Billy, meet Tameka

This past week breezed right in.
Sunday we took a brisk walk that turned out to
be a lovely 10 miles in the sand near the Apalachicola
fishing village, where a book event caught our attention.
And the week also brought us March 22, the birthday
of Billy Collins, so beloved a poem-maker,
he has served as U.S. Poet Laureate twice.

I have a few lines to share from a poem maker new to
me, who I discovered at a workshop this summer,
but first I’d like to pay tribute to Collins.
He is suitably feted by the Poetry Friday community this month.

(And if you are looking for more Poetry Friday greatness,
it is here this week.)

These words below are from Billy Collins’
“To My Favorite 17-Year-Old High School Girl”

For some reason, I keep remembering that Lady Jane Grey

was Queen of England when she was only fifteen,

but then she was beheaded, so never mind her as a role model.

 Frankly, who cares if Annie Oakley was a crack shot at 15

or if Maria Callas debuted as Tosca at 17?

We think you are special by just being you

playing with your food and staring into space.

c.Billy Collins all rights reserved

 

See this for an interesting Billy Collins page.
Now here are two verses from the poem maker I don’t
think you know. She brings this one to us in
the voice of a child.
The girl just loves her skipping around moments,
close to home.
It is from “Around Our Way on Neighbors’ Day”
by Tameka Fryer Brown:

Blue sky, no clouds,
Corner store.
One more
Block to walk before
I’m home. It’s a special day
today, around our way.

Blue sky, no clouds.
No one stares,
or cares
That loud music blares.
Hustle… bustle… salsa sway,
Wild day, around our way.
c. 2017 Tameka Fryer Brown

AROUND OUR WAY ON NEIGHBORS’ DAY by
Tameka Fryer Brown
art by
Charlotte Riley-Webb

Neighbors pour out into the street to share
food, music and dancing and the child whirls through
all the yards and visits the front porches,
in a sweet community coming together of people of
varied cultures.

I am not alone in following the work of Tameka
Fryer Brown.
Here is what Kirkus said about this poem,
published in picture book form with sensational
art by Charlotte Wiley-Webb. “…In this lively and
accessible poem, a multicultural community brings food, music
and laughter to the streets to celebrate their neighborhood….”

I think I’ll mosey over Tameka Fryer Brown’s way. She is one to watch.

Nancy Willard

Nancy Willard

Hello all Poetry Friday seekers.
I am grateful to Heidi who organizes it here this week.

This week, I am spending time with
my Nancy Willard books,
especially, THE SALT MARSH,
TELLING TIME,
A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE’S INN &
STEP LIGHTLY, Poems for the Journey,
collected by Nancy Willard.

I want to pick one to share Saturday,
when I feel fortunate to be meeting with
teens at the request of a legendary
librarian I treasure, Ms. Lenita Joe.

Since Nancy Willard treasured every poem
she placed in
STEP LIGHTLY,
reading them feels like two chairs are pulled up
before a big window overlooking a salt marsh,
tea is poured and
a conversation begins.

Nearly every selection speaks to me, especially
the poems about writing,
but for this post I’m sharing two lines,
from Emily Hahn, in her poem,

“Wind Blowing”
“I can see everything, all around the earth;
Red sun dying, gold sun’s birth.”

c. Emily Hahn, all rights reserved

I feel that is Nancy’s world now,
stepping lightly,
knowing and seeing everything.

Here is a sweet memory written
just a few days ago by her friend
and former neighbor, poet
Lee Bennett Hopkins.

I was thrilled
to meet Nancy Willard in Roanoke, VA
once, at the graduate program
in children’s literature.

She sat in on a creative writing seminar
I enjoyed so much, led by
Han Nolan. She was available to us –
we were all big fans. I treasure the moon she drew
in my copy of NIGHTGOWN OF THE SULLEN MOON.

When she learned that my thesis
for Hollins University included
serious poems about bears in history, she
suggested I look up the work of her poet
friend, Galway Kinnell.
Reading him was rough work, but it helped me.
In expectation of my editing & layout of a
chapbook of bear poems, experiences &
images, I feel fortunate to have been
touched by Nancy Willard’s
magical presence that summer.

I’ve previously mentioned her books here.
and also here, where I shared her signature artwork
a gift that graces books of many admirers.

And I think NW would have liked the recent honor that LBH earned in my state.

“Ballet slippers and saxophones:” #Lee Bennett Hopkins

Kwame Alexander
When I was 2 my mom read me poems by #NikkiGiovanni & #LeeBennettHopkins. So cool that #TheCrossover has won the LBHopkins Poetry award!”

By Jan Godown Annino

If there is a King of Children’s Poetry in the U. S.
he is Lee Bennett Hopkins (the Queen would be
Jane Yolen.)

Lee Bennett Hopkins, Center Stage, Florida Artists' Hall of Fame  c. 2017 Stephanie Salkin, all rights reserved

Lee Bennett Hopkins, Center Stage, Florida Artists’ Hall of Fame
c. 2017 Stephanie Salkin, all rights reserved

LBH is a world-wide record holder in poetry.
And as young poets can attest, for 25 years
he has become the leader in establishing poetry awards
that lift up the art of poem-making and poem-reading,
to the highest levels.

This poet – and novelist- is also a long time leader in championing diversity of characters and themes in children’s books.

I can not say LBH chose Florida for retirement,
because so many projects are popping
for him. During a small dinner in his honor
with his lifetime partner Charles Egita, at
Paramount Grill, LBH talked of
juggling 60 poets’ work. That is because
in addition to writing his own heartfelt poems,
LBH a supreme anthologist of poetry for children.

So among tempting aromas, I selected
tofu scramble in his honor last week,
the night before
he took the stage with rock stars
Don Felder (The Eagles) ,
Billy Dean and Jim Stafford,
to be inducted
into the Florida Artists’ Hall of Fame.

Move over Ray Charles,
Tennessee Williams,
Zora Neale Hurston
and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who proceeded
LBH as honorees in the Artists’ Hall of Fame.

Much has already been written and
will be written
about this honor.

Enjoy Robyn Hood Black piece on LBH,
and futurewise, look for a Michelle Henderich Barnes’
report on the Florida
Convening Culture Conference that was
wrapped around the awards event. (Stick with the link to MB
above, for a cuter than candy pix of LBH!)

But let me just say that I felt as if
I was a
mermaid swimming sweetly on Sanibel sands,
among sandcastles made of syllables
and sounds ripe for poem-making,
as a result of being with LBH & his posse.

So now,
I’m back to writing, reading,
critiquing & visiting schools.
(It’s Dr. Seuss week!)

I close with big appreciations to
Secretary of State Ken Detzner and
his posse including Sandy Shaughnessy,
for bestowing the honor, which was
championed by many, including
poets Stephanie Salkin & Jude Mandell

A VIDEO TO NOTE
I do expect to return here with more on
LBH and the award. But first,
visit with this great video record
of the ceremony, which I enjoyed
straight-through as I couldn’t be in the
Gainesville audience,
scooting home for scheduled events.
Hint: when you have time, stick with this
Florida Channel memory for the poetic line,
we need ballet slippers and saxophones.”
Did you hear the crowd’s applause?

. . .
WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED
I am still focused on the continued
hate speech in this country.
For my Poetry Friday piece this week, I will again
highlight the resistance anthem, WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED.
But I am happy to provide links on Friday to some
poetry blogs keyed to an exciting March poetry
commemoration,
which I very much look forward to reading.

………..

We are all . . .

The always-informative, often soothing Poetry Friday collection is, collected here this week.

. . .

" We are one Earth"               c. 2017Jan Godown Annino

” We are one Earth” c. 2017Jan Godown Annino


We are one Earth.
We are one People.

We are all immigrants, citizens.
We are all Christian, Hindu, Buddhist.
We are all Jewish, Muslim.
We are all Black, Hispanic, white.
We are all First Nation, Asian.

A long-time spiritual of decades ago that sang out
across this land soothing many, is known as
I Shall Not Be Moved.
It transformed in the U.S. Civil Rights era to
We Shall Not Be Moved.

And it just came into my world,
a most welcome zephyr.

A group of us were invited to stand and sing
this as a protest song of solidarity, in a version
with some words changed for modern times.
We attended this service in response
to vile speech,
sent to a local Jewish temple
and hurtful to us all.

Singing there, a zing zanged
through me.
I felt more uplifted than
I had in months.

We Shall Not Be Moved keeps company with me.
Here it is, with my 2017 tweaks. 

2017 Edition, We Shall Not Be Moved

Will shall not, we shall not be moved.
We shall not, we shall not be moved.

Like a tree, growing by the waterside,
We shall not be moved.

Jews and Christians, we shall not be moved.
Jews and Christians, we shall not be moved.

Like a tree, growing by the waterside,
We shall not be moved.

Hindus and Muslims, we shall not be moved.
Hindus and Muslims, we shall not be moved.

Like a tree, growing by the waterside,
We shall not be moved.

Immigrants, citizens, we shall not be moved.
Immigrants, citizens, we shall not be moved

Like a tree, growing by the waterside,
We shall not be moved.

Black and white, we shall not be moved.
Black and white, we shall not be moved.

Like a tree, growing by the waterside,
We shall not be moved.

Hispanic, Asian, First Nation, we shall not be moved.
Hispanic, Asian, Firsr Nation, we shall not be moved.

Like a tree, growing by the waterside,
We shall not be moved.

Gay, straight, trans, we shall not be moved.
Gay, straight, trans, we shall not be moved.

Like a tree, growing by the waterside,
We shall not be moved.

O YES! Like a tree, growing by the waterside,
We shall not be moved.

©2017 Jan Godown Annino

This is shared with a huge heart of appreciation
to my husband’s former students, the ones who
kindly invited us to the service.
They are long-time consumer activist-attorneys,
David and Barbara Abrams. The Florida Supreme Court
recently honored David Abrams for his generous
public spirit. And he is quick to note that
his law partner, and partner in life, Barbara Abrams,
is why he is able to give so much time to the community.

For more on the original I Shall Not Be Moved.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Shall_Not_Be_Moved

To catch the tune, listen here.

A book, a month of books

I am fortunate to be part of today’s crew at
POETRY FRIDAY.

This week I completed THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
by Colson Whitehead, whose many honors for
bringing the main character, Cora, and her mother,
Mabel, to us, include
the 2016 National Book Award.

“The world may be mean, but people
don’t have to be, not if they refuse.”


– Mabel The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

I cried through much of it, especially at the end.
The author combines history and his own magical realism.
With those tools, he giftedly presents powerful suggestions
about the physical and emotional torture of the
enslavement business that are visceral and I flinched.
It is a swift thing to convict in our minds the U.S. businessmen and women who perpetuated imprisonment and brutality upon children, women and men.
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD also delivers us to others
whose complicity must also be remembered and discussed.
The author’s ultimate gift is a fiercely independent young
woman whose spirit will not be squelched. At an imagined
museum in South Carolina, a temporarily-free Cora plays
parts in three different time-period dioramas of black history.
It gave me chills to see her assignment. I made an air-first
as Cora figures out how to get back at gawking white visitors.

Teachers should read this novel; it will be good to see how
it informs both history and literature classes,
for more mature students.
It may also be widely available on television.

This is a 2016 NPR interview with Colson Whitehead

. . .
Although any day of the year is an important time
to learn about more
titles on the black experience, here are some links,
in celebration of
February, Black History Month.

The Brown Bookshelf

Debut author Leah Henderson

I enjoyed meeting author Leah Henderson at a workshop
and think you will want to follow this talented
thinker as her writing career expands.

Poetry for Children
This site, above, created by children’s literature/poetry specialist Sylvia Vardell,
who I hope to meed some day as many of you have, features a link
to SoundCloud posts of poems on various aspects of the black experience. the-underground-railroad<

Thankful

So, we do appreciate the people who have our backs.

In history, the people, including children, who stood up against Hitler & the Nazis are appreciated in books such as Scholastic’s HEROES OF THE HOLOCAUST. Sometimes it was just a cup of tea and food smuggled to a sickly child. What makes their book for young readers especially potent is that their
stories of bravery are all about acts of resistance undertaken by teenagers in Europe during World War II.

 img_5486

Allan Zullo and Mara Bovsun’s book remembers greater-than-a- cuppa-tea actions. The bravery of severe resistance, the acting of deceptive roles in the face of likely arrest, torture & death.

Leading the memorialization of the good people who had the backs of Jews & others’ Hitler targeted is the group, Yad Vashem education center & memorial keeps the flame of memory burning.
The link above is to one of many pages there.
It is especially noteworthy in these times, because the page I selected, honors Muslim Rescuers of Jewish people.

Today is Poetry Friday and also Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The poem of Martin Niemoller is one that many of us studied in school.

“First They Came For The Jews”

by Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

You may also want to learn about the brave IRENA SENDER. Whose feats
are documented in at least two books for students.
http://www.irenasendler.org/facts-about-irena/

Please visit a publisher with important titles, consistently, for young readers & educators, on the Holocaust.

Re-DISCOVERED: Tom Lehrer

This week I didn’t read one of the books that I did actually
share in the Kindergarten class where I volunteer.
Instead I sang it.
WAKING UP IS HARD TO DO, a song from Neil Sedaka, is
a perker-upper in crayon colors illustrated by Daniel Miyares.
It comes with a bonus for me here in Florida; the main character is
an alligator who has to get to school.
The kids didn’t care that I’m not a professional singer. They joined
in, too & we croaked together though a lively time.

In a writer’s illogical way, the success with that for story time,
led me to look online at clips of Shari Lewis
and Lamb Chops singing,
then onto clips of comic Soupy Sales’ crazy old kid’s TV show,
and then I found the brilliant math professor-satirist
Tom Lehrer,
liberal lyricist of the 1960s.

As of 2015 in his 80s, Mr. Lehrer lived quietly, as he apparently
fervently wishes, according to sources I won’t cite.
I wish him his desired anonymity in this crazy world,
great good healthy days & alligator-sized
appreciation for the joy that listening to his songs
brought me on Inauguration Day. I suspect
they will now be a comfort through the weekend & beyond.

Here are some Tom Leher lines about the lip-service paid to unity:

But during National Brotherhood Week
National Brotherhood Week
It’s National Everyone-Smile-At-
One-Another-hood Week
Be nice to people who
Are inferior to you
It’s only for a week, so have no fear
Be grateful that it doesn’t last all year!

c. Tom Lehrer, all rights reserved

I know your kindness and good will lasts
all year & as the first month winds down
in this strange new year, I appreciate more than ever
this nourishing nest of Poetry Friday readers & writers.

In case you want to visit with Tom Lehrer.