Friday, December 26, 2008

Monstrous Alliances

There are two wonderful things I'd like to share with you this week. One is a poem by Wm. Stafford. The other is environmental poetry resource packs from the Poetry Society U.K. Enjoy and see you next year!

How These Words Happened
By William Stafford

In winter, in the dark hours, when others
were asleep, I found these words and put them
together by their appetites and respect for
each other. In stillness, they jostled. They traded
meanings while pretending to have only one.

Monstrous alliances never dreamed of before
began. Sometimes they lost. Never again
do they separate in this world. They are
together. They have a fidelity that no
purpose of pretense can even break.

And all of this happens like magic to the words
in those dark hours when others sleep.


The Poetry Society UK commissioned award-winning poet, ecologist, and educator Mario Petrucci to develop the following Environment-centred resource packs, designed for schools, young adults and poets:

1. Poetry: the Environment: Four of the most pressing Environmental themes, comprehensively explored through poetry.

2. Biomimicry: Poetry. This fascinating new branch of science is concerned with solving problems by imitating Nature. Mario’s unique poetry pack explores Biomimicry to support independent imaginative writing activity and National Curriculum alike.

3. The Green Poetry Pack: Poems and writing ideas to engage with the natural world, soil and trees, and local self-sufficiency.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Merry Melange

Merry Christmas! First, porcelain artist Laura Peery...

Black Ruffle
By Laura Peery

Understanding Midnight
By Laura Peery


Lines and Colors, a terrific art blog, has compiled 2008 Best Graphic Novel Lists. If you like graphic novels (or are wondering what they are), take a look.


Aren't these ear ornaments from the 1400s-1500s amazing? They are made of wood and feathers!

Pair of Ear Ornaments
ChimĂș/Inka; 15th–16th century
American Museum of Natural History, New York

Friday, December 19, 2008

Everywhere They Are Wisest

In our house, we have an advent calendar which is based on a Muppet version of O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi. No one can really do Kermit's voice successfully, but that's not to say we don't try. has a neat poetry lesson plan based on The Gift of the Magi. I like how they mix the story with poetry and music.

If you'd like to listen to the original The Gift of the Magi, you can on LibriVox. In addition to audio options, they also have text versions.

While we're thinking about meaningful gifts, here's an excerpt from Giving by Kahlil Gibran:
You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?

And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?

And what is fear of need but need itself?

Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the much which they have - and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.

And there are those who have little and give it all.

These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

You can read the rest here.

Lastly, if you'd like to hear Twas the Night Before Christmas, LibriVox has that too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mikhail Vrubel

Russian artist Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910) is our focus this week.

Demon Seated
By Mikhail Vrubel

Demon Seated (1890) was Vrubel's first large canvas, which, though vehemently criticized by contemporaries, elevated Vrubel to a whole new plane of artistic expression. Vrubel had developed the theme of Demon, a hero of Mikhail Lermontov’s poem, from 1885. With Vrubel, Demon becomes the incarnation of the romantic spirit. Demon starts out full of hope, searching for harmony and truth, beauty and love. For a brief moment, he even seems to find what he longs for. But eventually his hopes are crushed. He becomes disillusioned and boils with rebellion. In the end, he himself is crushed and thrown out. This world has no place for him. (Information from Russian Art Gallery, Victor Potoskuev)

The Pearl
By Mikhail Vrubel

By Mikhail Vrubel

By Mikhail Vrubel

You can read more about Vrubel's creative life and his sad end here.

Some other great works from the Russian Art Gallery include Ilya Repin's Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan, Nikolay Yaroshenko's Life is Everywhere, and Victor Vasnetsov's Sirin and Alkonost, Birds of Joy and Sadness.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Moving Slowly Through The Stars

A pair of Native American poets today.

Winter Evening
by Chrystos

in the northern mountains
Moon is a silver turtle
moving slowly through the stars


excerpt from Perhaps the World Ends Here
by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

An anthology of 20th century Native American poetry and a collection that mixes traditional with modern
A Native American poetry workshop lesson plan
There is Nothing Like an Idea by Nora Naranjo-Morse
My Mother and My Sisters by Simon Ortiz
'Twas the Night Before Ojibwe Christmas by Tara Prindle

Thursday, December 11, 2008

She Rides the Lion

Sonia Romero paints, prints, and offers workshops from her wonderfully-named "She Rides the Lion" studio in California. She worked with a team of youth to create East Los Angeles public pool murals:

She is working on a Macarthur Park Metro Station installation, with thirteen linoleum cut and airbrush designs picturing positive community uses of the Macarthur Park area, like the one below:

Langers Delicatessen

This reminds me of a book illustration! The artist sells prints of her hand carved linoleum cuts in her Etsy shop. (Etsy! My favorite "mall"! So great for presents.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Even Monkeys Like Haiku

First, it's time to announce my new contest for young writers! You can get the details here. Don't miss it!

A little poetry from a monkey and her friend this week.

Julie sent her monkey friend this haiku:

I don't believe you
I will not look behind me
There is no monkey

And monkey replied:

how silly you are
frida is not behind me
no, i will not look.

I love haiku conversations between friends.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nikolas Schiller

D.C.-based artist Nikolas Schiller uses aerial photographs as a starting point for his art, which he calls "conceptual cartography." I'm showing some today from his Lenz Project. There are so many that make me say "Wow!" that I have to include links to a few more: here, here, and here.