March 30, 2010

March 28, 2010

Gearing Up for National Poetry Month


Thursday, April 1, marks the beginning of National Poetry Month. Learn what's going on in your state, poetry-wise, by clicking on the National Poetry Map.

If you teach, visit Scholastic's April is National Poetry Month page by clicking here.

You can get a poem delivered into you inbox each day with this service from Poets.org. Other email and RSS feed poetry options are found at Poemhunter.com, the Borzoi Reader Poem-a-Day, the Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor, and Writers in the Schools. There are also lists that will send a particular poetic form such as a Shakespearean sonnet or a haiku. Do a search under [you fill in the form]-a-day and see what comes up.

Have a poetry-filled month!

March 26, 2010

Poetry Friday--A Blossoming Spring!

Despite the fact that it is New England, and there's a chance we can get snow right up until May, I'm taking the blossoming of flowers as a reason to believe that winter is over.

Other parts of the country are in full bloom, and, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. begins tomorrow. That is one festival I hope to attend before I die! In celebration of the cherry blossoms and upcoming National Poetry Month, I have created a haiga using another of the ukiyo-e images from the Library of Congress. This one is from the artist Toyonobu Ishikawa (1711-1785). The Library of Congress has it with a title of "Hanging poems on a cherry tree." A lovely idea--hanging poems on a flowering tree! I wrote a little haiku to go with the image:

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Do a simple online search and you'll find many poems about blossoms including this one about cherry blossoms by Robert Herrick (1591–1674):
TO CHERRY-BLOSSOMS

Ye may simper, blush and smile,
And perfume the air awhile;
But, sweet things, ye must be gone,
Fruit, ye know, is coming on;
Then, ah! then, where is your grace,
Whenas cherries come in place?

At the library I once made a large wooden column, which stands near our check-out desk, into a "Poet-tree." I put poems amongst cut-out paper leaves. I don't know if anyone even noticed it, but it was my way of sneaking a little poetry into my job.

Visit the Poetry Friday Round-Up being held this week at The Drift Record/Julie Larios.

March 23, 2010

March 19, 2010

Poetry Friday--"Thompson's Lunch Room--Grand Central Station"

A friend once asked me to help her decide which paint sample best matched the paint on the garage door. Sounded simple, but it wasn't. Browsing through the names of different greens was crazy. Colors are marketed and thus are given names with sex appeal. "Whispering pine?" "Amazon moss?" Sexy, but not too indicative of the actual color! Comparing swatches wasn't much better--one had a bit too much blue, one was too yellow, another too light--nothing matched exactly. We finally narrowed it down to one that seemed to be the closest, but, once on the door, we could see that it wasn't quite right. Ah, well...

This poem by Amy Lowell is about the various whites found in a train station restaurant. I love the magnolia white. I never would have thought of comparing the paint job in a "greasy spoon" to a flower, but I guess that's why this poet is successful--she helps the reader to see things in a slightly different way.

Thompson’s Lunch Room—Grand Central Station

STUDY IN WHITES
Wax-white—
Floor, ceiling, walls.
Ivory shadows
Over the pavement
Polished to cream surfaces
By constant sweeping.
The big room is coloured like the petals
Of a great magnolia,
And has a patina
Of flower bloom
Which makes it shine dimly
Under the electric lamps.
Chairs are ranged in rows
Like sepia seeds
Waiting fulfilment.
The chalk-white spot of a cook’s cap
Moves unglossily against the vaguely bright wall—
Dull chalk-white striking the retina like a blow
Thru the wavering uncertainty of steam.
Vitreous-white of glasses with green reflections,
Ice-green carboys, shifting—greener, bluer—with the jar of moving water.
Jagged green-white bowls of pressed glass
Rearing snow-peaks of chipped sugar
Above the lighthouse-shaped castors
Of grey pepper and grey-white salt.
Grey-white placards: "Oyster Stew, Cornbeef Hash, Frankfurters":
Marble slabs veined with words in meandering lines.
Dropping on the white counter like horn notes
Through a web of violins,
The flat yellow lights of oranges,
The cube-red splashes of apples,
In high plated épergnes.
The electric clock jerks every half-minute:
"Coming!—Past!"
"Three beef-steaks and a chicken-pie,"
Bawled through a slide while the clock jerks heavily.
A man carries a china mug of coffee to a distant chair.
Two rice puddings and a salmon salad
Are pushed over the counter;
The unfulfilled chairs open to receive them.
A spoon falls upon the floor with the impact of metal striking stone,
And the sound throws across the room
Sharp, invisible zigzags
Of silver.

There's something for everyone on Poetry Friday and you'll find it this week at Some Novel Ideas.

Photo by Kevin Eddy

March 18, 2010

The Oldies Are Crying Tonight!





Fess Parker, otherwise known as Davy Crockett, passed away today at the age of 85. Ah...the memories.

March 16, 2010

March 12, 2010

Poetry Friday--Almost Spring

I periodically spend several hours at a stretch looking through the Library of Congress's online collection of ukiyo-e woodcut prints. There are some delightful depictions of old Japan to be found amongst the thousands of pictures. The collection is a true treasure and one that can provide inspiration for a writer.

Here's the definition and etymology of ukiyo-e from Dictionary.com:
noun
a genre style of painting and printmaking developed in Japan from the 17th to the 19th centuries and marked by the depiction of the leisure activities of ordinary people.

Origin:
1895–1900; < Japn, equiv. to uki-yo transitory world (uki float + yo world) + (w)e picture (perh. < MChin; cf. Chin hu√†)
"Transitory world"--an interesting phrase. It's ironic that the art has preserved the transitory for generations, and possibly forever!

The spring-like weather we had earlier in the week has been replaced by cold and rain. In other words, a gloominess has settled back over New Hampshire. The wait for spring is sometimes difficult, yet being creative takes some of the edge off of it.

The print below is entitled Yanagi ni karasu--"crow on a willow branch." It's from an illustrated book produced between 1868 and 1900. With its blacks and grays, it captures the feeling of today's New Hampshire weather. The unopened willow buds suggest the setting is the early spring, yet, the crow looks quite content. I combined the picture with a haiku to create this haiga.


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Stop by Becky's Book Reviews for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

March 9, 2010

March 8, 2010

A Truly Interesting Article

Is "A Lament for the Bookshelf," by British writer, Russell Smith. Check it out for tidbits such as
People come to see my minuscule new living room and say, hmm, you could have another foot and a half without that wall of bookshelves. True, but then you would never be able to distract yourself, while waiting for me to dress, by pulling down, at random, Weapons of World War II and 100 Erotic Drawings.
Smith challenges us to think about a home without physical books, and how much we would be missing!

March 5, 2010

Poetry Friday--Poetry Through the Ages

Do you know about the Poetry Through the Ages website? I stumbled upon it and was pleasantly surprised by what's available-- explanations of poetic forms, a history of poetry, information on "how to read" a poem, and a list of recommended books. It is worth spending a little time here, especially with National Poetry Month on the horizon. An overview states,
Poetry Through the Ages is one of several exhibits in the WebExhibits online museum, all of which promote discovery through multidisciplinary approaches that support all learning styles. WebExhibits is a public service of the Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement (IDEA).
If you teach, this site has scads of information for you to use in your classroom.

The section of recommended books also lists websites, but several of the links don't work, and, the list is missing the Poetry Foundation site! The Poetry Foundation is the poetry website I consult most often--it's my favorite!

Poetry Through the Ages appears to be pushing something called "nodes," and a particular tool called Spicy Nodes. I don't understand the benefit of having information in bubbles, but it must have something to do with people who are visual learners. I find it cluttered and distracting.

All in all, though, I'm impressed by the information that is presented, and hope to spend more time delving into forms, something my poetry education, which stressed the study of themes, is lacking.

This week head over to TeachingBooks.net for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

March 2, 2010