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

Silliness from Shel

Anyone in Florida or other coastal spaces, or inlanders yearning to return to summer beaches, may enjoy lending their ears to the punny poems by gifted artist & creative, Shel Silverstein, in Underwater Land.

Warning:

“He sole it to a loan shark” & other silliness stirs the sand.

 

And  I’m  already planning our Halloween Meal, so here is a cutely creepy Shel video poem from You Tube celebrating his ditty, Man-Eating Plant & also, a page for his Halloween poetry.

 

I’m feeling creative in notebooks & at the keyboard. A few words from Shel  about that:

                                “Put something silly in the world

                                     That ain’t been there before.”

 

And with Labor Day fresh in mind & thinking of freedom, I consider how the poet’s absurd lines create calls for censorship, from a librarian’s post on YouTube.

Here are Shel links, at the  Poets.org site & also at his publisher’s place. He was born in Illinois in 1930 and died in Florida in 1999.

 

If you are here via the good graces of splendid POETRY FRIDAY, or even if you are not, please visit this week’s talented host LAURA PURDIE SALAS, for her post & also, for links to others posting.

If you are new to Poetry Friday, when you comment at her blog,  pls. tell her Bookseedstudio sent you.

gratitude for my latitude

With the wee drop in temperatures in North Florida,  I sense a tempo  leap.

And so matching that, I am almost completed with revising a chapter book.

On a new project, I touch the word count bar to see how far a new story character and I journeyed in one day. I read a mistake.

It can’t be 2,600 words. My legs were stiff when i pushed away from the keyboard for the last time yesterday. So they also say it is true.

If you wonder about working with the community that is National Novel Writing Month, which helps develop dreams of story creation, it’s not too late for 2012. And anyone can use the group’s model to make a better month for you, your personal NaNoWriMo.

From the Dublin, Ireland, Library

I met up with a NaNoWriMo crew at a kick-off party. The construction paper origami guide given to each hopeful creator observes me now on my desk.  When I want to stray,  origami bunny is a tangible reminder of the 1,000 words a day I want.

Thank you to our thoughtful  NaNoWriMo folks.

OTHER GUIDES

For this nation’s month of Thanksgiving, I fill  with gratitude to live so well in this FL latitude.

Hurricane Sandy raked over the New Jersey beach, Seaside Heights, where years back I regularly rolled down dunes and got sick stuffing my mouth with a bag of salt water taffy. Dear family members are still without power at the CT shore – it may be a week or longer, but they are safe & nestled with another family member. Family members living near  Narragansett, RI are also fine. Extra thanks given with the turkey, in November 2012.

Before I scoot away during the rest of these 30 days, I share titles of good books for younger readers, about American indian/Native American topics.

November is the month more than any other, when we celebrate this continent’s First Peoples.

Beyond  the high quality of these picture books they share an additional crucial element. I hope you can discern it through my mention of them here.  You may also want to visit the Oyate and American Indians in Children’s Literature resources, for insights that deepen our connection to this month. Thank you.

JINGLE DANCER by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee)

THE STAR PEOPLE b;y S.D. Nelson (Standing Rock Sioux)

SQUANTO’s JOURNEY, THE CIRCLE OF THANKS, THE FIRST STRAWBERRIES, THE EARTH UNDER SKY BEAR’S FEET by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki)

3 A’s

APALACHICOLA. AUGUSTINE, ST. & the ALA

Collecting here, 3 A+ events. PLUS Happy National Day on Writing.

APALACHICOLA, up first. My husband caught a redfish! From shore.

JACK RUDLOE

Everyone caught on, to the idea that Apalachicola, Florida, tucked with salt into the river and bay and estuary of the same name, is a mighty fine place to hold a Florida literary festival.

It is a delight to walk inside tberestored Ormond House, where my hubby & I once stayed overnight during the life it led as a stately B & B. It was also equally grand to stroll into the beautiful restoration work-in-progress Raney House & imagine voices of times past.

It even much more cause for delight to be presenting at the restored Fry- Conter House & see a child-height book case. And to realize that this displays, like peacock feathers, large colorful illustrated books. And to understand that this bookcase is like at least 30 given to regional children via a mighty fine program. Celebrated at “Autumn-Authors in Apalachicola.”

This mission of the Franklin County/Apalachicola outpost of the national program, Bring Me a Book, is reason to walk with a spring in your step. The best books given to those wee readers who need it most. The furniture to help keep books tidy and to show appreciation

67 Commerce Street

for the treasure. A piece of furniture that doubly serves as perfect picture frame, to showcase the picture book cover art.  Furniture that helps the offenders serving prison time locally, who craft the bookcases for young minds. What better place to learn about this synergistic effort, than the historic Fry Conter House, restored, answering to the name, Apalachicola Museum of Art.

The festival is the beneficiary of so much effort from Apalachicola’s Head Reader Caty Greene, who writes with great style . Thanks be also to Dale Julian, maven of Downtown Books & Purl, plus other workers & doers.

HISTORIC ST. AUGUSTINE

SO on the other coast, know about the Florida Heritage Book Awards, where I was fortunate to meet Lucy Anne Hurston.  I treasure her book, about her aunt, the multi-accomplished author Ms. Zora, who I denote here as an anthropologist. It  is important to underscore her work in the field, as armor against the idea of Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott,  to dissuade bright minds from concentrating their studies in this field of endeavor.

I gnashed my teeth over missing  Ms. Lucy Anne Hurston’s presentation due entirely to my own fault of yapping with folks at the wrong time & not keeping track of the flow of things, but am not missing the chance to dwell in her book. It is a beauty of design, research & information. Please read it & enjoy the pull -out fascimile manuscripts, letters, notes & what have you, shared so generously in SPEAK SO YOU CAN SPEAK AGAIN: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. It is from Lucy Anne Hurston and the estate of Zora Neale Hurston. It helps a reader understand Mz. Zora’s hurculean accomplisments in an up-close way. You will tingle. The Christmas cards she drew and sent are priceless, along with everything else, including singed papers recovered when workmen cleared out her home after her death. This is a museum between covers, what it would take a researcher a lifetime to accumulate, in one treasure box of a book. Find an interview with Lucy Anne Hurston here. The book contains a CD with Zora Neale Hurston excerpts.

SPEAK SO YOU CAN SPEAK AGAIN: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Lucy Anne Hurston and the Estate of Zora Neale Hurston

Next on the agenda, reuniting with parts of my past  – both at the conference and offsite in a home visit to a friend of days ago who with her devoted hubby, is busy raising a new set of young readers whilst watching the family teen readers spread their wings.  First up, esteemed University of Florida History professor emeritus Dr. Michael Gannon, who I enjoyed visiting with at a head banquet table. He is the prolific author of many manner of in-depth history books. Most easily consumed for novices to the peninsular topic is FLORIDA: A SHORT HISTORY.  A bonus is the CD twinned with this book; you hear his broadcaster voice, which is how I first came to know him, interviewing him as a student reporter, about his radio days past in St. Augustine.  Likewise it was an old times moment with a newsroom pal from days back, Randy White. The prolific creator of the famous derring-do character of the world, Doc Ford, introduced me to the talented pianist and chanteuse Wendy Webb, who creates a quite wonderful treasure trove of music.

It was a pleasure to spend time at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society table.

And to be finely hosted at my presentation by author Jane R. Wood, creator of an inventive middle grade novel series with history as its rich backdrop. Jane also whips us non-business type authors into shape with the publishing tips seminar she presents with her creative colleague Frances Keiser.

Whilst there for my presentation on Betty Mae Tiger Jumper and SHE SANG PROMISE, the picture book biography illustrated by Lisa Desimini,  I found my way to some uncommon views of the Ancient City (ongoing research for SCENIC DRIVING FLORIDA heritage travel guide, now in the 3rd ed.)

The plaque that  commemorates an courageous event that never should have happened. Thank you to writing colleague David Nolan, who I also missed seeing there with my yapping  & thanks to whoever else is responsible for this historic marker being in place today.  Having known about the harsh response to those toiling in the cause of Civil Rights – may their memories always be upheld –  I didn’t before inform myself exactly where the infamous pool incident unfolded. Now I know & I can more readily steer pals to a commercial site that holds this history- the Hilton, at city bayfront, near the lovely Bridge of Lions. Walk in, as parking is a bear.

A MOMENT for CALDECOTT

Tipped off by a  I also found my way through neighborhoods to the St. Augustine gravesite of Randoph Caldecott – gates closed. While a writer never needs a reason to return to the atmospheric & lovely St. Augustine, if one is required, that visit is part of my to-do list, next St. Augustine jaunt.

THE ALA –  not in Florida, again

WE hopped, skipped & jumped over to New Orleans & the colossal conference of some of the key upholders of our First Amendment, the folks of the American Library Association.

Most daily events were held in a building 1 and 1/3  mile long.  I learned this description at the spiffy early bird orientation, where I also found a cheerful publisher’s representative who knew of  the rural Cherryville to Quakertown, N.J. region, where I played in woods and fields as a beginning reader of comic books.

And there was almost an entire round table of enthusiastic USF information and library studies students playing the ice-breaker bingo game there, too. And well they should have been there as the esteemed professor, Dr. Henrietta Smith, former NYC children’s librarian, and longtime USF stalwart was honored at this ALA with the Virginia Hamilton Practioner Award for lifetime service award for her outstanding contributions to the library world through many decades.

Events glittered throughout at least 5 other venues, including the co-headquarters.

This Marriott at 555 Canal Street turned out to be a hotel filled with accommodating staff. (I hope you are reading this, Mr. Bill Marriott, who is a blogger of sorts – give that property an award.) My family & I were tickled to live on what turned out to be like a club floor, with the 2 pools & a giant deck & also, a room- with- a- view bend & stretch room all just steps away from our large, corner-view room. But of all the fine physical aspects of the hotel, we loved best the quiet of our room & the grand views from two picture windows. Well done, staff.

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To feel the geography of the region, we immediately headed to the mighty, muddy Mississippi River.

We crossed over to the community of Algiers on the no-frills public ferry as walk-ons. The commuter boats are said to have churned along on this route since 1827. We enjoyed a walk along the levee & gazed at a giant sculpture of mega-talent Louis Armstrong, commanding a big levee. We decided to dine on lip-smacking Creole dishes from the delicious kitchen of The Dry Dock Cafe, where we also bought a gift certificate for Paolo’s pal, (who was out of town) who was the gem of a person who tipped us off to this gem of a side trip. Our ferry ride back was ever better, as it was darker and thus, we enjoyed our approach to a lit riverfront view. We expect to linger longer in atmospheric Algiers on our next New Orleans’ visit.

c. all rights reserved

Next day, it was time to hop the red, Canal Street electric car (the one that says museums and NOT the one that takes you to a cemetery) & head to the enormous city park, with its miniature choo-choo train, carousel, sculpture garden, swans, boat rides & for our purpose – the New Orleans Museum of Art. Inside we learned about Edward Degas’ months living with & painting family, in New Orleans & we enjoyed his oil of his sister-in-law, who was blind.

We also were thrilled to see the exhibit of famous shoulder pins of the first woman who worked as the U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. Not frippery say careful curator notes, which quote world leaders on how they assessed her shoulder pins (wasp or bee for tense times) to denote the mood of Madame Secretary.

We moved through galleries of Fabregre gems, viewed more astounding paintings from a variety of periods, saw sculpture, glassware, drawings, photography & installations. It was almost too much for the eyes & neurons to take in, but fortunately the legendary Brennan’s restaurant dynasty operates a stylish cafe on site & sit & sup on its aqua sofa facing a giant picture window over the city park, we composed our overloaded eyeballs.

I found Florida here. A finely made example of longshirt of the 1930s, created in lasting detail by a Seminole Indian fabric artist, who made it as everyday clothing for a man to wear in South Florida. I delight in having at hand in Bookseedstudio some of this sort of art in fabric  – a few pieces of modern Seminole Tribe of Florida patchwork.

c. all rights reserved

My favorite single object d’art at NOMA was the giant- format photograph of a retired NYPD officer. This sturdy individual lived in the museum with other retired of New York’s finest, 24/7. The now iconic image, by a talent who will remain unidentified here until I find my notes, was taken at the front of the lobby grand staircase to the second floor galleries. No NOMA art was lost after the August 28,2005 hell of water and wind that was Katrina, I was told. Many thanks to the Museum for hiring the art guards and to the NYPD retiree crew who lived with the art.

As I expected, response to the catastropic disaster wove itself with dignity and thought, through the ALA events.

For those who don’t follow this organization, you should know that it was one of the first groups to NOT cancel an already planned 2006 conference, when many booked convention groups were understandably uncertain about meeting in the devastated region.  And I heard more than once, that New Orleans will always & forever to eternity hold the ALA in high esteem bordering on love, for that.

The first panel I selected  was on the recovery of library service along the coast in Louisiana & Mississippi, following Hurricane Katrina (and also, Rita, the hurricane that followed Katrina.)

I was not the only one wiping away a stray tear when a community speaker, a library trustee, mind you, broke up at the start of  sharing about the aftermath of that event. Everyone appreciated his honesty. And he forged on with his talk, much the way I imagine that the sturdy citizens of the Gulf communities did. We lucky attendees benefited from the heartfelt sharing in this conversation.  I would have more on this here, but as is my habit, I unexpectedly gifted some place along the way with my notes, so Memory serves here. Many thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for its philanthropy regarding the importance of Books, Library services & community connectivity.

GI-normous LIBRARY OF CONGRESS-MOBILE

After this, events

continued to glow,

each one somehow wonderful in a different way from the next.

A shelf of images of my days of delight in being at ALA,  with gratitude to my publisher, National Geographic, which brought out  the book that brought me here, with fabulous artist Lisa Desimini. It is She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader.  I also applaud the dedicated folks over at the Amelia Bloomer Project of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association.

Some Amelia Bloomer Breakfast folks – part C for “clear image”

The best parts of my participation in the breakfast that celebrated the 2011 Amelia Bloomer Project Book List, besides being able to meet & thank the industrious committee members in person, were:

listening to Margarita Engle speak with eloquence about The Firefly Letters, which I love; & also,

meeting the energetic Olga Cossi,  who sharees the opposite side of a particular discussion topic with me but has my huge respect for her life achievements. I am glad to have her sign, Pemba Sherpa.

This goes without saying & will sound shamelessly self-promotional, but I offer my almost favorite photograph of the weekend, of artist extraordinaire Lisa Desimini, presenting at the AB Breakfast on a book I know & love well. One great image of Lisa signing books with a writer nearby her has temporarily disappeared from my files & I plan to contact photographer-daughter who is featured on a bench, below,  to retrieve a copy.

At a separate ALA event, meeting Donna Jo Napoli & having her sign multiple books of hers that I brought from home was quite the ticket.  I am an unabashed fan of  children’s authors who write in great ways.

Some of the Amelia Bloomer Breakfast folks – part B – “blurry image”

The photograph of 3 folks was taken at a festivity, to salute, via our wearing of gold paper laurel wreaths,  this book on Greek legends & myths by Donna Jo Napoli, with museum quality artwork from Christina Balit.  Congratulations Donna Jo!

On the right is Beth Olshewsky of the 2011 Amelia Bloomer Project committee, with (center) celebrated author Donna Jo Napoli & on left, your blogger

My exterior party shots are more adequate, though. Here are some  F & Gs of the Greek legend goodness, Treasury of Greek Mythology,  propped up in the NG pub. party site window by the energeticNG party elfs.

That big black truck cab? Above? Somehow it drove away from this part of the blog. No it’s not a truck character for a picture book. (Although should it be? The lines this beauty drew – just for climbs into the shiny cab and a unique photo op! And also for a visit with rare & fun exhibits inside.)  The Library of Congress  takes this show on the road to rural areas.

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Do you know books are benches? The lovely model attending her first ALA, worked part-time in a Florida library this summer.

Mary Fears, Civil War re-enactor

Amanda Cockrell, left with my own self

It was beyond joy to unexpectedly be able to hug my longtime writing colleague, Mary Fears, an expert researcher on slave genealogy, a workshop leader on Civil War re-enactoring, and the prolific author of several books, plus a featured actor in the independent film, Filling the Gap, from Essence of History. How great to run into folks you know well at ALA! Equally beloved is Amanda Cockrell, director of the grad. progran in children’s literature at Hollins University, Roanoke, Va, who stopped by the Nat. Geo booth when looked fuzzy – at least to the camera. Librarians were eager to know about Amanda’s  YA novel, What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay, from Flux,   at the round table event earlier that day.  Most wonderful was the chance to indulge in quality time with artist extraordinaire LISA DESIMINI, who is, even as I type, creating new wonderfulness for not only children’s authors but writers of adult fiction.

People who attend conferences are lavished with goodies – most that I collected will be divided up.

A HIGHLIGHTS bag went to a writer I’ve known forever who is multi-published by that wonderful magazine. A SCHOLASTIC bag went to a writer I’ve also known forever who is pubished by them. And my favorite book that I snared at 2011 ALA, Trickster, I asked to have inscribed for the AH-TAH-THI-KI Museum at the Big Cypress Reservation, Florida. And it resides there now, the Museum curator confirms.

Trickster from Fulcrum. All tales are written, or retold, by American Indian/Native American authors

A few more words or images about 2011 ALA in New Orleans.

This is from an artfully designed 2010 collection of stories and photographs, New Orleans, from Seattle’s Chin Music Press (Broken Levee Books imprint) & also available at the 2011 ALA:

“There are a series of bumper stickers…

New Orleans: Proud to Call It Home

New Orleans: Proud to Crawl Home

New Orleans: Proud to Swim Home…:

PLUS – I was happy to find books for sale nearly everywhere I looked in the city, such as this collection of alligator-themed tomes at the clever Jackson Square toy emporium,  Little Toy Shop and this much-appreciated shop, Crescent City Books.

photo post June 2011

A whirlwind visit of wonder and wonderful connections to South Florida – recently concluded.

My hubby received an award for his juvenile justice work. I luxuriated in visits with gal pals I rarely see, including our daughter’s godmother/my dear college roommate & my great newsroom pal who has raised her family in Russia & Kenya & California, but is rarely in here in FLA, her homestate.

Our family walked the beaches.

And found evidence of ocean stalking.

For my biologist pals – This is a rare beaked whale, found on my dawn walk at the same time the turtle patrol came upon it. The study of this creature will help marine mammal specialists understand this deep-ocean dweller. They usually feed in ocean canyons and are little-researched.  The folo- up news from Hubbs/SeaWorld & others onsite is that the animal died of some natural cause(s). It then became a portable cafeteria, in the circle of life as it drifted inshore.

Florida has an extensive system of lifeguarded beaches; please swim in lifeguarded places ya’ll.

POSTSCRIPT: regarding interest in  more images.

I took two additional views & they are gruesome.

Here is a link to a report in local news

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2011/jun/09/rare-beaked-whale-carcass-found-on-fort-pierce/