Featuring cherita!

December 29, 2009

Haiku Sticky #25

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

A little levity...I doubt the gift-giver realized that I could manage to kill a Christmas cactus before Christmas!

December 25, 2009

Poetry Friday--The Field Mice and I Wish You Joy

Illustration by Ernest H. Shepard

From Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows:
"I think it must be the field-mice," replied the Mole, with a touch of pride in his manner. "They go round carol-singing regularly at this time of the year. They're quite an institution in these parts. And they never pass me over--they come to Mole End last of all; and I used to give them hot drinks, and supper too sometimes, when I could afford it. It will be like old times to hear them again."

"Let's have a look at them!" cried the Rat, jumping up and running to the door.

As the door opened, one of the elder ones that carried the lantern was just saying, "Now then, one, two, three!" and forthwith their shrill little voices uprose on the air, singing one of the old-time carols that their forefathers composed in fields that were fallow and held by frost, or when snow-bound in chimney corners, and handed down to be sung in the miry street to lamp-lit windows at Yule-time.


Villagers all, this frosty tide,
Let your doors swing open wide,
Though wind may follow, and snow beside,
   Yet draw us in by your fire to bide;
      Joy shall be yours in the morning!

Here we stand in the cold and the sleet,
Blowing fingers and stamping feet,
Come from far away you to greet--
   You by the fire and we in the street--
      Bidding you joy in the morning!

Through Project Gutenberg, you can read the whole book online! The rest of the "Carol" is found in chapter 5, "Dolce Domum."

Joy to all, including the littlest of creatures.
holiday cheer--
the cat's mouth opens
a field mouse runs free

©Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being generously hosted this holiday by Kate, a.k.a. Book Aunt.

December 22, 2009

December 18, 2009

Poetry Friday--Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti was once more famous than she is today, but some of her works have become part of our culture such as her poem, "A Christmas Carol," which is often sung by choirs:

or this verse that is used in greeting cards:
      Dimmest and brightest month am I;
My short days end, my lengthening days begin;
What matters more or less sun in the sky,
          When all is sun within?
This is taken from a long work, "The Months: A Pageant," which is written to be performed by girls and boys who personify the months and "Robin Redbreasts; Lambs and Sheep; Nightingale and Nestlings. Various Flowers, Fruits, etc."

These two Rossetti poems are a great opening to the upcoming holiday week. Enjoy, and may you shine brightly!

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up may be found at Susan Writes. Take some time out from your busy schedule to indulge in poetry.

December 15, 2009

Haiku Sticky #23

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

This haiku is also posted on 4 Seasons Haiku--Winter.

December 13, 2009

Don't Miss This!

I've been working on profiles of women for a series of books called "America's Notable Women," published by Apprentice Shop Books. In writing these profiles, I've researched many women, most of whom I had never heard of before starting the projects. Have you heard of Abby Smith or Elizabeth Gurley Flynn? They are just two of the women I have written about or am currently writing about. Both are perfect examples of women who were not afraid to stand up and speak out when injustice stood in their way.

Tonight, the History channel will show The People Speak.
Democracy is not a spectator sport. Using dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries and speeches of everyday Americans, The People Speak gives voice to those who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history, forging a nation from the bottom up with their insistence on equality and justice. Narrated by Howard Zinn and based on his best-selling books, A People's History of the United States and Voices of a People's History of the United States, The People Speak illustrates the relevance of these passionate historical moments to our society today and reminds us never to take liberty for granted.
Many of the readings are from unknowns like Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. (I wrote about Flynn on The Write Sisters blog last year, you can read a little about her here.) These were courageous people. People who would probably have preferred to stay at home rather than to speak out, but, they did what they needed to do. It's great that they are being recognized in this television event. I know I'll be watching, I hope you will, too.

Howard Zinn was interviewed on Friday's Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. You can read the transcript, or watch it, here. If Zinn interests you, look for the documentary film, Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train. (I saw the film at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, near Boston, when it first came out. It's not one of those films that would have been shown here in NH. Fortunately, times change, and NH now has the Red River Theatres, but, I digress...)

Viggo Mortensen, one of the actors appearing in The People Speak, had this to say:
Howard Zinn's work also reminds us that we always need to ask: what stories am I not hearing? Whose voices am I not hearing? And that if no one is telling our stories, we need to find ways--creative, dynamic--ways of telling them ourselves.
Read the rest of Mortensen's comments here.

I hope that the Apprentice Shop Books writers will introduce you to some of the women whose stories you haven't heard before.

Early afternoon update: One of the women I profiled for the upcoming Women of the Empire State was Frances Perkins. Perkins was definitely not an unknown, at least not back in the first part of the 20th century, but who today, can tell you anything about Perkins? She was another woman, like Flynn, who fought for justice in the arena of work and workers. Today's Washington Post has a great article about the labor movement, especially as it affects women. You can read it here.

December 12, 2009

Poetry Friday on a Saturday Round-Up

My buddy, Andy, missed P.F. yesterday. Some excuse about visiting an aging old aunt who is handicapped and wouldn't have any other family visit her if Andy hadn't gone. Pffft, you call that an excuse Andy?

So, here's a special exclusive Round-Up for Andy:
Andy, at The Write Sisters, shares a poem called "Mea Culpa."

We love her despite her obvious forgetfulness.

We have another entry for P.F. on a Saturday--Color Online would like to share "Come With Me" by Naomi Shihab Nye.

December 11, 2009

Poetry Friday Round-Up is Here!

Photo by Transguyjay

Welcome to Random Noodling's Poetry Friday Round-Up! Let me begin by sharing the last stanza of Paul Laurence Dunbar's "Invitation to Love":
Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.
Read the entire poem here.

Add your Poetry Friday links to the comments below. Thanks for sharing!

My alter ego, Kurious Kitty, is in with a "Eden, Then and Now" by Ruth Stone. Also, check out my other blog, Kurious Kitty's Kwotes for a P.F. quote from Ruth Stone.

Julie, at The Drift Record, after directing us to an article about Galileo's rediscovered remains, brings us back with an original poem, "MUSEO GALILEO, FIRENZE."

At A Year of Reading, Mary Lee, shares Jane Kenyon's "Happiness." (She also shares an enormous yellow smiley face, which made me grin.)

Andromeda at A Wrung Sponge, and Laura at Writing the World for Kids, both have original villanelles (the form is way out of my own writing comfort zone!), on two very different subjects, Christmas and war! Laura also directs us to yesterday's "15 words or less" poems inspired by an awesome photo of a nimble hippo!

Janet, at Across the Page, shares a seasonal poem by T.S. Eliot, "Journey of the Magi." A genuinely thought-provoking piece.

At alphabet soup Jama talks about Peter Yarrow's Day is Done, a lovely picture book illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Jama also includes a video of Peter, Paul, and Mary's performance of "Day is Done," and, photos of deer in her yard! Bunches of stuff at alphabet soup!

Yesterday was Emily Dickinson's birthday and Tricia, at The Miss Rumphius Effect, celebrates it today with Dickinson's "It's All I Have to Bring Today." She also shares the results of her "timely" Monday Poetry Stretch.

Linda has had a busy week! At Write Time she brings us two original poems! "To My Unborn Grandchild," in response to the "Monday Poetry Stretch," made me a little verklempt!

At Read Write Believe, Sara shares "White-Eyes" by Mary Oliver. Make sure you read the whole poem--the last stanza is awesome.

Another poet responding to Tricia's "Monday Poetry Stretch" is Elaine at Wild Rose Reader. Elaine has two poems, one of which, "Clock," has this fun, tongue-twisting line: "Clicking, ticking, tocking together."

Sally reviews a book by Langston Hughes Carol of the Brown King at PaperTigers. The book is illustrated by Ashley Bryan--I've had the opportunity to hear him speak--he's a one-man poetry show, and thus the perfect one to illustrate Hughes.

Shelf Elf reviews Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. It's a book of poems about the seasons and on the basis of the Shelf Elf review, I've placed it on my "to read" list.

At Reflective Ink, G.R. reflects upon Chiyo-ni, an 18th century haiku poet. G.R. includes two translations of the same poem--I never realized how translations can be so very different!

This is the first time I'm hosting the P.F. Round-Up, if I do it again, I'll have to get up extra early and have breakfast first. Here it is 9:30 and I still haven't had a chance to eat!

Sylvia lists 18 books from 2009--"the best, most unique, most appealing books of poetry." You'll find them at Poetry for Children.

At Words World and Wings, Catherine reviews the picture book, Starlight Sailor by James Mayhew, illustrated by Jackie Morris. A comment from Jackie Morris I found to be intriguing in that she questions the way the editor changed the original text. I've always wondered how an editor goes about working on poetry when a poem is such a complex undertaking. A poet's choice of form, language, theme, etc. is so very personal--is it fair to change it?

Gregory K. at GottaBook shares his original, "Why I Love the Holidays in My Family." It reminded me to wish a Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate it! Hanukkah begins tonight!

Also in with an original is Tiel Aisha Ansari at Knocking From Inside with "Roses in December." A lovely villanelle about a surprising phenomenon, "a touch of August captured in perfume."

Tabatha shares two poems, "Baby Cheeks" by Brian Foley, and the Christmas classic, "little tree" by e.e. cummings. She also directs us to an article in Poets & Writers on public poetry. In her comment Tabatha said,
I never know who is hosting Poetry Friday until after I have already posted my stuff. Is there a way to know who is coming up?
The schedule can be found at A Year of Reading (here's an explanation), and I have the list here at Random Noodling, too!

A big WELCOME! to first-time P.F. participant, Sheri Doyle. Sheri shares Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost with illustrations by Susan Jeffers. The Robert Frost farm in Derry, NH is just up the road a few miles from me. Behind the barn is a field and woods and I can imagine Frost out there in the snow! (It has snowed twice in just the past week!)

Just in time for tonight The Stenhouse Blog has "Light the Festive Candles" by Aileen Fisher.

Charles Ghigna introduces us to his new blog, Bald Ego (fabulous name). Its subtitle is "Quips & Quotes for Authors & Artists." Check out the premier offering of poems. My favorite is, "Poetry Is Not," for this provocative line, "Caught by tears on fire." Wow!

Miss Erin offers her original poem "the world revolves." I warn you--be prepared to look at the water.

Jone at Check It Out shares not only one of her favorite seasonal poems, "little tree," but she also shares her childhood Christmas morning memories of a tree left by Santa. She solicits your tree memories, and recommends that you check out the items being auctioned to benefit a writer and librarian whose health insurance does not cover her cancer treatment. [Personal note: not to get political, but, isn't it a sin that in the United States we can't guarantee everyone adequate healthcare? If you've ever had an opinion on healthcare reform--for or against--now's the time to voice it. Contact your members of Congress. Okay, stepping off my soapbox...]

Ruth is feeling a bit nostalgic today and looks at a poem by Billy Collins, "Lines Composed Over Three Thousand Miles from Tintern Abbey." Good choice, Ruth.

Susan T. at the PBS Parents blog talks about the late Arnold Lobel and the recently released book of his poems, The Frogs and Toads All Sang, illustrated with sketches by Lobel that have been enhanced through the addition of color by Lobel's daughter, Adrianne.

Listen as well as read at Sherry's Semicolon where we experience Christmas in Coventry circa 1200 and 1500.

Karen Edmisten apologizes for coming late, but, her comment arrived in my box at 2:19, so by my reckoning, it isn't even noon on the west coast! Plenty of time to join the party! Karen shares Thomas Merton's "Advent."

Carmela Martino wrote to tell us that the Teaching Authors blog, features April Halprin Wayland who tells us about Smith Magazine's 6-word memoirs. April invites everyone to write a 6-word resolution for the rapidly approaching new year.

At Book Crumbs, Priya shares what she calls, "an original, rule-breaking sonnet from school." To which I'll quote General Douglas MacArthur:
Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.
Good for you Priya for breaking a few rules!

December 10, 2009

Gearing Up for Poetry Friday

The Round-Up will be held here tomorrow. If you want to check in ahead of time, feel free to leave your links today.

The fox that waits until the chicken falls from the perch dies from hunger.
                              Greek proverb

Since I can't wait for that chicken to fall, I'll start P.F. off a little early with a memory from my early days.
Childhood Religion

I was Catholic back then, attending
mass every Sunday and holy day. Little
attracted by the divine, I was more
distracted by the piquant scent exhaled
by a swinging censer, the gilded dome
behind the altar, and the glassy eyes
of a mink biting the tail of a mink biting
the tail of a mink all around the mothball
permeated coat collar of an old lady
I hoped never to become.
© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Actually, when I was a child I thought the little furry creatures were tiny foxes! It took me a while to find a photo for those of you who are too young to know what I was referring to, but I found this one. You can actually see one of the little heads on the collar of the woman in the middle.

December 8, 2009

December 6, 2009

Another Time-Sucking Suggestion

If you're a fan of Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe prints, then perhaps you'd like to create a pop art picture in the style of Warhol. Big Huge Labs has a program that easily converts a photo into pop art. Here's my pop art cat, Skippy:

A few words of advice: before you start, crop your photo so that most of the background is removed, and, use a photo with good contrast. Avoid photos where there is a lot of reflected light or big areas of white.

You have the option of creating a image like the one above, or one with 4 or 9 panels. This is a nine-panel one of Skip:

You can create a pop art image in about 30 seconds, but the time sucking comes in when you start to obsessively click on the "shuffle" button to change the colors. The other evening I spent a good 3 hours trying different photos and colors.

You can save the image you like best to your computer, but, you may want to turn it into a work of art for your wall. Big Huge Labs will do that for you at a reasonable (in my opinion) price. It makes a great holiday gift for your mom (only if she has a sense of humor).

Last year at about this time, I went to NH's gem of a museum, the Currier Museum of Art, for an Andy Warhol: Pop Politics exhibit. One of the links from the online portion of the exhibit leads to an interactive demonstration of Warhol's screenprinting process. Check it out!

If the creation of pop art doesn't suck up all your time, then try this time-waster from a few months back. There should always be room for fun in your life!

December 4, 2009

Poetry Friday--Challenges

Being a lazy writer, I need challenges to get me going, so, almost every Thursday I submit a poem in Laura Purdie Salas's "15 Words or Less" challenge. Often, I partake in the Miss Rumphius Effect "Monday Poetry Stretch." David Harrison recently started a "Word of the Month Poem" challenge and contest. I participated the first 2 months and plan on writing something soon using this month's word, "bone."

I found another challenge the other day. It's from the British newspaper, The Guardian, Book Blog. The challenge is called "Poster Poems," and as best as I can tell, the name comes from the idea that people will post poems in the comments section, thus, they are poster poems. I looked in the archives and found that Poster Poems started back in March of 2008 and for the first year it was a weekly challenge, now it appears once-a-month.

This month's Poster Poem challenge is to produce an englyn. An englyn is an old Welsh poetic form, you can read about it here.

The englyn challenge is a tough one. Even the simplest form--three lines, each with 7 syllables and ending with the same rhyme--had me discombobulated. My pathetic first attempt:

Poetic ruination--
complete mortification--
leads to inebriation.
I tried again, but this time I strung a bunch of englynion together. And although there are no rules about it, I tried my best to make it scan within the parameters:


Summer's coming and the crows
comment while the farmer sows--
sows and hoes and weeds and hoes...

Summer passes, crows still wait,
patiently anticipate
ways to tease and aggravate.

Now it's time! The ripened corn
suddenly becomes airborne!
Crows ignoring scarecrow's scorn.

Farmer acts the lunatic
trying ev'ry dirty trick.
Vengeful thoughts are really sick!

Fields and corn he can't defend.
Farmer's now around the bend.
Crows, of course, win in the end.
Give it a try and leave an englyn in the comments below. If you're feeling really brave, post it as a Poster Poem on The Guardian's Book Blog.

Visit Elaine at the Wild Rose Reader for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

©Poems by Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

December 1, 2009

November 27, 2009

Poetry Friday--"Perhaps the World Ends Here"

Yesterday, many of us spent time at the kitchen table paring, cutting, slicing, buttering, carving, doing all those things that need be done to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. Some of us ate in the dining room, but others sat down to dinner at the good old kitchen table. Joy Harjo celebrates the kitchen table in "Perhaps the World Ends Here":

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.
To read the rest, click here.

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at Becky's Book Reviews.

November 24, 2009

November 22, 2009

Project Runway

The final episode of the latest season of Project Runway took place Thursday night. My favorite didn't win. Truthfully, I haven't heard of anyone who preferred the winner, Irina. I wear a lot of black, but I also like color. Irina's show was all black with the exception of two tan jackets. Boring. (To see the three finalists' runway show, click here.) And don't get me started on the bitchy factor!

I receive the online newsletter from the Poetry Foundation and the latest issue contained an article called Poetry and Project Runway by Stephen Burt! It was interesting and compared the way the work of poets and fashion designers is critiqued.
...Techniques command attention from technicians, practitioners of the relevant art, and those who know it intimately. Life stories, on the other hand, are easy to follow; so are "personalities." And flagrant failures—easy to judge, and easy to describe—tend to stick in the mind.

Those truths affect, not only the judging of hurriedly-assembled cocktail dresses on television, but the reading and reviewing of new poems.
Quite an interesting article, I recommend you take look at it and Project Runway when the new season starts in January. I'll be right there watching. Why? Because fashion is another art, and art always has a story behind it!

November 20, 2009

Poetry Friday--Pumpkin Pie, Yum!

Photo by Deiru

In preparation for next Thursday, here's a stanza from "The Pumpkin" by John Greenleaf Whittier:
Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored;
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before;
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye,
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

John Greenleaf Whittier's home in Massachusetts is a few miles from mine in New Hampshire, and yet, I've never been for visit! One of these days...

Visit the Poetry Friday Round-Up at The Drift Record.

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving holiday with plenty of pie for dessert!

November 17, 2009

November 15, 2009

The Story of Saint Ursula

After Friday's post I decided to do a little research on Saint Ursula. There's a Wikipedia entry and many other sites. One thing is pretty certain, most of the Ursula story is legend. Here's one short biography from Catholic Saints:
The story and history of Saint Ursula. The legend of St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins has been greatly modified in modern times. It is suggested that instead of ten companions, each with a retinue of a thousand virgins, she had but one companion, named Undecimilla, and that this name was originally mistaken for undecim millia, or 11,000. Whatever may have been the real facts, it is certain that the church dedicated to St. Ursula at Cologne contains more tombs of virgins than can properly be accommodated. The revenues of this church, which are considerable, belong to an abbess and six canonesses, who, to do honour to the saint must all be countesses. The Legend of Saint Ursula is considered to be fiction and in 1969 Pope Paul VI removed her name from the 1969 revision of the the universal calendar of the Catholic canon of saints.
Here's my take on it:

The STORY of Saint Ursula

Ursula, martyred by the Huns, was
massacred along with eleven thousand
virgins. Eleven thousand! Imagine
these thousands of handmaidens screaming,
pleading, praying, hoping to catch the ear of God.

Imagine the Huns. Burly men, hour after hour
lifting axes, slamming them down, cleaving
bone and sinew. Blood spurting, splashing.
Up to their knees in it, yet, powered by evil,
they remained able to complete the vile deed.

It does not have the ring of truth like the
report of an eleven-year-old girl, murdered.
But, where is the STORY in truth? Hmm...eleven?
What if we say Ursula and eleven others?
Better yet, eleven thousand! Make them virgins!

One innocent child murdered? Sad, but
it happens every day. Virgins decapitated by
ruthless barbarians? Sex and gore magnified!
Throw in God and you've got the medieval
equivalent of the Hollywood blockbuster.

Ursula, baby, it's all about STORY.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Vittore Carpaccio created an entire sequence of the "Life of Saint Ursula" paintings. You can find them here.

November 13, 2009

Poetry Friday--One Thing Leads to Another

I was skimming through some of Amy Lowell's poems and came across this one:

On Carpaccio's Picture

Swept, clean, and still, across the polished floor
From some unshuttered casement, hid from sight,
The level sunshine slants, its greater light
Quenching the little lamp which pallid, poor,
Flickering, unreplenished, at the door
Has striven against darkness the long night.
Dawn fills the room, and penetrating, bright,
The silent sunbeams through the window pour.
And she lies sleeping, ignorant of Fate,
Enmeshed in listless dreams, her soul not yet
Ripened to bear the purport of this day.
The morning breeze scarce stirs the coverlet,
A shadow falls across the sunlight; wait!
A lark is singing as he flies away.

This led me to wonder about the "picture" that Lowell describes. I wasn't familiar with the name Carpaccio, so I looked him up and found that Vittore Carpaccio lived from 1460 to 1525/26.

I found "The Dream of St. Ursula," which I assumed was the picture Lowell wrote about--there is the polished floor, a tiny lamp near the door, the sunbeams, the sleeping woman, and the shadow that "falls across the sunlight," but I did not see the lark. So, I went looking for another picture and found Vittore Carpaccio: The Complete Works. There are 147 images on the site and I looked at every one! I found nothing else that had a sleeping woman. I think what I have to do next is look into the story of St. Ursula. Maybe the lark is part of her story--one of those cultural references that I obviously missed, or, maybe the lark is Amy Lowell's spin on the picture. It's nice how art leads to art leads to art!

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted this week by Gregory K. Thanks Greg!

November 12, 2009

Shouting from the Rooftop!

The other day I posted my piece of shameless self-promotion with an IndieBound link and was told today that Run, Turkey, Run! is #10 on the November 12 IndieBound Children's Illustrated Bestsellers! Wow, I should be shameless more often!

Doin' the happy dance!

November 10, 2009

November 8, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion

In a few weeks it will be Thanksgiving. If you have a little one in your life you might want to consider getting him or her a book for the holiday. How about Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr (ME!) with illustrations by Laura Rader (Walker & Co., 2007). The book came out in paperback just last week (9780802784810).

For the longest time Run, Turkey, Run! was my favorite of everything I had written. I used to say that if it were ever published I could die happy. Let me tell you, the road to publication was not an easy one--it was rejected 25 times before finally being picked up! I believed in it and kept sending it out. My faith was rewarded.

If I go anytime soon, though, I'll only be half-happy. Now, I tell myself, "If you could get Kids of the Homefront Army: Poems of World War II published, you could die happy." Hey, if that's ever going to happen, I'd better get off my butt and send it out again! (I came very close, but I had to place my gut instinct above editorial suggestions.)

November 6, 2009

Poetry Friday--Haiku, A "New View"

John S. O'Connor's recent post, "A New View on Haiku," on the Poetry Foundation's blog, explains that haiku isn't simply a 5-7-5 form. Yeah! I hope the view is finally ready to be accepted!

I'd like to introduce you to four haiku/senryu sites where you'll be able to expand on the view for yourself:

The Four Seasons of Haiku. Click on "Autumn" for the current season.

Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry.

Prune Juice: Journal of Senryu and Kyoka.

The Haiku Foundation: Montage. A Haiku gallery.

The Round-Up this week is being hosted by Wild Rose Reader.

November 3, 2009

Poetry Stretch

Check out the Miss Rumphius Effect "Monday poetry stretch" for this week. I had quite a bit of fun with it, but, since it had funky formatting, I had to scan it and post here as an image.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Haiku Sticky #17

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

November 1, 2009

Is This the End?

I'm sure you've all heard of the "price war" on books taking place online. If you're a consumer, it's a great opportunity to buy a book cheap. For the price warriors it means publicity, and sales at a loss, but with perhaps future sales to make up for any losses.

What does it mean for a writer? It means a devaluation of the art of literature. The loss of publishing options. And, it may be a death knoll for up and coming writers.

If you haven't seen it, I direct you to a piece by William Petrocelli, in the Huffington Post.

For readers it may be the end of choice. Think about it--do you want Target and Walmart deciding what reading choices you'll have in the future?

So sad...

October 30, 2009

Poetry Friday--"To Make a Prairie..."

Photo by Guerito

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,--
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

~ Emily Dickinson ~

Don't you love the utter simplicity of this poem? Dickinson wrote dozens of poems about bees, but the above one is my favorite.

Here's a fun exercise. Write your own "to make a _____ it takes a _____" poem.

I tried to do justice to Dickinson's form. I hope it works!

With Apologies to Emily

To make a cat it takes a purr and a bit of fur...
A purr and fur.
Neurosis? Sure!
Within the angel's paw
Must hide a devil's claw.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

If you write one of your own, please share it with us in the comments!

Biblio File is the host for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

October 29, 2009


The Miss Rumphius Effect blog has a poetry "stretch" on Mondays. I always read the stretch and on occasion I participate. This week's challenge is to create a Zeno. What's a Zeno? It's a new form created by J. Patrick Lewis.
A 10-line verse form with a repeating syllable count of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1. The rhyme scheme is abcdefdghd.
There were a number of examples to look at and I said to myself, how hard can this be?

Oh my. I spent at least three hours writing and rewriting and rewriting and starting over and writing. I'd get the syllables right, but find I had the rhymes in the wrong place. I'd get the rhymes right but find that the whole thing made absolutely no sense. By the time it hit midnight, I deleted it all and went to bed feeling totally inadequate, absolutely convinced that I am not a poet and never will be!

I'd encourage you to head over to Miss Rumphius Effect and give a Zeno a try. Good luck!

October 27, 2009

October 24, 2009

R.I.P. Soupy Sales

In my youth, I used to watch Soupy Sales. He was a favorite even though his jokes weren't always for kids. Soupy Sales died on Thursday at the age of 83.

Rather than talk about him, I thought I'd let you watch.

Simple and silly--YES!--but I laughed until tears ran when I watched it yesterday.

He was so much a part of the culture of the mid-60s. It wasn't a simple and silly time, but we needed his type of humor, and I thank him for the memories and the music..."Pachalafaka. Pachalafaka. They sing it all over Turkey."

October 23, 2009

Poetry Friday--What Happens Next

I was browsing through a book by Alison Hawthorne Deming called Genius Loci (Penguin Books, 2005) and came across a short poem that I found intriguing.

Burned and wounded
he turns from her.
He is a god
and does not know
pain though now he
feels it where the
hot oil of her
lamp has spilled at
the juncture where
his wings begin
to bud and fledge.
It's the title that hooked me. There is no question mark. Is the wounding what happened next? If so, the reader is free to imagine what came before to bring it about--was it accidental or intentional? Or, should the reader speculate what will happen next? Will He remain earthbound since his wings are damaged, or will they heal allowing him to fly away from Her? So many possibilities! I like being able to construct a whole story from what we are given in these 41 words.

Another poem, "New Shoes, 1939," also invites the reader to speculate. It is evident from the opening lines that there is ambiguity ahead.
Is that a receipt
or a love note folded
on the open box?
Look for Genius Loci--there is more waiting to be discovered!

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place at Big A little a.

October 21, 2009

Here's a Fun Idea!

At the Bath Central Library in the U.K., a month-long poetry event is taking place. Poet-in-residence, Alan Summers, has begun a challenge to produce a renga of 1,000 verses. You can read about it in this recent article.

Alan Summers looks over some of the verses contributed to the 1,000 Verses Renga project.

Summers is "Haikutec" on Twitter, and according to an 10/19 update, the project is "Already heading towards 600 verses..."

A renga is a poem written through a collaborative effort, in this case, the collaboration comes from poets around the world not just from those in Bath. You too, can take part. All you need do is submit a short 2 or 3 line verse. Follow the directions at Area 17.

If you're interested in learning more about the Japanese form of renga, a good place to start would be Jane Reichhold's AhaPoetry page on renga.

Photo courtesy Alan Summers.

October 20, 2009

October 16, 2009

Poetry Friday--The Anthologist

The Anthologist (Simon & Schuster, 2009) is a NOVEL by Nicolson Baker. So where's the Poetry Friday tie-in? The book's main character, Paul Chowder, is a minor poet (in his own words, "I'm a study in failure.") whose life in entangled in Poetry.

I have to say, The Anthologist is one of the strangest books I have ever read--and I like it. Sadly, I don't believe it has broad appeal. I don't think I'll be able to recommend a book about a poet, even if I do it with enthusiasm. People are going to look at me like I have three heads. The audience for it just isn't there, at least not in my library. But, the fact that you're reading this Poetry Friday post, obviously means you have an interest in poetry and poets!

Baker's character has a project his editor is expecting him to complete. It remains undone. Paul must write an introduction to his anthology of poetry. The poems have been chosen, yet he avoids writing the introduction. Instead he spends his time hiding away in his barn and telling the reader bits and pieces about poetry and poets--exactly the thing you'd expect to find in an introduction. He just doesn't write it.

Paul puts off the writing for so long, that frustrated by his inactivity, his girlfriend, Roz, walks out on him. Paul misses her terribly and in between telling the reader about rhyme and meter and imagined meetings with poets, he tries to get Roz to return (often by having stupid accidents that require her assistance).

Will Paul get the damned thing written? Will he get Roz back? You don't expect me to tell, do you?

The amazing thing about The Anthologist is that Paul's explanation of the mechanics of poetry is often quite enlightening and rather amusing. Here's an example:
There are two kinds of enjambment. There's regular enjambment, which is part of traditional poetry and is almost always a bad idea, but especially in sonnets--and then there's what's known as ultra-extreme enjambment. Ultra-extreme enjambment comes standard in free verse because free verse is, as we know, merely a heartfelt arrangement of plummy words requesting to be read slowly. So you can break the line anywhere you want. In fact you want to

                  break against any
                  moments of natural

                  pause, not with
                  them, to keep

everyone on their toes and off balance...
I also like the little contemporary cultural references Baker throws in to show us that Paul isn't an terminally insufferable poetry snob.
I've got Photoshop for Dummies, and I learned a lot from it. The dummies' day may be passing, though. Too much yellow all over Barnes & Noble.
You've got to love a character who likes dummies books, ZZ Top, Project Runway, and Sara Teasdale. Well, at least I do!

I'd recommend you give The Anthologist a try. You'll either love it or hate it, but I doubt you'll be neutral.

For a Poetry Foundation interview with Nicholson Baker, click here.

In case you were wondering why there is a plum on the cover of The Anthologist, it's because Paul refers to nonrhyming poems as plums!

Please visit my friend Laura Salas for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

October 13, 2009

October 9, 2009

Poetry Friday--October

The Miss Rumphius Effect "Monday Poetry Stretch" was a challenge to write an October poem. I took the challenge, and not two minutes after I posted my effort (simply titled "October"), I wanted to go back and rewrite it. I didn't, of course, but what I did do was write another poem. This one I called "October Dusk." It was inspired by the geese that wrested my attention from an episode of Bones (the complete season 4 was released this week).


lead goose's
stamina is tested by the
lack of uplift. Up, out, down.
Up, out, down--how many strokes
in 1,000 miles? The honks grow louder--point,
counterpoint--honks strong, distinct. The
encouragement continues as the leader

back, his position quickly
assumed by another. Up, out, down.
How many strokes...
The honk, honk, honk,
goes on--honk,
honk, honk





© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Make sure you check out the inspired/inspiring October poems at The Miss Rumphius Effect. And also check out the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Picture Book of the Day.

October 7, 2009

A Trip Back

Coincidentally, I heard a segment on NPR's Talk of the Nation about "Whitopias" on the same day as I found a website devoted to 1950's illustration. "Whitopias" were described as communities being
communal pods that cannily preserve a white-bread world, a throwback to an imagined past with "authentic" 1950s values and the nifty suburban amenities available today.
It amazing that people continue to look backward where a "Leave It to Beaver" world is considered to be ideal. Not to go off on a rant, but weren't the women in those "ideal" communities of the 1950s stifled, intellectually unchallenged, and often driven to drink? And, weren't the children in those communities denied the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a multi-cultural society?

Courtesy Plan59.com

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed browsing through the pages of 1950s pictures at Plan59.com. Take a look and let me know if the 1950s are a place you'd like to return to.

October 6, 2009

October 2, 2009

Poetry Friday--Poetry in Motion

Poetry found an audience on the subways and buses of New York through the "Poetry in Motion" program. Short poems are displayed on the placards that you usually see advertising such things as on-line degree programs or newly released films. The poets featured range from William Shakespeare to subway poem competition winners.

A book was produced a few years after the program's start in 1992, Poetry in Motion: 100 Poems from the Subways and Buses (W.W. Norton, 1996), it contains the first one hundred poems that were promoted. Check your local public library for a copy.

Here's a video called "Poetry in Motion" that shows us subway poetry of another kind:

Check out this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up at Crossover.

September 29, 2009

September 27, 2009

A Great New England Tradition

The Big E is held yearly in Springfield, Massachusetts. All the New England states participate in this giant fair. The best part--the food!

It's once a year, and in our case, we walked for 8 hours, so we excused ourselves from any guilt regarding the abundance of fried food we ingested!

Smaller fairs take place in the individual states. Coming up is the Deerfield Fair here in New Hampshire. You go to Deerfield to see the animals, and, to eat the apple pie! The Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts also starts this week. You go to that one to see things like greased pole climbing and humongous pumpkins! Topsfield runs through Columbus Day and then fair season is all over for another year.

September 26, 2009

September 25, 2009

Poetry Friday--Peace

I found out about the Pinwheels for Peace Project a bit too late to participate this year, the International Day of Peace was on Monday, 9/21.

The Pinwheels for Peace Project
is not political. Peace doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with the conflict of war, it can be related to violence/intolerance in our daily lives, to peace of mind. To each of us, peace can take on a different meaning, but, in the end, it all comes down to a simple definition: a state of calm and serenity, with no anxiety, the absence of violence, freedom from conflict or disagreement among people or groups of people.
It is a wonderful idea to teach children about peace while they are young and I applaud the schools across the country that participated this year.

If you'd like to participate next year and make a pinwheel that includes a poem of peace, here's a short poem by Wendell Berry, that would be perfect:
The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Susan Taylor Brown. You'll have the chance to listen to her audio.

September 22, 2009

September 20, 2009

Time Capsule

If you're a writer, it helps to get into your main character's head by knowing what is going on in the world around him. With a fantasy, you get to make things up, but, if you're placing your character in the recent past, have I got a tool for you! It's the dMarie Time Capsule.

Say your character is a young adult in 1979. The season is the spring. So, pick a date like 4/30/79. Plug it into the date search box and click "quick page." You'll get results such as the top 10 songs of 1979, the fact that Jimmy Carter was president, and a list of popular TV programs that includes Charlie's Angels and Three's Company. You might want to know that people in 1979 were reading Sophie's Choice by William Styron.

If you want even more information to start, plug in the date and click "Advanced Page." You'll be taken to a month's worth of news headlines for May 1979. For example, on Friday, May 25, an "American Airlines DC-10 crashes in Chicago killing 275." Maybe your character knows someone who perished!

You can check what was going on at the time of your character's birth in 1962 or to move forward to your character's 30th birthday in 1992. Use the dMarie Time Capsule frequently to fill in your "historical" setting. It's an easy and fun way to enhance your character, and, your plot!

September 18, 2009

Poetry Friday--Frederick Douglass

One hundred seventy years ago this month, on September 3, a 20 year-old slave, Frederick Douglass managed to make his way to freedom.

From the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (published in 1845):
It is impossible for me to describe my feelings as the time of my contemplated start drew near. I had a number of warmhearted friends in Baltimore,--friends that I loved almost as I did my life,--and the thought of being separated from them forever was painful beyond expression. It is my opinion that thousands would escape from slavery, who now remain, but for the strong cords of affection that bind them to their friends. The thought of leaving my friends was decidedly the most painful thought with which I had to contend. The love of them was my tender point, and shook my decision more than all things else.


He managed
to escape, not by luck
but by careful
planning and the help
of others who were willing
to put their own
safety in peril.

How lucky he was.

He left not easily,
but accompanied
by pain, pain
profoundly deep with
the loss of friends
who bound him with strong
cords of affection.

How lucky he was.

How lucky he was
to know the difference
between the tender
point and the point
at which he would
be tendering his soul.
A friendship can
be rekindled,
a soul cannot.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

An interesting side note for my New Hampshire friends--"The Fugitive's Song," shown above, was written by Jesse Hutchinson. Jesse was a member of the Hutchinson Family of singers who were from Milford, NH.

The picture is from the Library of Congress, which gave it a copyright date of 1845. Douglass and the Hutchinson Family toured together in England during the year 1845.

If you'd like to read another poem about Frederick Douglass, there is stunning one by Robert E. Hayden here.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up this week is being hosted at Becky's Book Reviews.

September 15, 2009

September 13, 2009

Cat graph

I have two cats, and as anyone who is owned by a cat knows, this chart is right on the money!

song chart memes
Courtesy of GraphJam

September 11, 2009

Poetry Friday--9/11

I was speaking with someone the other day who mentioned that her mother's birthday is September 11, and ever since 2001, the family has celebrated the birthday on another day.

9/11 was a powerful event in every American's life, and it still has its consequences.

Perhaps, the only good that came out of the 9/11 event was that it inspired many people to pick up a pen and to write. In many cases, what came out was poetry.

In 2001 I had been writing haiku for years, but, I never wrote Poetry (with a capital "P" as opposed to verse with a small "v"). For me, too, 9/11 was indelibly printed in my memory, and I was compelled to write about one of the haunting visuals from Manhattan.

Snow came early that year
even though the calendar
had yet to mark autumn.
On a Tuesday morning
the sun rose into
a vivid crayola sky,
the clouds puffy as if
drawn by a child.
No one could have known
how quickly summer would pass.

A thunderclap,
then another,
signaled the start
of a new winter.
A terrific wind
released the flurry.
The sky filled with
snowflakes floating,
twirling, almost dancing
across to Brooklyn.

There was no ice
in these flakes,
yet the chill was tangible.
No crystalline patterns—
just the names of strangers,
facts and figures,
corporate logos,
and private matters,
on 8 1/2 by 11 inch
pieces of paper.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved
After writing my 9/11 poem, I continued to write, a little poem here, another there. I hope that others, too, continued to write.

About.com maintains a page, "Poems After the Attack," which they republish every September. If you can bear the memory, read a few of the poems.

Check out the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Wild Rose Reader.

September 8, 2009

September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

I thought I'd share some photos of Labor Day, and other labor parades from the past. The images are courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Several are of the spectators. I love to see how people dressed!

One hundred years ago, in New York. Child labor was still rampant. Children probably were treated as slaves as the sign indicates.

1913 at an unspecified location. If I had to guess, I would say New York City. Someone captioned the photo as "suffragettes," but the banner, as far as I can make out says, "English Speaking Union Whitegoods Workers Local (the rest I can't make out)"

Washington, D.C. in 1929.

This one is from Colorado in 1930. Love the kids' body language!

1940 Pennsylvania.

Detroit in 1942, one year into the Second World War. Look around, there are signs of war every where.