Friday, August 31, 2012

The Only One with an Umbrella

First, a quote from Lemony Snicket:

And now, two poems from Steven Withrow's All Out of Doors:

photo by Sebastian Crump

Rescuing a Sugar Maple
by Steven Withrow

“You’ve got creeping rot and wood blight
choking off the lower leaders,”
he offers, chipping white fungus
from dried bark with a golf pencil,
“but good news is, the trunk’s still whole.”

I’d read about dieback, sunscald,
and other scourges of young trees,
of parasites that tatter leaves
or cleave deep roots, but the problem,
he assures me, is with the soil.

“Your lawn’s a touch too alkaline
for healthy growth. These maples here
like a better acid balance.”
All right, I think, it’s chemical,
and something can be done at least.

He bends and spears a mushroom cap
with a graphite point, and he frowns
at me as though I’d drowned a prize
orchid: “When’s the last time you limed,
or tilled and reseeded all this?”

I confess to him we’ve been lax
in stewarding our lot,
preferring the milder science
(admittedly more of an art)
of let-nature-follow-its-course.

He shrugs and starts to mark his pad—
a figure with a dollar sign.
“Art,” he says, and waits a moment
before handing over the bill,
“is crabgrass, weeds, and dead shade trees.”


Undog Places
by Steven Withrow

In the very undog places of the house,
Those uncat spots unfit for a layabout mouse,
You find a hidden hitch that once dropped loose
From a model switching yard—a red caboose
That must have come uncoupled from its coach—
And if you hope to hold it, don’t approach
Too eagerly, or if you do, pretend
You’re merely kneeling there snooping for a friend.

In the very unbed places where you sleep,
Those still unpillowed spaces where you keep
Your treasure trove of marbles underneath
A cardboard box that guards your baby teeth,
What clovers you unearth on second look!
Or tucked in a book atop another book—
A clockwork heart—and part of you unthinks
The thing that undid the Riddle of the Sphinx.


Copyright 2012, all rights reserved. Posted with permission of the poet.

Poetry for Children is the Poetry Friday host today.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shanthi Chandrasekar

Spending some time with the work of Maryland artist Shanthi Chandrasekar today. As you can see, Shanthi's art is significantly influenced by her Indian heritage.

"Pillaiyar, the elephant-headed god from the Indian mythology, is associated with new beginnings. To me, he represents an intriguing study in contrasts, with his enormous elephant head and relatively minute human body. Almost always, when I start working in a new medium, I begin with the Pillaiyar, a form familiar and yet fascinating to me." ~ Shanthi

Acrylic on Canvas
by Shanthi Chandrasekar

"I had a special dream a few years ago. It was the happiest dream I had ever dreamt. I woke up with a sense of joy and a memory of red dots arranged on a whitish background. I also remembered the words “All the possibilities!” But that was all I remembered. I could not recollect what the dream was about or what all those exciting possibilities were. So, I started this series as a visual journal to record my dreams with the hope of recovering those lost memories."

Mixed Media on Paper
by Shanthi Chandrasekar

"Indian women often begin their day and sometimes also end it by drawing kolams on the ground just outside the front door. These repeating patterns, a type of Tantric Art, have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries, and symbolize the scientific and philosophical patterns innate to and infinite throughout the cosmos. Like Native American sand paintings or Buddhist mandalas, the kolams are part of the cycle of creation and destruction."


by Shanthi Chandrasekar

by Shanthi Chandrasekar

by Shanthi Chandrasekar

by Shanthi Chandrasekar

Posted with permission of the artist.


* Devanagari
* Chakras for Beginners
* Maya (illusion)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Music Maps

Marek Gibney has created a site called Music-Map which will give you suggestions for bands/composers you might like based on bands/composers you already like. The site says, "The closer two artists are, the greater the probability people will like both artists."

Here's a bit of a map using The Beatles:

Here's another example using Beethoven (click to see it larger):

Oddly enough, Britney Spears is on the Beethoven map. ?

Here's a video for Beethoven/Hubble fans:

Friday, August 24, 2012


Circle Flower by Werapat Apirojananan

by Abayomi Animashaun

Such lies have been told about her.
My favorite: ‘when she comes
The blue hand of the sky vanishes.
Hippos storm the sun.
Birds peck furiously at anthills.
Wings wrap tightly against trees.’
But notice how she doesn’t say a word
And sits beside you when
The moments of love have flickered their last.
How she stands beside you when solitude
Has you cornered. Right now she is outside
Rinsing her hair. Later, she’ll use it
To wipe the mirrors of your heart.


Posted with permission of the poet.

Abayo Animashaun's poem Ode to Bill Stafford
Animashaun's first book of poems: The Giving of Pears

Dori Reads is our Poetry Friday host today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

To the Point

From now on, I'll connect the dots my own way.
~ Bill Watterson

The Harvesters
by Charles Angrand

Man and Woman in the Street
by Charles Angrand

Circus Sideshow
by Georges Seurat (1859–1891)

Women at the Well
by Paul Signac

Grand Canal
by Paul Signac

Portrait of Paul Signac
by Georges Seurat

Beach at Heist
by Georges Lemmen

by Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)

Morning, Interior
by Maximilien Luce

* Info about Pointillism at the Digital Museum
* 1970s Australian dot paintings
* Dot painting, an exercise for kids by Maggie Yant
* A nice dot Pinterest board

Friday, August 17, 2012

Su Hui's Verse Puzzle

Lady Su Hui and Her Verse Puzzle

A while back, I heard about a woman in ancient China who had written a poem in the form of a twenty-nine by twenty-nine character grid. This poem could be read forward or backwards, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

That blew my mind! Unfortunately, I couldn't remember her name and I lost track of the information. When I tried to look it up again, I couldn't find anything on her or the poem. But recently I looked and there it was:

Apparently, this poem can be read thousands of different ways. Too bad I can't read Chinese! The poet's name is Su Hui and this is the only poem of hers that survives.


* The silk painting of Lady Su Hui and Her Verse Puzzle is at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
* An article about Su Hui and her poem
* There's a bit of info about the poem/poet on the second half of this page about The 85 Project.
* Classical Chinese Poetry Genres

Mary Lee at A Year of Reading is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Happiness is a ball after which we run wherever it rolls, and we push it with our feet when it stops.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

From TemariKai:
"Temari balls are an folk art form that originated in China and were introduced to Japan five or six hundred years ago. The balls were originally made by mothers and grandmothers for the children to play with (they were used in kickball and handball games similar to the hackeysack games played around the world today). Historically they were constructed from the remnants of old kimonos. Pieces of silk fabric would be wadded up to form a ball, then the wad wrapped with strips of fabric. The silk threads would have been removed and saved and, used to first wind around the ball, then to stitch the ball firmly together (it is said that the balls were wrapped and stitched so tightly that they actually did bounce). As time moved on traditional Temari balls became an art, with the functional stitching more and more decorative and detailed, until the balls displayed very intricate embroidery."
Adding a splash of geometry and sports to our Art Thursday with Temari balls by Judy Tepley of Star Hand Arts. Thank you, Judy, for allowing me to share your work!

* Books about Temari
* A How-to from Craft

Plus a video:

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Washington Museum of Russian Poetry and Music

I'll be a doctor for others, and a poet for myself.
~ Dr. Zhivago

This month, I visited The Washington Museum of Russian Poetry and Music, which is currently housed in composer/performer/author Dr. Uli Zislin's home. Dr. Zislin is devoted to sharing Russian culture and he would dearly love to find another space for his museum -- one that people can visit more easily, without making an appointment! If anyone reads this who is also dedicated to sharing Russian culture and would like to help Dr. Zislin relocate the museum, email me or Dr. Z.

I thought I'd share works by poets spotlighted in the museum:

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) is famous for writing the novel Doctor Zhivago, for which he won a Nobel (although the book was banned in the USSR). He wrote poetry as well:

February. Get ink, shed tears.
Write of it, sob your heart out, sing,
While torrential slush that roars
Burns in the blackness of the spring.
Go hire a buggy. For six grivnas,
Race through the noise of bells and wheels
To where the ink and all you grieving
Are muffled when the rain shower falls.
To where, like pears burnt black as charcoal,
A myriad rooks, plucked from the trees,
Fall down into the puddles, hurl
Dry sadness deep into the eyes.
Below, the wet black earth shows through,
With sudden cries the wind is pitted,
The more haphazard, the more true
The poetry that sobs its heart out.


The Muse
By Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)
Translated by Eric Gillan

When late at night I wait for her arrival,
It seems my life is hanging by a thread.
I offer youth, my freedom, glory,
To my adored guest with flute in hand.
And here she comes. She throws back her cloak
And pours a steady gaze on me.
I ask, "Did you dictate to Dante
The pages of "Inferno?" She answers, "Yes. I did."


The Giraffe
by Nikolai Gumilev, (1886-1921)
Translated by Katharine Gilbert

Today, I see, your gaze is particularly forlorn,
And your hands particularly thin, embracing your knees.
Listen: far away, far away, on Lake Chad,
A refined giraffe is roaming.
His proportions are harmonious and his legs are long,
And a bewitching pattern adorns his skin;
Nothing dares compare with it, save the moon,
Fragmented and flowing on the liquid of broad lakes.
He juts out like the many-colored sails of ships,
And his gait is floating, like joyous birdflight.
I know this earth has seen many wonders
When at sunset he hides in a marble grotto.
I know the happy stories of secret lands,
About the dark maiden, about the passion of the young chief,
But you have breathed in the heavy mists for too long -
You will believe in nothing, except rain.
And how I would tell you about tropical orchards,
About elegant palms, about the scent of extraordinary grasses…
You're crying? Listen… far away, on Lake Chad,
A refined giraffe is roaming.


To Byron
by Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941)
Translated by Ilya Shambat

I think about the morning of your glory,
About the morning of your days too, when
Like a demon you from sleep had stirred
And were a god for men.
I think of when your eyebrows came together
Over the burning torches of your eyes,
Of how the ancient blood's eternal lava
Rushed through your arteries.
I think of fingers - very long - inside
The wavy hair, about all
Eyes that did thirst for you in alleys
And in the dining-halls.
About the hearts too, which - you were too young then -
You did not have the time to read, too soon,
About the times, when solely in your honor
Arose and down went the moon.
I think about a hall in semi-darkness,
About the velvet, into lace inclined,
About the poems we would have told each other,
You - yours, I - mine.
I also think about the remaining
From your lips and your eyes handful of dust.
About all eyes, that are now in the graveyard
About them and us.


What shall I do with this body they gave me
by Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938)

What shall I do with this body they gave me,
so much my own, so intimate with me?

For being alive, for the joy of calm breath,
tell me, who should I bless?

I am the flower, and the gardener as well,
and am not solitary, in earth’s cell.

My living warmth, exhaled, you can see,
on the clear glass of eternity.

A pattern set down,
until now, unknown.

Breath evaporates without trace,
but form no one can deface.


Another poem by Pasternak: Winter Night

Violet is this week's Poetry Friday host.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

On Mars

Every day, we get a little bit closer to the kind of expertise and the kind of experience we're going to need to go there. I'd love to be the guy walking on Mars.
~John L. Phillips

The planet Mars
Observed September 3, 1877
New York Public Library

Behold Mount Sharp!
This image taken by NASA's Curiosity shows what lies ahead for the rover -- its main science target, Mount Sharp.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Greeley Panorama
This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Produced by Cornell University.

Cratered Dune Forms
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

A towering dust devil casts a serpentine shadow over the Martian surface.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

An Avalanche on Mars
Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA
A thaw occurs each spring in the Northern Hemisphere of Mars, as the warming climate causes solid carbon dioxide ice to sublimate directly to vapor.

A vertical shaft that cuts through lava flow on the flank of the Arsia Mons volcano.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Sojourner rover taking an Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer measurement.
Pathfinder mission.

Signs of Water on Mars
A geological region of the rock outcrop at Meridiani Planum, Mars dubbed "El Capitan." The area in this image is 1.5 centimeters (0.6 inches) across.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/US Geological Survey


Did you realize that Tuesday and March were both named for Mars? NASA has a lot of interesting Mars info:

* Mars for Educators
* Mars for Students
* Mars for Kids
* Explore Mars print (this one isn't from NASA)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DIY Poetry Binder Dividers

DIY in this case stands for "Decorate It Yourself" :-) I took binder dividers, paper from Michael's, and poems and made these:

In case you can't read the last poem, here it is.

Friday, August 3, 2012

More SPS

It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things.
~ Stephen Mallarme

Sharing some more from the Summer Poem Swap today.

Heidi's poem below (for Diane) was inspired by a photo by Tomasz Gudzowaty

Shaolin Conversion
by Heidi Mordhorst

Here is one Violet gave Diane:

Igneous Inspiration
by Violet Nesdoly

“Your resonant sources … you must
hunt them out and feed your poems
with them, not necessarily as topics,
subjects or themes, but as the vital force
that fuels your poems.” – Linda Gregg

Dormant dreams heave, push
inner tensions mount
heat of old embarrassments
teenage crushes
remembered triumphs
regurgitated regrets
first love, last hate
passions glowing still
gather, melt, coalesce, build
to a mantle plume
of writhing, bubbling
red-hot inspiration

that finds a pencil
pen or keyboard vent
extrudes lava
no longer recognizable
as your particular history
of libraries, children, cats
cools to new wordscapes
as unexpected and exotic
as the glassy obsidian
that in another life
was granite, mica, quartz.


From Diane to Violet:

Preschool Art
by Diane Mayr

What is it about rainbows
& butterflies that thoroughly
engage these innocents
and compel them to
produce pages filled
with unnatural spectral
arches and psychedelic
winged creatures in color
combinations no god
would think to put together?
Could it be that enchantment
is a fundamental goal of art?


And this poem is for Katya:

A miracle of ink
by Tabatha Yeatts

words buzz around sweet petal centers,
tumbling fuzzily from one
to the next
to the next,
gathering meanings,
sipping inky nectar
and dropping letters
spiky black
into waxy combs
sealed gently
ready to be cracked open
and sucked dry.


Thank you for letting me share your poems, Heidi, Violet, and Diane!

Today's Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by On the Way to Somewhere.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Man in the Iron Mask

Ever read or seen The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas? I'm intrigued by masks and fencing (and French fencers), so no wonder I wanted to spend a little time with this today:

* From what I hear, The Man in the Iron Mask is the last part of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, so you might want to start with that. Or go back and start with The Three Musketeers.
* A list of the films
* A site by someone who checked to see which of Dumas' characters were real.