Tuesday, March 31, 2015

#EveryBrilliantThing March Roundup

JuliAnna & me in a plaza in Heidelberg, Germany.
This year I am keeping a virtual gratitude list, inspired by the play Every Brilliant Thing. Here's my post about it. And here's my March list:

Robin eggs. [the candy]
Waking to the sound of rain and birdsong.
Old-fashioned personal mail found in the mailbox.
Fifth grade friends.
The fact that Eric spent 7 hours today working on a song.
Boys in pink shirts.
Hot air balloon.
Fresh grapefruit juice.
Induction of Kathryn Tucker Windham into Alabama Women's Hall of Fame
The art of storytelling.
Seafood supper.
Traveling with JuliAnna Dykes.
Salt mines.
Freedom. (after visiting Dachau concentration camp)
Crazy long distance phone calls when cell phone won't work and you're missing loved ones so much.
The Swiss alps.
Chocolate fondue
Heidelberg, Germany.
Brock Colyar's suitcase still in one piece.
Not having to pay to use the public restroom.
My own bed.
Taco night.
In Vienna, you can Dial-a-Poem.
Coca-Cola's “Make a Move” short.
Spring Break.

People who explain things by using metaphor.

Friday, March 27, 2015

RED BUTTERFLY by A.L. Sonnichsen, illus. by Amy June Bates

Hello, and Happy last Poetry Friday before National Poetry Month! (gasp! how did this happen?!) Please visit Jone at Check it Out for Roundup. (Fun fact: Jone has the honor of providing the first line of our 2015 Progressive Poem! Woohoo!)

I am still recovering from an amazing 10 days in Austria, Germany & Switzerland, but I have GOT to tell you about RED BUTTERFLY by A.L. Sonnichsen.

I love this book. LOVE it. It moved me deeply. Please, please do yourself a favor and seek this one out. I am in love with Kara and her story.

From the jacketflap:

"Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an elderly American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. mama tells Kara to be content with what she has... but what if Kara secretly wants more? Told in lyrical, moving verse, Kara's story is one of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights."

A big source of conflict and growth for Kara is when her adult-sister Jody comes to visit:


In the daylight
she sleeps in my bed,
her mouth open,

At night,
when she should be asleep,
she's wide-awake
to Mama,
who nods,
but collects
each Jody-word
like it's a
fleck of gold.
And oh, what a complex, heartbreaking character Mama is!


Mama is
a fragile moth
of night and shadow.

If I touch her
she might

If I tell her
what the fat landlord said
she might
on pale wings
out the window
to Montana
     and forget me.
Kara also discovers words her mother wrote for her in the pages of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, which is Kara's favorite book:

There is no
Secret to Happiness
Except learning to be Content
And wearing the badge that says
This is My Unique Life
and no one else
can live it.

I'm not going to reveal all that happens to Kara later in the book, but I will share this short excerpt from the book's Epilogue:

Now my feet can't hold still.
I run
               and hurl myself into Mama's
               waiting arms.

And now I bid you Zaijian!

(excerpt from poem "Stairwell")

     she says.

     It is a hopeful
thing to say.
          "Zaijan" means "good-bye,"
but also "see you later."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When in Germany...

... buy German books!

Oh my goodness, I have so much to say about our trip across Austria, Germany and Switzerland! But I want to start with books. Here's where we shopped in Vienna, Austria (where they also speak German):

...and here is the children's bookshelf:

I chose  to carry home UNSER ZOO because it has pictures, which makes it much easier to translate. So far I've learned that a giraffe is a giraffe, a tiger is a tiger, a panda is a panda. But an hippo is a flusspferd, a penguine is a pinguine, and a leopard is a gepard. 

See? Picture books are awesome. :)

The Eric Carle book is going to take me a bit more time -- unless I cave and buy the English version!

Other highlights of my European adventure:

Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany), after which Walt Disney
modeled Cinderella's castle in Orlando!

fruit! chocolate! bread! art! and lots of dyed Easter eggs!

Heidelberg, Germany

...and so much more! I loved discovering it all with my niece JuliAnna (and the whole group), and I will be sharing more about this trip in the coming days. Meanwhile, as wonderful as travel is, is there anything better than coming home? I think not. Happy day, all!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Let Us Now Praise Old Things

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Laura at Author Amok for Roundup (and all sorts of other poetic goodness!). Big thanks to everyone who signed up for our 2015 Progressive Poem. Our roster is FULL! Poets who signed up, I will be in touch the last week of March with more information. So happy to have you join us -- it's going to be fun!

This week I had the great fortune to spend some time with my dear friend Pat in Cullman, Alabama, where we shopped the thrift stores and treated ourselves to lunch. We also visited Deb's Bookstore. And the whole day I was thinking how much I love old things. AND THEN, lo and behold, posted on the wall at one of the junk shops was a poem called "I Love Old Things" by Wilson MacDonald. 

Turns out Mr. MacDonald was a pretty prolific Canadian poet, so beloved, there's even a museum named after him! What joy to discover a new (old) poetic voice! And extra-appropriate, as I will soon travel to Austria, Germany and Switzerland to experience all sorts of old (new to me!) things! So here's the poem, with a shout-out to one Amy LV, who did that amazing series of Thrift Shop poems for National Poetry Month last year!:

by Wilson MacDonald

I love old things:
Streets of old cities
Crowded with ghosts
And banked with oranges,
Gay scarfs and shawls
That flow like red water.

I love old abbeys
With high, carved portals
And dim, cool corners
Where tired hearts pray:
I join them in the silence
And repair my soul.

I love old inns
Where floors creak eerily
And doors blow open
On windless nights,
Where heavy curtains
Dance a slow waltz.

I love old trees
That lift up their voices
High above the grasses.
They do not sing
At the light wind's bidding:
They chant alone to storms.

I love old china,
Knowing well the flavour
Of great, strong men
And fair, sweet women
Lurks at the rim
Of each deep brown bowl.

I love old books
Frayed from the searching
Of truth-hungry fingers:
Their warm, soft vellum
Leads me up through sorrow
Like a dear friend's hand.

I love old men
And old, dear women
who keep red cheeks
As the snows of winter
Keep the round red berry
Of the wintergreen.

I love old things:
Weather-beaten, worn things,
Cracked, broken, torn things,
The old sun, the old moon,
The old earth's face,
Old wine in dim flagons
Old ships and old wagons...
Old coin and old lace,
Rare old lace.

Friday, March 6, 2015

"Poem for Oprah Winfrey" + 2015 Progressive Poem Sign up!

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Please visit Robyn Campbell for Roundup.

So it's March. Still winter, doggone it. Though I must say, I am enjoying this School Lite schedule -- each week we've had late starts and a Snow Day or Ice Day or No-Snow Day. Like the rest of the country, I am really, really, really longing for sunshine and warm breezes. Bring it!

This week I discovered a post on Oprah Winfrey's website called "How to Write a Poem. Basically it's a list of 12 prompts, and then a shorter list of instructions about how to turn the raw list into a poem. Kind of like Paint-by-Numbers or Dot-to-Dot -- except with more opportunity for inspired splashes and U-turns.

Sample from my notebook:
1. 5 things you did today, in order: 
Answered the phone
put on fuzzy socks
turned up heat
put dog out
morning pages
poured cereal in bowl

2. name 3 colors real quick

You get the idea! So, I made my list, and below is the poem that emerged. I don't know what it means, if anything... but kind of a fun no-snow-day exercise. Try it and see!

Poem for Oprah Winfrey

Was it worth it?
You put on your fuzzy socks,
feed the swans as silver raindrops
pelt the once-cheery daffodils.
As you sing, so shall you shriek.
You're a fish thrashing a salt-slick
boat deck, hook sinking sinking
sunk. You'll feel better in the morning.
Slip out of your hyacinth slicker.
Kiss the pain. Whatever you do,

don't pick up the phone.

- Irene Latham

And now: It's that time again! National Poetry Month (April) will soon be upon us, which means it is time again to sign up for our annual KIDLITOSPHERE PROGRESSIVE POEM, I invite you to choose your day and add your information to this Google Spreadsheet!

ETA: ***Thank you, Beautiful Poets! Our 2015 is now FULL!***

Here's how it works:

Poetry Friday Friends and other poetry lovers are invited to join in a community writing experience during National Poetry Month (April).

What is it? a poem that travels daily from blog to blog, with each host adding a line, beginning April 1. Anyone who wants to join in the fun can sign up on the Google Spreadsheet!

Once we have a schedule, I will be send via email the HTML code to include in your post and/or sidebar so that readers might follow along/look back/look forward. And feel free to snag the above graphic!

Can't wait to see where our poem will take us this year! (To view poems from previous years, click on the Progressive Poem tab above.)
Happy Poetry Friday, everyone!