Friday, December 31, 2010

Poetry Friday: We Have a Song....

I think the photo above (via friend and VCFA-colleague Louise Hawes) is a poem in itself- no text necessary. But since I'm on the subject of the moon, here is something Italo Calvino said about the work of Giacomo Leopardi, the great Italian poet:
          ...he simply takes the weight out of language, to the point that it resembles moonlight.

Now that seems like good writing advice to me - Attend to lightness. Shoot for moonlight. I sang lots of songs about the moon to my grandson these last two weeks while he was staying with us in Seattle. Oh, Mr. Moon, Moon, bright and shiny moon, won't you please shine down on me? and When the moon comes over the mountains, every beam brings a dream, dear of you....and we read the lovely story in Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel which contains the lines, "Oh, Moon, you have followed me all the way home. What a good round friend you are!"

2010 seems to have been the Year of the Moon for me. I wonder what 2011 will be? Here is a small poem about the moon by H. D. (Hilda Doolittle).


Will you glimmer on the sea?
Will you fling your spear-head
On the shore?
What note shall we pitch?

We have a song,
On the bank we share our arrows -
The loosed string tells our note:

O flight, 
Bring her swiftly to our song. 
She is great. 
We measure her by the pine-trees. 

New Year's Resolution 2011: I will measure my work by the pine trees.

Hope your year is wonderful.  Here is a small poem (2010 was a year of small poems, too) by Robert Herrick about the good luck I wish for you in the new year. I'm passing it along - it came to me via the wonderful owners of Open Books, Christine Deavel and John Marshall (they have a calendar of strong readers coming up...if you live in the Pacific Northwest and love poetry, check it out.)  

"The Coming of Good Luck"

So good luck came, and on my roof did light
Like noiseless snow, or as the dew of night:
Not all at once, but gently, as the trees
Are by the sunbeams tickled by degrees.

The Poetry Friday round-up this week is over at Carol's Corner.  Head over there to see what other people are posting.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Poetry Friday: Toast, Butter, Kings and 3-Year-Olds.

A.A. Milne, looking a bit fussy
My 3-year-old grandson has been staying with me for the last week while my daughter and her husband take a long-overdue vacation. I've been immersed in Lego's, Lightning McQueen race cars (and tow trucks), tents made of sheets over the dining room table, and gingerbread-cookie-making sessions. There have been rubber ducks in the bathtub and six stories at bedtime just about every night because I can't resist it when he begs, "One more...please?" Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel has been a favorite, ditto Make Way for Ducklings.

Just about all of it has been glorious. I'd forgotten, though, how specific 3-year-olds can be about what they want to eat- I mean, down to the smallest details, the way an egg is scrambled, the amount of milk on cereal, the proper way to cut pizza. the way a piece of toast is buttered ("Nobody /  he whimpered / "Could call me / a fussy man....")   Here's one of my favorite A.A. Milne poems - I've been thinking of it while fixing meals this week:


The King asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
The Dairymaid:
"Could we have some butter for
The Royal slice of bread?"
The Queen asked the Dairymaid,
The Dairymaid
Said, "Certainly,
I'll go and tell the cow
Before she goes to bed."

The Dairymaid
She curtsied,
And went and told the Alderney:
"Don't forget the butter for
The Royal slice of bread."

The Alderney said sleepily:
"You'd better tell
His Majesty
That many people nowadays
Like marmalade

The Dairymaid
Said "Fancy!"
And went to
Her Majesty.
She curtsied to the Queen, and
She turned a little red:
"Excuse me,
Your Majesty,
For taking of
The liberty,
But marmalade is tasty, if
It's very

The Queen said
And went to his Majesty:
"Talking of the butter for
The royal slice of bread,
Many people
Think that
Is nicer.
Would you like to try a little

The King said,
And then he said,
"Oh, deary me!"
The King sobbed, "Oh, deary me!"
And went back to bed.
He whimpered,
"Could call me
A fussy man;
I only want
A little bit
Of butter for
My bread!"

The Queen said,
"There, there!"
And went to
The Dairymaid.
The Dairymaid
Said, "There, there!"
And went to the shed.
The cow said,
"There, there!
I didn't really
Mean it;
Here's milk for his porringer
And butter for his bread."

The queen took the butter
And brought it to
His Majesty.
The King said
"Butter, eh?"
And bounced out of bed.
"Nobody," he said,
As he kissed her
"Nobody," he said,
As he slid down
The banisters,
My darling,
Could call me
A fussy man -
I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!"

                      A.A. Milne

Poetry Friday this week is being hosted by Amy over at The Poem Farm. Go visit and see what people are posting!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Poetry Friday: Juncoes and Jujubes

Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect issued a challenge via her Monday Poetry Stretch to write about something that inspires us. Since inspiration is such a large thing, I decided to go small with my sources for it. Here's a poem about a small thing that inspired me:


Just a little junco in the apple tree
this morning was enough to make me fiddle
with my plans, make me wait & see
(just a little)

what the day would bring. I put the kettle
on, rethought my errands, made a cup of tea,
settled in by the window. The junco's whistle

(just the hint of one, no bigger than the middle
letter of September) – his busy ee-ee-ee—
was Greek to me. But I love an autumn riddle
(especially if it's little.)

The Poetry Friday round-up this week is over at Jama Ratigan's delicious blog, Alphabet Soup. Click over there to see what other people are posting! (mmmm.....alphabet soup......that's a small little inspirational thing, too.....) 
Here are more photos of small things that inspire me: 

Alphabet soup....either "Toot Toot" or "Otto Otto" 
Netsuke Nest
Jujubes for You and Me's

The Latest and Youngest Fan of Imaginary Menagerie - Sweet Zia!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Poetry Friday: Congratulations to J. Patrick Lewis

J. Patrick Lewis, Poet

A few days ago, I read that J. Patrick Lewis was named the recipient of this year's Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children from the National Council of Teachers of English (this news came via Elaine Magliaro and her informative blog, Wild Rose Reader - Elaine also has a wonderful interview with Pat from 2008.) And a few weeks ago, I got a copy of Pat's book of poetry for adults, Gulls Hold Up the Sky: Poems 1983-2010. Today, I just want to say hooray to Pat, and huge congratulations!

Pat joins poets like Richard Wilbur and X.J. Kennedy who see no problem straddling the fence between the two worlds of writing for children and writing for adults. Talent, a love of language, an observant eye, a sense of humor (which is often a sense of non-sense), and a willingness to work hard. No matter who the audience is, that's what it takes to produce the poetry, and Pat has these qualities.

For Poetry Friday, a silly and wonderful poem from this new book of his (though many are serious, and I thought I should share one of those, no - I can't resist the silly ones): 

Crime and Punishment 

Student, mad, 
Runs amok --
Murders two,
Worse luck. 
What then? 
Long discussion --
Guilt, more guilt
(It's Russian.)

Pat Lewis, Bubble-Gum Blower!
Today's Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by Tricia (thanks, Tricia!) over at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Head over there to see what people have posted!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Book Covers - Masks on Faces, Maps on Hands, Food on Fork, Etc.

The Kid Table by Andrea Seigel (book design by Nicole Gastonguay)
The lovely people over at Jacket Knack are asking for opinions about Favorite Covers of 2010, and I went a little nuts, suggesting maybe 25-30 of my favorites (on their Facebook page.) I was having fun, and I was a little out of control. I love cover art. I love design - wanted to study it at Berkeley until politics got in the way (it was the '60's - and Design seemed elitist....)  But oh, my, maybe if I'm reincarnated, I'll come back as a book cover designer.

That, or an otter.

Here are some of my favorite book covers of the year (some for adults, some for kids):

Keeper by Kathi Appelt
Socksquatch by Frank W. Dormer
In Front of My House by Marianne Dubuc

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman (illustrated by Rick Allen)

Wild Alphabet by Dan Green (book design by Julie Frolich)

Freefall by Mindi Scott (book design by Mike Rosamilia)
Dinosaurs? by Lila Prap
Ubiquitous by Joyce Sidman (illustrated by Beckie Prange)
Farm by Elisha Cooper

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper(book design by Debra Sfetsios)

They Called Themselves the K.K.K. by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
(book design by YAY Designs - who also did the fabulous cover of The Secret of the Yellow Death)
Chicken Big by Keith Graves
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch

Boss Baby by Marla Frazee

Moral Ground edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Wilsson

Milk Eggs Vodka by Bill Keaggy
The Luzhin Defense by Vladimir Nabokov (design by Paul Sahre)