Saturday mornings were mornings not to disturb parents who were sleeping in, grab a bowl of Frosted Flakes in our Tony the Tiger bowl we received from sending in cereal boxtops, and to sit down in front of the TV to watch cartoons. That was the 50’s and 60’s go-to plan. TV programming was tuned in to this phenomena, running cartoons from 6:30 a.m. until the 9:00 a.m. news. This blog dedicates Saturday mornings toward the same “target audience.” Here is a recommendation for the kid or grandkid in your life:
In Gutsy Women, Roenfanz presents gutsy women poets and authors as the daily readings for Thursdays of every week. She heads up her article about Gwendolyn Brooks with a quote: “Poetry is life distilled.”
Brooks lived from 1917-2000, and was “one of the most highly respected, influential, and widely read poets of the 20th century.” In 1950, she was the first African American author to win a Pulitzer Prize ,” which she did with Annie Allen. ” [She] was the Illinois’ poet laureate (from 1968-2000) and the first Black woman consultant to the Library of Congress.”
“After working for the NAACP, Brooks developed her writing in poetry workshops,” publishing her first collection A Street in Bronzeville, in 1945. Her poetry showcased the plight of the Black, urban poor. In later years, she traveled extensively as an activist dealing with “the problems of color.” Her poetry influenced many young, Black poets of the 21st. century.
This book has been a delight to me, allowing me to read about “gutsy women” of my era, and those who came before. Each day upon reading the short piece on a woman, I think, “You go, girl!” and am inspired to attempt to be “gutsy” in my own life. Thank you, Rosemary, for such a lovely daily “read.”
Today I received my newsletter from The Academy of American Poets in the mail. Some of the more interesting points were as follows:
“Twenty-five years ago in April of 1996, it was Academy of American Poets members who provided the initial seed money for us to announce and carry out National Poetry Month for the first time…
Over the years, our annual celebration of poets and poetry has been recognized in The New York Times, USA Today, Time, The Washington Post, People magazine , and thousands of other publications…
…the month of April has become by far the most important time of year for the release of new poetry…and sales of poetry by recognized authors and new poets alike [increase].
…events numbering in the hundreds of thousands have taken place–no exaggeration–at libraries, community centers, places of worship, at parks, town squares…all aimed at bringing poetry into the lives of local citizens and fostering a greater appreciation for beloved poets of the past as well as today’s new voices.”
The organization sent me a National Poetry Month poster, and they will be sending weekly lesson plans to 35,000 teachers nationwide. Other online programs, readings, and celebrations will be held as well.
I plan to celebrate National Poetry month with a poetry contest in my Advanced Writing class and to personally read a new poem each day of the month. Let me share today’s with you. This is from Margaret Atwood’s Dearly, her latest collection of poems:
“Cats suffer from dementia too. Did you know that?
Ours did. Not the black one, smart enough
to be neurotic and evade the vet.
The other one, the furrier’s muff, the piece of fluff.
She’d writhe around on the sidewalk
for chance pedestrians , whisker
their trousers, though not enough when she started losing
what might have been her mind. She’d prowl the night
kitchen, taking a bite
from a tomato, a ripe peach there,
a crumpet, a softening pear.
Is this what I’m supposed to eat?
Guess not, but where?
Then up the stairs she’d come, moth-footed,
like a tiny, fuzzy steam train: Ar-woo! Ar-woo!
So witless and erased. O who?
Clawing at the bedroom door
shut tight against her. Let me in,
enclose me, tell me who I was.
No good. No purring. No contentment, Out
into the darkened dining room,
then in, then out forlorn.
And when I go that way, grow fur, start howling,
scratch at your airwaves:
no matter who I claim I am
or how I love you,
turn the key. Bar the window.”
Margaret Atwood’s voice is a strong one in her poems. Often her “messages” or thoughts are not what we expect, but she is always unique, a voice to be heard. Thanks to my friend, Mary Allen, who gave me a signed copy of this 2020 collection of Atwood poems. I hope to read the entire collection this month to celebrate National Poetry Month, 2021.
This year (2022) finds me with 50+ years of teaching “under my belt.” I have taught all levels from pre-K “(library lady” or “book lady”–volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the “difficult years.” I had some of the “funnest” experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the “young, fun teacher,” I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a “dream-fit” for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is “in my blood,” so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to “come out and play.” View all posts by Rae LongestAuthor Rae LongestPosted on Categories UncategorizedTags 2021, Margaret Atwood, National Poetry Month, poetryEdit
THIS IS NO APRIL FOOL’S JOKE, today kicks off National Poetry month.
Some ideas I am considering to celebrate National Poetry Month, as suggested by poets.org/npm are as follows:
Look into the dear poet project for my students.
I have already hung the National Poetry Month official poster in my classroom.
Today I will sign up for poem-a-day.I signed for it last year and cannot, for the life of me, remember why I cancelled it, too much email, I guess.
I will check into the virtual gala , Poetry and the Creative Mind, on April 28th.
And, I will definitely will carry a poem in my pocket on April 29th, “Poem in Your Pocket Day.”
Follow these poetic adventures and more to come during the month of April on “Powerful Women Readers.”
p.s. I just googled the Dear Poet project and discovered that it is for grades 5-12. I have juniors and seniors at the university and one kindergarten student whom I tutor. Therefore, I will adapt this suggestion into an assignment for a my students to write to a poet they discover this month.
Tomorrow begins the celebration of poetry for 2022, National Poetry Month. This blog and also my Advanced Writing class will be joining in on the celebration, as I do something each day of April to celebrate poets and poetry. Here is the official poster for 2022 I posted in my classroom yesterday:
Join me in this celebration by following this blog for the next thirty days and add some poetry to your life.
Today’s recommendation is a collection of poems for kids. No, it is not a Cybils nominee; this one was published in 2018. The book had such a joyous cover by illustrator, Raul Colon, that I picked it up at my local library.
Pat Mora, the author of the poems, a beloved children’s poet, has written about things “bookish”–literary for the most part–and has included a few poems about kids themselves for good measure.
Here are a few of Raul Colon’s marvelous illustrations:
Today’s Saturday morning recommendation is a Cybils nominee I finished last night.
This novel in verse is set in a strange situation. The protagonist finds herself left behind after an equally strange evacuation. Dealing with many questions and what ifs, she spends over three years totally alone, learning survival skills as she goes. Her father thinks she is with her mother, and vice versa, and three quarters through the story, she realizes that her parents aren’t coming back for her–the reverse of the thought that kept her going.
Facing martialist looters, wild dogs, and other scary things, the main character deals with the scariest disaster of all: being completely alone. It is a page-turner from the first poem, and one your middle-schooler or teen will not be able to put down.
Today’s (October 8th) Friday First Liner is from a novel in poetry form I am reading for Cybils.
It is from Ellen Hopkins’ What About Will. Having written fourteen best-selling YA novels, this novel in poetry form is aimed at middle grade (grades 5-8) readers. Here is the beginning of the first poem:
“My Big Brother”
“Always/had a /short /fuse/but now/it’s permanently lit.”
The novel tells the story from the perspective of Trace, Will’s younger, middle-school-aged brother, who after Will’s “incident” finds his world turned upside down. This will be one of many poetry/novels I will read for the Cybils Awards as a panelist in poetry.
The Comfort Book by Matt Haig offers just that–comfort.
Opening it at random this morning before returning it to the library, I found these words as a reminder of how to start and spend my day:
“A Thing I Discovered Recently”
“I love stillness. Slowness. When nothing is happening. The blueness of the sky. Inhaling clean air. Birdsong over traffic. Lone footsteps. Spring flowers blooming with defiance. I used to think the quiet patches felt dead. Now they feel more alive. Like leaning over and listening to the earth’s heartbeat.”
In an effort to read more poetry this year than last (a 2021 goal), I am challenging myself with a short objective–to read a poem a day for ten days. And, what better way to do this than to use poets.org, the “original poetry service publishing new work by contemporary poets.” I subscribed today, Sunday, August 22nd, 2021.
Today’s featured poem is by Walter Everette Hawkins, a native of North Carolina, born in 1888.
The poem is titled, “The Drowsy World Dreams On.” In it, the poet marks the occurrence of many things, while “the drowsy world dreams on,” oft repeated as the final line of each stanza.
The final stanza of the poem sums up the world’s indifference to daily happenings, both large and small:
“And the dreary old world’s growing gloomy and gray,
While the joys that are sweetest are passing away;
And the charms that inspire like the picture of dawn
Are but playthings of Time–they gleam and are gone,
While the drowsy world dreams on.”
I will not post a poem a day and my interpretation of it, for the goal is to read poetry, not write about it. Instead, I would encourage you readers to choose a poem a day service and read a poem a day for whatever amount of time you choose to challenge your self for. Happy Reading–of POETRY!
One of my 2021 reading goals was to read more poetry. I have not read as much poetry as I would have liked, but recently, I checked a book out of my local library that was about poetry
The colorful cover attracted me, and I have always admired e.e. cummings. Although the publication date was 1958, the book was a fascinating read of essays and other pieces by cummings himself. In the first section, an essay by cummings “Is Something Wrong?” poses the question, “Is something wrong with America’s creative artists?” cummings’ answer is a yes and no. Also, he points out that each of us has a poet within, and he gives this advice: “Do not fear the artist in yourselves, my fellow citizens. Honor him and love him. Love him truly–do not try to possess him.” He ends this essay with, “Only the artist in yourselves is more truthful than the night.”
In the second part, an essay, “A Poet’s Advice to Students,” cummings defines the poet as: “A poet is someone who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.” He continues, “…And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world–unless you’re willing, but glad to feel and work and fight till you die. Does this sound dismal? It isn’t. It’s the most wonderful life on earth. Or, so I feel.” cummings’ feelings about being a poet is that it isn’t easy; it’s hard, but it’s “the most wonderful life on earth.”
Confession time: I did not read this book cover to cover; I read the essays that “called out to me.” As my grandson would say, “I did not read the entire book; I ‘used’ it.”