Friday, April 6, 2018

ARTSPEAK! Harlem Renaissance poem "The Toiler" and Line #6 in Our Progressive Poem!

Welcome to day #6 of 2018 ARTSPEAK!, in which I am focusing on art and artists from the Harlem Renaissance. It's also Poetry Friday, so be sure to visit Amy and her "1 Subject...30 Ways" project on Orion at the Poem Farm for Roundup. AND... it's my turn to add to the Progressive Poem! Eep!

First: Today I'm continuing my Harlem Renaissance poetry project with Aaron Douglas who was often called the “official artist of the Harlem Renaissance," or the “Father of Black American Art.” I'll stick with Mr. Douglas for just one more day before I move on!

Aaron Douglas illustrated many books during the 1920's, and I learned in the book HARLEM STOMP! by Laban Carrick Hill that his work came to embody all that the Harlem Renaissance stood for – the culturally rich aspects of African-American life and heritage. So for the first week of this project, I will be writing after his work.

Aaron Douglas poems so far:

"Let There Be Poetry" after The Creation by Aaron Douglas
"Boy with Plane" after Boy with Plane by Aaron Douglas
"To a Dancer" after Sahdji (Tribal Women) by Aaron Douglas
"For the Builders" after Building More Stately Mansions by Aaron Douglas
"This Poem is a Dream" after Aspiration by Aaron Douglas

Today's piece is called The Toiler. I learned that it is thought that Douglas created it after visiting the Tuskegee Institute (here in Alabama).

I have so much admiration for hard-working folk... I know it's because of the people who came before me that I can enjoy the life I live.

Also, I was thinking of how there are so many ways of toiling... we writers toil, don't we? I had a conversation with a few other writers recently, and it really struck me: so often we make excuses, we put obstacles in our own way, and then bemoan our lack of accomplishment.

The Toiler in this picture? He's not bemoaning anything. He's doing the work. And y'all: that's what it takes. You might also recognize the structure of this poem.. I used in in DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST for a poem entitled "What Rhino Knows."


The Toiler

The toiler knows
the mango-glow
of daybreak

The toiler knows
all things grow
bit by bit

The toiler knows
the furrows
are rich
with fellowship

The toiler knows
to heave-swing-ho
and dreams
will follow.

- Irene Latham


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And now for the latest line in our Progressive Poem! I'm so grateful to the poets who have launched our poem this year... what loveliness! And,  following Heidi's lead, here's what I wrote down Liz's day 1 line as my expectations for the poem:

"We might get a picture of this seed awakening and discovering its family and home -- nearby plants and woodland critters."

When, in fact, we kind of buzzed right past all that! And with Jan's (inventive) line about inventing a game, I instantly started thinking of childhood games, that may or may not include counting or naming... and that got me wondering, with whom (or what?) would our (rooted) Jasmine play? Who might help her? Who might play with her? And so, I give you the latest:

2018 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem (as yet untitled)

Nestled in her cozy bed, a seed stretched.
Oh, what wonderful dreams she had had!
Blooming in midnight moonlight, dancing with
the pulse of a thousand stars, sweet Jasmine
invented a game.
“Moon?” she called across warm, honeyed air.
-->

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Please see in the sidebar all the poets participating this year... I look forward to Linda's line tomorrow at TeacherDance! I also look forward to catching up very soon on some of the amazing-ness that everyone is sharing and creating! What an inspiring month...

Finally, don't forget this Twitter chat on Monday evening:

27 comments:

  1. Oh, that "mango-glow" of daybreak! Perfection!

    And your line -- hooray for a new character! Let the game begin!

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  2. "furrows
    are rich
    with fellowship"--
    That pretty much also describes our toiling together over this poem! Your addition reminds me of the poem my Madelinne wrote last year as part of our Poems for Two Voices project: https://myjuicylittleuniverse.blogspot.com/2017/03/on-voice-moon-tags-world.html
    The moon is always a willing playmate, aren't they? Let's see if Moon gets a gender identity! : )

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  3. Good mango-morn, Irene!

    I love how "The Toiler" fits our endeavor with the Progressive Poem:

    "The Toiler knows
    all things grow
    bit by bit"

    And after the little bit of yesterday, your Moon surprise lifts us up from the earth bed & an unknown game, to the wide wondering sky, in your lyrical way.

    So, so, so many paths - who knows what tomorrow will bring? (Linda may have an inkling...)






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  4. Irene, first I was taken away to a dreaming state with your descriptive line, "the mango-glow of daybreak". Then, I read your line for the Progressive Poem and was swept away into the warm, honeyed air. This poem is certainly filled with beautiful, dreamy descriptions. I can't wait to read what happens next. I look forward to Monday's Twitter chat that I have included in my post today.

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  5. What a wonderful celebration of all those who toil in every way, Irene. I love that "mango-glow". And because I love all things about the moon, my mind is whirling with the lovely scene you've set for Jasmine in the "honeyed air", and my line next! Moving on into. . .? (FYI-I somehow struggled to comment, finally got it!)

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    1. Hi Linda,
      Eager to see what your line will be. Oh that sweet Jasmine and the honeyed air, moonglow and midnight and your line. I await. Irene, toiling, work to be potentially proud of or at least proud of the effort, the accomplishment. I am always so excited (and a only a little nervous) about writing my line, but I've always felt the whole is greater than the sum of its delicious parts. Thank you again for including me and helping me, Irene. I will get my post to you as soon as I can on Saturday night. I have to go to a funeral in the early part of the day. A special friend who she was a champion of my creativity in any area so I think there will be a helper by my side. I did not know about this when I signed up. But not to worry. I will be able do it.

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  6. I too am savouring the sweetness of that mango glow, Irene. (That's our taste of Christmas in the summer, right there!) And I have to say, the progressive poem is softly, surely shaping into 'charming'. It has had such a cohesive. There have been days that surprised, but each next line has just cemented the rightness of each line. (If that makes sense?) I'm so impressed by it!

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    1. *such a cohesive start

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  7. Ah, perfect. The toiler and the moon!

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  8. A game with moon - what fun! And the toiler, so much to love here - things growing bit by bit, furrows rich with fellowship, and dreams! We are lucky to watch your poetic toiling a month long!

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  9. Beautiful poem Irene, I loved these lines from your poem,
    "the mango-glow
    of daybreak"

    "all things grow
    bit by bit"

    Thanks too for your bits of expanding, loveliness, and depth, added to the progressive poem!

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  10. I, too, love the "mango-glow of daybreak"! And the Moon!! Can't wait to see what comes next. :)

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  11. Playing games with the moon in the honey-breezed midnight air, oh my goodness, what lovely paths we are treading together!

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  12. I like that "doing the work"--that is what it takes, and clearly you do the poetry work. Yes to mango-glow and to Jasmine calling to the moon!

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  13. I do love your acknowledgement of the ways of toiling. The Toiler is a kind of toil I've been fortunate enough to never have to do. Generations before me did and I wonder what any of them who loved words and story did? Did they spin stories during work? I would be so frustrated and such a different person if I didn't get away from my daily responsibilities to play with words and sometimes even toil with them. That word mango in the first line really pulls me in. It's perfect and juicy with meaning. Jasmine is a curious creature. I like her already....even on her sixth day of being. Thanks for sharing your process.

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  14. I love this form and how you take us to the fields and leave us with hope, "dreams will follow."
    The moon playing a game with Jasmine? I am always surprised by how this progressive poem progresses and grows into its own.

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  15. I love your toiler poem, particularly the last stanza! And how wonderful that you included the moon to be a companion for our sweet Jasmine. It's funny that I included the moon in my Poetry Friday poem using a few of the lines from the progressive poem in progress and then it turned up in your line that day, too! We must have been on the same wavelength, Irene!

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  16. Thank you for sharing the lovely poem, The Toiler, and I am really enjoying following along, watching the progressive poem unfold.

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  17. That toiler has such wisdom to share with us all. That is such a lovely poem. I am enjoying seeing the progressive poem grow a little more each day and can't wait to see what happens next.

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  18. "mango-glow" - Irene, you never cease to amaze. Thank you for the Progressive Poem too! I have some catching up to do! xx

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  19. Sometimes it's tough to think of the mental toil of writing poetry in the same way as physical toil. It feels like the former requires more justification/rationalization, even though they both can be taxing and rewarding in their own ways. I love the ending of The Toiler:

    The toiler knows
    to heave-swing-ho –
    and dreams
    will follow.

    I also love your progressive poem line, Irene. A perfect entrance for an ideal playmate!

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  20. This line from The Toiler: the mango-glow
    of daybreak...stunning.
    And the progressive poem is unfurling beautifully.

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  21. When one is days late catching up on Progressive Poems and such, one merely nods in agreement at all the comments rather than coming up with a novel one! Wonderful, Irene - thanks for all the poetry goodness over here this month and for masterminding the Progressive Poem! XO

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  22. Catching up on Progressive Poem today--I LOVE that the seed is calling to the moon. Swoon.

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  23. Me again. "Warm, honeyed air" - you come up with the most luscious phrases, Irene. xx

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  24. Oh my... Playing a game with the moon... and the feeling of honeyed air so heavy and sweet... thank you for a beautiful line.

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Your thoughts?