Monday, November 23, 2015

On Summits and How To Reach Them

This year each morning I've been reading THE BOOK OF AWAKENING by Mark Nepo. I've dog-eared and highlighted many a passage, and today I want to share one from last week:

... and here's the complete quote:  

"Despite all our noble efforts to reach some treasured peak -- be it a dream of wealth or love -- we carry the summit within. And it is always the effort and exhaustion -- the very  journey itself -- that opens the view which is everywhere. For the summit is not so much arrived at as we are worn open to it."  - Mark Nepo

Friday, November 20, 2015

"I Am Angry" by Michael Rosen

...spotted last week when I was visiting
my sister in Chattanooga! I love it!
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect (who's been blogging for NINE years!!) for Roundup.

I can't help but think of those Poetry Friday friends gathered at NCTE... I sure do miss being there! Hope it's a great conference, and I can't wait to hear all about it.

Here, I've been making my Thanksgiving shopping list and dreaming about all those wonderments I am going to prepare and relish. :) I typically make two trips for all the required items and have already accomplished the first one -- for turkey, new spices, and other staples like sugar and cream cheese. Next trip, I'll get all the produce -- and the things I forgot the first go around. Our gathering will be small, and I am so looking forward to sharing that time in the kitchen and at the table with those I love best!

AND, I've been reading more CYBILS nominees. This week I'd like to share a favorite poem from A GREAT BIG CUDDLE: Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen, illus. by Chris Riddell, which is full of fun for the wee ones.

I Am Angry
by Michael Rosen

I am angry
really angry
angry, angry, angry
I'm so angry I'll jump up and down
I'll roll on the ground
Make a din
Make you spin
Pull out my hair
Throw you in the air
Pull down posts
Hunt for ghosts
Scare spiders
Scare tigers
Pull up trees
Bully bees
Rattle the radiators
Frighten alligators
Cut down flowers
Bring down towers
Bang all the bones
Wake up stones
Shake the tiles
Stop all smiles
Silence birds
Boil words
Mash up names
Grind up games
Crush tunes
Squash moons
Make giants run
Terrify the sun
Turn the sky red
And then go to bed.
Here's how it appears in the book:

Funny thing: I tried to record this poem for Soundcloud, but 1) I kept losing my breath and 2) my voice doesn't lend itself very well to "angry." Possibly I can sound annoyed, but angry? Even when I AM angry, I don't sound all that angry. (Just look at her, though, my husband says....) This is the curse of quiet people. :)

Monday, November 16, 2015


We thought we might go this weekend to see THE 33, but then we decided no, maybe something else. We landed on SUFFRAGETTE, a tough, dark, historical film that tells the true story of a group of women in London fighting for women's right to vote. The fight in London had been peaceful for many years, to no avail, so finally the suffragettes decided they needed to ACT, not just talk. And so they threw rocks at store windows and set bombs in post boxes and burned buildings. They spent time in jail where they were treated horribly. And finally, finally, something happened to give them the platform they needed for change. (Go see the movie to find out what!)

It's not a fun movie to watch, but an important one. I'm so grateful for these women and women like them who made possible the rights I now enjoy. One cool thing they did at the end of the film was run a scroll of different countries with the year voting rights were extended to women. The last country on the list, Saudi Arabia, still doesn't have voting rights for women. According to the film voting rights have been promised just this year (2015). (Just for some perspective, it was 1918 for England and 1920 for the United States.) My favorite part of the movie was when they cut to the actual footage of the suffragettes marching in the streets of London. Beautiful and inspiring.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Beauty of the Bone

Hello, and happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones for Roundup!

It's been a wild week, thanks to all of you... what fun the WILD Roundup has been! If you haven't had a chance yet to check it out, please do. Thanks, everyone, for joining in the celebration...I look forward to each of YOUR 10 year Blogiversaries!

And now I am struck by the calendar: mid-November, really?! Where-has-the-time-gone thoughts prompted me to pull an old favorite book from the kids' bookshelf: A CHILD'S CALENDAR by John Updike, illus. by Trina Schart Hyman. With poems originally published in 1965, this version is from 1999, and look, it features a multiracial family! Nice to find diverse books on the backlist, yes?

by John Updike

The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The loss of her
Departed leaves.

The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.

And yet the world,
Displays a certain
Loveliness --

The beauty of
The bone. Tall god
Must see our souls
This way, and nod.

Give thanks: we do,
Each in his place
Around the table
During grace.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Advice from Anne Lamott

Last week I was fortunate enough to sit in a church and listen to Anne Lamott talk about creativity and writing and pain -- and pajama tops. (You had to be there. :) It was an inspiring night, and I especially loved getting to know the young writer/mom I happened to be sitting next to. O happy accident! Or not...

Anne had lots to say about taking the first step, just doing it, and how bumper sticker language can be maddening when one is grieving and really just needs to hear, yes, this sucks, let me sit with you a while. But of all the wonderful words she shared with us, this is what has stuck with me:

Look up.

Not down at your shoes.

Not at your belly -- yes, it's sticking out.

Look up.

Isn't that wonderful?! In part, because it can mean so many things... look up with pride, be bold, meet the world head on, give thanks, praise... LOOK UP.

Thank you, Anne Lamott! And thank YOU, readers, for sharing in my WILD celebration. So, so wonderful!! I am still buzzing. 

And looking up. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It's a WILD 10 Year Blogiversary Celebration!

Hello, and welcome to a WILD 10 Year Blogiversary Celebration! Ten years ago -- November 9, 2005 -- I wrote my very first blog post. At the time my blog was called Daytips for Writers, and since I had young children at the time, I thought, well, hey, it's not much, but a tip a day -- I can do that.

And so I did!

1301 posts later.... my blog has continued to evolve as my life has changed and as I've grown as a writer -- may it always be so! The current incarnation "Live Your Poem" still feels like a good fit for me, so I will keep going with that as I enter my next 10 years as a blogger. Who knows where this old blog will take me next?

Blogging really is a wonderful practice, and over the years I have found it to be a grounding force in my life. It keeps me connected to the rest of the world when my writing life is most often intensely solitary. It also keeps me writing, even when I'm feeling disenchanted or bored or overwhelmed in my "other" writing life. It's just good medicine.

 But the best part -- THE BEST PART -- is all the wonderful people I've gotten to know! What passion! What inspiration! What JOY. Which is why I've invited all my blogging friends to be my special, honored party guests and contribute a blog post on the theme of WILD (my 2015 One Little Word). What better way to celebrate this milestone than with the community that makes it such a meaningful, rewarding experience?! Hugs and kisses and storms of confetti to all of you! Thank you for making the blogosphere a beautiful space.

As for my offering, I want to share a couple of quotes from THIS SIDE OF WILD by Gary Paulsen. Paulsen is perpetually on my Ideal Dinner Party list, and I adore everything he writes about dogs and survival and the wilderness. This new memoir includes some funny bits and some touching bits, and everyone should read it. Enjoy!


14 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Blogging

14. Pictures really are worth a thousand words.

13. Short really is sweet.

12. You can take a break from blogging, and the world won't stop turning.

11. In fact, you can take a break from blogging, and you will be welcomed instantly back into the fold.

10. I am not alone.

9. In fact, there are lots of people who love the things I love, all over the world. Blogging helps me find those people.

8. A blog post doesn't have to be perfect. A poem doesn't have to be perfect.

7. In fact, readers appreciate being allowed a glimpse of your imperfections.

6. You can waste a lot of time looking at the numbers (Google analytics, anyone?), when the numbers aren't what's important.

5. What's important is what you are going to post TODAY.

4. What's important is the one person who will read your post and find exactly what they needed to read TODAY.

3. What's important is reading other people's blogs.

2. What's important is leaving that comment that just might make someone's day.

1. What's important is sharing a little bit of who you are with the world.


...and now, I give you Gary Paulsen!

"I have written much about the woods, being in the woods, being in nature, as it was for me a very real kind of sanctuary - a safe place. A truly safe place. A beautiful place. And yet...

And yet.

I have been attacked by moose, charged by bear, run down by feral dog packs, struck by rattlesnakes, bump-attacked by sharks... even put on top of my car by an angry weasel not much bigger than my thumb. (I thought, later, that he might have rabies, but at the time I merely jumped in fear.)

It's just that those things don't seem to have the weight, the measureless beauty of countless sunsets and dawns, the simple grace and clear glory of nature. And besides, often it is the bad things that turn out to be the best. I fell off a dogsled down a frozen waterfall and landed on sharp ice on a kneecap. It was so agonizing, I thought, seriously that my heart would stop. But I found that my whole dog team loved and worried about me so much, they curved downstream and worked back to me to surround me as I lay clutching my lacerated knee, whimpering and pushing their warm bodies against me. I remember the love, the dog love, much more than the shattered knee...."

Isn't that beautiful? And true! For more, here's an interview with Gary.

And now for the best part of this party: YOU! Please leave your WILD links below. Thank you!!!

An InLinkz Link-up

Wow. This may be my longest post ever! THANK YOU FOR READING!!! xo

Friday, November 6, 2015

When the World Learned to Drive

Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat. for Roundup. This is my last post before my WILD 10 Year Blogiversary Celebration, coming Monday, November 9! Actually, the link will go live Sunday evening. Along with all the WILD links, I'll be sharing 14 Things I've Learned from 10 Years of Blogging. I'm excited!!!

Today I have for you an original poem. Last month I attended My Favorite Poem, a community poetry reading here in Birmingham in which folks share their favorite poem and why it's important to their lives. One high school student shared "When the World Was Ten Years Old He Fell Deep in Love with Egypt" by Patricia Lockwood -- and I fell in love with using the world as a way to write a poem. The very next day I wrote this poem about our 15 year old son who is the world and our youngest son and who has already passed his driving test and is waiting for The Day to arrive when he can officially drive off into the sunset... without his mother beside him.

When the World Learned to Drive (for Eric)
- after Patricia Lockwood

When the world learned to drive
he started on back roads, trim
neighborhood streets, his eyes
watchful for trash cans and cats.
At first his foot came down hard,
his hands slick against the wheel,
right turn right turn right turn
until he was thank God, back home.

When the world learned to drive,
he grinned at stop signs,
their bold-print and eager faces
familiar as his reflection,
and equally as maddening –
until he learned the feather-art
of rubber sole easy-easy
against rubber pedal.

When the world learned to drive
he couldn't wait to take the interstate.
He dreamed of long ramps
and fast, smooth mergings,
was unruffled by the whoosh
of semi trucks or the red Mustang
rushing his back bumper.
The world simply thumbed the wheel
and adjusted his rearview mirror.

And then there was no stopping him:
he craved city traffic, stop-and-go,
cloverleafs and flyovers.
His faith steamed like asphalt
after a summer shower, he studied
maps for sinkholes and mountains,
strapped himself in and didn't look back.

Not soon enough he learned
to navigate Highway 280,
it's ant-lines and zipper lines and no lines
a language he could understand:
hip-hop lyrics, piano, drumbeat –
with a little reggae thrown in.
To celebrate, the world bought
four pair of sunglasses,
kept both hands on the wheel.
Didn't text while driving, or eat,
or cry, though sometimes the sunset
was so beautiful he had to clear his throat.

The world was a good listener,
had always been a good listener.
He believed each yellow light
was a message from God –
sometimes, Hold On, sometimes, Let Go.
He knew and his mother knew
and every song he would ever write knew
that there was a road
somewhere with his name on it,
and if there wasn't, the world would build it.

- Irene Latham

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Good Books, Good Food

Tis the season for reading! Not only have I been savoring some wonderful CYBILS poetry nominees, but I've also steamed through a few other recently released books.

Anyone else read THE NEST by Kenneth Oppel?? Creepy and full of tension. DARK. Not for every middle grade reader, but what book is?? Would love to hear others' thoughts!

Today I posted over at Smack Dab in the Middle my experience with food in books and an original poem "Recipe for a Good Book." Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2015


It's THE COLD WAR brought to you by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Can't go wrong with that combination, can you?!

I walked away with this thought... the things governments do that we, the average citizens, know nothing about. 

So much secrecy. I wonder: what kind of world would it be if we were all just straightforward, if we didn't hold so tightly to secrets?

Good movie. I thought it might be slow, but I was interested the whole way through. I never quite felt it in my gut, but still a nice way to spend a couple of hours with the hubby and youngest son. Plus, I am totally adopting Rudolf Abel's non-worry policy: "Would it help [to be worried]?" Um, no. No it would not.

Which brings me to this. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

#EveryBrilliantThing Halloween Roundup!

This year I am keeping a virtual gratitude list, inspired by the play Every Brilliant ThingHere's my post about it. 

And here is my list for October. Happy Halloween!! (Funny: some variations on a theme here!)

#OutandAboutDress by @sewcaroline.
Love notes.
Old houses.
Boys with long hair.
The Martian.
Costume jewelry.
Lemon thyme.
Tiki mosquito torches.
Looking through old scrapbooks.
Graphic novels.
Zentangle pumpkin.
Dreams that hold horses.
The new Harry Potter play.
Halloween decorations.
Thank you notes.
Sugar maples in fall.
Dry creekbed.
Glue gun.
Getting new book contract from Lerner and F&G's from WordSong in the mail on the same day.
Sharing a secret.
Saying thank you.
Hearing thank you.

Friday, October 30, 2015

On Complaining Camels & Scottish Poets

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit marveous poet-teacher Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for Roundup.

So I found today's poem when I read this article about Scottish poet (from Shetland, actually) Christine DeLuca, who is currently serving as Edinburgh's Poet Laureate. She cites it as one that helped grow her love for poetry and rhythm, And weren't we talking recently about camel poems, after the movie TRACKS?! I still need to write one!

The Camel's Complaint
by Charles Edward Carryl (1841-1920)

Canary-birds feed on sugar and seed.
Parrots have crackers to crunch.
And as for the poodles, they tell me the noodles
have chicken and cream for their lunch.
But there's never a question
about my digestion.
Anything is okay for me.

Cats, you know, can sleep in a chair.
Chickens can rest upon rails.
Puppies are able to sleep in a stable,
and oysters can nap in pails.
But no one supposes
a poor camel dozes.
Any place is okay for me.

Lambs are indoors out of the sun.
Coops are built for hens.
Kittens are treated to houses well heated,
and pigs are protected by pens.
But a camel is handy
wherever it's sandy.
Anywhere is okay for me.

People would laugh if you rode a giraffe,
or rode the back of an ox.
It's nobody's habit to ride on a rabbit,
or to try to ride a fox.
But as for a camel,
he carries families.
Any load is okay for me.

A snake is as round as a hole in the ground,
and weasels are wavy and sleek.
And no alligator could ever be straighter
than lizards that live in a creek.
But a camel's all lumpy
and bumpy and humpy.
Any shape is okay for me.

The original poem was published in 1892. The version here was adapted from a copy in The Oxford Book of Children's Verse, eds. Iona and Peter Opie (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973), pages 305-306.

isn't that fun?!

...and now a poem by Christine DeLuca herself! 

Head over Heels (translated from the Shetlandic original)
by Christine DeLuca
From different vantage points, the island sharpens
from old man laid out dead upon the skyline
to three proud peaks upon the world's edge.

And seen at different times, headlands looming
closely after rain, distance themselves
through hazy veils. We lift our eyes

from weathered end-of-season sights. Autumn,
with fingers soft and lingering, lightens both
land and heart; bright glints of newness.

And all the pointless fights that come
from thinking we can only see one way, fade
into nothingness. A glow of light upon

the drabbest land, a glimpse of love around
embittered hearts, and everything turns
somersaults. We must un-self ourselves,

untangle all that wearies one another,
journey with our difference, and savor
all the common wonders of our world.

Read more:


"We must un-self ourselves" -- !!! adding that to my "How to Live Your Poem" page!

Friday, October 23, 2015

"October" by U2

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit the ever-delicious Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup for Roundup!

Thinking of Tabatha's Music Monday's as I post this, my most favorite U2 song. I feel it in my soul, whatever the season, but especially during October. Enjoy!

by U2

And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care

And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on...and on.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Book Character Scarecrows!

Each year Inverness Elementary School classes create and display scarecrows -- and each year I go down and photograph my favorites. This year the theme appears to be "book characters."

Here is my most favorite, from THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE by Kate DiCamillo.

Edward is holding a notebook where each student wrote a little something about Edward's journey. This one says, "I belive Edwards journey was worth it because when Edward only loved Himself he should also love people and also be kind to himself and people." Isn't that precious??!

How about WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak?

And check out these familiar book characters:

Here are a couple of less familiar book characters that should be more familiar!
JOHNNY APPLESEED by Steven Kellogg


I will leave you with A BAD CASE OF THE STRIPES by David Shannon:

Hmmm... wouldn't it be fun to make a Ludelphia scarecrow from LEAVING GEE'S BEND?? Oh, wait, somebody already did. :)

created by Black Belt Treasures. :)

Friday, October 16, 2015


Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Amy at The Poem Farm for Roundup. I know she will be growing something beautiful for us!

I'm at an all-day intensive today with artistrator E.B. Lewis on "The Hook of the Book," but I wanted to pop in and wish everyone a lovely day! Tomorrow I am presenting at our local SCBWI annual conference with Doraine Bennett on "Finding Voice." And I get to meet Poetry Friday friend Jan Godown Annino!!

Also, I've been reading -- and loving -- NEVER BROKEN by Jewel. Song lyrics are poetry, right? As if a life.

I remember when Jewel first appeared on the music scene, and I remember when she published a book of poems. But I guess I sort of dismissed her as another pop celebrity  -- I certainly never embraced her work. (Sorry, Jewel!) Oh, but this book! I knew it might be something special when, on the opening page, I found some lines by Rumi:

In other news, DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST was awarded a Silver Moonbeam Children's Award for Poetry! It makes me happy to think about those wildebeest wandering into the hands of new readers. That's the lovely thing of awards, I think -- the potential for increased exposure and recognition to broaden a book's audience.

Which brings me to the CYBILS! Here's a pic of the titles I'm reading this week in the Poetry category (O, lucky me!):

Have YOU read these titles yet?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Rainy Morning at Birmingham Botanical Gardens (and a Poem)

 First some pictures I took on a recent (rainy) early-morning visit to Birmingham Botanical Gardens... and then a poem inspired by the pictures!


Monday, October 12, 2015

My Art Story

Mary Lee Bendolph
In celebration of their 50 year anniversary, the NEA has invited the community to share their art stories -- how art has impacted their lives.

Click here to read MY art story! And then.... share your story!

Also, I'm thrilled today to be sharing LEAVING GEE'S BEND with the Birmingham Quilters Guild. Check out this collage I made from some of the pics I took at QuiltFest earlier this year. Amazing work!

Friday, October 9, 2015

What Are You Waiting For?

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Laura (who has a brand-new look!) at Writing the World for Kids for Roundup.
I've been waiting. And thinking about waiting. And writing about waiting. If you haven't picked up WAITING by Kevin Henkes, please do!  It seems everything is waiting for something -- and what beauty there is to see! I'd like to give this book to some wee folks in my life along with a set of cat nesting dolls.
One of the things I've been waiting on is this announcement, from Publisher's Weekly:
Carol Hinz at Millbrook Press has bought world rights to It's Not Black and White, by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. In this collection of poems, a white woman and a black man have a conversation, writing about everyday elements from their childhoods – including family dinners, sports, church, and toys. It's scheduled for fall 2017; Rosemary Stimola of Stimola Literary Studio represented the co-authors, and Rebecca Sherman of Writers House represented the co-illustrators.
Yay!! I loved collaborating with Charles, and we are excited to see what this amazing illustration duo does with our words. So happy to share this with all of you!
And now a poem by Mary Oliver that speaks to the beauty of waiting:
Such Silence
As deep as I ever went into the forest
I came upon an old stone bench, very, very old,
and around it a clearing, and beyond that
trees taller and older than I had ever seen.
Such silence!
It really wasn’t so far from a town, but it seemed
all the clocks in the world had stopped counting.
So it was hard to suppose the usual rules applied.
Sometimes there’s only a hint, a possibility.
What’s magical, sometimes, has deeper roots
than reason.
I hope everyone knows that.
I sat on the bench, waiting for something.
An angel, perhaps.
Or dancers with the legs of goats.
No, I didn’t see either. But only, I think, because
I didn’t stay long enough.
- Mary Oliver, BLUE HORSES: Poems (Penguin, 2014)
Other "waiting" poems:

"I Am Waiting" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

"Waiting" by Raymond Carver

"Everything is Waiting for You" by David Whyte

"The Waiting Place" by Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Movie Monday: THE MARTIAN

So I was pretty excited to get to the theater to see THE MARTIAN.

Last year when I read the book by Any Weir, I was dipping my toes in a series of Mars poems -- I've since abandoned that project, but I remain fascinated with Mars One and space exploration -- and of course survival stories! Whatever the setting, I pretty much love survival/adventure stories.

And this movie is gorgeous. Taut and tense and emotional and no doubt the best one we've seen this year. In some ways the movie is better than the book, and it feels like a real accomplishment for a story about one single person who spends much of his time alone on Mars THINKING through his problems and coming up with possible solutions and trying the and failing.... really, that's one of the best things about the movie: what is says about the power of the mind, how we can use our knowledge and our resources to creatively solve our problems. Our hero fails again and again, but he keeps after it. It's about taking risks and making the impossible thing POSSIBLE. So, so good. Go see it!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Jump Back & Sing! 3 Poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Hello, and Happy first Poetry Friday of October! WOW! October is one of the very best months, isn't it?? Be sure to visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe for Roundup.

I'm excited to share with you today 3 poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Last week at MY FAVORITE POEM, one of the readers shared Dunbar's "Sympathy" from which Maya Angelou took the phrase "I know why the caged bird sings," and that set me on a Dunbar reading binge! I read oh about 450 Dunbar poems this week, and I'm delighted to share with you my favorites. Also, I'm excited about a new picture book biography JUMP BACK, PAUL: The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby, illus. by Sean Qualls. I haven't gotten my hands on the book yet, so I will be curious to see if any of the poems I've selected here are included in the book!

The first one is quite timely! Hurray for all that makes October beautiful! I particularly love the last lines.

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

October is the treasurer of the year,
And all the months pay bounty to her store;
The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
And fill her brimming coffers more and more.
But she, with youthful lavishness,
Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
And decks herself in garments bold
Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold.
She heedeth not how swift the hours fly,
But smiles and sings her happy life along;
She only sees above a shining sky;
She only hears the breezes' voice in song.
Her garments trail the woodlands through,
And gather pearls of early dew
That sparkle, till the roguish Sun
Creeps up and steals them every one.
But what cares she that jewels should be lost,
When all of Nature's bounteous wealth is hers?
Though princely fortunes may have been their cost,
Not one regret her calm demeanor stirs.
Whole-hearted, happy, careless, free,
She lives her life out joyously,
Nor cares when Frost stalks o'er her way
And turns her auburn locks to gray.

This next one is perfect for introducing young readers to Dunbar's work:

The Seedling
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

AS a quiet little seedling
Lay within its darksome bed,
To itself it fell a-talking,
And this is what it said:

'I am not so very robust,
But I'll do the best I can;'
And the seedling from that moment
Its work of life began.

So it pushed a little leaflet
Up into the light of day,
To examine the surroundings
And show the rest the way.

The leaflet liked the prospect,
So it called its brother, Stem;
Then two other leaflets heard it,
And quickly followed them.

To be sure, the haste and hurry
Made the seedling sweat and pant;
But almost before it knew it
It found itself a plant.

The sunshine poured upon it,

And the clouds they gave a shower;

And the little plant kept growing
Till it found itself a flower.

Little folks, be like the seedling,

Always do the best you can;

Every child must share life's labor
Just as well as every man.

And the sun and showers will help you

Through the lonesome, struggling hours,

Till you raise to light and beauty
Virtue's fair, unfading flowers. 

And finally, my favorite Dunbar poem! It's joyful, yet acknowledges our struggles. Love the refrain "I sing my song, and all is well." Yes!

The Poet and His Song
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

A song is but a little thing,
And yet what joy it is to sing!
In hours of toil it gives me zest,
And when at eve I long for rest;
When cows come home along the bars,
And in the fold I hear the bell,
As Night, the shepherd, herds his stars,
I sing my song, and all is well.

There are no ears to hear my lays,
No lips to lift a word of praise;
But still, with faith unfaltering,
I live and laugh and love and sing.
What matters yon unheeding throng?
They cannot feel my spirit's spell,
Since life is sweet and love is long,
I sing my song, and all is well.

My days are never days of ease;
I till my ground and prune my trees.
When ripened gold is all the plain, 
I put my sickle to the grain.
I labor hard, and toil and sweat,
While others dream within the dell;
But even while my brow is wet,
I sing my song, and all is well.

Sometimes the sun, unkindly hot,
My garden makes a desert spot;
Sometimes a blight upon the tree
Takes all my fruit away from me;
And then with throes of bitter pain
Rebellious passions rise and swell;
But -- life is more than fruit or grain,
And so I sing, and all is well.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Gee's Bend Quilters Named NEA National Heritage Fellows

Congratulations to Mary Lee Bendolph, Lucy Mingo and Loretta Pettway who are in Washington, D.C. today for the NEA National Heritage awards ceremony! See the women interviewed live and demonstrating their craft tomorrow, Oct. 2 at

Behold, a few quilts that helped earned them this honor:

by Mary Lee Bendolph
by Lucy Mingo, available at Souls Grown Deep

by Loretta Pettway
I remain forever grateful to these women and all the quilters of Gee's Bend for their art and their stories. Thank you!