Friday, February 17, 2017

The Tree is Older than You Are

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Jone (the poetry postcard queen!) at Check it Out for Roundup.

First, some congratulations are in order:
let's send up some balloons for Laura Shovan whose THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY won the Cybils Award for Poetry!! What a wonderful choice! And the 2017 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award goes to... SOMOS COM LAS NUBES/WE ARE LIKE THE CLOUDS by Jorge Argueta, illus. by Alfonso Ruano (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press).  Here's a link to my earlier post on this book. Yay for happy poetry news!

And now, thanks to my sweet friend Sarah at Shine Memoirs, I've been reading THE TREE IS OLDER THAN YOU ARE: A Bilingual Gathering of Poems and Stories from Mexico with Paintings by Mexican Artists selected by Naomi Shihab Nye.

What a gorgeous book! I am in love with several of these poems and the artwork, too. One poet in particular, Homero Aridjis, caught my heart, so I have ordered one of his solo poetry books. More on this soon! I also discovered his daughter Chloe Aridjis is a novelist. Oh how the TBR stack grows! Meanwhile, please enjoy these selections.

2 of my baby spoons (recently discovered!)
Noche en la cocina

De su vaina salen los chicharos
rapidas sombras vedes
junto a una chuchara sola

- Homero Aridjis

Night in the Kitchen

Peas come out of their pods
quick green shadows
by a single spoon

(translated by Eliot Weinberger)

Gala and Granny Smith
Sitting on an Orange Plate
(photo by me!)
La manzana

Sabe a luz, a luz fria,
si, la manzana.
Que amanecida fruta
tan de manana!

- Jose Gorostoza

The Apple

Yes, the apple tastes of light,
cold light.
That's it, the apple!
What a lively fruit
so much like morning!

(translated by Joan Darby Norris and Judith Infante)

Fox Sparrow, courtesy of Bird Watcher's Digest
Si el gorrion perdiera sus alas

Si el gorrion perdiera sus alas
la casa su techo
y la mesa sus patas

si el aguila en la altura
y la mujer en la plaza
de pronto se deschicieran

si la ciudad con sus torres
y el volcan con sus hoyos
cayeran en un pozo

si los cominos
si los gatos si los ojos
perdieran para siempre el camino

si la Terra se precipitara
en u espacio negro

si no hubiera mas cuerpos
si no hubiera mas luz

el canot seguiria

- Homero Aridjis

Should the Sparrow Lose Its Wings

Should the sparrow lose its wings
the house its roof
and the table its legs

should the eagle in the skies
and the woman in the market
crumple into bits

should the city with its towers
and the volcano with its craters
fall into a well

should the roads
should the cats should the eyes
lose their way for always

should the Earth launch itself
into a black hole

should there be no more bodies
should there be no more light

the song would still sing

(translated by Martha Black Jordan)


  1. Ha, the apple being like morning! What a beautiful and original image. I love it. Yes, the TBR pile grows.

  2. What wonderful poems and pics!! Love all. Will have to look for that book. :O

  3. This sounds like an amazing collection - definitely one I will check out, thanks! And congrats on both poetry wins too!

  4. Yes, let's shout hooray for Laura and Jorge! Will be looking for THE TREE...collection. Love! =)

  5. The cover on that collection is so evocative, and those poems! What an inspiring collection, I need to find a copy and explore it myself!

  6. Cold light is a great description of a tart, tangy apple! So happy for Laura's book, and We Are Like the Clouds is on my tbr list--I'm especially intrigued as I've been writing refugee poems recently...Thanks, Irene!

  7. Do you know what? This book is in my school library....and I haven't read this one yet! I am going to check it out next week. I really like the last poem. I think I'll be making that a mentor text this week. Thanks so much!
    And, I quite agree that Jone is the postcard QUEEEN :)

  8. Thanks for sharing this lovely book, Irene, another to find! I love that she noticed the peas by the spoon. It's inspiring to think of what we're missing!

  9. Yay for Laura! Those bilingual poems are wonderful, but that last one lodged in my heart.

  10. Yes, hooray for all the poetry love! I'm in awe of the graceful simplicity of these poems. And your photos, full of light and shadow, are stunning, Irene! Thank you for sharing!

  11. "the song would still sing"
    I'm going to tuck that hopeful line into my heart for safekeeping.

  12. That last poem is so haunting...especially now, when one feels so hopeless. Thank you, Irene.

  13. Yes, big happy cheers for Laura and for Jorge Agueta!

    These poems you've shared, they are so "you"!
    (That last one, as others have noted, so very haunting, and yet, the song....)

  14. I choked up reading the last one. It is gorgeous. One of my favorite quotes about singing is this one by Victor Hugo: Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.

  15. Such beautiful, powerful poems...thanks for sharing these, Irene!

  16. Thanks for sharing, Irene. Such haunting words from "Should the sparrow lose its wings" to the last line, "the song would still sing." But I hear a vestige of hope in that final line.

  17. Thanks for the set of poems, I especially like "Should the Sparrow Loose it's Wings," and the last line lifting us back up: "the song would still sing"

  18. These are gorgeous, Irene! Thanks for sharing them. My perception of morning is forever changed by that crisp apple metaphor. xo

  19. Irene, I realized that even though I read through your post last week, I did not comment. I really enjoyed reading the poetry. The pea poem brought me back to my childhood popping peas from their pods with my Nonnie. Isn't it amazing how poetry can bring back memories?

  20. So much good news on Friday in the world of poetry. I love these selections and will need to check out this book.

  21. Thanks for sharing these beautiful poems. Lovely!


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