Friday, January 3, 2014


    Hailey Leithauser - Winner of the Emily Dickinson First Book Award 2013 for Swoop

One of my New Year's resolutions was to post more Poetry Friday poems written for kids. After all, it's not called the KIDlitosphere for nothing. Well, now it's the first Friday of the year and I'm breaking that resolution (my track record with Resolutions Kept is not good) because I'm smitten with the work of a new poet whose debut effort won the Emily Dickinson First Book Award from the Poetry Foundation this last fall. The poet's name is Hailey Leithauser; the book's title is Swoop (Graywolf Press, October 2013.)  For those of you who read (and maybe write) both kids' poetry and poetry for adults, or for those of you who ask  only - no matter who the audience - for a fine combination of sound, image and idea ("only" that!) this is for your reading pleasure. Next week, I resolve to post a poem written for kids. This week, I offer a poem kids can love the rhythm and rhymes of without quite understanding, and an adult can love, period. It was first published in Pleiades, a review put out by the University of Central Missouri. (By the way: The cover art for Swoop is wonderful. It's Paul Klee's "Blumenmythos" - Flower Myth - painted in 1918. Perfect choice for the book.)

The Old Woman Gets Drunk with the Moon 

The moon is rising everywhere;
The moon's my favorite easy chair,
My tin pot-top, my green plum tree,
My brassy buttoned cavalry
Tap-dancing up a crystal stair.

O watch them pitch and take the air!
Like shoo fly pies and signal flares,
Like clotted cream and bumblebees,
The moons are rising.

How hits-the-spot, how debonair,
What swooned balloons of savoir faire,
What purr of rain-blurred bright marquees
That linger late, that wait for me,
Who'll someday rest my cold bones there
In moons that rise up everywhere.

                                                 - Hailey Leithauser
If you love words and wordplay, don't miss her dizzying series of short poems inspired by words from The Grandiloquent Dictionary. Leithauser's techinical skill dazzles, and her imagination just doesn't quit. Don't be lulled by the humor. Some of the poems are quite dark, and most ask you to turn them over in your mind and come back to them several times, as the best poems do. The poet honors wit, heart and self-interrogation  - all three.
This week's Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by Betsy at I Think in Poems. Head over there to see what other people have posted. And thanks, Betsy! And Happy New Year, One and All!

Getting Drunk with the Moon....


Betsy H said...

I absolutely love that book cover and title! Some resolutions are meant to be broken, this one was. I love the moon.

Steven Withrow said...

The moment I read "Was you ever bit by a dead bee?" in POETRY, I knew I had to own Hailey Leithauser's first collection. (I also thought immediately of you, Julie, and am happy to know you're smitten with SWOOP as well.) Hailey's gift for perfect palindromes is just one of her prodigious talents.

Thanks for sharing!

Steven Withrow

Diane Mayr said...

I love the sounds of the poem, Julie. I think kids would, too. Good poems have something for everyone I believe. Happy 2014!

Linda said...

Thank you for introducing us to Hailey Leithauser. I love the poem, and I look forward to reading more from her.

Tara said...

Loved the gleeful energy of this poem! Especially these lines:
What swooned baloons of savoir faire,
What purr of rain-blurred bright marquees
That linger late, that wait for me,

Buffy Silverman said...

What a delight--this one begs to be read aloud, and I obliged. Thanks for introducing Hailey Leithauser.

Mary Lee said...

If I weren't drunk on the words, that photo would do it -- WOW!

LInda Baie said...

I think you're right, at least older kids will love this, too, Julie. Its rhythm is delightful, and intriguing all together. I've put the book on my wish list. Thanks for sharing this new poet! Looking forward to our conversations together!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Another one for my must read list! Love the rhythm and lighthearted fancy of this one; I'm intrigued to read some of her darker fare.

I wouldn't call your resolution broken, though, Julie... maybe just postponed a bit. You didn't say you were going to share kidlit poems exclusively, just "more." And besides, this post was definitely worth the diversion. :)

Tabatha said...

I almost didn't end up leaving a comment because I was side-tracked by reading Leithauser's work. I ended up sending myself copies of "Ceci N’est Pas une Poésie" and "O, She Says." Thanks for the introduction & happy new year!

skanny17 said...

Thank you for this introduction, Julie. I am going to get her book. I love the word play, the ideas, the originality. All of it. Ear-splendidly delicious!
Janet F.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Well, I'm completely swooped up. She had me at the title. Thanks for bending your Resolution to share with us, Julie - and what a relief to have a resolution broken early enough in the New Year to be done with it. ;0)

Julie Paschkis said...

I feel like I'm eating this poem as much as reading it. Thank you for the introduction.

Ruth said...

Great choice! Thank you for introducing us to Hailey Leithauser!

Keri said...

Wow! A sensory delight! On my wish list . . .

Catherine said...

Wow! I love the image of the moon "tap-dancing up a crystal stair." Thank you for introducing me to Leithauser's poem.

Robyn Hood Black said...

I was completely swooped up - She had me at the title! Thank you for sharing, Julie. Happy New Year!