February 26, 2010
In a post earlier this week, I included Charlotte Zolotow’s poem “River Winding,” the title poem from her 1970 children’s collection. I enjoyed reading her poems these past few days, so for Poetry Friday, I thought I’d post another from the collection:
NO ONE WOULD BELIEVE
No one would believe
unless they saw too
as the train passed him
(but it’s true)
facing the river
alone in the wind
an old old man
—From River Winding, by Charlotte Zolotow, originally published in 1970 by Abelard-Schuman; 2nd edition, the one I’m reading, published in 1978, by Crowell; illustrations by Kazue Mizumura)
My thoughts immediately went to those moments on trains when you catch glimpses from the window, snapshots, as the train zips past. Joy, sadness, loneliness—you fill in the picture based on a fleeting impression of what you see. Was what you witnessed actually there? What a great image offered by the poem, an old man playing the violin before the river. Personification (a wizened tree), or something odd and wonderful, a man at the river playing the violin? Playing to the river, a celebration of life? Or mourning its passing? What’s your impression?
This week’s poetry roundup is over at Check It Out. So do.
To find out more about Charlotte Zolotow and her work, please visit her site.
February 15, 2010
February 12, 2010
I was lucky this week. Got to be the parent volunteer helping host a terrific poet and poetry instructor, Andrew Green of Potato Hill Poetry, for workshops in the third grade at my daughter’s school. We gave Andrew an ambitious schedule, five back-to-back sessions to discuss interpreting poetry and lead a writing exercise. He rolled with it and did a fabulous job inspiring the kids to become “detective poets,” discovering what a poem is “up to” by reading it slowly, rereading it and listening to the sounds within, and exploring elements like imagery and rhyme scheme. Andrew shared some of his poems, as well as works by Eve Merriam, William Carlos Williams, Jack Prelutsky, Tomie dePaola, Lloyd Schwartz, Eloise Greenfield, and Naomi Shihab Nye. Great to hear these poems coming to life, aloud, in the classroom!
Not surprisingly, the poems the kids themselves wrote were amazing—uncensored and honest, full of great sensory details. From describing a morning moment, to thinking about where poems might hide, these third-graders did a fabulous job getting into the poetic frame of mind (maybe all kids live there, and it’s only adults that struggle to make that shift?).
For Poetry Friday, I’m sharing one of Andrew Green’s poems, entitled “Days,” which seems to capture the spirit of discovery he brought to the classroom workshops. I’m also posting one of the poems he shared with the third-graders, on the lasting nature of a poem, Eloise Greenfield’s “Things,” from her fabulous collection Honey, I Love, a great collection for Valentine’s weekend:
By Andrew Green
(There should actually be a longer break before that final line; curse you, blog formatting. So when you reread it, please add that pause.)
By Eloise Greenfield
Went to the corner
Walked in the store
Bought me some candy
Ain’t got it no more
Ain’t got it no more
A little background on Potato Hill Poetry: For more than 10 years, Andrew has conducted poetry and writing workshops for students, as well as workshops and inservice presentations for teachers across the country. Based in Natick, MA, Potato Hill also offers creative-writing camps for kids.
This week’s Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted this week by Lee Wind at I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? Go check it out!
Image above from fotolia.
February 9, 2010
Caught this in Poetry Daily‘s e-newsletter yesterday: The schedule for the Poetry Out Loud state finals has been set. To see the rundown by state, and for details regarding the national finals in Washington, D.C., go here. Last year, over 300,000 students competed in this recitation and performance competition, which “brings the oral art form to high schools in all 50 states” (as well as D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Read more about Poetry Out Loud here. And here’s a related video from last year that I found following links regarding the state competition here in Massachusetts:
All Poetry Out Loud events are free and open to the public.
February 2, 2010
Our gang is back on the One-Card Library Tour. Just by way of brief recap, the One-Card Tour is our exploration of all the libraries in Massachusetts’ Minuteman Library Network—which our town library is part of. The tour is a kind of celebration of the fact that a single card gives you access to materials at any of the network libraries (42 libraries with 61 locations). Sure, you can use your card to request books for delivery to your own local branch. But we thought it would be fun to actually go and see the libraries that are part of the network. After all, admission is free!
Our group includes two adults—myself, and friend and artist Virginia Fitzgerald—and our kids, who have given themselves the Tour names of 21, Seaweed7 (formerly Lola), and Bubbles. 21 is in middle school; Seaweed7 is in third grade; Bubbles is in fourth. We welcome other friends to join us on the tour!!
Our most recent pick: Weston Public Library.
Our crew will tell you that one of the best things about this library is the “treehouse,” two spacious carrels in the kids’ area that you need a ladder to get to. A great place for reading or tackling homework! (These carrels are for ages six and up; check at the librarians’ desk for a pass. Don’t worry, there’s lots for younger kids here, too.)
Even before you spy the treehouse, your eye might catch something—or rather, someone—else: Bella, the library’s mascot. When we visited, she was dressed in a lovely Valentine’s outfit, sitting with friends atop shelves of holiday-inspired book selections. Bella has also started a blog! Check out Bella on Books for book notes and recommendations by genre and subject. The blog spotlights both new releases and older, and perhaps forgotten, favorites.
Now, this being a library, there’s obviously a focus on books. Still, there’s a real effort here to help kids and teens find what they’re looking for—or discover something new—through all sorts of book displays.
Don’t be shy about talking to the staff, either. It was great meeting Youth Services Librarian Kelly Wood, who gave us a warm welcome to the kids’ and YA areas.
If someone is looking for a book or for help?
“We LIKE people to ask us questions! That’s what we’re here for,” says Kelly. “I was a big reader as a kid, and [am] as an adult. I remember most of what I’ve read, so if people are trying to remember something they read years ago, they should ask me, or other people on the staff. (We were all childhood readers, all with different genre specialities).”
Kelly’s favorite part of her job?
“Sharing good books (and even not-so-good books) with kids, hearing what they thought, and finding the next best thing for, or with, them.” Kelly says another great part of her job is buying books and “looking forward to all those new adventures and interesting facts.”
What else should people know about the library?
“We have great storytimes, an ongoing [drop-in] craft in the Craft Room during school vacations, and lots of booklists for people who like do-it-yourself searching. Our displays change on a rotating basis, so there’s always something new to look at. We also have programs for teens.”
There was lots of activity the day we visited, and everyone seemed to find the space for them—among the stacks, in the different sitting areas, or toddling around the puppet theatre. Our group had a fun visit and left with arms and backpacks full. Thanks, Kelly, and the staff of the Weston Library!
One additional item for trip planning: Because of shared parking between the library and the school next door, parking can be tight between 2 and 3 p.m. on school days. Please plan your trip accordingly.