Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Fearless Poetry Exploration Challenge

I decided to take up the 2012 Fearless Poetry Exploration Challenge.

Which means that I need to either:

a. Read and review up to 2 books of poetry throughout 2012.

b. Participate in at least 3 Virtual Poetry Circles throughout the year.

c. Sign up to feature poetry on your blog for April’s National Poetry Month as part of Savvy Verse & Wit’s Blog Tour.

d. Or some combination of the above.

I think I'll try to do b and c. The deadline is December 31st, so there's plenty of time!

If you'd like to participate, visit Savvy Verse & Wit.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Music of Tibet

Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.
~ Dalai Lama XIV

Spotlight on Tibet today.

More music:

* Voice of America's Contemporary Tibetan Music program
* Phurbu T. Namgyal's Tibetan music video collection
* Tibet in Song, the award-winning movie, which you can buy from Amazon
* CD Universe's Tibetan music
* Songs for Tibet: The Art of Peace from The Art of Peace Foundation
* Shining Spirit DVD
* Tibetan Singing Bowls

Other links:

* Anthology of Tibetan Poets in Exile is underway
* Tibet Oral History Project
* The Tibetan and Himalayan Library
* A chronology of Tibet's history (PBS)
* Helping Tibet: An online resource guide
* 17 points of disagreement: 60 years of China's failed policies in Tibet
* March 10th is Tibetan National Uprising Day. People around the world commemorate the 1959 Tibetan uprising and remember the victims of the brutal crackdown on the 2008 mass protests.

Friday, January 27, 2012


by Elena Y.

I like finding intersections between poetry and other things, such as:
* poetry and movies
* poetry and politics
* poetry and speeches and court documents
* poetry and dance
* poetry and comics
* poetry and songs
* poetry and neuroscience, genetics, and chemistry
* poetry and the blues
* poetry and opera
* poetry and photography
* poetry and t-shirts
* Laura's poetry and football
Recently, I noticed a poetry-theme park connection...

I got a kick out of visiting Seuss Landing in Universal Studios, Orlando last weekend. It's not every day that I get to hang out in a place devoted to one of my favorite poets!

Photos by Ariana Y.

Another intersection that has an ongoing appeal for me is poetry and art. I thought Alisa Burke's idea about creating large paintings full of text was fun. She used "i carry your heart with me(i carry it in" by e.e. cummings for hers. Check it out!

Jim Hill is our Poetry Friday host today.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Affairs of Dragons

I'd rather be eaten by a dragon.
~ Famous Last Words

I normally notice the coming of the Chinese New Year, but we were traveling on Monday and would have missed it, had not a sweet neighbor brought us a jar of dried lavender as a new year's gift. Thank you! For Art Thursday, we're celebrating the Year of the Dragon:

Water Dragon: "Art is the Handmaid of Human Good"
a group project made largely of CDs, Lowell Folk Festival
photo by Liz West

Soda Can Dragon
Jardin de Plantes, Paris Zoological Park
photo by Evan Bench

Dragon (Svipdag Transformed)
by John Bauer
St. George and the Dragon
from Red Magic
by Kay Nielsen

Once upon a time there was a book and in the book was a nest and in the nest was an egg and in the egg was a dragon and in the dragon was a story…
by the anonymous book sculptor

Dragon, "Community of St. Eugenia" postcard, 1912
by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin

Dragon rising to the heavens, also known as Gekko's Sketch, 1897


* Origami dragons
* How to draw dragons
* Dragon history
* How to make a Chinese Dragon puppet
* Dragonhide Armor Gauntlets
* Dragon eye in clay
* Turtle dragon
* Large origami dragon dog, made of newspapers
* Dragons across cultures from Draconika.com

The post title comes from "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup," which was inspired by Tolkien's "Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger."

Monday, January 23, 2012


Singing is a way of escaping. It's another world. I'm no longer on earth.
~ Edith Piaf

Yasmeen Amina Olya:

Azam Ali:

Friday, January 20, 2012


I had fun playing with Tagxedo. Did I hear about that from one of you guys? If so, thanks! I used Tagxedo to make three word clouds (two with my poems and one with Margarita Engle's Memory).

Peace in Poetry City:

By Margarita Engle

When songs were alive
they needed no mouths
to send them flying...

Check out another memory poem by Ms. Engle.

The poem at the top is one I wrote with Magnetic Poetry! It goes:

Ode to Musicians

Who Music sculpts,
who Music
to make raw worlds,
drives mad
with demands.

They must
vivid senses
with ghosts,
to perform whole,
to make a whole world.

Wild Rose Reader has our Poetry Friday round-up today. (I am actually on vacation at the moment. I look forward to checking out the poems when I return.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Taj Mahal

You know Shah Jahan, life and youth, wealth and glory, they all drift away in the current of time. You strove therefore, to perpetuate only the sorrow of your heart? Let the splendor of diamond, pearl and ruby vanish? Only let this one teardrop, this Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever.
~ Rabindra Nath Tagore

I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at the Taj Majal, India. It was built in the 1600s by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his favorite wife.

Taj Mahal Sunrise
by Christian Haugen

Near view of the Taj Mahal from the river Jumna, Agra
Photo by Robert and Harriet Tytler, 1858
The British Library, Europeana

Visitors at Taj Mahal
by Koshy Koshy

Stereoscopic photograph of the marble screen around the sarcophagus in the Taj Mahal
Photo by James Ricalton, c. 1903
from The Underwood Travel Library: Stereoscopic Views of India.

Watercolour of the interior of the Taj Mahal
by an anonymous artist working in the Agra style, c. 1808-1820

A distant view of the Taj Mahal, Agra
by an unknown photographer, 1870s

Taj Mahal
By Friar's Balsam, Christopher John SSF

Taj Mahal North Gate
by snikrap

* Google Earth view of Taj Mahal
* The Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
* Mathematics of the Taj Mahal lesson plan

Monday, January 16, 2012

Take a Whirl

Surrender your whole being to a note, and gravity disappears...
~ Carlos Santana

Jazz pianist Fred Hersch today. Hersch has been HIV+ since the 1980s and has contributed to The Estate Project, which is our other focus today. The mission of The Estate Project is:
* to provide practical estate planning advice to all artists, especially those living with HIV/AIDS
* to document and offset the immense loss wrought by AIDS in all artistic disciplines
* to preserve the cultural legacy of the AIDS crisis so that future generations can enjoy, study and engage artworks as aesthetic achievements and historical documents
The Estate Project has archives for music, literature, dance, film, video, and visual arts.

More Fred Hersch:

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.
~ Emily Dickinson

My youngest offspring likes to draw family members in unconventional ways. For instance, she once drew each of us as a different kind of candy. (I was a Reese's cup.) I have a fond memory of her drawing us as giraffes, although I'm not sure where that picture is. Somewhere, I have nubby horns and a long neck.

Most recently, she drew me as a Jack (Jill?)-in-the-box:

It's like having a make-over, only less trouble. :-) If you don't have somebody who wants to reinvent you, there are other options:
* On iLibrarian, they offer a list of things to do with your photos that includes making comic strips and photo widgets.

*On PhotoFunia, you can put your face on a coin, in a Klimt artwork, on a billboard, on the Mona Lisa...the list goes on.

* Morph your face on Face of the Future transformative project.

* On Dumpr, you can take a photo and make it into a pencil sketch, which they suggest you can print out and color.

* If you're interested in drawing people as anthropomorphic animals, eHow has instructional videos, such as this one about how to draw an anthropomorphic wolf.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Choosing Counsel

January 2012 marks the 600th anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc). In her honor, I took a piece of text from her trial to make a poem.

I didn't change any of the words. My hope was to give a little impression of what the trial was like: a peasant teenager, alone, versus a hostile group of educated men who were used to having their authority be unquestioned.

To set the scene:

France and England have been at war for decades. Jeanne, a general for France, is being tried by English-backed French clergy. She had been captured in battle and sold to the English, who turned her over to their allies. Her jailers insist that she admit her guilt and repent. Here, they offer to let her choose any of them to be her lawyer.

The Trial Begins
from The Trial of Jeanne D'Arc

Then the Promoter took oath before us
touching the accusation.

When this was done
we told Jeanne that all the assessors
were ecclesiastical and learned men,
experienced in canon and civil law,
who wished and intended
to proceed with her
in all piety and meekness,
as they had always been disposed,
seeking not vengeance
or corporal punishment,
but her instruction and
her return to the ways
of truth and salvation.

And, since she was not learned
and literate enough
in such arduous matters,
we suggested
that she should choose one
or many of those present,
and if she would not choose,
we would give her some to counsel her
touching what she should do and reply,
provided that in herself
she wished to answer truthfully.
And we required her
to swear
to speak the truth.

To which Jeanne answered:
for admonishing me
of my salvation and our faith,
I thank you and also all the company.

As for the counsel you offer me,
I thank you for that too;
I have no intention
of departing from the counsel of Our Lord.

And the oath you wish me to take
I will willingly swear,
to answer truthfully
on everything which concerns your trial."
And she took oath so,
with her hands on the holy scriptures.


Tara at A Teaching Life is our Poetry Friday host today.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Even a Hair Casts a Shadow

It's not the hair on your head that matters. It's the kind of hair you have inside.
~ Garry Shandling

Hair? As a theme? Well, why not. We've got straight, curly, braided, dreadlocked, red, blond, black, brown, and more...

Portrait of Alice Guérin
by Paul César Helleu (1859–1927)
(he was commissioned to paint her, and two years later they married)

Rasta Contemplation
by Valerio Pirrera

Herodiade (Salome)
by Jean-Jacques Henner (1829–1905)

Portrait de jeune femme tenant un chat
by Bacchiacca (1494–1557)

He led the horse by the bridle, and that way they passed through the forest
by John Bauer

Choctaw Belle
by Phillip Romer, 1850

Edge of Forest Call
by Amanda Nutzman

Portrait of Bindo Altoviti
by Raphael (1483–1520)

Self-Portrait as a younger man
by George Frederic Watts

Head of Medusa
by an unknown Flemish master, 16th century

The Penitent Magdalen
by Georges de La Tour (1593–1652)

Portrait of a Gentleman
by Bartolomeo Veneto (1470–1531)


* The Creative Museum: accessories of hairdressing around the world and their history
* Barbaraanne's Hair Comb Blog
* A UK Hairdressers.com History of Hair
* African American hairstyles over the years (has a slideshow)
* Hair sculptures by Nagi Noda
* Painting hair/fur in watercolor by Tracy Hall

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Calendar of Posts

“What if there were no hypothetical questions?”
~ George Carlin

Owl by Ina Hattenhauer,
part of the Owl Lover 2012 printable calendar

I'm sharing a capricious calendar of annual events today. If I had more time, maybe I could cross-reference my posts to figure out everyone's birthdays whom I have ever posted, but...that will have to wait.

The Opposite of Indifference
Calendar Collection

* A free printable calendar by Riki Blanco (with an updated 2012 link at the bottom)
* Joan of Arc's birthday
* YoungArts Week
* Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday
* Free days at the national parks, which start with Martin Luther King weekend
* Edgar Allan Poe's birthday
* Football
* Robbie Burns' birthday
* Jules Verne's birthday
* Valentines
* African American History Month
* African American Read In
* Read Across America Day
* International Women's Day
* Naomi Shihab Nye's birthday
* Einstein's birthday is the same as Pi Day (3.14, March 14th)
* Chaka Khan's birthday
* Women's History Month
* Music in Our Schools Month
* Poem for Your Pocket Day
* Shakespeare's birthday
* National Poetry Month
* May Day
* Mother's Day
* Kinetic Sculpture Race
* Bloomsday
* Father's Day
* All-National Honors Ensembles
* The 4th of July
* Beatrix Potter's birthday
* Back to School Haiku
* Science projects, for fairs and otherwise
* An admittedly random list of classroom ideas
* Grandparents' Day
* September 11
* 100,000 Poets for Change
* Museum Day
* John Lennon's birthday
* Halloween
* Take a Veteran to School Day
* Thanksgiving
* Winston Churchill's birthday
* National Novel Writing Month
* Beethoven's birthday
* Winter/Holidays

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm in Heaven

Some older songs today. La Mer was written in 1943, and Cheek to Cheek debuted in 1935, sung by Fred Astaire. Let's Call The Whole Thing Off was also from a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie (1937), but I'm sharing the Ella/Louis version from one of my favorite albums in the world (recorded in 1956-57).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

I'd like to humbly and sincerely thank Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe for giving me a Versatile Blogger Award. It has crossed my mind that I am a little too all over the place, so it is reassuring to receive an award for versatility!

The Versatile Blogger Award directions manual:

•Thank and link to the blogger who bestowed the award.
•Share seven random facts about yourself.
•Spread the love by passing the award to five other bloggers--and be sure to let them know.

I'm diverging from the manual by only offering five random facts about myself, but if you read them slowly, maybe they will feel like seven:

* A dog bit my eyelid when I was pretty young (eight?). But I still love dogs.
* Our family dog will be seventeen years old this April. We've had her since she was nine months old.
* If there was a community science fair for adults who aren't scientists, I would want to enter it, just for fun. I like science projects.
* Logic was my favorite math class.
* I was an extra in the movie "Dirty Dancing" when I was a teenager.

It's an interesting task, passing this award along! It made me think about what versatility means. My choices for the Versatile Blogger Award are:

* Writing Without Paper, where Maureen shares links and info about art, dance, music, poetry, and philosophy.
* French blogger Delphine offers a wide array of international gardening, design, and art photos and links at Paradis Express.
* On The Kid Should See This, Rion Nakaya and her three-year-old co-curator furnish unexpectedly educational videos.
* Melissa Wiley at Here in the Bonny Glen covers books for all ages, homeschooling, assorted geekery, and occasionally special-needs parenting with a deft, intelligent, good-natured hand.
* I am giving this award to Maria Horvath specifically for her ability to pair poetry with art in the most unexpected but perfect ways. The definition of versatile includes "turning with ease from one thing to another," and she most definitely achieves that.

Congratulations and thank you for your excellent, well-rounded blogs!

Lastly, I'd like to belatedly thank one of my favorite readers, Christina at Rockhound Place, for giving me an Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Connecting the Dots

Yesterday I posted some centos (poems created with words from another author) and I thought this might be an interesting follow-up. It's a poem composed from bits of a commencement speech by Steve Jobs:

This was uploaded by Brandon Faris. He doesn't say explicitly that he made it, but I am guessing he did.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Thin Ray of Moonlight

Daisy and Gatsby (Mia Farrow and Robert Redford)

One of my kids asked me to read Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby so we could discuss it. Reading Gatsby, I noticed some prose poems waiting to be pulled out:

Warm Human Magic
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Daisy began to sing with the music
in a husky, rhythmic whisper,
bringing out a meaning
in each word
that it had never had before
and would never have again.

When the melody rose,
her voice broke up sweetly,
following it,
in a way contralto voices have,
and each change
tipped out
a little of her warm
upon the air.


by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Almost the last thing I remember
was standing with Daisy
and watching the moving-picture director
and his Star.

were still under
the white-plum tree
and their faces were touching
except for a pale,

It occurred to me
that he had been very slowly
bending toward her
all evening
to attain this proximity,

and even while I watched
I saw him stoop
one ultimate degree
and kiss at her cheek.


* Information about the annual one-day F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference. The conference holds two short story contests which are open to residents of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

* The text of The Great Gatsby at Project Gutenberg Australia

Teaching Authors is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Onward through the snow
the gleaming runners of the speeding troika go
though the steppes be wide
though the night wind blows
~ Joel Hayden

Illustration from Die Gartenlaube, 1891 ("The Garden Arbor")
by E. Ravel

Old Prague corners
by Jakub Schikaneder (1855–1924)

Davos in Snow
by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938)

Snowball Fight and Snowman
by Hans Dahl (1849–1937)

by Kelly Angard

by Frans Wilhelm Odelmark

Nichiren Going into Exile on the Island of Sado
by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861)

Addendum: You can find the song Onward through the Snow, referenced at the top of this post, on Christine Lavin's Christmas album.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Notes in the Sky

I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.
~ Charles Lindbergh

This should have gone with the birdsongs post. Starting with a photo of birds perched on wires, Jarbas Agnelli turned the wires into a staff and the birds into notes. With his tender care, the bird-music became surprisingly lovely:

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Little Fanfare for Copland

Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right
~ Joseph Brackett

I love this music! You can learn about Aaron Copland and his work from the Copland House and from the Library of Congress' Aaron Copland Collection. Classical Net also has a list of recommended recordings of Copland's music (scroll down on their page).

Hoedown from Rodeo from Eleanor Stewart on Vimeo.

Click here for a beautiful rendition of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man performed by the U.S. Marine Band.

One more link: Classics for Kids: Aaron Copland