May 29, 2012

May 27, 2012

May 25, 2012

Poetry Friday--"The Cove"


Here is a poem from a slim volume by Stuart Dischell, Evenings & Avenues (Penguin, 1996).
The Cove

The trees do not move all day.
They do not move forever.

And the bathers in their dark costumes
Will not take their feet out of the water.

How does the bird freeze in flight,
And the meat in the shadows not spoil?

No one is moving now.
Nothing moves ever.

Not thirst. Not heat. Not summer. Not fire.
Not the urge in the loins of the reclining figure,

Or the word on the lips of the speaker.
Unbroken wave. Unblinking eye.

Full moon of the postmark
Below the bent corner.

Summer is coming and people who travel on vacation still send postcards to those at home. I hope this traditional activity never changes.

In the last century, before the proliferation of snapshot cameras and today's digital cameras, postcards were often the only way people had to visually document their trips. An awesome collection of Tichnor Brothers postcards, c. 1930-1950s, is held by Boston Public Library and can be accessed at flickr.

A fun exercise would be to find an old postcard for a place you're familiar with. Compare the postcard picture to the picture you have in your head. Write a poem. Maybe that's what I'll do for next Friday.

For today, there's still more Poetry Friday participants to visit, so start by reading through the Round-Up at TeacherDance. Enjoy your trip around the blogosphere!

Top and bottom postcards courtesy Boston Public Library.

May 22, 2012

May 18, 2012

Poetry Friday--Poehistry (Of Sorts)


Title: Wm. Gross, 516 Tatnall St. Newsboy, 15 years of age. Selling papers 5 years. Average earnings 50 cents per week. Father, carpenter, $18 week. Selling newspapers own choice, to get money to go to moving picture shows. Visits saloons. Smokes sometimes. "Serves" papers to prostitutes. On May 25 William gave to investigator a list of houses of prostitution written in his own handwriting, to which he serves papers. He also tells a story of occasionally guiding strangers to these houses, for which he receives from 15 cents to a quarter. Investigator, Edward F. Brown. Wilmington, Del. Location: Wilmington, Delaware/ Photo by Louis [i.e. Lewis] W. Hine, May, 1910.

William the Liar

Oh, William, I was attracted
to your photo by your direct gaze,
by the sweetness of your expression.

And then I read the caption:
Visits saloons. Smokes sometimes.
"Serves" papers to prostitutes.


William you lie--either with
your face or your words.
I prefer the second option.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

This poem has the most amazing story attached to it. In my librarian capacity, I was looking for an old photo of teenagers for use by our teen librarian. I found a nice one from about 50 years ago with dancing teens and a record player. I also found a bunch of Lewis Hines photos of workers in their teens, which were taken about 100 years ago. After I left work, I did the search over again and took time to look at some of the Lewis Hine photos with the idea that I might use one as a poem starter.

I came across William Gross's photo, with its intriguing captioning. There was a whole story in just those few lines!

Have I ever mentioned how I think the internet is the best thing since sliced bread? Knowing about the wonders of Google maps and Google Earth, I decided to see if the address in the caption still existed. Sure enough, there was a photo of the present day address.



The little red marker showed it to be very near the location of St. Peter's Cathedral. Strange, I thought. I wondered if perhaps William gave a false address.

So, remembering the wonders of the internet, I decided to look for the 1910 census, since that was the year that Hine took the photo. Amazingly, I found the Gross family in less than a minute! And, since my library subscribes to Heritage Quest Online, I was able to log in and find the census listing for a "William Gross" at 216 W. Second St. I found that William was the son of Russian immigrants, Maurice and Sarah Gross. Maurice Gross was not a carpenter, but was listed in the census as the proprietor of a "2nd Hand Store"! The language of the parents was listed as Yiddish, so I couldn't understand why William would have given the address of a cathedral, unless he was having a little fun with Mr. Brown, the investigator! Might the carpenter occupation have come from the Jesus story? So many tantalizing questions!

I next looked at the St. Peter's website to check on the cathedral's history, just in case it had been built after 1910. Nope, a church building had been in that area since 1818 and had undergone major work to turn it into a cathedral. As a matter of fact, it had only been celebrated as being completed in 1905.

I think the best explanation is the simplest--the #516 could simply have been a mistake in the recording of notes--I know I'm sometimes confused by peoples' handwriting. And, if you look at the Google map, the location at 216 W. Second St. also shows a side on Tatnall St.



Back to the 1910 census. William had a Russian-born sister, Sadie, who was 20 years old. William was born in the U.S., in 1897, making him 13! So, like any kid, he probably lied about being older than he really was! Whether or not the other parts of the record are true, is anyone's guess!

So that's the story. Probably more than you ever wanted to know, but I found it to be a fascinating exercise, and, it resulted in a small poem with a big story behind it!

From here you can head over to the Poetry Friday Round-Up being held at Write. Sketch. Repeat.

May 15, 2012

May 13, 2012

Happy Haiga Day!



Happy Mother's Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

May 11, 2012

Poetry Friday--Ted Hughes

I have a copy of The Cat and the Cuckoo poems by Ted Hughes. The jacket copy says,
By turns whimsical, lyrical, and robust, always acutely observed, and often surprising, the poems in The Cat and the Cuckoo will delight children curious about animals and alert then to the excitement and pleasure to be had from capturing the world in words.
I understand the pleasure in words, Hughes has a knack for playing with his words, for example, this from "Otter,"
Then I jut up my mutt,
All spikey with wet.
My moustaches bristle
As I mutter, or whistle:
"Now what's the matter?"
However, I wonder about the appeal to kids of a poem such as "Crow," and what they would gain from its reading?


Thrice, thrice, thrice, the coal-bright Crow
Baarks-aarks-aarks, like a match being struck
To look for trouble.

               "Hear ye the Preacher:
               Nature to Nature
               Returns each creature."

      The Crow lifts a claw--
      A crucifix
      Of burnt matchsticks.

               "I am the Priest.
               For my daily bread
               I nurse the dead."

      The monkish Crow
      Ruffles his cloak
      Like a burnt bible.

               "At my humble feast
               I am happy to drink
               Whatever you think."

      Then the Crow
      Laughs through his hacker
      And grows blacker.

Not exactly flattering to the Crow! I happen to like crows, but not Ted Hughes' crows, which strike me as downright menacing!

I did a Google search on the poem and lo and behold, crows appear to have played an important part in Hughes' creative output. Click here to learn more.

Head over to Irene Latham's Live Your Poem... for this week's Round-Up of delightful poetry links.

May 8, 2012

Haiku Sticky #148


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Help! How does one get rid of poison ivy without the application of poisons? Any ideas?

May 6, 2012

May 4, 2012

Poetry Friday--New Hampshire Poets

I've posted about Robert Frost on this, and my other blogs, many times. It seems I've neglected the surprising number of other poets who have made New Hampshire their home and inspiration for at least part of their lives--Celia Thaxter, Richard Eberhart*, Philip Booth, Donald Hall*, and his late wife, Jane Kenyon*, Maxine Kumin*, Charles Simic. The ones with an asterick * have been named New Hampshire Poets Laureate.

Other poets laureate are Walter E. Butts, the current laureate, Patricia Fargnoli, Cynthia Huntington, Marie Harris, Eleanor Vinton, and Paul Scott Mowrer.

Here's poem by Paul Scott Mowrer that has New Hampshire written all over it.

Chipmunks

We think we own this place. They think
          they do.
Our yard, our walls are tunneled through
and through.
Though we are merely something to put up
                    with,
Our birds they daily deign to dine and
                    sup with.
Our blossom-beds they tear to disarray.
They fear no nuthatch, woodpecker or jay.
Assuming bird-feeders for them were meant,
They pack their cheeks with bounty,
                    well content,
Then creep through grass and pop down
out of sight,           But then pop up again, eyes blinking bright.
They climb our shrubs, invade our cellar
          shelves,
Explore each plant. They sit and scratch
          themselves.
Along our old stone walls they jump and run,
Or bask and rub their paws in noonday sun,
Our chase each other madly-chase is fun.
Even as I write, I hear the lone "tick-tock"
Of a lovelorn chipmunk, upright on some rock.
The chipping sound that I always thought was made by a bird, turns out to have been made by a chipmunk. I only realized this a year or so ago! Talk about clueless! If you are unfamiliar with the sound a chipmunk makes, click here (courtesy Partners in Rhyme).

Head over to Wild Rose Reader for this week's Round-Up and say hello to Elaine!

Photo by Gord Bell.