Thursday, September 20, 2018

Connections 9/21/18

Hellllloooooooo Friday and the poetry you celebrate.

This week's host is Erin. Please visit and welcome her with thanks at her blog, The Water's Edge  

Truth: Some weeks I have no idea what  to post for Poetry Friday. Then, there's a week, like this past week, when I'm tripping over poetry connections.  

Our US Library of Congress (with a chic new logo) 

hosts Poetry 180  for high school students -- and the rest of us too.

A poem of  Ron Koertge's ' settled on me.  

Do You Have Any Advice for Those of Us Just Starting Out?

By Ron Koertge

Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.

Its alright to carry a notebook but a cheap

one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.

read the rest here

Last Poetry Friday Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's  message seemed to piggyback on Koetge's:

And remember this too: the more interesting things you do, the more you will have to write about.  I am not referring to fancy things, but rather a variety of things.  Today I may sit outside for a few moments and watch ants walk around. Or maybe I will draw the pictures up in the sky, wondering if anyone else sees the same penguin I see.  What I do affects what I write.  And so it is for you.

So do stuff.  And when you do, you'll have more boats and ants and clouds to write about later.

Jane Yolen's daily poem waiting for me in my inbox seemed related...and a blessing. She knows I've done stuff and prays that the words flow right. These three poems made me connected, yeah...I can go do life and write.

Writer to Writer: A Prayer

May the words flow,
the right ones.
May the arc rise
like the moon.

May the story ring
like Great Tom’s toll.
May the words in the mouth
sing the child.

May the telling have the lift
of challah in the stove.
May your readers find
on every page a trail of love.

May your imagination
And its wonders never fail.
May the book become eternity’s
bedtime tale.

©2018 Jane Yolen all rights reserved


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Answering a Call for Octopus Poem

Happy mid-September Poetry Friday!

It seems impossible that we've reached this date on the calendar. I can hardly keep up. Dearest poet Amy Ludwig Van Derwater is hosting this week's round-up at her amazing blog, The Poem Farm. Thank you, Amy! I hope you will enjoy many offerings of poetry there.

I'm answering the call for Octopus poems that Dear Agnes: Postcards from an Octopus (Millbrook, 2018) by Irene Latham has inspired. See Irene's Desperately Seeking Octopus Poems blog of last week.

By the way, Agnes is getting good press already. Hooray! See the Kirkus review.

Did you know that the third week in June is Cephalopod Week? 

I didn't either!

Fortunately, for us, Science Friday on NPR does....complete with octopus haiku. Who knew? I may have to celebrate every year, now!

Celebrate Cephalopods

I didn’t know, did you?
Cephalopod Week
is third week of June
a date octopuses keep

With backward swims
scouting out prey
All eight of their limbs
hunt festive entrées

An Octopus parties alone
they’re really quite shy
If you find one at  home
she’ll squirt you with dye

Her masquerade ink
An off-putting greeting
Hiding from you
is all she’s needing

If you choose to observe
cephalopod week this June
show some reserve
party quietly your room

© Linda Mitchell

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Friends Meet Friends at the National Book Festival

Hello Poetry Friday,

It's so lovely to see you. Mwah!

Carol is hosting the round-up at Beyond Literacy.  Thank you, Carol!

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting up with not just one but TWO poetry friends at The National Book Festival. It was an especially good time because the three of us meet virtually for critique but had never met in person before.

Left/Center Brian Selznick presents new H.P. cover art. Right Meg Medina launches Merci Suarez Changes Gears

And, we got to celebrate Margaret's new book Bayou Song (UL Press 2018) as a Children's Choice book representing Louisiana.

As you might imagine, we found poetry celebrated EVERYWHERE!

Poetry friends 

Meet between words
on celebration pages 
kindred spirits
need no introduction

Poetry friends
recognize each other

Emotions, read
shared, written, spoken.
Curiosity and knowing
walk side by side
easy breezy—

poetry friends.

(and in reverse)

Poetry Friends

Easy breezy--
walk side by side.
Curiosity and knowing
shared, written, spoken

emotions read

Recognize each other

Poetry Friends
need no introduction
kindred spirits
on celebrated pages--
meet between words.

Poetry Friends.

(c) Linda Mitchell

Knowing Poetry Friends is one of my greatest joys. I'm so glad I got to see two at the National Book Festival. I would so love a Poetry Friday Friends Conference on the East Coast sometime. Who can make that happen for us?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Don't Go Into the Library

Yippee! It's our Friday poetry celebration.

This has been a full and busy week back to school for my three high-schoolers, my school librarian self, my college junior and my graduate student husband. We are all about learning in this family!

My middle school library has a new theme, PLANET LIBRARY, which comes from student created graphic novel art. It's all kinds of fun comparing our library to outer space. I love it!

By Joshua and Damian

I don't have a perfect PLANET LIBRARY poem.....YET. I may have to write one. If I do, I will use Don't Go Into the Library as my mentor text. Isn't it wonderful?

Hop on over to brilliant and creative Robin Hood Black for Poetry Friday goodness. She's hosting our round-up this week at Life on the Deckle Edge.

Don’t Go Into the Library

The library is dangerous—
Don’t go in. If you do
You know what will happen.
It’s like a pet store or a bakery—
Every single time you’ll come out of there
Holding something in your arms.
Those novels with their big eyes.
And those no-nonsense, all muscle
Greyhounds and Dobermans,
All non-fiction and business,
Cuddly when they’re young,
But then the first page is turned.
The doughnut scent of it all, knowledge,
The aroma of coffee being made
In all those books, something for everyone,
The deli offerings of civilization itself.
The library is the book of books,
Its concrete and wood and glass covers
Keeping within them the very big,
Very long story of everything.
The library is dangerous, full
Of answers. If you go inside,
You may not come out
The same person who went in.
Copyright © 2017 by Alberto Ríos

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Summer Swap Finale

Happy Poetry Friday,

I think I might have mentioned how much I have enjoyed this summer's poem swap. It's really nice to get to know poetry people through their writing.

I have two beautiful swaps share.

First, Karen Edminsten sent this, sunny, sandy poem. I received it on a day my children had gone off to visit their grandparents for a week and I was just a touch blue in my quiet house. But,  this gem was in my mailbox and I smiled. Thank you, Karen.

Later in the week, I opened a package from Tara Smith that contained a delightful little book titled Chrysanthemums.  Even better? it was published in 1903. Oh, do I love an antique book...and this one is stunning. The paper, the pages, the photographs from a bygone era. I have so enjoyed paging through this little beauty.

Moore, N. Hudson. Chrysanthemums, Frederick A. Stokes Co. New York. 1903. print.

Have fun making Poetry Rounds today. Margaret Simon is hosting our round-up at Reflections on the Teche. Thank you, Margaret.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Bird Poem Challenge for Wondering and Wandering

Hello Poetry Friday Friend,

This week seemed to fly!  Thanks to our host for Poetry Friday's round-up,  creative and connected, Wondering and Wandering, Christie Wyman.

Christie challenged us to present a bird themed post today. Last week, Diane Mayer had a great post on using photographs from the Library of Congress as writing prompts. LOC has become one of my best friends. There is no end to what to discover from their online collection or at the physical library itself.

These two ideas seemed destined to meet on my laptop.

When I searched LOC for "bird" I found a cache of travel posters featured as a digital resource. I found an old poem. I found a prompt for each could I stop at just one?


Indigo Bird. [No Date Recorded on Caption Card] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.


Rio - Braniff International Airways. [195] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.


Chubb, Thomas CaldecotTurkey gobbler land. Thomas Caldecott Chubb. Decorations by Wharton Esherick. This poem first appeared in Poetry: a magazine of verse, August, . It is now published by the Centaur Press, Philadelphia, in an edition of 800 copies. Copyright 1. Philadelphia, 1934. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.

Turkey Gobbler Land
By Thomas Caldecott Chubb

Down in the south, where cornfields stand in rows
Of blond, stiff spears against a parched, brown earth;

Where the tall pine trees smell of turpentine,
And iridescent doves flash back and forth (read the rest)


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Review of Jazz Owls

Happy Poetry Friday Friends,

Thanks to our poet photographer friend for hosting this week's round-up at Nix the Comfort Zone.  Be sure to stop by for lots and lots of wonderful poetry offerings.

Come Monday, I will be back in middle school as a teacher-librarian. I enjoy work...and, I have LOVED summer. It's always an adjustment going back because this last week is the week to  read all those books I was going to read over the summer. Ack!

I read Jazz Owls: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots (Simon & Schuster 2018) by Young People's Poet Laureate, Margarita Engle.

Jazz Owls is a novel in verse and I love it!

As an educator and librarian for young people, I'm always looking for text that describes how situations other than those familiar feel. Jazz Owls does this wonderfully--and in exquisite verse.

First, there is a realistic cast of characters caught up in the Los Angeles riots (known as the Zoot Suit riots. But, I may never call them by that name again), the summer of 1943. As in other novels by Ms. Engle, each character holds an important piece of the whole story.

It's no surprise to today's readers that some voices in 1943 were listened to before others. First heard and protected were navy sailors training at the nearby base and about to be shipped off to the Pacific -- scared, nervous and looking for ways to vent it all. Also, police and newspaper writers looking for an angle to sell papers were important in the framing of this story.

Other voices were young Mexican-American women working in canning factories for little pay for long hours while being encouraged to also dance at USO Clubs in the evenings. After all, the troops should be kept happy, right? All of these people had families and neighbors that were a part of the fabric of their lives.

Meet Marisela, Lorena and their younger brother-chaperone Ray who work for the war effort by day and dance swing and jitterbug by night. Their older brother, Nico and their father are fighting World War II. Mama, Abuelita are with them on the Homefront.


I love feeling jazz-winged,
so this owl life is easy for me.
until early morning when my shift
at the cannery begins, right after a LONG journey
of clanging streetcar bells and SLEEPY smiles, all
those memories of dancing the jitterbug, Lindy Hop,
and jump blues, while adding my own swaying bit
of Latin-style swing rhythm!


DARK SIDE OF TOWN was the worst headline,
with words that made the rest of this city feel
like white people had received official
to fear
and hate
all of us


If you can't dance
with your neighbors,
you live in the wrong

Dance halls need musicians like  Manolito, a drummer, who hails from Cuba. These guys are being kept busy by the high demand for big band and swing. Everyone wants to feel alive so close to the thought of war and death.


I'm just one of hundreds of musicians
who arrive from New York, Memphis, Chicago,
Kansas City, Saint Louis, and from the steamy islands
of musica too, Cuba and Puerto Rico, drummers,
wearing our loose suits, the zoot shape
that drapes us to keep dance leaps smooth
and COOL in this HOT summer river
of JAZZ!

These beautiful young people get caught up in hysteria, violence and racism when navy recruits, fueled by newspaper angling, rushed streets looking for zoot-suiters to beat up. Chaos, injury, arrests and division ensue. 

Engle gets right to the truth of history with poetic images quickly and without mincing words.  Our young people can grasp this. After all, they are witnessing life now.

There is no happy ending, however, life does go on. There is an admirable reference list and  illustrations by Rudy Gutierrez who's work give layers of authenticity to the text. Artistic readers will be inspired immediately.

A few years ago, some seventh graders were looking for book information on Zoot Suits and the Zoot Suit (which should be more apply named Sailor) Riots. I wish I could have put this book in their hands. Now, I can. And, we can talk and the conversation about who we have been as Americans and who we need to be can continue. This book pairs perfectly with the movie (or snippets of the movie for classroom viewing), Swing Kids .

Thank you, Margarita Engle. You remain one of my writing and reading heroes.