Friday, January 31, 2014

Snow Poems by Karla Kuskin

*see below
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Please visit Terrific Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for Roundup.

I'm beginning a new series today on Karla Kuskin. Several of you suggested her work to me when I mentioned wanting to do a follow-up to my series on Valerie Worth. And since I knew nothing of Karla's work, well, it seemed a perfect way to educate myself!

In honor of the polar weather, I'm happy to share with you today some snow poems:


We'll play in the snow
And stray in the snow
And stay in the snow
In a sow-white park.
We'll clown in the snow
And frown in the snow
Fall down in the snow
Till it's after dark.
We'll cook snow pies
In a big snow pan.
We'll make snow eyes
In a round snow man.
We'll sing snow songs
And chant snow songs
And chant now chants
And roll in the snow
In our fat snow pants.
And when it's time to go home to eat
We'll have snow toes
On our frosted feet.

-Karla Kuskin

Joe's Snow Clothes

For wandering walks
In the sparking snow
No one is muffled
More warmly than Joe.
No one is mittened more,
Coated or hatted,
Booted or sweatered,
Both knitted and tatted,
Buttoned and zippered,
Tied, tucked and belted,
Padded and wadded
And quilted and felted,
Hooked in and hooded,
Tweeded and twilled.
Nothing of Joe's
From his top to his toes
But the tip of his nose
Could be touched
By the snows
Or the wind as it lows,
And grow rather rosy,
The way a nose grows
If it's frozen
Or possibly chilled.

-Karla Kuskin

*About the photo: Scott's Run, West Virginia. Miner's child - This boy was digging coal from mine refuse on the road side. The picture was taken December 23, 1936 on a cold day; Scott's Run was buried in snow. The child was barefoot and seemed to be used to it. He was a quarter mile from his home.(WikiCommons, WPA photo by Lewis Hines)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Movie Monday: HER

What to say about HER? It'a love story. Yes, even though one of the partners is an OS (Operating System, perfectly voiced by Scarlett Johansson), it's a love story. Oh, how we humans long for connection! This movie examines what that connection looks like in the 21st Century -- how the advances in technology are transforming the ways in which we relate to one another. So much social media, so many ways to connect, and yet how difficult it can be, how isolating our machines can be.

One scene in the movie broke my heart: The main character Theodore, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is at the entrance to the subway, and he's watching all these people come up the stairs. They make no eye contact, and each of them is involved not with each other, but in their connection with an earpiece that connects them to whatever is on the other end. Is that what the world is coming to?

Something I loved about the movie: the relationship between Theodore and his OS (Samantha) mirrored a human love affair. From delight to intoxication to eventual disenchantment and moving on... all the emotions were completely real and authentic -- even if one of the partners wasn't completely real and authentic. I liked how falling in love with one's OS wasn't seen as weird in the world created by the movie. There was even a double date: a human couple, and our human/OS couple. And it worked!

The movie did drag in places, but ultimately I found it a valuable, entertaining experience.

Love is like that.

Friday, January 24, 2014

And The Answer Is....

Thanks to everyone who offered guesses for Mystery Photo #1! And Happy Poetry Friday! If I was really on the ball, I would post a sundroppy poem. Alas. I am too busy scrapbooking  with the women in my family. :) Please visit Tara at her new Wordpress blog A Teaching Life. Happy happy day!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mystery Photo #1

As part of my "Mystery" year, I thought it would be fun to post some photographs for you to guess what they are! I love how changing perspectives can open up new worlds, and that's my goal with this series.

So. What do you think this is?

photo by my amazingly talented brother MicaJon Dykes!

Clue #1: It' refreshing.
Clue #2: It's my brother's family's favorite.
Clue #3: It has a poetic name.

There's a prize in it for the first person to guess! xo

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Please visit my most favorite beekeeper-writer-gal Keri for Roundup at Keri Recommends.

I've been having so much fun reading the Cybils finalists. When I was at the library this week, I also picked up a 2011 poetry book I'd like to share with you: A FULL MOON IS RISING, poems by Marilyn Singer with pictures by Julia Cairns. The moon is the focal point of all the poems, which are set in different parts of the world. For someone with a traveler's heart like me, it's a great way to get a quick fix of other lives and cultures. And it's true: the moon is the same wherever you go. What a comfort that is when one is far from home or without the ones we love best.

Moon Festival
Hong Kong, China

Look up!
Rabbit, dragon, butterfly, carp:
lanterns parading by.
Look around!
All of us together,
sampling these sweet cakes--
red bean and lotus paste--
each with a surprise inside:
a salty egg, round and golden
as the glorious eighth moon.

- Marilyn Singer

Moon Illusion
Cape Town, South Africa

outside their new brick house
in the dusty township,
Mama takes in the wash and asks her children
what they learned today in school.
her daughter grins "I learned that nobody's sure
why the moon looks so big on teh horizon."
Her son bends over and peers at the sky through his legs.
"And I learned how to shrink that moon."
Such smart children." Mama laughs.
"Bright as the moon!"

- Marilyn Singer

High Tide
Bay of Fundy, Canada

Sail on a Saturday.
Sail on a Monday.
You'll find the highest tides of all
here, in the Bay of Fundy.

Sail at a new moon.
Sail at a full.
Waters spring up to their peak
to heed the lunar pull.

One hundred billion tonnes of water
in and out the bay.
One hundred billion tonnes of water
two times every day.

Sail in December
or sail in June.
Set out on a high tide.
Always thank the moon.

- Marilyn Singer

Have YOU ever written a "moon" poem? It's one of those words we poets seem to like!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sunny Days are Here Again

Big thanks to Deborah Bussewitz over at Show...Not Tell, who nominated Live Your Poem for a Sunshine Award! It totally made my day, especially as I learned about a billion things Deb and I have in common... including opinions about sunny blogs! Her nominees are ones I would also like to acknowledge today. And I have some nominees of my own! 

Here are the rules:
  1. Acknowledge the nominating bloggers
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger creates for you
  4. List 11 bloggers
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they've been nominated.  (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
11 Random Facts:
I love to rearrange furniture. It's really important to me to have a clean floor. I'm double-jointed. And left-handed. A middle child.
Love rainy days. Love to walk in my neighborhood in the early mornings (except when it's super-cold). I go on a yearly scrapbooking weekend with the women in my family. I'm getting good at foosball. I'm working on being less judgmental.

11 Questions from Deb:
1.  What is something that has changed you for the better?
2.  What makes you smile?
Letters from students! Here's one I got recently:

Dear Mrs. Latham, I would like to see Phil and Hugo meet again. And maybe Whit can get a new brother! Maybe the sequel could be about Whit's like in Middle School. From Robert
3.  What food is unique to the city you now live? 
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe! Of course any good southern cook has a recipe for these up her sleeve... I love the sour flavor of green tomatoes so like only a light batter, so I coat mine with Aunt Jemima's corn meal mix mixed with grated parmesan cheese and garlic salt. Mmmmm....
4.  What book has had an impact on your life?
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. When I read this book, I knew I wanted to write middle grade fiction.
5.  Who is your hero/heroine?
My father, a 5 year cancer survivor.
6.  Fire or water? 
Water. My new book very well could have been called The Ocean Between Us... lots of water images and themes! 
7.  Do you have a secret that you can share?
Secrets and secret-keeping happens to be the theme of my wip!
8.  What are you reading currently?
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I loveloveloved Eleanor & Park, and am really enjoying this one as well.
9.  How did you KNOW you were a writer?
Each time something in my writing life beats me to a pulp, and I still get up the next day to get after it again, I know I'm a writer.
10.  How did your home of origin shape you?
The fact that we moved so often that there is no one "home" I use to answer this question is very much a shaping factor in my life... I have a restless, vagabond spirit, and adore traveling.... yet I also adore my home (where we've lived for 16 years) and love coming home best of all.
11.  What is your fantasy vacation?
This moment I've got the Mediterranean on my mind...

Bloggers I'd like to beam with skies and skies of sunshine:

Doraine at Dori Reads
Caroline at Caroline by line
Miranda at Miranda Paul
Sheri at  Sheri Doyle
Linda at Write Time

11 Questions:
Favorite food to bring to a potluck event?
What do you do to relieve stress?
Favorite quote?
What is the story behind your name?
Chore you abhor?
Cinderella or Snow White?
Do you plan blog posts ahead of time, or real-time posts only?
Other social media you enjoy?
Introverted or extroverted?
Title of the last book you gave as a gift?
Happiness is..... (you fill in the blank!)

Thank you, again, Deb, for including me!

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Poet's Dozen

Sky-big thanks to the dozen poets who shared work with us at Poetry in the Sky with Cupcakes: top row, l-r (Matt Layne, Alicia Clavell, Bob Collins, Jim Reed, Susan Luther, Bonnie Roberts & Joe Whitten, Robert Boliek; bottom row, l-r (Tabitha Bozeman, Irene Latham, Andrew Glaze, Alabama Poet Laureate & Jerri Beck)

Truly, I cannot express what a glorious event this was! Thanks to everyone who came out to share it... and to those far-flung... lots of "we are star-dust" vibes in the air. Really great poems! And cupcakes:
This pic features chocolate ones I made, but Tabatha's were much prettier. Thank you, Tab!

This week I am WRITING. Finally. Happy day to everyone... .especially my third bouncing baby boy who arrived this day 14 years ago. Love you, sweet boy!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Winter Wonder in the Winn Dixie Parking Lot

Today's installment of Wonderful World Wednesday comes live from our local Winn Dixie, where my 17 year old son works as a bagger/parking lot attendee. He worked Monday night as record-low temperatures were setting in, and he said he felt like a popsicle. He also said he was re-thinking this whole recent obsession he's had with snowboarding.

And he showed me a pair of gloves. And a scarf. Neither of which he had taken to work with him in the first place.

They were gifts, he explained. From random strangers. People buying groceries who saw him in the parking lot and knew they had what he needed. He said it made the night more fun than playing video games, which, if you know my son, is saying A LOT.

To those folks who saw a kid in need and did something about it: thank you. I promise to pay it forward.

What a Wonderful World!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Poets in the Sky with Cupcakes!

Today is the official release of my latest book of poems for adults, THE SKY BETWEEN US. Yay! I'm pretty excited about the celebration we've got planned for Saturday.... pretty amazing lineup of poets, yes? Hope to see you there! You can order personalized books on my website, and there's Amazon, of course... local indies Reed Books and Alabama Booksmith can also fix you up!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Movie Monday: SAVING MR. BANKS

Confession: as a young reader, I never thought at all about the author of the books I loved -- those  stories were mine and to think of them being written by anyone never occurred to me. It's only as an adult author myself that I've become curious about other authors.

Which is why I knew I wanted to see SAVING MR. BANKS. I mean, P.L. Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins... clearly an imaginative woman, yes? AND. For me, there's the whole Disney connection: in case you didn't know, I was born the year Walt Disney World opened in Orlando. I went to Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades in central Florida, just outside Mickey's magical domain. For my 6th birthday, I had a Cinderella cake and got to visit Disney World for the very first time. During college, I worked as a booking agent at Walt Disney Travel Company and earned a "Mouster's Degree" through the WD College Program. (I could have earned a "Ducktorate" but, ahem, I was maybe more interested in some less Disneyfied pursuits at the time....) I think Walt Disney was a pretty amazing guy. And guess what? I loved the movie.

Maybe it isn't an accurate picture of P.L. Travers OR Walt Disney. I don't know. But I was touched by the story. It kind of reminded me of DRIVING MISS DAISY, what with the whole grumpy old lady being driven about by Mr. Brightside chauffeur. I loved how their relationship grew and developed, how a true friendship emerged. I felt tremendous compassion for the way Mrs. Travers' father was depicted... he was an alcoholic, brilliant and imaginative, but unable to control his addiction. What a toll this takes on a family, and how confusing for a daughter who admires her father one day and hates him the next. And all the more reason to value and cherish one Mary Poppins.

My favorite quote in the movie is courtesy of Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, on the power of story, the reason we NEED fiction:

“It’s what we storytellers do: We restore order with imagination.’’

And maybe Disney never actually said that, and maybe the film portrays its characters inaccurately, and maybe the criticism is deserved that this is a sugary, self-serving film. Who cares? I still enjoyed the heck out of it.

Friday, January 3, 2014

One Little Word for 2014

Wow, is it really the first Poetry Friday of 2014?? Be sure to visit Betsy at I Think in Poems for Roundup.

Sometime in December I started a list of possible words. I wrote them down, and one by one, tried them on. I wasn't sure which word to choose until I viewed a post at Tabatha's blog, The Opposite of Indifference. When I read and listened to O Magnum Mysterium, I knew instantly what word on my shortlist was THE one:


Thank you, Tabatha!

Some synonyms for mystery: puzzle, conundrum, riddle, secret, problem, enigma

While I don't have any concrete expectations for how this word will exist in my life during 2014, I am feeling "mystery" on a deep, spiritual level. I want to be open to mystery, I want to find beauty there and not place my focus on solving anything. Kind of like Emily Dickinson's dwelling in possibility, I want to Dwell in Mystery.

I want to read more mysteries, too. It's never been a favorite genre -- I'm not sure why. Maybe this year I will discover as I open myself to all the possibilities.

When I think about mysteries I have enjoyed, I think of WHERE'S WALDO and I SPY books. Also, Gollum's riddles in THE HOBBIT. My siblings and I watched the animated version of that movie over and over... and you know what, I find it far more enjoyable that the recent in-the-theater incarnation.

And then there's MASQUERADE by Kit Williams. The one with the riddles that told the location of an actual jewel in the art and the text? My sis and I worked so hard to solve the riddle! Here's a wee riddle from the text:

"What is nothing on the outside,
And nothing on the inside,
Is lighter than a feather,
But ten men cannot pick it up?"


                                                          The answer:
photo from Wikipedia commons

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Big thanks to Round One CYBILS judges Bridget Wilson, Sylvia VardellApril Halprin Wayland, Ed DeCaria, Jone MacCulloch, Kelly Fineman and Anastasia Suen for their amazing work in the Poetry category! Here are the Sensational Seven finalists:

FOLLOW, FOLLOW: A BOOK OF REVERSO POEMS by Marilyn Singer, illustrations by Josee Masse, companion to Mirror Mirror, Dial Publishing

 FOREST HAS A SONG: POEMS by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrations by Robbin Gurley, Clarion Books. My review here.

POEMS TO LEARN BY HEART edited by Caroline Kennedy, paintings by Jon J. Muth, Disney Hyperion. My review here.

PUG: AND OTHER ANIMAL POEMS by Valerie Worth, illustrations by Steve Jenkins, Farrar, Straus & Giroux. See my review.

THE PET PROJECT: CUTE AND CUDDLY VICIOUS VERSES By Lisa Wheeler, Illustrated by Zachariah OHora Atheneum

WHAT THE HEART KNOWS: Chants, Charms & Blessings by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

 By J. Patrick Lewis, Chronicle Books. See my review.

Congratulations to the poets, and thanks to the publishers for bringing out these fine books! The Round Two judges will consider these titles, and the winner will be announced on Valentine's Day. Woohooo!

Note: I've pictured the ones I have yet to read... and linked to my reviews of the ones I have. What a good year for poetry books! Also, I am attending a Picture Book Boot Camp later this month with author Lisa Wheeler. Fun!