Thursday, July 25, 2019

Road Home Haibun

Hello Poetry Friday!

First an update for friends interested in Pat Valdata's book, Where No Man Can Touch. You may contact Pat through her website contact link. If you have trouble, pm me for her e-mail address. 

I've been traveling with family. It's not travel where we go out to's more long-distance sisters and brother, parents and grandchildren gathered together with good food, a pool and plenty of sitting space. 

This summer I've enjoyed Sarah Donovon's monthly writing challenge on her blog, Ethical ELA. A recent challenge was to write a travel tanka....which reminded me of a recent spate of haibun I'd written for Laura Shovan's Februrary (but this year, March, birthday writing celebration) and mean to get back to for revision.

See one of many definitions here:

These beautiful photos on twitter of  my hometown prompted this haibun & tanka.

Twitter photo July 17th

Road Home

     It was done. Blaisha was several days into her journey, recalling events that led to her victory. Gran’s death had been the start, she thought. If Gran were still alive she wouldn’t have left caring for her to travel so far to the king’s court for the contest. At Gran’s burial, Alwin told her of the court's prize offered to the story teller that could best ease the king’s downcast mood and raging headaches.

     Blaisha had cared for Gran with herbs and stories these last three years. She believed she could sooth the king given a chance but the walk to court was days.  After the funeral, a unbearable silence pushed her to pack a bag and tie her sandals.

     By the time Blaisha was announced, His Majesty had listened to hundreds of stories. His royal head hung and doctors surrounded him with goblets of wine and handfuls of medicines. Blaisha walked forward, bowed low. A courtier asked for her story. Blaisha looked directly at the king and asked after his home, his mother and his first sweet love. 

     As the king and Blaisha talked, courtiers grew annoyed. Girl, come now, tell your story, demanded a noblewoman But, the king held up a hand. Blaisha listened and spoke, spooning responses to the king’s questions as honey. Finally, the king look up and smiled. Miss, I feel so much lighter, so much better. Thank you. You may claim the prize. Courtiers were baffled. The royal accountant stammered about needing time to arrange for the bag of gold.

     Now Blaisha held up a hand. Please, Your Highness, kind sirs and madams. I do not want gold. I ask instead that the hill on which I live and the valley below where I’ve buried my Gran be mine forever.

     It is done, declared the king.

Blaisha then turned to walk the days home to her valley where the hills met in celebration.

                          a road less traveled
                          threads through field to hill to sky
                          reckons each mile
                          kindly shade tree and cloud
                          that walks a traveler home

Photo from Twitter July 17

                         clouds bring news of rain
           .             to blue hills with summer sky
                         the pond laughs loudly
                         unafraid of storm or sky
                         summer’s blue paints its face

Our Poetry Friend and Teaching Author, Margaret Simon is hosting this week's round-up at Reflections on the Teche with an original poem and stolen title! Stop by for some cool summer reading.

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. Her website works for ordering. 

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.