Featuring cherita!

February 28, 2012

February 27, 2012

A SPARKling Day!--Part 2

Yesterday I shared the inspiration piece that was sent to me, and my response to it, as part of the SPARK art from writing: writing from art challenge (the 15th quarterly challenge since the program began). Today, I have the inspiration piece that I sent to Channie Greenberg, and her poetic response.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Carnival Provocations

Carnival provocations, very harpy-like, beckon via cotton candy sweetness,
The smell of doughnuts, impossibly deep-fried pickles, also Oreos.

Among those funhouse calories, brave hearts gasp, drool, inhale, then pull away.
There’s no stuffed or laminated prize in greasing one’s innards with fabricated offal.

Kewpie dolls excluded, likewise not the Ferris Wheel, this county’s annual contests,
Blue ribbon madness, stampeding crowds, comforts 4H-ers, makes BBQ call girls happy.

Us other folk pay fees, taxes, levies, to point at neon-haired elders, kids sucking
Multiple pacifiers; their parents already sloshed from troughs of ale, gin, malt whiskey.

Once upon a fair, some pink pony, trotting ahead of a buffalo, equine-winked me,
That miniature mentioned forgetting horses, suggested driving away.

Accordingly, I smashed go carts, rode a mangy camel, considered roughing up
The Weight and Age Guess ‘Em barker, but threw twice at milk bottles, instead.

When that not-quite-giraffe tossed a shoe, I got suckered into buying penny sours,
Licorice whips, candy cigarettes, caramels, at five dollars a pound.

Meanwhile, shrills multiplied, pushed ticketers so as to yield better fireworks, fistfights.
Miss Pumpkin Queen gestured Joes, too, toward chugging more chocolate-coated corndogs.

Morning, ghosts, ground crews, hung-over hash slingers picked at wrappers.
A couple kids, gone AWOL from school, asked a few carneys for work.

Remember: all that is neon, sprayed in glitter, maybe coated with florescent paint,
Can be swept up, fixed, reconfigured, for minimum wage, all by willing underachievers.

© KJ Hannah Greenberg, all rights reserved.

February 26, 2012

A SPARKling Day!

I participated for the first time in SPARK art from writing: writing from art. The artist in an assigned team of two sends an inspiration piece to the the writer, and vice versa. There is a period of 10 days to complete a response.

Since there was an imbalance between the number of writers wishing to participate, and the number of artists, I signed up as an artist. (Most of the time I consider myself a fraud for claiming to be a poet, so I figured it wouldn't hurt my chances of getting into heaven if I also claimed to be an artist.)

My teammate was poet, Channie Greenberg, and she sent me the following for inspiration:

Parenting’s Saxophone Smiles

When lads do play a piccolo, girls tweet upon a flute,
Bray a brassy trumpet or pluck chords upon a lute,
Then blow a fife, sound a horn, bang a drum, to boot;
Parenting gives me saxophone smiles.

Pellucid jars, small shiny things, some mother’s pride, what’s more,
Diaper bins, mache birds on wing, some blocks spilled on the floor,
Library books strewn all around, amongst stuffed beasts’ mute roar;
Such bedlam makes me dance insanely.

Bright crayon wax shaved between carrots, peas, potatoes,
My children’s favorite meals make mounds on chairs, rugs, tables,
Nonetheless, I serve up more with gravy since I’m able;
Their messes inspire me to write.

Wee athletes, whom I’ll emulate, "one thousand years from now,"
Leap over laundry, hesitate, don't think to grab their towels,
Dear star-kissed heads nod in the bath, lull cradled on warm boughs;
My offsprings’ nap time can’t come too soon.

© KJ Hannah Greenberg, all rights reserved.

Here's my response:

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Come back tomorrow for the piece I sent to Channie, and her delightful response! Visit the SPARK site for the other teams' responses. And come back here next Sunday when Happy Haiga Day! will return.

February 24, 2012

Poetry Friday--More Poehistry

As you may have guessed, if you follow this or my Kids of the Homefront Army blog, I'm a big advocate of using old photographs as inspiration for poems about history. I refer to the resulting poems as "poehistry." If you'd like to see examples from this blog, click on the label (on the right hand side of the page) "poehistry."

Here's a list poem inspired by the Civil War tintype above:
Reasons to Volunteer for the Band

Foot soldiers love music.
       It incites them to heroic deeds.

Politicians love music
       With which to bury the heroic dead.

The Ladies love music.
       Savage breast and all that.

Splendid uniforms.
       The Ladies love splendid uniforms.

The carrying of a saxhorn or drum
       Is easier than carrying a dying brother.

There is only so much a man
       Can do when all men are brothers.

Musicians are respected,
       Whether or not is it warranted.

When you are in hell
       Respect is meaningless.

Why not blow a horn?

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

For this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up, visit Jone at the school library and Check It Out!

Photo [Ten unidentified soldiers that form a Union regimental band with saxhorns and drums] courtesy Library of Congress.

February 21, 2012

February 19, 2012

February 17, 2012

Poetry Friday--And the Winner Is...

This past Tuesday the winners of the 2011 Cybils: Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards were announced on the Cybils site.

Congratulations to all the winners!

I was extremely fortunate to be a judge of the 2011 award for poetry, Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto by Paul B. Janeczko. Working with four others, and our mediator, we read and reread the finalists, had lots of online discussion, and came to a well thought out conclusion--Requiem was a book worthy of the prize.

Considering that the six finalists ran the gamut from the humorous treatment of everyday items, such as a toothbrush, to the portrayal of the hatred and despair experienced during the holocaust, and, that the intended audiences ranged from kindergarten to teen, how did the committee decide upon a winner?

I'm glad you asked. We devised a system whereby we judged each book on its own according to certain criteria, these being "kid appeal," originality, musicality, technical skill, and total package.

Kid appeal is obvious. Does the book appeal to its intended audience, as opposed to its appeal being primarily to the adult gatekeepers--teachers, librarians, parents, critics?

Originality, too, is obvious.

Musicality? We decided to look at the language used by the poet. How did it sound to the ear? Was the word choice ordinary or unexpected? This can be rather subjective!

Technical skill had to do with things like line breaks, rhyme, form, and other mechanics of poetry.

Finally, we looked at the total package. Since these books are intended for children, they were illustrated. Did the illustrations add to or detract from the poetry? Were they appealing? Was there enough white space? Too much clutter? Problems with the design? Etc.

It's funny, but none of the criteria listed above had to do with how the poems made the reader feel, and yet, after all the finalists had been studied and judged, it was how the winner affected us that became the deciding factor. Here's how the committee described the winner:
"I am a watcher/sitting with those about to die." These are the words of Elisha Schorr/25565 as imagined by poet Paul Janeczko. In Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto, we all become watchers, viewing snapshots of the Holocaust, one after the other, each one deepening the grief and raising questions to which there are no answers.

We watch, but we also hear the story of Terezin, voice by voice, insistent and haunting, so that the effect by the end of the collection is almost choral. For each song of despair, there is a concordant and essential song of anger, tenderness or resignation; like a recurring melodic theme, the voice of one child appears and fades and appears again. We hear the violin of one victim playing "as only the heartbroken can play."

Cybils committee members agreed early in the deliberations that this slim volume of poems was a strong contender for the prize, with words like "stunning" and "haunting" coming up repeatedly in our conversation. Ultimately, the voices Janeczko created could not be forgotten.
I could share one of the poems from Requiem, but I'd rather you take a look at the book as a whole. Its illustrations taken from the sketches of the artists who lived in the ghetto, the choice of font, the choice of titles, the layout and design, and the poems themselves--titled with the names of the narrators (and in some cases, their "numbers"), interspersed with snippets of poems set in italics--make for a well-conceived, total package. And I doubt you will be left unmoved...

Myra will be hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Gathering Books. Stop by!

Poetry Friday--One Year Later

Last week when I rummaged through my 2011 files looking for 15 Words or Less Poems, I came across this poem written on February 16.

Watching the News, February 2011

How it is that excessive
stupidity has become
an infectious disease in
21st century United States?
Is this something the CDC
or the EPA should look into?
Oh wait, certain politicians
think government intervention
is unnecessary, preferring
instead to believe the fairy
story that industry can be self-
regulating or that men
can be honest. Ha, ha, see
what I mean by excessive
stupidity? Quick! Slap on
a face mask, and whatever you
do, don't drink the Kool-Aid!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Kool-Aid® is a registered trademark of Kraft Foods.

I don't see that things have changed much over the past year, if anything, a whole new level of stupidity has evolved!

Photo by feastoffun.com.

February 14, 2012

February 12, 2012

February 10, 2012

Poetry Friday--15 Words or Less Poems

In honor of this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up hostess, Laura Salas, and her blog, I'm resurrecting some of the poems I wrote for her weekly 15 Words or Less Poems challenge.

These poems are all from 2011. I hope these stand alone without using the original photographs that inspired them:

March 10, 2011

Science Lesson

Spring sun...
my children watch
their pupils
constrict then close
their eyes again.

April 14, 2011

Life Aquarial

walls of water
eat on schedule

May 26, 2011

spring morning

i love to wake
to the sounds of birds--
hate eating breakfast
with a werewolf.

June 16, 2011

My Summer Vacation Revisited

A plastic bucket
in the back of the garage
spiderwebs, and mermaid's
purses still sandy.

July 14, 2011


Paring with pumice,
slathering with lotions,
buffing, polishing, painting.
The future?
A prettier pain.

August 11, 2011


I've never dreamt
of flying--an
imagination too
limited or a body too
heavily boned?

September 1, 2011

Dear Deity

Power, might,
Why must we
project our most
egregious faults
on our gods?

If you've never participated in Laura's weekly challenge, I highly recommend trying it next Thursday!

Visit Laura's blog for the Poetry Friday Round-Up!

Fish tank photo by PKMousie. Mermaid's purse photo by mmwm.

February 7, 2012

Haiku Sticky #135

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I generally try to adjust my word choice so that the haiku, or, in this case, the senryu, can appear in three lines. However, I find the word "chitchat" perfect for this type of conversation. I could have used "gossip," but the feeling is not the same. What do you think? Would "gossip" have worked as well for you?

February 5, 2012

February 3, 2012

Poetry Friday--"The Great Bookcase Disaster"

The Great Bookcase Disaster

Five shelves the right
width and depth.
A complete unit of
the perfect height.

Collections arranged
alphabetically by
poet, anthologies
by title. A decorative
figure placed just so.

And then the cat

oblivious to art,
indifferent to literature,
uses an upper shelf
to launch herself.

Bookcase sways,
volumes shift, balance
is lost. Chapbooks
slide, pages splay,
framework splinters.

Only the cat survives.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I learned a lesson. If you buy something cheaply made, you get what you paid for. Oh well, back to piles of books on the floor until something a little more sturdy can be found at a reasonable price!

Climb on the back of your favorite flying cat and head over to The Iris Chronicles for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Photo by El Fotografo del Panico.