Friday, April 28, 2023

ode in the style of neruda

Greetings, all, and hoping you are blessed by continued energies for this end of National Poetry Month! April is a glory, and also, for those of us who are Poeting and Earthing to the utmost, kind of a long haul. Luckily, we have poetry to get us through Poetry Month. ; )

My NPM project continues over at WHISPERshout Magazine, where "we" are publishing 4-5 poems each Wednesday, from a deep stock of children's work that lurks in my photos, files and blog posts from the last 25 years.  I'm announcing on social media the opportunity for poetry appreciators of all ages to comment on the work, and for young poets to submit their poems and accompanying artwork.  As far as I know it's the only online outlet for kids ages 4-12 to publish, so I do hope you'll share with families, classrooms and programs (homeschool? library? festival?) where young poets may lurk.  Thanks!

I'm joining in the Poetry Sisters' challenge this month again because they are writing in the style of one of my favorite favorite poets--Pablo Neruda.  I love him because he manages always to draw out of solidly concrete and even childlike images the most soul-shaking revelations.  In his odes he speaks directly to dictionaries, bees and artichokes, to sadness, numbers and bicycles. He is extravagant in his choice of vocabulary but spare in line length, giving us the most delicious and demanding bite-sized mouthfuls. He is playful, and wore hats with aplomb. You can learn more about this grand and humble human by reading THE DREAMER by Pam Munoz Ryan. I hope my ode in the style of Pablo serves as an ode to the poet himself.

Friday, April 21, 2023

earth day climate poetry workshop

This post honors my dear friend V., currently in the hospital being treated for lymphoma+complications.  Please send a bolt of energy her way.

Greetings, poetry lovers and earth huggers! I know that poets come in all flavors, but honestly, is there a poet among us who is not dazzled by the daily marvels served up by our planet without any effort from ourselves? Simultaneously, is there a poet among us who is not touched by grief when we face the daily damage served upon our planet by our efforts to prosper, to profit?

Tomorrow at my congregation's annual retreat I'll conduct my annual poetry workshop, and it will be based on a book given to me by that dear friend V.  It is HERE: Poems for the Planet, edited by Elizabeth J. Coleman (Copper Canyon Press, 2019), and like me, you might have missed its glorious variety of work by living poets.  Part of its aim is to acknowledge our complicated emotions about our climate crisis through poetry. The entire collection emphasizes what W.H. Auden said about poetry:

“Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.”

I'm pretty sure we all suffer from some overwhelm and paralysis about the situation despite knowing at some level that there is good news out there (go here to hear my minister talk about some of it in the context of RESISTANCE). Thankfully, this anthology also emphasizes what bell hooks said about art:

"The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is--it's to imagine what is possible."

So in my little workshop, we'll read and write together to find spiritual grounding and resilience for the work at hand and ahead.

We'll start with my recent poem "Between Chapters of BRAIDING SWEETGRASS," published recently in The Bezine--the mother of all mixed-emotions poems.  Then we'll read one poem each from four of the anthology's five sections.  Participants will read to self, then out loud if they choose; we'll discuss, keeping always in mind the uncomfortable power that rises out of our mixed wonder and grief, despair and righteous anger; and then do a little drafting before moving to the next poem.

  • Where You’d Want to Come From: “Naming the Field” -David Hart

  • The Gentle Light That Vanishes: “First Verse”-Tim Seibles

  • As If They’d Never Been: “The Weighing”- Jane Hirshfield 

  • Like You Are New to the World–”A Small Poem” - Vievee Francis

Three of these poets are new to me--always one of the attractions of an anthology to discover new voices and personalities, don't you agree?  This one has an extra bonus feature which follows this last poem in the book:

A Small Poem | Vievee Francis

         for Jen Chang and Martha 


                             From a morning without expectations a surprise,

a word unanticipated and meant. Rare

and jarring. Syllables moving one to tears

when the winter sky is a simple blue, and nothing

is there to impede the dailyness of things. But

the word grows from a note a hello a salutation

and plants itself like a spring dandelion seed that by

afternoon is full grown and blowing more seeds,

lightly, sweetly, a coloratura of delight, and I 

feel as if I were both the plucked and the child

plucking the stem and twirling.  How a single word

can set the world turning from one moment into

the next in startlement.

What follows this poem "to set the world startlement" is an entire Guide to Activism by the Union of Concerned Scientists!  It's a 30-page summary of actions we can take, from the simple and individual to the loud advocacy we can lead, that contribute to change.  

[Don't forget, too, that our money talks.  This week I heard a presentation from the author of this article about social impact investing for people and planet.]

Poetry can be a tool for navigating your feelings about our climate emergency and then getting on with our day, whether it’s a day of activism or a day of rest & process. So, I wish you a Mixed-Emotions Earth Day full of whatever you need to live by Jane Hirshfield's words:

"The world asks of us
only the strength we have and we give it.
Then it asks more, and we give it."

Thanks to our host Karen Edmisten for doing the honors today, and do take a moment to visit Issue 1.3 of The WHISPERshout Magazine featuring poetry by kids ages 4-12.

Friday, April 14, 2023

classic found poem a la Jone

Greetings, Poetry Paloozers! (Wait, that didn't come out quite right. We are not loozers; this month we are all winners!) Today I'll be joining in Jone Rush McCulloch's "Classic Found Poem Palooza," but not before I give another introduction to a project of WHISPERshout Writing Workshop...

the new online journal publishing poetry by kids ages 4-12, WHISPERshout Magazine! Issue 1.2 is now out; each month will have four Wednesday "episodes." We're keeping it small, in keeping with the audience--younger kids and classes of students through 6th grade. (When I say we I'm currently talking the Royal We, though I hope one or two of you might be interested in contributing to editorial duties...just let me know in the comments!) Please share the link to the site with kids and grandkids and teachers you know and encourage them to submit their work.  Here's a sample of the poem-accompanied-by-artwork presentation we're going for.

"paper" by Jordy, age 7, MD

Now, on to the classics!  Jone and her friend Moe have asked us to "Find a classic book.  Look for a poem in it." As I have four different editions of my namesake classic HEIDI on the shelf, that's my obvious source!  I searched a 2000 reprint of the 1880 original published by Aladdin, the first two or three pages of Chapter 4 called "A Visit to Grannie," and found this.

That was fun--not least the part where I broke a rule I didn't know I had and HIGHLIGHTED THE PAGES OF MY BOOK. It felt illicit and delicious!

It is really fun to see all the contributions to Jone and Moe's Padlet--thanks for this great opportunity, and thanks for hosting us, Jone!

Friday, April 7, 2023

WHISPERshout Magazine is live! and inklings challenge too

click to visit!

Greetings, Poetry People!  I know I've been hinting at this development for a while, and in fact the idea has been percolating since 2017--but this week, finally, the first modest weekly issue of WHISPERshout Poetry Magazine has appeared!  

Why this project? I'm hoping it will meet a simple need that most writers have--to share their work publicly. I suppose there are writers who are content to write and then tuck their work away (looking at you, Emily Dickinson), but most writers I know are COMMUNICATORS, and it's not communication if your writing isn't seen by, well, the community!

I began writing poems early on, while growing up with a dad whom I watched speaking from the pulpit every Sunday morning to an audience (looking at you, Bob Mordhorst). I learned early on the power of connecting with others through sharing your words--but for poetry writers especially, and for young poets even more especially, opportunities to publish their work are few and far between. (After all, they're competing with all of us adults trying to publish OUR poetry for young people!)

So I hope WHISPERshout Magazine helps to scratch that itch to be seen and acknowledged by the community, and I hope it opens visibility to a very wide range of young poets, whose voices may not easily find a platform otherwise. To my knowledge, WHISPERshout Magazine is the only U.S. online site publishing poetry by kids 4-12, and I'm asking you, if you're willing, to help it...


First, please visit Issue 1.1 and enjoy the featured work. Your comments, as always, will thrill and encourage the young writers.

Second, come back here and offer any constructive criticism about format, style, content, in the knowledge that I intended to attach it to my WHISPERshout website and was somewhat defeated by the Squarespace blog platform. (If you know a young person with Squarespace chops who would be willing to teach me, let me know!) 

Third, please share!  If you are a teacher, think of this opportunity for your students to see their poems (with accompanying artwork and photo) published on the World Wide Web!  If you are an author who does school visits, let those schools know that this opportunity exists!  If you are a parent or grandparent sharing poetry with your young ones, encourage them to consider submitting!

Thanks for supporting WHISPERshout Magazine, and thanks to Margaret of Reflections on the Teche, who has already been an enthusiastic facilitator and sharer of her students' work--I hope to be publishing some of it soon...BUT WAIT!  There's more!

It's also the first Friday of the month, and time for an Inklings challenge, this time set by Mary Lee of A(nother) Year of Reading.  In an edgy and daring kind of move, Mary Lee just gave us four random words to work with (knuckle, denial, turn, cautious) and opened the gate.  Luckily a poet can turn any group of words in any direction, right?  I commemorate the establishment of WHISPERshout Magazine thus:

The Challenge

There's no denying a poet who wants to be heard.
Throw caution away at this crossroads.
Turn to face each direction, seeking ears and eyes.
Knuckle down and work it; whisper it, shout it, show all your work!

You see I messed with a couple of the words--poets are rule-breakers, don't you know. Make sure to visit the rest of the Inklings to see how they messed with the words!

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
 , again our host today, with the Progressive Poem as well! Whoo-hoo National Poetry Month!

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

#ClimatePoemProject at Authors Take Action!

In my view it's no accident that Earth Month and National Poetry Month coincide.  To celebrate, I'm participating in a project of the Authors Take Action group! Many of us are joining in suggesting prompts for a climate-themed poem, open to writers K-5 and up. You can find all the prompts at this Authors Take Action page.  Here's mine...

Some people are taking recycling to a whole new level! Watch this video about schools built out of plastic bottles, and then imagine sitting inside a school like that.  Write a poem describing what you see, hear, and feel around you. How is it different than a regular school?



Or... imagine building a school out of something else that usually gets thrown away, like tires or old washing machines or cardboard boxes.  Maybe your poem will sound like an engineer's structural drawing or an architect's blueprint or a TV commercial advertising your new recycled school!


Thanks to Laura Shovan and the other members of Authors Take Action for inviting us all to play along!

Sunday, April 2, 2023

welcome to npm 2023 & progressive poem line 2


combine an illustration by Marc Brown of ARTHUR fame with a line from the current adult poet laureate Ada Limon?


open a colorful vista and suggest that each of us, however small in the landscape, has an essential role to play?


(if you can't center poetry every day of every month of every year) make April the epicenter of poetry in the nation's calendar?

As for me, I'm certain that this opening page from the book that taught me to read also taught me what I was meant for...

"a poet writing poems" in her garret

This makes it look like poeting is a solitary activity done with eyes lifted to the heavens, but we all know that poetry happens in community.  First of all, poets write to communicate, and the moment anyone reads our words--even if we don't know them--community begins to develop.  Secondly, poets help and support each other as they change and experiment and learn and grow.  Thirdly, poets play and collaborate, as we are doing again this year with the Progressive Poem!

Irene Latham began this tradition in 2012 and hosted our month-long collaboration through 2019, when Margaret Simon took over. (Early archives here; recent archives are tabs at the top of Margaret's page.)

Mary Lee Hahn kicks us off this year, following these few rules:
  • Each poet-blogger adds a line, creating a poem for children
  • by copying the previous lines exactly as written (unless permission from the previous poet is obtained).
  • Commentary on the process is welcome but optional.

Here is Mary Lee's opening line, which is gloriously "opening" by any definition of the word despite having a happy-ending sound to it.

                                        Suddenly everything fell into place.

At first I thought I wanted that place to be a crossroads of some kind, to lead in many directions, but I spent time yesterday gardening and watching little spring storms come and go, showers of wind and hail between stretches of sun. I thought about what it's like when rain lands in its best destination, when we find we've landed just where we're meant to be. And so...

                                        Suddenly everything fell into place

                                      like raindrops hitting soil and sinking in.

But think also of all those raindrops that hit rooftops or pavement or other hard places far from soil or stream...they have a ways to go, a more strenuous journey. Do they all get there in the end?  Do we?  As Mary Lee says, "I love stories that start at the end...Write me a story that ends with sudden clarity."

Our poem will continue tomorrow with Tabatha's line, which you'll find at The Opposite of Indifference.

April 1 Mary Lee Hahn, Another Year of Reading
April 2 Heidi Mordhorst, My Juicy Little Universe
April 3 Tabatha, The Opposite of Indifference
April 4 Buffy Silverman
April 5 Rose Cappelli, Imagine the Possibilities
April 6 Donna Smith, Mainely Write
April 7 Margaret Simon, Reflections on the Teche
April 8 Leigh Anne, A Day in the Life
April 9 Linda Mitchell, A Word Edgewise
April 10 Denise Krebs, Dare to Care
April 11 Emma Roller, Penguins and Poems
April 12 Dave Roller, Leap Of Dave
April 13 Irene Latham Live You Poem
April 14 Janice Scully, Salt City Verse
April 15 Jone Rush MacCulloch
April 16 Linda Baie TeacherDance
April 17 Carol Varsalona, Beyond Literacy Link
April 18 Marcie Atkins
April 19 Carol Labuzzetta at The Apples in My Orchard
April 20 Cathy Hutter, Poeturescapes
April 21 Sarah Grace Tuttle at Sarah Grace Tuttle’s Blog,
April 22 Marilyn Garcia
April 23 Catherine at Reading to the Core
April 24 Janet Fagal, hosted by Tabatha, The Opposite of Indifference
April 25 Ruth, There is no Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town
April 26 Patricia J. Franz, Reverie
April 27 Theresa Gaughan, Theresa’s Teaching Tidbits
April 28 Karin Fisher-Golton, Still in Awe Blog
April 29 Karen Eastlund, Karen’s Got a Blog
April 30 Michelle Kogan Illustration, Painting, and Writing