4th of July Haiku
“crimes against God”
Douglass descendants lead us
“change is possible”
~~ jg annino, 2020
appreciations to National Public Radio & Douglass descendants
4th of July Haiku
“crimes against God”
Douglass descendants lead us
“change is possible”
~~ jg annino, 2020
appreciations to National Public Radio & Douglass descendants
A humid Florida hey there weary travelers, from this Bookseedstudio patch of Poetry Friday. We PF bffs are collected this week via Live Your Poem by honorary Floridian & groovy poet Irene Latham. To know more about friday poet pals, please visit No Water River & Kitditosphere, at this article’s end, where I’ve linked.
I think of gardens when I think of NIKKI GRIMES, “poet, photographer, artist & avid gardener,” as she describes herself. In addition to the shelves of literary & publishing success honors that this poet has earned, I feel that everyday, Nikki Grimes deserves armloads and cascading gardens of all kinds of flowers, baskets of fresh herbs and roaming vines of fresh veggies. In her decades and decades of work in crafting exquisite books, she has helped young readers, especially those whose skin color is similar to hers, feel someone understands their rocky road. But please know that she is a writer for all. Her words nurture all children & many adults, to bloom into their full potential. Start with WORDS WITH WINGS, a title that I connect with deeply. In 2015, I included it in a Bookseedstudio blog here.
An early self-bloomer, despite finding little fertilizer & too much rocky ground in earliest years, young Nikki created poems and art before the age of 10, living in bleak circumstances. She always desired to create beautiful things. She remembers making poems from age six!
Nikki Grimes is outspoken in her commentary on our world’s marginalization of books created by writers of color and about the sidelining of books about families and children of color. Consider how infrequently these good resources are brought up in class, outside of a specific anniversary, celebratory day or month. Nikki Grimes has.
Listening to Nikki Grimes at the Reading Rockets’ interview linked in the paragraph above, says to me that from the first day of school, children should be reading stories where not all the children are white. And in fact, it is right that all children read bright stories where most of the kids in the room, at the park, are not white. Stories on making new friends, losing shyness in class, managing seats on the bus, events at the fair, camping adventures, discoveries at a museum, should cover all children. Consider also how often a book about a topic on people of color or other marginalized people who aren’t people of color (and this does include people who are American Indians/Native Americans) is a sad book, a book about a difficult topic. Most children still grow up unaware of the exceptional, trail-blazing healers, scientists, thinkers, discoverers & others, who are people of color. The general public only in recent years learned of the brilliant work of black women in the U.S. space race program, dedicated mathematicians, cruelly marginalized, while proving exceptional crucial brainpower to the United States mission. People in Florida, home of NASA, should be especially sensitive to knowing & teaching this story, told in HIDDEN FIGURES, the great picture book that was sold for a movie, created for all ages.
OK. I’ve stepped a bit off-topic. But that too, may be a key part of the Nikki Grimes story, as when you read more Nikki Grimes’ books or follow her life story you may tend to step off-path, too. This poet’s child days truth is told in the enormously potent ORDINARY HAZARDS. As a young girl she endured, she survived, through serial, multiple, unhappy home & school settings. There was violence. Out on Mean Streets, she did defend herself. This makes the exquisite beauty that Nikki Grimes delivers in the poems she crafts & also in her images in photographs and paintings, all the more compelling. Step into her visual art gallery.
Author appearances with new books are altered in #healthierathome times. But meet the inspiring Nikki Grimes at her home’s Nikki Grimes You Tube Channel, Try a poetry prompt there or learn how lists are important to her creative process. You can also catch up with an April 2020 visit some of us checked into at the Highlights Foundation #HFGather. Subscribe to her newsletter, read her blog & other pages at her website & follow along on twitter. As you dwell among her works and learn more of her life, you may discern that two of Nikki Grimes’ themes are Faith & perseverance. For ideas on Faith look to her book, THE WATCHER, inspired by Psalm 121 or sit in the pew, COME SUNDAY. For life as a creator who keeps on keepin’ on, look to her generous sharing about bumps in path to finding a publisher for her exceptionally successful book, A POCKETFUL OF POEMS. She also shines a generous spotlight on other creators, as she does in this interview she conducted with POEMS IN THE ATTIC artist, Elizabeth Zunon. I beam thanks to Michelle Barnes, who met Nikki Grimes at a library event in Florida, for tipping me off to the N.G. Elizabeth Zunon Q/A.
Notes from Nikki is bright with her tenderly cultivated blooms, cultivated words, & with creative re-imaginings of her recycled paper projects & news of her deep connections with students around the globe. When you find one of her books out there in the world, let her know, for this newsletter!
Peace to you, especially in troubled times.
A heart-lifting moment in recent conversations on race & how to counter racism in this beautiful USA, is the community children’s literature coming-together, of June 4th, 2020.
It collected under the banner #KidLit4BlackLives & I heard about it through #TheBrownBookshelf, my guide for 13 years, to fabulous books I might otherwise not have known about & some titles I was already seeking.
Jackie Woodson warmly welcomed us to the table, hosted by Kwame Alexander. But the best thing about it is that so many soon-to-be luminaries were invited onboard with now-famous, once-unknown, contemporary, award-winning children’s-book creators of color. I especially enjoyed meeting a 9-year-old future leader, zooming in from overseas. Correction: Leader. Period.
It’s exciting to see thousands of publishers, editors, educators, parents & creators of books for young people, listening/learning from an evening of vivid voices that are predominantly from people of color. We all pledged to learn more, learn harder, learn better, about what our community needs to do to improve.
Following the event, which he attended, graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang shared this thoughtful instagram conversation with a beloved esteemed educator who was 10 during the 1967-68 riots in the USA, which led to the Kerner Commission. (divot to the right, to flip to each page.) Educator Tony Green believes that the country needs a national commission that has broad ethnic representation (unlike the all-white, male Kerner Commission) to create implementable provisions that will move the USA forward in the wake of a shameful litany of black lives lost after an incident with police. That is one part of a larger racial issue, which involves food deserts, poverty, imprisonment and health care access. I would like to see this country’s Native American/American Indian population included in this national discussion.
I loved how Ms. Woodson, whose BROWN GIRL DREAMING, is a favorite of mine, asked everyone to speak out when a racist remark is heard, when it comes directly to you from your uncle who is a wizard at guitar-playing, or the friendly neighbor who grows sweet cherry tomatoes two streets over. “That’s not kind,” is a starter, before walking away. “I don’t feel good being around thoughts like that.” Doesn’t have to be a long lecture. Shouldn’t be. Jerry Craft knew how to get a conversation going in many families, such as in Florida, where I live. He said to share how, “Save the Whales doesn’t mean that dolphins don’t deserve to live. Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that ALL Lives don’t matter.”
The evening was awash in appreciation for people regardless of their skin, the quality of their home, their unemployment status or the labels on their clothing. More kindness, more thinking before speaking, more interest in people of color all through the year, and not just at a significant anniversary of birth or death, or a standard celebration time, or month, is a step toward shedding racism.
To revisit these speakers, make time for the recorded event. Above, find & follow #TheBrownBookshelf link, which also includes a rich list of resources.
Appreciations to political cartoonist Nathan Archer, Florida chair of the National Cartoonists Association, for this #BlackLivesMatter 6/2020 image shared on his fb page.
Greetings from the precipice of the reason for generator season. Our 1st named tropical weather system is mapped in color on our local newspaper’s pages. Arthur. In case you had bet on Arnold or, Aurturio. We seek bids from installers of our chosen brand of generator. Photos of fuse box & outside electrical power components have been taken & sent. A gas line will be connected from our house to the (fortunately) existing pipe under the tree-lined suburban street we trod daily. All this fuss so our very own, yard-to-glass, Myer lemon hand-made yellow glow frozen cubes, via old fashioned-style but super retro gift juicer from our thoughtful daughter, will last until October. That month is the H.S. end. O, Florida!
Hurricane For the term hurricane we give thanks to the beautiful Caribbean Island’s original peace-loving Taino people. Their way of saying it was more like hura’ca’n, modified by armed Spanish conquerers so that armed English-spellers could come up with our hurricane. Here’s my page with Taino resources. No word on what the armed French called it, during their hurricane days here.
Some of you know I’m a collector of objetos di las floridas, so here is one I can’t take credit for, but it lifts my #healthyathome spirits Would love to know if Maine uses a public service moose. Credit deserved!
Although every time is alligator time in Florida, May and June coincide with bull gator bellows and mating season, so reptile alertness, always needed in Florida, is wise evermoreso if you decide to practice your physically distant/social distant novel covid-19 avoidance protocols in the beautiful, water-abundant outdoors. They like same trails you do!
Two recent very local news notes speak of alligators, I imagine much as a news source in polar bear country would alert you to Ursus maritimus’ ways. The story on blue crabs reminds against E.R room forseen events if you tie your bait cord to your wrist. Yes, I have seen this, at the old Caloosahatchee River dock near Tice at the border of Fort Myers. The other speaks of how to conduct safe outdoor tuba-time, lest you call up a live gator.
Do you have a unique local design face mask? I would like to see some featuring art or photo images of our beautiful swimmer, blue crabs, or shells of pink/purple striped scallops, or my favorite coast plant – sea oats. I’m not a sewer so I haven’t created masks for medical staff, but a word from Ancient City Poets via North Florida Poetry Hub called for upbeat personal poems for Mayo Clinic staff. My poems were paired with art by the coordinator & the report is that staff is loving them. So, Xo for our good first responders. And, keep smiling behind your face masks.
Stone is a core pillar of Earth that baffles me.
How it’s made, the differences between igneous and metamorphic, why some stone is marble and other stone is, for example, crumbly shale. And why Florida, where I live, isn’t stoney. But Syria, for example, defines Stone.
As I turned pages in a new and supremely worthy true-story picture book set in perhaps the oldest continually settled city on Earth, my eyes lasered to artist Yuko Shimizu’s paintings of walls, buildings and ancient paths. Stone of Aleppo, a place where famous people we know of from both the Bible and the Qur’an (Koran) walked millennia ago.
We are talking a community whose trade paths echo so much of so many languages and intrigues and faiths, the entire Old Aleppo is a World Heritage Site.
On my second and third glances through THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO, as a mother, aunt, and children’s writer, I honed in on the helpful kids. And yes, on the cats the kids were helping, having grown up with, at one count, 13 named felines, in the Franklin Township woods in New Jersey. There were more who lurked further back in the woods. We fed so many because, word got out, if you dumped a cat near our place across the country lane from the Knispel Dairy, we would take it in. Mom, you would have liked Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel and his unselfish service to people and pets of Aleppo.
Mr. Alijaleel, who asks to be called Alaa, his first name, is a paramedic and ambulance driver. He walked stone paths, pulled open doors in stone walls, knew stone buildings in Syria all his life. And then came war. And then, for the first responder, who stayed to help the wounded, came cats.
Fortunately, a Syrian immigrant in my neighbor state of Alabama, Karim Shamsi-Basha, who had once studied in Aleppo for a year, met one of my favorite children’s poets and storytellers, Irene Latham. Mr. Shamsi-Basha spoke with Alaa. They all teamed up with artist Yuko Shimizu. Alaa opens the book with a letter: “This is a story about cats and war and people. But mostly it is about love.”
This book breaks down boundaries.
It’s going to introduce the artistry of calligraphy in Arabic writing to many schoolchildren. Told in English, the book creators use opportunities to also tell the story in the native language of the good people of Aleppo. Read it and learn ma’amoul and barazek – names of two kinds of cookies.
On back and front endpapers, ethereal double spread skyscapes, closing and opening the book feature an uncountable number of flying peace symbols. Over and over. White doves in the air. No cats. Think about that. A brave choice for a story about cats. This story and illustrations leave me feeling as if, without any credentials whatsoever, I’m invited to sit in on a key United Nations aid committee meeting on healing the Syrian people, physically and emotionally.
Please find this book of good will, book of hope, book of love, book of peace (Jane Addams Peace. Association, please take note.)
Tabatha Yeatts’ Opposite of Indifference Poetry Month 4.28.20 entry, “Healing Heart” is about this book.
Betsy Bird has her say. And it’s beautiful.
We saw United Nations’ (UNESCO above) Aleppo pages & here, too, Syrian children’s issues at UNICEF.
Please also know paramedic Alaa’s fellow Syrian, a brave medical student.
Aleppo may be from an old way of saying the Arabic idea to”give out milk,” halaba. We don’t know. We do how in one huge example, the milk of human kindness flows from THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO.
Alessandra Abidin in Italy helped found Aleppo’s Ernesto’s Cat Sanctuary with Alaa. Ernesto was the name of one of her beloved cats. People all over the world join every day to support the work, which now includes not only cats, but also, children orphaned by war and yes, their chickens, goats, and dogs. A veterinarian is on staff, as are a technician and other helpers. The orphan animals help the hearts of shell-shocked children heal. The orphanage Alla’s group created gives kids a home.
All because one man, at the end of a long work day in an Aleppo ambulance, fed starving cats.
readings: lyrical words, memories, in “A Lap Full of Monarchs” Sharon Lovejoy – A BOOK OF TOADS; THE WILD BRAID, Stanley Kunitz ; teachings of Betty Komarek, Birdsong Nature Center, where I resided one summer, care-taking.
Back in March I yanked an invasive thorned vine off ou
big black mailbox only to discover my mistake –
I also wrenched a thorn-tangled
sweet jasmine vine that sheltered an underleaf jewel,
What to do? Leave a treasure somewhere
out there? Under grandmother oak? Nestled among
Because I’ve met Sharon Lovejoy and Betty Komarek,
because I’m a reader of Sharon Lovejoy and Stanley Kunitz
I knew, I knew.
With worried hands, I carried jewel on vine fragment
paper mache wiggle
hang out to dry
probe cut-fruit sustenance
Usually-welcome little brown lizard
creeps up (off-camera) thru foliage outside
yon door. Spotted not by me,
but by my eagle-eyed husband,
attorney advocate for kids,
who misses little about a predator.
Butterfly hadn’t graduated from walking to
more than a bunny hop, yet.
I stopped taking video & stills, tip-toed past
ground-floor butterfly &
placed barriers between it & the liz.
out & up & away, on Easter Sunday, 2020. As Betty Komarek would say, “Blessed Be.”
It’s important to catch a smile when you can.
When you have a moment, what are your go-to smiles?
Good luck, wishes for healthy days and nights.
To sooth your Poetry Friday questions, it’s off to No Water River for you!
See Poetry Friday here!
Yesterday was March 17, 2020. As a Bailey on one side of my family, I like at least a wee nod to the holiday. And so my wonderful husband surprised me with a splendid Ireland-set film for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day’s post-Irish stew, kick-back.
We watched a treat of Irish wild fields, wild woods, streams and even, the Ethiopian desert, through the adventures of garden upsetter Mary Reynolds, of Ireland. DARE TO BE WILD made me think of world- traveling artist and writer Stephanie Roth Sisson.
Stephanie’s book about a United States woman who treasured the wild places, who worked for pesticide-reduced appreciation of Mother Earth’s natural bounty, is titled SPRING AFTER SPRING. If you like organic veggies and fruit, a blooming meadow, hidden lake, a mountain forest glen or a wide wild salt shore, Rachel Carson is the U.S. woman you need to know more about. She was a solid, steady, yet revolutionary scientist who many may not know endured vilification for her spot-on testimony before the U.S. Congress, saying that the facts indicated that in most instances, we need to hold off on a drenching of damaging chemicals when it comes to growing crops and sharing the land.
Stephanie’s charming picture book biography of Rachel Carson invites children to explore in delightful detail the rural girlhood that became catalyst for little Rachel to grow into a keen recorder of bugs, birds, bees and trees. And, a young observer of smoke and soot spewed by Pennsylvania factories. The drawings and artwork are precious and frame-worthy.
SPRING AFTER SPRING
How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement,
written and illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson, Roaring Brook Press
To satisfy your Poetry Friday curiosity, it’s off to No Water River, for you!
Poetry Friday’s party is with poet Linda at TEACHER DANCE
Hello and please know I’m giddy to share three recent magics.
The newest volume from anthologist Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ series, TODAY’s LITTLE DITTY, shares the first and so far, only, Abcedarian poem form I have ever completed, titled, “Jaunty.” An Abcedarian is a poem with lines featuring a first letter in each line that follows the natural order of the English alphabet. If you like puzzles, this is it!
Also nested in TLD pages please find works from a forest of Poetry Friday bloom-givers, including children’s poets Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, and Matt Forrest Esenwine, as well as new picture book author Randi Soneshine.
Each poem in TLD represents the mastering of a writing challenge issued by venerable poetry purveyors, including Carole Boston Weatherford, Naomi Shihab Nye and J. Patrick Lewis and the incomparable Jane Yolen. If you aren’t already playing the Today’s Little Ditty monthly game, with challenges such as Golden Shovel and Ode poems, follow along at editor Barnes’ site.
Let’s debate, for a second, if seeing your poem on clear sparkling glass constitutes publishing? Our town is in the midst of celebrating the newest Council on Culture and Art’s fun thing, Poem on Panes. Thank you for putting local poets poems on windowpanes, dear COCA.
My poem is “House of Rhymes.” Thanks! sponsor, Adams Street Advocates:
“House of Rhymes”
by J.G. Annino
In a jewel-box mansion not covered in vines
Dwelled Louella K., creator of rhymes
She rhymed her squat ice box, she rhymed her tall lamp
She rhymed the piano, she rhymed her fern plant
She rhymed down the sidewalk, she rhymed into church
She still rhymes today, in her other world perch
Yes, it’s true. In our town in the late 1920s to the 1960s, lived a most unusual person. Among unique characteristics she is remembered for, she wrote little ditties about the appliances and furnishings of her very decorated home. She tied her verses to each honored piece, with little silken ribbons. Today the house is a downtown community museum, which I have highlighted in a couple of my Florida travel guides.
I am more-often absent in contests or challenges, too wrapped up in two books-still-in-progress. But, Hi ho!, Hi ho! nearly at the top of the brick poster wall, find my answer to the new Buffy Silverman challenge. I added two photos to my poem, titled “Ice-giving tree,” over at the same, prolific, Michelle Barnes’ February padlet, here.
To order go here: TODAY’S LITTLE DITTY
Bookseedstudio is part of Poetry Friday go-go juice, a super spot, if your reading or writing would like a boost.
this post is part of the Poetry Friday collection*
Dr. Carla D. Hayden photograph by JG Annino at FAMU, Tallahassee
I salute the Library of Congress staff and its director Dr. Carla D. Hayden, for unending reasons, including our national library’s collection of historical civil rights materials. This Bookseedstudio focus is on Rosa Parks, whose Feb. 4, 1913 birthday, as the Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement is remembered publicly in many areas, from the nation’s Capitol south to Alabama and westward to California.
It’s also marked at home with awe by those of us who curl up with a riveting new read, generously leavened with photos I recognize immediately, from this exemplar’s historic timeline. Rosa on the bus. Rosa with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And, Rosa on Dec. 1, 1955.
That day she paid her public bus fare, but wasn’t allowed to sit in an empty bus seat of her choosing, in Alabama. She was judged guilty, fined $10 and given 14 days hard city labor.
Guilty, of being black where blacks, by local law, were denied access to tax-supported facilities.
A Landmark New Book
Because the Library of Congress received, archived and has made available, a massive collection of this incredible history-maker’s notes, kept by hand on single sheets and notebooks, and also her letters, essays, arrest details, bus boycott assignments, and other documents, a valuable, new Rosa Parks exhibit and book, beckons. It is Rosa Parks, In Her Own Words.
As noted by the book’s author Susan Reyburn, Rosa’s flowing cursive, which sprang from her expressive mind, bears witness in pencil and pen, across the backs of envelopes, paper pharmacy bags, small pocket calendars, assorted stationary, lined notebooks and other papers.
This pathfinder recorded events going back to age six, when she milked cows and picked cotton, created her first quilt, and stayed up all night fully clothed, ready to escape if needed, as white men, who often worked as law officers during the day, felt free to ravage black neighborhoods, burning buildings and flogging or killing black people found outside at night.
“Grandfather stayed up to wait for them to come to our house…
We could not undress or go to bed at night.
The doors and windows were boarded and nailed tight from inside.”
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks
I trace my fingers over her handwriting and marvel at how fortunate this nation is to be the beneficiary of her bravery, her ideas and her positive civil disobedience actions. Can we have her calm proud gaze on one of our currencies?
Reading along in her moment-by-moment notes, I shout obscenities at her near-rapist, the night when teenage Rosa Louise McCauley babysits for a white couple. A six-foot, 200-pound white bully, known to the white family, uses a con to get onto the back porch. He threatens Rosa for hours, as he guzzles liquor he has brought inside the house. He suggests sex for money. Read the heart-wrenching seesaw of keep away around a large upholstered chair. She won’t attempt escape, because of her duty to the white child asleep upstairs. The return of the couple ends the attack.
“I was not for sale. The U.S. Mint wouldn’t buy me, if he could offer it.”
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks
From physically dangerous moments, to everyday insults, the story in Rosa Parks, In Her Own Words, is as inspiring as any world civil rights leader’s memoir. Reading this led me to a poem:
Beyond Checking-out Books
Unarmed, without a bodyguard, Rosa Parks slipped into rural backwater communities of her state, as the top sexual assault investigator for the NAACP. She also collected other eye-witness experiences, such as of the school superintendent who refused to allow black children on a public schoolbus. And consider that all this is before she tests the limits of segregation of the tax-supported bus system.
On Dec. 14, 2019 in Tallahassee, I was fortunate to have placed in my hands by The Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla D. Hayden, the freshly released book, ROSA PARKS, In Her Own Words.
Dr. Hayden delivered powerful words at the Florida A & M University commencement. And I also am grateful to my longtime friend and mentor, Librarian-educator Lenita Joe, retired, who was a kind bridge to my attendance at a post-graduation, local friends’ conversation with Dr. Hayden, who was born in Our Town. I expect to report on that in a later post.
Some 90 years after young Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was denied a book at her main library branch, her hand-written words, notes, documents, photographs, detailing little-known aspects of her personal civil rights history, dwell in the new nonfiction book ROSA PARKS, In Her Own Words, a book on paper, on-line and in glorious exhibit, showcased in an exhibit created by this nation’s most important public library open to all – THE. LIBRARY. OF. CONGRESS.
Find the book in many locations, including here.
And again, happy happy birthday, dear Rosa Louise McCauley Parks! We love you. We thank you.
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