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.