Thursday, December 30, 2021

Poetry Friday is Here!

 I thought about Poetry Friday a couple of days ago. And then this happened about ten miles from where I live today. And about six hundred families have lost their homes. And in between tracking down people I love, and seeing if any of Rooney's buddies might need shelter. I just kind of forgot. Leave your posts in the comments and I will round up in the morning. 

Thank you for all of your kind words and prayers and your patience with what has to to be the world's worst Poetry Friday hosting ever. In spite of several suggestions that I could skip the roundup today, I'm at least going to try. Thank you for all of your kind words...

An update on the fire- We have had about six inches of snow since yesterday afternoon, our first snow in over two hundred days. It's also bitterly cold. Right now, I’m absolutely heartbroken thinking not only about the 600+ families that have lost homes, but somehow, the thing that is bothering the most is the animals. Some pets have been confirmed dead, however, some are believed to be alive, and wandering the neighborhoods around the fires. People aren’t being given much access yet to the fire area, but some have managed to build little shelters, in case their pets happen to come home. Thinking about all of those poor animals, looking for their people, out in the cold, makes me so, so sad. Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s poem about building forts for pets was written with an entirely different intent and context, but even so, it  made me cry. 

The Bell Sisters

In the spirit of collabellation (according to Heidi Mordhorst) and/or tintinnabulation (Carol Varsalona, The Poetry Sisters and, I think, a few friends, are writing about bells this month:

  • Michelle Kogan joins the Bell Sisters with a really clever rhyming list poem. 

  • Bridget McGee not only has a really clever rhyming poem, but she has lots and lots of plans for 2022. I think her journals will make great gifts and will definitely be ordering a few!

  • Janice Scully gives a history lesson, about the “salt bells” around Syracuse, New York. I love history wrapped in stories and think this would make a great picture book! Plus, she has an original poem, “Bells.” 

  • Sara Lewis Holmes started her combination poem/history lesson/life lesson with a sculpture, The Robert A. Taft Memorial and Carillon. So much history! So much truth!

  • Heidi Mordhorst wrote in a new-to-me genre, the “Blitz” poem. Plus, she has a not-to-be missed bonus offering, a “Blessing for the New Year” by Nadia Bolz-Weber. 

  • Carol Varsalona enriched my vocabulary with a new word  “tintinnabulation.” I love her story about Santa ringing the bells on her Christmas tree as much as I love her bell poem.

  • Laura Purdie Salas has an original poem, “Bell Song” published on top of a beautiful photograph. 

  • Mary Lee went a different route than most of the bell poems. Her haibun (combination of prose/haiku is about family Christmas traditions, including a very special homemade ornament. 

  • Over at Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia also wrote her bell poem based on a story from her life. She wrote in another new to me genre, the Bob and Wheel. I'm definitely gathering some ideas for forms I might want to try this year!

  • Tanita Davis brings the final (so far, anyway) bell poems. She includes a beautiful list poem, "Canticum Camapanarum" and then an original poem, where she connects bells and joy.

Endings and Beginnings

  • Tabatha Yeatts’ offering, “Dispensable Other,” is more than a little sobering. I’m feeling more than a little discouraged by all that is “unlovely” about our world right now…

  • Linda Mitchell is wrapping up her “Year of the Ox” poems, and will be moving on to a new word, “Star.” Can’t wait to see what this new series will hold. 

  • Fellow Coloradoan, Linda Baie, is just finishing a collection of nature poems, one for each day of the year, that she read in 2021. She sharied an intriguing new collection, TIGER, TIGER, BURNING BRIGHT. This volume, collected by Fiona Waters, features a year’s worth of animal poems. I think I might need these books!

  • At Reading to the Core, Catherine Flynn used a quote to write a golden shovel, perfect for the threshold of 2021/2022.

  • Donnetta Norris also has a beautiful end of year golden shovel prayer-poem, "Calm."

  • Irene is wrapping up her Artspeak year and promises to share her new theme next week. She has a lovely original poem, “Map to a New Year,” written in response to a Mary Cassatt drawing. 

  • Ruth and her family ended their year with a visit to a new-to-me place, Cheekwood, in Nashville, Tennessee. Photographs from her visit include a sculpture called “Tree Poem.”

  • Matt Esenwine is celebrating a very successful year and looking forward to the publication of his newest book, I AM TODAY, on January 25th. 

  • Tim Kulp reflects on the word, “Enough,” which so many of us have said often this year. And then he gives us the gift of a very clever story poem!

  • From her cozy cabin deep in the woods, Carol Labuzetta sends the gift of a holiday alphabetic, inspired by Maurice Sendak's class, ALLIGATORS ALL AROUND.

  • I’m closing with Robyn Hood Black’s Rainier Maria Rilke quote. Her Instagram video is really fun, for those of us who are typewriter nerds. 

 "And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious, and great things."

Friday, December 24, 2021



I haven't posted much recently. Ok, actually I haven't opened up my blog in six months. However, it looks like possibly I am going to have a little more time in my life, so maybe I will dabble in poetry again. Today, I'm stopping in to make you aware of a new poetry book published by students at North High School, which is the feeder school where many of my students attend.

I teach in North Denver. When I started working there, ten years ago, the neighborhood was like many others I had worked in before-- working class families crowded into tiny houses, some more than one hundred years. At least once a month, someone would get evicted and we would watch as the neighbors dug through possessions piled on the front lawn. For several years, we watched as one little house slid, inches at a time, off its foundation until finally it was condemned. The school where I taught was about 95% free and reduced lunch. 

That has all changed in the past decade. About twenty years ago, they built Coors Field, the stadium where the Colorado Rockies play, about a mile away across the highway from where I teach. The neighborhood around the stadium changed rapidly, from a land of factories and railroad tracks to upscale lofts and restaurants. LoDo/Rhino, as it was called, became a hipster neighborhood where everyone wanted to live. 

When the developers ran out of room, they went across the highway, into the neighborhood where my school is located, tore down all of the little houses, and built what I call saltine-cracker structures. I call them that because of their shape- tall and narrow, like a saltine-cracker box standing on one end. The roofs are flat, with patios or decks that are advertised as having a city view. Most of the structures are duplexes, which sell for upwards of $800,000 apiece. People can walk or bike across the 20th Street Overpass into downtown.

Sadly, the families who lived in that area, many of them for generations, can no longer afford housing in their own neighborhood. They've been pushed north ten miles to Federal Heights or east to Aurora. Enrollment at my school has dropped dramatically. I doubt that we will even be open in another five or so years-- the people who currently  live in the neighborhood don't, as a general rule, even have children. 

Recently, students at the local high school, created a poetry book around the gentrification of our neighborhood. Each student in a Latinx Leadership Class was asked to take a picture of the neighborhood and write a poem to go with it. Their work, our sacred community, is stunning.

You can read the whole book here.

It was also featured in The Denver Post last weekend. 

And in an article on the local news

Check it out. These kids have something to say. 

Buffy Silverman is hosting Poetry Friday today.