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