Thursday, April 25, 2024

Poetry Friday: NPM Day 26: Roundup and Dreaming of Haiti

Welcome to today's Poetry Friday roundup! Please leave your links in the comments and I will round them up the old-fashioned way. I have Comment Moderation enabled, so you won't see your comment right away. I will get to them as quickly as I can.

So far in this National Poetry Month, I have honored the Poetry Fridays only in my heart, but I have managed to post a bit on the other days (doing a bit of spring-cleaning, as I have with various degrees of success almost every NPM since 2019, posting about poetic tabs that have been open on my desktop for a while). This is a really busy season for me at work, with exams and whatnot, but I've been able to visit other people's postings a bit and enjoy NPM festivities. I'm glad I had signed up to host today, as it forces me to participate in things a little more enthusiastically. (I looked up last year's archives and found out that I hosted on the last Friday of the month last NPM too!) 


Have you been following the Progressive Poem? Today's (Friday's) line is being added by Karin Fisher-Golton. Check it out!


Looking for some of the amazingly creative NPM projects out there? Jama has a list here.


On Tuesday I celebrated the eighteenth birthday of my blog. That means I've been writing here for 18 years about Haiti. For the first few years I didn't say where I was; in fact, the first time I actually said I was in Haiti was on January 14th, 2010,  the day the internet came back on two days after the earthquake. The title of my post was "We are alive."


Today Haiti is in its worst shape it's ever been since that awful day. And although I'm seven thousand miles away from there now, in my new home in Uganda, I continue to write about Haiti. I got my strike line for my golden shovel poem from this Guardian article. They interviewed a Haitian journalist who is no longer in the country due to an attempt on his life in 2022. He said, "Often, when I dream about my country, I wake up with tears in my eyes." 


The photo that illustrates the poem is one I took from a small plane as we flew over Port-au-Prince in December 2020. We went to Jacmel, and because gangs were controlling the road between our home and there, we flew instead of driving. It cost more, of course, and we wondered if we should do it because of the money and because of Covid. But I'm so glad we went. We didn't know it would be our last time. A year later, we left Haiti permanently. 



I visit Haiti often
in my sleep, when
you don’t need planes to get there and I
can swoop over Port-au-Prince in a dream,
looking past clouds scattered about
and at the turquoise and deep blue ocean and at my
house, somewhere down there in that beautiful, maddening country
full of hills and valleys and people accustomed to hardship and I
visit familiar places and eat diri ak pwa and talk to friends until I wake.
And then I realize the airport is closed and everything is messed up
and gangs control the streets so recently filled with
struggle, yes, but also laughter among the tears,
and the visit I just dreamed about couldn’t happen in
my real waking life, and the island is so far from here and my
hands grab my phone to read the news and nightmares fill my eyes.

Often when I dream about my country, I wake up with tears in my eyes.

©Ruth Bowen Hersey

Of course people can write poems about anything, but I think that the places we visit in our dreams are good subjects for poems. Leave your dreams in the comments, and I look forward to reading them! 



Denise is sharing a week's worth of her writing, some with Earth Day themes, some about books she's been reading. And she also got a surprise in the mail! Welcome, Denise; you're my first guest today! (Denise's post came in while it was still Thursday.)

It's a rainy Friday morning in Uganda and this is going to be a full, busy day, but it's starting out well with an inbox full of poems! I'm rounding them up as fast as I can, and in the meantime, check them out in the comments!

Robyn has a mouse in her studio and in her blog post! I know I have read Elizabeth Coatsworth poems before, but I don't remember ever having read this one. It makes you have a lot of sympathy for the mouse!

Susan remembers...and she's written a list poem with some of her very specific, yet relatable, memories. And she explains how writing a poem like this can be a cure for writer's block!

Janice has been writing daily haiku during NPM, and she has an eclectic collection of it for us today. So fun! 

Jama sends this link, but I can't read it yet. I will definitely be back once it's live. Here's her description: "This week I have a review and giveaway for the picture book PIE-RATS by Lisa Riddiough and David Mottram."


Rose has two lovely poems in response to picture books, and each is in a form that is new to me: a trinet and a pensee. They both sound fun to try, and the books sound great, too! 

Laura's combining her magnipoem project of closely observed poems with the Poetry Sisters' prompt for this week: unanswerable questions. The result is intriguing - check it out!

Michelle has been busy all month working on her spring abecedarian, and she shares it with us today, complete with a flipbook so that we can see all the illustrations that go with it. Wow, Michelle! Amazing! She's also written to the Poetry Sisters' prompt of unanswerable questions.

Linda's in with a poem inspired by a sculpture at the Denver Art Museum, and her form is inspired by Irene, and isn't it cool how inspirational NPM is? She's also got a poem at her padlet inspired by a street sign! 

I think Tabatha forgot to share her link, but here it is anyway! She's been writing poems based on short stories. Now I want to read today's short story! (Plus I'd like to know what an electric scorpion might be - see Tabatha's comment.)

Karen has a new-to-me poem by Barbara Crooker on blurbing, following the structure of one of my favorite poems, Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art." Crooker's is called "Artless." I love it!

Matt is celebrating the blessing of two new poetry anthologies, plus a gig at NCTE, where he'll be presenting with some other familiar Poetry Friday friends! Congratulations, Matt!

Linda has finished her NPM poetry alphabet with "Zen." Now I'm wondering what she'll do with the remaining four days! 

Jone, like Matt, has written about the new anthology Bless our Pets. I wish I could tell you more, but for some reason my Uganda network won't ever let me visit Jone's blog! Here's her description, though: "I have a peek into process with some poets form Bless Our Pets."

Tricia has two posts today. The first is her response to the Poetry Sisters' prompt, "Ode to Wonder." And the second is her latest spine poem. I've been enjoying this NPM project a lot, as these fun spine poems have been showing up daily in my Facebook feed. Go back and read some of the earlier ones if you haven't yet! 

It's just after seven and I just got to work. It's pouring still; this is pretty much typical of this school year in Uganda. We skipped the dry season altogether. I heard yesterday that the lake (Victoria) is at an even higher level than in 2020, which was the previous high point. And yet there are already students here; it's Book Week, and today people have been asked to dress as a book character, so there were two eleventh graders with a joint costume they had to perfect before school. (Thanks for asking: I'm Mrs. Baker from The Wednesday Wars. My go-to on such occasions is to be a fictional teacher. For Mrs. Baker I put on some sports shoes with my skirt and blouse, as she does in the book to teach Holling how to run properly.) In addition to Book Week festivities, today I have to teach four classes (it's usually five but the eighth graders are out on a trip), and my tenth graders are taking the second part of their IGCSE French exam (one of them just took shelter from the rain in my classroom to get in some last-minute studying). But in between, I'll be checking back for more poems in my inbox! Happy Poetry Friday! 

Carol has written a poem about Laura Purdie Salas' new book Oskar's Voyage, and she also has a wonderful description of her granddaughter enjoying the book. Nothing better than sharing a fun new book with a kid! 

Bridget is keeping it fresh with a poem about the word lemon.

Marcie has a whole array of offerings in her Learning Roundup, including poems about bats! "Gulping," "gorging," "seed-spreading..." I have been trying to like bats more and be less afraid of them, and this might do the trick!

Amy has been watching crows all month and writing poems about them. Today's is an illustration of how smart these birds are. 

Heidi has been writing environmentalist elfchen. (That's the plural, right? Not elfchens?) I think my favorite is the one that begins: "Haste makes waste." And Heidi, tears came to my eyes when I read in your comment about you welcoming your Haitian student. I hope he meets nothing but love and warm welcome in the United States. 


Sara is writing about impossible questions, along with the Poetry Sisters. They make her think of her dad's riddles.

Irene is sharing haiku - hers and also some from a picture book with a story told in 50 haiku. What a cool idea! 

Mary Lee is also writing with the Poetry Sisters, and she has some pebbles to share.


Sorry, Tricia! You graciously claimed it was your fault that your link was wrong, but I think it was mine. I updated the link above, but here again are Tricia's two links: her response to the Poetry Sisters' prompt and her latest spine poem.


Margaret  has some lovely rainbow haiku from her students.

My workday is done, and I'm heading home now. Maybe there will be more poems arriving later! Stay tuned!

Diane is writing about robins, inspired by Amy's project about crows. The more birds the better, I say! Thanks for your notes in the comments about your Haitian student and about the hymn, Diane. I enjoyed reading them!

Patricia is reading Camille T. Dungy and has written some poems inspired by her book Smith Blue. I have that book in a box somewhere! 


Karen has been writing elfchen (elfchens?) and she has two to share with us, one called "Storm" and one called "Twirling, Twirling." She also has some anthology news.

Liz is asking unanswerable questions with the Poetry Sisters. (She's also announcing the next prompt. I think one of the links I've already posted announced it too, but I didn't point that out. So check it out here.)

Jane is writing free verse with tweens, and she explains the process. It sounds like so much fun!

Karin reminds us to visit the Progressive Poem, which is at her blog today. And tomorrow it will be at Donna's!


Tiel Aisha Ansari doesn't participate in Poetry Friday, but I always like to link to her blog whenever I'm hosting, because I like her work so much. Here's a poem she wrote in March called "Uhtceare."

Well, Friday is winding down here in Uganda (we're seven hours ahead of the east coast of the US at this time of year), and I'm on my way to bed. I'll be back in the morning to post whatever comes in overnight. Enjoy your remaining hours of Poetry Friday, friends!

And now it's Saturday morning! A few links came in while I slept.

Tanita is writing about unanswerable questions with the Poetry Sisters. In her case it led to an amazing poem called "A Garden Remembers." I really enjoyed her notes on her process, too, plus she's sharing the May prompt for us to join in.

JoAnn's also thinking about process. She's in with a yummy looking photo of a pie and a poem about how it comes to be.

And Cathy is thinking about home. "Is home only place?" she asks.

Will there be more?


Denise Krebs said...

Oh, Ruth, your poem is full of your heart and emotion. So much pain. I'm sorry for your beloved adopted country. The poem is heart-wrenching toward the end. The idea of "laughter among the tears" shows the strength of the people. And, oh, my... "nightmares fill my eyes" Peace to you and especially all those who live and strive for better in Haiti.

Here is my link today:

Amy LV said...

Ruth, So much love to you and the country you love. Dreams and nightmares live in us always, and your suggestion to write about dreams is one I will take on. I wish you a happy blog birthday and thank you for always being so openhearted with your writing and the world. xo, a.

My post will be up in the morning....

Robyn Hood Black said...

Oh, Ruth - I have been thinking of you and yours every time Haiti is mentioned in the news. And I know so many crises are happening in different parts of the world that news from Haiti is not always at the forefront. You continue to be in my prayers and thoughts as you embrace life in Uganda - I know Haiti will always be in your heart.

I have a lighthearted, wee, mousey post today:

Thanks so much for hosting!

Susan T. said...

Hi, Ruth. Thank you so much for rounding up today. I look forward to reading your entire post. I am in with a poem, sort of: "I Remember."

Janice Scully said...

Such a touching poem! I can only imagine the sights and sounds that you have first hand knowledge of and that return in dreams. I hope you are happy in Uganda and that you and your family are safe. Thank you for hosting!

My link is I have more haiku to share for NPM/

jama said...

What a heartbreaking poem. Haiti has been in turmoil for so long. I'm glad you're living in a safer place now, but I can understand how a part of you will always be in your adopted country. I do remember when I first visited your blog years ago, and you hadn't mentioned where you were living.

Happy 18th Blog Birthday!! That's a long time!

This week I have a review and giveaway for the picture book PIE-RATS by Lisa Riddiough and David Mottram:

Thanks for hosting this week!

Rose Cappelli said...

Your Golden Shovel is so powerful, Ruth. I feel the longing you have for Haiti. May you find peace in your dreams. Thank you for hosting today.

Here's the link to my Poetry Friday post:

laurasalas said...

Ruth, it's painful to read this. I always think of you when I see Haiti in the news, and it seems to be all bad news. "hands grab my phone to read the news and nightmares fill my eyes." Wow. Thank you for sharing your pain with us, and thanks for hosting too.

I'm in at with a combo poem that's both a magnipoem and an "unanswerable question" poem.

Michelle Kogan said...

Love your heartfelt and heart-wrenching poem for Haiti, and coming from dreams make it that much more special! I have been dreaming quite a bit lately, though need some more time in the mornings before rushing off to teach to jot some of these ponderings down…
Thanks for rounding us up, thinking of you and new bird acquaintances, xox.

I'm sharing a mix this week– a wrap-up on my Abecedarian Poem Book for National Poetry Month and a response to the Poetry Sisters call for unanswerable question poems, but with a twist toward a rondel prayer poem:

Linda Mitchell said...

Ruth, It's so very good to read your words...even the sadness about Haiti. I'm so sorry for the many losses to you leaving that special place. Eighteen years...a lifetime. Happy Blogversary. I'm fortunate to know you through PT and SJT. Thank you for hosting today. Prayers for Haiti and all her people.

Linda Mitchell said...

oooops! I forgot my link...sorry about that.
Linda M.

Tabatha said...

Hi Ruth,

Congratulations on 18 years of blogging-- that's quite an achievement! Your poem is very touching. You're always very good at showing why you love Haiti, as well as why it is impossible to be there.

You wanted to know about our dreams? One time I dreamt I bought an electric scorpion and couldn't figure out how to turn it off (not sure why I would want one, haha).

Karen Edmisten said...

Oh, Ruth, your poem (and your whole post) touched me. Oh, my goodness, it's so, so much.

Lately I've been dreaming of water for various reasons (including a broken sump pump :/ ) but no one wants to hear about that! :)

My link for this week is here

Thank you for hosting!

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

As Denise said, this poem is so full of emotion and sorrow and resilience and heart - one can tell this is a special place. Thanks for sharing, and for hosting! Today I'm celebrating two new poetry anthologies out this month, along with some NCTE news:

Linda B said...

Happy 18th blog birthday, Ruth. I think of you with sadness every time I read about the times in Haiti, remember all the beautiful things you shared when you lived there, and through the earthquake, but still starting again. There is sorrow in your poem, but it also shows your enduring love for Haiti, your home still. Thank you for sharing and for hosting. My post today finishes the alphabet for Poetry Month, leaving a few days open wide! My link:

Jone MacCulloch said...

This post is so rich. your poem pulled on my heartstrings Congratulations for reaching 18 years. Thanks for hosting today.
I have a peek into process with some poets form Bless Our Pets:

Tricia said...

Ruth, I too think of you every time I hear some new sad news about Haiti. I pray for the people there and hope they will soon find peace.
I have 2 posts today.
I have written a poem to the poetry sisters' prompt of unanswerable questions.
I am continuing with building/writing a book spine poem a day for National Poetry Month. I can't believe we're on day 26. It seems to have gone by so quickly.

Thank you for hosting.

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, whenever you write about Haiti, I feel saddened by the plight of those who live there. Your eyes fill with tears frightfully so. you devoted a good portion of your adult life there working with children.
Today, I wrote a book review of Oskar's Voyage by our own wonderful poet/author, Laura Purdie Salas. I even wrote a teaser poem for students. For teachers, I added resources that Laura shared. My granddaughter is featured as a child reader and alover of poetry. It is good to share different viewpoints on life in our community while sharing talents. I am glad that I met you years ago at PF and then at SJT.

Bridget Magee said...

Wow. Your poem (and dreams) powerfully show to what effect the horrors of Haiti have on its residents, past and present. Thanks for continuing to think, dream, about write about Haiti on your blog (18 years!) and educating us, your readers. ❤️
Today I have a wee lemon-lime love story video and Lemon is a Word poem video/text.🍋
Thanks for hosting! :)

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Thank for you for hosting and that heartbreaking poem for Haiti. I have been thinking a lot about landscape in poetry lately, and you have captured the beauty and the heartache.

I have a round up of sorts today with things that I have been enjoying in the poetry world lately.

Amy LV said...

Hi Again, Ruth. My post is up - It is #26 in my NPM series of poems about a crow. xo

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Ruth, thank you for hosting--I think it's interesting that you consider your blog to have been--to be!--about Haiti all this time. Of course you're right, but that's not how I read it for so many years. I mentioned you when an ESOL kid of mine was asking again "Where is my country on this map?" He said, "I feel sorry for my country," and I agreed and noted what hard time it has been for Haiti's people, and he said with suprise, "How do you know about Haiti?!" I spoke of you, and about reading the news of the world. I hope he felt received as well as surprised! My post is more elfchen, here:

Sara said...

So sad that things are worse, not better. Your poem makes the heartbreak vividly clear. Thank you for your devotion to Haiti, and eighteen years of blogging about it.

I'm in today with a poem inspired by "an impossible question."

Irene Latham said...

Ruth, I love you dreaming of Haiti. Thank you for hosting! I've got some original haiku for ArtSpeak: FOLK ART and a look at a new picture book told in haiku CLIMBING THE VOLCANO.

Mary Lee said...

Thank you for keeping the heart of Haiti on our radar -- when all we hear is the news, we forget about the beauty and the people whose lives are impacted by all the turmoil. I think today's poem is one of your best Haiti poems. (Maybe they need to be collected into a chapbook?)

Today I'm in with my response to the Poetry Sisters' challenge. This month we were inspired by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard’s, Welcome to the Wonder House. Our mission was to write about “unanswerable questions.” I got some extra inspiration from Jane Hirschfield's The Asking and wrote [FIVE PEBBLES].

Tricia said...

Hi Ruth. My apologies. I left the wrong link to the Friday's poem. The link you have directs folks to something unconnected to Poetry Friday.
Here is the correct link.

Margaret Simon said...

I came to know more about Haiti from your blog writing. I'm so saddened by the state of the country. It's hard when hope seems to be completely lost. I know your heart is there always. I may be back with a post. I haven't decided yet what to post.

Margaret Simon said...

I wrote about my students' writing this week. Even if I don't have any new poems to share, my students usually do, even within state testing. Thanks for hosting.

Verrena Diane Anderson said...

Your poem is equally beautiful and heartbreaking. One year in teaching, I had a student from Haiti. Her family’s story of displacement and moving from one country to another trying to find a home was sad… and reflected in her mixed up languages of Creole, Portuguese/Spanish and English. Trying to communicate with her father on a translation app could either be frustrating or hilarious. Over the 2 1/2 years that student was in our school, she grew so much and we missed her when the family moved on once again.

Here is a link to a poem from my NPM project- I’ve been following Amy LV and trying out her One Line More or Less idea. Amy has written about crows, and I’ve been writing about robins. I’ve tried some new to me poetry forms, too.

Verrena Diane Anderson said...

I also meant to say that as I read your poem, words from a hymn came to mind. While the context is different, the phrase seems to go with the feeling of your poem: sorrow and love flow mingled down…
(When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts)
The hymn has a background story for me - in my church youth group during my teen years, we sang that hymn often. Our friend who played the piano did not know how to play many hymns, but he had that one memorized, so we sang it almost every week. We grew up together in our church, and we attended the same college but then we moved to different states. Word came that my friend died very young, leaving behind his wife and daughter. I sometime dreamed of our youth group singing as he played, and a little girl in the corner.

Patricia Franz said...

Oh Ruth - How blessed you are to love a country and a people so much! Your poem fills me with both heartache and prayer.

This week, I'm offering an update on my National Poetry Month project. I'm writing poems each day inspired by Camille T. Dungy poetry. Today's come from her collection SMITH BLUE. Here is the link:

Karen Eastlund said...

Hi Ruth: Thanks for this heart tugging poem. Beautiful. And for hosting today. My post is finally up. My best to you.

Liz Garton Scanlon said...

Oh, Ruth -- MY HEART! This is heartbreaking and beautiful.
I'm in today with my poetry sisters, asking unanswerable questions:
Thank you for hosting us all, and happy spring...

Jane @ said...

So much emotion, dripping from each word and seeping between the lines.

This week I'm exploring free verse with my tween poets!

Karin Fisher-Golton said...

Your Golden shovel is beautiful and heart-wrenching. It strikes me that you fill in the journalist's line with vivid detail and that many folks from Haiti and other countries have their own story's detail to the same sentiment. I like how your lines go from short to long--they make me think of looking down from a small plane over a large stretch of land and water.

Thank you for already directing people to the progressive poem in my blog today. Here is the link to the specific blog post:

tanita✿davis said...

I am so heartily sorry for what is going on in Haiti - such beautiful people from such an historically strong and brave country. Your poem is so, so beautiful, thank you for sharing it.

I'm in with another Poetry Sisters' Unanswerable Question poem.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

I remember wondering where you were and then finally finding the answer. Thank you for hosting and for your moving poem. I found the idea of visiting in dreams especially powerful.

I'm writing daily Lost & Found poems and posting them at

Cathy said...

Happy birthday to your blog! Eighteen years is quite an accomplishment. Thank you for sharing your Golden Shovel poem. With all of the small details you were able to weave into the poem, you make Haiti sound like home. It is heartbreaking to see the struggle taking place in the country.

Thank you for all of the nuggets tucked within your post: the link to the poem you wrote after the earthquake, the Progressive Poem link, and the lovely descriptions about what everyone is up to this month. It's nice to be able to read through all of this poetry goodness. I know I will be back and forth to follow all the links in the coming days.

Today I wrote about what it is like to be rooted (and the many questions of what defines home):