September 18, 2014

Poetry Friday--"Almost"

This may be the last poem in my Sketchbook Project series. I hope I have captured the voices of those children who, in the first two decades of the 20th century, were forced by circumstance to work at an age when they should have been playing or attending school.

We take too much for granted nowadays, including child labor and workplace safety laws. Not to get political, but, there are some people who think the government should be limited in its oversight of business and labor. If a country without governmental regulation were to evolve, how long do you think it would take before children were back at work in the factories, fields, tenements, or on the street? (In case anyone has forgotten, in the debates leading up to the 2012 presidential election, there was one candidate who thought children should/could replace janitors in schools.)

Caption: A "Reader" in cigar factory, Tampa, Fla. He reads books and newspapers at top of his voice all day long. This is all the education many of these workers receive. He is paid by them and they select what he shall read. Location: Tampa, Florida. Date: January 1909. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine, courtesy Library of Congress.
Almost

We have a man
here who reads
to us all day long.

It's almost like being
in school, or maybe
like being in a show.

It's mostly the news:
murder, shipwrecks,
investigations, fraud,

disappearances, crop
failure, bankruptcy,
scandals, disaster,

train wrecks, jail
breaks, disease...
It's almost like being

out in the real world
except sometimes
here we get poetry.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I have been using my imagination to fill in the stories untold by Hine's photographs, there's a man in Massachusetts who has been piecing together the stories in another way. Click here for a short video.

The Poem Farm is where you should head for this week's Round-Up.

September 16, 2014

September 14, 2014

Happy Haiga Day!

See Tuesday's note for background on this insect.


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

September 11, 2014

Poetry Friday--"Cherish"

I'm back today with another Sketchbook Project poem. This makes thirteen. The sketchbook is 32 pages. I see page 1 as the title page, pages 2-3 as information about the National Child Labor Committee Collection at the Library of Congress, and Hine's work as photographer, then 14 photo/poem spreads, with a final page of information about the result of the NCLC's investigation.

I have one more poem to go. I think the hardest part of the project will be writing the factual material and assembling the book. I have to determine the order, and maintain a balance of girl-boy voices. A significant portion will be mill worker poems, and the rest will be a mix of other child laborers--newsies, pickers/packers, home workers, etc. If everything doesn't flow, then I may have to write a few more to substitute.

Caption: Two of the "helpers" in the Tifton Cotton Mill, Tifton, Ga. They work regularly. Date: January 1909. Photo taken by Lewis Wickes Hine, courtesy Library of Congress.
Cherish

Sister told me, "Cherish that friend."
When I asked her what that meant,
she said, "Keep smiling for Eddie."
We must laugh together. Sing while
we work. At break, whisper silly

words and secrets. And, I'm 'sposed
to listen when Eddie whispers in my ear.
Most of all, Sister told me to remember
the feelin' of her hand in mine--the
tangle of our sticky little-girl fingers.

"The Lord don't promise us nothing
here on earth but heartache and pain!"
she hollered at me. Hollered loud!
I was put in mind then--Sister
once had a friend, too, jus' like me.

Last year Sister stopped talking
bout her mill friend, Carrie, and I
figured she didn't like that girl
no more, but I think maybe she
'jus didn't hold on tight enough.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.
Interestingly, the little girl on the right was Eddie Lou Young, the name of the one on the left is unknown. You can read all about the search for Eddie Lou's mother's identity, here. I gave the voice of today's poem to the unknown child.

Renee at No Water River is awaiting your arrival for this week's Poetry Friday festivities.

September 9, 2014

Haiku Sticky #270

On Sunday, while watching an outdoor performance, we were plagued by a bunch of little bee-like flying insects. Come to find out (after a little online research) that these are hover flies (Sphaerophoria philanthus). At one point, I had them on four fingers of one hand. In the brilliant sunlight, their wings sparkled. I'm making this haiku into a haiga for next Sunday, so come back to see a real hover fly!


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

September 7, 2014

Happy Haiga Day!


Click on the image to enlarge. © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

September 4, 2014

Poetry Friday--"Little Shaver"

Caption: A Little "Shaver," Indianapolis Newsboy, 41 inches high. Said he was 6 years old. Aug., 1908. Wit., E. N. Clopper. Location: Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo taken August 1908 by Lewis Wickes Hine, courtesy Library of Congress.

Little Shaver

When I get bigger I'm
going to be a barber.
A barber makes people
look good, smell good,
and willing to part with
two pennies for a paper.
And another one for me.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Laura at Author Amok is doing Poetry Friday Round-Up duty this week--stop by!