Friday, June 29, 2012

Words for Messengers

We have English poet & dramatist James Elroy Flecker's work today. Flecker died of tuberculosis in 1915, when he was only thirty years old.

by James Elroy Flecker

I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.

I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Moeonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.


The prologue for The Golden Journey of Samarkand:


No words with this, just music that accompanies Flecker's play Hassan.

Paper Tigers has our Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon, and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live a life as long as its predecessor.
~ Ovid, as quoted in Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch

By Unknown

Phoenix, Beijing, China

Bodypainted Phoenix
by Uwe Mayer

Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto, Japan

Nadir Divan-Beghi Madrasah, Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Origami Phoenix
by Jon Tucker

Phoenix detail, Aberdeen Bestiary

Phoenix sculpture in Phoenix, Arizona
Designed by Paul Coze
photo by Alan English

Perhaps the most famous phoenix is Albus Dumbledore's Fawkes, who has his own song:

* Did you know that you can get Fawkes-colored yarn? From more than one person, at that.
* A collection of phoenix art
* How to draw a phoenix
* A Joan of Arc/phoenix connection:

First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance,
The scourge of England and the boast of France!
Though burnt by wicked Bedford for a witch,
Behold her statue plac'd in glory's niche;
Her fetters burst, and just releas'd from prison,
A virgin phoenix from her ashes risen.
~ Lord Byron, in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international celebration of cultural heritage which shares music, song, dance, storytelling, and crafts and cooking demonstrations with over a million people annually. It takes place at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Can't make it there? You can still listen to Smithsonial Folklife Festival radio and visit their Smithsonian Folklife Festival YouTube station.

Although there's a marimba in our house, what I hear coming from my basement doesn't sound much like this demonstration from last year's SFF:

I think maybe my favorite part of this BBC (Black Baptist Church) lesson is Ms. Burnett's explanation regarding what to do if you disagree with the pastor:

Lastly, click on this link for a great video about displaying the AIDS Quilt at the Folklife Festival.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Healing Words

When they ask me, as of late they frequently do, how I have for so many years continued an equal interest in medicine and the poem, I reply that they amount for me to nearly the same thing.
~ William Carlos Williams

Sometimes what I share for Poetry Friday is random, and sometimes it is based on my own life, like last week when we celebrated the marimba. This week, one of my kids had surgery, so doctors are on my mind.

Also, I just read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (I finished it in the waiting's not recommended hospital reading, to be honest). So, I'm going to give the poet-doctor Glenn Colquhoun a chance to blow off some steam:

Today I do not want to be a doctor
by Glenn Colquhoun

Today I do not want to be a doctor.

No one is getting any better.

Those who were well are sick again
And those who were sick are sicker.

The dying think that they will live.
And the healthy think they are dying.

Someone has taken too many pills.
Someone has not taken enough.

A woman is losing her husband.
A husband is losing his wife.

The lame want to walk.
The blind want to drive.
The deaf are making too much noise.
The depressed are not making enough.

The asthmatics are smoking.
The alcoholics are drinking.
The diabetics are eating chocolate.

The mad are beginning to make sense.

Everybody’s cholesterol is high.

Disease will not listen to me.

Even when I shake my fist.


More doctor poetry:

* Anne Sexton's Doctors

* Monet Refuses the Operation by Lisel Mueller

* I had already named this post "Healing Words" before I heard about Healing Words Productions, connecting medicine and the expressive arts, and their first documentary. The below poster is from Healing Words Poetry Posters:

* The 2012 International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine is over, but the 2013 Symposium is scheduled for next May.

* Please read The Poetry Ward: A doctor dispenses poems to patients and medical students by Danielle Ofri

On an unrelated topic, I'd like to give a shout out to young writer Kenzi! Kenzi participated in my Young Writers Club several summers ago. It would be nice to schedule another; I hope I can find the right time.

Today's Poetry Friday round-up is hosted by Amy at The Poem Farm.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Roses are Red

A rose is the visible result of an infinitude of complicated goings on in the bosom of the earth and in the air above, and similarly a work of art is the product of strange activities in the human mind.
~ Clive Bell

Au nom de la Rose
by Imad Haddad

Relief of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
built in 1925 by architect Jan Stuyt

Rambling Rose
by James Lee

Rose Harvest
by Henry Siddons Mowbray

New Age English Rose
by Richard Elis Blair White

Recoleta Rose Sculpture
a gift to Buenos Aires by Eduardo Catalano, photo by Brizi
The “Floralis Generica” opens with the sunlight and closes during the night.

Rose 3
by Oyvind Solstad

I don't know who made either of these (let me know if you do):

Drawing and painting roses online art lesson

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

World Refugee Day

Tomorrow is World Refugee Day.

Check out this video about Dadaab Refugee Camp, which was produced by refugees in Dadaab through FilmAid's participatory video program:

Here's another organization worth your time:
Women's Refugee Commission

Monday, June 18, 2012

Musical Notation

Musical notation is a system that represents aurally-perceived music through the use of written symbols. The founder of the standard music stave was Guido Monaco a.k.a. Guido d'Arezzo, an Italian Benedictine monk who lived from about 991 until after 1033.

Guido used the first syllable of each line of a hymn to Saint John the Baptist to teach each note in a musical scale: "Ut," "Re," "Mi," "Fa," "Sol" and "La." In the 17th century, "Ut" was changed in most countries to the easily singable "Do," said to have been taken from the name of the Italian theorist Giovanni Battista Doni. (Wikipedia )

Hymnal Leaf, before 1600.
Photo by D Dunlop, from the pattern library of

A singing angel, St Andrew's church, Cambridgeshire.

Musical Parking Lot at Schmitt Music, Minneapolis
from a photo by Ben Ostrowsky
the notation is from the piano score for Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit

Paper Sculpture, lobby of the Festival Hall (Tate Modern)
photo by Ian Boyd


* Basics of reading music (for kids, but I like it, too)
* Another: How to read sheet music
* Children's book: Do Re Mi: If you can read music, thank Guido D'Arrezo by Susan Roth
* MuseScore, free music notation and composition software
* A brief history of notation by Neil Hawes
* History and evolution of the music symbol by Gabriella Scelta
* Some info on the origin of musical notation from's Italian Language
* has a bunch of music theory topics, such as "how musical notes are constructed" and "how to read music note values."
* Alternative music notation systems

Friday, June 15, 2012

Boogie-Harmonizing with the Boogie-Terrified

At the moment, our household has a lot of musical instruments. I hadn't really paid attention when it was just three French horns, three trumpets, a keyboard, a ukelele, and some unknown number of recorders and harmonicas. But recently the instruments have multiplied to include a cello, a guitar, a snare drum, and a marimba. Let me tell you, a marimba does not go unnoticed.

here's a marimba

Since marimbas are on my mind, I wanted to share this poem today:

The Boogieman Plays the Marimba

by Glenn Lyvers

Nobody ever asks why they call him The Boogie-man.
It’s because he has music in his soul. You can find him
playing the marimba in the zocalo on the evenings
he is not terrorizing children. When he is though,
terrorizing the innocent, he does so with style.
He peeks his head out of open closets, riffing,
“Booga booga, dittly dooga, boom boom boom.”

When the children cover their heads, and cry out for
daddy, he falls in tempo with their screams,
“Fapity, dittidy, skittatee, deeeeeeee”
until there is a perfect mix of harmony on the long “eeeeee,”
and then when daddy appears, he slips back
into the darkness, still riffing in his head.
He pops out, and then into another room
with another bed.

At daybreak he changes into his sneakers again,
his “boogie-shoes,” and he taps his foot
while he plays the marimba, rolling his hips—
all day shuffling, riffing, foot-tapping,
until it’s time again, when he pops out to boogie-scare,
and boogie-harmonize with the screams of the
boogie-terrified. He is the “Boogie-man”
and he has music in his soul.


Posted with permission of the poet.

Mary Lee has the Poetry Friday round-up at A Year of Reading.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Harnessing the Wind

As yet, the wind is an untamed, and unharnessed force; and quite possibly one of the greatest discoveries hereafter to be made, will be the taming, and harnessing of it.
~ Abraham Lincoln

Le Moulin de la Galette
by Vincent van Gogh

A figure crossing a bridge over a Dutch waterway by moonlight
by Walter Moras

Oia Santorini Greece
by Hiroshi Matsumoto

A Summer Landscape with a Windmill at Sunset
by Jan Jacob Coenraad Spohler

Mills near Rotterdam
by Johan Barthold Jongkind

I could have done a whole post solely on Don Quixote's windmills:

This one is by Ryan McKowen:

* More great Don Quixote covers here and here.
* Windmills remind me of lighthouses.

Monday, June 11, 2012

More Music Monday Miscellany

by Sarah Nestheide

Some musical miscellany today:

* You can hear the winners of the International Songwriting Competition 2011 (Interested in entering? The competition for 2012 is open).

* Adele Kenny discusses using music as a poetry prompt.

* From the Christian Science Monitor: Álvaro Cogollo uses popular music to entice Colombians to love nature

* Zentangle is a method of meditative abstract doodling. Its connections to music are varied. Most obviously, a lot of people like to listen to music while they zentangle. But also, some people like to put zentangles on musical instruments, musical instrument cases, on walls in music rooms, or make zentangles of music-related stuff.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Thing Heaven-Sent

Isn't this the sweetest flower?

A round of applause to Jama for my copy of UnBEElievables by Douglas Florian, and one more to Doug Florian for allowing me to share "Summer Hummer" today!

Summer Hummer
by Douglas Florian

I'm the hummer of summer,
So busy with buzz.
A never-humdrummer
All covered with fuzz.
I’m a nectar collector.
Make wax to the max.
A beehive protector.
I never relax.
I'm a lover of clover.
A seeker of scent.
A zigzag flyover--
A thing heaven-sent.
I’m a dancer, a prancer.
My own pollen nation.
A flower enhancer.
A summer sensation.


I love the wordplay in this poem, as well as its sentiment. (Confession: I have wanted my own hive for a long time now...I'm a beekeeper wanna-BEE.)

A bonus recipe from the National Honey Board:

Peanut Butter-Banana Roll-Ups

2 soft-taco size flour tortillas, white or wheat
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup honey
2 medium ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place tortillas on baking sheet. Stir together peanut butter, cranberries, and honey until blended. Spread peanut butter mixture over tortillas to within 1/2-inch of edges. Place peeled banana on edge of each tortilla; roll up. Place each roll-up seam side down on a piece of aluminum foil*. Wrap foil around roll-ups, sealing edges all around, and place on baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until filling is warm. * It's not necessary to heat these roll-ups; for a lunch box, simply wrap each roll-up in foil or plastic wrap to transport. Makes 2 servings.

Variations: Substitute chopped mixed dried fruit for cranberries, or sprinkle roasted peanut halves, toasted coconut or chocolate chips over peanut butter before adding banana.

Jama is our Poetry Friday host!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.
~ C. S. Lewis

Doing some traveling today:

The Smile of Angkor, Bayon, Cambodia
photo by Hans Stieglitz

Three Girls
by Amrita Sher-Gil, India

Tomb of Rahi Mo'ayyeri, poet and musician, Iran
photo by Zereshk

Terracotta Army, China

View of Mt. Geumgangsan
by Jeong Seon, Korea

The Journey of the Magi
by James Tissot, France

LalitavistaraDeva listening to Dhamma
Borobudur, Indonesia

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Love Letter to Libraries

Libraries are a great bastion of physical experience–a literal city of books, with laws and codes and maps and roads through high paginated towers.
~ Catherynne M. Valente

Sending you to Catherynne M. Valente's blog this morning for a post called "We Are All Wyveraries: A Love Letter to Libraries." (There are some you a heads-up because I got confused in the second paragraph trying to make sense of them, e.g. "ate" should be "are.")

Monday, June 4, 2012

Down Home Music

A little bluegrass today:

My kind of wedding:

I haven't seen Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, but this video makes me want to:

Bluegrass tributes
More bluegrass
Virginia's Shenandoah Music Trail

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Person as Mystery/Words as Maps

Poets & Writers Magazine has an interesting tumblr called Lines We Live By, which features lines from books, poems, and articles. For instance, this segment is from “Generation Why?”, an article by Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books:

One more:

from “Diving Into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cemetery Cento

For Poetry Friday, I'm tipping my hat to a totally original found poem. Each word in this poem is a digital "rubbing" from headstones in Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton, Virginia. (Yes, "rah-rah" was on a headstone. And isn't the name of the cemetery perfect?)

by Harry Yeatts

Carol is our Poetry Friday host today.