Welcome to Poetry Friday and to 2021! I am hosting the roundup today. Leave your links in the comments, and I will round us up the old-fashioned way. Comment moderation is enabled, so don't panic if you don't see your comment right away. I will publish them as fast as I can.
Naomi Shihab Nye's poem "Burning the Old Year" seems the most appropriate thing I can share for this, our first Poetry Friday of 2021.
Burning the Old Year
Naomi Shihab Nye
Letters swallow themselves in seconds
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable...
But most of us would probably be able to identify some things from 2020 that we don't want to burn. In spite of everything, there really were moments of delight, weren't there? As Jane Kenyon puts it, "There's just no accounting for happiness."
There's just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.
Here in Haiti, we have an additional reason to celebrate on the 1st of January. It's Independence Day, commemorating the day in 1804 when Haiti declared its independence from France, having kicked out the slave-owners in the most successful slave rebellion in history. We will be eating pumpkin soup, the traditional festive food for this day.
At the beginning of December, Bon Appétit magazine published a recipe for pumpkin soup. You can see it here, but you'll also see that the magazine changed the name of the soup to remove the word "Haitian," after thousands of Haitians responded overwhelmingly negatively. "Ou pa wont?" said one commenter. Aren't you ashamed? Pumpkin soup isn't something you mess with around here. It was forbidden to the slaves, so it represents freedom; every Haitian cook makes it slightly differently, but no Haitian cook puts spiced nuts in it. My mouth waters as I write this (on December 30th), anticipating the lovely smell of the fragrant soup rising up through our neighborhood on Friday. Here's a more traditional recipe. We'll also be eating mochi, because of my husband's childhood in Japan. Here's an article about that. I don't know how many people in the world eat both, but I bet you Naomi Osaka does. Like other New Year's foods around the world, these are supposed to confer good fortune on the upcoming 365 days.
Pumpkin soup, mochi,
Black-eyed peas on New Year's Day -
Better luck this time.
Pumpkin Soup (the real thing)
Consider responding to one or more of these questions when you leave your link in the comments. What do you want to burn from last year? What unexpected happiness of 2020 will you be holding on to? And/or, what will you be eating to celebrate the New Year?
Here's wishing for better days in 2021, for you and for the whole world. And here's to poetry, and all its ability to comfort and sustain.
I always think of Margaret Simon's Thursday feature "This Photo Wants to Be a Poem" as a prelude to Poetry Friday. Here's this week's edition.
Linda Mitchell is sharing her OLW (One Little Word). I'm loving the fairy-tale quality of Linda's poems lately, and today's is no exception. Head on over and read her word and what she's done with it here.
Tabatha has two quirky poems for us today. The first is "If You've Met One Autistic Person, You've Met One Autistic Person," by Tom Hunley, and the second is "Order on the Phone to a Large Department Store," by Sally Heilbut, who died of COVID this week. You can read Tabatha's post here.
Robyn's share for today is the perfect New Year's choice, and I echo her wishes for 2021. You can read all about that here.
Michelle Kogan has a new teaching job this year for which she's very thankful, and she also has a wonderful poem full of new things.
Little Willow is also thinking about what's new, with a poem "That New" by Susan Rothbard. This poet is new to me, but I would love to read more of her work. Read "That New" here.
The amazing Jone has written a poem in Scottish Gaelic, and made a video of herself reading it. I can't play the video yet, because I'm updating the roundup next to my still-sleeping husband as the sun is just starting to come up outside, but I'll be back later to watch and listen! Jone also shares two postcards from PF writers. You can see all of that at Jone's blog.
Linda B. has a poignant, beautiful look back at 2020 called "The Way We Were," with perfectly chosen details that bring back each challenging month. Read it here.
Bridget Magee's post today is all about the number ten. Her blog is ten years old (Happy birthday, Wee Words for Wee Ones!), and to celebrate, she's curating an anthology! Go read the details, and think about what you can contribute.
Now that I'm all caught up on the links that came in last night, I'm off to sit on my front porch and do some New Year's Day birding. I'll be back soon to see what else is in my inbox!
I'm back from birding. What a great haul today! I saw three Mourning Doves, three Palmchats, an American Redstart, and four Bananaquits. I heard a Hispaniolan Woodpecker (and that counts). I was really hoping to start the year well with a Hispaniolan Lizard-cuckoo - and I saw TWO! One had something in his mouth that looked like a piece of straw, so I wondered about nest-building, but when I looked through my binoculars, he was carrying a tiny - and apparently dead - lizard. And so my eBird streak is kept alive. Today is Day 116! (It's a big challenge for me not to add multiple exclamation marks to my comments on my eBird checklists. I don't really have the scientific detachment down yet, and just want to jump up and down!)
While I was away from my computer, I also ate the first of today's pumpkin soup. Haitians eat it for breakfast, but since I've already had breakfast, I will eat mine for lunch. I had to eat some, though (and take a picture, of course), so I ladled myself out a little tiny bowl. It was wonderful.
Irene Latham is also sharing her OLW, and it's a juicy one! She's going to be writing poems through all four seasons, and we get to read the first one today, a wintry offering, that somehow manages to be warm in spite of the season. Go read it immediately!
Myra of Gathering Books is joining us from the United Arab Emirates, and she too has some Naomi Shihab Nye to share today! This one is new to me. It's called Dear Sky. I think this would make a great writing prompt, too!
Margaret Simon is eating black-eyed peas this morning in Louisiana, and she's also sharing a breathtaking photo and poem. The poem is called "Bayou Being Green." She shares the prompt that inspired it, too, plus a place to get more prompts all year. Thanks, Margaret!
Tiel Aisha Ansari doesn't participate in Poetry Friday, but I've been a devoted reader of her poetry blog for many years, and I hope she doesn't mind me linking to her New Year's Eve poem, which I think everyone will agree is perfect. Here it is. While you're there, you should check out some more of her beautiful poems.
Laura Purdie Salas shares a stunning Richard Wilbur poem, one I'm going to save to read again and again. "These sudden ends of time must give us pause." Indeed, they must. Laura's post is here.
Christie Wyman takes us on a visit to Ponyhenge, an odd local attraction, with a poem and photo which you can look at here.
Mary Lee has a poem with an intriguing title, "Things I Didn't Know I Loved." Her poem is inspired by two others that she links to. I'm thinking I'm not the only one who will be inspired by this idea to write one on the same topic. There are so many things to love! Thanks, Mary Lee!
Carol has a perfect choice for the New Year, "Ring Out, Wild Bells," by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I'm saying Amen to the sentiments in the poem and in Carol's post.
The next link to come in is from another Carol, Carol Labuzzetta. She shares her OLW for 2021, plus a poem that goes with it. You can read her thoughts about that here.
Tanita Davis shares a poem by C.S. Lewis, with perfect advice for the new year ahead: "Often deceived, yet open once again your heart." Here is her post.
And it's another Carol! Carol Varsalona has a lovely gallery of images and thoughts including a variety of possible choices for her OLW. Like me, she is waiting until Thursday to write a post about her OLW for the year, and she says she'd better hurry up and pick one! You have some wonderful options, Carol!
Susan Bruck is beginning 2021 with haiku about snow and reflections on loss and the weirdness of this year's holiday season. Happy New Year, Susan!
Although thinking about loss is Laura Shovan, who shares "Poem," by Langston Hughes. This is a perfect poem about the blah sadness you feel when you lose a friend. Socially distanced hugs to Laura and everyone who is feeling this way.
Ramona calls her post Poetry Friday (on Saturday), and she shares a poem she wrote in March of 2020, a golden shovel that turned out to be a keystone for Ramona for the rest of the year. Head over and read her poem "Moving Forward."
The first link in this roundup is to Margaret Simon's weekly feature "This Photo Wants to be a Poem." Well, Fran Haley took this week's photo and ran with it for her Poetry Friday offering. She's written a Spirit's Vessel poem, which is part acrostic, part intricate three stanza six line six syllable creation. Follow the link to read her poem and see what she has done with this prompt and how it relates to her choice of OLW.
Thank you for participating, everyone, whether by sharing poetry or reading it or both. Thank you for filling this first day of the year with poems! Join us again next week, when Sylvia Vardell will be hosting at Poetry for Children.