World Poetry Day

Moments

There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.
Like, telling someone you love them.
Or giving your money away, all of it.

Your heart is beating, isn’t it?
You’re not in chains, are you?

There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life,
even, possibly, your own.

-Mary Oliver

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Happy National Poetry Month!

Bless the notebook that I always carry in

my pocket.

And the pen.

Bless the words with which I try to say

what I see, think, or feel.

With gratitude for the grace of the earth.

The expected and the exception, both.

For all the hours I have been given to

be in this world.

 

From “Good Morning” by Mary Oliver

“Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines” by Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Trans. W.S. Merwin
Poem XX from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924)

National Poetry Month: Sarah Kay’s The Type

It wouldn’t be NPM without me posting a poem here and there. I love Sarah Kay’s work and even posted her TED Talk about poetry a few years ago. While searching for poetry on YouTube (yes, you can find poetry there too,) I found “The Type” and had to share it. Enjoy.

You can find out more about the poet and her foundation, Project VOICE here.

 

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.

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

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day!

pocket_logo2Each year on Poem in Your Pocket Day, I find one poem to carry around with me all day. I usually end up carrying the poem around all year. I still have last year’s poem, E.E. Cumming’s “I Carry Your Heart with Me (I Carry it In)”. There’s still time to find a poem to carry around with you. Here’s my poem for today:

 

blessing the boats

            (at St. Mary’s)

may the tide

that is entering even now

the lip of our understanding

carry you out

beyond the face of fear

may you kiss

the wind then turn from it

certain that it will

love you back              may you

open your eyes to water

water waving forever

and may you in your innocence

sail through this to that

Lucille Clifton

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

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

Sunday Salon – Book Coveting Women Writers

Good morning. Right now the sun is shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky. With very little homework left to do, I plan on spending my day reading and writing posts. With so many books checked out from the library and so many of my own books piling up on my shelves, this week’s book coveting post focuses on the books I have and those written by women.

Fiction

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The Physick  Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. I’ve heard so many great things about this book that I’m hoping to start reading it today. A historical thriller that goes back and forth between the Salem Trails and modern time. Witchcraft, family secrets, and more makes us this thriller.

First Light by Rebecca Stead. First Light is the story of Peter, a boy who join his parents on a trip to Greenland and Thea, a girl whose people live deep inside the article ice.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer. I don’t read short story collections as often as I would like to, but I couldn’t ignore the praise that Packer’s debut collection has been receiving.

Nonfiction

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Sinners Welcome by Mary Karr.  I read The Liar’s Club by Karr a few years ago, rushed out and bought Sinners Welcome, but haven’t read more than a few poems. This volume of poetry chronicles Karr’s exploration of her faith.

Small Wonders by Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite books. Filled with powerful and engaging essays, Kingsolver’s essays range from topics about September 11th, surviving rape, the power of indie bookstores, why short stories are great, and more. I’m currently re-reading these essays, trying to dissect them and see how Kingsolver puts one word after another to make beautiful sentences that make up powerful essays.

Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems 1965-1990 Complete by Alice Walker. Though best known for The Color Purple, it is this volume of poetry that I love the most. I first read this collection when I was  a teenager. Since then I’ve re-read this many times. One of my favorite poems is “Goodnight, Willie Lee, I’ll See You in the Morning”.

Fiction

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Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd. I recently heard of Dowd while reading The Guardian. Dowd passed away in 2007, only three months after finishing Bog Child. She started writing at the age of 47 in 2003. All four of the books that she wrote has received rave reviews. Set in 1981, Fergus is helping his uncle with chores when he finds the body of a murdered child in the bog. It’s a coming-of-age story that’s won the 2009 Carnegie Medal award.

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. After a kiss with a man who is not her partner, Irina McGovern, must make a decision to either give in to passion or stay in her safe relationship.

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith.  Ida Mae Jones is a girl who dreams of flying. When the United States Army forms the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), Ida decides to use her light skin to pass as white. Colleen at Chasing Ray called this book, “a historical drama that grabs you at the throat and holds on tight”.

Now the morning is almost over and I’m off to read. Have you read any of these books? What books are you coveting?

Sunday Salon:Book Coveting

This week has been a great week for books though horrible for reading. I was assigned Moby Dick to read this week and it nearly did me in. It’s a great book to read aloud from but with only a little bit more than a week to read it, I had to set aside other books to read it. Thankfully this week’s required reading is only a few poems by Emily Dickinson.

For this week’s Book Coveting post, I’m going to show you the books I’m most excited about, got my hands on, and in most cases was unable to start reading. I’m so excited to read them this week.

sundaycoveting1

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. I’ve been wanting to read this for so long and Maggie’s Southern Reading Challenge gave me the perfect excuse to pick it up.

The Music Teacher by Barbara Hall. Hall is the creator of Joan of Arcadia, one of my favorite series. When I found out she was publishing a novel, I had to put it on hold at the library. Here’s the first paragraph:

I am the mean music teacher. I am that cranky woman you remember from your youth, the one whose face you dreaded seeing, whose breath you dreaded smelling as I leaned over you, tugging at your fingers. You made jokes about me, drew caricatures of me in your notebooks, made puns out of my name, swore never to be me.

Well, listen. I swore never to be me, too.

Bicycles: Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni. Earlier this month Frances at Nonsuchbook wrote a great post about a reading she attended for Giovanni’s newest book, Bicycles: Love Poems. It’s such a great post for a few days afterwards, I kept going back to read it.

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The fantastic Renay, from YA Fabulous, asked for volunteer judges for her upcoming young adult book tournament, Nerds Heart YA. I signed up and Debbie Harry Sings in French by Meagan Brothers is one of two books I need to read and judge within the next couple of weeks. I’m so excited!

The Song is You by Arthur Phillips. I first heard about this book from Michele at Read and Breathe. Michele recommended Kate Christensen’s The Epicure’s Lament, which I had a chance to read a little of and enjoyed before having to return it to the library. Christensen wrote a review for The Song is You. The first sentences of the review:

If novelists were labeled zoologically, Arthur Phillips would fall naturally into the dolphin family: his writing is playful, cerebral, likable, wide-ranging and inventive.

Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter by Seth Lerer. This book combines two of my favorite reading subjects: children’s literature and books about reading. Lerer won the 2008 National Book Critics Award for Criticism for this book, so it’s the perfect book for the end of the Book Awards Challenge 2.

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Tales of Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan. I have been waiting months for this book from my local library. Tales of Outer Suburbia is a collection of short stories that as Heather said a few days ago, is the “perfect marriage between words and illustrations.” I have to agree with her. At 94 pages, this is a short read but one that will have you rereading it to catch everything you might have missed the first time you read it.

Last but not least is Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory. While I’ve waited months for Tan’s book, I’ve waited years for Gregory’s from paperbackswap. Everyday Matters is a illustrated memoir about Gregory and his family’s life after his wife is paralyzed from the waist down. Another short read that I cannot wait to dig into.

So that’s this week’s list. What books are you coveting?