Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Poetry Stretch - Without Words

Dana Gioia wrote a poem that begins in this fashion.

The world does not need words. It articulates itself
in sunlight, leaves, and shadows. The stones on the path
are no less real for lying uncatalogued and uncounted.
The fluent leaves speak only the dialect of pure being.
The kiss is still fully itself though no words were spoken.

Read the poem in its entirety.
How do objects or events express themselves without words? I'm not thinking of mask poems here but rather of poems that help us hear the thoughts and feelings of things that cannot speak. So, there's your challenge. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Poetry Stretch - The Shape of Things

My son posed this question over the weekend. "Mom, if you could be any shape, what shape would you be?" While I began pondering my life as a circle or square, I wondered if perhaps a lemniscate or concave polygon might be more appropriate. I'm still thinking about my answer to this question while thinking about shapes in the world around me. Since I'm thinking about shapes, this seemed like a good time to write about them. This is NOT a concrete poem challenge, but rather a challenge to write about a shape and the things you see or the things it makes. However, if you feel the urge to make it concrete, by all means do!

Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.a

Friday, September 17, 2010

Poetry Friday - The Reader

I've been away for a long, long time. I've missed you and missed the poetry. I've been reading, just not blogs. I've been writing too, just not much poetry. Today I'm sharing a poem I found at the blog How a Poem Happens.
The Reader
by Richard Wilbur

She is going back, these days, to the great stories
That charmed her younger mind. A shaded light
Shines on the nape half-shadowed by her curls,
And a page turns now with a scuffing sound.

Read the poem in it's entirety. (Don't miss the interview here about Wilbur's writing process.)
The round up is being hosted by Elaine at Wild Rose Reader. Do stop by and take in all the wonderful poetry being shared. Before you go, be sure to check out this week's poetry stretch results. Happy poetry Friday!

Poetry Stretch Results - Just Questions

The challenge this week was to write a poem that used only questions. Here are the results.
Officer Morrison's Vampire Poem
by Kate Coombs of BookAunt

Did you come at dusk, flying in bat's body?
Or did you smile your way in the door,
made welcome by the woman whose shining hair
is now stained with rust? Did you speak
charmingly to the party guests, telling tales
of old Romania, perhaps New Amsterdam?
Or did you cut to the chase, going straight
for the jugular, sucking the life from the life
of the party? And what happened
to the others? (All these spilled drinks,
broken glasses and splashes of wine everywhere.)
Are their bodies waiting to fall heavily
out of coat closets? Or did they simply run
and run till they were safe at home
and could pretend they were never here?
That they didn't leave their hostess
to deal with you, to take your hand
and welcome you into her breath,
to the bright red party of her death?

--Kate Coombs, 2010, all rights reserved

Wilbur Asks Charlotte Ten Questions
by Jane Yolen

1. Is interspecies communication
actually possible—or necessary?

2. Is the barn our world
or is the world larger than the barn and yard?

3. Do you really spin silk out of your body
or are you slowly unraveling through time?

4. How did you learn enough human language
to mount a publicity campaign?

5. What’s with the rat anyway?

6. Can food eat food?

7. Is E. B. white? Gray? Pink? Alternatively pigmented?

8. Was he truly a Dear Genius?

9. Did you have to die? Couldn’t you have just rested up for awhile?

10. Where was Pa going with that axe?

©2010 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

Steven Withrow of Crackles of Speech shares a poem entitled Giant Pacific Octopus.


by Diane Mayr of Random Noodling

Who picked this musical name
for the part of the fingernail
that is, in most cases, completely hidden?

How many more extravagant vocables
do we miss by not paying attention
to what is at our fingertips?

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Are You Afraid?
by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm

Are you afraid of growing up?
Are you afraid of dying?
Are you afraid to tell the truth?
Are you afraid of lying?
Are you afraid of squeaky mice?
Are you afraid of inky nights?
Are you afraid to give a speech?
Are you afraid of climbing heights?
Are you afraid of dental tools?
Are you afraid of haunted places?
Are you afraid of getting shots?
Are you afraid of tiny spaces?
Are you afraid of circus clowns?
Are you afraid of scaly snakes?
Are you afraid of lightning strikes?
Are you afraid to make mistakes?
Are you afraid to be afraid?
Why do you let your fears invade?

© Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Julie Larios of The Drift Record shares a poem entitled Jump Rope Rhyme.

by Liz

Where does all the music go after it is played?
So present in the moment to forever fade away.
Remembered sounds and feelings held within -
Could this be gone?
Once touched, heard, met, encountered
What becomes of life’s love song?
So, it's been a long time since I've written anything. Here's my contribution.
Ramblings While Revising

Since when is judgment spelled with an e?
Why does realize look so much better with a z?
Why do alphabet books lamely eXplain away the letter x?
Why does an historian sound so strange?
Why are data plural?
I know Latin, so why do I question?
How do letters and words come together in the form of a poem?
Why must they be beaten into submission?
Why can't they play nice and come along quietly?
Why is writing so damn hard?
It's not too late if you still want to play. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll add it to the list.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday Poetry Stretch - One Day Late

I'm late again my friends. I will post the results from last week's stretch shortly. The poems were really lovely.

This week I thought we would take inspiration from Jane Cooper's poem Seventeen Questions About KING KONG. In it, Cooper asks only questions. Here's how it begins.

Seventeen Questions About KING KONG

Is it a myth? And if so, what does it tell us about ourselves?

Is Kong a giant ape, or is he an African, beating his chest like a responsive gong?

Fay Wray lies in the hand of Kong as in the hand of God the Destroyer. She gives the famous scream. Is the final conflict (as Merian C. Cooper maintained) really between man and the forces of nature, or is it a struggle for the soul and body of the white woman?

Read the poem in its entirety. You can also listen to Cooper read it.

So, the challenge is to write a poem on a topic using only questions. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Nonfiction Monday - Project Seahorse

One of the things I love about working in academia is hearing my colleagues speak about their research. This summer I had the great pleasure of listening to a member of the biology faculty speak about her work with mosquitoes. It was both disgusting (did you know mosquitoes pee when they drink your blood?) and utterly fascinating (mosquitoes carry anticoagulants in their saliva so that blood doesn't clot while they're feeding). Not only was I engrossed in the topic, but thoroughly caught up in the excitement that enveloped the room during the lecture.

Whether it's mosquitoes or frogs or seahorses, it is this passion for their work that makes scientists such an interesting breed. It's also what makes the Scientists in the Field series so downright entertaining. Pamela Turner's latest title, Project Seahorse, is a fine addition to the series.
The first thing you should know is that this book is not entirely about the science of seahorses. Project Seahorse is the name of an organization committed to conservation and sustainable use of the world’s coastal marine ecosystems. Seahorses serve as the focus for finding marine conservation solutions.

The book opens describing a night dive in the waters just off Handumon in the Philippines. Scientists search for, find and measure seahorses and use them as a "barometer" of sorts to the health of the coral community. At the same time, a local fisherman is diving for his livelihood. Balancing the need to protect reefs with the need for locals to make a living is a problem that communities with coral reefs must work to solve. Project Seahorse hopes to find solutions to such problems.

At the end of chapter 1 was sucked in, but it was chapter 2 ("Mr. Mom") that sealed my fate. Reading about the work of Amanda Vincent made me want to strap on some SCUBA gear and head out for my own view of the reefs and their many unusual and beautiful inhabitants. Here's an excerpt that describes an experience of Amanda's.
Amanda still remembers a pair of White's seahorses she studies in Australia. The pregnant male was attacked during the night by another animal that bit a hole in his pouch and sucked out his babies. Amanda didn't expect the male to survive his terrible injury. Though nearby males tried to lure the female seahorse away, she refused to abandon her wounded mate. Every morning the female greeted her partner with the courtship dance that seahorse couples use to keep their reproductive cycles in harmony. After a few months, the male's pouch healed and he fathered another brood. "For any animal, that level of devotion is extraordinary," says Amanda.
After earning her degree, Amanda's work focused on examining the impact of fishing and trading on seahorse populations. Amanda not only continued her work as a biologist, but also took on the role of activist. In 1994 she joined forces with a Philippine environmental organization to "launch the world's first seahorse conservation project."

The remaining portion of Turner's narrative describes the lives of locals in Handumon and how they balance their reliance on fishing the reefs with their commitment to protecting them. Readers also learn about the work of conducting coral reef surveys and more about the efforts of Project Seahorse and the impact of education and conservation efforts.

There is much here to love, from vivid underwater photographs of seahorses and other coral reef inhabitants to a nonfiction narrative that is unusually compelling. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the work of real scientists or better understand the challenges of coral reef conservation efforts. Highly recommended.

Book: Project Seahorse
Author: Pamela Turner
Scott Tuason
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Publication Date: July 2010
Pages: 64 pages
Grades: 4-8
ISBN: 978-0547207131
Source of Book: Copy received from publisher.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. I am hosting this week at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Do take some time to check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Contradictions

In Whales Weep Not by D.H. Lawrence, the poem begins this way.
They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains
the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.
I thought it might be fun to to write a contradictory poem that begins with the words "They say .... but" and describes something or someone in a very different fashion.

So, are you up for the challenge? What will you write? Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.

Nonfiction Monday is Here!

I've not been seen around these parts much lately, but now that school is back in session I've got my game face on. I'm happy to launch my return by hosting nonfiction Monday. So without further ado, here's what folks are sharing in the vastly informative and entertaining world of nonfiction.
Shelf-employed is in with a call for nominations for the Sibert award.

Andi of a wrung sponge shares a list of titles on global warming.

Roberta of Wrapped in Foil shares a review of Amazing Faces by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Jeff Barger of NC Teacher Stuff shares a review of Biblioburro: A True Story From Columbia by Jeanette Winter.

Doret of The Happy Nappy Bookseller shares a review of Side by Side/ Lado a Lado by Monica Brown.

Angela Craft of Bookish Blather shares a review of Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League.

In Need of Chocolate shares a review of the book Rabbit by Sally Tagholm.

Jennifer at Jean Little Library shares her thoughts on two gardening/farm books.

Lori Calabrese of Lori Calabrese Writes! shares a review of How To Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event by Mayra Calvani.

Paula of Pink Me shares a review of Hot X: Algebra Exposed by Danica McKellar.

Mary Ann Scheuer of Great Kid Books shares a review of the Scholastic Children's Dictionary.

Tammy Flanders of Apples With Many Seeds shares some thoughts on International Literacy Day.

Margo of The Fourth Musketeer shares a review of The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman.

Janet of All About Books with Janet Squires shares a review of Labor Day by Mari C. Schuh.

Alex of The Children's War shares a review of The Champion of Children: the story of Janusz Korczak by Tomek Bogacki.

Michelle Markel of The Cat and the Fiddle recommends some children's books for Labor Day.

Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect (that's me!) shares a review of Project Seahorse by Pamela Turner.

Wendie O. of Wendie's Wanderings shares a review of Parrots by Margaret Fetty.

Anamaria of Books Together shares a review of How the Sphinx Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland.

proseandkahn shares a review of Whose Fingerprints are These? Crime-solving Science Projects by Robert Gardner.
Keep those reviews coming and I'll add to the list throughout the day.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Poetry Stretch Results - Birthdays and Beginnings

The challenge this week was to write about new beginnings or birthdays or both. Here are the results.
Stu Pidasso of Mudville Musings shares a poem entitled Old Dog and New Tricks.

Everything Is Beginning

by Kate Coombs of Book Aunt

Everything is beginning:
this breath, this doubt,
this cell phone ringing,
this smile, this curse,
this better, this worse,
the glitter of sunlight
on a splash of water,
the soft living weight
of my baby daughter.
Everything is new
in this world, every bit,
every sound, cell, byte,
every worry, glory, fight.
The skitter of a bug,
my walk across the rug.
The rug's very oldness
makes it a surprise,
not the same it was once
in the weaver's eyes.
These words are new
and your thoughts,
that one, just now—
it was new. So are you.

--Kate Coombs, 2010, all rights reserved

One Whole Year

by Amy LV of The Poem Farm

Look at me!
I'm different.
I'm not the age
I used to be.

Last night
that number
I'm older now.
One whole year.

Today's my
Look at me!
Can you see
a change?

I still feel
the same.
Growing up
is strange.

© Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Stephanie Parsley of Sparble shares this letter poem.
    Dear Dallas,

    Nearly a decade has passed since I fled
    your potholed streets and stony store clerks.
    I'd buried a daughter and a marriage here,
    and I didn't look back.

    A new town welcomed me, all warm-red brick
    and tall live oaks thick with dove.
    There, church bells rang out hymns
    four times a day. My daughter played
    with neighbor kids until dusk.
    Random old people struck up
    conversations in the grocery line.
    It was impossible to be lonely.
    I married and began to laugh again,
    grew stronger, stood taller, felt safer.

    But now, against my will and
    because of it, and to do what is right
    (because that's what I do),
    I've come back to you, Dallas.
    Temporarily, I remind myself,

    My first week here, I wore my shell
    and invisible weapons,
    icy stare and shoulder chip
    weighing me down.
    Yet you are somehow softer than I remember:
    Gentlemen hold open doors,
    receptionists call me by name,
    you are filled with people who are just plain

    Sure, I expect the bottom to fall out of my car soon
    because of your bumpy, neglected streets,
    and that blonde woman in the Mercedes
    cut me off in the carpool line this morning,
    almost side-swiping a teacher-on-foot in the process.
    But the teacher smiled and mouthed, "Thank you,"
    when I stopped to let her cross in front of me,
    and the AT&T guy was nice enough yesterday.
    Of course, he'll bill me for that.

    -- Stephanie Parsley, 2010
It's not too late if you still want to play. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll add it to the list.