#NikkiGrimes

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.

"Flower Face" by Jan Godown Annino.

“Flower Face for Nikki Grimes” from June. 2020 miniature zinnias/ Bookseedstudio.

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!

C..2019allrightsreserved/JGA
heirloom rose plant adopted from Goodwood Gardens/Florida

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.

Nikki Grimes at Pennsylvania Center for the Book

Poet Nikki Grimes at Pennsylvania Center for the Book

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!

Nikki Grimes Books Generally Available Now

April 2020 Highlights Foundation #HFGather visit

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I appreciate poet Irene Latham for gathering us this week via Live your Poem, in the Kidlitosphere, explained so well by poet & educator Renee LaTulippe at No Water River.

Peace to you, especially in troubled times.

Peace flowers abloom at the Bookseedstudio patio 6/2020.

Peace flowers arranged, inspired by Nikki Grimes calla lilly artwork at her gallery

Flowers arranged – 6/2020, inspired by Nikki Grimes’ paintings at her gallery: https://www.nikkigrimes.com/grimesgallery/grimesgallery.php

 

#KidLit4BlackLives #TheBrownBookshelf

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.

Appreciations to author Joanne Fritz for this fb page grab.

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.

Generator Season

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.

photoC.JanGodownAnnnino,allrightsreserved

JanGodownAnninoC.allrightsreserved

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.

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

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

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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

 

 

 

#ShelterinPoetry #SharonLovejoy & #NationalPoetryMonth

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. 

this blog is a proud part of poetry friday

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,

nature-glued.

 

 

 What to do? Leave a treasure somewhere

out there? Under grandmother oak? Nestled among

ferns?

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

to screened front porch. 

 

 

 

Aqua box

transparent nursery

paper mache wiggle

hang out to dry

probe cut-fruit sustenance

walk through open door

        “Watch”c.2020JGAnnino

all photographs copyright 2020 JanGodownAnnino, all rights reserved

 

 

 

But!

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.

 

 

After about 6 ticking minutes, monarch did fly

out & up & away, on Easter Sunday, 2020.  As Betty Komarek would say, “Blessed Be.”

 

p

#ShelterInPoetry – Home front: Covid-19 times

Home front:  Covid-19 times.
Collected by Heidi Mordhorst #PoetryFriday for today’s #ShelterinPoetry
IMG_3534
When I collect the plastic bag at the end of the drive, wearing a
plastic bag on my hand, and after I shake the daily news out of
said bag, I head straight for the important stuff. The funnies.
Sadly, few see funnies every day, these days. Have some here:
copyright 2020 Shakespeare on the Sound

copyright 2020 Shakespeare on the Sound http://www.shakespeareonthesound.org T.Y. to Michelle H. Barnes, for alerting me to this at your fb. page, shared by Stephen Burdman.)

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Do you find joy from other artists such as poets, singer-songwriters.
I’m going now, back outside. Not way out in the world, but where I treasure
our luxury –  small, green, and growing yard. I follow shade in day. Find bright
Venus in the west at night. Soon it will be too Florida-hot to work outside.
0-1
Wings
Jan Godown Annino
Circus colors
clown faces
overeaters anonymous
you mesmerize me
a tent trick in my yard
leaf disappears into
chubby caterpillar
overnight, oval jewel
shelters crawly bug
morphing
to
paper flapper
a prayer that
no windshield
meets
your orange wings
as we hope
no Covid-19
wall crushes our
wings
C.2020JanGodownAnnino,allrightsreserved
IMG_3631 2.jpeg
O for more bright spots for all, especially children, in contrast to angst.
My prayers and heartfelt wishes are for all who suffer,
no matter how hugely or minisculey in our world’s
Coronavirus 19 epidemic.
I think of the elderly, the disabled, the already-physically frail.
#ThankHospitalHeroes
I applaud the Upstanders.
Teachers, caregivers, medical teams, #ThankHospitalHeroes, law enforcement,
emergency staff, essential service workers such as those who
haul off bins of excess we’ve wastefully created, appreciations
for food providers, and all their families –
whatever part of the network all helpers work in.
I think of life and death precipices for poor children,
some of whom are still being sexually trafficked during these
times. Crime hasn’t halted. It’s one of the issues industrious law
students with the FSU Public Interest Law Center work on daily.
And my hubby leads some of these brilliant students via
Zoom sessions in the LR. All the more reason for me to tip-toe outside.

It’s important to catch a smile when you can.

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local buck-eye, gift plant of a dear neighbor

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!

SPRING AFTER SPRING by Stephanie Roth Sisson on #Rachel Carson

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

Q  You write, “I have long loved Rachel Carson’s writing, especially,
her books about the wonders of nature where she writes so poetically
about science.” How did that long connection to Rachel Carson inform
your proposal to write about her?
Stephanie:
I keep files with potential candidates for possible biographies. There were a few things that came together at that time to make it clear that Rachel Carson should be the subject for my next book. But, although I had read her more poetic books which completely transport the reader to this universe of interconnected lives in the natural world,  I had not yet read Silent Spring. 
 
My husband and I had just moved to Mauritius from our uber environmentally conscious bubble on the coast of California. The house we first rented in Mauritius was at the edge of a sugarcane field. So we could see everything that went on in that field from the house. I had never seen so much pesticide use and it shocked and worried me. Even inside the house there were these little thimble sized cups of gecko poison (which we immediately removed) to kill the very geckos that if you left them alone, would eat the bugs that were also being “treated” for.  We saw pest control making regular rounds in our little neighborhood. So at that point Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring became immediately relevant to my life.
 
Then there was my dear friend, Sharon Lovejoy. She was a cheerleader for choosing Rachel Carson for my next book. Her books, well, you should get them and read them, they are a genuine and heartfelt connection to nature.  And of course the politics around the E.P.A. starting in the first months of 2017 and continuing on now were also an influence.
How does an author already familiar with a subject discover
new details? And bring a fresh perspective to the story?
Stephanie:
What I try to do in the picture book biographies that I write is to not only tell the story of a person’s life, but also to explain about a field that they contributed to. For example, Star Stuff, Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos is also an astronomy lesson, and Spring After Spring, How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement is a lesson in ecology. 
There is so much information that it isn’t hard to get lost in it. There are so many things to convey, but I try to remember the child who will be “meeting’ this person for the first time and who probably knows nothing about Rachel Carson, the time she grew up in, the things that influenced her and what was important to her and why what she did was important. Also, I put in things that I think that another child could relate to, like Rachel had a dog named “Candy” who was her constant companion growing up. When she was older she always had at least one cat, and so I showed her always with her pets at home- always with that relationship to her fellow creatures.  Then there was the shell that her mother had that you see throughout the book which represents Rachel’s connection to the ocean and that you can see throughout the book.
this and all images, copyright Stephanie Roth Sisson, all rights reserved
What are your processes, tips, organization plan, in
winnowing an extraordinary amount of information on record about
someone who travels from being an unknown child of farm origins,
to testifying before tough inquisitors in Washington, D.C.,
changing U.S. history?
                  copyright Stephanie Roth Sisson, all rights reserved
Stephanie:
I love researching, as I mentioned before. I do so much that my editor has to say, “stop!” And then I sit there with my piles and look for threads that I can pull through a narrative both in words and images that I can use to illustrate a concept. 
Then I try to get a theme down to one sentence, which is SO hard to do because as I research I find so many interesting things out and want to share them all. Every page in the book should harken back to that one theme, sometimes there are sub themes in the images or hinted at elsewhere.  
 
I like showing my subjects as children and what they were like. There is a clear thread going from Rachel’s childhood and the experiences she had as she grew up, becoming aware of threats to the environment and seeing their consequences.
 
Another parallel to now is that she had to contend with a lot of disinformation and personal attacks to discredit her. So, her coming forward to testify was an amazing act of bravery. The science she had behind her as she spoke and her thorough and clear presentation, including in her book Silent Spring, appearance on the CBS Reports television show and her testimony showed people that she was credible and should be listened to. 
What sorts of materials relating to Rachel Carson did you find in research?
Stephanie:
A constraint I had was not being able to visit the places she grew up in or was associated with because I was living in Mauritius at the time. So I had to rely of print media, film and the internet. Our U.S. home base was still California at the time, so when I could fly home I would fill my suitcases with books I found about Rachel.
Particular materials that I felt gave the most insight into Rachel were her own speeches she delivered that gave a few sentences here and there describing her childhood. There is also a collection of letters between Rachel Carson and her very close friend, Dorothy Freeman where I think you can get a really good sense of what she might have been like. And also another great resource was The Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson, edited by Linda Lear. 
I read everything I could find on Rachel Carson and then I researched topics related to Rachel Carson. I kept thinking about the title Silent Spring and the iconic first chapter where Rachel paints this picture for us, with a landscape without birdsong. I used the idea of having a lot of creature voices in the beginning and then showing less as we go on could help kids get what was going on. I had also stumbled on an interview with Bernie Krauss, who wrote The Great Animal Orchestra. The book talks about how the sounds in nature represent the health of an ecosystem and that each living thing has its place in the “orchestra.”  You’ll notice that in Spring After Spring that in the first few pages hours are passing and that first we hear birds in the dawn chorus, then insects after their bodies warm up and they are able to produce sound, etc. Then in the next few pages it’s the seasons and then years. I used the idea of the health of an ecosystem being represented by sounds to not just talk about birds, but also the entire web of life as it relates to the over-use of pesticides.
copyright Stephanie Roth Sisson
                    copyright Stephanie Roth Sisson, all rights reserved
. Do you mind sharing how your mother, who you dedicate the book to,
helped create your love of nature?
Stephanie:
My mom is amazing. She had always had this connection with children and the kid in her that I benefited from immensely. She always had a garden growing, flowers all around the house …But it was this one moment that I remembered that made this her book. I was living on an organic farm and environmental education center called “Ocean Song” in Occindental, California when I was maybe 19 or 20. I had packed up all of my possessions and left to live in this place and my parents and sister had come out to visit me (aka check up on me and make sure I hadn’t joined a cult or something). We were all walking through his beautiful forest with towering redwoods, lush mosses and ferns, when my mom launches into this, “I’m very botanical” speech. All of this while she is petting the mosses and is clearly “in” the moment of being swept away with all of this aliveness around her. I love that memory. 
Q . With thanks for your time and these incredible great stories today, Stephanie, any extra, random or other surprise thoughts?
On a side note, there was a subtlety that I wanted to mention in this biography. When you look out into the world at what people have written about Silent Spring and DDT many articles vilify Rachel Carson saying that she contributed to deaths from malaria because of her cautions about pesticide use. These articles mischaracterize her stance. I wanted to make clear that she never said to not use pesticides ever, she was concerned with the inappropriate use and the overuse of pesticides and herbicides. If you want to see something shocking you can find videos online of people almost bathing in DDT. It was everywhere on everything because no one thought there were any dangers associated with it. 
Also, a lot of people don’t notice this, but the front endpapers are little vignettes of Rachel and her mother, but the back endpapers are of Rachel and her adopted son, Roger, her nephew. So while she was doing all of this writing she was also a single mom. 
                 copyright Stephanie Roth Sisson
I thank Stephanie for writing and illustrating Silent Spring and for her generous
interview including sharing these enjoyable book-process images
from her home studio.
SPRING AFTER SPRING is a multi-textured book, with extra pleasure for
little readers in voicing animal sounds and yet, equally appealing to older
nature-loving students, who will dwell with nuggets of the fascinating end notes.
Adults who are besotted with the best picture book bios will savor it, too.
Here is what KIRKUS said about Stephanie’s achievement.
Each time I read this book I am struck by how Stephanie folded a
gargantuan amount of information, conclusions and nuances, into a
smooth-flowing entertaining story. I’m especially delighted with how the book
is sprinkled with animal soundclouds, or word bubbles, which children will love
enacting out-loud, as they page through the story.
Here is my found poem, from SPRING AFTER SPRING by Stephanie Roth Sisson.
With Rachel’s chorus
Cheerily! Cheerily
fee-bee!
coo-coo!
Turalee! Turalee!
whichity!
grunt!
Jaree! Jerilay!
click!
squeak!
inspired by Spring After Spring
Besides both of us living in the Sunshine State, a connection I have with Stephanie
is our deep respect and affection for prolific national nature educator Sharon Lovejoy,
whose beautiful books of artwork and stories of bees in hollyhocks and birds on
fence posts evoke Beatrix Potter.  In a SPRING AFTER SPRING afternote, Stephanie
especially thanks her good friend, Sharon, who brought me to Stephanie’s title.
Visit Stephanie Roth Sisson at Stephanitely!
To satisfy your Poetry Friday curiosity, it’s off to No Water River, for you!
Bookseedstudio is c. Jan Godown Annino, all rights reserved

 

Poems. Three ways.

Poetry Friday’s party is with poet Linda at TEACHER DANCE

 

♥♥♥♥

Hello and please know I’m giddy to share three recent magics.

ONE

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. 

 TWO

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:

#COCA #POEMSONPANES #VISITTALLAHASSEE

“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

©JanGodownAnnino2019

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.

THREE

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

cover art c. Miranda Barnes, 2019

Bookseedstudio is part of Poetry Friday go-go juice, a super spot, if your reading or writing would like a boost.

happy birthday, Rosa Parks

this post is part of the Poetry Friday collection*

Dr. Carla D. Hayden photograph by JG Annino at FAMU, Tallahassee

introducing a new book, ROSA PARKS, In Her Own Words

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.

Source: aclualabama.org

 

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:

Check Out The Book 
JG Annino
Oh, sure, gal. 
We got that book you want.
Yeah, I say for sure, right here.
Right here.
WHAT?
No. Now you know you can’t check it out, Rosa!
This is THE downtown li’bary.
You know your kind gotta check out over at your kind’s branch.
You don’t ever, why you can’t never, ever, all your life,
check out books here.
Next?
I say, STAND ASIDE, girl!
Why dear Miss Katrina, so good to see you.
And just how may it be my pleasure, to help?
c. 2020 JG Annino

 

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.

C. The Library of Congress

Find the book in many locations, including here.

Several pages of the Library of Congress exhibit are designed for families and schools.

If you write or podcast about this book or visit the exhibit in person or online, leave a link. I expect to further share the book and my poem at Tallahassee’s My Favorite Books’ open mic. night.
Jan Godown Annino/ February 2020
AND some past related articles

Bookseedstudio has several times visited the Library of Congress with joy, including here and here.

And again, happy happy birthday, dear Rosa Louise McCauley Parks! We love you. We thank you.

C. all rights reserved, The Library of Congress

  • here is more detail on the Poetry Friday collection that occurs in Kidlitosphere – you may want to join in.