April + cool = 1st Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month, 2015

Expect more than the usual fiesta on Poetry Friday each Friday in April – National Poetry Month!

Today Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s THE POEM FARM hosts PF with a melodic invitation. Click at her site that in April is like a free jukebox, daily spinning an original poem this month that is cleverly written to be sung to a familiar tune. I expect to be singing a few of THE POEM FARM’S ditties when I read with BookPALS, Amy. Thank you for the tunes! And I think it’s a Music Hall of Fame feat!

Marshmallows in National Poetry Month

For a good-looking & good-tasting April round up of poetree partees, with marshmallow pillows you will want to share, try a perfect portion of Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

Freehand, long hand

Here in North Florida April is a sweet month to live outside; the mosquitoes & other biting creatures aren’t bugging us, and heat hasn’t wrung itself out of the wash cloth sky to settle underarms, around the hairline, and between foot and flip flop.

Free time involves strategies to stay away from screen glare, to write in longhand in a blooming park. I also bring paper notebook-writing into our back yard, where green tree frogs jump out from the patio umbrella, their favorite shelter in this suburban neighborhood of tall pines and live oak trees that are perches for owls and other raptors.

The wild violet blooms curled and fell into the earth, so that means hot times are ahead. To prepare, I share lines from two poems by two different poets, which speak to times when sandy shores are visited barefoot.

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Laura Shovan

“American Flamingo,” is one of the striking poems in the chapbook MOUNTAIN, LOG, SALT, and STONE that has sustained me in the past week as I’ve gone around my everyday rounds and found nourishment in reading the collection’s quotidian observations that make me think, I wish I had written
like that. But since I didn’t, I’m glad this poet did.

The poems are by the award-winning Laura Shovan, of Author Amok, one of the significant PF partee hosts.

“Marsh wader
balanced on one leg
like an apple tree in bloom…

“Marble eyes blue as the water
your boomerang beak
scoops for shrimp…”
© Laura Shovan
from “American Flamingo,” in MOUNTAIN, LOG, SALT, and STONE

Nikki Grimes

It’s not too far along the shore to pluck from another perfect seaside poem.
Last year I bought the novella in verse, WORDS WITH WINGS by poetry powerhouse Nikki Grimes, and enjoyed sharing some of the poems from it at a summer writing workshop in middle school. It’s the story of a child’s process in poem-making and in understanding her parents.

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Today I return to a poem from it that visits the edge of sand and sea when father and daughter share a sweet moment.

“Say ‘sand’
and I am running
along the beach,
snatching up shells
for my memory box…”

Dad right beside me.
He oohs and aahs
when I find
a beauty…”
© Nikki Grimes, from “Sand” in the novella in verse WORDS WITH WINGS

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19 thoughts on “April + cool = 1st Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month, 2015

  1. Jan you live a rich and generous life inhabiting the words of others with so much glee. You, yourself are a gifted poet–I love your prose too, but all your natural grace (and goofiness) shine through in your poetry.

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  2. A beautiful celebration of beautiful lines! I love this book of Laura’s, and having just visited the National Aviary this week, I especially now see how “boomerang beak” is not only lovely, but dead on. Kim Doele – Poetry Club advisor at Wealthy Elementry in East Grand Rapids – offered the first line of this great Nikki poem to her students, and their “Say…’ ‘” poems were fabulous. Thank you! Happy Poetry Friday! xo, a.

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    • Amy, appreciations for your making gre8t connections – thanks for that story about the students riffing on
      the character Gabby’s “Say…” prompt, which I should have explained.

      In the novella in verse, WORDS WITH WINGS, the student, Gabby, whose voice the story presents, begins many of her poems by sharing a word or idea & then her thoughts tumble along. And often she begins in this way, “Say ‘sand’…” or “Say ‘waterfall’ & the character Gabby gives those individual words wings. Here is another few lines As in this c. Nikki Grimes in WORDS WITH WINGS: “Say firefly/and I close my eyes/watch one wink/on and off/an SOS…

      Happy songster April days to you!

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  3. It seems that your intro is a poem too, Jan, but also love what you shared too, that “boomerang beak” of Laura’s and Nikki’s voice, even in 8 lines, already strong. I share that book with my students, always a pleasure. Thank you for taking us to the beach today!

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  4. Lovely post — love picturing you outdoors with your notebook (jumping tree frogs, really?). Enjoyed both poems — thanks for the visit to the seashore today. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Jama! My hubby is my witness on the leaping greenies. They do this every night, drop out of our umbrealls and hop, skip and jump over to the outside house wall where they hunt our bugs. Much fun for us & no bill from them for vacuuming the insects.

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  5. Hi, Jan. Thanks so much for featuring my poem today. As you know “American Flamingo” is an ekphrastic poem, written in response to Audubon’s painting of the same title. Glad you are enjoying the book!

    I love that beachy walk with NIkki Grimes. “Say ‘sand’ and I am running” is very inviting!

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  6. I don’t know Laura’s book, but after I read this poem, I would definitely like to hunt it down. I love the images in this poem, especially the “boomerang beak scooping shrimp. And I love the combination of these two poems. They make a great pair. Thank you!

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  7. I’ve been intrigued by Words with Wings for a long while now as I have a fascination with novels-in-verse. I have also read Nikki Grimes’ Dark Sons. I hope to find Words with Wings soon. 🙂

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