Monday, October 29, 2012

Always Possible

Looking back, I can see my Music Monday themes are all over the map. Everything from guitars to fictional musicians to being thankful. Today, there's kindness:

Want to see something that makes you feel good? Here's a video of a young Pakistani man who did 22 acts of kindness for his 22nd birthday:

Do you have suggestions for kindness-inspiring or kindness-related songs? I like Don't Give Up by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. Also, Keep Your Head Up by Andy Grammer.

New Songs for Peace
Anti-Bullying Songs from Songs for Teaching
Songs of Compassion - Tibetan Mantras

Friday, October 26, 2012

Poetry Gifts for Teens (and Others)

I give my kids stuff kind of randomly. For instance, I buy books and leave them around to be discovered. If you are in the market for a little something for a thoughtful teen in your life, whether for a special occasion or just because, here are some possibilities to get you started:

Poems and poetry-inspiring books (the first five are teen favorites in my house, the last three are ones I have heard of but don't own):
Saved by a Poem
Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem Making
Writing the Life Poetic
100 Poems to Lift Your Spirits
Poetry Speaks Who I Am
A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You
Nerd Haiku

Poem shirts:

Every Life Writes a Poem
Two Roads by Robert Frost
The Trees Dance
poem shirts from an old post

Poetry cds:

St. John's Poetry Sessions, Vol. 1 (Portland high school poets working with local musicians -- only $5!)
The Canterbury Tales, Remixed by Baba Brinkman (rap)
Billy Collins Live

Poetry movie:

Louder than a Bomb dvd

Poem jewelry:
One Art necklace, poem by Elizabeth Bishop
Life is Fine necklace, poem by Langston Hughes (made by the same artisan as the Bishop necklace)
Believe There are No Limits but the Sky necklace
Recycled book paper earrings
Midsummer Night's Dream earrings (they also have Pride & Prejudice earrings)
"I carry your heart" bracelet (and others)


If by Rudyard Kipling
Silence of the World (Thomas Merton)
Charles Bukowski: Love and Fame and Death
I Have Loved the Stars

Blank journals and manuscript binders:

Blank journals at Barnes and Noble
Manuscript Binders

2013 Poetry Calendars:

Haiku 2013 Calendar
Poetry of Rumi Wall Calendar 2013
Royal Shakespeare Company 2013 calendar

Books in Verse:

A list of books in verse for teens


Pablo Neruda notecard
Poem Ornaments
6 Apps Every Aspiring Poet Should Have On Their Device

Suggestions from the comments:

artsyletters by Robyn Hood Black
Haicubes game
Janet Wong's book of poems about driving Behind the Wheel and e-book poetry collection P*Tag (co-edited with Sylvia Vardell)
Il Postino, a cd with Pablo Neruda poems read by actors


Got more suggestions? Please share!

Our Poetry Friday round-up host is Linda at Teacher Dance.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Odilon Redon

I am certain about what I will never do - but not about what my art will render.
~Odilon Redon

French artist Odilon Redon, who lived from 1840-1916, was a master of mystery and melancholy.


by Odilon Redon

Stained Glass Window

by Odilon Redon

Photograph of Guardian Spirit of the Waters
by Odilon Redon


by Odilon Redon

by Odilon Redon

Joan of Arc
by Odilon Redon

The Yellow Sail

by Odilon Redon

Red Thorns

by Odilon Redon

Monday, October 22, 2012


The thing about playing percussion is that you can create all these emotions that can be sometimes beautiful, sometimes really ugly, or sometimes sweet, sometimes as big as King Kong and so on. And so there can be a real riot out there, or it can be so refined.
~ Evelyn Glennie

Today we've got two ends of the percussion spectrum: music made with nature and a 3D Ball Music Machine.

Other percussion posts: the hang, marimba, organ, and piano.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Sharing limericks by O.V. Michaelsen today. After I read these, I had the limerick rhythm going through my head all day. For some reason, I wanted to write one that rhymes "rhinoceros" and "phlebotomist," but it hasn't happened yet. Anyway, let's hear from O.V.:


These verses blew in like a storm—
Some serious, hardly the norm.
Though seldom poetic,
It’s all copacetic
To those who are fans of this form.


A frustrated friend, Thomas Dow,
Lost his wits, having fits even now.
“Don’t lend me more yarn—
I can’t mend worth a darn,”
Said Tom, as he knitted his brow.


When oceans of words overwhelm,
With only yourself at the helm,
Try planning your flight
And traveling light
To the peace of a nonverbal realm.


A lyric that nobody hums,
The melody just never comes.
I'll never repeat
The difficult feat
Of composing a suite on the drums.


Though wiser, I’m short of a sage.
I’ve waited so long for this age.
Nostalgia’s no place
To chase or embrace.
Even NOW is a quickly-turned page.


Be single? I can’t take the lull of it.
Marriage? No more push and pull of it.
Although I’m not salable,
I’ll be available.
Love is my fuel, and I’m full of it.



The plural of die is called “dice,”
As more than one louse are called “lice.”
“Two times?” Why not “twice?”
“Three times” should be “thrice.”
And why aren’t two blouses called “blice?”


So tall, and gives birth while she’s standing,
We watch the free-fall 6-foot landing.
A mother giraffe
And her sky-diving calf
Give you pause when your life seems demanding.


All limericks copyright O.V. Michaelsen. Posted with permission of the poet.

Irene at Live Your Poem is our Poetry Friday host today.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Mrs. Fox: You know, you really are... fantastic.
Mr. Fox: I try.
~ The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Studies of a Fox
by Pieter Boel (1622–1674)

Reynard the Fox,
a main character of medieval Flemish animal epic

Jeune garçon au fennec
by Nasreddine Dinet (1861–1929)

From a collection of fables, c. 1921
illustration by Paul Bransom
Toyokawa Inari
Le renard, 1872

Fox street art
by Laura Luck
photo by bixentro

More foxes:
* Man asleep in armchair with tame red fox
* More fox street art from bixentro
* The Little Prince and His Fox
* Kitsune Kyuubi 9 Tailed Fox
* The Crafty Fox says goodbye to visitors
* World Wildlife Fund and the Arctic Fox

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Reading Gallimaufry

A Bookmobile in a tank :-). If you haven't seen it yet, do watch:

* 10 Unusual Micro Libraries at World Literature Today

* Four Great Places to Donate Used Books

* What Poetry Teaches Us, an article from The Atlantic

Sunday, October 14, 2012


What happened to Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani who was shot by Taliban soldiers, has been preying on my mind. In case you are also wondering what can be done to help Malala, her two wounded friends, and girls like her, here are some links I found:

* Amnesty International, where you can send your support to Malala Yousufzai and friends
* A Slideshow about Global Girls' Education
* The Girl Who Wanted To Go To School, an article from The New Yorker about Malala
* Girls' Education, info by country
* An old post about International Women's Day
* Defend the Rights of Women and Girls poster by Shepard Fairey

"Invest in a Girl" t-shirts

Friday, October 12, 2012


So pleased to be sharing J.R. Solonche's work with you today. Thank you, Joel!

Portrait of the Dickinson Children
by J.R. Solonche

Even if you did not already know, you would know.
It's the ten-year-old redhead on the left.
It's the one with her head on fire.
It's the one with the faraway look in her eyes.
It's the one with the open book and the rose in her hand.
It's the one with the one thousand seven hundred seventy-five secrets in her smile.


To My Beard
by J.R. Solonche

What can I say but I am sorry,
I apologize for what I do to you,
my daily ruthlessness and cruelty.
What can I do but ask for your forgiveness
and your patience. For someday,
I promise you, someday I swear
on the beards of the prophets
and on the beard of the poet Whitman and
on the beard of the president Lincoln,
I will not stop you any longer,
I will let you go free, I will take down
the fence around you made of sharp blades.
For someday, I promise you, I will let
you run wild through the valleys
of my face like a stallion, I will let you
wander over the desert of my face
like a holy man in his vision of heaven
and hell, I will let you grow, blossom
and flourish, and I will stroke you
and comb you and keep you orderly
and free of knots and tangles,
and you in turn will make me look
distinguished, a wise old man as I stroke
you looking serious, looking as though
I were thinking deep thoughts about
life and death. But I will be thinking
only about you, my beard, my second face,
and this will be our secret.


Blue Butterfly by Dexter Wasyliszyn

A Blue Butterfly
by J.R. Solonche

I was outside reading.

A blue butterfly settled on the table.

The opening and closing of its blue wings

looked like a small blue book opening and closing to one blue page.

Then it looked like a blue eye opening and closing.

Then it looked like the blue book.

Then it looked like the blue eye.

Then the blue book.


by J.R. Solonche

When I was six,
my father used to take me
to the firehouse on Wadsworth Avenue
in Washington Heights
to visit the black and white dog
and to ring the silver bell
above the silver bumper
on the front of the fire engine
with the silver dollar he took out
of his pocket and placed in my hand.
Then we crossed the street
to the hobby shop where I watched
the electric train chug round
and round on its round silver track.
Some years later,
with my mother in department stores,
I would look at the silver jewelry
in the jewelry counter, but never the gold.
And still, it is the moon I love,
not the sun.
It is the moon I love,
even one night into new, even one night from none,
even then when it is but a sliver
of silver,
it is the moon I love.


"Portrait" and "Silver" appeared in Eclipse: A Literary Journal (2007), "To My Beard" in Atlanta Review (2003) and "A Blue Butterfy" in The Adirondack Review (2012). Posted with permission of the poet.

Betsy at Teaching Young Writers is our Poetry Friday host today.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Anne Lemanski

I'm a fan of astronomical art, so here are three of Anne Lemanski's constellation sculptures, plus three of her other works:

Fennec Fox (Dog Star)
by Anne Lemanski

Celestial Serenade
by Anne Lemanski

Map of the Heavens
by Anne Lemanski

Responsible Spiller
by Anne Lemanski

by Anne Lemanski

Senkwekwe, gorilla beringei beringei
by Anne Lemanski

Posted with permission of the artist.

Sculpture Links:

* How to Make a Sculptural Wire Armature
* Make a Sun Sculpture lesson plan
* How to Make African Clay Boxes
* How to Make a Tissue Topiary
* How to Make Recycled Jellyfish

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


This adorable photo is by Woodley Wonderworks

Need a good costume? Want to put it together yourself? Check these out:

Take Back Halloween!, for women with imagination

Cool Recycled Halloween Costumes from The Daily Green

Awesome Homemade Halloween Costumes from Mental Floss

Last-Minute Costumes to Make from Family Crafts

Homemade Halloween Costumes for kids from Country Living

Halloween LED Firefly Costume from Instructables

DIY Sock Monkey Costume from Dollar Store Crafts

More Halloween posts on The Opposite of Indifference

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Foyle Young Poets Award

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is open to 11-17-year-olds from around the world.

The top 15, who were chosen from a record 7,351 entries to the competition, attended a prize ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London along with 85 commended young poets.

Read the winning poems.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Made-Up Languages

Recently, I've been reading A Dictionary of Made-Up Languages by Stephen D. Rogers. OK, a dictionary isn't the sort of thing you read straight through, but it's a fascinating work to browse.

Some things I noticed:

* I was expecting all the languages to be fictional (from movies, books, or tv), but a number of them were designed to be universal languages.

For instance, I had forgotten about Esperanto, which was developed by Dr. L.L. Zamenhof who "hoped to create a universal language that would bring people together in peace." His first Esperanto book was published in 1887, and the first international gathering of Esperanto speakers was held in 1905. There have been gatherings every year since then, except during the world wars. You can learn to speak it here and here.

* François Sudre invented a language in the 1800s based on the seven syllables of music: do, re, mi, fa, sol (so), la, si (ti). It's called Solresol.

* Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) created one of the earliest constructed languages for her personal use.

* Ithkuil, developed in 2004 by John Quijada, "uses roots and stems to pack more meaning into fewer syllables." An example from Rogers: "icaree" means "My mother's red car looks better than it runs, but I like it."

* J.R.R. Tolkien sure was linguistically inventive. I haven't counted all his listings in the dictionary, but it appears that he invented over a dozen languages for The Lord of the Rings. "Black Speech" is the language of the Dark Lord Sauron and his orcs and is what Sauron uses in the One Ring's inscription. The English version, which you might be familiar with, is: "One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." Rogers notes that "Black Speech is perceived to be so vile that Sauron's enemies will not dare speak [it]."

I like to experiment so I gave myself the challenge of trying to write a poem using the few words of Black Speech listed in the book. What I wrote wound up considering the situation of orcs -- created solely to serve the commands of Evil -- but with a wider lens. I don't think I ever would have been orc-inspired, if not for this book! This is just an experimental draft, but I thought I'd share it anyway:

A Bridge from the Búrzum

Words can be wielded
krimpat people
as surely as chains.
Walls can be built
out of voices
solid as bricks
in our own thoughts.

lit by commands --
to obey, to hunt,
durbat, to destroy
can burn tightly, brightly,
arduous to extinguish.

A new language
can serve thrakat water
to these flames.

What worlds can be formed
with words that own no past,
that take no snaga,
that build no walls?


A Bridge from the Darkness

Words can be wielded
to bind people
as surely as chains.
Walls can be built
out of voices
solid as bricks
in our own thoughts.

lit by commands --
to obey, to hunt,
to rule, to destroy
can burn tightly, brightly,
arduous to extinguish.

A new language
can serve to bring water
to these flames.

What worlds can be formed
with words that own no past,
that take no slaves,
that build no walls?


Laura at Writing the World for Kids has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Updated to add: Just got a package I ordered from ArtsyLetters and it made my day! Check Robyn's shop out.

Forgot to mention this post: An interview with Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Scarpinato and Heine

Today we have works by Belgian multidisciplinary artist Ben Heine and 19-year-old American student Nicholas Scarpinato, shared with permission of the artists. Thank you!

The Keepers
by Nicholas Scarpinato

Instruments of Memory
by Nicholas Scarpinato

Lady Dada's Nightmare
by Nicholas Scarpinato

Oxford Comma
by Nicholas Scarpinato

Pencil vs. Camera 66
by Ben Heine

No More Violence
by Ben Heine

Pencil vs. Camera 57
by Ben Heine

Pencil vs. Camera: On Fire
by Ben Heine

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Few Words with E. Millay

This one goes out to Renée at No Water River, who created a wonderful interview with William Butler Yeats and suggested trying it ourselves. Here goes!

Photograph of Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1914

Dates: b. February 22, 1892 in Rockland, Maine; d. October 19, 1950 in Austerlitz, New York
Recognition: Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1923
Married: Eugen Boissevain in 1925
To read her poetry:'s Archive of Classic Poems
For more information: The Millay Society

Please welcome poet, playwright, and activist Edna St. Vincent Millay! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us, Ms. Millay.

My candle burns at both ends/It will not last the night!

I guess we'd better hurry then. OK, here's my first question. What made you want to become a writer?

The sky, I thought, is not so grand;/I 'most could touch it with my hand!/And reaching up my hand to try,/I screamed to feel it touch the sky./I screamed, and -- lo! -- Infinity/Came down and settled over me.../Whispered to me a word whose sound/ Deafened the air for worlds around,/And brought unmuffled to my ears/The gossiping of friendly spheres,/The creaking of the tented sky,/The ticking of Eternity./I saw and heard, and knew at last/The How and Why of all things, past,/And present, and forevermore.

Wow. So you wanted to share that with others. What else inspires you?

I will look at cliffs and clouds/With quiet eyes,/Watch the wind bow down the grass,/And the grass rise.

Beautiful. Do you have a favorite place to write?

Come see my shining palace built upon the sand!

What a lovely offer. After we're done, let's head over. What do you do when the words won't come?

Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,/House without air, I leave you and lock your door.

Hmm... Do you have any advice for young poets?

Into the golden vessel of great song/Let us pour all our passion!

Thanks for sharing your passion with us, Ms. Millay!


P.S. When I was considering which poet to interview, I thought about Shakespeare, but it turns out that he's been interviewed a lot already! Here's a radio interview from the 1950s: "CBS Radio Workshop - Interview With William Shakespeare"

Monday, October 1, 2012


The lighthearted side of music this is the video that inspired the name of this post: 

These cows seem like a great audience: