Friday, April 13, 2018

Poetry Friday: Happy Birthday, Lee Bennett Hopkins!

We're celebrating Lee Bennett Hopkins' birthday today on Poetry Friday.  As soon as I found out, I went looking for his books on my shelves.  The first thing I found was Author Talk: Conversations with Judy Blume, Bruce Brooks, Karen Cushman, Russell Freedman, Lee Bennett Hopkins, James Howe, Johanna Hurwitz, E. L. Konigsburg, Lois Lowry, Ann M. Martin, Nicholasa Mohr, Gary Paulsen, Jon Scieszka, Seymour Simon, and Laurence Yep.  (Whew!  That's quite a subtitle!)

I loved reading the conversation with LBH.  He tells about his childhood, and how he hated school and didn't do well until eighth grade, when a teacher influenced him with the "gift of hope."  He wasn't interested in poetry until he started teaching.  There's even a series of photos of three stages in the life of a poem, from the few lines of the idea to the revision-in-progress to the published piece.  Here's his description of his "typical workday:" "I don't have a routine.  I write whenever I feel like it.  It's back to childhood: no rules!  Even so, I'm very disciplined.  I'm always working on several books at a time.  I always have a lot of projects going."

Thank you for all the many projects you have brought to completion through the years!  Your work has been a gift to students and teachers everywhere.  Happy birthday!

I've been enjoying the extra poetry in my inbox that April always brings, even though, as usual, the many goings-on around the internet are too much for me, and I can't possibly keep track of everything I'd like to and still keep track of my life and my students.  Poetry, reading it and writing it,  is a year-round preoccupation of mine, and one thing I enjoy is the Poetry app put out by the Poetry Foundation.  (You can download it here.)  It lets you search for poems by author, first line, poet, and even mood.  And you can make a favorites list.

Here's a poem from my favorites list for this second Poetry Friday in April:

There is No Word
Tony Hoagland

There isn’t a word for walking out of the grocery store
with a gallon jug of milk in a plastic sack
that should have been bagged in double layers

—so that before you are even out the door
you feel the weight of the jug dragging
the bag down, stretching the thin

plastic handles longer and longer
and you know it’s only a matter of time until
bottom suddenly splits.

There is no single, unimpeachable word
for that vague sensation of something
moving away from you

as it exceeds its elastic capacity

Read on to find out why Tony Hoagland would find such a word useful here.

As always, I've been enjoying the Progressive Poem, too.  Below you can find the list, and links to the sites of everyone participating.  My line is coming up on Tuesday.

2 Jane at Raincity Librarian
4 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
5 Jan at bookseedstudio
6 Irene at Live Your Poem
7 Linda at TeacherDance
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
28 Kat at Kat's Whiskers
29 April at Teaching Authors
30 Doraine at Dori Reads

Here's to all the things poetry celebrates, and here's to the way poetry puts words to things for which there are no words.  Happy Birthday, LBH, and Happy Poetry Friday, everybody!  You can see more tributes and more poems here at today's roundup.


Tabatha said...

Tony Hoagland! He really packs so much in that poem! Humor, poignancy, the essence of language. It's a good thing I'm already sitting down ;-)

Robyn Hood Black said...

Thanks for joining the LBH party, Ruth! And thank you for that Tony Hoagland poem... just masterful. Happy Poetry Month to you and your students!

mbhmaine said...

I think I need to read some more Tony Hoagland poems! Thanks for introducing me to this one.

Alice Nine said...

I'm glad I finished reading Tony Hoagland's poem at Poetry Foundation... seeing as you stopped at the volta. Thanks for introducing it to us.

Glenda Funk said...

I love the symbolism of the plastic bag's weakness in the face of a too heavy jug of milk. Great poem and lovely tribute to Lee.

Linda B said...

It's nice to hear your memories of Lee and his books. That Tony Hoagland poem is something I will keep, that "elastic stretched in. thanks, Ruth.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Wow, that Hoagland poem went to some unexpected places, didn't it? Incredible writing. I'll have to seek out more of his work.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Oh my heavens--best use of a plastic grocery bag ever, including "American Beauty"! I want to write a poem like that, and hoping that the elastic of language and geography might allow us to meet sometime, Ruth.

Kay said...

I enjoy having the Poetry Foundation email me a poem every day, but now I'm going to have to check out the app--and more Tony Hoagland poems. I can see why that's a favorite--and another reason for avoiding plastic bags!

Linda Mitchell said...

I LOVE that poem about the plastic sac. No truer words were ever given to such a feeling of anticipation and dread and holding ones breath all at one time. The celebration for LBH has been oh, so much fun! I love all the words in tribute and the remembering of great titles and moments with them. I look forward to seeing where you take the poem on Tuesday! I'm glad to be done and sitting and watching now. It's a bit of a nail biter as your day approaches! Good luck to you.

Michelle Kogan said...

Nice analogy between a bag filled to capacity and what poetry brings to on'e life. Thanks also for sharing "Author Talk" sounds like an intriguing book!