It's the first of the year which means it's time for the Nengajo--New Year's haiku postcard exchange. (To learn more about the Nengajo, click on the label on the right hand side of the page.) We're entering the Year of the Monkey. The Monkey, as Wikipedia states,
...possesses such character traits as curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness. Forever playful, Monkeys are the masters of practical jokes. Even though their intentions are always good, this desire to be a prankster has a tendency to create ill will and hurt feelings.
Although they are inherently intellectual and creative, Monkeys at times have trouble exhibiting these qualities. When that happens, they appear to others to be confused. But nothing could be further from the truth as Monkeys thrive on being challenged. Monkeys prefer urban life to rural, and their favorite pastime is people-watching.
It took me a long time before starting on this year's postcard because I had no idea what I would write for a haiku. I had no direct experience with monkeys to draw from. However, the minute I found the illustration of the painter monkey I knew I had found my inspiration. The illustration is from a French picture book published in 1740 by Christophe Huet, Singeries, ou differentes actions de la vie humaine representées par des singes. Translation: Antics, or various human activities represented by monkeys.
I manipulated the illustration by adding a hint of color in the background and bright colors to the palette. (Have you seen the film Mr. Turner? This illustration reminds me of it. Turner painted and his father mixed colors for him. It was an interesting film--how's that for a wishy-washy assessment?)
The word "first" is symbolic of the new year. These symbolic words that stand in for a season are known as kigo. I imagined this little artist up at the crack of dawn on New Year's Day ready to paint his dreams for the coming year.
Participation in the Nengajo has fallen off in the past few years. This year only 16 signed up. In past years there have been dozens. So, if you would like one of my postcards, I'd be happy to send you one while supplies last. Email your name and address to me.
Mary Lee, keeper of the master Poetry Friday Round-Up schedule, is hosting the first Round-Up of 2016 at A Year of Reading!
I wish you peace, happiness, and a year of creativity!
I'm sharing this particular poem because it has something for everyone--believer or nonbeliever. See if you agree.
The Shepherd Who Stayed
by Theodosia Garrison
There are in Paradise
Souls neither great nor wise,
Yet souls who wear no less
The crown of faithfulness.
My master bade me watch the flock by night;
My duty was to stay. I do not know
What thing my comrades saw in that great light,
I did not heed the words that bade them go,
I know not were they maddened or afraid;
I only know I stayed.
The hillside seemed on fire; I felt the sweep
Of wings above my head; I ran to see
If any danger threatened these my sheep.
What though I found them folded quietly,
What though my brother wept and plucked my sleeve,
They were not mine to leave.
Thieves in the wood and wolves upon the hill,
My duty was to stay. Strange though it be,
I had no thought to hold my mates, no will
To bid them wait and keep the watch with me.
I had not heard that summons they obeyed;
I only know I stayed.
Perchance they will return upon the dawn
With word of Bethlehem and why they went.
I only know that watching here alone,
I know a strange content.
I have not failed that trust upon me laid;
I ask no more--I stayed.
Theodosia Pickering Garrison (a.k.a. Mrs. Frederic Faulks) was born in 1874 and died in October 1944. Wikipedia, which I thought covered everyone and everything under the sun, does not have a page on Theodosia! A little digging revealed that she published short stories in magazines such as Munsey's Magazine, The Puritan: A Journal for Gentlewomen, and Scribner's in the 1890s under her maiden name, Theodosia Pickering, and then gained some fame as a poet in the early part of the 20th century under the name Theodosia Garrison. Open Library has several books of Garrison's poems available online. With a little time, I would research her further, but alas, not during this busy holiday time!
I imagine our Poetry Friday Round-Up host will be having a slow day due to the holiday. Please don't leave Irene feeling all alone--visit her at Live Your Poem.
I wrote this back in July and have been holding onto it until the time was right! It's one of the Sketchbook Project angel poems. It could just as easily have been a descriptive paragraph, there's really nothing all that poetic about it except for the division into stanzas, still, it was was fun to write and illustrate. Consider it my gift to you, and, I'll consider your indulgence a gift to me.
If you're here for the Poetry Friday Round-Up, this is the place to be! Add your link to the comments below.
Okay, here we go...The first Round-Up comment arrived at 9:09 PM from cbhanek. You'll find a cute Christmas eve acrostic and a Christmas blessing. I'm sure there will be a lot of Christmas poetry shared on the Round-Up this week.
Sally is with us from the land down under. I can never keep it straight, is it the next day already in Australia? Check out Sally's original anticipatory poem, "Too Many Sleeps."
Jama's post will have you craving honey sweetness, but may also stir up memories--some that you might not wish to deal with--by way of a poem from Barbara Crooker.
Laura Salas has a rhyming acrostic, "Things to Do in Science Class," to share with us. The poem is one of eight that Laura has in The Poetry of Science: The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science for Kids!
Robyn Hood Black is featuring ME today! We were swap partners in the Winter Swap set up by Tabatha Yeatts.
Tara is bemoaning the lack of snow in NJ. I can't say that I agree, but I do agree that she has an excellent poet to share with us today--Patricia Fargnoli!
Bridget at Wee Words has a little ditty about magazines that makes you wonder what exactly it is that they're selling!
Laura shares her Winter Swap poem collage from Irene Latham, and, a poem from her new book which is poised to make it's official appearance! All the best, Laura!
Visit Matt, my fellow New Hampster, for a sweet little poem titled, "What the Snow Clouds Know." (And by "sweet" I don't mean syrupy, but what my son means when he says, "Sweeeet.")
At Beyond Literacy Link, Carol is teasing us with promises of her upcoming Autumn's Palette Gallery. Don't miss it when she publishes it (maybe next week, Carol?)--it is a inviting mix of pictures, poems, and music.
Our poet friend, Jone, had surgery yesterday, so let's all send her healing thoughts. She managed to prepare a pre-op post on her experience with the Spark challenge. She shares the inspiration art she received and the poem she wrote in response.
Violet Nesdoly introduced me to a new voice--Carolyn Arends, a singer songwriter. Take a listen to "The Sound" and see if she doesn't impress you, too!
Teacher Dance has a haiku by Linda, which, with only six words, proves that "less is more."
It is hard to lose a loved one during the holiday season--all the memories. Kathryn a.k.a. Katswhiskers takes her memories, and her grandmother's recipe, and mixes them together to make a pikelet poem.
The lady who sets up the poem swaps for the lucky participants, Tabatha Yeatts, shares the poem and gift she received from her swap partner, Liz.
(Tabatha neglected to say that she gave the participants the option of using the Monet painting as a poem-starter. I attempted to use it, but my poem went off in a direction not so pleasant. I may post it in the future, but first I have to pull it back from the pit of darkness!)
A Year of Reading has turned into a year of writing haiku for Mary Lee, and she's done an admirable job! We get to be spectators at the game of haiku tag that Mary Lee has for us today.
Myra's back at Gathering Books to bring us Carol Ann Duffy's poem, "Who Loves You." Here's a teaser: "Every day people fall from the clouds, dead." Whoa! Now you've got to go check it out!
A poem by Billy Collins, "While Eating a Pear," may be found at Reading to the Core. Catherine's sure picked a thought-provoking humdinger for today--imagine a world of things without names.
Donna, too, is sharing her swap poem and gift. You'll find it at Mainely Write. The swapsters have outdone themselves this time round!
Dori's choice for today is one section of a poem called "Seventeens" by Amit Majmudar. Be sure to click on the link to the complete poem!
Irene is working her magic by celebrating kindness for 12 days. Today she has a quotation from Kahlil Gibran, and also a poem, in two languages from Julie Paschkis.
Katie has compiled a list of 2015 poetry books for kids at The Logonauts. I'm a second round judge for the Cybils Award for Poetry, so I'm sure to be seeing many of this titles up close!
Okay, here are two lines that I love: "Blossoms of babies/Blinking their stories." What pictures they bring to mind! They're from the poem, "Handfuls," featured today by Little Willow at Bildungsroman.
If you've read the swap poem at Tabatha's blog, you'll enjoy comparing it to another poem inspired by Monet's poem. Liz Steinglass has it here, as well as an explanation of how Tabatha's gift poem evolved.
The Miss Rumphius Effect has a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem, "I Am Waiting" originally published in 1958, but so well representative of the thoughts of many today!
Janet Squires looks at one of the dozens of books of poetry and art by Douglas Florian, Poetrees. His work is always unexpected.
Poetry For Children is full of poems and recommendations from Sylvia (and Janet). Today the featured poem is "Christmas Tree" by Joseph Bruchac.
Julie Larios shares a little poem by John Clare that is alive with winter birds. I delight in the joyful noises birds make despite winter weather.
Keri's recommending one of her work-related videos this week. It's a food-related parody of "The Night Before Christmas." Look for the elf who most looks like a script writer--that's Keri!
Karen Edmisten has a houseful of writers! She celebrates them by posting Richard Wilbur's much-loved poem, "The Writer."
Well, it's now after 1:00 PM and I've been at this since 7:00 AM, so...It's time for lunch, and a quick run to Christmas Tree shop for some gift bags I forgot to buy earlier. I hope there are some left that don't depict Spongebob or that are full of barely-glued-on glitter. I'll be back later to catch the stragglers. Please, if you noticed a link that doesn't work, or some boy-are-you-dumb errors, let me know!
I noticed Heidi from My Juicy Little Universe hasn't made an appearance, so I'm taking the liberty of adding her link. She has the words to "Deck the Halls" and a video of a madrigal version.
Here's a version that I like for its majestic cold-weather vibe:
Last, but not least, Amy at The Poem Farm treats us to a crunchy cookie treat! Angels are finding their way on many a blog this week! Some just happen to be edible.
For Thanksgiving, I spent two days in Jersey City. As a surburban dweller, Jersey City and Manhattan struck me as diverse, growing, and beautiful. Yet, the cities are also horrifyingly ugly in the contrasts between rich and poor, new and old, and, need I say it--barely sane and insane drivers.
I wrote a poem that at one point had four stanzas. I rewrote and trimmed it down to the thirteen lines you see here. I may have cut a bit too much? Perhaps I will rework it again. I'm not sure I've said what I wanted to say.
I won't even pretend I understand how this works (despite the explanation in the article where I found this video), but I think it might be fun to write poems to float in a pond or pool. The terser the better!
Some thoughts: could the plastic words be anchored in some way to have the poem, as written, become part of the water? Could the plastic words be left to float untethered with the possibility that whole new poems could form? What would a buildup of algae do to the shadows? Poems could also be printed on artificial lily pads and anchored the way real waterlilies are. Makes me wish I had a pool of water to play with.
I checked through my files and found these water poems:
a dragonfly alights
for a second
I used to visit relatives, who had a home on a lake, and I'd float on the water in an inner tube for hours. Dragonflies would often visit.
a brief respite
A tanka rather than a haiku. I'm not quite sure what I meant when I wrote it, but I think it may have been a picture challenge. There was probably a prey animal drinking at a watering hole.
three Canada geese
head for water
scudding clouds canoeist paddles faster
swan dips its neck into
And here are haiga I found:
Head over to Buffy's Blog where there's poetry galore being linked at the Round-Up.
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! From this point on, it's the holiday whirlwind!
It was with a bit of panic that I realized that I also better get going on my Sketchbook Project 2016. Last year I had written all my poems within a few months, but still, I waited until the last moment to assemble the book. Of course, everything that could happen to make the completion of the project difficult, happened. This year I set myself an additional goal--to add a touch of art to the book rather than simply photocopying the poems and photographs I used.
Now, I'm not sure how I'm going to incorporate the art. Simply spiffing up the book's pages with color? Doing collage? What materials should I use? Feathers (it is an angel book, afterall)? Watercolors? So many things to think about and I haven't even written enough poems yet! Perhaps I should include some angel quotations. That would take care of the problem of having to write more poems! Maybe I should go through my old files and see if there are angel poems that would work. I remembered this one. A little too political? A little irrelevant in 2015? What do you think?
The Better Angels of Our Nature
January 19, 2009
They're coming in--
making us aware
as they land
that they are only
here in recognition
of a new us.
and shoulder muscles
have been strengthened.
Our hearts beat
at unnatural rates.
We can feel
the lift as we allow
the angels to take us
under their wings
to teach us, again,
how to fly.
The poem was written the day before the inauguration of President Obama. Looking back, now that it's 2015, I see we haven't yet gotten airborne. I think that's a result of obstructionism, fear-mongering, and, extreme hatred. And, that, my friends, is all I will say about that!
Forget the mall, Carol's Corner is the place to be today! She'll have plenty of poetry links, and all they cost, is a little of your time!
When Matt Forrest issued a second "Poetry...Cubed!" challenge I seriously considered writing a poem with all three of the photographed items included. However, the poem took over after I started with bittersweet and it wouldn't allow me to add in a woodstove and a New England Patriot.
The whole thing morphed into a pre-Thanksgiving harangue! Funny how that happens.
This postcard, though not given a date, was identified as being from the Whitney Valentine Company of Worcester, MA. It is probably from the early 1900s and seems to indicate that bittersweet was already a well-known symbol at the time of its printing. [For those interested in postcards, here's a post I found on Mr. Whitney.]
Few people realize that the variety that is seen almost everywhere here in the northeast, is Oriental bittersweet and is extremely invasive. People clip stems of the berries to use in their homes and on their front doors and inadvertently assist in its spread. Here's a photo I took, which demonstrates the stranglehold the vines can have once they become established. The host tree, year by year, is squeezed to death.
The python of the botanic world!
There is also the problem of American bittersweet becoming hybridized by the Oriental bittersweet. Thus, it seems American bittersweet is losing the battle for survival.
Matt Forrest, you've forced me to write an American tale of horror!
This pre-Thanksgiving Poetry Friday the Round-Up will be held at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Have a great Thanksgiving Day!
Over at Michelle's My Little Ditty, she is running a monthly poetry challenge. November's was posed by children's book editor Rebecca M. Davis. Ms. Davis suggested writing a poem of kindness.
I decided to concentrate on the little acts that make all the difference in our daily lives. I turned to haiku and wanted to cover a year's worth of kindnesses. Twelve, however, would be a bit much, so I narrowed it down to six--every other month starting in February. Michelle posted the sequence on Thursday, and I illustrated it for today:
Now, you may ask yourself, how is smiling through a kids' concert a kindness? This, was drawn from a past experience (30 years ago?)when my son "learned" the recorder in elementary school. His class then performed for their families and friends. All I remember was having to hide my face in my daughter's back (she was on my lap) during "Hot Cross Buns." It was a series of squeaks and squawks that absolutely cracked me up. I bless the grandparents who managed to maintain a pleasant smile.
Tomorrow, writer, Irene Latham is celebrating her 10th anniversary as a blogger at Live Your Poem... Bloggers will be posting on a theme close to Irene's heart, WILD, and she will be rounding up the links during the day so that everyone can "go wild." I can't wait to read all the approaches bloggers have taken. Congratulations to Irene on a decade of posts!
About the illustrated poem above. The photo was taken in September in Ogunquit, ME. Originally, I was thinking of writing a haiku and came up with a few. Here's one:
...wild adventures begin
without our knowing
The photo shows the determination of the snail. There's a haiku by Issa on the idea that can't be beat:
Rather than compete with the master, I wrote a small poem that incorporated both Issa's idea and the one that I tried to get across with my haiku. I took the determination idea and worked the wild in. Determination will only take you so far when faced with elements out of your direct control, for example, the weather, the tides, or a kid with a plastic pail. When one gives up thought of control, who knows what adventures will ensue?
Several years ago, in digging up a Portsmouth, New Hampshire street for a public works project, workers uncovered human remains. The location was identified as a slave burying ground from the 1700s. Work halted and what followed was an effort to remember, honor, and to re-bury those whose final resting spot had been disturbed. To learn more, visit the African Burying Ground Memorial Park website. The brass and granite memorial at the park was designed by artist Jerome Meadows from Savannah, Georgia.
On October 23, a special poetry/dance/shadow play performance took place in a small theater in Portsmouth. This multi-disciplinary effort was the brain-child of Mr. Meadows, who also produced similar performances in Savannah as part of the "Blank Page Poetry" series. Portmouth's performance was titled, "Words & Shadows: Truths that Arise Remembered."
The poetry was solicited by the Portsmouth Poet Laureate, Kate Leigh. Local poets were instructed that if their poems were selected, they would be expected to participate in the performance by reciting their work and incorporating some choreographed movements. The selected poems included one by a six-year-old first grader, who, as the program informed us, "wrote his poem one morning at the African Burying Ground."
The video below begins with the shorter performance that took place outdoors at the African Burying Ground Memorial Park the day before the theater production. The street noise is very distracting, so please skip ahead to 3:20 for the theater performance. To see the young poet, go to 31:40. It's not the best recording, but it will give you an idea of what was involved in this tribute to the slaves from the "Live free or die" state of New Hampshire.
I did not submit a poem for the "Blank Page Poetry" project, but I did write one.
The African Burying Ground, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
The remnants of shroud
We did our work.
We consumed your flesh, your bones.
We reduced you to nutrient form
So that you would live on.
Not as free man or slave.
Not as white or black.
Not as rich or poor.
Not as theist or atheist.
Not as man or woman.
Not as old or young.
Next Tuesday is Election Day. It's going to be an election that many people will ignore. It's not a Presidential election year, nor is it a Congressional election year, still, there are elections going on that may be consequential on the state or local level. If you don't vote, you have no one to blame but yourself if the school project in your town doesn't get funded, or if your state legislators decide to make it harder for poor women to get health screenings.
Voting is a right guaranteed by the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. You, as an adult, act as a model for the future citizens of this country. If you neglect to vote, young people may get the message that voting isn't worth their time and effort. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting."
I wrote a poem last year and it was accepted for inclusion in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. The book was compiled and edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, and is published by Pomelo Books. If you flip through the poem credits, you'll find these familiar Poetry Friday blogger names: Joy Acey, Michelle H. Barnes, Doraine Bennett, Robyn Hood Black, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Kelly Ramsdell Fineman, Mary Lee Hahn, Penny Parker Klostermann, Julie Larios, Irene Latham, Renee M. LaTulippe, B. J. Lee, Jone Rush MacCulloch, and many more!
Here's my poem, which celebrates our right to vote:
The poem was also translated into Spanish for The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations and is titled "Votación." Special thanks to Liliana Cosentino and the others on the translation team. And, kudos to Sylvia and Janet for their editorial vision.
Head across the country to where Jone is hosting the Halloween weekend Round-Up at Check It Out. (Yes, it's the same Jone whose name is mentioned above.)
Amy Lowell as a child, photo courtesy Houghton Library, Harvard and Wikimedia.
Last month, I wrote a haiku sequence using words from an Amy Lowell poem. It led me to take another look at Lowell's poetry, and to reaffirm that Amy Lowell is one of my favorite poets! Here are two reasons that come immediately to mind: 1. She wrote small poems, and even some "hokku." Of course, she wrote long poems, too, but those I do not read (hey, just being honest). 2. She was obsessed with color and ways of describing them (see "Thompson's Lunch Room: Grand Central Station"). In a world full of color, why not take the time to appreciate it?
When night drifts along the streets of the city,
And sifts down between the uneven roofs,
My mind begins to peek and peer.
It plays at ball in odd, blue Chinese gardens,
And shakes wrought dice-cups in Pagan temples
Amid the broken flutings of white pillars.
It dances with purple and yellow crocuses in its hair,
And its feet shine as they flutter over drenched grasses.
How light and laughing my mind is,
When all good folk have put out their bedroom candles,
And the city is still.
Throw the blue ball above the little twigs of the tree-tops,
And cast the yellow ball straight at the buzzing stars.
All our life is a flinging of colored balls
to impossible distances.
And in the end what have we?
A tired arm--a tip-tilted nose.
Ah! Well! Give me the purple one.
Wouldn’t it be a fine thing if I could make it stick
On top of the Methodist steeple?
This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight;
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.
Under a tree in the park,
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,
Were carefully gathering red berries
To put in a pasteboard box.
Some day there will be no war,
Then I shall take out this afternoon
And turn it in my fingers,
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.
To-day I can only gather it
And put it into my lunch-box,
For I have time for nothing
But the endeavour to balance myself
Upon a broken world.
Amy Lowell died in 1925, so most of her work is in the public domain. Check out Open Library to read it online or download as an ebook.
Last week I posted a number of workplace haiku, this week I'm posting one more. This one is illustrated and is part of my Ku-dos to Emily project, in which I write haiku inspired by Dickinson's poems and then illustrate them. I haven't posted a ku-do since April, so maybe it's time to get going on the project again.
597.9 is the Dewey classification number for reptiles. The Garter snake in the picture is one that was in a patch of daylilies outside the library a few years back. It was about 2 feet long. But, as the haiku suggests, "more than one" snake has visited us--we've had several Eastern Hognose snakes INSIDE the library! I have no idea why or how they came to be inside, but we carefully moved them out. They were only pencil-sized, but some people don't seem to appreciate snakes in the library no matter how cute and tiny! It turns out, Eastern Hognose snakes are endangered.
I've written snake haiku before--everything is fair game for haiku--and other poems about snakes, too!
...the snake's pattern
June 2010 (Snake isn't mentioned, but it is what inspired me to write the following, which I originally illustrated, but requires more work before being ready to post.)
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a winning entry for a haiku contest that is held every week, and has been going on for about a year. How did I not know about the "Workplace Haiku" challenge held at the Financial Times?
I clicked on the "Workplace Haiku" link and was able to read the haiku that are visible on the page, but when I tried to click on the links to the original posts, I was taken to a subscription page. Clicking out of that page brought me to the FT's home page, and then I was caught in an endless loop. I have absolutely zero interest in reading the FT, so, I'm not going to pay to subscribe. I imagine I can read each week's winning entry, but I won't be participating in entering the challenge, nor in reading the older posts. Ah, well.
I occasionally write about the workplace, so the challenge wouldn't be much of a stretch anyway (sour grapes anyone?). There's not a whole lot of nature going on in the workplace, with the exception of human nature, so it could should probably be titled a senryu contest (haiku format, but about human nature rather than Nature).
I checked through my files, and came across a number haiku related to my workplace, the public library. Here are a few:
Red Sox opening day
out of the corner
of the librarian's eye
circ desk deserted
black bear outside
today all conversations
begin, "it's so cold..."
the librarian shelves
the best attended programs
--ghosts or aliens
My vacation last week actually straddled the seasons. I went to Ogunquit, Maine and was there for the last day of summer and the first few days of autumn. Except for Friday, when it was a bit nippy, the weather was gorgeous! I went with all intentions of packing a year's worth of walking into 3 1/2 days by the sea. On Wednesday I walked 26,035 steps! My Fitbit thought it had been worn by someone else! I cut back by about half on Thursday due to a blister on one of my toes. There is a trolley that runs around town and costs $2.00, so I rode the trolley twice that day.
I still spent plenty of time on the beach on Thursday. To add commentary to the following photo would be superfluous. I thank whomever it was who walked the beach before me and somehow expressed my feelings exactly.
I took lots and lots of photos with my little point and shoot camera, and my cell phone. Several I have made into haiga (haiku with illustration). I also took short video clips of Piping Plovers.
Amazing little birds that remind me of mice in the way they scurry. I can't imagine how they get much nourishment pecking the sand at lightning speed!
Haiga inspired by the time spent by the sea (click on the images to enlarge):
A vacation "paradise" highlights the inequality gap as it exists in America today. Private beach vs. public beach. Service demanding tourists vs. immigrants working for minimum wage in the tourism services industry.
Even the weeds on the beach were alive with bees preparing for winter!
I have more photos that will provide me with additional haiga opportunities. Look for them in future Happy Haiga Day! posts (on Sundays).
Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe is hosting today's Poetry Friday Round-Up. Stop by and see what Heidi and her Diamond Miners have for us this week!
By the way, if you're looking to travel to Ogunquit, I recommend staying at The Puffin Inn, a bed and breakfast. If my recommendation isn't enough, take a look at one of the breakfasts I had sitting out on the porch. It's caramelized mango French toast, and tucked underneath is sausage!