Friday, May 31, 2013

Worldwide Reading for Li Bifeng

Over the years, the Chinese authorities have impounded a large trove of Li Bifeng’s writings. Isn’t it enough to take away a writer’s work? Why send him to prison?
~ilb appeal for Li Bifeng

The international literary festival berlin (ilb) is calling artists and intellectuals, schools and universities, radio and TV stations, theatres and other cultural institutions to join together on June 4th for a worldwide reading in solidarity with Li Bifeng. You can read about Li Bifeng's case here.

In this country
we can only stay in hibernation

by Li Bifeng

But winter has come too soon
Our trees begin to dry

We do not have any more nourishment
So our hair is frozen

and has turned gray
by the snow of years

Our skin
looks like a field full of cracks

Winter is here
We are happy to stay in hibernation

The heart is tired
the blood also

Under the snow,
we remain in hibernation


Our eyes are two dry wells
by Li Bifeng

Eyes - these two dry wells
Deep in the puzzled gazes there
once fertile ground is hidden
The seedlings of love were
burned out through the fire of tears
We live on the other side of grief

Over the high wall, we watch
the sun from afar and
the mountains from afar
In the dreams of nights, we see
people from afar

Using the net of yearning we salvage
those scattered memories and then we let
the bones grow into the bones.


The Poetry Friday round-up is at Teaching Young Writers.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
~John Dewey

Educators in art today -- everything from the sweet to the strange to the surly.

The Geography Lesson (Portrait of Monsieur Gaudry and His Daughter)
by Louis-Léopold Boilly

The Dancing Lesson
by Thomas Eakins

The Anatomical Lecture
by Jacob de Gheyn II

Cats being instructed In the art of mouse-catching by an owl
Author: Lombard School

In the Village School, a "repentant sinner" and his mother try to win forgiveness from his teacher with food and wine

The Schoolmaster
by Jan Steen

A Young Scholar and his Tutor
by Rembrandt(1606–1669)

Die Kunststudentin
by Anton Müller

Bucharest Primary School in "Open Air", around 1842
by Charles Doussault (1814–1880)

Art Lesson, a 1901 print
by Charles Dana Gibson

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Thought for the Day

More from David Orr:

The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one’s person. Subject matter is simply the tool. Much as one would use a hammer and chisel to carve a block of marble, one uses ideas and knowledge to forge one’s own personhood. For the most part we labor under a confusion of ends and means, thinking that the goal of education is to stuff all kinds of facts, techniques, methods, and information into the student’s mind, regardless of how and with what effect it will be used. The Greeks knew better.

... I would like to propose that knowledge carries with it the responsibility to see that it is well used in the world. The results of a great deal of contemporary research bear resemblance to those foreshadowed by Mary Shelley: monsters of technology and its byproducts for which no one takes responsibility or is even expected to take responsibility. Whose responsibility is Love Canal? Chernobyl? Ozone depletion? The Valdez oil spill? Each of these tragedies were possible because of knowledge created for which no one was ultimately responsible. This may finally come to be seen for what I think it is: a problem of scale. Knowledge of how to do vast and risky things has far outrun our ability to use it responsibly. Some of it cannot be used responsibly, which is to say safely and to consistently good purposes.

...we cannot say that we know something until we understand the effects of this knowledge on real people and their communities.

from What is Education For?

One last quote:
It makes far better sense to reshape ourselves to fit a finite planet than to attempt to reshape the planet to fit our infinite wants.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Arn Chorn-Pond

I talked about the game Timeline last week. Through Timeline, I learned that the invention of the first flute took place before the formation of the first village, the domestication of sheep and cattle, the invention of wine, and the fabrication of glass. The flute came before all that.

For Music Monday, we have a flute player with a serious story to share:

More info and places to learn about Arn Chorn-Pond:

Cambodian brings story of genocide to younger audience by Joseph P. Kahn

The Flute Player (an hour long PBS documentary about Arn Chorn-Pond) on Netflix and Amazon.

Never Fall Down is a young adult novel by Patricia McCormick based on Arn's life.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Yahia Lababidi

If Yahia Lababidi were in charge of a country, I would want to live there.
~Naomi Shihab Nye

Today I am sharing two poems by Egyptian-American poet Yahia Lababidi. Thank you, Yahia, for giving me permission! The first is a poem-video of Cairo:

The Art of Storm-riding
by Yahia Lababidi

I could not decipher the living riddle of my body
put it to sleep when it hungered, and overfed it
when time came to dream

I nearly choked on the forked tongue of my spirit
between the real and the ideal, rejecting the one
and rejected by the other

I still have not mastered that art of storm-riding
without ears to apprehend howling winds
or eyes for rolling waves

Always the weather catches me unawares, baffled
by maps, compass, stars and the entire apparatus
of bearings or warning signals

Clutching at driftwood, eyes screwed shut, I tremble
hoping the unhinged night will pass and I remember
how once I shielded my flame.


Fanciful creators by Yahia Lababidi
Dawning by Yahia Lababidi
A tweet poem by Yahia Lababidi
Yahia's SoundCloud stream

One last quote from Yahia:
Intuition: generous deposits made to our account by an unknown benefactor.


The deadline to register for the 2013 Summer Poem Swap is June 1st.

Jama has the Poetry Friday round-up!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

From the 1700s

Gather the rose buds while ye may,
old time is still a flying,
And that same flower that blooms today,
tomorrow shall be dying
~James Thomson, 1700-1748

Recently, I played Timeline with my kids. It's a card game where you try to put events in the order that they happened. For instance, was the microscope invented before or after the telescope? Which animals were domesticated first -- sheep, cows, or cats? Which came first -- the wheel or the brick? It's an interesting game, one that surprised us quite a bit. (Not surprised that cats were the last to be domesticated, though!)

If you are looking at events over a long span of time, such as the making of cave paintings vs. the invention of the newspaper, it's pretty easy to tell which came first. But when they are all in the same century, things can get tricky. In the 1700s, the tuning fork, the steam engine, the typewriter, the celsius scale, lightning rods, rubber erasers, submarines, hot air balloons, and the metric system were all invented. Do you know in what order? (Check the bottom of this post to find out.)

Today for Art Thursday we have a little timeline of portraits from the 1700s. I'm putting them in order of the birth of the portraits' subjects. I like seeing amazing people who were alive at the same time.

Voltaire, French writer and philosopher, 1694 – 1778

Karim Khan Zand, c. 1705 – 1779, reputed to be one of the most just and able rulers in Iranian history

Benjamin Franklin, 1706 – 1790, genius
by David Martin

The Qianlong Emperor, 1711 – 1799

Frederick the Great, 1712 – 1786, Prussian king. In this portrait, Frederick plays the flute and C. P. E. Bach accompanies him on the harpsichord.
by Adolph Menzel

Catherine the Great, 1729 – 1796, the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia

Marie Antoinette, 1755 – 1793. This portrait is Marie Antoinette at the age of thirteen; it was sent to the dauphin so he could see his bride before he met her
by Joseph Ducreux

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756 – 1791
by Dora Stock

Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759 – 1797, writer, philosopher, advocate of women's rights, mother of Mary Shelley
by John Opie

Jane Austen, 1775 – 1817
by Cassandra Austen

Answer to the question above: I put the inventions in chronological order!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Words Without Borders

Check out Words Without Borders, an online magazine featuring prose and poetry from around the world, which is celebrating its tenth year. The site also includes anthologies (such as The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry) and sample pages of graphic novels and nonfiction.

May's magazine is about North Korea. (Here's a link to The Poet Who Asked For Forgiveness from that issue.) April spotlighted Iraq; March was about Spain; February highlighted graphic novels; and in January, they featured Haiti.

Since Words Without Borders has been around for a decade, there's a lot to peruse. For instance, November 2012: Banned Chinese Writers; May 2011: Afghanistan; September 2010: Urdu Fiction from India; and January 2009: Writings by Indonesian Women. Let me know if you find any new favorites!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Musical Clocks

For Music Monday, we've got musical clocks.

This clock in Shibuya, Tokyo might have been taken down since the below video was recorded... I can't find information about the clock's current status.

The Mechanical Galleon
An automated clock in the form of a 'nef', or galleon, made by Hans Schlottheim.
photo by Rob Watling

Miyazaki Copper Clock, NTV Building
photo by Jo Christian Oterhals

Singing Bird Box by Frères Rochat, c 1820

Delacorte Music Clock
photo by Rosa Say
From the official Central Park site: "Near the entrance of the Children's Zoo, the clock was dedicated in 1965 with funding from philanthropist George T. Delacorte. It sits atop a three-tiered tower and features a band of whimsical animals: two bronze monkeys banging hammers against a bell; a penguin on drum; a hippo on violin; a bear and his tambourine; a concertina-playing elephant; a goat with pipes; and a kangaroo on horn. The animals circle the tower to one of 44 tunes that change seasonally."

Music Clocks
photo by Emanuele Nocentelli

For something a little unusual, "clockpunk" music -- "God is a Watch" by The Melting Clock:

More clocks

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sonnets by Michelangelo

This solace to my soul is sweet,
That my black night doth make more clear the sun
Which at your birth was given to wait on you.

Philosopher by Michelangelo, c 1495-1500, pen and brown ink

Did you know that Michelangelo wrote sonnets? He wrote hundreds -- about love, art, death, his heroes, his patrons. Here are some examples from the 1904 edition of John Addington Symonds' translations of Michelangelo's sonnets:

The Artist and His Work

Light and Darkness

The Model and the Statue

On Dante Alighieri

Ed at Think Kid Think has the Poetry Friday round-up this week.

Want to be part of the 2013 Summer Poem Swap? Email me or leave a comment with your email address.

San Petronio by Michelangelo, Basilica of Saint Dominic, Italy,
photo by Georges Jansoone

Thursday, May 16, 2013

At the Desk

Mad Hatter: “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.
―Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

My idea of a perfect room is a study/library with a rolltop desk and large windows that lead out into a garden. Lots of desks there a desk in any of your perfect rooms?

Interieur mit Dame am Schreibtisch vor geöffnetem Kabinettschrank
by Paul Barthel (1862–1933)

Portrait of writer Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin
by Ilya Repin

Alexandre Dumas in his Library, The Three Musketeers

Study at a Reading Desk‎
by Frederic Leighton, 1877

Desk in the library at Zutphen, 1894

Still-Life with Books
by an unknown Dutch Master, c. 1628

Jean Miélot at his desk, 15th century
by an unknown miniaturist

Frau am Schreibtisch
by Lesser Ury (1861–1931)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Plain to See

I believe there's good
In everybody's heart
Keep it safe and sound

With most duets, both singers are basically on the same page (e.g. No Air, Baby Come to Me, Ain't No Mountain High Enough), but for this Music Monday, we've got a decidedly different sort of duet: "My Eyes" from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

To bring you up to speed...

Dr. Horrible, a villain wannabe, is in love with kind-hearted Penny. He's been trying to get the nerve to talk to Penny for ages. Just when Dr. Horrible finally makes contact with her, his nemesis -- superhero Captain Hammer -- also winds up being introduced to Penny.

Captain Hammer is actually completely self-centered, but Penny doesn't realize it and thinks he's a good guy. When Penny and Captain Hammer start dating, Dr. Horrible doesn't take it well. Cue "My Eyes":

Can you think of other duets where the singers are feeling so differently? Would love to hear your examples!

Friday, May 10, 2013

2013 Summer Poem Swap

by Elena

Interested in joining a Summer Poem Swap? The idea is that every two weeks beginning June 24 through August 19, you will mail someone a freshly-written poem and you will receive one.

Your assignment, should you decide to accept it, is to write five poems during that time period and share each poem with one person in a tangible format. I will be randomly matching poem swappers up. (You won't be sending all your poems to the same person.)

Everyone finds themselves in difficult situations sometimes. If you find yourself unable to write a poem during a two-week period, you are welcome to send an older poem of yours or to send a poem written by someone else. Also, if you are in a crunch and need help, you can contact me and I will sub for you. This is friendly and fun. No stress!

Interested? Email me! tabatha(at)tabathayeatts(dot)com. The deadline for joining will be June 1st.


Hafiz, aka Hafez

Today's poem:

Dropping Keys
by Hafiz

the small man
builds cages for everyone
While the sage,
who has to duck his head
when the moon is low,
keeps dropping keys all night long
for the


Booktalking is the Poetry Friday host this week.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Looking Carefully

There is an optical illusion about every person we meet.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fist on Black
by Jason Mrachina

See Your History
by Christiaan Triebert

And now, how we will go down from here? / Y ahora, ¿cómo bajaremos de aquí?
by Santi MB

Grasping the Sunlight
by Rishi Bandopadhay

Fork Illusion
Full profile of a fork? The tines of the fork are actually pointing out towards the viewer.
by Sean Rogers

Escaping Criticism
by Pere Borrell del Caso, 1874

Projection of a Lamp
by Helmuth Kraus M.

Tree in the Middle of the Road
by Merlin


NIH Kids Illusion Pages
What is an illusion?
Make Your Own Optical Illusions
Neuroscience for Kids: Vision