poetry

Preparing for Poem In Your Pocket Day

I loved the idea: put a poem in your pocket and share it all day long on April 18. Share it in the classroom, in the hallway, in libraries, bookstores and offices. Just pull out the poem you have in your pocket, hopefully one of you favorites, and read it out loud.
Today I showed my children how to fold an origami “pocket” and told them they could decorate it however they wanted. I love opening doors to them, inviting them to “color outside the lines” as no teacher ever told me. But, I digress…
When they saw the pocket I made, they suggested I add color:
But, the pocket is not the important part of this project. The important part is to decide what poem one ought to choose. I considered using a kid friendly poem by Jack Prelutsky. My son and I used to love Captain Conniption and As Soon as Fred Gets Out of Bed.

Yet I felt that I wanted something a little different for grown ups. Something for us book lovers. Which is why I stuck in this little poem by Edgar Guest:

What poem would you choose? If you were going to participate in national Poem in Your Pocket Day? I’ll let you know what the children have chosen in a few days.

The Collected Poems by Marcel Proust

Two of the many things I have slated for April are reading Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way with Arti and reading more poetry for National Poetry Month.  A lovely combination of these two goals meets within this newly released book: The Collected Poems by Marcel Proust.
It’s thrilling to open the aqua cover and discover 104 poems. The left hand side of the book contains each poem in its original French; the right hand side is the English translation. Personally, I loved testing my many years of foreign language by reading them first in French, then following that often bumbling effort with my native tongue. Still, it gave me opportunity to imagine that the French version was even more beautiful than the English, though I could more perfectly understand the later.
As I read Swann’s Way, I find myself reading more for the vision Proust creates than the plot; such it is with his poetry as well. Yet to help the reader, there are included within this edition a section of drawings as well as notes. “These notes are meant to give the reader the information that the poem’s reader (or, when the poem was sent to an individual, the recipient) would have had at the time or a bit of relevant archival information. Because many of them were scrawled on envelopes, on the back of letters from other people, and even in books, they often included “variantes,” possible differences that resulted from Proust experimenting with the verses and neglecting to erase his abortions.” Harold Augenbraum
I leave you with #22 and its accompanying note:
CHOPIN
Ocean of sighs, and just above the waves
a flight of butterflies pauses…no, passes,
circling above the melancholy sea…
Dream, love, suffer, sleep it off!
And between each throb of pain produce
the sudden oblivion of your whim-
don’t butterflies proceed from flower to flower?
Thus your joy becomes your grief’s accomplice
(the whirlpool’s thirst is only for more tears).
Prince of despair? A noble lord betrayed?
The moon’s pale companion and the sea’s,
you still exult, the paler the handsomer,
in the sun that floods your sickroom, weeping
at your smile and suffering at the sight…
the smile is for Regret, the tears for Hope!
POEM 22
Translated by Richard Howard
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) was one of the foremost composers of the first half of the nineteenth century. According to P. F. Prestwich’s The Translation of Memories, at one point early on when Proust and Hahn met they thought about jointly writing a biography of Chopin. In RTP (Remembrance of Things Past), Chopin appears most prominently in a discussion of his work by the seaside. This poem was dedicated to the pianist Edouard Risler (1873-1929), a close friend of Reynaldo Hahn who specialized in the music of Chopin, touring Europe and playing the composer’s complete works.
The Collected Poems by Marcel Proust, to me, is a celebration of all the things we love about the arts: language and poetry, music and friendship, the imagery and odes that poetry can best convey.

In Which I Cry With My Class Because Of A Poem

MY SKY

We were outisde
in the street
me and some other kids
kicking the ball
before dinner
and Sky was
chasing chasing chasing
with his feet going
every which way
and his tail
wag-wag-wagging
and his mouth
slob-slob-slobbering
and he was
all over the place
smiling and wagging
and slobbering
and making
us laugh
and my dad came walking up the street
he was way down there
near the end
I could see him
after he got off the bus
and he was walk-walk-walking
and I saw him wave
and he called out
“Hey there, son!”
and so I didn’t see
the car
coming from the other way
until someone else-
one of the big kids-
called out
“Car!”
and I turned around
and saw a
blue car blue car
splattered with mud
speeding down the road
And I saw Sky
going after the ball
wag-wag-wagging
his tail
and I called him
“Sky! Sky!”
and he turned his
head
but it was too late
because the
blue car blue car
splattered with mud
hit Sky
thud thud thud
and kept on going
in such a hurry
so fast
so many miles to go
it couldn’t even stop
and Sky
was just there
in the road
lying on his side
with his legs bent funny
and his side heaving
and he looked up at me
and I said
“Sky! Sky! Sky!”
and then my dad
was there and he lifted Sky
out of the road
and laid him on the grass
and
Sky
closed his eyes
and
he
never
opened
them
again
ever.

~Sharon Creech

Advice From A Tree

Dear Friend,

Stand tall and proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of your own true nature
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with Joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go like leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter

Feel the wind and the sun and delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you and the mystery of the stars at night
Seek Nourishment from the Good Things in life
Simple pleasures Earth, Fresh Air, Light

Be Content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of Water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your Roots!

Enjoy the view!

by Ilan Shamir

On A Spring Walk In Illinois…

A Prayer In Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

~Robert Frost

Hate That Cat

Love This Book:

I could tell you that it’s a novel written as a series of poems.

I could tell you that it touches the teacher in me, the mother in me, the student in me, and the newly discovered cat lover (or poet!) in me.

I could tell you that it describes the way a boy learns to love his cat and his teacher and poetry and his deaf mother.

But, I’ll just let you read some for yourself:

a kitten

stumbling

out of the basket

and wobbling over to me

and crawling up on my lap

and licking my pajamas

and I forgot that I hate cats

as it crawled up onto my chest

and purrrrrred

and I was smiiiiiling

all over

the

place.

which is the end of the poem about receiving his kitten for Christmas, and then we come to this:

The black kitten

is a poet

               L  E  A  P  I  N  G

from

line

         to

                line

sometimes runningrapidly

somtimes s o o t h i n g l y  s l o w l y

here and there

 up

         and

                 down

d

   o                                     UP

      w                       UP

         n          UP

            and

in a silent steady rhythm

exploring

           all

                 the

             tiny

pieces

            of

                    the

                              world.

which is, of course, how the kitten moves.

I hardly have the room to tell you how he signs for his mother who comes to hear the poetry recitation, or the treasure of words he has in his room because of his teacher, who cares:

Thank you thank you thank you

for showing me all the books

of cat poems

and all the books that tell a story

in poems.

I never knew a writer could do that—

tell a whole story

in poems.

I already read the one by Mr. Robert Cromier

(alive?)

and next by my bed is

that dust book by

Ms. Karen Hesse

(alive?)

and underneath that one

is the Essie and Amber one

by Ms. Vera B. Williams

(alive?)

and on my bulletin board is a list you gave me

of so many poets

whose books I can read

and also on my bulletin board

is the funny poem-picture

of the cat chair

by Mr. Chris Raschka

(alive?)

and that poem

by Mr. Lee Bennett Hopkins

(alive?)

about growing up

to

be

a

writer.

I now have

a treasure of words

in

my

room.

poetry speaks who i am

It is only just now in my life that a passion for poetry is awakening in me.

I would memorize it in school, feeling an occasional spark (when reading Poe’s The Raven, Sandburg’s Fog, Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening), but mostly confusion when faced with poets such as Walt Whitman or Tennyson. I wanted to like them, but I didn’t understand them and so I left well enough alone.

If I had had in my possession a book such as this collection, I am certain that my appreciation would have been deeper, and reading poetry would have become a regular part of my reading life.

This is a spectacular book of poems. When Sourcebooks asked me to review them, I was wary until I saw the poets which had been included. Poets such as:

  • Maya Angelou
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Langston Hughes
  • Billy Collins
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • John Keats
  • Emily Dickenson
  • Robert Frost, and yes, even
  • Walt Whitman

Those are the big names which immediately pop out at me. But there are others, less familiar to me by name, but incredibly touching to me in their power with words. Specifically for ages 12-14, “this anthology features both classic and contemporary selections and includes an audio CD with poets reading their own work.” I popped it into my Beetle’s stereo this morning on my way to work and was immediately mesmerized by the words and the voices which spoke them. Listening to poems such as this made me not want to stop when I arrived at school:

GOOD GIRL

molly peacock

Hold up the universe, good girl. Hold up
the tent that is the sky of your world at which
you are the narrow center pole, good girl. Rup-
ture is the enemy. Keep all whole. The itch
to be yourself, plump and bending, below a sky
unending, help up by God forever
is denied by you as Central Control. Server
yourself, poor false Atlas, poor “Atless,” lie
recumbent below the sky. Nothing falls down,
except you, luscious and limited on the ground.
Holding everything up, always on your own,
creates a loneliness so profound
you are nothing but a column, good girl,
a temple ruin against a sky help up
by forces beyond you. Let yourself curl
up: a fleshy foetal figure cupped
about its own vibrant soul. You are
the universe about its pole. God’s not far.

………

I have a hard copy to give away; only tell me how poetry affects you to enter into the drawing.

Congratulations to the winner: JoAnn of Lakeside Musing! Email your address, please, so I can have it sent to you.

Winter Eyes

I love this book of poems for children and winter. As it ends, one last tribute to the season I most cherish:

Winter Eyes

Look at winter
With winter eyes,
As smoke curls from rooftops
To clear cobalt skies.

Breathe in winter
Past winter nose;
The sweet scent of black birch
Where velvet moss grows.

Walk through winter
With winter feet
On crackling ice
Or sloshy wet sleet.

Listen to winter
With winter ears:
The rustling of oak leaves
As spring slowly nears.

 Winter Lives

The “dead” of winter—
Or so they say.
But winter lives
In her own way.
She leaves her tracks,
She shows us signs:
Not brilliant blooms,
But webs of lines.
Not sprout or splash,
But silver gray.
Winter lives
In her own way.

Good-Bye, Winter

 Good-bye, winter.
Farewell.
Adieu.
We’ve really had
Enough of you.
Enough of frozen
Hands and toes.
Of numbing ears
And running nose.
Enough of sniffles,
Snivels, sneezes.
Enough of coughs
And whines and wheezes.
Enough of winter
Winds that sting.
Good-bye, winter.
Hello, spring!