Friday, February 3, 2023

all hail csikszentmihalyi

Greetings, Poetry People. Good heavens,it's the first Friday of the month again and the Inklings are working to a challenge--no, the gentlest of invitations--from Catherine Flynn: 

Somewhere, someone recommended the book How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope. It includes "reflective pauses" and invitations for "writing and reflection." After the poem "Work," by Sally Bliumis-Dunn, the invitation reads: "Can you remember a time when you felt so consumed with the act of making something that you lost all sense of time and your mind seemed to clear? What allowed you to enter this mindful creative space?"

This state of being, which I hope we have all experienced often, is now called FLOW, and the "father of flow" was the Hungarian-born psychologist who eventually made his home in the US at the University of Chicago. Read more about his very interesting life and work here.

I first became interested in his ideas when I was trying to explain in a public charter school application about how school should be "fun."  Many readers resisted the idea that school should be fun, should offer everyone opportunities to experience that "state of being in which people become so immersed in the joy of their work or activity 'that nothing else seems to matter.'"  Most young children, given the right freedom, easily become little bundles of flow as they draw, build with Lego, dig in the sand or repeat a chasing game over and over, and it's my assertion that that's when the broadly applicable skills of focus and persistence are learned. I quoted Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Chick-SENT-Me-High) liberally in the charter school application.  It was denied--because apparently school is NOT supposed to be fun and full of flow; it's supposed to teach us how to manage when our need for joy in our work is denied. (Thanks for listening to my TEDTalk; you'll probably get more out of Mike C's famous 2004 one!)

I worked with Catherine's poetic invitation two ways, but having read Linda's response before starting, all my efforts feel pale and flabbily human in comparison to her wiry and intense animal metaphor.  Don't miss it. 


 

I seek this feeling every day, and if I get there, I have to hope it hasn't made me late or derelict in my duties! You can see the responses of the other Inklings at these linklings:

Catherine @ Reading to the Core

Mary Lee Hahn @ A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche
 

Our hostess-with-the-mostess this week is Laura Shovan, and she's highlighting the "other Laura" Purdie Salas's new book FINDING FAMILY.  Paddle on over and find all the members of your poetry family!

 

Friday, January 27, 2023

gearing up for february stories

Greetings, all. I'll be joining Laura Shovan's February Poetry Project again this year, and the theme this time is STORY.  So here's a little story for you:

Once upon a time at a small liberal arts college in Connecticut, a boy from San Francisco and a girl from Richmond met when they both signed up to be editors of the literary magazine, The Cardinal.  The boy did fiction and the girl did poetry, and they both did each other found themselves in love.  From the university library where he manned the circulation desk for his work-study job, the boy passed the time typing notes to the girl on withdrawn catalog cards. From the psychology library where the girl womanned the circulation desk for her work-study job, the girl passed the time perfecting her artsy poet handwriting in notes to the boy on bad copies of reserve articles.  

Eventually the boy realized he belonged back on the West Coast studying Japanese and writing novels, and there the romance could not but end--but it lived on in the layers and layers of catalog cards, annotated poetry drafts, literary magazines, dorm-door notes, mix-tape track lists, fratority party invitations ("VORTEX: The Party That Really Sucks") and letters from California---

ALL OF WHICH THE GIRL SAVED, because they, like the first books she ever read and the first poems she ever wrote, were some of the layers of paper that built her, word by word, line by line, page by page. To let any of that paper go (whatever it may say about the essential core of the girl, even now) would be to disappear, she feared.

 ************************************

Here's a second version of the story:

Once upon a time a woman, who had moved from her old neighborhood to a new one but continued to read the listserve from the old neighborhood, noticed a post that read, "Hi all- this is a notecard I found on my lawn. Seems to be someone’s special close communication. I will leave it on my front porch bench for the owner to pick up."  The post included a shadowy photo of a library catalog card with a typed note that began "HJM'Dear--How do? I sold 32 Cardinals today. Fun."

With a shock the woman realized it was she in the photo, she in the note. The finder of the note was her close neighbor, 3 doors up. The last days of the move were cold and windy, and during one of them, as she excavated boxes stuffed with paper saved for 55, 40, 35 years and, sobbing, put three-quarters of it into the recycling bin, this one little card--a musty, precious, 2-dimensional snapshot of a moment in 1982--had blown free of the bin and landed in her neighbor's yard. The woman downloaded a copy of the photo and thanked her neighbor, asking her to recycle the card once again.

Without the wind, she wouldn't have remembered.
Without the neighbor, she wouldn't have known.
Without letting go, she wouldn't have learned that even without that piece of paper--all those pieces of paper in her possession--she is still her self.

This is a cascade poem of the kind being written this week by the ever-inclusive Poetry Sisters.
 













Grateful to Jan at Bookseedstudio for hosting us today with the overflowing (how could she help it, having that name?) Sharon Lovejoy alongside. Wishing everyone safe and peaceful last days of January.



Friday, January 20, 2023

consulting the oracle: Cybils 2022

 

Greetings, poetry lovers!  I'm finally getting around to trumpeting the great work of the Cybils Awards community, which I am once again a part of this year.  Many, many readers of kidlit make their nominations in many categories each year, and then two rounds of "official" readers make their selections, narrowing the number of contenders for a coveted Cybils Award down to ONE.

Ten books have been selected with care by the Round 1 Panelists, who were:

Anne Bennett
My Head Is Full of Books 
Twitter: @headfullofbooks

Matt Esenwine
Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
Twitter: @MattForrestVW
Instagram: @MattForrestVW

Sheri Howard
Lobit Education Village Library
Instagram: @jinxyrad

Tricia Stohr-Hunt
The Miss Rumphius Effect 
Twitter: @missrumphius
Instagram: @tricia_stohr_hunt

Sylvia Vardell
Poetry for Children 
Twitter: @SylviaVardell
Instagram: @sylviavardell

We owe them great gratitude for doing the heavy lift of reading EVERYTHING and narrowing it down to just 10 finalists. Here are the books the  Round 2 Judges will choose from.  Everyone, I believe, is delighted that we are no longer trying to effectively compare apples and oranges; this year for the first time we will be selecting one novel-in-verse and one collection to honor.




 
Christy Mihaly
GROG 
Twitter: @CMwriter4kids
Instagram: @christymihaly

Rosemary Marotta
Rosemary’s Reading Circle
Twitter: @RosemaryMarotta
Instagram: @RosemaryMarotta

Charlotte Taylor
Charlotte’s Library 
Twitter @charlottelib

Bridget Wilson
What Is Bridget Reading? 
Twitter: @bridgetrwilson
Instagram: @bridgetwilson4765

 
Winners will be announced on Valentine's Day--💜❤️️full of book love❤️️💜-- and I am loving the opportunity/necessity to start each day--YES, FIRST, before everything else--with reading!

Thanks to Marcie at her blog for hosting us today, where she is reminding me that this should be the season of waiting, resting and pausing.
 
***sigh****
I'm working on it...


Friday, January 13, 2023

two truths & a fib--more than a game!

 Greeting, Poetry Fridayers!  We have so many very organized, very inspired people in our community, and I've had the good fortune and the pleasure of participating in many of their anthology projects over the years.  The latest is Bridget Magee's TWO TRUTHS AND A FIB POETRY ANTHOLOGY: A Poetic Introduction to 30 Subjects with a Twist.




I'm joined in this volume by many of you who are reading, and isn't it fun to see the wide range of subjects we addressed in our sets of 3 poems?  And of course, the Fib poem form was created by a former frequent Poetry Friday friend, Greg Pincus (hey, Greg, we miss you!).

The poets in the book have addressed quite a few animals, from opossums to owl (with quite a lot of minibeasts included), places from flower gardens to libraries, and people from Vermeer to Greta Thunberg, mine.





  







I'll admit that as a diehard truth-teller myself I struggled a bit with writing a fib about a real true person, but in my Fib about Greta I enjoyed quoting the naysayers who tried to convince us that one youthful, extraordinary voice could wield no power. And of course Greta herself has said that if she were not a person with Asperger's Syndrome, she "would have been stuck in this social game everyone else seems so infatuated with,” instead of telling hard truths about how much wealthy nations will need to give up to significantly cut carbon emissions.  (Read the really interesting article linked above on neurodiversity and social activism.)

To read the other TRUE poem about Greta, plus groups of 3 poems about bubbles (Margaret Simon),  snakes (Molly Hogan), and kindergarten (Carol Varsalona) and many more, you'll have to get your hands on a copy of this cool anthology. And you'll learn fun facts (and fibs) about all the poets along the way!

Thank you, Bridget, for gathering us together in this way!  Our host on this Friday the 13th is Susan Thomsen of Chicken Spaghetti, and we thank her for gathering us in the other way!

Friday, January 6, 2023

collaborating for #change

from craftwhack.com

Greetings, Poetry folk!  I do hope we've all had the winter holiday time we needed most, and if anything got in the way (cough cough Covid) I hope we were able to take something unexpected and positive from it.

It's the first Friday of the month, and the INKLINGS are writing to a challenge set by me.  As you may know I was playing with ideas of #change from the end of October through the middle of December, and then I was a walking talking bundle of #change--but I'm not done with my little art project, and now this challenge can become part of it.

 

 

I asked the group to "Write a poem which weighs the pros and cons of #change. Here are some poems for inspiration:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/52001/change-56d2302224408 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=31857

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52316/constant-change-figures 

https://poets.org/poem/do-not-trust-eraser 

For extra fun, use any form, but consider starting in one form and gradually transitioning in the course of the poem to a quite different form." 

 

This was perhaps overchallenging for the time of year, so in our meeting on Sunday we changed gears and decided to do something Live and Unscripted. Mary Lee reminded us of the Poetry Sisters' Exquisite Corpse experiment and we did the same, passing one line at a time through the Zoom chat until we had six lines. They looked like this:

 

And then we gave ourselves permission to use the lines as raw material, which is #change and transformation in itself. I will be so fascinated to see what 5 other ways come of this more-than-a-parlor-game! Here's mine, heavily influenced by a poem you may also have been grabbed by at Poem-a-Day back in July, "Do not trust the eraser" by Rosamund S. King. 

 

 


 

Before I link you to the other INKLINGS and to our host today, let me mention something that I've been noodling on for a couple of years now...you know how a musical artist makes a song, and then not too long after or even simultaneously other versions and remixes of the song, "featuring" this or that other artist, start to appear? (Not to mention all kinds of musical parody pieces; thank you Randy Rainbow.) Also, of course, jazz.

 

I've been wondering how that process could work for poetry. I do see more and more collaborations happening, co-authoring, and I know that we all sometimes write "after" another poem or poet--but what if that approach became normal and common as it is in popular music? What if we wrote expecting that someone would read our poem and call us up to say "Hey, I have a great idea for remixing that 3rd stanza," or if we wrote a poem like mine above and then texted over to Rosamund and said, "Thanks for your influence; would you like to get together and jam, make this into something alive?" And by this stage I'm wondering if the real problem is not "can it work?" but "can a tradition of precious artistic ownership give way to a practice of generous artistic collaborative process?" I'd love to know anyone's thoughts on this, or if this is totally happening somewhere that I'm just not plugged into.

 

Happy New Year and thanks to CatherINKLING Flynn, who is rounding us up at Reading to the Core, and here's where you can see the rest of the takes on our 6 changeable lines! 

 

Mary Lee Hahn @ A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche