Monday, June 28, 2010

One World

An online project called "Poems for..." supplies small poem-posters for public display - in class rooms, libraries, waiting rooms, anywhere you think they would be appropriate. Hard copies are free (except for postage). You can also download them for free if you register.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Pixton is a site where you can create your own comics (for free).

Of course, some people have made poetry-related comics:

An excerpt from an e.e.cummings poem, made into a cartoon by missliss47.

Weirdo next door made a version of The Raven. So did Jimmydean.

A Robbie Burns comic by Georgy Girl

Who Is Shakespeare? by Leekay 12

Excaliber was inspired by Joyce Kilmer's A Tree.

TGlenn created a comic about poet laureate Robert Pinsky. Someone else made one about Gwendolyn Brooks. Jack Vozelgang made a comic biography of William Carlos Williams. I think it's a popular classroom project because it's an interesting way to present information.

Want to try it yourself? They have contests!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In The Depths

I must be a mermaid-- I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.
~Anaïs Nin

My last two water-related posts have been reality-based, but this one takes off on artists' flights of fancy.

The Bookish Mermaid
By Marta Pelrine-Bacon

The Merman King
by Edmund Dulac

Catfish Merman
by Alexander Antonyuk

Poseidon/Neptune sculpture in Copenhagen Port
photo by Hans Andersen

Seahorse Saxophonist
by Alexander Antonyuk

Merman Skeleton
by Brandon Kihl

Ulysses and the Sirens
by John William Waterhouse
To get past the Sirens safely and not fall victim to their song, Ulysses had his crew plug their ears with wax. He wanted to hear them, though, so he had himself tied to the mast.

Friday, June 18, 2010

With All My Senses Awake

by D. H. Lawrence

They call all experience of the senses mystic,
when the experience is considered.
So an apple becomes mystic when I taste in it
the summer and the snows, the wild welter of earth
and the insistence of the sun.

All of which things I can surely taste in a good apple.
Though some apples taste preponderantly of water, wet and sour
and some of too much sun, brackish sweet
like lagoon water, that has been too much sunned.

If I say I taste these things in an apple,
I am called mystic, which means a liar.
The only way to eat an apple is to hog it down like a pig
and taste nothing
that is real.

But if I eat an apple, I like to eat it with all my senses awake.
Hogging it down I call the feeding of corpses.

The Poetry Friday round-up is at Two Writing Teachers

P.S. I'm going on vacation today and won't be back until the day of the total solar eclipse. I have scheduled posts to go up while I'm gone. It's like leaving a little robot helper in charge. See you when I get back!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Along the River

This panoramic painting is so fabulous that it is the only one we're looking at today.

Along the River During Qingming Festival
18th century remake of an original by Zhang Zeduan, 1085-1145

~ The National Palace Museum in Taiwan has an online exhibit devoted to Along the River During Qingming Festival.
~ An article about China's "Mona Lisa."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy Bloomsday

Let me start off by confessing that I haven't read Ulysses by James Joyce. OK, now that I've unburdened myself, let me tell you about an annual worldwide literary party that takes place on June 16th: Bloomsday.

This is an unusual event -- it's not celebrating an author's birthday; it's celebrating the day that the events of Ulysses unfold. The whole book covers just one day. "Bloom" is the last name of the main character, Leopold Bloom, in case you were wondering, "Why 'Bloomsday'?"

You can read about events taking place in Ireland, New York City, and dozens of other places. The New York Times has an article about it.

A Bloomsday poster for a mock folk operetta (?) inspired by Ulysses:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Stranded, the third book in Douglas E. Richards' The Prometheus Project series, The Children's Book Review is giving away two sets of the first two books in the series.

Enter by June 30th. Some details: You need to respond to the notification that you won your prize within 72 hours of July 1st (which ruled out me being able to enter, as I will not be near a computer during that time, so I wanted to make sure you all knew about that, too). Also, you need a U.S. mailing address to receive your prize.

The Children's Book Review has more giveaways. (Shipping restrictions vary -- so you do not always need a U.S. mailing address.)

Also, back in May, they posted the finalists of the 2010 Children's Choice Book Awards. Looking for present ideas? There might be some on this list.

The award announcement/gala was timed to coincide with Children's Book Week. Look at illustrator Jon J. Muth's gorgeous Children's Book Week poster:

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Perfect Word That is the Poet's Wand!

The Sonnet by William Mulready, 1839

What is a sonnet?

~ A Sonnet is a moment's monument,--
From The Sonnet by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

~ The sonnet is a crown, whereof the rhymes
Are for Thought's purest gold the jewel-stones;

From Sonnet by E.A. Robinson

~ Staunch meter, great song, it is yours, at length,
To prove how stronger you are than my strength.

From Single Sonnet by Louise Bogan


OK, so a sonnet is a poem that inspires poets to write about it in sonnet form.

Hmm...I guess that doesn't tell us what it is. Sonnets are 14-line poems with a rhyming format that is traditionally either: a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g (the Shakespearean version) or a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a c-d-e-c-d-e or c-d-c-c-d-c (Italian versions). But there's a pretty wide variety of rhyming patterns.

Don't forget the iambic pentameter! Iambic pentameter emphasizes every other syllable of a ten syllable line, so the lines have a certain rhythm. (OK, sometimes you CAN forget the iambic pentameter, such as when you are just writing a sonnet for yourself. If you're writing for your teacher and they want you to write one Shakespeare-style, then you have to keep it in mind.)

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892-1950, could rock a sonnet:

Time does not bring relief...
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,--so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

Sonnet XXX
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love is not all: It is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
and rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
pinned down by need and moaning for release,
or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It may well be. I do not think I would.


"Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone..." -- wow!


The title of this post is from E.A. Robinson's Sonnet cited above. Scroll down about five poems to find it.


4ndyman wrote a sonnet to help students with their sonnet homework.

He said: "If sonnet homework proves to be a bear,
Just break it down into syllabic lumps,
Then listen to the words. Now do you hear
duh-DUMP duh-DUMP duh-DUMP duh-DUMP duh-DUMPs?"


Mix and Match lines of Shakespeare's sonnets to make your own.
A lesson plan for translating Shakespeare's sonnets
Sonnet by Billy Collins
"Sonnet," the sweater

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Water is Life's Mater and Matrix

“Water is life's mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
~ Hungarian Biochemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

I'm upset about the BP oil disaster and I'd like to dedicate this and other upcoming Art Thursdays to water-related art.

Mothership sea urchin sculpture located in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland
by Rachael Joynt

Physophora hydrostatica
Photo by Larry Madin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Physophora hydrostatica is modular, made up of multiple units, each specialized for a function like swimming, feeding, or reproduction. Some grow very large — over 100 feet long in the deep ocean.

by Lisa Denning

Fossilized Shells
Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
The tiny shells of single-cell organisms that died and sank to the ocean bottom contain chemical clues to water temperature and rainfall in that area of the ocean.

Coral Reefs
Photo by Jessie Kneeland, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Ocean Planet
Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:
"Earth is an ocean planet. More than 70% of its surface is covered by ocean with an average depth of just over two miles. But how much water is there really? In this illustration, the sphere on the left represents Earth with all of the water removed. The blue sphere to the right shows the approximate volume of all of Earth's water. The tiny blue dot on the far right represents the available fresh water."

~ Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History
~ Google's Ocean Showcase
~ Atlas of Our Changing Environment
~ Learn about various marine animals at the Aquarium of the Pacific online learning center.
~ Discovery's Planet Green was celebrating World Oceans Day (June 8th -- just missed it) and they suggest ways that you can help.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Artist Barnaby Evans created WaterFire Providence in Providence, Rhode Island in 1994.

The site explains:
"WaterFire® is a work of art that involves movement, participation and surprise. When visitors encounter WaterFire, they cannot absorb the sculpture from just their sense of sight or even from a single vantage point—they must walk through the installation and they must use all five of their senses. WaterFire is full of motion—throughout the night the firetenders stoke the fires, the boats glide past the flames, the rivers flow quietly beneath the braziers, the sparks whirl throughthe night air, and the flickering flames reflect off the dark surface of the water, animating the architectural fabric of the city."

Music goes with the visual aspects of it. You can hear bits here.

You can read essays about WaterFire here.

There are five summer dates on the WaterFire schedule.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Celtic Cross-Stitch Generator

I haven't cross-stitched since I was a kid, but if I ever get around to making more, I'd love to try using my own custom pattern. You can make a Celtic-lettered pattern here:
The Celtic Alphabet Cross-Stitch Generator

Mail-Art Across the World

"Mail-Art Across the World" is a European project that invites calligraphy artists around the world to participate by sending their work not IN the mail but ON the mail -- the humble envelope is elevated to art. Check it out:

These are from various years: 2005, 2007, and 2009.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spirit in Motion

Did you see the winter Paralympics in Vancouver? I watched them on the Paralympic Sport TV site. Photographer Lieven Coudenys has been chronicling the Paralympics since the 1996 Atlanta Games. He has wonderful shots!

Check out these joyful and compelling pictures.


An article about the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad
International Paralympic Committee
The Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project

Speech Accent Archive

This morning on NPR, I heard about something cool -- George Mason University linguistic professor Steven Weinberger's Speech Accent Archive:

"Everyone who speaks a language, speaks it with an accent. A particular accent essentially reflects a person's linguistic background. When people listen to someone speak with a different accent from their own, they notice the difference, and they may even make certain biased social judgments about the speaker.

The speech accent archive is established to uniformly exhibit a large set of speech accents from a variety of language backgrounds. Native and non-native speakers of English all read the same English paragraph and are carefully recorded. The archive is constructed as a teaching tool and as a research tool. It is meant to be used by linguists as well as other people who simply wish to listen to and compare the accents of different English speakers."


I think the list of languages is interesting -- there may be some languages that are new to you.

Here are some of the uses they name for the archive:
"Who uses the archive?
*ESL teachers who instruct non-native speakers of English
*Actors who need to learn an accent
*Engineers who train speech recognition machines
*Linguists who do research on foreign accent
*Phoneticians who teach phonetic transcription
*Speech pathologists
*Anyone who finds foreign accent to be interesting