Monday, April 29, 2013

Poetry Happening Now

Live stream videos at Ustream

The Poetry Out Loud semifinals take place on Monday, April 29, 2013, from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm EDT, when 53 high school students from Eastern, Central, and Western/Pacific regions will compete in three separate semifinals.

Nine students (three from each semifinal) will advance to the National Finals on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 between 7:00 and 9:00 pm EDT to compete for the title of 2013 Poetry Out Loud National Champion!

(Sometimes when you tune in, nothing will be going on because they will be between contestants...)

Updated to add: The final nine students were from Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington. They were *all* terrific!

One of my kids took the Metro into D.C. with a friend to watch the finals in person. The rest of the family watched the webcast (mostly just the first round, as we ran out of time). My youngest felt rather strongly that the student representing the U.S. Virgin Islands was the best. I was very impressed by the students from New Jersey, Texas, and Nebraska and was sorry none of them ended up in the final three. But we were all excited that the student from my son's school finished in the top three! Congratulations, Blessed!

The 2013 Poetry Out Loud National Champion: Langston Ward from Washington!

(Langston is a big guy who plays football. Maybe "poetry and football" should be a Poetry Friday theme some day? I don't actually like football, but I force myself to feature it sometimes anyway...)

Sous le dôme épais

Under the thick dome where white jasmine
With the roses entwined together
On the river bank covered with flowers laughing in the morning
Let us descend together!
~The Flower Duet

Today, the Flower Duet from Lakmé by Leo Delibes. As NPR notes, "Even people who say they never listen to classical music most likely encounter it nearly every day... [and] there may be no classical tune — operatic or otherwise — that turns up in more varied places than [The Flower Duet]."

This song has been used in everything from The Simpsons to Sex and the City. The video below doesn't say, but I think the singers are Dame Joan Sutherland and Jane Berbie.

Another version, featuring sisters:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Poems To Lean On

by Elena

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
~Charles William Eliot

As with books, poems can be wise and constant friends. Today's post has a collection of Poems To Lean On.


by Jean Little

I feel like the ground in winter,
Hard, cold, dark, dead, unyielding.
Then hope pokes through me
Like a crocus.



Whack Report by Kim Addonzio
Beginner's Lesson by Malcolm Alexander
Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
Requiescat by Matthew Arnold
I Am Offering This Poem by Jimmy Santiago Baca
The Thing Is by Ellen Bass
Citizen of the World by Dave Calder
Telling the Bees by Deborah Digges
Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar
I Measure Every Grief I Meet, I'm Nobody! Who Are You?, The Soul Selects Her Own Society, and Hope Is The Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson
Equipment by Edgar A. Guest
Invictus by William Ernest Henley
The Word by Tony Hoagland
101 Donations by Alan Katz
If by Rudyard Kipling
Sometimes Goodbye by Mandie MacDougal
Amazing Grace by John Newton
Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye
To A Daughter Leaving Home by Linda Pastan
You Can't Have It All by Barbara Ras
Some People by by Wislawa Szymborska, translated by Joanna Trzeciak
The Woman With A Tumor In Her Neck by Wendy Videlock
Everything is Waiting for You by David Whyte
Poetry That Will Get You Through a Hard Time on Oprah's site



* Good Poems for Hard Times by Garrison Keillor
* Yes, There Is Something You Can Do: 150 Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Times of Need by Jamie C Miller
* Hard Times Require Furious Dancing by Alice Walker


Song for the Sun That Disappeared Behind the Rain clouds
by Khoikhoi people, Africa

The fire darkens, the wood turns black.
The flame extinguishes, misfortune upon us.
God sets out in search of the sun.
The rainbow sparkles in his hand,
The bow of the divine hunter.
He has heard the lamentations of his children.
He walks along the milky way, he collects the stars.
With quick arms he piles them into a basket
Piles them up with quick arms
Like a woman who collects lizards
And piles them into her pot, piles them
Until the pot overflows with lizards
Until the basket overflows with light.


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

Update from last week: I sent Jimmy Carter my poem, and this week, I got a personal note from him! I was *thrilled*

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sand Paintings

Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone.
~ Jorge Luis Borges

A variety of sand paintings this week, plus videos at the bottom.

Tibet Mandala Sand Painting
photo by Max Yuyshin

Fischer Institute Presents: Tibetan Lamas of the Drepung Loseling Monastery
photo by Claudia Snell, Nichols College

Sand altar employed in the rites of the Mountain Chant, a Navaho medicine ceremony of nine days' duration, 1907
photo by Edward S. Curtis

Return from active service, Falklands, P and O. Canberra
by Brian Pike using natural colored sands as 'paint,' discarded feathers as 'brushes,' and plywood offcuts as a 'canvass'

Sand table made ​​by local artists, Mar Lodj, Senegal

These next four are by Joe Mangrum. I chose the first shot because I thought you might like a close-up of how he does it:

Sand Painting in Central Park
by Joe Mangrum
photo by Asterio Tecson

Joe Mangrum Sand Painting
by Joe Mangrum
photo by Asterio Tecson

Joe Mangrum Sand Painting
by Joe Mangrum
photo by Scott Beale

Washington Square Sand Painting
by Joe Mangrum
photo by Johnny Peacock

A gallery of work by Ukrainian sand artist Kseniya Simonova

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Listening to this in my car

All you own is your time
You're only worth what you leave behind
~Mission South

Mission South

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day with Amy

There would be very little point in my exhausting myself and other conservationist themselves in trying to protect animals and habitats if we weren't at the same time raising young people to be better stewards.
~Dr. Jane Goodall

Whatever my friend Amy Ludwig Vanderwater does, she does with her whole heart. She doesn't just talk about taking an interest in the natural world, she lives it.

Amy's poetry picture book Forest Has a Song came out this spring and she has kindly given me permission to share a poem from it:

by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Forest breathes
a spicy breeze.
It blows
into my ear:

When you go home
do not forget
my leaves
my song
my deer.
I am Forest.
I am here.


Some of my other favorite Earth Day/nature-related poems of Amy's include:

* Song for Garbage Day
* Sticks
* Animals All Know
* Fear


* A OneFourKidLit interview with Amy
* Kids for Saving Earth
* Symphony of Science from Climate Reality (prose song)
* Earth Day from the Environmental Protection Agency
* Easy Eco Blog

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
~John Muir

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem 2013

This is a stop in Irene Latham's 2013 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. Each day, someone new adds a line. Our narrator has gotten into trouble! We were flying high with perfect precision -- but then we flopped. It happens.

At first I had the urge to add an unusual rhyme ("and you find yourself collapsing, your brain stops synapsing"), but then I went with something a little less "What??"


When you listen to your footsteps
the words become music and
the rhythm that you’re rapping gets your fingers tapping, too.
Your pen starts dancing across the page
a private pirouette, a solitary samba until
smiling, you’re beguiling as your love comes shining through.

Pause a moment in your dreaming, hear the whispers
of the words, one dancer to another, saying
Listen, that’s our cue! Mind your meter. Find your rhyme.
Ignore the trepidation while you jitterbug and jive.
Arm in arm, toe to toe, words begin to wiggle and flow
as your heart starts singing let your mind keep swinging

from life’s trapeze, like a clown on the breeze.
Swinging upside down, throw and catch new sounds–
Take a risk, try a trick; break a sweat: safety net?
Don’t check! You’re soaring and exploring,
dangle high, blood rush; spiral down, crowd hush–
limb-by-line-by-limb envision, pyramidic penned precision.

And if you should topple, if you should flop
if your meter takes a beating; your rhyme runs out of steam—
know this tumbling and fumbling is all part of the act,


My buddy Laura Shovan has the next line for us tomorrow. Take it away, Laura!

Here's the full calendar of where this poem has been and where it's going:

1  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
2  Joy Acey
3  Matt Forrest Esenwine
4  Jone MacCulloch
5  Doraine Bennett
6  Gayle Krause
7  Janet Fagal
8  Julie Larios
9  Carrie Finison
10  Linda Baie
11  Margaret Simon
12  Linda Kulp
13  Catherine Johnson
14  Heidi Mordhorst
15  Mary Lee Hahn
16  Liz Steinglass
17  Renee LaTulippe
18  Penny Klostermann
19  Irene Latham
20  Buffy Silverman
21  Tabatha Yeatts
22  Laura Shovan
23  Joanna Marple
24  Katya Czaja
25  Diane Mayr
26  Robyn Hood Black
27  Ruth Hersey
28  Laura Purdie Salas
29  Denise Mortensen
30  April Halprin Wayland

Friday, April 19, 2013


America's present need is not heroics but healing.
~Pres. Warren G. Harding (b.1865–d.1923)

Today, we have a poem by Thomas Jefferson, and poems about election day, Mary Lincoln, and Jimmy Carter. We'll start with Mr. Jefferson, whose poem says goodbye to his daughter, Martha Randolph:

A death-bed Adieu. ThJ to MR.

Life's visions are vanished, its dreams are no more.
Dear friends of my bosom, why bathed in tears?
I go to my fathers; I welcome the shore,
which crowns all my hopes, or which buries my cares.
Then farewell my dear, my lov'd daughter, Adieu!
The last pang in life is in parting from you.
Two Seraphs await me, long shrouded in death;
I will bear them your love on my last parting breath.

Thomas Jefferson. Painting by Mather Brown


Election Day, November, 1884
by Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
'Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's white cones—nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi's stream:
—This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name—the still small voice vibrating—America's choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd—sea-board and inland—Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.


by Diane Mayr

She was dismissed
like a petulant child
and did not see
him breathe his last.

She cried out
as his catafalque
was constructed
within her home

the workmen's
hammers ringing
all day, all night.
Each percussive blow,

reminiscent of
the single bullet
that simultaneously
shattered his brain

and her heart,
leaving her forever
bandaged in black
and him shrouded

in legend.


by Tabatha Yeatts
for J.C.

My husband offers me his arm
in the brisk December air
and we cross the crowded lot to the
bookstore, where the line is almost
out the door, almost, but not quite,
and I am grateful for the mercy
of an indoor line and places to lean against
as I hold your book in one hand
and my heavy belly with the other.

I shift my weight uncomfortably as I wait,
too tired to be truly impatient,
in the long line that winds slowly to you.
I am one strangely-shapen leg
in a lengthy human caterpillar that flows up
the stairs to the table where you are signing books.
We cannot linger but must continue past you,
the leaf that we all want a bite of.

I wait, my teal sweater stretching
over the baby who is nearly here,
my hair pulled back in a ponytail
away from a face that is round
even when it isn't nine months pregnant.
You seem both frail and stalwart,
signing your name over and over,
over and over again,
dedicated to this crazy proposition -- poetry --
and I sag against the wall, stubbornly determined
to support you in this strange endeavor.

What pushes you, whose exterior
was analyzed so deeply and relentlessly,
to offer your inner workings, your
edges, your long breaths, reaching for the sun? Perhaps
you know that among politicians, there are many
who can understand deception, but few who
can fathom an honest verse.

I watch your purple-haired
smiling as she also signs the books,
see your pride as you glance over.
Finally, I reach you and you look at me,
at the signs of the butterfly
that won't stay long in this chrysalis,
and surprise flickers across your face
that I waited for you. Mr President,
how could I not come bear witness
to your paper-baby, fluttering away
with your heart as fast
as you can sign your name?



* Praise Song for the Day by Elizabeth Alexander, a poem for Barack Obama's presidential inauguration.
* More info on Presidents as Poets from the Library of Congress
* Poetry Politics and Culture around the World
* Wordy Fibs from earlier in the week.

Irene has the Poetry Friday round-up at Live Your Poem...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Let It Pour

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
~Langston Hughes

Umbrellas in the Rain
by Maurice Prendergast, 1899

Marburg an der Lahn
by Louis Kolitz (1845–1914)

Women 13
by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Summer Rain
by Tobi

Sculpture of Albert Einstein in Juming Museum, Taiwan
photo by Bernard Gagnon

Heavy Rain
by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Walk in the Rain
Woodcut from Otto Leonhard Heubner's Picture Book for Young Children

Carriage Ride in the Rain
by Heinrich Gottfried Wilda (1862-1922)

Príncipe Obá
by Belmiro de Almeida

Just Smile
by Stefano Corso

One more quote:

Save a boyfriend for a rainy day - and another, in case it doesn't rain.
~Mae West

Monday, April 15, 2013


A friend often says I'm an old man in a young man's husk. I like that. I am old-fashioned in some ways.
~Daniel Radcliffe

For Music Monday, we have Carolina Chocolate Drops, Two Man Gentlemen Band, Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer, Professor Elemental, and the Zac Brown Band.

The Two Man Gentlemen Band - Lose Your Blues Laughing At Life

These two chaps seem to have a bit of a disagreement going...

I know, the Zac Brown Band isn't like the others, but this video has a vintage look and I like it, so...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Poem Tees

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.
~Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy

Poetry tees are back! (Here's an old post that includes poetry shirts.)

We are the Music Makers, The Cotton Factory

Fight for Your Right to Write, Warrior Poet Clothier

Hope is a Thing with Feathers, Society 6

Poem in Your Pocket, Cafe Press

One from Laura Shovan:

Nevermore, Society 6

Dare to Love Yourself

Do Not Disturb

* "I'm Not Babbling...It's a Haiku" shirt for babies
* A Farsi poem shirt
* Writers on
* It's Hard to Keep a Clean Shirt Clean, a poem by June Jordan
* A Poem is a Shirt by Laurence Musgrove. Musgrove has a video/book called Handmade Thinking that I think you teachers might be interested in:

Diane is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today at Random Noodling.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Making the plural of a word that ends in -um can be tricky -- "terrariums" looked funny to me, but "terraria" looks even funnier. Anyway, what's a terrarium? It's "a sealed transparent globe or similar container in which plants are grown." It's a self-contained ecosystem that can even be created in a lightbulb. There are even terrarium rings!

Neo-Victorian Still Life
photo by Anna Fischer

by Amber Alexander

Ancient Goddess Ruins Fantasy Forest Terrarium
by Tony Larson

Lightbulb Terrarium
by Jennifer Feuchter

Air Plant Terrarium
by Gönül Yetim

Terrarium Cookies
photo by Zoe Lukas

Antique Teapot Terrarium
photo by Sara Gies

Paxton Gate
photo by Christopher Michel

* Design Sponge shared a history of terrariums & a terrarium round-up
* Take a look at this one!
* Watercolor Terrarium Art Project for Kids
* Lesson Plan: Making a Terrarium
* I am a sucker for plants, as you can see here, here, and here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fibonacci Poems

This is a stop on the Savvy Verse & Wit National Poetry Month Blog Tour

Have you heard of Fibonacci poems? In 2006, Gregory K popularized Fibonacci poems a.k.a. "Fibs": six-line poems which use the Fibonacci sequence to dictate the number of syllables in each line (1-1-2-3-5-8).

The Fibonacci sequence is a mathematical pattern in which the first two numbers are zero and one. To figure out the next number in the sequence, you always add the two previous numbers. So it goes like this:

0+1= 1
1+1= 2
1+2= 3
2+3= 5
3+5= 8
5+8= 13
13+8= 21
and it just keeps going.

You don't have to stop at 6 lines -- you can have a 7th line with 13 syllables, an 8th line with 21 syllables, etc., or you can make your Fib longer by going back down (i.e. 1-1-2-3-5-8-5-3-2-1-1).

Greg has a book called The 14 Fibs of Gregory K coming out in October!

Laura Shovan has posted great stuff about Fib lesson plans on Author Amok. I like writing Fibs because they are so contained, and you can cover serious or humorous topics in your little space. Here are some of mine:

Fibonacci poems
by Tabatha Yeatts

Warm eggs,
And writers,
Chefs – crack hearts in the
bowl of the page, stories splash out.


"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire."

Pen to
Paper, hands
To keyboard. Fire lit –
Ready to light fires of her own.



can I fill
and still have just as
much to pack: one of life's mysteries.


Mary Shelley Writes Frankenstein

To scare
Your dear friends –
Shadows fall outside,
But you must mine the ones within.



Grains –
Bitter –
Can sink down
To the bottom of
Your heart’s glass, never to dissolve.


More Fibbery from Gregory K
Fibonacci poems multiply on the web
The Fib Review, an online journal

I would love to hear *your* Fibs!

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Teen Favorite

If you're gonna break someone's heart,
Might as well, might as well be mine
~Hunter Hayes

For this Music Monday, a couple of songs by one of my daughters' favorite singers. I think Somebody's Heartbreak is #1 on the country charts right now so it's not exactly obscure, but those of you who don't listen to country might not have heard it. (And, yes, he's playing *all* the instruments in Storm Warning!)

Hunter Hayes's official site
More teen favorites

Friday, April 5, 2013

Musical Poetry

I share a lot of music on The Opposite of Indifference and I am circling 'round again with some music-inspired poetry. First up is a lovely haiga by Diane Mayr:


This next poem was inspired by a video I posted in October 2012:

A No People Song
a triolet by Nathan Li, age 7

It's a no people song,
The players are all balls.
It's an extremely cool song.
It's a no people song.

Would you like to play along
with musical waterfalls?
It's a no people song,
The players are all balls.


Are you familiar with 100 Scope Notes' Book Spine Poems? I made a jazz club book spine poem called "What Happened At Midnight?"

What Happened At Midnight?

Wild Magic
 Furious Improvisation --

   Beloved Things Not Seen --
    The Joy Within
     A Corner of the Universe.

City Jazz by brillianthues


from Song from a Country Fair
By Léonie Adams

...I saw the old come out to dance.
The heart is not so light at first,
But heavy like a bough in spring.

read it here.


Robyn has the Poetry Friday round-up.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Anti-Violence Visuals

Serious topics today: gun violence, rape, domestic violence, human trafficking. People communicate visually in a variety of ways:

Former NFL quarterback, Don McPherson


* Not For Sale campaign
* Free The Slaves blog
* NPNS Bruises campaign
* International Health & Epidemiology Research Center's "Replacing Violence With Art"
* 5 Anti-Gun Violence Campaigns
* To Whom Do They Answer?, a political cartoon
* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention info on violence prevention
* Men Can Stop Rape (Where Do You Stand?)
* 5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not To Rape, from Ebony
* Safety Tips for Ladies (plus more)
* Art therapy links at the bottom of this post and a few gun violence links here