Thursday, August 31, 2017

What's that SOUND underground?

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit our resident Aussie Kat at Kathryn Apel for Roundup.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what's going on under our feet. Two books in particular have gotten me there: THE NATURALIST by E.O. Wilson and THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES by Peter Wohlleben.

E.O. Wilson's life's work has been the discovery and cataloguing of ants. A number of ant species' are subterranean, so one has to dig to find them.

And trees, well, trees are talking to each other underground, in their oh-so-slow with-the-help-of-fungi way. I learned about it in THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES. Here is a fabulous podcast interview with the author for the audio-inclined. (Thank you, April!)

And what does this have to do with poetry? Well, Jane Yolen's THUNDER UNDERGROUND  (brought to us by WordSong, with illus. by Josee Masse) includes 21 poems on what's happening down there! And the back cover poses the delicious question in the subject line of this post: What's the SOUND underground? (Which reminds me of a post I wrote from a few years back about sound and poetry.)

Here is a favorite poem from the collection:


This dot,
this spot,
this period at the end
of winter's sentence
writes its way up
through the dull slate of soil
into the paragraph of spring.

- Jane Yolen

Great metaphor, isn't it?

It got me thinking: are there other "punctuation" poems? And then I had to laugh, because indeed, there are three of them in FRESH DELICIOUS! Squash varieties as question mark, exclamation mark, and period. Ha!

So, poets... do YOU have any punctuation poems? Please share!


  1. Hmmm... Not sure if 'The Musings of Maxim, Edit-err' qualifies - but off the top of my head, I think it may be the closest thing I've got?

    The Musings of Maxim; Edit-err
    I've spotted my stakes
    and dotted my tees,
    crossed my eyes
    and queued my peas.
    I’ve cut and confuddled
    confounding clichés
    but I’m dashed if I know
    how to turn a phrase.                                                                           

    I love Jane's seed poem. Just gorgeous! And that's us, today. Spring has sprung in Australia!

    1. Yoiks! Not sure what happened to the last line of that poem... That's perhaps taking the wordplay a bit too far, thank-you blogspot comment box. :P

  2. We are on the same wavelength today, Irene. (Communicating underground?) The Hidden Life of Trees has been on my radar, but I didn't know about this podcast, so thank you for the link. Jane Yolen is so brilliant. Of course a seed is the "period at the end/of winter's sentence!"

  3. I have The Hidden Life of Trees on my list, hope to read it someday! Thanks for the link to the author, Irene. I just read a bit in another children's nf book about plants communicating their needs to others in the roots, amazing! Jane's poem is a lovely thought, that "writes its way up". Thanks for all, Irene, and I love your "squash punctuation."

  4. Alas I can think of no punctuation poems, but I have a punctuation joke!

    What’s the difference between a cat and a comma? One has claws at the end of its paws and the other is a pause at the end of a clause.


  5. Guess what is on my night table right now? The Hidden Life of Trees! It is pretty fascinating (usually I save the nonfiction for my insomniac bouts, but this one does not instantly put me to sleep...high praise!) "the period at the end of winter's sentence" = perfection!

  6. Thunder Underground looks great! I need to check that one out. Hmmmmmmm punctuation poems. I don't believe I have any. But, I do love a poem challenge prompt. Consider it a work in progress. Wonderful post today. So much to think about.

  7. This is the second time today I've run across The Hidden Life of Trees, so into my Audible wish list it has gone. While there, I found (in the "if you liked this, then this") two books about birds by Bernd Heinrich.

    Love how your adult reading led to a poetry book review let to punctuation poems! Doesn't look like I have any...I'll have to fix that!

  8. Thanks for sharing these books and one of Jane's poems. I've yet to write a punctuation poem, but it sounds fun!

  9. My husband is a forester, so I think I will have to get him a copy of the Hidden Life of Trees so I can read it. I LOVE Jane's seed poem. I don't have any punctuation poems, but it sounds like a challenge to take up!

  10. Hmmm... no, I haven't written any punctuation poems... yet. But your post does bring to mind Amy Krause Rosenthal's picture book titled "!" (Exclamation Mark) I'm guessing you've probably read it, but if you haven't, You should. Thank you for reminding me about THUNDER UNDERGROUND. It's one I've been meaning to check out for some time now. Jane sure does have a magical way with metaphor.

  11. Here is one, off the cuff:

    Why do semi-colons
    make so many guts churn;
    turning learn into yearn; and
    seem like stoplights dripping red?
    (Without it, this poem would be dead.)
    Just make the colon a list
    with a semi-colon twist.

    I do love THUNDER UNDERGROUND. Jane Yolen is a master.

  12. What a rich and inspiring post Irene, nature circling all around. Here's a Fall punctuated poem:

    The winds have
    the commas
    the leaves are
    the dash’s
    on the run …
    the air is
    and marks
    a question,
    will fall come
    or plow into
    period quite unholy.

    Michelle Kogan

    Thanks for this full to the brim post, happy Fall!

  13. Can't wait to read Jane's new book. She's a whirlwind of words and they all fall in the perfect spot.


Your thoughts?