Hanukkah poems & Eight Knights of Hanukkah!

[Here is where to visit #PoetryFriday!]

At mid-week, a gift arrives at my inbox from a brilliant author and poet I met at a nourishing Highlights Foundation verse novel residential workshop. Because of the newsletter, The Whole Megillah, emailed from Barbara Krasner, I know of a sweet, fun, peace-building book.

It is The Eight Knights of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is just around the castle corner, with a Dec. 2020 first night on the Tenth. Since I know some of the beautiful work of poet Alieen Fisher, I’m sharing from her Hanukkah poem at Poetry Foundation, with appreciation for the holiday round up from poet Becca Klaver.

Light the Festive Candles

BY AILEEN LUCIA FISHER

(FOR HANUKKAH)

Light the first of eight tonight—

the farthest candle to the right.

Light the first and second, too,

when tomorrow’s day is through. ~~

c. AileenFisher,allrightsreserved, continued here.

::: Also, regarding Hanukkah!

When I held the cover of the book that creators Gailia Bernstein and Leslie Kimmelman sent into the universe, I smiled. This creative fantasy from Holiday House adds joy to an already festive, yet, spiritual time. And if your computer just read the title out loud to you or if someone else did, make sure you understand the spelling of Knights.

Best Big Bits: Medieval Knights? At Hanukkah. I never expected that. Representation. This is not your white-only, boys-only-allowed, Knights Story. Hanukkah Weapons? The weapons of choice do tug my heart.

And, the mitzvahs! 

And, the surprise ending.

Best Little Bits:

Map! Two pets! Noticing each Knight’s shield emblem. Finding a castle-full of details, Leslie Kimmelman’s deft words. And did I mention, Galia Bernstein’s ultra witty artwork spreads? My huge appreciations to Barbara Krasner for the tip about this book at The Whole Megillah, with Barbara’s fabulous duo interview of the creators, here.

Don’t you want to see if your Library can add EIGHT KNIGHTS to their world culture, Jewish studies, holidays & associated topic, shelves? If you curate a home Hanukkah collection, this is a keeper. Although I am of the Christian flavor of faith path, I’m interested in many many spiritual traditions. And if I did ever have a previous life, it’s likely I was Jewish 🙂

Autumn poetry news Through digital events miracles, I visited in the studios of both

RITA DOVE and

JANICE R. HARRRINGTON in one blessed evening.

I sat rapt as two of my favorite contemporary poets shared conversation with those of us attending, via The New School/NYC. And, they read to us. Bliss. [photo from the Zoom of RITA DOVE and fabulous interpreter, Cynthia Norman]

I felt lucky to attend a children’s literature poetry workshop, with Poetry Friday’s Catherine at Reading to the Core. She limned it recently in a fun piece. After I complete asks & tasks inspired by The Craft and Heart of Poetry with exquisite poetry team Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard, I hope to follow in her footsteps with a post about an event that even in virtual, digital space, is an experience for poem readers and writers to savor. I know several of you feel fortunate to have written with them via the Highlights Foundation dreamy woods creek fields setting. I hope you find time to read Linda B.’s blog of this duo’s on-site workshop, different year, at her Teacher Dance.

One item more! “Surfing,” a 2019 poem arising from my wild toss into the sea, years back, recently received an Honorable Mention from poet Tiel Aisha Ansari of Oregon. I’m pleased to be learning about Ms. Ansari’s important works (see below) and her experienced pen for an adult readership. This was the first time I entered & yes, yes, I’m chuffed. I’m not publishing it here as I’m advised that posting in social media can make a piece be considered already pubbed. Any tips for workarounds?

Now giving much thanks in this Giving Thanks Time of Year, I’m pleased to share this, on Tiel Aisha Ansari:

#BelovedCommunity Rep. John Lewis

“You never become bitter,” Rep. John Lewis said. “You never become hostile. You never try to demean your opposition.” National Public Radio

A baton is aimed at young John Lewis, on ground, foreground right during a peaceful demonstration. His skull was fractured. March 7, 1965./Associated Press photograph  

Recent monumental pandemic news stepped into background noise for me as I listened transfixed to the heartfelt, emotional and proud commemorations, funeral moments and memorial for the famed #GoodTrouble #BelovedCommunity creator, Rep. John Lewis. I learned that Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, spoke to his courage and strength in sticking to his pledge to always conduct himself nonviolently, even under torture, in events that could lead to death:

IN the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

According to an interview with his sister, she remembered in child days that her big brother John recited Invictus, walking from room to room in their house. They lived in segregated Pike County, Alabama, where the local library denied her book-loving, voracious reader brother, a library card to the whites-only, tax-supported facility. The boy once denied a library card, became a member of the United States Congress in 1987, and later was honored as a book author, at the Library of Congress, on more than one occasion.

Rep. Lewis’ peaceable human rights actions, for what he thought of as #BelovedCommunity, were in keeping with his earliest studies, to become an ordained minister.  His degree from Fisk University was in philosophy and religion. As a boy he thoroughly read the Bible at home, his sister remembered. He also liked learning, from the newspaper, that the already-admired civil rights activist Rosa Parks and a new person on the Alabama scene, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., called for peaceful protest. And, she said, he liked comic books, for their Justice League heroes, who righted wrongs.

So, so fitting, that his National Book Award winning triology MARCH, is told as a graphic novel, as illustrated below by Nate Powell, all rights reserved. See The Horn Book Q/A with the Congressman.

from the John Lewis triology, with Andrew Aydin, illustrations copyright Nate Powell, all rights reserved

As I find poems about Rep. Lewis, I will link them here. “John Lewis” is a tribute poem I recommend to you from  my talented Poetry Friday colleague ,Michelle Kogan.

Appreciations to a group that means much to me #BigBendPoetsandWriters @BigPoets for sharing this poem about US Rep. John Lewis, by Avis Veronica Simmonds