Thursday, July 18, 2019

Where No Man Can Touch, A Review

Good Poetry Friday Everyone,

UPDATE: Author Pat Valdata has a few copies of her book left. Please pm me for her e-mail address.

This week's round-up is hosted at Carol's Corner. There's lots of poetry fun there to enjoy. First, I need to give you a tissue alert for her original poem, I Will Love You Well. Oh, my....what a beauty.

I have another book review to share.

Where No Man Can Touch (West Chester University Poetry Center 2015) by Pat Valdata was recommended to me by poet-author Laura Shovan. Laura saw that I was working on some persona poems and thought I might get some ideas from Pat's exquisite work. 

I hope so! The book begins with Ms. Valdata's dedication,

--Dedicated to all the women pilots who preceded me and made my own flying possible.

The fifty-six poems of this book are of fifty-six women record holders of flight--a reminder of the shoulders upon which we stand. From balloon flight to dirigible to bi-plane and glider to helicopter, determined women steadily pushed into the the very male dominated field of flight. It wasn't easy for most women. But, with the difficult moments and situations is a great deal of humor and heroism and nerve. 

Harriet Quimby in cockpit of plane. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .

Though the women in this book are from a variety of nations including France, the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, United States they all share wonderment for the feeling of being freed from the ground to be in the vast sky. I became so curious about these women I started combing Library of Congress for photographs of some of them. Aren't they amazing writing prompts all on their own?

Harris & Ewing, photographer. MILLER, MISS BERNETTA. MOISSANT AVIATRIX. IN BLERIOT PLANE. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .

As someone who has recently learned about the Night Witches of World War II, I especially enjoyed the short poem Red Stars and Nigh Witches in the voices of Lydia Litvyak and Katya Budenova. But there are many, many other details of women's history tucked into these poems...bloomers and flappers and barn stormers, Bendix racers and more. Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart make appearances...but it's nice to see them as part of a larger collection of women breaking flying records.

Bain News Service, Publisher. Ruth Law arriving at N.Y. plane. date created or published later by Bain. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .

Before I leave this post I would like to point out that this is a poetry collection for adults...not a kidlit novel in verse or biography in verse. Although, I will absolutely make Where No Man Can Touch available to my middle school students as we return to school. Furthermore, this poetry collection is a winner of the Donald Justice Prize, Iris N. Spencer Poetry Award from West Chester University. Each poem stands on its own as the collection builds. 

I thoroughly enjoyed how much I learned about poetry and aviators in this book. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Way the Light Bends, A Review

Happy Poetry Friday, Campers!

Ahhhhh summer and time to read old fashioned books printed on pages! As a school librarian, I enter lots of kidlit book giveaways. Any book I win goes straight into the hands of students and teachers in my school. Sometimes, the books get to those hands before I get a chance to read them. Ack!

I really do want to read ALL the books. But, time.... It's more important that my students and colleagues are reading them than my book hoarding habit. Right?

One book, The Way the Light Bends (Philomel Books (March 27, 2018), was a giveaway win I saved to my TBR pile. I almost gave it to kids before reading it myself because I have a wonderful group of students that love novel-in-verse and would have gobbled it up in a heartbeat. But, I love novel-in-verse too! I saved it for summer. I'm so glad I did.

Imagine being a "surprise" child born to parents that formed their family by adoption. And, within that family, you are virtually twinned with your internationally adopted sister of another race. This is what happens to Linc, short for Lincoln--as in Lincoln Tunnel. Linc is artistically rather than academically or athletically gifted like her sister, Holly adopted from Ghana. Their mother is a doctor, their father a historian.  As residents of Manhattan, NYC, Central Park is literally the playground that Linc and Holly grew up in. They used to pretend to gather water at Tanner's Spring when they were little.

As a New Yorker and daughter of a historian, Linc knows also history of Seneca Village that existed on the site of today's Central Park. She tries to tap into Seneca Village's history and her love of photography with a project at her private school where she is on thin academic ice.

Frustrating to Linc is that Holly seems to be everything Linc is not. She's athletic, smart with good grades, and popular. Their mother seems to have so much more in common with adopted Holly than Linc. In trying to be more autonomous, Linc secretly enrolls in a photography class her parents said "no" to and worse, steals their money to do it. In the class, Linc meets a handsome guy ... that she meets secretly in the park.

“The Way the Light Bends.” The Way the Light Bends, by Cordelia Jensen, Philomel Books, 2018, pp. 152.

The Way the Light Bends addresses multiple issues of teens in mixed-race families adoptive face (I write this as mom to internationally adopted teens and birth children).
  • What makes me who I am?
  • Which matters more: family or friend love...?
  • What does success look like for me?
  • What makes a sister a sister?
Because Linc is a natural-born photographer, we see New York, Central Park and the site of Seneca Village through her artistica and discerning eye. She and Holly have a one-for-one exchange system that is vital to the plot and sisterhood. One candy for one secret for one secret.

“The Way the Light Bends.” The Way the Light Bends, by Cordelia Jensen, Philomel Books, 2018, pp. 218.

I so enjoyed this novel-in-verse, I sent Cordelia Jensen a fan message right just after I finished the last page. I don't think she could have known how much a middle-aged Mom and Librarian would love this book since as her target audience is grade 7 and up.

Treat yourself to a rich YA novel-in-verse with multiple layers of interest. The Way the Light Bends will feed your soul in many ways.

Cordelia Jensen has also written Skyscraping and Every Shiny Thing with Laurie Morrison. She's definitely on my radar as an author to keep up with. I'm so glad to have met her in The Way the Light Bends.

Our friend Jone is hosting this week's Poetry Friday round-up. Please stop by and enjoy! 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Poetry Swap Goodness

Happy Poetry Friday! 

It's July and it's warm and sunny. My family and I came home from our fantastic Toronto vacation culturally enriched with wonderful memories of time together and really great food.

Between taking off and returning I am the delighted recipient of Poetry Swap goodness! I have to admit that I signed up for all five swaps because I love them so much. I love the thinking of an idea, getting crafty and sending out poetry so much that I almost forget that things are going to come into my mailbox too!

Look at the wonderful words from Kat Apel....and as collage. Be still my heart. She sent a collection of poems based on her careful reading of my past blog posts. 

by Kat Apel

Kat Apel

Even sweeter, an original photograph with poetry to compliment....look! I'm extraordinarily grateful to Kat for the time and attention she gave to my words to create this. It's just a wonderful, wonderful gift. 

by Kat Apel

Waking birds compose
worm song
to a wide, new world;

short notes in 
rich voice.

Hunting for the tiger
became the inspiration.
Wanting to write sunbeams,
it dawn on me that I had

     and succeeded
          and succeeded

               Oh, my goodness...

                    Eagle's sky shines.

And then...and THEN....I received this incredible collage from Tabatha. Aren't I the luckiest? I love this!

Original art and poetry by Tabatha Yeatts Lonske
True Faith

your hands are finely trained
to keep us sustained

your gift is the sound
that yields dreams unbound.

by Tabatha Yeatts Lonske If you haven't participated in one of Tabatha's Poetry it! It's like poetry Christmas morning.

Speaking of collage...

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes is letting me talk poetry on Today's Little Ditty this week. I talk a bit about creative cross training...which involves lots of bits of paper and glue. I'd love it if you stopped by there as well as our Poetry Friday host this week, Tricia at her blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Thursday, June 27, 2019


Happy Poetry Friday!

My family is traveling this week and we are having fun exploring a new city. I'm having fun collecting odd-ball photos of sculpture, grafitti, murals, signs and fun words. I thought I'd leave some clues about where we are in the form of riddle-ku.

photo clues by Linda

i thought i'd be cold
but your summer sun welcomed
me with open arms


you've had many names
narrows, plenty, meeting place
blue jays shout out all


walking the city
all the many faces pass
each a work of art


Make sure you stop by Buffy's Blog for all the Poetry Friday fun, this week.

If you haven't guessed yet...the answer is we are having a fabulous time in Toronto, Canada. 
Linda loves street art
Toronto's a fun place to find sculpture

China Town

Street Art, Toronto

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Clunker Exchange: Poetry Friday Starts Here

Hello Poets,

Welcome to Poetry Friday. I'm thrilled to host this first Friday of summer. I hope some joy for warm days and sunshine, flowers, fireflies, travel, camp fires and kicking-back comes right out of your screen and surrounds you this very moment. 

Recycled book art by Linda

I'll be collecting your link for our poetry exchange, the old fashioned way-- in the comments section. 

Please leave a word or two about what you are sharing and a link to your blog in a comment to this post. I will summarize links as they are added (or, you can scroll through the comments section to find links I haven't caught up to yet) in bunches of ten.

I hope you go from here to blog posts of old friends, find new friends and, I invite all to leave comments on blogs you visit to let poets & writers in our community know they aren't just whistling in the dark. 

Poetry Friday Posts
  • Carol at Beyond Literacy is celebrating grand-daughter Sierra's love of reading in a poem that fits TLD's monthly challenge.
  • Mary Lee offers a multi-media post I wish I had written about our new Poet Laureate Joy Harjo at A Year of Reading. Don't miss this one!
  • Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference shares some really lovely lines of poetry from D.H. Lawrence
  • Kimberly Hutmacher Writes shares a review of Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan that has me putting the book on hold at my library right now.
  • Cheriee has found a treasure trove of logging poetry and is sharing some on Library Matters--which you know is super for her if you've been following her poems.
  • At Writing the World for Kids Laura Purdie Salas shares a riddle-ku as she's flying off to ALA.
  • Michelle Kogan introduces a Joy Harjo poem that is stunning and then mirrors the tone with an original. WOW
  • Catherine at Reading to the Core shares Joy Harjo's Eagle Poem and it is absolutely amazing. 
  • Matt at Radio Rhythm & Rhyme has much to celebrate with books on summer reading lists and poems coming out in two new anthologies. Congrats, Matt!
  • Michelle at Today's Little Ditty, shares a gorgeous poem, When You Wish Upon a Star that also fits Karen Boss' monthly challenge at TLD.
summer bike by Linda

  • Jone Rush McCulloch turned a request for toast making into a fabulous 'We Come From' poem for a class reunion (totally stealing this idea should the need arise to make a toast). 
  • Little Willow shares The Widening Sky by Ed Hirsch.
  • Rebecca at Sloth Reads shares a dreamy original poem celebrating midsummer.
  • Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe grew a poem from a kindergartener's seed...just the way poems should grow. LOVE it.
  • At Bookseedstudio, Jan has some great summer shorts for us!
  • Live Your Poem poet Irene pops in to share one of her favorite Joy Harjo poems as well as a rec to read Crazy Brave. I'm on it!
  • There is No Such Thing as a God Forsaken Town gives us some thoughts on just how April-ish June has been. Don't miss the Langston Hughes poem link near the end. Thanks, Ruth.
  • At A Journey Through the Pages, Kay has taken a clunker and turned it into a shining line of an original poem--that I love! Thanks, Kay. I knew some of these clunkers had some life in them.
  • Robin at Life on the Deckle Edge shares a super cute photo of her and her husband on their wedding day with some lines from Browning. sigh.
  • Carol's Corner is celebrating our new Poet Laureate with some of her work: 
Almost to the beach by Linda

  • At The Poem Farm, Amy  shares an original poem, There Was a Time, that also celebrates Joy Harjo. Make sure you stop by there and listen in.
  • Ramona gives us a beautiful quote by Joy Harjo that I quickly copied into my journal for future contemplation when writing. Stop by Pleasures from the Page to see it.
  • Sylvia at Poetry for Children celebrates 50 years of the Coretta Scott King Awards of poetry. What a stellar reading list for any of us! 
  • Christe of Wyman's Wonders took a clunker and turned it into a delightful original poem involving a cardinal that has been visiting her classroom.   
  • Fats shares a fairy tale inspired poem by Nakita Gills that makes me smile.
  • Reflections on the Teche by Margaret is full of joy over hatching ducklings. Precious!
  • Susan continues the adventures of Wondermonger, Tear Drop and Sleepy Knight. 

Re-cycled book art by Linda

I've combed through my journals and lifted a few dozen to share today. Clunkers are lines, thoughts and bits of poems on my cutting room floor. I can't do anything with them. But, maybe you can in today's... 



  1. Take as many clunkers as you like
  2. Leave at least one clunker from your journal or files in exchange as a comment to this post.
  3. Use the clunker(s) you took as a prompt 
  4. Give permission for your shared clunker to be used as a prompt to make something new--even if the exact words are used.
  5. I/we would love to see your shiny new poem when you've finished--but its not necessary. Just knowing that the words are getting new life is reward in itself.

Clunkers I'm giving away for free

*Come here, let me tell you what it’s like

*I am self-taught in opportunity

*my hands are finely trained

*A graduation cap waits in your room

*our fortune teller waits

*A tale as old as time these two

*I had named them before turning

*foil wrapped treat 

*two feet free -- from shoes

*We poems, we’ve been around

*then, stars call

*the comfort of my bed at home envelopes me

*they will laugh with joy

*What if this poem didn’t care?

*then, stars call

*there’s always one… 

*As a ______, your ______ consumption should not be     

*Never did say after

*I retrieve these things from my future

*Think of it this way…

*As she walks the road 

*An out of shape poem went to the gym

*I, June, gave her to rest and picked up the pen.

*between paragraphs of parenting

*I am the sound of

*Here lies Shirley Shopper

*Pine boughs sweep green beyond

*handkerchiefs fall from laps of trees at a banquet

*Nellie was born in 1896

*the defense of personal space even if in a crowd

*a veil that comes with pulling an apron over one’s head.

*be changed

*80% of college freshmen change majors at least once

*Fresh dressed boys walked along the tracks and away from school

*wonders of a beehive

*first ___________ of summer

*flitting, fluttering, flying

*a recycled tin, a can of spray paint and some_____
*these old weeded books
*words spilled across the page, dark ink
*The kind of kid that inspired me to teach
*listened to the locking of belts and unlocking of breaks of the gurney
*the command, "next", was too big, too loud, to alive for the small crowded room
*white hair and glasses did not disguise the fun in his blue eyes
*made you believe you were as good as she saw you
*given as a birthday gift