Friday, October 29, 2021

word; play; travel

Hola Halloween! and greetings to you Poetry Friday haunters! It's a big Friday for those of us in full-time classrooms or schools, so my participation in the Poetry Pals' monthly challenge will be InstaDraft-flavored and will begin with this paragraph snagged from Mary Lee's very organized blog.  Thanks, ML!

"The Poetry Sisters’ challenge for this month was to write Word Play poems, introduced to the Poetry Friday community in 2015 by Nikki Grimes as one of Michelle H. Barnes’ (Today’s Little Ditty) Ditty of the Month challenges. Laura Purdie Salas showed how the form might work in a classroom."

The essence is to explore a word "from top to bottom, and inside out, considering every aspect," which for me means not just exploring the thing the word names but the word itself: sound, texture, appearance on the page, literal and figurative meanings, related words.

My spouse, my son, my daughter have all been having adventures this fall: a trip to visit family in England after two full years apart; a gap semester in Costa Rica, a move to Brooklyn.  I've been sat right here at home except for that bike trek through New Jersey, and I'm craving TRAVEL.

Travel is a raveling word,
a labor of undoing. Try.
Take the loose end of your
tightly woven life and tug:
untangle, untie, untwist the
intricate knits, slip your stitches.

Cast off, cast away, fray.

Leap, frogging your way

unwound across mossed terrain

and tributary, untroubled

by the travail it takes. Needle

points to diamond and pearl.

It's hard to gauge the journey
from here. Adjust tension.
Reverse. The farther you go 
the deeper the unveiling.
Travel is an unraveling word.
InstaDraftTM ©HM 2021

Thanks to our host this week, Linda at TeacherDance. My costume will be a freshly knitted sweater dress and stockinettes. See you there!

[Disclaimer: I am not a knitter. I am, however, an interknetter.]

Friday, October 22, 2021

the holy grail of poetry friday x climate action


Greetings, Poetry Friday folk!  It's Climate Action Friday @my juicy little universe today, and I will spare you the rehearsal of bad news, since I'm sure you know perfectly well what we're up against, and too much rehashing of doom is bad for our psyches.  Instead I'll share 3 hunks of good news and then reveal that Holy Grail I mentioned.

1) It is itself good news that most of us can no longer get through a day without being reminded of the monumental existential challenge we are facing.  We can't begin to address it as a species unless we're aware of it, and by golly, whether through personal experience or increased media coverage, WE ARE AWARE.  Here's a fascinating podcast episode that tracks the role of your friendly local TV weathercaster in educating Americans about climate change.

2) Since 1995, leaders from around the world have met annually to hash out how to collectively tackle climate change. This fall marks the 26th gathering of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. Or because that’s a mouthful, COP26 for short. Get up to speed on this chance for the world's nations to take real action here, and then read the Conference Declaration of MockCOP26, a virtual youth conference held in December 2020.

From: Mock COP26 Delegates
To: The Heads of State of all countries, Secretary General of the UN
Re: Our treaty for urgent climate action this side of COP26

Dear Leaders,

We are writing to inform you that we, the young people of 140 countries, ran our own inclusive online climate conference, Mock COP26, which we concluded today. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of you presumably thought it was a lesser priority to take climate action through the UNFCCC COP this year, and hence the UN postponed it. We remind you that we are still in a climate emergency as well as an ecological crisis and every moment of inaction makes things worse for our generation. We felt strongly that you should not further delay action, so we decided to run our own youth-led COP this year. We are tired of empty climate promises and are purely motivated by a desire to see real action.

With just three months of planning, we delivered a full two-week global conference, from 19 November to 01 December 2020, comprising 330 delegates, ages 11 to 30, representing 140 countries. We set out to improve upon the structures of the real COP to reflect the mandate of young people to build inclusive, equitable and fair systems. We made the following improvements...


3) Faith leaders around the country and the world are gathering together to join the call for education and action on climate change. From the Pope to GreenFaith to Interfaith Power & Light, people of all faiths are recognizing that they have a particular responsibility to model stewardship of this planet's resources for the love of all people. You can join a UN/UUA webinar relating to COP26 at this link.

Part 2: "Preparing for the COP: Your Actions and the UN Climate Summit"  Thursday, October 28, 2021, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM EDT

Join for this engaging climate action session in the style of Model UN. Continuing to examine the impact of the recent report from the IPCC, we'll explore more about countries' commitments and priorities for climate action, how Unitarian Universalist can plug in, and what to watch out for during COP26.

 And now...introducing the Holy Grail of Poetry Friday X Climate Action!!!

This new podcast, which began in September and is produced by Grace Lynch, describes itself this way: 

"As She Rises is a new podcast that connects the power to poetry with the work of local activists to create an intimate portrait of climate change. We're taking you all around the United States and regional poets will give us a snapshot of the changes they've witnessed in their community and we'll hear from those out on the front lines of preserving their homes."

And as the title implies the focus is on the impacts of climate change on women. See more on that here. Each episode has notes offering you opportunities to take action--always click on SEE MORE at the bottom of the show notes! Here's a poem from one of the poets featured in the podcast so far, Joan Naviyuk Kane.


This poem is also part of The Poetry Foundation's feature on Poetry and the Environment, found here.  Our host today is Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup, where you can feast on all the goodies our community has to offer.


Friday, October 15, 2021

happy friday the 13th

That's Poetry Friday and THE 13TH ANNIVERSARY of my juicy little universe!  Yes, the earliest post you can see on this blog was posted on this day thirteen years ago in 2008.  

Yes, that time now seems blurry & far-off...

Before that I blogged at LiveJournal about our year in France when the kids were 5 and 8, and I am pleasantly surprised to discover that the Internet indeed never forgets and that you can read approximately 20 photoillustrated posts from that year here.

A couple of years ago I used BlogBooker to download my entire juicy little universe as both Word doc and PDF, so that I could cull all the poems I've published here over the years.  It was definitely worth the $20 I spent and it resulted in a document--a book--of about 2100 pages!  That's an oeuvre to be proud of for its sheer volume, and you all helped to write some of it, since comments were included in this tome.

Not every post has been earth-shatteringly brilliant, but occasionally I find one that I only barely remember writing and which seems to me to be notable.  These Big Idea posts usually include a poem, but having culled the poems, they aren't surprising; the "essays" are, however.

Shall I share them with you, as a way of cataloguing them for myself?* Or shall I resort to the tried-and-true acrostic commemoration of this part of my poetic life online?

Oh wait--I already did that in 2016 on the 8th anniversary.  Here's the acrostic, and it still holds true.

So I'm absolved from writing an anniversary poem this year, and instead I'll just drop a few links for those fans of my writing who have time on their hands--but not before repeating that none of this--just about none of my later writing life--would have happened if I hadn't had a Poetry Friday audience to share it with. 

For a performative person (I think performative has not entirely become a dirty word, has it?), knowing that someone might read, comment, appreciate, critique has made an enormous difference to my motivation and commitment to write just about weekly.  And equally important is the knowledge that, even when I have skipped a week or stepped back for a time, I'd be welcomed back. Thanks to all of you who make this forum, this community.  I'm grateful to know you all--some of you even in person!!

Our host today is Bridget over at Wee Words for Wee Ones, and although TEN is technically a wee word, it is a very big deal because Bridget's 10*10 anthology has become a reality!!!   


*Here are a few I think are worth rereading.

On this one, my first bloggiversary, Tabatha is the sole commenter--some while before we realized that we were neighbors and that our kids went to the same middle and then high school magnet programs! 
Some science, some psychology, some education policy, plenty of connections. 
I consider identity and visibility.
This is the one where I interviewed Irene Latham and Liz Steinglass about the history, trajectory and themes of the Progressive Poem.

My first dedicated climate action post, I think, and I'm proud of the list near the bottom of what we as communicators (writers, poets, teachers) can do to make change.

Friday, October 8, 2021

out now! rhyme & rhythm poems for student athletes

Welcome once again to Poetry Friday!  If you're unfamiliar, you can go here to learn more, and please do consider plunging in and bringing your fresh face to the conversation! 

And now, please join me in celebrating the belated book birthday of RHYME & RHYTHM: POEMS FOR STUDENTS ATHLETES!!!


This anthology was pulled together by Dr. Sarah J. Donovan of Ethical ELA fame, and it features established and emerging poets--including three of us Inklings--waxing poetic about high school sports.

Just as Tabatha Yeatts's IMPERFECT anthology has hit a sweet--or bittersweet, or sour--spot of need and sold 3,500 copies (prompting her to collect another similar anthology about keeping perspective), RHYME & RHYTHM goes very specifically where no YA poetry anthology has gone before: into locker rooms and pools, onto ice rinks, football fields and basketball courts, and even into the dim gym of a school dance.


                                      To read the rest of the poem, buy the book here, or click here.


My poem, excerpted above, is one of the few written in rhyme and meter; most are free verse or invented forms, and there are several which are prose poems.  The list of contributing poets includes Mary E. Cronin, Zetta Elliott, Linda Mitchell, Laura Shovan, Margaret Simon, Padma Ventrakaman and many others whose work you will enjoy getting to know.

The poems range widely across sports but also across the emotional experience of playing sports.  A frequent theme is the thrill of participation, the simple enjoyment of exertion and skill, colored by  other aspects of our identities as humans. So often what could be a universal pleasure is interrupted by self- and other-judgments about having bodies of particular sizes, shapes and shades, lacking means or family support, bearing pressure and expectations.

We do what turns out to be a strange thing here in the U.S.--we build athletics into the school experience rather than letting school focus on academics, rather than keeping sports a separate pursuit for away-from-school hours. (I read an article about this which I now can't find, related to Amanda Ripley's work.) The idea of "student athletes" becomes a curious one when you realize how uncommon it is elsewhere.  

The poems in this anthology, taken together, call our approach to athletics into question and leave me wondering where the pure pleasure of play is, that we all need for healthy, creative bodies and minds.

RHYME & RHYTHM is currently only available through the Mojo sales platform from Archer Publishing, which designed the book and illustrated it with stock photos. We hope it will soon be carried through more bookstores online.

Thanks to Irene at Live Your Poem for rounding us up today!