Favorite Poem Project & Robert Pinsky

Favorite Poem Project & Robert Pinsky
http://www.favoritepoem.org/

Such an honor! The former U.S. poet laureate,
Robert Pinsky, brought the national Favorite Poem Reading
Project to our town, Tallahassee, recently.

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Of course we managed to get to the event.
Everyday people from around the state of Florida read a poem,
by an established author. This is the road show for a previous online invitation at the Favorite Poem website. I didn’t enter, as it was some time back. But I’m so glad so many (at least 18,000) people did.

They picked one poem that, over and over, calls to them.
This is one of Robert Pinsky’s favorite challenges. To ask everyone to find a favorite poem or two, read them regularly, and further, he urges us to read the poem out loud and not stop there. Memorize a favorite poem. That allows us to carry it with you, everywhere.

Now, if you are a Poetry Friday regular, this is a given. But
for Bookseedstudio readers who are here from other paths,
might this be a good thing for you to try?

Recently I saw this:

“When was the last time
you did something
for the first time?”

Maybe memorizing a poem will be that new first time
neuron nudger.

Back to Pinsky

This acclaimed poet looks like a cross between Bill Nye, the
Science Guy & that great space educator Carl Sagan. With a
wide grin & great voice, he was just as engaging
as each of them.
“A poem is a work of art made for a human voice,” he told us.
“But it’s not the art of one expert. It’s the art of any and all.”

Here are just three of the poems read that evening.

“Nick and the Candlestick,” Sylvia Plath
“Why I Am Not A Painter,” Frank O’Hara
“Soneto XVII” Pablo Neruda

And I still remember how Pinsky quoted James Baldwin,
“Culture is everybody’s birthright.”

So, everybody, I have always been one of those who can’t pick one
favorite poem. But he said in that case, know that you are
working with one of your favorites. Despite the title of the project,
it doesn’t have to be THE one and true only favorite. Like picking
among children, impossible to do.

So here is the title of a poem section I like a whole lot among
many favorites. It is, “Alphabets,” (part 1) and it is
from the pen of the great Seamus Heaney. It begins:

Alphabets
by Seamus Heaney

“A shadow his father makes with joined hands
And thumbs and fingers nibbles on the wall
Like a rabbit’s head. He understands
He will understand more when he goes to school.

There he draws smoke with chalk the whole first week.
Then he draws the forked stick that they call a Y.
This is writing. A swan’s neck and swan’s back
Make the 2 he can see now as well as say…”
c. Seamus Heaney

Now, I must not have been paying attention because
I didn’t have much advance notice of this long-planned
event & jammed in time, was I, so I had no Pinsky
collection, to nail a book autograph, one of my hobbies.
But everyone says to start with “The Song of Poetry,”
which is both a terrific poetry collection &
an informal primer for poem-making. So it’s on the way.

Thank you Robert Pinsky, for your service as U.S.
Poet Laureaut, for putting Tallahassee
on your map & to Erin Belieu of FSU,
for making this evening happen.

Next time I expect to have a few words about
Tallahassee’s great good luck in the visit to FAMU of
transformative poet Nikki Finney (Head Off & Split.)

Also then, I expect to be playing the National Poetry
Month 2016 Progressive Poetry Game, with Irene
Latham at Live Your Poem & Equally Wonderful
Others. Here’s the lineup (apologies for
computer gremlins -drat! & no links…)

2016 KIDLITOSPHERE PROGRESSIVE POEM
1 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Diane at Random Noodling
5 Penny at A Penny and Her Jots
6 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
7 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
9 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
10 Pat at Writer on a Horse
11 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
12 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
13 Linda at TeacherDance
14 Jone at Deo Writer
15 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly
17 Kim at Flukeprints
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Charles at Poetry Time
20 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
21 Jan at Bookseedstudio
22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
23 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Mark at Jackett Writes
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
28 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
30 Donna at Mainely Write

AND today’s Poetry Friday frolic is hosted by my pal Michelle H.
Barnes at the tuneful Today’s Little Ditty.

The mystery is history

The mystery is history

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About now in the school year a search is on.

Students round up a few likely suspects:

http://www.floridamemory.com/onlineclassroom/history_fair/#bet

They probe into their past. And they

create a short script, or construct a table display

or write an essay about the object of their attention.

If they are passionate and well-informed and are favored

by the local, regional and state judges, they find

themselves in our nation’s capital for the National

History Day Fair.

A shake of the dance rattle  (traditional turtle shell or

modern day metal can) please, as I mention with

pride that this time around Betty Mae Tiger Jumper,

is highlighted as a worthy subject.

She receives a fine digital shout out directed at students: http://www.floridamemory.com/onlineclassroom/history_fair/

http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n93123557.html

Will students look closer at the woman who authorized me to

tell her story to younger readers?

Because she wrestled alligators, she grabs attention. For grade school

age,  a creative collaboration produced the gold medal, Florida Book

Awards title, She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper.

It features a letter to readers from her son, Moses Jumper, Jr. and illustrations from Lisa Desimini, with  my text vetted by

the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

What pulls middle grade students in is that Betty Mae began

kindergarten at middle school age.

High school researchers may want to explore death threats

she survived, her election as the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s

first woman leader, her role in forming a four-tribe coalition

to speak with one voice. her appointment to a presidential

commission.

The 2014 national theme on rights and responsibilities is a smooth fit

for this trailblazer.

Brava! Betty Mae Tiger Jumper. Added to a list of

non-Native men and women who our nation’s students have presented

on, since at least 1974.

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all images copyrighted by the author

PLUS – an additional resource from this site (any returning readers, apologies for the previous non-working link) is:

https://bookseedstudio.wordpress.com/about-this-site-writer/bookseedstudio1/

The “p” in April is for ?

The P in April is for ?

We played a game in our family that involved verses.

When I was six, seven, eight, my Aunt Florence if she was visiting,

but more often my mother, would point to me.

Then began the count, out loud: “ 1, 2, 3….

By 10, I had to start saying a nursery rhyme or poem.

I never saw a purple cow

I never hope to see one…

Then it would be my turn to point to one of them and count,

“1,2, 3…”

O captain, my captain…”

Woodman spare that tree…”

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea…” 

That Edward Lear ditty would be recited by Aunt Florence, who would give her other kidney in transplant to a cat if it would have prolonged the pampered life she provided her felines.

It would seem silly to the sisters, Florence, Marian and Lilly, to create only one month for poetry, when limericks, light verse & poetry, including patriotic ballads, filled a walloping large part of their world.

Today it might take a college poetry class to inveigle a young person to memorize a poem. But the gals finished their high school learning that poetry is meant to be heard. They carried their memorized recitations, declamations & elocutions with them, & shared them as portable nourishment all their days.

With the memories of those performances as part of my literary legacy, I was thrilled this month to visit a public school & find that a first grade teacher I’ve always suspected of being wildly creative, intends to lead her class in learning by heart one poem ( Shel Silverstein’s -“Sick.”) Not only will her wiggly ones be challenged to recite it, but they will also be asked to create their own list poem about sick days they have experienced & to create other responses.  If there is a National Poetry Foundation or Library of Congress poetry honor for school teachers, I want to nominate her.

Also in this poetry month I was surprised to hear writer Laura Lascarso asking me for a poem as we chatted together at our downtown spring festival.

I expected to send her one on a Florida topic that is to be published later this year in a small journal. But instead I found that the hard-worked farm across the road from me in my child years before Florida, sprang to mind. I wrote a new poem thinking of that farm; the result, not light verse, is “April is Open.” I invite you to read it and please leave a word or two about it on Laura’s site.

I started poetry month with the gift of a how-to book intended for younger writers, WRITE A POEM, by JoAnn Early Macken.

I wish Aunt Florence were around to appreciate like I do, the  lines:

Scratchy cat

looking for a rat

leaps to the window

Acrobat!

I thank JoAnn Early Macken for this guide, which brings with it a plan, tools and model poems that are sure to lure words out of little ones and into the lines of poems . She shares with us that her verse above originally was this:

Scratchy cat

in the window sat

wearing a hat

looking for rats

and then she is patient in illuminating the substance of how & why the revised lines sound better. When I am done devouring her guide (I’ve read it once & I like to read books three times through if they are the kind to inhale,) I think WRITE A POEM is headed over to a certain first grade poetry palace.

Question answer: Although the P in April is for poetry, it is also for performance.

Who is Oscar Romero…?

Who can possibly know everyone we should know of?

This is a world where we hear  (too much) about Lady Gaga.

The stories of the folks who don’t have their own press machinery may  not find their way into the news cycles.

But never fear, there is a dedicated core of researchers out here who are cruising the museums, looking into the Library of Congress, &  refershing themselves at roadside attractions of the world, in search of  picture book biography subjects.

I continue to present on the life of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, an amazing person born in Florida, who most people don’t know about.

So  I think it’d be fun to begin a list of  lesser-known biography subjects – folks you may want to consider writing about for young readers.

They are excellent exemplars for anyone, especially children.

If you are intent on writing biographries for young readers,  you will arrive at the day that you will be grabbed by the person – or perhaps people –  you want to share with impressionable minds.

That’s how it happened for me.

Today there are four on this list. Check back for more. I’m not claiming these fine folks on this list, so have at ’em!

Possible picture book biography people:

1 OSCAR ROMERO,  El Salvador

2 POLLY PARKER, Florida

3 JOHN RILEY, Florida

4 MELEE, Florida (correct spelling to be updated, an intriguing part of her story)

5 STERLING ELLIOTT – social reformer, bicycle enthusiast of the 1890s, inventor

First readers looked like this

Is this shape a little Kindle-like?

This is a Horn Book.  The kind before we had today’s The Horn Book .

Horn Books were available to learners, especially children (usually boys) who were able to  sit with a teacher,  in the Colonies, especially Massachusetts, New York, Connectitcut, Rhode Island, New Jersey & Pennsylvania, of Great Britain (later the U.S.A)

This Horn Book is for a wealthy family, crafted of silver and ivory & it most likely was made in England.

It is one of many treasures in the Children’s Literature Center of the Library of Congress, where the Chief, Dr. Sybille A.  Jagusch, is herself another treasure for you to discover there.

www.loc.gov/rr/child

Follow the Library of Congress on twitter http://twitter.com/libraryccongress

c. 2009 Jan Godown Annino at the Library of Congress

c. 2009 Jan Godown Annino at the Library of Congress

In the Library of Congress

To visit the Children’s Literature Center online, in the Library of Congress :
For an online visit to the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collections
Cozy in the Children's Literature Center

Cozy in the Children's Literature Center