March 27, 2009
I’m coming a bit on the late side to the peace project, though didn’t want to let the chance to participate pass by completely. On my scribble pad this week, I started playing with the phrase “No more war” and ended up with a poem using only letters found in that phrase. It’s two verses, two perspectives. Thought I’d share it today:
NO MORE WAR
(SCRAMBLING FOR PEACE)
by Martha Calderaro
No more war.
No more war.
If I had talent in the computer animation department, I might have tried this as a cascading letter kind of thing — letters arranging and rearranging themselves. Instead, I’ll punctuate with a simple:
This week’s poetry roundup is hosted by Julie Larios at The Drift Record.
And thank you to Laura Salas for spreading the word about the peace project.
Barbed wire and cemetery images by fotolia.
March 20, 2009
Robert Pinsky came to town Thursday evening, and I went with my friend and Poetry Friday regular Nandini to hear him speak about the Favorite Poem Project. How lucky are we, having a three-time U.S. Poet Laureate visit our local middle school? Natick, by the way, is about 15 west of Boston, not far from Mr. Pinsky’s own home, though still exciting local news having him here.
The event was part of the Natick Reads program, a month-long, town-wide celebration to encourage reading and promote literacy, organized by our two great local libraries. This year’s program is devoted to poetry–excellent choice! Now here’s where I might have inserted a photo from the Robert Pinsky event, had I remembered to take the memory card out of my computer and put it back in my camera. Nandini, do you have any photos over at your site? (Late update: Thanks for posting one!)
In any case, to say, “hear him speak” is actually misleading, because while Robert Pinsky did share his thoughts on poetry, and very eloquently so and with good humor, the event was not a lecture. The Favorite Poem Project is about the sharing of poetry and documenting the joy and meaning of poetry to Americans. (Some 18,000 Americans from all walks of life volunteered to share their favorite poems when the project was first announced in the late 1990s.) Thursday night’s presentation included inspiring video segments from the third anthology of the project, An Invitation to Poetry, followed by several local residents (“Natick-ites” or “Natick-ers” a funny sidebar debate), sharing poems that have special meaning to them. Among those recited was ”How to Eat a Poem” by Eve Merriam:
Don’t be polite.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
Read the rest of the poem here.
To view some of the clips from the Favorite Poem Project–both adults and kids reciting and talking about their favorite poems–go here. It’s great to learn that the project has also had the ripple effect of inspiring school classes, writing groups, and communities to create their own versions of Favorite Poem. Poetry is alive!
At the request of an audience member, Robert Pinsky also read two of his own poems from his book Gulf Music. That was a treat. See Nandini’s site to read one of them, “Antique.”
For all you near-Natick-ites who might be interested, next week’s local poetry events include a poetry slam at The Center for the Arts Natick (TCAN).
This week’s Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Elaine Magliaro at Wild Rose Reader.
And great catching up with you, Nandini!
March 19, 2009
Found out on St. Patrick’s Day that the International Space Station, with the space shuttle Discovery docked to it, was to appear in the night sky to those of us here in Massachusetts. A clear evening, perfect for viewing. Like a bright star, visible to the naked eye. Distinct shape when viewed through a telescope. Remember, head outside around 7:30 p.m.
Somehow, while listening to Irish music and eating so-so Irish soda bread, we at our house forgot to look.
Of course, on any given night, there are stars and planes and planets and satellites to look at, but to know that the shuttle and the space station were right there for the viewing . . . drats. Not only did we not witness a very cool space-related moment (actually, about six minutes of travel time in our skies), so went the chance to stand in the front yard, stare up, and imagine seeing the silhouette of an astronaut waving down from space, or maybe even hearing a faint hello.
In other, unrelated, nighttime notes for this week, Robert Pinsky will be visiting our town on Thursday night to discuss poetry and the Favorite Poem Project. His visit is part of the Morse Institute Library’s Natick Reads Poetry 2009 program. Five residents will appear onstage to read their favorite poems. Should be a great event. And this time, I won’t miss it.
March 13, 2009
This post is with thanks to the fabulous poet Julie Larios at The Drift Record, who passed along a fun challenge. The idea is to take a random letter and make a list of things you love that begin with that letter. Plucked from Boggle and assigned by Julie, I’m here with the Lovely Letter “L.” If you want to join in the game, post a comment and I’ll send you a letter. It’s fun!
Starting with the L “biggies” and moving on to others:
LIFE. In all its messiness and sweetness. Angst. Pain. Grace. Connection. Pulse and current. The big questions like, Why are we here? And the smaller moments, Look what I can do. Breath. Spark. Hope. Renewal. Also, a late-night cereal.
LUCK. I have a preference for good luck, though do believe that bad luck is sometimes good luck in disguise.
LOVE. In all its forms (and messiness and sweetness). I’m not so sure “All you need is love.” But it sure helps.
LAUGHTER. Genuine laughter. Contagious. Cathartic. Just not the mean-spirited kind.
LIGHT. Preferably natural light, sunlight; or candlelight. A cozy reading lamp also okay. Flourescent track lighting, not so much.
LULU. A vivacious nine-year-old who wonders why she wasn’t listed before this. (She’s there.)
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS. One in particular, who might also wonder why he wasn’t listed before this. (He’s there, too.)
LIBRARIES. Especially public libraries. What an unbelievably rich treasure, and a sharing system that essentially works: You return the book when you’re done with it; I’ll return the book when I’m done. Request a book, and it arrives. Request help; get help. Try a new author, a new genre, an old classic. Bring children to listen to stories, make puppets, watch movies. Borrow the bathroom key. Just no talking loudly, please, and no Oreo cookies over the computer keyboard. I think I can live with that.
LITERATURE. Yep, a good L word.
LITTLE BOOKROOM, THE. The book I’m currently reading. A celebrated collection of children’s stories by writer and poet Eleanor Farjeon, published in the 1950s. With thanks to Fiddler for recommending it as part of an earlier Poetry Friday conversation. I especially like the story “Young Kate.” (Newly added: And the stories “And I Dance Mine Own Child” and “The Lovebirds.”)
LEGOS. I don’t think anyone really grows out of Legos, do they? I mean, just try sitting with a bin of Legos and NOT start clicking bricks together, pawing through the bin, looking for windows or wheels or the little Lego guy with the overalls on.
For Biography Night at school last year, my daughter went as Ole Kirk Christiansen, the founder of Lego Company. We found out through her research that the word ”Lego” comes from the Danish phrase “leg godt,” or ”play well.” And we do.
LANGUAGES. I am sadly limited in how many I can speak (English with high-school French, plus a year of Latin). Still, there is nothing better than hearing a conversation in another language to make you feel connected to the larger world, even if you don’t understand a word being said. When I do travel, I’m the person who enjoys those multilingual announcements over the loud speaker, the ones telling you to mind the doors or move all vehicles out of the fire lane. I would like to learn another language, have several friends who are bilingual (Spanish, German, Afrikaans, Russian . . .), so what’s my problem? Learn one already, you lousy American. Or is that lazy American? (Both good L words.)
LOST & FOUND. Lost: One white sneaker with pink trim, a canvas lunchbox with “Pear with Me” stitched on the front, and a set of aqua thermalined ski gloves. All found thanks to the lost-and-found table in the front lobby of our elementary school. Many hats and sweatshirts still looking for their owners.
LUXURIATING. A warm bath, free of cat hair. Need not be at a spa or fine hotel, though if you’re offering, who am I to refuse (and would you mind throwing in a pedicure)?
LAKEFRONT PROPERTY. We don’t have it, but wouldn’t it be nice? We live vicariously through cousins we visit each summer on the New York shore of Lake Champlain. Lovely, lovely, lovely. And lucky them! (Good luck disguised as good luck.)
LEI. Contributed by Lulu. Super one to add to the list. Aloha!
LILACS. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of May.
LEFT OFF MY LIST. Likely many other L words. Apologies for any obvious LAPSES. I’ll work them into a postscript LIMERICK. Or into LYRICS of a song.
LAST ONE: LINKS to two very different, timeless songs: Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E,” as celebrated through a youtube video, and Ernie and Bert’s “La, La, La” (the L song) from Sesame Street (via youtube).
Thanks again, Julie LARIOS!
March 13, 2009
I do believe we now have inspired leadership in the White House, so with thanks for that. Still, as I’ve watched Jon Stewart take on CNBC’s coverage of financial-market news (hilarious though painful), see the arrogance of the fat-cat interviewees, and, more to the point, see signs of economic collapse in scary ways around us (job losses and homes in foreclosure), I found myself this week thinking of the lyrics of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson”: Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio/A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
And normally, any reference to baseball this time of year would lead to talk of the Red Sox, but when it comes to Joltin’ Joe (a Yankee), I think of the wonderful book by Maria Testa, Becoming Joe DiMaggio (Candlewick, 2002; ages 10-14). If you haven’t read it before, go grab a copy.
Through free-verse vignettes, the book tells the story of a boy, Joseph Paul, who was born the same year Joe DiMaggio comes to play for New York (1936), and is named after the baseball great by his loving grandfather, Papa-Angelo, an immigrant from Italy. The promise of America is demonstrated by DiMaggio’s rise, though Joseph Paul’s family circumstances are a far cry from that kind of success. Still, Joseph Paul learns to set his sights on his own dreams–the joy of listening to the games with Papa-Angelo, and his grandfather’s love, key to his story.
You can read more about the book, with a link to a discussion guide, at Maria Testa’s site. Laura Purdie Salas, a wonderful poet in her own right, also posted a discussion of the book here, including a suggestion for a class project.
One of my favorites from Becoming Joe DiMaggio is:
Papa-Angelo never said anything
about that father of mine.
No, he never said much
but would stuff my pockets
with ripe tomatoes and peppers
so his daughter
could stretch the sauce
enough to last
one more day,
which was something
he’d never imagined
he’d be doing
–From Becoming Joe DiMaggio by Maria Testa
This week’s roundup is hosted by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
March 11, 2009
See my earlier post on the booth. Still wanting to get to a discussion of the Dewey Decimal System and its connection to weathering the economic crisis. So much to write about! Oh, and I saw that there’s a portrait of William Shakespeare, painted during his lifetime, that’s recently been unveiled. Another blog topic for another day. Reminds me of the Martha Washington portrait news, only Shakespeare’s portrait wasn’t based on a computer model, though his skin looks like it could have been air-brushed. All that good English air. Anyway, more soon. And is “air-brushed” hyphenated? Must check. Just not at the moment . . .
March 6, 2009
With Daylight Savings Time this weekend (I guess, technically, beginning this weekend, or so says my calendar), I know spring is just around the corner (or, again, technically, by the calendar anyway). I think we might get a sense of it on a warmish breeze today, though yesterday felt definitely entrenched in winter. It’s a fickle time of year, and it’s leading me to thoughts of the Mother Goose rhyme, “The Robin”:
The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then,
He’ll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
From the shelf this morning, I pulled our copy of The Real Mother Goose (Scholastic; illustrations by Blanche Fisher Wright). Technically–there’s that word again–it’s my daughter’s copy, given to us by old friends right before my daughter was born nine years ago. She doesn’t mind me borrowing it–she’s feeling a little past Mother Goose. That’s okay. Mother Goose will be here when she finds herself interested again someday down the road.
In addition to many well-known nursery rhymes (such as “The Cat and the Fiddle,” “Humpty Dumpty,” and “Jack and Jill”), the book includes numerous others. Fun for an almost-spring day.
“The Little Bird”
Once I saw a little bird
Come hop, hop, hop;
So I cried, “Little bird,
Will you stop, stop, stop?”
And was going to the window
To say, “How do you do?”
But he shook his little tail,
And far away he flew.
“Hot Boiled Beans”
Ladies and gentlemen come to
Hot boiled beans and very good
Several riddle-type poems, too, such as:
A hill full, a hole full,
Yet you cannot catch a bowl full.
This week’s roundup is hosted by Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day.