Monday, January 31, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
A crazy busy week.
No time to read poetry.
No time to find or take beautiful pictures to go with the poetry.
No time to stop and stare.
LeisureWHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night…
Read the rest of the poem here.
Tara is hosting Poetry Friday here.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
I read it! I actually read it!For the first time ever, I think, I had read the Newbery winner! And even blogged about it! See-- right here!
“One Crazy Summer,” by Rita Williams-Garcia
“Interrupting Chicken,” written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein- Every year, I buy myself one new picture (OK, sometimes a few more than that) to start the school year. INTERRUPTING CHICKEN was the book I bought this year. I love it!
Friday, January 7, 2011
A couple of months ago, Son #1 had to do a project on an artist from the Harlem Renaissance. I thought I knew quite a few poets, but when he got the name out of his backpack, it was Sterling Brown, a poet who was new to me. As we got further into the project (and yes, this project was a "we" project-- and please don't send me any notes about parents who do projects for/with their kids because I am a teacher and I already know all of that stuff, but there is just something about slapping two pictures on a piece of posterboard that brings fuzz to my teeth!), I wondered why I had never heard of Sterling Brown. He was one of the first poets to publish in the black "vernacular." He was a professor at Howard University for 40 years. When he retired, some people wanted to rename the university after him. He is considered one of the founders of African American studies programs at the university level. He wrote books and essays and literary criticism.
Strong MenThey dragged you from the homeland, They chained you in coffles,
They huddled you spoon-fashion in filthy hatches,
They sold you to give a few gentlemen ease.
They broke you in like oxen, They scourged you, They branded you,
They made your women breeders, They swelled your numbers with bastards..
They taught you the religion they disgraced.
Keep a-inchin' along
Lak a po' inch worm…
By and Bye
I'm gonna lay down this heaby load…
Walk togedder, chillen,
Dontcha git weary…
The strong men keep a-comin' on
The strong men get stronger.
Read the rest of the poem here.
Poetry Friday is at Live! Love! Explore! Thanks for hosting Irene!
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Here a few of my favorite lines, so far, anyway:
I had witnessed with my own eyes that a poem could make a Colonel cry. Though it was not part of a lesson plan, it imparted a truth that left me spellbound. Great words, arranged with cunning and artistry, could change the perceived world for some readers. From the beginning, I’ve searched out those writers unafraid to stir up the emotions, who entrust me with their darkest passions, their most indestructible yearnings, and their most soul killing doubts. I trust the great novelists to teach me how to live, how to feel, how to love and hate. I trust them to show me the dangers I will encounter on the road as I stagger on my own troubled passage through a complicated life of books that try to teach me how to die. pp 10-11
I take it as an article of faith that the novels I’ve loved will live inside me forever. 11
Writing about a very special high school teacher
“Tell me a story,” he commanded and I did. Those were the last words he ever spoke to me and they formed an exquisite unimprovable epitaph for a man whose life was rich in the guidance of children not his own. He taught them a language that was fragrant with beauty, treacherous with loss, comfortable with madness and despair and a catchword for love itself. His students mourned Gene all over the world, wherever they found themselves. They were ecstatic to be part of the dance. 76
Slowly my students started displaying the confidence that comes from being smart. 79
I grew up a word haunted boy. I felt words inside me and stored them wondrous as pearls. I mouthed them and fingered them and rolled them around on my tongue. My mother filled my bedtime hour with poetry that rang like Sanctus bells as she praised the ineffable loveliness of the English language with her Georgia-scented voice. I found that hive of words beautiful beyond all conveyance. They clung to me and blistered my skin and made me happy to be alive in the land of crape myrtle, spot-tailed bass and eastern diamond backs. The precise naming of things served as my entryway into art. The whole world could be sounded out. I could arrange the whole world into a tear sheet of music composed of words as pretty as flutes or the tail feathers of peacocks.
From my earliest days, I felt compelled to form a unique relationship with the English language. I used words to fashion a world that made sense to me. p. 85
I could build a castle from the words I steal from books I cherish. 87
I’ve known dozens of writers who fear the pitfalls and fastnesses of the language they write in and the glossy mess of the humanity they describe. Yes, humanity is a mess and it takes the immensity of a coiled and supple language to do it justice. 88
Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself. 88
At an early age, I had turned to reading as a way for the world to explain itself to me. p.111
Books are living things and their task lies in their vows of silence. You touch them as they quiver with a divine pleasure. You read them and they fall asleep to happy dreams for the next ten years. If you do them the favor of understanding them, of taking in their portions of grief and wisdom, then they settle down in contented wisdom in your heart. 111
I envied the way they (poets) could make language smoke and burn and give off a bright light of sanctuary. The great ones could fill what was empty in me. In the vast repository of language, the poets never shout at you when you pass them by. Theirs is a seductive, meditative art. They hand you a file to cut your way out from any seductive prison of misrule.
On my writing desk, I always keep the poets close by, and I reach for them when those silver, mountain-born creeks go dry or when exhaustion rearranges the furniture of my fear chambered heart. The poets force me back to the writing life, where the trek takes you into the interior, where the right word hides like an ivy-billed woodpecker in the branches of the highest pines. 141-142