Aleppo, 3,000 B.C. citadel, and Cat Man

part of Poetry Friday/KidLitoSphere, sparkling this Friday, with poet Liz Steinglass.

+::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::+

a poem in celebration of Ernesto’s Cat Sanctuary, Syria by JG Annino Peace Color rocks me transforms prey into pal predator into pillow we settle in- wary aloy allies peace be with us and also with you c.2020JanGodownAnnino

a poem in celebration of Ernesto’s Cat Sanctuary, Syria
Peace
Color rocks me
transforms prey
into pal
predator into pillow
we settle in-
wary aloy allies
peace be with us
and also with you
c.2020JanGodownAnnino / sculpture by Anna Annino, 2000

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.)

twitter: @theAleppoCatman 

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.

c.2020 Yuko Shimizu THE CAT MAN OF       ALEPPO

 

 

 

Progressive Poem 2019 Day 25

POETRY FRIDAY’s annual Progressive Poem is here at Bookseedstudio this very

Thursday, of April, Day Twenty-Tive. (With great thanks to the Live Your Poem! godmother.)

If you are new to the game, progressive in the title means that each day by day, progressively, one poet after another, adds a line. It’s like one of those neighborhood feasts where appetizers are at the Apple Family, walk over to salads from the Spinach folks, the Main course is with the Macaroni Family (we wish!), Fruit is on offer by the fun Fig couple & a Sweet is served by the Sherbet Sisters.

Today’s new line is

You’re simply the best

. . . .After holding myself back from reading any of the lovely lines leading up to today’s Day 25 until this morn, I discover that we are working with found lines! And not just any sources. I expect a festival of great blog reading between now & this Sunday to learn how each creative person grabbed their  line … from lyrics! Does

You’re simply the best

 

fit? With great joy for so much musicality – this line dance is ready for your groove:

Endless summer; I can see for miles…
Fun, fun, fun – and the whole world smiles.
No time for school- just time to play,
we swim the laughin’ sea each and every day.

You had only to rise, lean from your window,
the curtain opens on a portrait of today.
Kodachrome greens, dazzling blue,
it’s the chance of a lifetime,

make it last forever–ready? Set? Let’s Go!
Come, we’ll take a walk, the sun is shining down
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
Tomorrow’s here. It’s called today.

Gonna get me a piece o’ the sky.
I wanna fly like an eagle, to the sea
and there’s a tiger in my veins Oh,
won’t you come with me waltzing the waves, diving the deep?

It’s not easy to know
less than one minute old
we’re closer now than light years to go
To the land where the honey runs

…we can be anyone we want to be…
There’s no stopping curiosity.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing
Looking for a sign of life

You’re simply the best

. . . .

(which is how I feel about all you line-leaders & line-a-day readers!)

AND SO like a springtime jigsaw puzzle that awaits just a few pieces, I hand this baton to

April 26 Linda @Write Time

April 27 Sheila @Sheila Renfro

April 28 Liz @Elizabeth Steinglass

April 29 Irene, the Closer @Live Your Poem

Here are line sources, taken from Wednesday’s fun blog by Tabatha, with thanks:

L1 The Who, ‘I Can See for Miles’ / The Beach Boys, ‘Endless Summer’
L2 The Beach Boys, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ / Dean Martin, ‘When You’re Smiling’
L3 The Jamies, ‘Summertime, Summertime’
L4 The Doors ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’/ Led Zeppelin ‘Good Times, Bad Times’
L5 Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine “You had only to rise, lean from your window,”
L6 Joni Mitchell, “Chelsea Morning”
L7 Paul Simon, “Kodachrome,” “Dazzling Blue”
L8 Dan Fogelberg, “Run for the Roses”
L9 Spice Girls, “Wannabe”/ Will Smith, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”
L10 The Beatles, “Good Day Sunshine”
L11 The Carpenters, “Top of the World”
L12 Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Underneath the Lovely London Sky” from Mary Poppins Returns
L13 Carol King, “Hi-de-ho (That Old Sweet Roll)”
L14 Steve Miller, “Fly Like An Eagle”
L15 Don Felder, “Wild Life”
L16 Nowleen Leeroy, “Song of the Sea ” (lullaby)
L17 Sara Bareilles, “She Used to Be Mine” from WAITRESS
L18 Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t She Lovely”
L19 R.E.M, “Find the River”
L20 Carole King, “Way Over Yonder”
L21 Mint Juleps, “Groovin” by The Young Rascals
L22 Jack Johnson, “Upside Down”
L23 Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson), “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie
L24 The Foo Fighters, “Learning to Fly”

L25 Tina Turner, “The Best”

BUT BEFORE you leave me today, I prepared a few things. Or come back later?

Last weekend when I realized that my Family’s Easter Weekend joy overlapped with many of my dear Friend’s Passover commemorations, I pulled out two favorite books for young readers about Anne Frank, always remembering that she was not passed over.

A History for Today, Anne Frank from the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

The Life of Anne Frank by Menno Metesellar and Rudd Van Der Rol

Of the many inspirations that the young author left for the World , here is just one

“I can shake off

everything

as I write

my sorrows disappear

my courage is reborn.” 

-Anne Frank

I am also reading

Birmingham, 1963  by Carole Boston Weatherford, actually a re-read for me, of this poignant poem in book form.

Thurgood Marshall, American Revolutionary, the bio by Juan Williams, which has insights about emotions & ideas in the justice’s child days, including passionate political dinner table discussions led by Willie Marshall, Father, who fed his family, in those times, working as a sleeping-car train porter.

Acts of Light, poems from Emily Dickinson, illustrations by Nancy Ekholm Burkert

I just finished (& so did my husband, double pleasure when we read a book one just after the other) The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman. This novel of India is a game-changer. In it we dwell in the world of extreme privation of children, beginning with abuse by a violent father and continuing to life on mean streets- but we can’t help feeling how events unfold in an underlying, uplifting way. I cried a little & I think sensitive middle and high school students will have a tear, too. Followed by vigorous good discussion guided by their teaching librarian or classroom teacher. The four child characters in this page-turner of a story show us their creativity, humanity & humor. Yes!

I fell in love with each of the two girls and two boys who created this experience, which the author bases on extensive knowledge – her own, told in a fascinating author’s note which made me fall in love with Padma’s Mother. As someone who has been transported by all Padma’s novels, I know her trademark practice, in bringing on board informed beta readers, is instructive & to be followed. This is a book for all and of special interest to the disability community and of special interest in the domestic violence community.

(For those with an interest in the indigenous community you will be enriched with this author’s Adamans Island novel, Island’s End.)

Brava! to Padma, my teacher from Highlights Foundation days, with Alma Fullerton & Kathryn Erskine. Padma has agreed to visit Bookseedstudio. Stay tuned.

ALSO in the tap tap tap of writing news –  a word about poem projects. The young readers project continues along well on a WWII history topic theme very close to my heart. And when I rest that story in verse for an afternoon or a day, I look into the paused verse novel from pre-Civil War days, about an impoverished, white, abolition family. Plus, in this surge of spring, maybe one day a week, I work on other poems on a theme – 54 of them, so far. (none of this poem-ness could occur without having found a nurturing, poetry community, especially Poetry Friday nor without the Highlights Foundation verse novel workshop. The newest poem project flows from my fascination with a unique peninsula that is lapped by both the Atlantic Ocean & the Gulf of Mexico.

And so this little ditty buzzed in, after a recent walk at our non-beachy & clean-water coast…

 with appreciations to Emily Dickinson

Thistle whistle

Bumble bee!

caught you on your shopping spree

 

you flounce along salty store I roam

whilst thistles tower in marsh loam

 

seems like just yesterday

you were last year’s memory

 

pink-purpled spring spikes signal

that social insect whistle – hear!

 

buzz buzz coming in for a landing

glad to snap you, m’Dear

Yours, Shutterbug

-c.2019allrihtsreserved, JanGodownAnnino,

 

c.2019allrightsreserved SpringBee
JanGodownAnnino

LASTLY This may not be the only place you’ve admired a lively National Poetry Month Post Card, but I am tickled to share this, courtesy of artist Robert Mensan and his poet fan,  Irene Latham, who has all the month’s line leaders listed at her site.

c.2019allrightsreserved “Live Your Poem” by Irene Lantham