let it go

let it go

e.e. cummings

let it go – the

smashed word broken

open vow or

the oath cracked length

wise – let it go it

was sworn to

go

let them go – the

truthful liars and

the false fair friends

and the boths and

neithers- you must let them go they

were born

to go

let it all go – the

big small middling

tall bigger really

the biggest and all

things – let all go

dear

so comes love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

San Antonio

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Tonight I lingered over your name,
the delicate assembly of vowels
a voice inside my head.
You were sleeping when I arrived.
I stood by your bed
and watched the sheets rise gently.
I knew what slant of light
would make you turn over.
It was then I felt 
the highways slide out of my hands.
I remembered the old men
in the west side cafe,
dealing dominoes like magical charms.
It was then I knew,
like a woman looking backward,
I could not leave you,
or find anyone I loved more.

Short Review: God got a dog by Cynthia Rylant

41oDJwYUDzLGod got a dog

Written by Cynthia Rylant

Illustrated by Marla Frazee

48 pages

Published in October 2013 by Beach Lane Books

Source: Public Library

I didn’t know what to expect from Cynthia Rylant’s latest book, God Got a Dog. I just knew that the title was interesting and I wanted to see what it was about. Man, what a good book.

God Got a Dog is a collection of poems written by Rylant and illustrated by the talented Marla Frazee. In each poem, God does something different: gets a dog, goes to the doctor, and catches a cold. The poems are touching and humorous, perfect for both kids and adults alike. I plan on buying my own copy as soon as possible. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

God got a desk job

Just to see what it

would be like.

Made Her back hurt.

God’s always had a

bad back anyway-

the weight of the world

and all that,

She thought Her job was tough,

till She sat at a desk all day.

It was torture.

She could feel the Light

Inside Her grow

dimmer and dimmer

and She thought that

if She had to pick

up that phone

one more time,

She’d just start the

whole Armageddon thing

people keep talking about.

(Not Her idea, not Her plan,

but in a pinch, She’s

sure She could come up

with something.)

The only thing that got

Her through to the

end of the day was

Snickers bars.

She ate thirty-seven.

Plus thinking about the Eagle Nebula

in the constellation Serpens.

That helped.

Podcasts for Bicycles by Nikki Giovanni

Podcasts for Bicycles

 

I loved before

I understood;

Love is a skill

 

I loved my Mother’s cool hands

On my forehead

 

I loved the safety

Of her arms

I trusted

Before I understood

The word

 

Mommy would say

When I had fallen:

“Come here, Nikki,

and I’ll pick you up”

 

and I would wipe my eyes

push myself off my fat bottom

and tottle over to her

for my reward:

a kiss and a “That’s my Big Girl!”

 

I am still a sucker

For that one

 

But I grew up

And learned

Trust and love

Are crafts we practice

Are wheels

We balance

Our lives on

 

Are BICYCLES

We ride

Through challenges and changes

 

To escape and ecstasy

-from Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni

giovanni utopia

The Way of the World

The Way of the World

Mary Oliver

The chickens ate all the crickets.

The foxes ate all the chickens.

This morning a friend hauled his

boat to shore and gave me the most

wondrous fish. In its silver scales

it seemed dressed for a wedding.

The gills were pulsing, just above

where the shoulders would be, if it had

had shoulders. The eyes were still

looking around, I don’t know what

they were thinking.

The chickens ate all the crickets.

The foxes ate all the chickens.

I ate the fish.

from A Thousand Mornings

oliver thousand

Happy National Poetry Month!

NPM_LOGOToday marks the first day of National Poetry Month so I’m sharing my latest favorite poem with you.

If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Pablo Neruda

Untitled

Poem to Be Read at 3 A.M.

by Donald Justice

 

Excepting the diner

On the outskirts

The town of Ladora

At 3 A.M.

Was dark but

For my headlights

And up in

One second-story room

A single light

Where someone

Was sick or

Perhaps reading

As I drove past

At seventy

Not thinking

This poem

Is for whoever

Had the light on

 

Poetry Project: The Healing Time by Pesha Joyce Gertler

Pesha Joyce Gertler isn’t a Pulitzer-Prize winning poet but I couldn’t let this month go by without sharing one of my favorite poems with you. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you know that I’ve recently celebrated my 30th birthday. When you’re in your early 20s, 30 seems like a “long time from now”. I could say that 30 crept up on me but that’s not true. I saw it coming but it felt unreal. Now it’s here and I’m wearing it like a coat. “The Healing Time” is a poem that reminds me of all that I went through in my 20s and how bright everything looks.

                                               The Healing Time

                                                Finally on my way to yes
                                                I bump into
                                                all the places
                                                where I said no
                                                to my life
                                                all the untended wounds
                                                the red and purple scars
                                                those hieroglyphs of pain
                                                carved into my skin, my bones,
                                                those coded messages
                                                that send me down
                                                the wrong street
                                                again and again
                                                where I find them
                                                the old wounds
                                                the old misdirections
                                                and I lift them
                                                one by one
                                                close to my heart
                                                and I say    holy
                                                holy.

                                                   © Pesha Joyce Gertler

The Poetry Project

Lu (Regular Rumination) and Kelly (The Written Word) have decided to revamp their Read More/Blog More Poetry event. The event is now a year-long project. Instead of posting a poetry-related post at the end of the month, participants can now post whenever they want and as many times as they want. There will also be a monthly prompt that you can take part in. To kick this project off, Lu and Kelly are asking participants to answer a few questions.

Why do you want to join for the Poetry Project? I love poetry!

Do you have a favorite poet? I have a lot of favorite poets like Pablo Neruda, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Emily Dickinson, and Raymond Carver.

Hopefully this will go longer than a year. Do you have any suggestions for themes? Poetry from the Harlem Renaissance, books in verse, biographies about poets, and focus on poets of various nationalities and races.

What are your experiences with poetry in the past? Have they been positive or negative? My experiences with poetry have usually been pretty positive.

Tell us about a poem or poet that has had a profound effect on you. If you can’t think of a poem, how about a song? Or a line from a story? What a great question! This could be a prompt. There are a lot of poets that I’ve discovered at the perfect time in my life: Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair as a teenager; Audre Lorde’s Collected Poems as a young adult, and Raymond Carver’s All of Us as a new mom.

What frustrates you about poetry or the way we talk about poetry? What frustrates me is that some poetry can be really hard to understand. It’s as though certain poets want their work to be as difficult as possible so only a selected few will ever love and know it. I can think of a few poets whose work I avoid at all times.

Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with poetry! Hmmm. . .

NPM: Toast by Leonard Nathan

Toast

Leonard Nathan

 

There was a woman in Ithaca

who cried softly all night

in the next room and helpless

I fell in love with her under the blanket

of snow that settled on all the roofs

of the town, filling up

every dark depression.

 

Next morning

in the motel coffee shop

I studied all the made-up faces

of women. Was it the middle-aged blonde

who kidded the waitress

or the young brunette lifting

her cup like a toast?

 

Love, whoever you are,

your courage was my companion

for many cold towns

after the betrayal of Ithaca,

and when I order coffee

in a strange place, still

in a strange place, still

I say, lifting, this is for you.

 

From Good Poems for Hard Times: Selected and Introduced by Garrison Keillor

NPM: Today really is Poem in Your Pocket Day

No, seriously. Today really is Poem in my Pocket Day. So if you thought you missed it yesterday, you didn’t. Here’s the poem that I’m carrying around:

Welcome Morning

by Anne Sexton

 

There is joy

in all:

in the hair I brush each morning,

in the Cannon towel, newly washed,

that I rub my body with each morning,

in the chapel of eggs I cook

each morning,

in the outcry from the kettle

that heats my coffee

each morning,

in the spoon and the chair

that cry “hello, there, Anne”

each morning,

in the godhead of the table

that I set my silver, plate, cup upon

each morning.

 

All this is God,

right here in my pea-green house

each morning

and I mean,

though often forget,

to give thanks,

to faint down by the kitchen table

in a prayer of rejoicing

as the holy birds at the kitchen window

peck into their marriage of seeds.

 

So while I think of it,

let me paint a thank-you on my palm

for this God, this laughter of the morning,

lest it go unspoken.

 

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard

dies young.

 

From, Good Poems: Selected and Introduced by Garrison Keillor

NPM: Gemineye’s A Penny for Your Thoughts

When I was younger, I watched several episodes of Def Poetry Jam. I remember it coming on really late at night on HBO, so most nights I wasn’t able to catch it.  What I really loved about the show was that it wasn’t mindless, it was a different form of reality TV that illustrated to viewers how alive poetry can become when it’s spoken.

You can follow this talented poet on Facebook.

Otherwise

Photo courtesy of Paul (Dex)

Otherwise

 

I got out of bed

on two strong legs.

It might have been

otherwise. I ate

cereal, sweet

milk, ripe, flawless

peach. It might

have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill

to the birch wood.

All morning I did

the work I love.

 

At noon I lay down

with my mate. It might

have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together

at a table with silver

candlesticks. It might

have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed

in a room with paintings

on the walls, and

planned another day

just like this day.

But one day, I know,

it will be otherwise.

 

Jane Kenyon

 

Review: Here by Wislawa Szymborska

Here

Wislawa Szymborska

Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stainslaw Barańczak

2010

81 pages

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Sources: Publisher and Public Library

 

 

I can’t speak for elsewhere,

But here on Earth we’ve got a fair supply of everything. . .

 

Here by the poet Wislawa Szymborska is a book that I’ve been dipping in and out of for almost a year.  I’ve read it front-to-back twice but failed to write a review.  I think it’s time to change that since it’s a good volume and will probably be on my best of 2011 list at the end of the year.

Here is the poet’s latest volume of poetry. At just 81 pages, the book is a great volume to carry along to read a poem or two when you have the time though once I read the first poem, I sat down to read the rest.  It’s also a bilingual edition so readers can see what the poems look like in Szymborska’s native language, Polish, alongside of their translations.

The subjects that the poet writes about vary but all are interesting. One of my favorite poems is “Teenager”, in which Szymborska imagines a meeting of her teenage self and who she is today.

 

So many dissimilarities between us

that only the bones are likely still the same,

the cranial vault, the eye sockets.

 

Relatives and friends still link us, it is true,

but in her world nearly all are living,

while in mine almost no one survive from that shared circle.

 

I got shivers reading that last stanza. For most of us, we go from being the youngest members of our families to the oldest as we slowly by surely lose those we love.  It’s a thought that I’ve encountered several times this year in other works such as Stewart O’Nan’s Emily, Alone and Michael Lee West’s Consuming Passions.

Other favorites from the collection includes “An Idea” which is a great poem for those of us who try to talk ourselves out of good ideas and “Vermeer”

 

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum

in painted quiet and concentration

keeps pouring milk day after day

the World hasn’t earned

the world’s end.

 

As with most volumes of poetry there are a few poems that I didn’t care for but overall Here is a readable collection that’s great for those who are new to reading poetry and those who have been doing it for years.

Mini- Reviews: Emily Alone, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing, and Lost at Sea

Emily, Alone

Stewart O’Nan

Publication Year: 2010

Source: Gift from Kai

I picked up Emily, Alone because it’s not often that I read a book that features an elderly main character, which is something that I didn’t realize until I was halfway through the book. After her sister-in-law has a small stroke, Emily has to face life and do things for herself again. What comes next is an interesting

What I like about the book is that O’Nan does a great job of having Emily look back on certain aspects of her life with regret, joy, or even a new sense of wonder. Emily has never gotten along with her daughter Margaret and wishes she was closer to both Margaret and Margaret’s adult children. Her husband, parents, and best friend are all gone, and there aren’t many people Emily would call part of her inner circle.  You see the day-to-day details of someone who is almost on her own. While reading the book, I often wondered how I would look back on my life if and when I become elderly.

More than halfway through the book Emily has a rant or two about politics and our current president. There were also a few lines about his race. I could look at it as someone who is looking at a newer generation and not understanding it but by the end of Emily’s rant on what she felt was wrong with American politics, I was turned off to reading more about Emily. So instead of getting a rating of 4 or 5 out of 5, Emily, Alone gets a rating of 2 ½ out of 5 stars.

Hard Times Require Furious Dancing

Alice Walker

210 pages

Publication Year: 2010

Publisher: New World Library

Source: Public Library

I first fell in love with Alice Walker’s poetry more than a decade ago when I discovered her poetry collection, Her Blue Body Everything We Know. It’s a wonderful volume of poetry so when I saw that Walker recently published a new collection, I didn’t hesitate to check this out from my public library. I was less than one hundred pages into the book, when I decided to just make it a DNF (do not finish). Among the subjects that Walker writes about includes stopping wars, holding on to anger, and learning lessons which sound somewhat passionate but this collection lacks emotion for me. I couldn’t find a reason to keep reading so I stopped. Out of all the pages I read, I only found two poems worth mentioning: “Sometimes” and “Watching You Hold Your Hatred”.

Lost At Sea

Bryan Lee O’Malley

172 pages

Publisher: Oni Press

Publication Year: 2005

Source: Public Library

 I have a lot on my mind and not a lot to do so it’s going to come out, all of it, and then, then , it may begin to make a sort of sense. . .

I love love love the work of Bryan Lee O’Malley. He’s the genius behind one of my favorite new-to-me graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim. I had no idea that he wrote anything else so I was ecstatic to find more of his work. Lost at Sea is the story of Raleigh, an eighteen year old who thinks she doesn’t have a soul. It sounds weird, right? But it’s not. She’s the only child of divorced parents, friendless, and with no clue on what to do with herself or her life. By chance she ends up going on a cross-country road trip with three classmates. Raleigh’s already a loner and kind of awkward around other people, but maybe these three can get her out of her shell.

Lost at Sea perfectly captures the loneliness and confusion of life. This is a book I can see myself handing to a teenager or an adult. O’Malley’s black and white drawings compliment the story nicely while taking a back seat to let everything develop. I think Craig Thompson’s brilliant and beautiful graphic novel, Blankets, would go nicely with this book. Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday Salon: Happy Mother’s Day

Now That I Am Forever with Child

How the days went

while you were blooming within me

I remember each upon each-

the swelling changed planes of my body

and how you first fluttered, then jumped

and I thought it was my heart.

How the days wound down

and the turning of winter

I recall, with you growing heavy

against the wind. I thought

now her hands

are formed, and her hair

has started to curl

now he teeth are done

now she sneezes.

Then the seed opened

I bore you one morning just before spring.

My head rang like a fiery piston

my legs were towers between which

A new world was passing.

Since then

I can only distinguish

one thread within running hours

You, flowing through selves

toward You.

Audre Lorde

Guyku by Bob Raczka

Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys

Bob Raczka

Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

48 pages

October 2010

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

 

I picked up Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys because of all the positive reviews it was receiving on Twitter – a place that I receive many book recommendations from. After my first reading  of Guyku, I knew all the talk was right. The book is a great poetry introduction for young children – girls included. Raczka gives readers haiku for every season of the year that are great for reading aloud. With illustrations by the wonderful Peter H. Reynolds the book is a perfect addition to any poetry collection.

The haiku featured in the book are silly, funny, or lightly mourning a passing season. They’re also simple enough where even young children can understand them.

The illustrations are soft and compliment each haiku and season. I love that the boys in the book are of every shape and color. I really love how after every reading of this book, my kids and I wanted more.  Guyku is a great book for poetry experts and novices alike.

April is. . . National Poetry Month

I love the month of April. Not because of spring, (a season that I don’t care for), but because April signals so many different changes: spring break, Easter, my blogiversary, and the start of National Poetry Month. I love poetry and by celebrating N.P.M. is a great way to share some of my favorite poets and their works. It’s also a great excuse to read more poetry than I usually do. Do you read poetry? If so, are you going to celebrate National Poetry Month?

 

Can’t Tell

Nellie Wong

When World War II was declared

on the morning radio,

we glued our ears, widened our eyes.

our bodies shivered.

 

A voice said

Japan was the enemy,

Pearl Harbor a shambles

and in our grocery store

in Berkeley, we were suspended

 

Next to the meat marker

where voices hummed,

valises, pots and pans packed,

no more hot dogs, baloney,

pork kidneys.

 

We children huddled on wooden planks

and my parents whispered:

We are Chinese, we are Chinese.

Safety pins anchored,

our loins ached.

 

Shortly our Japanese neighbors vanished

and my parents continued to whisper:

We are Chinese, we are Chinese.

 

We wore black arm bands,

put up a sign

in bold letters.

 

 

From the poetry anthology, Claiming the Spirit Within: A Sourcebook of Women’s Poetry edited by Marilyn Sewell.

 

Thoughts: 100 Best African American Poems

The Best 100 African American Poems (*but I cheated)

Edited by Nikki Giovanni

Publication Date: November 1, 2010

Publisher: Sourcebooks

228 pages

Source: Library

Note: It includes one audio CD

As a teenager I remember taking my old tattered copy of Emily Dickinson’s Selected Poems everywhere I went. I loved opening a page and starting a new poem. The book really belonged to the school library but I checked out the book so much, that it felt like my own. I loved that edition so much that I recently bought the same edition that I carried around me years ago.

Now as an adult, I don’t read poetry enough. I don’t know what happened between my years as a teenager when I lived for the genre and becoming an adult, but poetry became something left behind. When Serena from Savvy Wit and Verse came up with her Fearless Poetry Challenge and asked all participants to read just one volume of poetry, I signed up. I want to go back to those years when I read poetry as much as I read novels.

I picked Nikki Giovanni’s anthology The 100* Best African American Poems (*but I cheated) because last year I read Giovanni’s Bicycles, and fell in love with her poetry. The anthology is really an anthology of more than one hundred poems that were collected and organized by Giovanni and several others. In her introduction Giovanni wrote,

African American poems are like all other poems: beautiful, loving, provocative, thoughtful, and all those other adjectives I can think of. Poems know no boundaries. They, like all Earth citizens, were born in some country, grew up on some culture, then in their blooming became citizens of the universe. Poems fly from heart to heart, head to head, to whisper a dream, to share a condolence, to congratulate, and to vow forever. The poems are true. They are translated and they are celebrated .  . .

As much as I loved the introduction, I found this anthology to be a hit-and-miss. When it comes to poetry anthologies, I think that not only is the quality of poems important but the arrangement too. The anthology starts out with Margaret Walker’s “For My People” which is a great uplifting poem that reminds me of Joy Harjo’s poem “Perhaps the World Ends Here”. But the next poem “Leroy” by Amiri Baraka, has such a different tone from the first poem that I had to step back. It’s a poem filled with anger and that’s okay but I think the rhythm of an anthology should be smooth−each poem should flow into the next one. “Leroy” fits the anthology but it should be located with the poems of similar themes or tones.

The first half of the anthology was a little choppy with the lack of flow and clumps of poems by the same poets but the second half was almost perfect. After reading Reuben Jackson’s “Rochelle”, I loved it so much that I had to read it over again but this time aloud to really hear it.

i want to have

an affair

with your poems.

take the haiku you read

on a late night

plane to Chicago

sip bourbon with that villanelle

in a penthouse

on central park west.

or considering

your love for this city,

an apartment above

washington

harbor.

sky dimming

like a chandelier

at twilight,

slow kisses

for each word.

“Dancing Naked on the Floor” by Kwame Alexander was another favorite of mine. I love that I was able to find new poets to follow like Asha Bandele, Pamela Sneed, and Tonya Maria Matthews.

The anthology comes with a CD that readers can listen to but since I prefer to silently read most poetry, I didn’t listen to it. I wished that the anthology came with a small biography of each of the poets instead of just an index. Overall, I think the real strength of this anthology is that it’s the perfect place to introduce readers to new poets but this isn’t the anthology that I want to keep in my permanent collection.

A Late Poetry Wednesday Post

Poetry Wednesday is an awesome meme hosted by someone. Who? I don’t know but I’m thankful that they thought of it. I’m also thankful for bloggers like Lu, Valerie, Carrie, and Serena who remind me how important and beautiful poetry is.

 

Percy and Books (Eight)

Mary Oliver


Percy does not like it when I read a book.

He puts his face over the top of it and moans.

He rolls his eyes, sometimes he sneezes.

The sun is up, he says, and the wind is down.

The tide is out and the neighbor’s dogs are playing.

But Percy, I say, Ideas! The elegance of language!

The insights, the funniness, the beautiful stories

that rise and fall and turn into strength, or courage.

Books? says Percy. I ate one once, and it was enough.

Let’s go.

From the Pulitzer-Prize and National Book Award-winning book, Red Bird.

Book Review: Poetry Speaks Who I Am

Poetry Speaks Who I Am
Edited by Elise Paschen and Dominique Raccah
172 pages
Publication Date: March 2010
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Source: Publisher

I’ve noticed that when I find a really great volume of poetry, it’s one that I’m dipping in and out of for months -even years- at a time. For the past five or six months I’ve been slowly working my way through the anthology, Poetry Speaks Who I Am. I might open up the book and reread one of my favorite poems “Perhaps the World Ends Here” by Joy Harjo before going to a random page and discovering Sonia Sanchez’s “Haiku” or re-reading Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”. This is an anthology that has spent a lot of time on my nightstand.

Poetry Speaks Who I Am is an anthology of poetry that compiled with teenagers in mind. It’s a book that includes poems about various subject matters from bra shopping to discovering poetry for the first time, fr0m race to experiencing the loss of someone special. Though I found a few poems that dealt with subject matters that I felt to be a bit juvenile, I kept in mind that I’m not the target audience and really enjoyed the book as a whole. Another bonus is that the book includes a CD so readers can hear the poets read their own work.

There were poems written by poets such as John Keats,  Molly Peacock, Edgar Allan Poe, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sherman Alexie, June Jordan and more. You don’t have to be a big poetry reader to enjoy the anthology.  I think this is a great introduction to poetry for teens who don’t normally read poetry for pleasure and those who already enjoy reading poetry.

Highly recommend.

Review: Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon

Newspaper Blackout: Poems
Austin Kleon
208 pages
Publication Date: April 13, 2010
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Source: Publisher

You wouldn’t think that poetry could be found within the pages of a newspaper but poet Austin Kleon has proved otherwise.When Kleon was twenty-two, he started using the newspaper and a black marker to find the words that writer’s block wouldn’t let him create on a blank page. The results are poems that are often funny or touching.

I’m really impressed with a lot of the poems I read in Newspaper Blackout. This volume of poetry isn’t like any other volume I’ve read before, not only because this is a collection of found poetry but also because this is a book you can read straight through and won’t get tired of. Often while reading poetry, it’s something you have to read a little at a time. Newspaper Blackout is a book you can easily read in one sitting.

According to poets.org found poetry is poems that “take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poetry.” It’s the “literary equivalent” of  a collage. In high school for a few of my English classes I had to make found poetry. It’s really fun to do. I love the fact that by sharing some of the poems in this book with my six year-old son inspired him to pick up a magazine and create his own found poem.

One of my favorite poems in the book:

rediscover the pleasure

of play

we

are all schoolboys and schoolgirls

staggering under the

weight of dream

stomping adults

You don’t have to be a lover or heavy reader of poetry to enjoy this collection. The author also includes a “how-to” on making your own found poetry. Highly recommended.

Have you heard of found poetry before this post? Have you ever made your own found poem?

Reading Journal: Good Poems

I’m happy to be one of today’s stops for Serena’s National Poetry Month Blog Tour in celebration of National Poetry Month.

When I want to read a good poem, there’s a few volumes of poetry that I go back to over and over again. One that I really enjoy is Good Poems, an anthology of poems edited by Garrison Keillor. The book features poetry read on Keillor’s radio show, “The Writer’s Almanac”.  Readers will find greats like Mary Oliver, Charles Bukowski, Donald Hall, Hayden Carruth, and William Shakespeare side-by-side with lesser-known poets like Ginger Andrews and Erica-Lynn Huberty. In his introduction Keillor wrote,

“What. . . makes all good poems matter, is that they offer a truer account than what we’re used to getting. They surprise us with clear pictures of the familiar. The soft arc of an afternoon in a few lines.”

I agree. There’s nothing better than a work of art that explains some aspect of life without obscure references to dig through or miles of description that leaves me trying to figure out what the work is about. The poems included in this anthology are easy-to-read and understand by poetry lovers and those who don’t read from the genre often.

Keillor divides the collection into nineteen sections by theme such as yellow, elders, lovers, music, language and lives. I found myself loving certain sections more than others but found most of the poems satisfying. I found poets that I haven’t of before like Charles Bukowski. After reading Bukowski’s “The Way it is Now” which starts out,


I’ll tell you
I’ve lived with some gorgeous women
and I was so bewitched by those
beautiful creatures that
my eyebrows twitchd.
but I’d rather drive to New York
backwards
than to live with any of them
again.


I laughed so hard, tearing the poem out of my book and mailing it to an ex-boyfriend who was having women troubles at the time.

Did I mention that I’m on my second copy of this anthology? I tore out and mailed off so many poems in this collection that when I wanted to reread many of my favorite poems, I couldn’t. This is that kind of book. The book that you’re going to find many poems to love, pages to mark up or add a post-it to. There’s so many great poems that I would love to give you a taste of like Anne Sexton’s “Welcome Morning” whose last line makes me shiver because I know I’m reading the truth or “The Orange” by Wendy Cope about the sharing of an orange between friends. Instead I’m share “The Portrait” by Stanley Kunitz,


My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I cam down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
still burning.


  • Good Poems

  • Selected and Introduced by Garrison Keillor

  • 504 pages

  • Publisher: Penguin

Book Review: Tan to Tamarind

Tan to Tamarind: Poems about the color brown
Written by: Malathi Michelle Iyengar
Illustrated by: Jamel Akib
Publisher:  Children’s Book Press
Pub Date: January 2009
32 pages

When I first read this book, I knew this would be the perfect book to kick-start National Poetry Month. Tan to Tamarind is a celebration of brown skin in shades from tan to tamarind, ocher to beige. There’s a small afterword by the author, where she explains why she wrote this book,

When I was a little girl in North Carolina, I hated waiting for the school bus. Every day at the bus stop a group of older kids would call me names and make fun of my brown skin, saying brown was a dirty, ugly color. I longed to trade in my brown complexion for peachy-pink. . . As I got older, though, I began discovering lots of wonderful stories and poems about the color brown, written by and about proud brown people. When I read their words, I didn’t feel ugly or dirty anymore. . .”

I read this book to my children who felt the poetry was easy to read and listen to. The book features so many shades of brown and also people and words from a few different cultures to illustrate that brown is everywhere. Each poem is just a few stanzas long, perfect for kids with short attention spans and aren’t used to poetry. The illustrations by Akib features masala tea, adobe buildings, fall leaves, and more. The illustrations complimented the author’s message of beauty.

I found this book at my library and I’m grateful that my librarian ordered it. Tan to Tamarind is a book that has a place in my personal library. It’s worth buying. I’m also going to look out for more books by the publisher, Children’s Book Press.

From Tan to Tamarind:

Tan

Brown.
Milk-tea brown.
Spicy-sweet masala tea brown.

Tea leaves and cardamom,
ginger and clove.

Amma steeps them in hot-hot water,
adds lots of cream and sugar.

Sweet, milky brown.
Delicate, fragrant brown.

My milk-tea brown hands
hold a cup of spicy tan masala tea,
to sip on a golden-brown summer afternoon.

Other reviews:
PaperTigers

Poetry Wednesday

*picture by Mando2003us. Click on picture to go to the link. Creative commons-licensed content

Beyond What

We reach for destinies beyond
what we have come to know
and in the romantic hush
of promises
perceive each
the other’s life
as known mystery.
Shared. But inviolate.
No melting. No squeezing
into One.
We swing our eyes around
as well as side to side
to see the world.

To choose, renounce,
this, or that−
call it a council between equals
call it love.

Alice Walker