Friday, January 21, 2022

dive deep


Greetings, All.  It's the 3rd Friday of the month, the one where Poetry Friday meets Fridays for Future and we focus on climate issues. Let's take a look at the Climate Clock.

As we contemplate how little time we have left to limit global warming to 1.5*C, let's also consider this enormous news: I drove through McDonald's today (why and whether that's a good use of my climate activist economic pressure is a topic for another time) and realized that my new reusable straw was not in my bag.  It's hard to drink in the car (a birthright of the American consumer) without a straw, so reluctantly I popped open the wrapper on the McD's straw AND DISCOVERED IT WAS PAPER, 100% PAPER!!!  That, my friends, is progress, and SOMEONE (someone you know?) has been badgering McDonald's to make that happen. Cheers to the straw activists!

Here's another cause for celebration: "Deep in the ocean off the coast of Tahiti, scientists made an incredible discovery in November: acres of giant, pristine, rose-shaped corals blossoming from the sea floor in what's known as the ocean's "twilight zone.""


The research mission, led by UNESCO, found the reef stretches for nearly two miles and exists at depths down to 70 meters, or 230 feet. This is around the ocean's "twilight zone," where there's just enough light to sustain life, and below which the ocean transitions into a dark abyss."For once, it's a positive story about coral reefs in the news, which is quite rare these days," Julian Barbiere, head of marine policy at UNESCO, told CNN.

Indeed, this news has got me bobbing about and feeling pink and positive somehow, like "WEHAVEN'TDESTROYEDEVERYTHINGYET!"  And, if we didn't know this reef was even there, maybe that means there's so much else we don't know, that we can discover, that might save us.

Now, to connect the straw to the reef, I want to make sure you all know about this book, THE LAST STRAW: KIDS VS. PLASTIC, an NCTE Notable Book for 2021, by Susan Hood.

From Kids Book a Day: "Following an introduction by 9-year-old Milo Cress, founder of Be Straw Free, this poetry collection looks at different aspects of plastic, from its undeniable usefulness in many areas to the damage it is wreaking on the environment (especially the oceans) to different ways kids and teens are figuring out to recycle and find alternatives to plastic.  

The poetry is just the beginning in this book that is jam-packed with information and inspiring stories about kids working to make a difference in the world by recycling or eliminating plastics.  The colorful illustrators add a lot to the poems, and the 13 pages of back matter... make this an excellent resource for older kids."

Here's one poem from that book to enjoy with the younger readers you know, and one from the Poetry Foundation for you.

illustrations by Christiane Engel


 A Sea Change | Susan Hood
Listen to the seagulls cry,
    watching whales
        who used to thrive
            in seas of cobalt blue.
    Those might mammals ruled the waves--
        a most majestic crew!
Listen to the seagulls cry,
    watching whales 
        who breach and dive
            in seas of plastic stew.
    Whales eat their fill of bags and cups
        and other human spew.
Listen to the seagulls cry
    watching whales
        who can't survive
            sink slowly out of view.
    O wisest of the mammals, please!
        Sea change is up to you.

Pot of Gold |  Ingrid Wendt

For Elizabeth Bishop, 1911–1979, with gratitude

We talk, you and  I, of  mindfulness, here in the world above
          water, but what’s below is watchfulness,
                     pure and simple: creatures trying not to be eaten,
          creatures relentlessly prowling or simply waiting for meals to
cruise on by. Except maybe parrotfish.
          Ever industrious, ever in motion, it’s hard to find one not
                     chomping on Yucat√°n limestone reefs. What we see as
          dead, bleached coral or crusted limestone shelves, for them

is re-embodied Fish Delight. Which means I find them by
          eavesdropping. Ah, those castanet choruses clicking, clacking,
                     a coven of  promises leading me on until there:
          below my mask and snorkel, a dozen or more upside-down

Princesses sway as one, in their pink and blue checkerboard
          gowns, their long, long dorsal crowns
                     cobalt-striped, and turquoise, and fuchsia—useless—
          no Prince to be found, not even in fish identification books,

just me and my ardor. Bewitched, each day I hang, transfixed,
          above them in a slightly different
                     place in that once-pristine, once-undiscovered Yal-Ku lagoon,
          its cradling mix of salt and fresh water

letting me hold myself, and time, and the rest of the world
          stock still.         [read the rest here; the ending is worth the click]


And now, before you go, click on over to  Oceana, a Charity Navigator 4-Star outfit, to learn more about one of the world's biggest plastic polluters (yeah, you guessed it--Amazon) and to take a little action.

Our Poetry Friday host today is Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference, where her puzzling reflections and poem fit nicely with the idea that we all have a part to play in changing the way humans live on our home, the Earth.

Friday, January 14, 2022

it takes practice

Greetings on this heavy-feeling Friday.  I have no spiffy feature today, no OLW or big ol' project to announce, just a really rough and possibly problematic draft that started with a thought I had waiting at the lights on my bike yesterday.  Apparently David Brooks was having the same kind of thoughts, but he clearly never participated in a Friday Night International Folk Dance Club like I did growing up. He offers no solutions.


 Here are the necessary audiovisuals:

Our host today is the colorful and prolific Mary Lee of A(nother) Year of Reading, who also kindly schedules our hosting duties every six months and is generally a human of the finest fabric.  I thank her for letting me use her stitching to illustrate this post about falling apart at the seams.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

winter poem swap & the lost lagoon challenge

Greetings once again, Poetry Friday people. As promised I'm extending the pleasure of joining the Winter Poem Swap and getting to know Tanita better by sharing it with you today, well into January!  Below this you'll find January's Inklings poem challenge as well.

Tanita knows that my family starts our winter holiday with a celebration of the Shortest Day, the Longest Night, on the Winter Solstice. She also knows that I've often and recently used the acrostic to get a draft off the ground. Her poem is truly tailor-made for me, and incorporates all her gorgeous command of rhyme, rhythm and a slightly formal, archaic diction which fits the observance of the Solstice, a practice that reaches us from deep prehistory (and yet which happens right now too, every year!).

See how it's a little wrinkled?  I keep carrying it from room to room with me.

 Now if I could beg your indulgence:  please read this poem aloud while playing the following sound clip from the equally gorgeous handmade titanium wind chime that accompanied the poem.  You see it above in a photo which shows it hanging  before the sliding doors in my Library Lounge; it is both cozy inside and snowy outside at the same time!


I'm so delighted with every part of this gift--"Now wakes the wind.  It whisks the barren ground/Verdant beneath, as sprightly seedlings sleep"--which is always my greatest hope at this time of year. Sunlight is indeed unconquered, no matter what we may do to Earth; let 2022 be the year when each and all begin truly to conquer our misuse of her riches. Thank you, Tanita!


 It's the first Friday of the month, so we Inklings are again undertaking a challenge, this time set by me.  Despite my swoon over Tanita's gorgeously "old-fashioned" poetry it's not often I go for that, but every now & then something strikes my fancy, and this poem by Emily Pauline Johnson (who also published under her Mohawk name Tekahionwake and was born 1861 on the Six Nations Reserve, Canada West) captivated me.


The Lost Lagoon

It is dusk on the Lost Lagoon, 
And we two dreaming the dusk away, 
Beneath the drift of a twilight grey— 
Beneath the drowse of an ending day 
And the curve of a golden moon.

It is dark on the Lost Lagoon,
And gone are the depths of haunting blue,
The grouping gulls, and the old canoe,
The singing firs, and the dusk and—you,
And gone is the golden moon.

O lure of the Lost Lagoon—
I dream to-night that my paddle blurs
The purple shade where the seaweed stirs—
I hear the call of the singing firs
In the hush of the golden moon.


My challenge: "Use the form of this poem to build your own poem FOR CHILDREN about a treasured place that you return to again and again (geographical or metaphorical)." 
It seemed simple enough, but the form proved deceptive--and I counted wrong! I noted that the first four lines had 4 stressed beats each and that the last line of the stanza had 3...but in fact both L1 and L5 of each stanza have three beats. 
So my poem, like some of the others, departs from the form a bit, and doesn't quite have the same water-paddling rhythm--but there may be other pleasures lurking instead. See what you think.

 I bet I'm not the only one whose treasured place is the library, eh? I will say it worked better when I didn't have to keep an eye on the clock!
My school district has just announced a delayed opening tomorrow due to predicted snow that they have cancelled school***, so maybe by the time you read this, an 811 stanza will have been written! Here's where to find everyone else's treasured places.
 Thanks to Carol at Beyond Literacy Link who hosts us this week with a few One Little Words to get 2022 rolling, hopefully in a far more peaceful, prudent way.
***I am not one of my district's 10,000 students and staff currently infected with COVID. Woot. However, the closure today, while the district continues to say it's due to the max 2 inches of further snow, is really because they don't have enough staff to open the buildings. Here's a laugh:

Monday, January 3, 2022

Mordhorst Grant New Year's Letter 2021-22



You've arrived here by following the Bitly link on our paper letter that Fiona, with great patience and respect for the traditions of British Christmas carding, has snail-mailed you.  Thanks for taking the trouble, and we hope you enjoy/learn something/get fired up by one or more of these posts.  Happy 2022!


Sending love from all of us!