Friday, January 24, 2020

ncte poetry notables part 2

Welcome to a warming couple of reviews of poetry collections for the youngest readers, both selected by the NCTE Award for Excellence in Children's Poetry Committee! The whole process of reading through the submissions was a treasure hunt, so I'll start with...

FINDING TREASURE: A Collection of Collections
by Michelle Schaub
illustrated by Carmen Saldana
(Charlesbridge, 2019)

Best for readers K-3, this collection of 18 poems tells the story of one main character, a girl whose teacher has asked the class to share something they collect. But what is her passion?  In her exploration of the collections of her family and friends--everything from buttons to baseball cards, from coins to clocks--our narrator considers what she might love enough to collect, curate and share...and in the final poem she decides:
"My medley isn't common,
nor is it very strange.
It isn't something that you count,
sort, or rearrange."
It's POETRY!  Whether her collection is the very poems in this book, written in her own voice, or a collection of favorite poems from outside this book, is unclear and probably doesn't matter.  Throughout, Schaub's language is effortlessly readable in a variety of free verse and rhyme-and-meter poems. She successfully portrays both the collectors' devotions and the delights of their chosen objects, including SMILES.  There are plenty of these in Saldana's detailed cartoon illustrations, and plenty for readers.


I'M THE BIG ONE NOW: Poems about Growing Up
by Marilyn Singer
illustrated by Jana Christy
(WordSong 2019)

Another collection that hits a sweet spot for ages 4-8, Singer's poems are filled with her characteristic wordplay and celebrate the common but exciting developmental accomplishments of young children.  With titles like "First Good Snap, First Good Whistle" and "Big-Kid Teeth," this book has a poem for all the ordinary leaps that are common to all kids; there are also poems about growing into more specific experiences, like "My Own Seat on the Plane" and "Cannonball."

Yesterday I stood and stared
              at the blue bottom
              of this big pool.
Yesterday, and the day before,
              and the day before that.

But today,
              today.... 
Like a coconut, I drop
             with a smashing splash,
touch my toes to that blue bottom,
             and, in a flash, up I pop. 

The essential business of learning to ride a bike comes in three installments, "Trying to Ride" Parts 1, 2 and 3, likewise highlighting the way that we all learn things bit by bit over time, and effort is usually involved.

Beyond these strengths, this collection is also notable for its variety of companion poems, such as the quiet "In the Theatre" and the noisy "At the Ballpark," its poems for two voices, for its lengthier poems and its brief, triumphant final word on the back cover:

Tying My Shoes

Guess what, you toes!
I have learned to make bows!
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Now that I have done my due diligence as Poetry Committee Member, these books go to PreK with me TODAY so I can do due diligence as a Poetry Teacher!  Meanwhile you can go to Kat Apel's blog for the second Australian-hosted Poetry Friday roundup of the month--which is just as well because there continues to be good and bad news from that beleaguered continent.

Stay tuned for four more reviews of NCTE Poetry Notables in the next few weeks!



Friday, January 17, 2020

ncte poetry notables 2020

What a terrifically fun and serious responsibility it has been this year to begin a 3-year term on the NCTE Children's Poetry Awards Committee!  We read all summer and into the fall, wrassled through our deliberations at the NCTE Convention in Baltimore in November, and at the start of this month released our longer-than-ever list of notable poetry books and novels-in-verse.


The good news is that there were so many outstanding titles that we couldn't fit our list onto two sides of paper, so I invite you to wallow and revel in the glorious abundance, with something for every taste!  After the list, I'll highlight a few that were my particular favorites.





Fabulous, amiright?!  Among these many wonders, a few stood out for me (time now only for the briefest of descriptions, but you can trust me on these!), and over the next weeks I'll share little reviews of six others that I'm charged with writing for School Library Journal.


two middle school girls figure themselves
out through a surprising friendship: true characters
Emmy discovers her particular genius
and we learn some Javascript: wow format!
All of Me | Chris Baron | Macmillan
Ari struggles with the burden of weight
and survives crises with wry humor
wildly successful anthology of "other" voices;
for older readers and all adults
Waking Brain Cells – Page 3 – "I like nonsense, it wakes ...
how do I love thee? a modern, metaphorically
challenging RUNAWAY BUNNY 
30 Must-Read Diverse Children's Books From The First Half ...
sweet-gorgeous, book-length poem
honoring that reading feeling we can't resist
poems at the edgy imaginations of
very young children: "cute" need not apply
Hawksbill Promise: The Journey of an Endangered Sea Turtle (Tilbury House Nature Book) ebook by Mary Beth Owens
ancient Antiguan tree narrates the challenging
life cycle of hawksbill turtles

















































Our host today is none other than my dear friend and CP Catherine at Reading to the Core.  I'm sorry to hear that she's under the weather, but her #haikuforhope are very healthy indeed!  See you there!

EXTRA EXTRA for later arrivals: don't forget that Wednesday, April 22 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and our next opportunity to build a very big voice for #ClimateAction.  Go here to learn more.


Friday, January 10, 2020

happy green new year






As I have mentioned before, I've labeled myself a climate activist, and if there's ANY One Little Word that deserves sustained attention it's CLIMATE.  So bear with me as I use my #PoetryFriday posts also as #FridaysForFuture posts, as #FireDrillFriday posts.

My principal role as a climate activist isn't, of course, to be a scientist or even a striker, but to be a communicator, a teacher, a poet, so here is today's little nudge to action: according to my friends at Elders Climate Action, pro-environment citizens are actually LESS likely to get out and vote!  So ECA has gotten together with the Environmental Voter Project to PROMOTE THE VOTE.  They are training volunteers, including me, to use our cell phones to text pro-environment voters, state by state, primary by primary, and get them to use their voice and vote.  Here's the email I received this week.  I'm excited to sit in the comfort of my own home and use my expensive mobile phone plan to make an impact! 

Greetings-

You are receiving this email because you have registered as a volunteer with Elders Promote the Vote. ECA and the Environmental Voter Project (EVP) are working together to contact millions of pro-environment voters, especially those who need encouragement to get out to the polls. We have already done a lot. In 2018 and 2019, ECA/Promote the Vote volunteers completed more than 650,000 voter contacts. Now, we have a volunteer group of more than 140 people and growing fast!

As part of this Promote the Vote volunteer force, you give us the potential to make two to three million voter contacts before Election Day 2020, and generate tens of thousands of pro-environment votes that would not otherwise be cast.

Starting in late January, Promote the Vote will really gear up. EVP will be generating voter lists at a rapid pace for us to work with. The primary season kicks off with Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina in February, Super Tuesday on March 3rd, and various primaries continuing through June. We can look forward to almost 10 months of a high demand for our services leading up to Election Day on November 3rd.

In anticipation of all this activity, we are planning several on-line training sessions for working with the Hustle texting app, and a very special national call in January. The national call features Nathaniel Stinnett, founder and Executive Director of the Environmental Voter Project. This will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about EVP's innovative approach to identifying environmental voters and persuading them to vote in every election.

Save the date for this informative call: Tuesday, January 28th at 7PM (ET). Stay tuned for instructions on how to participate.

We have also scheduled 5 on-line orientation and training sessions. Please plan to attend one of these if you are new to Promote the Vote, or if you want a refresher. The trainings run about 90 minutes and include plenty of time for Q&A.

Tuesday, Jan. 14 12:30-2:00 PM (ET)

Wednesday, Jan. 22 7:00-8:30 PM (ET)
Friday, Jan. 24 12:30-2:00 PM (ET)
Wednesday, Feb. 5 4:00-5:30 PM (ET)
Monday, Feb. 10 1:00-2:30 PM (ET)

Please register for any of these 5 training sessions here. You will receive specific instructions for participating, and the latest version of the Volunteer Orientation Guide.  Thank you for being part of this campaign to activate pro-environment voters. We will keep you informed as things develop.

And ICYMI, I had an interesting encounter at Costco yesterday. End of Climate PSA!
***************************************************************************************

"In January it's so nice, while slipping on the sliding ice..." 
 CHICKEN SOUP WITH RICE, Maurice Sendak, 1962

The 12 months of the year make a very fine organizer for a collection of poetry.  I like ONCE AROUND THE SUN by Bobbi Katz (Harcourt, 2006), HERE COMES THE YEAR by Eileen Spinelli (Henry Holt 2002), and WINTER FRIENDS by Mary Quattlebaum (Doubleday, 2005) is full of nice moments. Here are a few January-appropriate poems that might be new or forgotten to you, including one by me from PUMPKIN BUTTERFLY.

January | John Updike

The days are short,
The sun a spark,
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.

Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor.
Milk bottles burst
Outside the door.

The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees of lace.

The sky is low.
The wind is gray.
The radiator
Purrs all day.

from ONCE AROUND THE SUN
from HERE COMES THE YEAR



















winter haiku from
LION OF THE SKY | Laura P. Salas

we are knitted twins,
soft as kittens, warm as hugs,
waiting to hold hands

Wordsong 2009, illustrated by Jenny Reynish


(right) from WINTER FRIENDS







frost | Valerie Worth

How does
The plain
Transparency
Of water

Sprout these
Lacy fronds
And plumes
And tendrils?

And where,
Before window-
Panes, did
They root

Their lush
Crystal forests,
Their cold
Silver jungles?









Our host today is living in another season--a scary fire season--that reminds us all to do every little thing we can to connect our daily, hourly, jerky-buying choices to global climate effects.  Thanks to Sally Murphy for the round-up today!
 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

to word, or not to word?


It’s that time of year--or even that time of decade--when our thoughts may turn to One Little Word. I'm uncertain where the idea of choosing a single word rather than a RESOLUTION originated, but at the Two Writing Teachers blog, Stacy Shubitz described the One Little Word practice thusly in 2011:

"Instead of thinking about a new year’s resolution for 2012, consider thinking about one little word you’ll live by this coming year. Living with one little word as your guide throughout an entire year provides you with more clarity."


So this month the Sunday Poetry Swaggers' challenge is to reflect, in poetry, on the question of whether “to Word” in 2020. Each of us has a different history with OLW and of course various feelings about the usefulness of selecting a word to guide our daily living through the coming year.

It seems my own OLW journey began in 2015. From the beginning, I resisted settling on just one word, immediately revising my first choice, LIGHT, to REVISE, which conveniently left open all kinds of possibilities. https://myjuicylittleuniverse.blogspot.com/2015/01/revision.html 

In 2016 I must have completely forgotten about the whole idea of One Little Word. There is no bloggival evidence that I even THOUGHT of choosing One Little Word.

In 2017 I eschewed a single word for THREE Little Words (always a greedy one, me). They were READY. STEADY. GO. https://myjuicylittleuniverse.blogspot.com/2017/01/inaugural-3lw.html Fancy my paying enough attention to them to return in September, a full 9 months later, to see how the New Year’s Baby had grown! https://myjuicylittleuniverse.blogspot.com/2017/09/return-of-3lw-and-burma-shave.html

 In 2018, it would appear, I quietly and deliberately did not choose One Little Word, the unhelpful burden of which I commented on the next year in 2019 when I exchanged OLW for ODT, One Difficult Truth.That choice did me a world of good throughout the year. https://myjuicylittleuniverse.blogspot.com/2019/01/not-olw-but-odt.html

So it is perhaps unsurprising that now, with 2020 hindsight, I stop pretending that One Little Word will ever suit my greedy, undisciplined, spatter-focused personality. 

******************************************* 

Dear Words, ALL Words, 

I love how you are  
multitudinous, 
pulchritudinous,  
allowing me the latitude 
to utter any attitude. 
I need not stoop to platitudes-- 
your precision’s magnitudinous-- 
and so I’m full of gratitude 
to you, Words, for your plenty. 

I don’t think even twenty 
of you, fifty or a hundred 
could see me through a year, 
could peek at me, speak at me, Latin 
and Greek at me.  Hello?! I’m aglow
with your abundance, portmanteaux
and loanwords, cognates and calques;
at your smorgasbord of choices
my greedy mouth rejoices.

So it does not behoove me--
I don’t think it improves me--
to choose a single one of you to guide 
me through my year. Instead
I choose you all, each of you in your time,
momentary, legendary, literary, prime,
ordinary, necessary, abstract and applied
to all the shades and grades, 
the hints and hues of meaning

to which my heart is leaning,
on which my brain’s caffeining,
by which my soul is stirred.
I even choose all of you words 
my ear has never heard!
To choose just one--One Little Word--
paupers me, stoppers me, is resistibly 
absurd. I announce my renouncement 
of One Little Word. 


draft (c) Heidi Mordhorst 2019

************************************
All that being said, you know that I'm continuing to focus my attention on CLIMATE this year, both as the fundamental issue of this decade and as the foundation of my classroom work.  

Meanwhile, I can't wait to see what the Sunday Poetry Swaggers are thinking about their OLWs this year. Do visit each of them to find out.
 
-Catherine at Reading to the Core -Margaret at Reflections on the Teche -Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone 

-Linda at A Word Edgewise


Our host for the first round-up of 2020 is Carol at Carol's Corner. I wonder if she has a word in mind?


Saturday, December 28, 2019

#haikuforjustice dec 2019

 Illustration of several kids gathered around an adult holding the scales of justice. 

Once again at the end of November came the suggestion to share daily haiku, this year from Jone MacCulloch, with the hashtag #haikuforkindness. But then I was very affected by an article from the magazine Teaching Tolerance I read in the loo at my Thanksgiving hosts' house. "The harm done by long-term exposure to injustice—to the kind of imagery found in racist books, microaggressions and discrimination—calls for more than a simple understanding of kindness. It demands that kindness be interwoven with substantial notions of true justice," writes primary teacher Bret Turner. This made me want to take a step beyond kindness into the territory of #haikuforjustice.

Here's what I have come up with this month, often in response to news items.


yuletide richness inside 
bare brown scarcity outside 
sunny 60* evens things out


December 27 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice 
it's called a school strike
to stand with a striking sign
schooling passers-by


December 23 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
to you my British kin
who still buy proper Christmas cards and
then --love--actually send them

2/2 
to Florence and her dad
who found a message in their Tesco card
then--love--actually heard


December 22 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
#GeorgetownGlow @GeorgetownGlow
all hanging in the same
dark sky prickly and bright
ziptied ziplined light


December 21 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
#haikuforsickness
longest night broken
the throwing off of last year's
acid  excess   bile


December 18 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
Hopi R2 codetalking
decolonized rebels
force of indigenous genius


December 16 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
@RepSlotkin #principled
represent them yes
but also oath of office
head and shoulders above


December 14 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
#PublicEdForum #AllOurChildren
they all arrive
without a price tag  some
can’t see their value


Greta girl of the globe
person of the year
unable to kid herself


December 11 #twitterku #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
12:12 12/12
silent sky clock
counts out equal shine for all
cold moon justice


stand strong use your rights
to lift theirs till no one's left
defenseless alone

[no wait this is better]
everyone EVERY
one everyone everyone
EVERY one and ALL


cheeto feet to rotten crotch
to his hoggish head

2/ richly corrupt from
the start sometimes I think
about little Donnie


December 8 #haikuforjustice #haikuforkindness
#BigBird @KCHonors
Carroll, we won't forget
how to get, how to
get to Sesame Street


December 7  #haikuforkindness
washington and lee
belafonte harrier their
blackkklansman arrests me


December 5  #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice
who sees what they need
who senses  who sounds  who speaks
we do   the teachers


December 4  #haikuforjustice #longformhaiku
#haikuforkindness
we had never met when the
birthday girl mailed me a tiny encouragement
I keep it in my wallet


December 3 #haikuforjustice #haikuforkindness
#simoncowellisoverparty racism sexism homophobia
one voice is too little
northsoutheastwest try a fifth direction
true harmony is a mix


her dad tells me "trabajo
lunes a sabado. no puedo
llevarla al doctor"


December 1 #haikuforkindness #haikuforjustice #WorldAIDSDay
kindness wears a rainbow
of ribbons, red yellow pink
justice acts up
 

********************************************

I'm not sure I've pulled it off, and certainly I have broken that cardinal rule of haiku and failed to include nature images in most of them...but I guess that comes with the territory.  Thanks, Poetic License!

Thanks also to the crew who are sharing their #haikuforkindness (also essential) and #haikufor justice on various platforms, and to Michelle Kogan who is hosting our last round-up of 2019 and blasting into a 2020 full of climate action--which is always for #justice.  See you in the new year!

Friday, December 20, 2019

summer sweetness and homage to 9th grade English teachers

I do realize that on this eve of the Winter Solstice few of us are considering that universe of sweetness known as the watermelon.  But because in our household the boy band One Direction has played a significant role over the last just about 10 years (ie half of my daughter's life) and because former member Harry Styles has just released an album called FINE LINES with a really great song (enjoy below) called "Watermelon Sugar," I have gone to my shelf of forever books to pull out IN WATERMELON SUGAR by Richard Brautigan (1968).


This book was given to me as a present by my 9th grade English teacher at Trinity Episcopal High School (Richmond, VA) in 1978.  He was a bearded corduroyed Earth-shoed Deadhead, and it was he who taught me to write (mostly by having us write, a LOT, and then commenting with radical candor), and he who made me feel seen and heard as a writer.  I hope we all have such a teacher to look back on with fondness and gratitude. [The Internet has rarely failed me, but I have searched this Jeff Harrison many times without any leads.  Let me know if he's your neighbor.]


This strange book, set in a post-apocalyptic commune called iDEATH where rivers run in widths from a half-an-inch to miles, where most things except the tigers may be made of watermelon sugar, where some people do and others don't have a regular name, is full of images and language that flavor all my poetry even 40 years later.  Here was my senior yearbook quote: "Our lives we have carefully constructed from watermelon sugar and then travelled to the length of our dreams, along roads lines with pines and stones."



On this cold dark morning I give thanks for watermelon music, for watermelon words, for watermelon sugar sweetness old and new. I don't know that I could ever go without.




The Poetry Friday round-up is brought to us today by Buffy at her blog. Let's murmurate together as one dark bird!