Friday, January 29, 2010

bringing poetry to the business of public education

Wallow in the delight of Poetry Friday today at Anastasia's 6-Traits...

I've decided that if the point of our public charter school proposal is a school that is, well, FUN, that the application should be too: full of concrete examples of what children and adults will actually be doing in our classrooms, and written using serious, appropriate educational lingo punctuated by POEMS. (We'll see what our consultant says about this wisdom of this decision.)

So I'm on the lookout for short poems that express our philosophy about education and public schooling in the era of global citizenship (all suggestions welcome). I've chosen poems so far by Ruth Krauss, Octavio Paz and Eve Merriam; last night I discovered this beauty by Robert Frost. I'm beginning to think that my early poetry education was sorely lacking; I keep "discovering" famous poems by famous poets that everyone else seems to know already. But even if I'd read this in high school, I'd want to be revisiting it now, approaching but well in advance of 50.

What Fifty Said

When I was young my teachers were the old.
I gave up fire for form till I was cold.
I suffered like a metal being cast.
I went to school to age to learn the past.

Now I am old my teachers are the young.
What can't be molded must be cracked and sprung.
I strain at lessons fit to start a suture.
I go to school to youth to learn the future.

~ Robert Frost

I wonder what beauties I can scare up for the Finance & Facility section of the application?

Friday, January 8, 2010

animal spirituality

is at The Miss Rumphius Effect today.

A sleepover on Christmas Eve at the grandparents' in Baltimore is part of our holiday tradition, elegantly (if I say so myself) incorporated into our family's 12 Days of Yuletide. I got a lovely gift this year from my mother--two books of poetry, The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins and Voices by Lucille Clifton. Lucille (I stand in awe and yet presume a first-name basis) is one of my favorite Revered Adult Poets because of the brevity and simplicity of her writing, which enables her also to speak to the youngest children. If you don't know them, go find the Everett Anderson books soon. The variety in Voices is stunning, and I particularly liked this one and shared it with D the elder:

horse prayer

why was i born to balance
this two-leg
on my back to carry
across my snout
his stocking of oat and apple
why i pray to You
Father Of What Runs And Swims
in the name of the fenceless
field when he declares himself
does he not understand my

It reminded me of the following, which I once used as the basis for a writing project with Year 2 children in London:

The Prayer of the Little Ducks

Dear God,
give us a flood of water.
Let it rain tomorrow and always.
Give us plenty of the little slugs
and other luscious things to eat.
Protect all folk who quack
and everyone who knows how to swim.

~Carmen Bernos de Gasztold
translated from the original French by Rumer Godden
from the collection Prayers from the Ark

Somehow I find the gods of animals more accessible than the gods of humans. : )

Monday, January 4, 2010

new year's intention

Happy New Year. My intention (less unforgivingly binding than a resolution) is to post twice a week as briefly as possible: to float lightly through the Kidlitosphere without compromising the Charterschoolapposphere.

Today's Poetry Stretch at The Miss Rumphius Effect is to write a shadorma, a six-line form with a prescribed syllable count of The word "shadorma" made me hungry.
And sleepy.


sleep sizzles
on the spit
of night. carve
juicy slices onto white
sheets of pita bed.