I'm hosting Poetry Friday this week, the week of Thanksgiving! Leave your links in the comments and I will round them up, old-school style. I have the day off today, so why not?
I have so much to be thankful for, and I know it even when times are challenging. One of the things I am thankful for this time of year and all the time is poetry. Last year I wrote a whole ode to it, later published in the Birmingham Arts Journal, edited by Irene Latham. (Here's the pdf of the whole issue.) This year a haiku may be all I can manage (although I did try an ode this week too - read on to learn more about it).
The middle line of today's Gratiku comes from Coleridge's definition of poetry, and in the last line I was thinking of Shakespeare, promising his girlfriend that she would live forever in his verse: "as long as men can breathe, and eyes can see." (I don't really think anything I write will last that long.) See that? Coleridge and Shakespeare in seventeen syllables? Am I an English teacher, or what?
Bounty of poems
(The best words, the best order)
Lines may outlive us.
I read (somewhere) that people were writing odes to autumn for this week, so I decided to try one. I looked up Keats' famous ode, beginning "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" (you can read the whole thing here). At first I thought I would try to write a humorous parody, but it ended up not being humorous at all. My first line parodies Keats' first line, and the first line of the second stanza is straight out of his poem. There are a couple of other echoes from Keats, too. (A machann is a merchant, in this case a lady selling fruit by the side of the road. And yes, that conversation mentioned in the poem really happened.)
Ode to Autumn in Haiti, 2021
Season of strikes and utter hopelessness,
No gas, no jobs, no peace, no anything.
“Pa gen fig,” says the machann in the street,
Explaining that bananas can’t be bought
Because there’s too much gunfire in the town.
"Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?"
It seems a while since there was spring-like hope.
It’s always warm, the skies are always blue,
Each gorgeous day has still its music too,
But chaos fills our hearts with suffering.
The tires burn, the smoke spreads out like mist,
The Embassy suggests folks pack their bags --
Well, that suggestion’s for Americans --
And if you’re Haitian, settle in for more,
As autumn turns to winter, one more year:
More scoldings from the countries all around,
More troubles everywhere we turn our heads,
More shortages of all the things we need,
More crime, more heartache, more impunity.
But lovely weather, that we always have.
Yes, lovely weather, that we always have.
©Ruth Bowen Hersey
I did my annual Thanksgiving Odes lesson with my eighth graders. This year I taught it to a few kids sprinkled around my classroom (maintaining distance) and others on the Zoom screen (some faces, but mostly rectangles with their names on them). We watched some YouTube videos of renditions of Neruda odes, then brainstormed a list of possible topics (things for which they were thankful), then went to work. Here are some of their topics: showers, chocolate, boba, soap, Oreos, EDH (city power here in Haiti, often lacking lately), gas (also often lacking lately). You can see some of their brainstorming in the photo below. (The kids in the room wrote ideas on the whiteboard and the kids Zooming wrote theirs in the chat.) This is one of those assignments almost everyone gets into. It doesn't matter that they don't understand every single allusion in Neruda; they get that he is over-the-top enthusiastic, uses all his senses, and seems to be having a great time. I'm looking forward to reading what they come up with! It's due on Monday, and as I'm writing this, I've only seen one, a fabulous ode to books.
Leave your offerings, whether odes, Thanksgiving fare, or something quite different, in the comments! Comment moderation is enabled, so don't worry if yours doesn't appear right away. I'll get to them as fast as I can!
Margaret moved her weekly "This Photo Wants to Be a Poem" feature from Thursdays to Wednesdays since the last time I hosted Poetry Friday, but I still feel as though it's the beginning of Poetry Friday every week. Check out the locks photo and the responses here to start getting in the poetry mood.
Susan at Chicken Spaghetti shares an absolute delight of a poem, "Not-Yet-Official Girl Scout Badges," by Chloe Martinez. The list of badges is a portrait of an absolute delight of a child. I'm sending this one to my daughter.
Michelle Kogan has an Ode to Autumn and some beautiful photos from her neighborhood to go with it. She also has an update on her Bearded Iris, if you've been following its story, as I have!
Kat Apel's post has a cute alert in the title this week, and let me tell you, it's fully justified! Head on over to watch an adorable video of someone reading Kat's book The Bird in the Herd. Kat also left a bird photo just for me - thank you, Kat, for that and your kind words!
Alan J. Wright has a lovely poem this week about things he's done only once in his life. But I can't help loving his ending best.
Whenever I host, I like to link to Tiel Aisha Ansari, even though she doesn't participate in Poetry Friday. Her poem about November 2021 from a couple of weeks ago fits in perfectly today.
Sally Murphy has been hard at work on a project that sounds amazing, the Australian Verse Novel Resource. Go and read about it, and how great it's going to be for kids, teachers, and a whole list of others. Bonus: Sally reads from her own verse novel, Pearl Verses the World.
Linda Mitchell is in with an ode to November full of perfect images and leading us into winter in the last line. She also links us to a prayer by her ox friend, Hamish. (I know I'm not the only one who has been enjoying Linda's OLW "Ox" all year long. I'm already wondering what she'll choose for 2022! No pressure, Linda.)
Janice Scully has a Thanksgiving Mouse for us this week, plus some poems by other people about mice. She's right that mice are popular poetic subjects; I have noticed this before, and I've also noticed that I enjoy these creatures much more in print than in my kitchen -- or my classroom, as has also happened.
The inimitable Jama is serving soup today on the day after Thanksgiving. She has a wonderful poem, photos, and even a recipe.
Laura Salas has an ode to that quintessentially November thing (in northern countries): bare branches. And it's also about what Laura needs these days - and maybe all of us. (If not all of us, at least me.)
I'm loving the odes this week - and here's Linda's at TeacherDance. Yes! She has autumn just right!
I haven't seen anything in the comments yet from Irene Latham, and I know she's had trouble commenting here lately, so I went looking for her post. Sure enough, she's got an autumn poem up, beginning, irresistibly, "We are both nameless -- the trees and me --"...
I totally get what Tricia says today in her comment about how everything she writes these days is about her mom. Her ode to autumn is also an ode to memories of her mother. Lovely, Tricia!
Margaret, too, was writing about autumn and thinking about a loved person -- in her case, Molly, who lost her father on Thanksgiving this year. It's beautiful, Margaret, and we are so sorry, Molly!
And continuing on the theme of poetry's penchant for being about more than one thing, Sara's ode to making carmels with her daughter made me catch my breath. Favorite words: "she sluices desiccated sunlight."
Denise is thinking about Ahmaud Arbery, and has a found tanka about Wednesday's verdict. Powerful!
Heidi dazzles, as always, with her ode that turns out to be also an acrostic! I agree with her assessment of acrostics, both in previous scorn for them and in a growing appreciation for what they can be. I missed her no/de from a couple of weeks ago, and she links to that, too.
At The Poem Farm, Amy demonstrates personification and invites us to try it. I love her meditation on leaves and goodbyes.
Mary Lee has an ode to autumn too, and links to an ode to Thanksgiving from yesterday. She also waxes philosophical about what an ode actually is, and I completely agree with her assessment. I love how she shows us various steps in autumn's life-cycle.
Christie shares a wonderful collaborative poem by her kindergarteners. They are thankful, and so are we!
Jone has an ode to November that brings out the beauty of what has always seemed to her a sad month. She also has some ideas for 2022: join her in sending out New Year postcards, and buy her new calendar, with photos and poems. It looks bright and lovely!
Donnetta really needed a break! (Me too, Donnetta!) She's written a TankaYou about her gratitude for this holiday.
Carol Labuzzetta has been thinking about music, a "Simple Gift" for which she's grateful. She asks us to consider what our "Simple Gifts" might be.
Carol Varsalona is celebrating a birthday with an ode to autumn, and also by producing the final installment of the Bedecked in Autumn Gallery of Artistic Expressions. She links to five years of previous galleries, too. Such a cool tradition! Happy birthday, Carol!
Tanita has an ode to autumn that's also about musicians getting ready for a concert. And Tanita is a virtuoso herself, working with rhymes!
So much beauty this week! Thank you, everyone, for participating! Have a wonderful weekend!