Friday, April 19, 2019

Poetry Friday: Daffodils and Such (NPM: Day 19)

This year for National Poetry Month, I've been sharing links I already had open on my desktop. I figured I had about two weeks' worth, and by the time those links ran out, I would have more. I'm still working on the original links after almost three weeks, and sure enough, I have a bunch of new ones.

I had some Wordsworth links open because I was writing a daffodil poem. Here's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" and I also looked up "The Preface to the Lyrical Ballads." I had a lot of fun writing that poem, and I like it, but it's not really for sharing.

I shared "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" complete with daffodil pictures taken by me in 2010, when I was in the US after the earthquake. This year I am far from daffodils, and when I asked my daughter to send me some daffodil pictures, she sent this photo instead:
She took that on Palm Sunday. Not a bit of green in sight, let alone palms or daffodils. But on Wednesday, when I brought up the subject again, she sent me this:
It's comforting in these times of climate weirdness to see things showing up at more or less when they are supposed to: the sakura in Japan, for example, and the daffodils in North America.

My son told me on Monday that I should write a poem about Notre Dame. "Write about how nothing lasts forever," he said, and I replied that that's pretty much what poetry is about. Between those flames and the darkness of Good Friday, I feel this poem is more appropriate than Wordsworth for today:

Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Eventually I probably will write about Notre Dame. I'm not quite ready yet. Meanwhile, I wait for Sunday and resurrection; I do believe in it, even on the days when it seems least likely.

Here's what I posted this week for National Poetry Month:

On Saturday I shared an Issa haiku from Mary Lee, and then responded to it myself.
On Sunday I linked to Michelle H. Barnes' interview with Naomi Shihab Nye.
On Monday it was Jim Daniels Day.
On Tuesday I was thinking about sleeping and islands and sleeping on islands.
On Wednesday I shared some Yusuf Komunyakaa.
On Thursday it was Poem in Your Pocket Day, and I wrote a haibun about what was in my pocket.

Today's line for the Progressive Poem is here.

2 Kat @ Kathryn Apel
4 Jone @ DeoWriter
5 Linda @ TeacherDance
6 Tara @ Going to Walden
8 Mary Lee @ A Year of Reading
9 Rebecca @ Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @ Live Your Poem
12 Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @ Dori Reads
17 Amy @ The Poem Farm
18 Linda @ A Word Edgewise
20 Buffy @ Buffy's Blog
21 Michelle @ Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @ Reading to the Core
25 Jan @ Bookseestudio
26 Linda @ Write Time
27 Sheila @ Sheila Renfro
29 Irene @ Live Your Poem
30 Donna @ Mainely Write

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is here.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

NPM: Day 18

This link has been on my desktop for a while. It's a photography project, where a mom takes pictures of the contents of her preschool son's pockets each day. I love this idea, and each of the photos could spark a poem.

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. In other years I've written poems for my pocket (here's last year's post). At the link, you can find some poems to print out to put in your pocket this year.

This year I wrote a haibun (or halibut, as helpfully autocorrected by TextEdit) about something else I frequently find in my pocket. (If the idea of a haibun is new to you, as it fairly recently was to me, here's Wikipedia's explanation. Basically it's a short prose piece ending in a haiku. They aren't new - they've been around since the seventeenth century!) I often keep a hoodie in my classroom for when the air conditioning gets too cold, and one of these is usually in that pocket. On Friday at school I had another in my pants pocket.

Prayers in my Pocket: A haibun

Ladies from the church knitted squares of yarn and as they knitted, they prayed. If you gathered them up and sewed them all together, they would be a blanket to wrap yourself in on a cold day, but instead they put them in a basket with a sign saying “Take one.” You could hold yours in your hand and remember that it was full of prayers. My daughter knew I was sad, so she got two for me, and I carried them in my pockets.

“There’s nothing magic about it,” I explained to a friend and counselor. “It’s not a good-luck charm or anything like that. It’s just that it reminds me that people are praying for me and I feel less forgotten.”

She laughed, amused at my earnest theological concerns. “I’m Catholic, so I don’t have to worry about things like that,” she said. She encouraged me to hold on for dear life.

Deep in my pocket
Fingers find tiny afghan
Stitches of comfort

Today's line for the Progressive Poem is here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

NPM: Day 17

I've had this interview with Yusef Komunyakaa open in a tab since last month, ever since I posted his poem about seeing Barack Obama with a copy of Derek Walcott's poems. (You can see that post here.) 

I've been reading Komunyakaa's work, and here are some I found on the Poetry Foundation site that I particularly appreciated:

Islands. This one has an epigraph "For Derek Walcott," and it definitely makes me think of Walcott's long poem "Omeros." (I wrote some about that here.) 

This next one continues the Homeric theme. Infidelity is about Zeus, and the part of the Iliad it refers to is not in the simplified version I read with my eighth graders every year. That's the part where Zeus goes on and on in great detail to his wife Hera about all the other women he finds appealing, apparently thinking she's going to find this somehow an aphrodisiac. 

And this one, Ghazal, After Ferguson, is about an altogether more modern theme. The Ferguson of the title is Ferguson, Missouri. 

Today's line for the Progressive Poem is here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

NPM: Day 16

This link is a recent addition to my collection of tabs. It recommends that I teach this poem: "A Woman Sleeps on an Island," by Marjorie Agosín, and provides the text in both English and Spanish. Scroll down for lesson ideas.

Maybe it's because I do sleep on an island, every night, that this poem appealed to me so much. Some lines I liked: "from her hair is born the dwelling place of memories and wild birds" and "her eyelids trace maps of strange geographies."

This poem, "Together," also concerns sleeping and an island. It's dreamy and mysterious, and it's lived on my desktop for much longer.

And for an island sleeping trifecta, check out this Derek Walcott poem, "Islands."
Today's line for the Progressive Poem is here.

Monday, April 15, 2019

NPM: Day 15

I don't remember who shared this poem on Poetry Friday a while ago; I clicked on it and then couldn't close the link because I was so taken with it. It brought back many happy memories of reading to my children as they fell asleep.

Talking About the Day
Jim Daniels

Each night after reading three books to my two children—
we each picked one—to unwind them into dreamland,
I'd turn off the light and sit between their beds
in the wide junk-shop rocker I'd reupholstered blue,
still feeling the close-reading warmth of their bodies beside me,
and ask them to talk about the day—we did this,
we did that, sometimes leading somewhere, sometimes
not, but always ending up at the happy ending of now.

Here's the rest of the poem. 

I can't remember where I found this Jim Daniels poem, either, but I have it saved on my hard drive, and I've been reading it with students for years. We always discuss empathy and standing up for our friends when we read it. It's simple but profound.

Speech Class
Jim Daniels

We were outcasts –
you with your stutters,
me with my slurring –
and that was plenty for a friendship.

When we left class to go to the therapist
we hoped they wouldn’t laugh –
took turns reminding the teacher:
“Me and Joe have to go to speech clash now,”
or “M-m-me and J-Jim ha-have to go to
 s-s-speech now.”

Mrs. Clark, therapist, was also god, friend, mother.
Once she took us to the zoo on a field trip:
“Aw, you gonna go look at the monkeys?”
“Maybe they’ll teach you how to talk.”
We clenched teeth and went
and felt the sun and fed the animals
and were a family of broken words.

For years we both tried so hard
and I finally learned where to put my tongue and how to make the sounds
and graduated,
but the first time you left class without me
I felt that punch in the gut –
I felt like a deserter
and wanted you
to have my voice.

Today's line for the Progressive Poem is here.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

NPM: Day 14

Michelle H. Barnes published this interview with Naomi Shihab Nye last August. I've had the link open in a tab since then, because it's such a great conversation with a poet I love. You should definitely read the whole thing, but the quote I wrote down after reading it was from this exchange:

I wonder, in your four decades of visiting schools and working with students, have you found that young people’s increased dependence on multitasking has made deeper listening more difficult to come by? Is writing poetry somehow less interesting or achievable for them because of a lack of calm and focus?

I don't think so. Everyone is writing! Everyone is reading! Perhaps our attention spans have changed—I think mine has—to more blip-blip-quick-change energy—and we need the oasis of calm available while working on single poems or pages more than ever—but we just have different tools now. Everything is at our fingertips. That's pretty amazing. Perhaps we need to work a little harder to find our quiet times? Or make a clearer intention about times when we DON'T stay connected through any device. Take breaks. We need more breaks. Someone told me we check our phones—was it 70 or 80 times a day? I'd prefer it to be 7 or 8.

"Everyone is writing! Everyone is reading!" says Naomi Shihab Nye, and what an encouraging way to look at it. It's my experience, too; my students aren't always reading and writing what I want them to, or the way I want them to, or with the focus I'd like, but they are communicating in writing, and they are reading.  I wrote this post in 2011 (original poem included) when I got an email from NCTE headlined "Reading and Writing Need Your Help Now" expressing pretty much the same thing. 

I've posted lots of Naomi Shihab Nye poems on this blog. Here are some: "Steps," "Trying to Name What Doesn't Change," "So Much Happiness," "The List."

Here's today's line in the Progressive Poem.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

NPM: Day 13

Last year, Easter was on April 1st, and so National Poetry Month all fell in Eastertide. This year feels like an uncomfortable mixture of Lent, a time of fasting, and NPM, a time of gorging. At least today I have some haiku, which feels a little bit appropriate, like eating edamame instead of whole boxes of chocolates. (Mind you, I can polish off a big bowl of edamame all by myself...)

This link from Mary Lee's blog has been hanging around my desktop for a long time, suggesting that I try something similar. Mary Lee shared an Issa haiku:

I'm the type
who'd rather have dumplings
than blossoms

Issa, 1814

Click the link and read Mary Lee's responses, and then the responses in the comments. 

I finally wrote some of my own last week.

I’m the type
who’d rather have a train
than a car.

I’m the type
who’d rather have tea
than champagne.

I’m the type
who’d rather have flip flops
than snow boots.

I’m the type
who’d rather have books
than diamonds.

  Here's today's line in the Progressive Poem.