Thursday, November 23, 2023

Poetry Friday Roundup is Here, and Taxonomy!

Welcome, welcome! I'm so happy to have you here in my little corner of the Web. This post goes live on Thanksgiving Day, and so I'm asking you, if you're willing, to include something in addition to your poem, or in your poem, to be thankful for, some reason that your life contains joy in spite of all the horror that goes on in this world. Leave your link in the comments and I'll round up the old-fashioned way. Remember that I'm eight hours ahead of Eastern Time, so I may be sleeping sometimes when you're awake, plus Friday is a workday for me. I'll get everything up there as fast as I can! I have comment moderation enabled, so you won't see your comment immediately. 


For me, the birds have been helping me a lot in the past few years. I got seriously into birding in 2019, when we in Haiti were in a political lockdown for weeks and weeks (we were in person at school only 14 weeks that school year). I decided to learn the birds in my yard, and then as time went on, I became increasingly obsessed. Now that I live in Uganda, I am blessed to be in one of the world's best places for birding. Unfortunately it's not (or at least my house isn't) one of the best places for attending webinars, as I tried to recently to learn about the 2023 eBird/Clements taxonomy update. I'll have to watch the recording instead, as I got kicked off the webinar again and again until finally I gave up 45 minutes in. But even in the few glimpses I had of the speakers and what they had to say, I decided that taxonomy is something I'm thankful for this year. It just makes me feel better about the planet that there are human beings who care so much about getting these tiny distinctions right, about expanding our knowledge of the birds. This year, according to eBird, the "update includes 3 newly described species, 124 species gained because of splits, and 16 species lost through lumps, resulting in a net gain of 111 species and a new total of 11,017 species worldwide!" (You can read more about it at their post here.)


So I decided to write an ode to this wonderful science, taxonomy.


Ode to Taxonomy

you clean the closet,
sort the junk drawer,
alphabetize the shelves:
a place for everything
and everything in its place.

you pay attention,
study the DNA,
tend to the lumping and the splitting,
notice the tiniest details.

you’re a dragon
clawing contentedly through its horde,
seeing what’s there
and feeling richer.

you’re also poetry:
putting words to the silvery flashes
of feather and beak,
giving language to the overwhelming masses
of teeming life,
naming what is.

The world is ours to love,
ours to see and appreciate,
ours to let be,
ours to learn
and know by name.

you see to all that. 

 ©Ruth Bowen Hersey

The first poem is in already, from Linda, who has a collection of gems, as always! Thank you, Linda, and Happy Thanksgiving! Like you, I'm thankful for this community! 

Bridget is in from Switzerland with "a silly take on local real estate." She and all those other critters are thankful for a place to live!


Janice is reading and writing about ravens! I have to get that book!

The Poetry Sisters are writing like Valerie Worth today! Hooray! I love Valerie Worth's writing and am looking forward to all her worthy imitators. The first one to show up is Michelle, who has two lovely entries.

Heidi is marking Thankstaking (go read the explanation) and Climate Friday. Here we all are, knowing...

I was really hoping I'd be able to access Jone's post this time, but nope, still can't. Although I can't read it, I hope you can. You can find it here.

Laura's done a Valerie Worth poem too, and hers is about a hawk! You know I love that!

Linda B.'s also doing Valerie Worth, and encouraging us to get outside! I would love to, but I'm in a class with my ninth graders taking a test (don't worry, I can see them well from my desk), so I can't right now. Later, though...

Alan was inspired by an ordinary event to write a great little poem! 

I'm pausing during a lull (as there are no new comments in my inbox) to reread the roundup so far and realize it contains entirely too many exclamation marks. All the poetry makes me giddy. I can't blame it on Thanksgiving dinner because we aren't eating that until tomorrow. I will try to be less flighty, but I can't guarantee anything.

Mary Lee has a poem in the style of Valerie Worth, too, and hers is about something so small but with so much potential: a ladybug larva. And she's thankful for creativity in all its forms.

Sara is looking at small things with the Poetry Sisters, and she's written about lentils and a doorstop. I'm loving these Valerie Worth poems!

Liz is sharing some Valerie Worth poems too. My favorite lines: "A dog-eared page/creased like a collar,/like a paper crane..." 

Tricia's attic poem is so evocative that I feel like I'm there. And the photo of her son's writer's notebook is priceless, too.

Margaret's eagle poem shows how connected we can feel to natural things, especially birds! Her photo is lovely, too.

Tanita has written some wonderful Valerie Worth style poems, specifically choosing small things likely to be overlooked. "May we," writes Tanita, "by being open, inventive, expressive, and questioning, live our uncertainty and questions into answers that change everything."


Patricia visited but left a link to my blog instead of hers. Patricia, come back and link me!


Irene is imagining "If the Sun Had Shoes." And she's been having a wonderful time walking around in her own shoes!


Carol is writing Valerie Worth poems too, and hers are all about Thanksgiving. Sounds delicious and beautiful! 

Denise is imagining "the last love letter" she'll write, and she has some questions that I also would like to ask. Thanks, Denise!

Patricia is sharing three beautiful poems that are responses to how things are right now.

Thanks, everyone, for participating! I hope you all had a wonderful Poetry Friday!

Friday, November 17, 2023

Poetry Friday: Looking Forward to Welcoming You Next Week

I'm hosting next week! My husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving at our house on Saturday (this isn't a local holiday, and Thursday is a work day). And I'm hosting Poetry Friday next week too. 


The world is having a tough time right now, isn't it? I think it's a good time to search for some things we're thankful for, because we sure can see a lot of heartbreak wherever we look. So when you come to Poetry Friday next week, and leave your link in my comments, could you tell us something good, something that shows you that there's still joy to be had? When I used to teach English, we'd write odes at the end of November, focusing on something we loved extravagantly. Feel free to show the heartbreak too. That's all part of it. 

Here's a poem:

I Wanted to be Surprised

by Jane Hirshfield

To such a request, the world is obliging.

In just the past week, a rotund porcupine,

who seemed equally startled by me.

Keep reading for more surprising things.



See you next week! And be sure to visit Irene's roundup!


P.S. Here's something that surprised me this week: a woolly mammoth, left in my classroom.



Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Reading Update

Book #74 of the year was Cassandra in Reverse, by Holly Smale. This book wasn't what I thought it was going to be, and it kept on surprising me every time I thought I had it figured out. I loved the mythology connections and I loved the way we gradually found out what was really going on with Cassandra. This one was a lot of fun but also very affecting.

Book #75 was How it All Began, by Fiona West. This latest book in the Timber Falls series goes back in time to tell the story of how some of the older characters got together. I enjoyed this very much!

Book #76 was The Wonder Worker, by Susan Howatch. I read this series a long time ago, and recently I found the second one in the series in a used bookstore. I started reading it and then realized it was the second, so I had to go back and read the first. This trilogy, set in London, has some of the same characters as the Starbridge novels. These books are wilder and ultimately I like them less than the other series, but I couldn't stop reading, anyway.

Book #77 was Homecoming, by Kate Morton. This is a family story set in different generations and different countries. It's full of surprises and it's ultimately healing and redemptive.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Poetry Friday: Mud, Mud

It's not Poetry Friday -- more like Poetry Saturday -- here in Uganda. (Here's yesterday's roundup.) I'm taking a break from a stack of lesson planning and grading to tell you that National Poetry Month is still going on, since this week I received a NPM postcard from Irene that has been in the mail for six months. I also received two birthday cards, and my birthday is in February. So those have been in the mail for about nine months. A friend got an invitation to a wedding that took place in June. 



In addition to reflections that the Ugandan postal service is not fast, but does work, this postcard gave rise to thoughts about hippos, and I decided to share with you a song I remember from my childhood, "The Hippopotamus Song," by Flanders and Swann.

It's the rainy season, and therefore the muddy season, here where I live, so this is appropriate listening. I have heard that Lake Victoria does have hippopotami in it, but so far I haven't seen once since moving here.