. We also have to work out how to write better and read better.
I wonder how many PUBLISHED stories Zadie Smith and the other judges would read to find one “great” story? Of course a free competition will have some chaff, but to expect “greatness” in a mid-level short story competition might be overstating the competition’s importance. Especially one “established to support unpublished writers.” Few writers achieve greatness without first passing through mediocrity, promise, proficiency…
Here are some of the results of the poll.
Almost nine in ten voters (89%) say that using the imagination is important to innovation and one’s success in a global knowledge-based economy and essential to success in the 21st Century.This is interesting stuff. It is particularly timely for me, as my class is discussing the impact of NCLB on subjects outside of reading and math.
69% of American voters believe that, when compared to other nations, America devotes less attention to developing the imagination and innovation.
88% of respondents indicated that an education in and through the arts is essential to cultivating the imagination.
63% of voters strongly believe that building capacities of the imagination that lead to innovation is just as important as the “so called” basics for all students in the classroom and that an education in and through the arts helps to substantiate imaginative learning (91%) and should be considered a part of the basics.
For additional resources and more information on the poll, please visit the imagine nation.
This week a number of really outstanding sites and materials were listed for African American history. Since I was moved when exploring them, I thought you might want to see them as well.
We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement
This site from the National Park Service shows 49 churches, houses, and other properties related largely to the post-World War II civil rights movement. The links to these properties consist of photographs and texts, and the exhibit offers a bibliography and links to websites relating to civil rights. Here is an excerpt from the Introduction.
In visiting the 49 places listed in the National Register for their association with the modern civil rights movement, as well as the Selma-to-Montgomery March route--a Department of Transportation designated "All-American Road" and a National Park Service designated National Historic Trail--two things will be apparent. First, although they had white supporters and sympathizers, the modern civil rights movement was designed, led, organized, and manned by African Americans, who placed themselves and their families on the front lines in the struggle for freedom. Their heroism was brought home to every American through newspaper, and later, television reports as their peaceful marches and demonstrations were violently attacked by law enforcement officers armed with batons, bullwhips, fire hoses, police dogs, and mass arrests. The second characteristic of the movement is that it was not monolithic, led by one or two men. Rather it was a dispersed, grass-roots campaign that attacked segregation in many different places using many different tactics. On this itinerary you will learn about the people and places associated with one of the most important chapters in our history.Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
From the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress, this site offers 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 photos of former slaves. The collection can be searched by name, city, state, topic, or other key words. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). This is heartbreaking and essential reading.
Drop Me Off in Harlem
This ArtsEdge site, a project of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is a multimedia exploration of the Harlem Renaissance (1920s-1930s). Students can hear Langston Hughes read his poems, listen to Duke Ellington direct his orchestra, or watch "Shorty" George Snowden dance the Lindy Hop. An interactive map displays important cultural, social, and political establishments. Lesson ideas and learning activities facilitate an arts-integrated approach to the study of key works and themes that emerged.
Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits
This site from the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution presents photos of 100 famous and influential African Americans, from with Frederick Douglass and to Wynton Marsalis. Each portrait includes a brief biography.
Exploring Amistad: Race and Boundaries of Freedom in Antebellum Maritime America
Mystic Seaport's site explores the Amistad Revolt of 1839-1842 and how we make history of it. It uses timelines, a library of historical documents, a discovery section and bibliography to teach about this watershed historical event, which set off a legal, political, and popular debate over the slave trade, slavery, race, Africa, and ultimately America itself.
This should be enough to get you started. If you are hungry for more, visit African Americans Teaching and Learning Resources.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Scary admission aside, I do know a good interview when I read one. The Guardian writes about Judy's Blume's Lessons in Love as she approaches her 70th birthday. Once you're done with the article, head on over and check out her blog.
I guess now I'll need to pick up a title or two. Which one, dear readers, should I start with?
Monday, February 04, 2008
Here's what the sidebar says.
Here we will meet the writers whose words are presenting nonfiction in a whole new way. Discover books that show how nonfiction writers are some of the best storytellers around. Learn how these writers practice their craft: research techniques, fact gathering and detective work. Check out how they find unusual tidbits, make the facts interesting and write something kids will love to read. Explore how photos and illustrations are integrated with the text to explain an artists vision of the world. Consider what subjects are flooding the market and what still needs a voice. Rethink nonfiction for kids.
- Vicki Cobb
- Linda Salzman
- April Pulley Sayre
- Jennifer Armstrong
- Padma Venkatraman
- Don Brown
- Bob Raczka
- Loreen Leedy
- Anna M. Lewis
- Sue Macy
- Kelly Fineman
- Steve Jenkins
- Kathleen Krull
- Sneed B. Collard III
Here is your inspiration.
This photograph was taken by Mark Knobil, a freelance video/film photographer from Pittsburgh. The image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License. Please be sure to include this information on your site if you include the image with your poem.
Alright, there's your stretch. Write any form of poetry inspired by this image. Leave me a comment about your poem and I'll round them all up later this week.
P.S. - Next week we'll take up rhyming chants, as suggested by Mary Lee over at A Year of Reading, so be prepared to put your thinking caps on!
Friday, February 01, 2008
The Secret of the UniverseThe round-up this week is being hosted by Karen Edmisten. Before you head over to read all the great posts, be sure to read the results of this week's poetry stretch, where lots of creative people wrote roundels. Happy poetry Friday, all!
by Edward Dowden
I spin, I spin, around, around,
And close my eyes,
And let the bile arise
From the sacred region of the soul’s Profound;
Then gaze upon the world; how strange! how new!
The earth and heaven are one,
The horizon-line is gone,
The sky how green! the land how fair and blue!
Perplexing items fade from my large view,
And thought which vexed me with its false and true
Is swallowed up in Intuition; this,
This is the sole true mode
Of reaching God,
And gaining the universal synthesis
Which makes All—One; while fools with peering eyes
Dissect, divide, and vainly analyse.
So round, and round, and round again!
How the whole globe swells within my brain,
The stars inside my lids appear,
The murmur of the spheres I hear
Throbbing and beating in each ear;
Right in my navel I can feel
The centre of the world’s great wheel.
Ah peace divine, bliss dear and deep,
No stay, no stop,
Like any top
Whirling with swiftest speed, I sleep.
O ye devout ones round me coming,
Listen! I think that I am humming;
No utterance of the servile mind
With poor chop-logic rules agreeing
Here shall ye find,
But inarticulate burr of man’s unsundered being.
Ah, could we but devise some plan,
Some patent jack by which a man
Might hold himself ever in harmony
With the great whole, and spin perpetually,
As all things spin
As Time spins off into Eternity,
And Space into the inane Immensity,
And the Finite into God’s Infinity,
Spin, spin, spin, spin.