Thursday, December 17, 2009


Senator Al Franken

Thank goodness for Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect, who gets us all writing at the beginning of the week with her Monday Poetry Stretches. This week, she brought the clerihew back for an encore. In the comments field there, you can see the doozie written by Elaine Magliaro about Senator Max Baucus, (you can also read it at her terrific blog, Political Verses.) Elaine understands the off-kilter rhythm of the clerihew, one of the important elements that makes the form funny.

Last year at just about this time I posted my thinking about what a clerihew needs to do. I'm going to follow Elaine's lead and go political. If you haven't see Al Franken confront Senator Thune, I'm sure it will be all over YouTube by the time you read this. Here are my Poetry Stretch clerihews for 2009:

Fightin' Al Franken
gave some Senators a spankin' -
Tonight watchin' the T and V:


Senator Joe Lieberman
is a true believer when
he says, "Well, if you're not wealthy,
just try harder to stay healthy."

The Poetry Friday round-up this week is being hosted by Susan over at Susan Writes. Check it out!

Friday, December 11, 2009


In response to this new article , this poem:


The earth revolves around the sun.
Here's proof:
a telescope,
two Galilean fingers in a cup,
one tooth
(and don't forget that vertebra
in Padua.)

Diane Mayr is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today
on her lovely blog, RANDOM NOODLING.
Check out what other people have posted.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009



Only two more days to bid on items in Vermont College of Fine Arts' Hunger Mountain Holiday Fundraising Auction. And by items, I mean manuscript critiques with authors, agents and editors, as well as signed letterpress broadsides. It's only a click away, so click now. Bidding ends Saturday morning, PST. Included in the list are full-novel (250 pages) critiques with former Front Street editor and publisher and namelos founder Stephen Roxburgh, YA author and Printz medalist An Na (currently going for $149 - gad!!!!), YA & Middle Grade Author Carrie Jones, and the sweet guy pictured above, Tim Wynne-Jones, winner of the Governor General's Award of Canada, the Edgar for Best YA Mystery and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award  - who wouldn't want to get manuscript advice from Tim Wynne-Jones???  Apparently quite a few people feel the same way - his critique is a hot item, and it's going to raise some nice money for Hunger Mountain! You can figure out why if you look carefully at his photo. See the sparkle in those eyes? That's Tim - sparkle, wit, writing acumen, good soul, much-loved Advisor in the Writing for Children MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.   Be brave - bid for Tim! And if you haven't checked Hunger Mountain out yet, definitely go over to their website - the editors are doing wonderful things with it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Poetry Friday: Heartache and Poppies

Scottish Soldier in the Trenches WWI

Battle of the Somme, WWI

Soviet Soldier, Afghanistan

American Soldier, Afghanistan

I'm more than a little depressed about Obama's speech on Tuesday. I just wish we could get our troops out of Afghanistan - there's a reason it's called "The Graveyard of Empires." I keep reading what the Soviet Union said at comparable stages of its long, demoralizing conflict in Afghanistan, and it sounds almost word for word like what we're hearing from our generals now, and from the White House. So for Poetry Friday I'm going to link to three videos over at YouTube that I hope people will watch. All are songs, the lyrics of which are poems, so I'm not too far off track, right?  Listen to and watch the Sarah Brightman first. It breaks your heart.

American Soldiers, Afghanistan

Here is Sarah Brightman (singing Pie Jesu from Requiem)
Bruce Springsteen (singing Pete Seeger's Bring 'Em Home)
John McDermott (singing The Green Fields of France)

Here are lyrics to The Green Fields of France

Well how do you do, young Willie McBride,
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside,
And rest for a while 'neath the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done.

I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen,
When you joined the great fallen in 1916.
I hope you died well, and I hope you died clean.
Or young Willie McBride, was it slow and unseen?

Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound a death march, as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some faithful heart, is your memory enshrined?
And though you died back in 1916,
In that faithful heart, are you forever nineteen?

Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Enclosed now forever behind the glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and battered and stained,
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?


The sun how it shines on the green fields of France.
There's a warm summer breeze makes the red poppies dance.
And look how the sun shines from under the clouds.
There's no gas, no barbed wire, there're no guns firing now.

But here in this graveyard, it's still No Man's Land,
The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man
To a whole generation that were butchered and damned.


Aye, Willie McBride, I can't help wondering why
Did those who lie here know why did they die?
Did they really believe when they answered the cause,
Did they really believe that this war would end wars?

The sorrow, the sufferin', the glory, the pain
The killing and dying were all done in vain.
For young Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound a death march, as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

Did they beat the drums slowly,
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound a death march, as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

Siegfried Sassoon's Gravestone

American Soldier Speaking to Civilians in Afghanistan


Elaine Magliaro hosts the Poetry Friday round-up today. 
Thanks, Elaine! 

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Very excited to be hosting Poetry Friday this week right here at The Drift Record! First, before I forget: HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL, in advance! And Canadians, belated Happy Thanksgiving to you. I am either early or late, depending on whether you're facing north or south.

For those of you who are asking, I'm not sure who is hosting next week. I believe (fingers crossed) there's going to be a Poetry Friday blog page (NOT for posting - just for checking the schedule to see who is hosting.) I'll post that URL here once I find out. 

I am now going to paste in the obligatory cute turkey:

My Idea of a Cute Turkey, Apologies to Vegetarians

And here is the obligatory Thanksgiving poem, which everyone in my family recites tongue-in-cheek when we're offering up our Thanksgiving prayer:


Thanks for the grub.

It's not as sacrilegious as it sounds - we say it with a great deal of exuberance and praise in our hearts for the bounteous feast in front of us and for all our blessings. And since we'll have twenty-two people around the Thanksgiving table next week, a little levity will go a long way.
Since I'm on the West Coast and some of you are in different time zones, I figure it's best for me to get a jump on Poetry Friday and post this before some of you go to bed -  that way, you can leave your late night links, and I'll do my first round-up of them in the morning.  Of course, if you're in London, Moscow, Istanbul, Singapore, Berlin, Beijing, Sydney, Capetown, Kabul, Mumbai or Antarctica, you're already snoozing.'ve just gotten up...or you're part-way through a different day altogether. Thinking about friends in Australia already having lived part of a day I haven't woken up to yet makes my head hurt. Someone give me an orrery, show me Earth's position relative to the sun, make those little gears move and those balls spin, tell me about time zones, the Earth spinning in space, and tell me about the tilt and the seasons and what it means to my apple tree....)

Enough of that. Just click on Comments, then LEAVE YOUR NAME AND A LINK, say a little something about your Poetry Friday page, and I will round it all up and guide people to your blogs throughout the day.

OKAY NOW - Let the wild poetry rumpus start! 

EARLY BIRDS (links left in yesterday's comments)

1. Elaine Magliaro, headed to the NCTE Convention in Philadelphia,  has two Thanksgiving poems (one by Ivy O. Eastwick, the other anonymous) for her "Poetry Wednesday" contribution this week. You'll find them at  The Wild Rose Reader.

2. Diane Mayr (who left a neat little poem in the The Drift Record comments yesterday) calls on John Greenleaf Whittier to celebrate pumpkin pies over at Random Noodling, while at Kurious Kittly's Kurio Kabinet, she looks at New York City's Poets House.

3. Over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia is sharing a poem by one of my favorite poets, Mary Cornish, who also happens to be my sister.  It's a lovely poem titled "Hand Shadows," and Tricia posted it before she knew I'd be hosting - what a small world (as that orrery proves) !! Tricia also has a link to her Poetry Stretch Results this week.

NIGHT OWLS: (links left in the wee hours)

4. Check out the wild rumpus at Playing By the Book (excellent blog name!) where you'll find not only great photos of two bouncy kids but a poem by Michael Rosen and a review of his book Quick, Let's Get Out of Here (illustrated by Quentin Blake, who knows a thing or two about bounce.)  This is Playing by the Book's first post to Poetry Friday - welcome!

5. Semicolon offers us a more serious prayer about Thanksgiving by Matthias Claudius.

6. A lovely poem about "the babble of babies" over at Charles Ghigna's Father Goose. 

7. Check out a book, one old elm, old bones and a question from Dianne White (diannewrites.)

8. As part of the Winter Blog Blast Tour, Kelly Fineman of Writing and Ruminating has an interview with author Lisa Schroeder about (among other things) her verse novels.

9. Mary Lee has a poem about fear over at A Year of Reading. Fair warning: Be prepared for something with a few too many legs.

10. Check out a Thanksgiving poem (author unknown) fast becoming the traditional annual post for Carol at Carol's Corner.

SONGBIRDS (links left this morning):

11. Martha Calderaro got inspired by everyone howling at the moon last week and has created her own poem about a poem, titled "Hunting for the Moon/Dog Poem" - it's dedicated to dog/muse Brady ("full-body wag/ and eyes like chocolate Tootsie Pops")  Read it here.

12. Yummers. Jama Rattigan continues her culinary contributions to Poetry Friday with a look at The Poet's Cookbook by Grace Cavalieri and  Sabine Pascarelli over at alphabet soup. ("...linger in Tuscany...." - that sounds nice!)

13. Jumping the Candlestick's Debbie Diesen is thankful for beautiful parks this Thanksgiving, and she urges us (via an original poem titled "Are You a LitterShrug?") to join in on clean-ups of our local parks.

14. Sara Lewis Holmes dedicates Mary Oliver's beautiful poem "Blackwater Woods" to her niece, Emily, who would have turned 13 yesterday. You'll find the poem at Sara's blog, Read Write Believe.

15. Karen Edmisten remembers a Billy Collins poem  she likes called "Forgetfulness" (which starts, "The name of the author is the first to go....") and provides a link to his reading of it.

16. Check out two poems that mention November (one by e.e. cummings, the other by Joe Pacheco) and a knock-out photo of a tree that seems to be lit from within over at Tanita Davis's blog.

WOOTS and WHISTLES  (links left this afternoon):

17. Tabatha Yeatts got in touch with Romanian poet (now fully New Orleans-ian) poet and NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu for permission to post his poem titled "Away," which he'd forgotten he wrote! Follow Tabatha's links to Codrescu's interesting website, too (what other poet includes a CD by the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars with his new book of poems??

18. For a poem by Lucy Maud Montgomery (she of Anne of Green Gables fame), check out Check It Out. And at jone's other blog, Deo Writer, you'll find an original poem about the game of jacks, written as a response to Tricia's Poetry Stretch this week.

19. Two haiku (I like the way those two words sound like bamboo wind chimes knocking against each other, don't you?) by Issa have been posted by G.R. LeBlanc at Reflective Link.


20.Anne Shirley is sharing two poems this week over at Writers Workshop Wow and Woes: Wallace Stevens' "Anecdote of the Jar" and Kathleen Halme's "A Diversion."

21. Jack Wiler, a New Jersey poet who helped organize the Dodge Poetry Program's work with high school students and teachers, lost his battle with AIDS last month, but you can read one of his poems over at Author Amok.

22. Miss Erin posts a poem that struck a chord. It's by a Bengali poet I'm not familiar with -Vijaya Mukhopadhyay. It's always fun to discover new poets!  Thanks, Erin.

23.  An anonymous poem called "Twas the Night of Thanksgiving" (do I hear Christmas sneaking in??) is posted over at All About the Books by Janet Squire. And that wraps up the Pre-Thanksgiving post (doesw that sound like an oxymoron?)

24. But I've saved that last for a post-Thanksgiving post: Andromeda Jazmon over at a wrung sponge is offering an original poem called - are you ready for this? - "Chatting with Santa."


I won't keep moderating the comments now - because it's Saturday - but if you're a bit late with your post, just leave a link in the comments for people to read. Thanks to all who participated - it was my pleasure to host the round-up. 


Calling All Poets! Tomorrow I'll be hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up, so please spread the word. You'll be able to leave your links as of about 10:00 tonight and all through the day tomorrow. If you're traveling and won't have time tomorrow (many of you are headed to Philadelphia for the NCTE Conference, you lucky dogs), go ahead and leave the link in the comments today and I'll make sure it gets into the round-up.

And if you have no poem in mind, here's a little poetry challenge: Write a poem based on one of the the images below.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Arcade Souvenir 
(I want that hat....) 

Last week I was  moon-drunk, and there's still something going on between the moon and me, so I must have moon fever. I wrote "Late Night Thoughts" (below) as a response to Tricia's Poetry Stretch over at the Miss Rumphius Effect this week.  The challenge was to write a rictameter (another counted-syllables poem - like the Zeno! Only not like the Zeno!) which is a non-rhyming nine-line poem with the following syllable count: 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2. The first and last lines must be the same. (Of course, that last rule immediately makes me want to bend it - or even break it, though bending rules is much more fun.) When I write in response to a challenge, I'm not sure I produce an actual poem. But I do a few things usually that interest me. In this poem, I enjoyed turning the first two words of the poem into a complete question in the last line. I also liked coming up with line "the sun never rises" - it was like a backward curtsy to Hemingway. Putting howl and now next to each other felt good - almost like singing a Roy Orbison song - oh, I know why! - " in BLUE... BAY...-OUUUUUU!"  The rules say no rhyme, and I assume that's no end rhyme - that's usually what people mean (unfortunately?) when they talk about rhyme. There actually is quite a lot of internal rhyme in these nine lines:  Thoughts/not, might/night, howl/now, moon/soon, one/sun. The "wolf-throated chance" is an image I might actually want to save for a more serious poem. So - here's the second in my Moon Fever series (or so it seems):

Late Night Thoughts

Why not
howl at the moon?
Soon it will be sun-up --
who knows what happens after that?
This might be it: Your one wolf-throated chance.
You know, the sun never rises
at night -- what kind of friend
is that? Howl now!
Why not.?

Arcade Souvenir
(...again, the hat!) 


The Poetry Round-Up this week is over at Gotta Book  (thank you, Greg) - You gotta go there and see the links.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Poetry Friday: Moon-Drunk

Leda's Moon

A wonderful writer and friend, Leda Schubert (author of the award-winning Ballet of the Elephants and colleague of mine at Vermont College of Fine Arts) recently sent me two photos she took of the moon over her part of the world the other night. She knows I've been a little moon drunk lately. It's true. I'm bewitched. Everywhere I look, it's the moon. And to think it doesn't really shine, it just reflects light. But I don't care - being moon drunk isn't rational.

Leda's Moon with Leaves

You need a special kind of camera to capture how big the moon feels in the night sky - with regular cameras, it looks so much smaller. But I saw this poster of phases of the moon the other day, and I thought immediately that it would make a beautiful book cover. No title, no author name, just phases of the moon. Wouldn't that be wonderful? As if the author and illustrator were the moon itself.

When my husband and I got married, we lived in Mexico for a bit - not very long really - but long enough for me to see, for the first time, the moon as it appears on the Turkish flag, with what appears to be a star almost touching the lower part of the crescent:

When we saw it, I think the star was actually a planet - Venus, or maybe it was Jupiter - but all I knew then was that the moon was making me tipsy.

For Poetry Friday, I'm going to post a poem that's really a December poem, but I'm in the mood for it now. I wrote it to my husband thirty years after the night of that first crescent moon - the mood is not as giddy, but it's deeper, more substantial, even if it is melancholy. One phase of a changing moon.


December 21

Here we are on the long year's longest night,
with the light of this moon spreading - a nice surprise.
It rises in the sky, and we walk together hand
in hand - three decades fall like leaves to frost,
years lost. There's the North Star - low, slight but true.
It, you, me - mid-solstice. Right where we belong.
Brittle fig vines rest against the shed,
the bed of juno iris, too - their brown stalks half-asleep.
their bulbs deeply buried. It's the same old song:
Not long, you say. I answer, No, not long now.
But how it hurts to breathe. Even the wild mint
in the ditch is waiting. Even the coldest star.


I usually direct you to where the Poetry Friday round-up is, but I can't find a calendar of who's hosting and when. I've looked at CROSSOVER, Kelly Herold's site, but only see the calendar through August. And I've looked at Big A little a - but no luck! I'll update this once I find out. And if it's my turn (I volunteered for 11/6 at one point) then oh-oh....well, just leave your links in the comments. But I don't think it's my turn - I would have heard, no? More on this mystery later.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Poetry Friday: Zeno Hour!

J. Patrick Lewis has invented a new poetry form he calls the "zeno" - it's syllabic, with the following pattern for its ten lines: 8/4/2/1/4/2/1/4/2/1 (number of syllables.) All one-syllable lines rhyme (fourth, seventh and tenth lines.)

Tricia featured this over at The Miss Rumphius Effect as this week's Poetry Stretch - with great results! And I think a good time was had by all. Here are my contributions (title of the first is a tad long):

In a Nice Restaurant, I Use My Fingers to Tap Out Syllables on the Tablecloth, Which Worries the Nice Couple at the Next Table Who Appear to Be Having a Romantic Anniversary Dinner

Constantly counting syllables
alarms the shrinks.
While some
tales about our
none dare call us

* * * * *

A Zeno to Ze Nose

Ze nose eez nice, eet smell ze rose,
eet shine so pink
with wine.
la-la, ze nose
eet grows
blue -
eet drip, eet honk,
eet ah-

The Poetry Friday round-up this week is hosted by Jennie over at Biblio File. See what other people are up to!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Only 2 Days Left : Auction to Benefit WAR CHILD

$2447 (Australian dollars) = $2241 (American dollars)

Hooray! Every dollar went to WAR CHILD.


Free Shipping from Australia!

Shaun Tan has donated the wonderful piece of original artwork seen above to an auction on Ebay benefiting WAR CHILD. You can see a larger picture of the drawing at the Ebay site - or at the "KIDS NIGHT IN" site sponsored by Penguin Australia. The current price as I update this is $510 Australian dollars (That's about $470 U.S. dollars.) The auction ends on October 31st - but careful, there's a dateline change, and that makes the end of the auction much earlier in the U.S. Oh, wouldn't it be a joy to own an original Shaun Tan? The drawing seems to be a preliminary design for the cover art for the book Kids Night In 3 which is currently for sale in Australia (sales of the book also benefit WAR CHILD.)

There's no problem with the winning bidder living outside Australia. Also: The item description says the size of the drawing is "A3" - that must be something Australian's understand...? I'll try to find out what that means. (Update: the measurements are 11.5 x 16.5 inches.)

WAR CHILD is "an international relief and development agency dedicated to providing immediate, effective and sustainable aid to children affected by war. " Click here to visit their website.

Anyone out there with deep pockets, a social conscience, and a love of great art? BID NOW!

Actually, here's the question I'd really like to ask: Why doesn't Penguin U.S.A. participate?

Young Girl in Afghanistan
Photo Available Online Through WAR CHILD

Friday, October 23, 2009

Poetry Friday: Eve Merriam and the Weather

Bridge in the Rain (Vincent van Gogh, 1887)

There's no doubt at all here in Seattle - absolutely none - that the "good" weather is gone until, oh, next March. Sure, there will be a few days of sunshine in January that will drive us outside in our shirtsleeves, dancing around, giddy with delight. But we can generally get up in the morning, put on heavy socks and layers of shirts and sweaters, hold our hot coffee cups in our hands as if anything warm were a magic elixir, gaze out the window and expect to see the garden wet, the sidewalks wet, the street wet, and rain coming down. In the spirit of all things wet then, here is a little poem by the wonderful Eve Merriam. I love the fact that Ms. Merriam, whose book Inner City Mother Goose (1971) was once called by its author "just about the most banned book in the country," was rewarded ten years after its publication with the NCTE's Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.


Dot a dot dot dot a dot dot
Spotting the windowpane.

Spack a spack speck flick a flack fleck
Freckling the windowpane.

A spatter a scatter a wet cat a clatter
A splatter a rumble outside.

Umbrella umbrella umbrella umbrella
Bumbershoot barrel of rain.

Slosh a galosh slosh a galosh
Slither and slather a glide

A puddle a jump a puddle a jump
A puddle a jump puddle splosh

A juddle a pump a luddle a dump
A pudmuddle jump in and slide!

Eve Merriam 1916-1992


 KELLY HEROLD'S BIG A little a -

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Norma Fox Mazer 1931-2009

Norma Fox Mazer, Newbery Honor- & Edgar-winner for her children's books, died late Friday night - those who knew her will feel the loss acutely. She was the mentor of many students at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she taught graduate students in the Writing for Children Program, and she was well-loved by all her colleagues there. When I think of Norma I picture her as I last saw her, almost exactly like she was in the photo here, though a little older. Still -- those braids, that smile, and the warmth and kindness that just radiated from her.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poetry Friday: Hopkins' Cow, Calder's Mobiles, Renoir and a Knock on the Door

Alexander Calder Mobile

This week Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect offered up a lovely example of a "love poem" of random (or not so random) things that brought the poet Rupert Brooke joy. The Stretch assignment was to write a love letter to the world. But how to pick and choose? So many things! I thought of the first two lines of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem, "Pied Beauty": Glory be to God for dappled things- / for skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow.... So here is my short list:


Dappled things, of course-
Hopkin's cow.
That's how all things a-dazzle start.
Then the bottoms of toddlers, plus their plump thighs.
A small boy's ear lobes and his mangled prose.
The sigh of various tides from Bahia Kino to Banyul.
A toolbox. Lunch box. Pencil box.
A knock at the door when I know it's my sister.
Mist on the moor complements of Bronte.
Big broad Whitman loving everything large.
The way he sang. Still sings.
And other things. Yellow in January, deep green in July.
Saturn and its rings. Crescent moons.
Calder's mobiles. Crazed glaze on a Renoir.
The blink of an eye. Anything pied.
These things today and each day -- glory be.

Head over to Laura Purdie Salas's blog for this weeks Poetry Friday round-up!

A Brinded Cow

Friday, October 9, 2009

Poetry Friday: Eleanor Wilner, The North Pole, The Moon

Since I've been thinking a lot about photography lately (see yesterday's post about the death of Irving Penn) I'll just post this amazing "visual poem" - a photograph of the moon, taken at the North Pole. Like the best poetry, it's both irreducible and mysterious. As is this poem by Eleanor Wilner:


And they will gather by the well,
its dark water a mirror to catch whatever
stars slide by in the slow precession of
the skies, the tilting dome of time,
over all, a light mist like a scrim,
and here and there some clouds
that will open at the last and let
the moon shine through; it will be
at the wheel's turning, when
three zeros stand like paw-prints
in the snow; it will be a crescent
moon, and it will shine up from
the dark water like a silver hook
without a fish--until, as we lean closer,
swimming up from the well, something
dark but glowing, animate, like live coals--
it is our own eyes staring up at us,
as the moon sets its hook;
and they, whose dim shapes are no more
than what we will become, take up
their long-handled dippers
of brass, and one by one, they catch
the moon in the cup-shaped bowls,
and they raise its floating light
to their lips, and with it, they drink back
our eyes, burning with desire to see
into the gullet of night: each one
dips and drinks, and dips, and drinks,
until there is only dark water,
until there is only the dark.

Eleanor Wilner

The poetry Friday Round-Up is over at Anastasia Suen's Picture Book of the Day. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Irving Penn 1917-2009

Chimney Sweep, London - [Irving Penn]

The famous photographer Irving Penn, probably best known for his fashion photography, died yesterday at age 92, just a month after the Getty Museum's exhibit Irving Penn: Small Trades opened. It runs through January - I'd love to fly down to L.A. to see it. The show is a collection of photos Penn made in in the 1950's in Paris, London and New York of working people in their work clothes, with the instruments of their trade. Above is Penn's picture of a London Chimney Sweep. Click here to see a slide show of the exhibit. Penn once said, "I myself have always stood in the awe of the camera. I recognize it for the instrument it is, part Stradivarius, part scalpel."

Penn also made the portrait below of an extremely young Truman Capote which makes you think that maybe it would be have been nicer to be a chimney sweep than to be Truman Capote.

You can read a lovely essay about Penn, written by Owen Edwards, over at the Design Observer.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Poetry Friday - It's a Lollygag Day

A long black feather.....

Well, I'm moving from melancholy into a meandering mood - just feel like going somewhere but nowhere in particular. Know the feeling? It's a funny one - not sad - just wanting to move the way a stick in water moves, easy with the currents and the eddies. That's it - I'm in a see-where-the-stream-takes-me mood.

Quite awhile ago I wrote a poem that didn't manage to persuade my editor that it would make a good picture book. The poem was kind of like that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and George decide that they will write a TV pilot about doing nothing, because that's what life is like. And this poem is like that, too - it's a doing-nothing poem. I think sometimes kids are too busy, too rushed, too scheduled. Anyway, I thought I'd post a few verses of this poem - the mood matches the moment.

Do you like to lollygag?
Do you like to dawdle?
Do you like to doodle
and noodle around?

Is that what you like to do?
Well, I do, too.

I like to fritter
and wile away the day,
look up at the white clouds
and spin and get dizzy,
look down at the ants
who are way too busy.

Do you like to dink about,
find a few treasures --
a penny on the sidewalk,
a long, black feather?
Hum-diddle-dum some,
and zum-zum-zum some
under your breath?

Is that what you like to do?
Well, I do, too.

I like to dilly-dally
doing nothing much.
Kick a rock with one foot,
kick it with the other,
gather up more rocks
and throw them in a puddle.

Do you like to wander
and ramble in a daze.,
ambling and wondering
if birds are ever late....
Do birds know how to mosey?
Do they rush? Do they worry?
Do you like to wonder
if birds are in a hurry?

Is that what you like to do?
Well, I do, too.

I like to listen
to the hot buzz sounds
of bees flying by me
as I lie on the ground.
I like to whistle
through a green blade of grass
and make a crow cackle
and make his wings flap,
and watch how he glides
with his feet tucked back....

Well, it just went on from there. Way too long for a poem about doing nothing. My editor was right - even so, I sometimes love a poem that goes nowhere. I think we're all a little fond of those. We take them out on our go-nowhere days, and they please us, and we fold them up & put them in our pockets as we go for a walk, heading nowhere in particular.

You can find today's Poetry Round-Up over at Kelly Herold's Crossover. Be sure to see what other people have posted.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Grays, Golds

A friend back in Vermont, poet Sierra Nelson, reminded us today over at The Kenyon Review's blog of how beautiful Robert Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay is. Seems like the right thing to post to the Drift Record today - out the window as I type, the sky is gray and threatening, the crabapple is almost bare-limbed.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Here's a link to a song performed by Old Crow Medicine Show that picks up on that mix of melancholy and beauty I've been both feeling and seeing all around me lately. It's called We're All In This Together.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Poetry Friday: Northrup Frye, My Dad, Edo Painting and Ripe Moons

Autumn Grasses in Moonlight (Shibata Zeshin, late Edo period)

Today was my dad's birthday - he would have been 85 if he had lived past his 61st birthday. Since his death twenty-four years ago, September has changed for me. It used to feel like new beginnings - my mom and dad were both teachers, so the new year started for them when it started for me, at the end of summer when the "new year" took my brother, my sister and me off to new teachers and old friends. That feeling carried on for me when my own kids went to school and my husband became a teacher. From September to June - that was the real year. The summer was pretend - it seemed to happen in a completely different world, unstructured and regulated only by sunrise and sunset. But now, with my kids grown, and my grandson not in school yet, and with my teaching residencies coming in January and July, September feels melancholy - something seems to be drawing to a close. This is the season Northrup Frye associated with tragedy (winter = satire, spring = comedy, summer=romance/full-blown belief ) and it's odd to realize that now September means the year is coming to an end. Out my window, I can see the leaves of the crabapple turning yellow and falling. Even so - who can resist autumn? We love it because of (not despite) its sadness. When I went looking for a poem today, I found one by Margaret Gibson about autumn - just the right mix for the mood I'm in. Gibson is an American poet who teaches at the University of Connecticut. This poem is from her book Autumn Grasses. The title poem refers to a two-panel paper screen (seen above) by Japanese artist Shibata Zeshin, painted with ink, lacquer and silver leaf.

Autumn Grasses

In fields of bush clover and hay-scent grass
the autumn moon takes refuge
The cricket's song is gold

Zeshin's loneliness taught him this

Who is coming?
What will come to pass, and pass?

Neither bruise nor sweetness nor cool air
knows the way

And the moon?
Who among us does not wander, and flare
and bow to the ground?

Who does not savor, and stand open
if only in secret

taking heart in the ripening of the moon?

- Margaret Gibson

The Poetry Round-Up today is over at Susan Taylor Brown's blog. Head over there to see what other people have posted.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Young. Old. Blink of an Eye.

[Though I posted this on Thursday, I'm going to keep it up for Poetry Friday - people can take a look at the poets included. Poetry Friday Round-Up link is at the bottom!]

A former student at Vermont College of Fine Arts sent me a poem she found posted on The Writers Almanac today (thank you, Lynda!) called Getting to Sleep in New Jersey The poet is John Stone, and the poem's subject is William Carlos Williams, whose birthday it is today. It got me thinking about a photograph I saw of WCW taken when he was a young man. The photo startled me. We have images of famous people set in our minds - the "William Carlos Williams" I knew (but didn't know, of course) was the man in the hat - the famous photograph, which must appear on many of the jacket covers of his books. But from the photos, I can see the boy in the man. You have to wonder (or I do, at least) when you see photos like this, about what these great people learned between Point A and Point Z - what's in those iconic heads and hearts that wasn't there yet when they were 13, 19, 25? What did life teach them? You see it in their art, but do you see it in their eyes?

So I thought I'd just pair up some Young/Old photos and let them speak for themselves.




(3 photos: Age 13, Mid-Life, Older - and she apparently loved feathers in hats her entire life....)




VIRGINIA WOOLF (wasn't she ever happy?)

TONI MORRISON (born Chloe Wofford)



Poetry Friday this week is being hosted by Becky over at Becky's Book Review. Thanks!