Friday, October 26, 2012

Poetry Friday: Siblings

School is called off today for the second day as we are pounded by Hurricane Sandy.  She's not hitting us directly, but we are getting an unbelievable amount of rain.  The latest I heard was that nine people have died in Haiti as a result.

I found this poem about hurricanes.  Be sure to click through and read about the others that year - including the most famous one, perhaps ever, Katrina.

By Patricia Smith
Hurricanes, 2005
Arlene learned to dance backwards in heels that were too high.
Bret prayed for a shaggy mustache made of mud and hair.
Cindy just couldn’t keep her windy legs together.
Dennis never learned to swim.
Emily whispered her gusts into a thousand skins.
Franklin, farsighted and anxious, bumbled villages.
Gert spat her matronly name against a city’s flat face.
Harvey hurled a wailing child high.
Irene, the baby girl, threw pounding tantrums.

Here's the rest.
And here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Poetry Friday: The List

I read the poem in this post earlier this week with my eighth graders, and later in the same day saw this blog post linked on Facebook (it's a list of the "Ten books you absolutely must read" and includes such items as "every single book by your favourite author" and "the one that a friend recommends").  Both express my view that people should read what they enjoy.  I have read books before because they were good for me, or because I wanted to be able to say I had read them, and there's nothing inherently wrong with those things, but reading is also a great pleasure, and I want to enjoy it.  I don't believe that there is some list of books everyone should read.  Everyone should read the Bible (because there's so much in it that is so amazing), but other than that, people's lists are, and should be, idiosyncratic.

Here's Naomi Shihab Nye's take on that:

The List
By Naomi Shihab Nye

A man told me he had calculated
the exact number of books
he would be able to read before he died
by figuring the average number
of books he read per month
and his probable earth span,
(averaging how long
his dad and grandpa had lived,
adding on a few years since he
exercised more than they did).
Then he made a list of necessary books,
nonfiction mostly, history, philosophy,
fiction, and poetry from different time periods
so there wouldn’t be large gaps in his mind.
He had given up frivolous reading entirely.
There are only so many days.

Oh, I felt sad to hear such an organized plan.
What about the books that aren’t written yet,
the books his friends might recommend
that aren’t on the list,
the yummy magazine that might fall
into his hand at a silly moment after all?
What about the mystery search
through the delectable library shelves?
I felt the heartbeat of forgotten precious books
calling for his hand.

Here's today's roundup, hosted by the lovely Irene Latham, who is celebrating her new book. Congratulations, Irene! And I'm so sorry I never sent you a couplet for the zoo poem. When you're too busy to write a couplet, you are too busy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Poetry Friday: About Education

I am too busy these days.  I can tell because I'm not writing, I'm not blogging, and this week I didn't even read the Poetry Friday posts until Thursday evening (and I just skimmed a few).  I'm teaching and taking a class.  My grades are due next Wednesday, too, and teachers need no more information than that. 

Here's a poem for this week.  It seems appropriate.

To David, About His Education
By Howard Nemerov
The world is full of mostly invisible things,
And there is no way but putting the mind’s eye,
Or its nose, in a book, to find them out,
Things like the square root of Everest
Or how many times Byron goes into Texas,
Or whether the law of the excluded middle
Applies west of the Rockies. For these
And the like reasons, you have to go to school
And study books and listen to what you are told,
And sometimes try to remember. Though I don’t know
What you will do with the mean annual rainfall
On Plato’s Republic, or the calorie content
Of the Diet of Worms, such things are said to be
Good for you, and you will have to learn them
In order to become one of the grown-ups
Who sees invisible things neither steadily nor whole,
But keeps gravely the grand confusion of the world
Under his hat, which is where it belongs,
And teaches small children to do this in their turn.

Today's roundup is here.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Poetry Friday: October

October where I live brings some slightly cooler weather, but nothing like the drama of autumn in the north.  Here's Paul Laurence Dunbar on October, who is "whole-hearted, happy, careless, free."  Here's to October living this weekend!


OCTOBER is the treasurer of the year,
And all the months pay bounty to her
The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
And fill her brimming coffers more and more.
But she, with youthful lavishness,
Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
And decks herself in garments bold
Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold.
She heedeth not how swift the hours fly,
But smiles and sings her happy life along;
She only sees above a shining sky;
She only hears the breezes' voice in song.
Her garments trail the woodlands through,
And gather pearls of early dew
That sparkle, till the roguish Sun
Creeps up and steals them every one.
But what cares she that jewels should be lost,
When all of Nature's bounteous wealth is
Though princely fortunes may have been their
Not one regret her calm demeanor stirs.
Whole-hearted, happy, careless, free,
She lives her life out joyously,
Nor cares when Frost stalks o'er her way
And turns her auburn locks to gray.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.