National Poetry Month Coming to an End: Canning Time

It is hard to believe April will soon be leaving us. I carved time out all month to read new, old, favorite, and classic poems. I have had the poster you see on the sidebar on my whiteboard of the classroom all month. A student just yesterday said, "How long has that poster been there?"  I do love to celebrate National Poetry Month even if a few students don't notice!  I will continue to celebrate my love for poetry many more times on this blog. I am returning to one of my favorite anthologies with my poem today. The book is Strings: A Gathering of Family Poems, selected by Paul Janeczko. This poem reminds me of Grandma West, Grandma Woolum, Auntie Lila, Auntie Ronnie, Aunt May, cousin Helen, my mom, myself, JEJ, and my sister Silver Valley Girl... all the great canners in the family!

Canning Time

The floor was muddy with the juice of peaches
and my mother's thumb, bandaged for the slicing,
watersobbed. She and Aunt Wessie skinned
bushels that day, fat Georgia Belles
slit streaming into the pot. Their knives
paid out limp bands onto the heap
of parings. It took care to pack the jars,
reaching in to stack the halves
firm without bruising, and lowering
the heavy racks into the boiler already
trembling with steam, the stove malignant
in heat. As Wessie wiped her face
the kitchen sweated its sweet filth.
In that hell they sealed the quickly browning
flesh in capsules of honey, making crystals
of separate air across the vacuums.
The heat and pressure were enough to grow
diamonds as they measured hot
syrup into quarts. By supper the last jar
was set on the counter to cool
into isolation. Later in the night
each little urn would pop as it
achieved its private atmosphere and
we cooled into sleep, the stove now
neutral. The stones already
pecked clean in the yard were free to try
again for the sun. The orchard meat fixed in
cells would be taken down cellar in the
morning to stay gold like specimens
set out and labeled, a vegetal
battery we'd hook up later. The women
too tired to rest easily think of
the treasure they've laid up today
for preservation at coffin level, down there
where moth and rust and worms corrupt,
a first foundation of shells to be
fired at the winter's muddy back.
-Robert Morgan

What the Living Do

I remember attending a workshop about five years ago and the presenter had us do an activity with this poem. I had never heard the poem and really loved reading it that day and still have the coffee stained copy that I have kept since that day. I still really like it.  ( Everything I love seems to have coffee stains on it!)  I think each of us could create our own poem with this title.

 What the Living Do

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably
    fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes
    have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we

    spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight
    pours through

the open living room windows because the heat’s on too high in here, and

    I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street,
    the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying

    along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my
    wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.

Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called
    that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to
    pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss – we want more and more and
    then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the

    window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing
    so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m

I am living, I remember you.
Marie Howe, from her 1998 collection What the Living Do

April is National Poetry Month: Great Poems by American Women

A favorite anthology I chose today is Great Poems by American Women edited by Susan L. Rattiner. One thing I love about this anthology is how it spans the time from the colonial-era to now so the reader gets a history of subjects and themes from American women poets.

Today I am going to share the following:

God's World
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
   Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
   Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To cruch! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, world, I cannot get the close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it an,
   But never knew I this;

  Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,-Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,-let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Sibling Assignment #130: April

Silver Valley Girl gave us the last assignment relating to the theme of April. "The name April is very common for girls born in this month.  Write about a person you know whose name is April, and what impact they have made on your life."  
This is my friend April. I love the pensive look on her face in this photo. This was taken last September as we enjoyed an amazing Peruvian feast with friends in Moscow. 
April came into my life through the Northwest Inland Writing Project.  We met at a leadership retreat, wrote together at a writing retreat, have kept in contact via email and our blogs, and continued to work together with NIWP. Last summer I had the privilege of co-faciliating the Summer Institute with April. We have stayed up way too late and had meaningful discussions about life, solved all the problems of the world, and shared good food, coffee, and laughs. I learned by being friends with April that you don't have to be close in age, work in the same school, go on shopping trips together, or text each other ten times a day to have a close friendship. Our friendship is built on muture respect, our passion for teaching and learning, love of books, writing, and poetry, NIWP, similar values, and an appreciation of simple things in life. I always look forward to the time we do spend together because we can always pick up where we left off last time.  I feel blessed that our paths crossed in this crazy world of ours and we were able to built this special friendship. Thanks April for being my friend. You have helped me realize I can enjoy the genre of fantasy, an effective leader can be gentle and nurturing, and  Patti's Kitchen is by far the best place to grade papers at the end of SI!

The Pleasures of An Ordinary Life

I have written about this anthology and posted this poem before, but it bears repeating as I wind down the celebration of National Poetry Month. Judith Viorst has a series of poetry collections for each decade of life. With the rhythm of her words she reminds us of the ups,downs, antics, and losses of aging.  In Forever Fifty is a poem that always reminds me of why I like my life so much:

The Pleasures of An Ordinary Life
  I've had my share of necessary losses,
Of dreams I know no longer can come true.
I'm done now with the whys and the becauses.
It's time to make things good, not just make do.
It's time to stop complaining and pursue
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I used to rail against my compromises.
I yearned for the wild music, the swift race.
But happiness arrived in new disguises:
Sun lighting a child's hair. A friend's embrace.
Slow dancing in a safe and quiet place.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I'll have no trumpets, triumphs, trails of glory.
It seems the woman I've turned out to be
Is not the heroine of some grand story.
But I have learned to find the poetry
In what my hands can touch, my eyes can see.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

Young fantasies of magic and of mystery
Are over. But they really can't compete
With all we've built together: A long history.
Connections that help render us complete.
Ties that hold and heal us. And the sweet,
Sweet pleasures of an ordinary life.
  -Judith Viorst

April is National Poetry Month: The Need of Being Versed in Country Things

A couple of summers ago I was in a used book store and found The Poetry of Robert Frost for three dollars. It is a hardbound collection which " it is believed Robert Frost himself would have chosen to represent his poetic achievement" ( the publishers note). It was published after his death in 1963. I first remember reading Frost when I was introduced to "Mending Wall", "Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening", and "The Road Not Taken". AS a teacher of poetry I choose Frost often because my students like him. They seem to "get" what he is saying.  I have posted this poem before, but it remains one of my favorites.

The Need of Being Versed in Country Things

The house had gone to bring again
To the midnight sky a sunset glow.
Now the chimney was all of the house that stood,
Like a pistil after the petals go.

The barn opposed across the way,
That would have joined the house in flame
Had it been the will of the wind, was left
To bear forsaken the place's name.

No more it opened with all one end
For teams that came by the stony road
To drum on the floor with scurrying hoofs
And brush the mow with the summer load.

The birds that came to it through the air
At broken windows flew out and in,
Their murmur more like the sigh we sigh
From too much dwelling on what has been.

Yet for them the lilac renewed its leaf,
And the aged elm, though touched with fire;
And the dry pump flung up an awkward arm;
And the fence post carried a strand of wire.

For them there was really nothing sad.
But though they rejoiced in the nest they kept,
One had to be versed in country things
Not to believe the phoebes wept.

-Robert Frost

April is National Poetry Month: Delights and Shadows: Casting Reels

I have written often on this blog about the poet Ted Kooser. He was Poet Laureate of the United States in 2004. This collection of poems earned him the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. He created "An American Life in Poetry", a weekly column that highlights poetry once a week in newspapers around the country. He writes about place in his words about Nebraska, he touches our hearts as he remembers family and friends,and he reminds us of simple beauty in everyday events.  I really love Kooser's work. Because of that it was hard to pick just one poem of his to post here today. If you have never read his work, visit his website and read more of his poems. I think you will see why I love his poetry so much.

Casting Reels
You find them at flea markets
and yard sales, old South Bends
and Pfluegers, with fancy engraving,
knurled knobs, and pearl handles,
spooled with the fraying line
of long stories snarled into
silence, not just exaggerated tales
of walleyes, bass, and catfish,
but of hardworking men
who on Saturdays sought out
the solace of lakes, who on weekdays
at desks, or standing on ladders,
or next to clattering machines
played out their youth and strength
waiting to set the hook, and then,
in their sixties, felt the line go slack
and reeled the years back empty.
They are the ones who got away.

Sibling Assignment # 129: Surviving Cancer

Silver Valley Girl gave the third sibling assignment this month around the theme of April. "In the movie “Pieces of April”, the plot centers around the main character April fixing her estranged family Thanksgiving dinner.  Pick a holiday meal our family has shared in the past, and write about it."

The holiday that was celebrated over ten years ago was not a traditional family holiday. It was one we created as a family. We celebrated Mom surviving her treatments for breast cancer. She decided she wanted a lobster dinner when the treatments came to an end. The siblings with spouses headed to  Milford's Fish House in Spokane and had a high spirited celebration as we ordered Mom lobster, enjoyed good food and toasted to Mom's quest of enduring chemo and radiation.
Silver Valley Girl put together a basket of pink gifts, there was pink champagne, and pink flowers. It was an evening full of laughs and love and now thirteen years later I am proud to report she has continued to be cancer free. My prayer is that we continue to celebrate each year her quest for being cancer free.

April is National Poetry Month: Do Poodles Like Noodles?

This anthology is especially popular with my younger readers and writers. The poems are light and silly, but it the illustrations are what keep all of us returning to this book. Here is the first poem in the book which the title of the book was pulled from.

Sometimes I Wonder
Sometimes I wonder if poodles like noodles,
Do lions us irons,
Can chickens read Dickens,
Do horses take courses,
Can beavers be weavers,
Do monkeys ride donkeys,
Can aardvarks be card sharks,
Do rabbits break habits,
Can kittens kniw mittens,
Do possums wear blossoms,
Can turtles jump hurdles?
I don't know the answers,,
I haven't a clue.
It's just fun to wonder,
Do you do it, too?

by Laura Numeroff

April is National Peotry Month: The Trees Stand Shining

The Trees Stand Shining is an anthology of poetry by  North American Indians. In the introduction it explains, "The poems in this book are really songs. There are different kinds: some are prayers, some short stories, some lullabies, and a few are war chants." The book also contains paintings by Robert Andrew Parker.

At the edge of the world
It is growing light.
The trees stand shining.
I like it.
It is growing light.

Butterfly, butterfly,butterfly, butterfly
Oh look, see it hovering among the flowers,
It is like a baby trying to walk
and not knowing how to go....

A voice
I will send
Hear me
The land
All over
A voice
I am sending
Hear me
I will live.
Teton Sioux

April is National Peotry Month: Library

Valerie Worth did four volumes of small poems. This anthology has all four collections plus fourteen more small poems in one book. Students always grab this book thinking it will be the best one to read because the poems are all short, making it easy. They are soon pleasantly surprised to learn that these small poems carry quite a punch. The other part I really like about this book is the delightful illustrations by Natalie Babbitt that I had only known as an author of books like Tuck Everlasting. Her precise black and white drawings give extra meaning to each poem.

No need even
To take out
A book: only
Go inside
And savor
The heady
Dry breath of
Ink and paper,
Or stand and
Listen to the
Silent twitter
Of a billion
Tiny busy
Black words

-Valerie Worth

April is National Poetry Month: Dog Music

Dog Music is an anthology edited by Joseph Duerner and Jim Simmerman dedicated to dogs. I really love the collection, but as always with poems about pets, too many of them are sad. Today I didn't want to share a poem about the death of a dog. Here is a happier one about a springer spaniel named Cynthia.

Lines on a Dog's Face

Wallace said, "What the eye beholds may be
The text of life," and in this case it is
The Springer, Cynthia, whose eyes
Are the brown corridors of vaduity,
Moral deserts where the absolute Nothing
Is, or nothing but her repetitions,
The fence line patrol, the daily quarrels
With the cat, begging always for scraps
And a nap to sleep it off, then waiting
Alert for something to be known.

Agent of operation, living primordium,
Memoir of Something clearly in her stare
Which would say only, "I have known this
For a very long time, retriever
Of the stick locked in crocodile teeth,
Living the life of the fanciful
Scenario, chasing doves, the evening
Meal, her wrinkles busily playing
Out a program, a sontermporary opinion,
The repetitions that govern her earth, and mine.

-Michael Gessner
My springer spaniel Annie

April is National Poetry Month: A Kitchen Memory

 my mom in her kitchen

I asked my sixth grade students today to explain why they liked poetry. One said " it is like reading a story... only shorter and with better words." Strings: A Gathering of Family Poems is like reading a whole collection of family memoirs... only shorter with stronger images. This anthology illustrates all the strings that tie families together with poems about grandparents, uncles, aunts, siblings, parents, and children to name a few.
Each of us could take any kitchen and conjure up  memories based on sounds, smells, sights, and tastes.

A Kitchen Memory
My mother is peeling an apple over the sink,
her two deft hands effortless and intent.
The skin comes away in the shape of a corkscrew,
red and white by turns, with a shimmer of rose
where the blade in its turn cuts close: a blush,
called out of hiding like a second skin.
Now the apple fattens in her hand;
the last scrap of parings falls away;
and she halves and sections the white grainy meat,
picks up another apple, brushes back
the dark hair at her temple with the knife hand.
The only sound is the fan stirring the heat.
- Roy Scheele

"The Rowdy Girls":Designing Woman Classic: RIP Dixie Carter

One of the things that makes the television sitcom "Designing Women" so endearing is how the script used the four women to deal with serious issues with humor and grace. This one below is most of  a whole episode that dealt with wife abuse. I remember watching this one time with my sister and getting misty eyed. I watched it again this morning when I heard the news about the passing of Dixie Carter. Misty eyed again.

Sibling Assignment #128: " April Is the Cruelest Month"

Silver Valley Girl gave another assignment using the theme of April. "In T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Burial of the Dead”, Eliot refers to April as the cruelest month.  Read the poem, and write about  Eliot’s thoughts on the month of April."
I will link my siblings' posts when they are available. "The Burial of the Dead" is the first section of the much longer poem "The Waste Land".

The Burial of the Dead
by T.S. Eliot

" April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried turbers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour."

You can find the complete poem here.

After the war, through the eyes of a child, April was the cruelest month. It was " mixing memory and desire." After war or any type of winter, we want spring to come badly. Spring represents renewed spirit, reawakening, resurrection. Through the eyes of this child or even through the eyes of this adult woman, April can be cruel. Flowers can bloom, then the earth will freeze. Trees can fill with buds only to be blown away in an afternoon. The first violets can be buried in a late snowfall. Growing up in Kellogg we had a long winter, a gray period, then a short spring that emerged in May. There was always a desire for spring. A yearning for the lilacs to bloom, pansies to be planted, and syringa to burst forth on the hillsides. We were chilly in our light Easter dresses. No Easter egg hunts outside for us. We weren't coming out of a war during our April, but you did often wonder what branches would grow out of the stony rubbish of a long winter.
The end of winter is cruel on the spirits of my students. They are lethargic, often tired, and can't get motivated. Coming back from a break they hoped to greet April with a renewed spirit. It is coming. I saw it when the sun shone for awhile the other day. I saw slumped shoulders when the wind blew and snow fell again shortly after. I see baseball mitts and sunglasses. It is coming.

This represents hope I observed today in my garden. I too wanted to be the hyacinth girl. I didn't have enough to have my arms full, but just the scent of those blue flowers pushed the cruel April away a bit.

April is National Poetry Month: Magic Words

I first wrote about this anthology in November. You can find that post here. This volume had been recommended to me by a former student Shawna and I have returned to it again and again. It is an international anthology of poems with translations edited by Czeslaw Milosz. This reminded me of a conversation with one of my students the other day. He was reflected on the way of life for the native people on the reservation and how he would be living if other cultures had never come on the land. I will share this poem with him.

Magic Words

In a very earliest time,
when both people and animals lived on earth,
a person could become an animal if he wanted to
and an animal could become a human being.
Sometimes they were people
and sometimes animals
and there was no difference.
All spoke the same language.
That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance
might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
and what people wanted to happen could happen-
all you had to do was say it.
Nobody could explain this:
That's the way it was.

translated from the Inuit by Edward Field

April is National Poetry Month: poetry 180

Billy Collins, inspired by his poem-a-day program with the Library of Congress, chose 180 contemporary poems for this anthology . The 180-degree turn refers to a turning back to poetry. " Flip through the book and pick a poem, any poem. I know every one is an ace, or at least a face card, because I personally rigged the deck." Billy Collins
Being faced with a book of aces or at least a queen or jack, you can well imagine the challenge I had choosing a poem from this anthology! I loved the idea of the following poem. The author identified threads of his life that was woven into a poetic autobiography.


I had everything and luck: Rings of smoke
blown for me; sunlight safe inside the leaves
of cottonwoods; pure, simple harmonies
of church music, echoes of slave songs; scraps
of candy wrappers-airborne. Everything.
Mother and father, brother, aunts, uncles;
chores and schoolwork and playtime. Everything.

I was given gloves against winter cold,
I was made to wear gloves when I gardened.
I was made to garden; taught to hold forks
in my left hand when cutting, in my right
when bringing food to my mouth. Everything.

I had clothes I was told not to wear outside;
a face you could clean up to almost handsome;
I had friends to fight with and secrets, spread
all over the neighborhood, the best teachers,
white and colored. I'm not making this up.
I knew that I had everything. Still do.

-G.E. Patterson

Mom, August 2009, Rockaway Beach, Oregon

April is National Poetry Month: Good Poems for Hard TImes

"At times life becomes impossible, and you curl up under a blanket in a dim room behind the drawn shades and you despise your life. It can help to say words. Moaning helps. So does prayer. Poems help". Garrison Keillor in the introduction to Good Poems for Hard Times. This is the second anthology selected by Garrison Keillor from the collections that have been heard on The Writer's Almanac on public radio. When I first began reading this collection I thought all the poems would be about dealing with sadness. Actually, many are uplifting and remind us of happiness, birthdays, and spring. The poem I have chosen for today reminds me of the things that surround us every day. We need those things.

Lisel Mueller

What happened is, we grew lonely
living among the things,
so we gave the clock a face,
the chair a back,
the table four stout legs
which will never suffer fatigue.

We fitted our shoes with tongues
as smooth as our own
and hung tongues inside bells
so we could listen
to their emotional language,

and because we loved graceful profiles
the pitcher received a lip,
the bottle a long, slender neck.

Even what was beyond us
was recast in our image;
we gave the country a heart,
the storm an eye,
the cave a mouth
so we could pass into safety.

April is National Poetry Month: Prayer for Peace

" One of the greatest gifts my brother and I received from my mother was her love of literature and language. In this anthology, I have tried to include poems that reflect things that were important to her- a spirit of adventure, the worlds of imagination and nature, and the strength of love and family."- Caroline Kennedy in the introduction to The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

This anthology is a favorite of mine because of the mixture of poems collected that span from the Old Testament to Shakespeare, John Keats, Walt Whitman, and Robert Frost just to name a few. There are poems that celebrate America, verses read to children, poems of love and romance, and a collection penned by Jackie herself.  I learned the following poem as a worship song, but the words express much by themselves.

Prayer for Peace
St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of Your Peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may
   not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understoon, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

First Bouquet: Spring 2010

Yes, these were picked!

Top Ten Things I Love About the Methow Valley

 1.  Eating lunch in the oldest "legal" saloon in Washington State (Three Finger Jack's).
2. Getting reacquainted with Molly's Soaps. When I lived in the Tri-Cities Molly always had a booth at the Allied Arts Fair. Molly led me back to her handmade soaps in Winthrop!

3.The Trail's End Bookstore in Winthrop. Read about it here.
4. The Cinnamon Twisp Bakery in Twisp.

5. Discovering the Back Country Coffee Roaster's Buck Mountain Blend. It "takes you out of the rut".

 6. The Methow, Twisp, and Chewack Rivers.

7. Early Winters Campground.
8. The new beverage holders at the Mazama Store.
 9.  The North Cascades and

10. Lost River Cabin, JEJ, and the dogs.

I think Shelby got a bit tired of sightseeing!

April is National Poetry Month: Fixers

The anthology I have chosen today is The Way It Is, New and Selected Poems by William Stafford. This collection combines previously unpublished poems written close to his death and selections from previous books.  I had not read much of William Stafford's poems until I heard him speak with his son Kim at a NCTE conference about twenty years ago. After that day I was a loyal follower of his work. I really like the second section of this book that includes in order the last poems he wrote before his death in 1993. There are poems about family, other poets, history of place, nature, and retirement. The following selection is an example of how Stafford can depict everyday people that we recognize and have known all our lives.

On back roads you can find people
who keep machinery alive. With a file,
a wrench, a hammer they scrape, twist
and pound until the old tractor wakes up
or the plough bites again into the ground.

I've bullied rusty iron and made it
remember what to do, and once on a back road
I put out a fire under the hood of a car;
but these greasy geniuses have to conjure
miracles day after day just to keep going.

Often their audience is a customer eager to
get started again, or maybe their little daughter
watching how Daddy fixes things. And sometimes
only an old dog-wise in when to jump aside-
studies mechanics and barks when The Master says,

-William Stafford

April is National Poetry Month: 100 Poems to Lift Your Spirits

The third anthology I am going to feature this month is one I purchased a few years ago on a spring break trip to Lake Chelan. This collection was a nice companion on that trip and one I pull out when I need my spirits lifted. When Leslie Pockell edited this collection she organized the poems by Nature, Nonsense,Spirituality, and The Human Connection.  There are old favorites like " To Autumn" by Keats and "Daffodils" by Wordsworth to modern classics such as "Dawn Revisited" by Rita Dove and "Filling Station" by Elizabeth Bishop.

The memory of the poem I am going to share today was not as a poem, but a song. I sang these words in Junior Choir at the United Church in Kellogg as a child. I don't know if I sang it during Eastertime, but the words seem to fit today.

 Maker of Heaven and Earth (All Things Bright and Beautiful)
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset, and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;--

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well. 

by Cecil Frances Alexander

April is National Poetry Month: Heart to Heart

 Since I discovered Heart to Heart edited by Jan Greenberg at a bookstore five years ago it has been a favorite anthology. The book is a celebration of twentieth century art which inspired the collection of poems. Forty-three American poets were commissioned to each choose a work of art then write a poem about it. The book displays the colorful works of art next to the composed poems. I couldn't pick a favorite, but here is one that I have used with my students as a way to use powerful word choice to depict the American experience.  I love the lines " Spread an easel of colors... On fifty pieces of scissored history" . Lovely imagery.  Enjoy.

by J. Patrick Lewis

Brash canvas,
Bleeding borders,
Kindled calm,
This is oxymoronicamerica,
Forged out of iron and lace
By people strapping and raw,
Who wrestled and pinned history
To the map.

Happy as a circus boy,
Spirited as an outlaw,
Rough as a gandy dancer,
This continent of tinted steel
Spread an easel of colors
On fifty pieces of scissored history-
And painted itself a self.

Sibling Assignment #127: Christ The Lord Has Risen Today

 Easter back in the day with Raymond Pert, Silver Valley Girl as a baby and me.

This month Silver Valley Girl is giving sibling assignments around the theme of April. Here is ours for this week. " This year, Easter falls on the first Sunday of April.  Pick one of your favorite Easter hymns, and write about why it means so much to you." I will link theirs soon.

I can remember Easter in church for at least fifty years. Our church used to be uptown in Kellogg, then we made the big move down on Cameron across the street from our house when I was in elementary school.  At both churches the girls all wore new dresses, hats, white patent leather shoes with new white socks, and sometimes carried a new purse on Easter Sunday. The boys were in slacks, white shirts and ties.  The organist was the same in both buildings, the choir robes were the same, the the opening procession every Easter was "Christ the Lord Has Risen Today."

Fifty years later I get goosebumps when I hear this song. When I was old enough to understand Maundy Thursday and Good Friday I remember a sadness trying to understand The Last Supper and the crucifixion if Jesus Christ. When our organist filled the church with the opening chords of this song and the choir marched down the middle aisle singing the song with the congregation I knew it was time to rejoice. I look forward to belting it out Sunday as we once again celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ at our Garden Valley Church. Enjoy the song with me a have a happy Easter.

Postcards From the Methow Valley: Highway 20 and Early Winters

We toured Highway 20 as far as the road would go yesterday. The North Cascade Scenic Highway is still closed.
We took a break at the Early Winters Campground and enjoyed the beauty of Early Winters Creek and the surrounding area.

The creek was just a bit too cold for Shelby, but Annie waded right in!

April is National Poetry Month: One Hundred Best Poems for Boys and Girls

The second anthology I am highlighting this month is One Hundred Best Poems for Boys and Girls compiled by Marjorie Barrows. The copy I have was published in 1930. I found this copy hiding on the shelf of a used book store a few years ago. It has a superb selection of poems, plus I love the black silhouette  illustrations.  It contains many favorite poems from childhood by Rachel Field, Edward Lear, and Robert Lewis Stevenson. I found comfort in this poem picturing  this Rhodes Scholar studying at Oxford, perhaps thinking of animal crackers and cocoa back home!

Animal Crackers
by Christopher Morley.
Animal crackers and cocoa to drink,
That is the finest of suppers I think;
When I'm grown up and can have what I please
I think I shall always insist upon these.
What do YOU choose when you're offered a treat?
When Mother says, "What would you like best to eat?"
Is it waffles and syrup, or cinnamon toast?
It's cocoa and animals that I love most!

The kitchen's the cosiest place that I know;
The kettle is singing, the stove is aglow,
And there in the twilight, how jolly to see
The cocoa and animals waiting for me.

Daddy and Mother dine later in state,
With Mary to cook for them, Susan to wait;
But they don't have nearly as much fun as I
Who eat in the kitchen with Nurse standing by;
And Daddy once said, he would like to be me
Having cocoa and animals once more for tea!

April is National Poetry Month: Good Poems

The tradition around here in April has been to celebrate National Poetry Month by posting a poem a day.  This year I am going to change that up just a bit. I have an ever growing collection of poetry anthologies  to share.  This month I will share a book recommendation and a poem each day.  If you ever need or want even more poetry, check my April archives or click poetry on my subject cloud. If you want to learn even more visit the National Poetry Month part of here.

The first anthology I chose is Good Poems selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor. This anthology is a collection of poems he has shared on The Writer's Almanac on Public Radio. It is a nice mix of classic poets side by side with contemporary poets. The book is divided into categories which include Music, Day's Work, A Good Life, Trips, and Snow. The poem I chose to share today is in the section called Oh Lord.
Welcome Morning
 There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there, Anne"
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young.
~ Anne Sexton ~