Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bill Carman

Surrealism to me has always been the "stuff of dreams." These are the things we see when we close our eyes and drift off to other places.
~ Michael Meissner

Artist Bill Carman has a fun sense of humor with a healthy dollop of weirdness.

Narwhal Rain
by Bill Carman

Delivery By Pig
by Bill Carman

Just Walkin' My Tree
by Bill Carman

by Bill Carman

Organic Radar
by Bill Carman

Just a Trim
by Bill Carman

Battle Cat
by Bill Carman

by Bill Carman

One more surrealist quote:

I don't do drugs. I am drugs.
~ Salvador Dali

All the above works were used with the permission of Bill Carman.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Museum Inside Our Heads

A prose poem experiment using lines from Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger.
from Moon Tiger
by Penelope Lively

We open our mouths
and out flow words
whose ancestries we do not even know.

We are walking lexicons.

In a single sentence of idle chatter
we preserve Latin,

we carry a museum inside our heads,

each day
we commemorate peoples
of whom we have

Something Good

Today's Music Monday is a salute to a great voice:

A belated Happy 58th birthday!

~ Chaka Khan's web site
~ Some other great singers
~ Other great (but non-singing) voices

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Owl Magazine

Owlkids' Motto:
You teach them to read, we'll teach them to love it!

At our house, it's a happy day when the mail brings the latest issue of Owl Magazine. We didn't find out about these Canadian kids' magazines until mine were ready for Owl, but they do have two others for younger children.

Online Owl:
Printable Activities
Contests for Kids

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Sun Grows In Your Smile

My grandmother Helen has some difficult things to contend with. She broke her hip in January and now she can't do for herself the way she would like. Many of her contemporaries have passed away, including my grandfather. She feels like she doesn't have much to offer any more. We talked about that when I saw her last weekend. She said that all she has to offer anyone is a smile. That's quite a lot when it comes right down to it, but I pointed out two other things she had given me during our visit -- interesting stories and useful advice. People don't always realize what they are giving.

Knowing my grandmother has given me a number of things:

~ an ability to speak very loudly and clearly when the need arises. My grandmother's been deaf in one ear for as long as I can remember, and she has a hearing aid in the other.
~ a liking for Southern accents. I put my Southern accent on when I am talking to her (and then I am speaking Southern very loudly and clearly!).
~ affectionate memories of the pleasure in her voice when she answered the phone and realized it was me. "Hi, Sugar!" she always said. I can hear her "Hi, Sugar!" so clearly in my head! (I say this in past tense because talking on the phone is not that easy these days, due to her hearing.)
~ a tradition of putting love into your cooking, so you are giving the people who eat your food a deeper kind of nourishment.
~ an appreciation for all kinds of things people make with their hands, particularly of the quilted, knitted, crocheted, and embroidered variety.
~ a love for birds.

Linda Rodriguez generously allowed me to share this poem, which spotlights the power of a smile:

The Sun Grows In Your Smile
by Linda Rodriguez

When you smile, the air grows warm and soft,
the earth is watered with gentle mists,
seeds sprout and spread leaves above the dark, damp soil,
earthworms pierce the crust and frolic across the surface
to the delight of fat, happily hunting robins,
lilies of the valley unfurl beside purple, grape-scented irises,
fat pink and maroon peonies, and gay California poppies,
damask roses hurl their rich fragrance to the wind,
the crazy-with-sheer-joy song of the Northern mockingbird
echoes above other chirps and sweet winged notes,
gardeners join the worms in the warm, rich dirt,
children gallop across yards and grab handfuls of dandelions
to present to mothers who will set them in glasses of water
in kitchen windows or on dining room tables, weeds
glorious after the dark of winter with the color of the sun
that grows and warms and heals in your smile.

From Heart's Migration (Tia Chucha Press), 2010 Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence

Granny and Ben

Mary Lee is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up this week.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kiss Me!

“Time's fun when you're having flies.”
~ Kermit The Frog

Under The Frogs house in Bielsko-Biała

Frog Women Moon
by Roger Gray

The Frog Prince
by Jessie Marion King

Lazzaro Spallanzani monument, Scandiano, Italy

Ride The Frog
by Sonia Romero

Frog and Mouse
by Getsuju, late 18th-early 19th century

The Frog Who Would A Wooing Go
by Charles Bennett

The wooing frog below is from Walter Crane's The Baby's Opera, which has a lot of great illustrations.

Caricature of Christina Nilsson as Ophelia
Cover of L'Eclipse, 1868
By André Gill


The Frog and the Moon by Raimila
Werefrog Tadpole painting
The North Carolina Museum of Art Mystery of the Poison-Dart Frog lesson plans and online game
Kermit the Frog's commencement address at Southampton College

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fishy Letters and Wavy Words

Yesterday, I read This Is A Poem That Heals Fish by Jean-Pierre Simeon to the second grader I tutor. It's not part of our regular curriculum, but sometimes we do a little extra. Last week, our extra book was Art Dog by Thacher Hurd.

This Is A Poem is magnificently illustrated by Olivier Tallec.
My tutee got a kick out of the fishy endpapers:

The book is about a boy whose fish, Leon, seems to be dying of boredom. The boy's mother suggests that he cures his fish with a poem, so he goes around to everyone he knows, trying to find out what a poem is. Finally he goes back to his fish and says:

"I'm sorry, Leon, I have not found a poem.
All I know is that:

A poem
is when you have the sky in your mouth.
It is hot like fresh bread,
when you eat it,
a little is always left over.

A poem
is when you hear
the heartbeat of a stone,
when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.

A poem
is words turned upside down
and suddenly!
the world is new."

Leon has a pretty good response.

This page was also a favorite of my tutee -- she liked the wavy words.
You can click on the photo to see it bigger.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Put Your Hands Up

These songs are to encourage you, writers and illustrators, that it really doesn't matter whether someone else has already covered a topic/basic idea/starting point before you. Make it your own!

Sara Bareilles performing Beyonce's Single Ladies

The String Quartet tribute to Guns and Roses' Sweet Child of Mine

I can't embed it, but don't forget George Michael and Mary J. Blige singing Stevie Wonder's As.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Three Musicians

These three musicians look out into Kenmare Bay, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

Here's the musicians' view:

Tir Na Nog offers a lovely black-and-white photo of the statues (very reasonably priced).

* Not In A Gallery also has photos of the three musicians
* An online traditional Irish music radio station from Kenmare
* Irish Fiddle Holidays in Kenmare for adults.
* You might like to read about Kenmare lace. There's a video about how to make it here.
* Lots of stone circles in the U.K.: Kenmare Stone Circle

Friday, March 18, 2011

No Dark Out There

Poet Li-Young Lee has an interesting background. He is Indonesian-born, the son of Chinese parents. His grandfather was China's first Republican President (and he also attempted to make himself emperor). Lee's father was a personal physician to Mao Tse-tung. After being exiled to Indonesia, his father spent 19 months in a prison camp. When Lee's family left Indonesia, they spent years journeying through Hong Kong and Japan, and finally arrived in the United States in 1964. Lee was seven years old at that time. (For more information about Lee, see the links at the bottom...)

from The Children's Hour
by Li-Young Lee

Soldiers with guns are at our door again.
Sister, quick. Change into a penny.
I'll fold you in a handkerchief,
put you in my pocket
and jump inside a sack,
one of the uncooked rice.

Brother, hurry. Turn yourself
into one of our mother's dolls
on the living room shelf. I'll be the dust
settling on your eyelids.

Read the rest here.

* *

bits and pieces of
Dreaming Of Hair
by Li-Young Lee

...Hair spills
through my dream, sprouts
from my stomach, thickens my heart,
and tangles from the brain. Hair ties the tongue dumb.
Hair ascends the tree
of my childhood--the willow
I climbed
one bare foot and hand at a time,
feeling the knuckles of the gnarled tree, hearing
my father plead from his window, "Don't fall!"

What sprouts from the body
and touches the body?
What filters sunlight
and drinks moonlight?
Where have I misplaced my heart?
What stops wheels and great machines?
What tangles in the bough
and snaps the loom?

Sometimes my love is melancholy
and I hold her head in my hands.
Sometimes I recall our hair grows after death.
Then, I must grab handfuls
of her hair, and, I tell you, there
are apples, walnuts, ships sailing, ships docking, and men
taking off their boots, their hearts breaking,
not knowing
which they love more, the water, or
their women's hair, sprouting from the head, rushing toward the feet.

You can read it in its entirety here.

* *

from Living With Her
by Li-Young Lee

...She walks
her path the years sown behind her.

She sleeps.
And her sleep becomes
the river I build
my house beside.

So, on which bank of the river
am I now, waking or dreaming?

She says, Come away from the window. Lie down.
There’s no dark out there that isn’t first in you.

* *

from Self-Help for Fellow Refugees
by Li-Young Lee

...Very likely, your ancestors decorated
their bells of every shape and size
with elaborate calendars
and diagrams of distance star systems,
but with no maps for scattered descendants.

* *

A quote from an informal poetry colloquium at Stanford:

Q: What was your father's influence on you?
Li-Young Lee: It's a Taoist thing—
My father told me that humans take 15,000 breaths a day.
When I inhale, I say "Thank you"
When I exhale, I say "Good-bye"


* You can read the entirety of Living With Her and Self-Help for Refugees at the PBS site.
* A conversation between Li-Young Lee and Tina Chang
* An interview with Li-Young Lee on Poets & Writers
* A Table in the Wilderness by Li-Young Lee (poem)
* Book of My Nights by Li-Young Lee (book)

Andi at A Wrung Sponge has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wine Label Art

Wine is a peep-hole on a man.
~ Alcaeus

Chateau Mouton Rothschild has had artists' work on their labels since 1945, including such big names as Andy Warhol, Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, and Keith Haring. I'm including four below -- two complete labels and two that just show the art.

The 1986 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Label
by Bernard Séjourné

The 1980 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Label
by Hans Hartung

The 1998 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Label
by Rufino Tamayo

The 2002 Chateau Mouton Rothschild label
by Ilya Kabakov

The Logan Weemala Wine Collection, Australia

Vine Parma

The Art of the Wine Label by Jeff Caldewey and Chuck House
The Art and Design of Contemporary Wine Labels by Tanya Scholes
How To Use Wine Labels As Art
Wine Label Removal
Brooklyn Oenology features Brooklyn artists on their labels.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Silent Evolution

I find Jason deCaires Taylor's work fascinating and have featured him before. "Silent Evolution" is a group of 400 life-size sculptures Taylor crafted and placed underwater in The Museum of Underwater Modern Art, Mexico. The statues were arranged in an area of barren sand six months ago, and since then they have been developing marine life and attracting fish.

Keeping the Song Alive

March is Music In Our Schools Month!

Did you know?

"The world's top academic countries place a high value on music education. Hungary, Netherlands and Japan stand atop worldwide science achievement and have strong commitment to music education. All three countries have required music training at the elementary and middle school levels, both instrumental and vocal, for several decades. The centrality of music education to learning in the top-ranked countries seems to contradict the United States' focus on math, science, vocabulary, and technology." (1988 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement Test)

"Music training helps under-achievers. In Rhode Island, researchers studied eight public school first grade classes. Half of the classes became "test arts" groups, receiving ongoing music and visual arts training. In kindergarten, this group had lagged behind in scholastic performance. After seven months, the students were given a standardized test. The "test arts" group had caught up to their fellow students in reading and surpassed their classmates in math by 22 percent. In the second year of the project, the arts students widened this margin even further. Students were also evaluated on attitude and behavior. Classroom teachers noted improvement in these areas also." (Nature, May 23, 1996)

"The nation's top business executives agree that arts education programs can help repair weaknesses in American education and better prepare workers for the 21st century." ("The Changing Workplace is Changing Our View of Education," Business Week, October 1996.)
* Support Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation
* Hungry for Music also donates instruments to kids who need them. As fundraisers, they sell CDs of interesting music, like Night of 100 Elvises, holiday music, and a bunch of CDs about baseball.
* 25 Things You Can Do Today To Help Music Education from VH1's Save the Music Foundation
* Information on getting started playing music, with descriptions of instruments
* It only takes two minutes to tell Congress that you support arts education.

Ways to celebrate MIOSM:

From VH1:
Do something extra for your school--
* Concerts at lunch for students and faculty
* Perform at an assembly
* Invite other classes (music and non-music) to join in for a "Name That Tune" event
* Provide music each morning on the daily announcements (live or a variety of recorded music

Do something for your community--
* Ask a shopping center to schedule student performances to celebrate MIOSM
* Create an "adopt a musician" program through the local adult day care or senior center. Have students adopt a senior and spend some time interviewing them about what musical experiences they have had during their lives.
* Contact the local school board and invite its members to visit a class. This is an opportunity to feature the basic education role of music in our schools, rather than to focus entirely on the performance aspect of music.
* Contact local businesses and suggest that they invite school music groups to perform for their employees.
* Perform at a local train station as commuters leave for or arrive home from work

Ideas from Patty Oeste, Ruth Doyle Intermediate School, Conway, Arkansas:

* "I sent out a note last year for the teachers to sign up if they wanted their door decorated in some sort of musical fashion. Out of 42 letters, 40 signed up!"

* Musical Lunch Club - "This was a HUGE hit. Over spring break, any student that wanted to would watch a musical with their parents, fill out a question sheet, and return it to me. In return, they would be invited to the Musical Lunch Club. That is, they got a “ticket” to attend lunch in my room with me providing dessert. I dressed up in a different costume each time, and they were to try and guess what musical it was from."

* Wear A Musical Piece Of Clothing - "On a Friday, I ask all of the students to wear a piece of clothing that has musical motifs on it."

* Parent Guest Artists - "I have many parents that volunteer to come and share their talents with their child's class. This year, I have a vocalist (folk), an orchestra director (also, percussionist), an opera director, a bluegrass player, and a jazz musician."

From Shelly O'Dell, Benton County School of the Arts in Rogers, AR:

* Advertise around school/posters/MENC MIOSM give-aways (pencils, paper, buttons, etc.)
* Encourage fellow teachers to integrate music into their classrooms all month long.
* We will have a theme each week and details about the theme will be on the morning announcements each day: (themes may be)
* Music History Week
* Musical Instruments Week
* American Composers Week
* Music Around the World Week
* Our choirs attend a field trips to see the Vienna Boys Choir and to participate in MIOSM events.

* More suggestions for ways to celebrate
* Still more ways to celebrate MIOSM.

Sea Treble by Tabatha Yeatts
Singers to come, what thoughts will start
To song? What words of yours be sent
Through man’s soul, and with earth be blent?
These worlds of nature and the heart
Await you like an instrument.

from Singers to Come by Alice Meynell

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Feelin' Peepy

Got Peep Art aspirations? If you're in the U.S., you can enter the 2011 Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest. Last year's entries were AMAZING. Here are a few examples:

Eep! (The overall winner)
by Michael Chirlin and Veronica Ettle

Super Peepio Brothers (a semifinalist)
by Mark Rivetti

Alfred Hitchcock Presents 'The Peeps' (also a semifinalist)
by Jill Goebel

You can actually get a Peeps Show app.

Even if you aren't going to make one of these soft and sweet forms of art, you can still imagine what yours might look like. Perhaps a scene from a book, painting, song, or movie? (Do you think anyone will replicate a scene from Inception? I'd like to see that.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Treasure Mountain

Sweet Smell of Spring
by Catherine Wingfield-Yeatts

Today we have... *trumpet fanfare* Lisel Mueller!

So much to love about her poetry...

Why We Tell Stories
by Lisel Mueller
For Linda Foster


Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

and because our children believe
they can fly, an instinct retained
from when the bones in our arms
were shaped like zithers and broke
neatly under their feathers

and because before we had lungs
we knew how far it was to the bottom
as we floated open-eyed
like painted scarves through the scenery
of dreams, and because we awakened

and learned to speak


We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else
and because we had survived
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,
we discovered bones that rose
from the dark earth and sang
as white birds in the trees

read the rest here.


Love Like Salt
by Lisel Mueller

It lies in our hands in crystals
too intricate to decipher

It goes into the skillet
without being given a second thought

It spills on the floor so fine
we step all over it

We carry a pinch behind each eyeball

It breaks out on our foreheads

We store it inside our bodies
in secret wineskins

At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays and the sea.


Moon Fishing
by Lisel Mueller

When the moon was full they came to the water.
some with pitchforks, some with rakes,
some with sieves and ladles,
and one with a silver cup.

And they fished til a traveler passed them and said,
to catch the moon you must let your women
spread their hair on the water --
even the wily moon will leap to that bobbing
net of shimmering threads,
gasp and flop till its silver scales
lie black and still at your feet."

read the rest here.


* Her book Alive Together won the Pulitzer for poetry
* The reason Lisel started writing poems
* Things
* The Concert
* Monet Refuses the Operation
* A beautiful conversation between Elizabeth Farnsworth and Lisel Mueller

Liz has the Poetry Friday round-up today!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Shower of Firedrops, 1666

"...all over the Thames, with one's face in the wind, you were almost burned with a shower of firedrops."
~ Samuel Pepys, about the Great Fire of London

The Great Plague (a.k.a. the bubonic plague or the black death) was the scourge of London in 1665. It started tapering off during 1666, but then Londoners suffered a fire from September 2-5, 1666 that destroyed the homes of most of the residents.

Three works by unknown artists:

A crown of flames, The Monument to the Great Fire of London
by Sir Christopher Wren
photo by Chris John Beckett
Completed in 1677, The Monument stands 202 ft high and is positioned 202 ft from the spot in Pudding Lane on which the Great Fire is believed to have started.

Great Fire of London (a theatre show poster)
by Milan Topalovic

Great Fire of London board game cover
by Andreas Resch

The Great Fire of London 1666
by Rita Greer


* Online Great Fire of London game for kids
* A quick history of the Great Fire
* Info about the Great Fire of London from the National Archives
* Great Fire of London 1666 map
* A pocket history of the Great Fire
* A stained-glass window depicting the Great Fire of London, Temple Church
* Robert "Lucky" Hubert, a Frenchman who falsely confessed to starting the Fire.
* Here is an old post with masks from the Plague.
* The Second Great Fire of London