Thursday, July 18, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Playing With Poetry

I picked up a few poetry toys at nErDCampMI last week.

With Instant Poetry, poetry forms meet multiple choice. You might want to try a nursery rhyme, a poem in the style of William Carlos Williams or Emily Dickinson, an ode, free verse, or more.

click image to enlarge

I've been wanting to try writing a sonnet, so I chose the Shakespearean Sonnet (bottom left in the collage above).

Before the Fates (b) cut in this checkout line
Let all who (a) brought some queso dip please stay
And find our (c) kids out back making green slime.
Neither king nor fool (a) returns their lunch tray.
Though time (b) cares not when chickens come to roost,
We hear the (a) band at least will take the stage.

Ok. I'm going to stop there. There are others that have options that string together with more sense. Let's try the Nursery Rhyme (top right).

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
(a) loved sarcastic commentary.

scribble-out poetry (aka blackout poetry) has a lot more poet-ential. This spiral-bound book has 45 bits of text ready for you to modify by scribbling-out the words you don't want with your permanent marker and leaving behind your poem. The text comes in different shapes (see top of collage) and amounts (see bottom of collage). Sources for the text bits include Frankenstein, The Count of Monte Cristo, War and Peace, and Pride and Prejudice, just to name a few. Each page is perforated and includes "to" and "from" lines and the attribution for the original text on the back so that you can gift your poetic creations!

click image to enlarge
I scribbled-out a bit from Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (top right in the collage). This poem goes out to all the teachers who are enjoying their last weeks of living-and-learning-at-a-relaxing-pace.

if you teach.
You contribute to the happiness of
consume the
pleasure of being
a good

Scribbled-out by Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Carol, at Carol's Corner, is just one of those teachers for whom this poem was written! She's got the Poetry Friday roundup this week.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Poetry Friday -- 3, 6, 9, 12

Journal Sparks helped me with my poems for this week. I used bits and pieces of ideas from the book. First, I made some watercolor boxes and cut them out when they had dried. Then I randomly chose the numbers 3, 6, 9 and 12. From a list of prompts in the book, I chose four words -- tree, lines, buildings, and cake. I wrote the numbers and the words on little scraps of paper and shuffled them up, then paired each number scrap with a word scrap. The number told me how many words I could use in each poem, and the word became the topic of the poem.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Tabatha gave Jone a creative way to compose poems -- a poetry fortune teller! Check out Tabatha's triolet and all of the other Poetry Friday offerings at Jone's Deowriter.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Poetry Friday -- The Choice is Yours






The Choice is Yours

There will always be fences
there will always be walls
keeping out, keeping in

And there will always be beauty
there will always be art
reaching out, seeking within

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

The photos tell the story of our neighbor's fence built the wrong way out, and my artistic response. Those are polished rocks, slices of rock, geodes, and fossils that our rockhound friends gave me. Murals might be next, who knows?

Tricia has the Poetry Friday roundup today at a blog named after a book that would pair nicely with my post -- The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

The Joy of ARCs


by Liz Lunney
Andrews McMeel Publishing, June 2019

I can't tell you how badly my ten year-old self wants to get out the scissors and start building this theme park! Hopefully, I'll have some detail-oriented students who want to work on this during Genius Hour this year! I'll pair it with This is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter.


by Kat Zhang
illustrated by Charlene Chua
Aladdin (October 1, 2019)

Even though Amy Wu can do lots of things, making the perfect bao eludes her. Amy and her parents and grandmother are making bao together. Amy's dad preps the dough, while Amy's mom makes the filling. As they work making the bao, the adults always create perfect bao and give Amy advice that doesn't work. Just when all seems lost, Amy realizes that she has been using an adult-sized ball of dough in her kid-sized hands. Once she has a smaller amount of dough to work with, she, too, creates perfect bao -- enough to share with her classmates. There's a recipe included so you can make them, too!


Beverly, Right Here
by Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick, September 24, 2019

Now I need to go back and read Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana's Way Home. But I'm pretty sure Beverly will still be my favorite. She and Iola and Elmer and Doris and Charles (and Nod, and the seagull at the back door of the restaurant) have found their way into my heart. Oh, Beverly. How much do I love that you saw into Elmer's heart and cared about what was there and not what you could see on the outside?

This book is so full of all the hard parts about life -- age, loss, death, the amount of crap in convenience stores -- but it is also full of all that makes life meaningful -- art, music, poetry, friendship, believing in and finding the goodness in others.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Poetry Friday -- The Lost Words

by Robert Macfarlane
illustrated by Jackie Morris

I saw this book in Maria Popova's Brain Pickings newsletter last weekend and immediately reserved a copy from the library. Take a minute to follow the newsletter link. Gorgeous, right? I just picked it up yesterday, and I wasn't at all prepared for the size and heft of the book. It's 15" x 11" and weighs about 3 lbs. Every poem I've read so far is amazing -- I will learn lots from Robert Macfarlane about the art of the acrostic poem. Every illustration is amazing -- begging to be pored over. Yup. I'll probably need to buy my own copy of this book!

The introduction to The Lost Words is what inspired my poem for Karen Boss' challenge at Today's Little Ditty to "write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know."
"Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. they disappeared so quietly that at first almost no one noticed -- fading away like water on stone. The words were those that children used to name the natural world around them: acorn, adder, bluebell, bramble, conker -- gone! Fern, heather, kingfisher, otter, raven, willow, wren...all of them gone! The words were becoming lost: no longer vivid in children's voices, no longer alive in their stories."
How can we expect these words to remain in children's language if children spend no time outdoors, or if all the wild places are tamed or removed?

Learn their names:
rocks, trees, flowers, birds, clouds, stars.
Know your home.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Buffy Silverman has the Poetry Friday roundup this week, and she, too, has written a nature-themed poem for the June TLD challenge!

Good Talk by Mira Jacob

Over the years, we've written about/reviewed lots of graphic novels here at A Year of Reading. When the Cybils were brand new, I chose to judge graphic novels so that I could learn more about the format. Perhaps my love of graphic novels was fueled by a childhood reading diet of comic books.  Stacks and stacks of comic books. (There were also shelves and shelves of books, the Weekly Reader Book Club books, mandatory purchases at the shopping mall bookstores when we drove the 3 hours to Denver, and the regular trips to the local library. But there were also always stacks and stacks of comic books.)

I've tagged 148 books "adult" in Goodreads, and three of them are graphic novels. But get this...all three of them are also memoir. I have no idea what that means. It just made me go, "Hmm..."

This is the most recent adult memoir in graphic novel format that I've read, and I think you should read it, too:

by Mira Jacob
One World, March 2019

Mira Jacobs is East Indian and her husband is Jewish. With a combination of drawings and photographs, the book is built around Jacob's conversations with her six year-old biracial son about Michael Jackson, brown and white skin, Trump's election, and police violence. Jacobs also allows readers to "listen in" on her conversations with her own parents, brother, and grandmother about how her family discriminates against her because her skin is a (tragically) dark brown, and with her mother in-law about how people at a party she throws assume Mira's the help because she's not white. There are conversations between Jacobs and her white friend about parenting, and conversations between Jacobs and her husband about dealing with white men who hold all the power without even being aware that they do.

This book, for me, was a window.* Perhaps for you it will be a mirror.* If we're going to repair the race issues that continue to divide our nation, we're going to have to use books like this as sliding glass doors* so that we can have conversations like these not just in our imaginations as we read, but in real life with the people around us -- other adults, our students and children, co-workers, politicians, family members, publishers, etc., etc., etc.

*Dr. Rudine Simms Bishop coined these terms in 1990. "Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books." (1990, p. ix)

Monday, June 24, 2019

Highlights Symposium, White Fragility and Some Other Things

Last week, Mary Lee and I attended the Highlights Foundation Building Cultural Competency Symposium. It was an incredible 3 days and I can't thank the presenters and the Highlights staff enough. Such an amazing group of people to learn and think with. Thank you Edi Campbell (@crazyquilts), Debbie Reese (@debreese), Laura Jiminez (@booktoss ), Paula Yoo (@PaulaYoo), Renee Watson (@reneewauthor), and Marilisa Jiminez Garcia (@MarilisaJimenez). If you aren't already following each of these women, you should do that now--so much to learn from this amazing group.

The required reading for the book was White Fragility. I had read the book but was glad to have the opportunity to reread it and have conversations with others who had read it. Laura Jiminez did a brilliant job at leading this discussion and talking to others with a facilitator like Laura made the reading experience transformational. If you have not read White Fragility, I'd highly recommend it.

I've been working to read and study issues of equity over the past year. I created this Padlet of resources as I read, adding posts and articles that I knew I'd want to return to--that were important to my learning. I've shared this a few times on Twitter as there are great resources if you are thinking about this and are just not sure where to start.  I love Debby Irving's idea for a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge--"For 21 days, do one action to further your understanding of power, privilege, oppression and equity."  I would say from my own experience, 21 days is not enough--it is a great starting point but then keep going--I try to read or listen to something each day that builds my understanding in some way. Hopefully this Padlet helps others who are also trying to learn.

Link to Padlet

I bought a Highlights mug while at the Symposium.  I find that if I use a mug from an event, it reminds me of the thinking and work I did while there so the mug is a nice reminder of the thinking that happened at the symposium.  I also ordered this shirt from Laura Jiminez because this work is not so easy and the shirt will remind me of that when I wear it:-) (I ordered a purple v-neck and can't wait until it arrives! Proceeds from this shirt go to Grace Lin's #KidlitWomen and We Need Diverse Books.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Poetry Friday -- An Opportunity to Learn

Photo credit: Karen Kuehn

Hooray for our new Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, a registered member of the Mvskoke Creek Nation! She is our first Native American Poet Laureate, and now non-Native U.S. citizens have an excellent opportunity for learning.

At this past weekend's Building Cultural Competency symposium at the Highlights Foundation (my brief post about that here), one of the speakers we were most excited to hear was Dr. Debbie Reese, a registered member of the Nambe Pueblo Nation. And, no surprise, she's also very excited that we have a Mvskoke Poet Laureate!

Here's one of my big take-aways from Debbie's talk -- what we casually call "tribes" are actually Sovereign Native Nations, and we should name the nation to which a Native person belongs, rather than generically say Native American. There were thousands of these nations, each distinct in language, location, religion, story, systems of writing, and governance. (Note to self, when I am teaching my fifth graders about forms of government, I need to move beyond Democracy, Monarchy and Dictatorship and include Native governance.) Understanding that Native people belong to sovereign nations is important because the treaties of the past were made between heads of state. (Some references Debbie suggest we explore are Nation to Nation at the Smithsonian, the National Congress of American Indians, and the young people's version of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, which Debbie revised from Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's adult version, along with Jean Mendoza, and which is set for publication at the end of July.)

One of my favorite poems by Harjo (so far...I'm just digging in...) is For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet. It begins

Put down that bag of potato chips, that white bread, that bottle
of pop.

Turn off that cellphone, computer, and remote control.

Open the door, then close it behind you.

Take a breath offered by friendly winds. They travel the earth 
gathering essences of plants to clean.

Give it back with gratitude.

If you sing it will give your spirit lift to fly to the stars’ ears and 

Acknowledge this earth who has cared for you since you were a 
dream planting itself precisely within your parents’ desire.

Here's some bonus music that celebrates Native culture and language. The first is an adaptation of the Beetles' "Blackbird" sung in Mi'kmaq, an Algonquian language spoken by the Mi'kmaq, the indigenous people of Nova Scotia. This was produced for the 2019 United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages. Here's a CBC post about this production, and a WBUR radio spot featuring Emma Stevens.

"My Unama'ki," sung by the same 17 year-old high school student who sang the above version of "Blackbird," is a love song for the island of Cape Breton written by students and staff at Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni, Cape Breton (Unama'ki), Nova Scotia, Canada.

Why stop there? Here are 11 Pop Songs in Indigenous Languages You Need to Listen To, mostly from Latin America, but also Australia and New Zealand. And here's a Peruvian teenager who is trying to save the Quechua language through music. Okay. Enough with the rabbit holes.

I'm sure (I HOPE) there will be lots of posts about our new Poet Laureate in the Poetry Friday roundup this week. I look forward to learning from and with you! Linda has this week's roundup at A Word Edgewise.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Building Cultural Competency

Franki and I spent an amazing weekend at the Highlights Foundation at the Building Cultural Competency Symposium. The required reading was WHITE FRAGILITY by Robin DiAngelo, and processing this text with and without the participants who self-identified as not-white was a huge learning experience. We also listened to and learned from these remarkable speakers:

Edith Campbell who blogs at CrazyQuiltEdi and tweets @crazyquilts

Dr. Debbie Reese who blogs at American Indians in Children's Literature and tweets @debreese

Renée Watson who wrote the Newbery Honor/Coretta Scott King Award-winning PIECING ME TOGETHER and who tweets @reneewauthor

Dr. Marilisa Jiménez García  assistant professor at Lehigh University who specializes in Latino/a literature and culture and who tweets @MarilisaJimenez

Dr. Laura M. Jiménez  who blogs at BookToss, is a professor of preservice teachers at Boston University, and who tweets @booktoss 
Paula Yoo  who is an author, journalist and screenwriter and who tweets @PaulaYoo

Check out these blogs and Twitter feeds. Join the conversations. Join the learning.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Poetry Friday -- To the Caterpillar

Photo via Roads End Naturalist

To the Caterpillar

I spotted the yellow dot of your egg on the dill.
Cutting a sprig,
I brought you in.

Daily, your egg darkened as you grew.
What once was a dot
is now the tiny dash of you.

Your life obeys the rules of geometry:
line follows point,
wings bring symmetry.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

Summer life with Mary Lee means that the innocuous-looking centerpieces on the kitchen table -- one juice glass with sprigs of parsley in it and another with sprigs of dill -- are actually nurseries for three tiny black swallowtail caterpillars. I keep them close so I can monitor their progress...until their frass is visible on the table! I actually saw two of the three emerging from their eggs earlier this week. They are amazing. In only a couple of days, they have doubled in size, going from 2mm to 5mm! (Yes, MILLImeters. They are TEENY tiny little critters...for now.)

Laura Shovan has the Poetry Friday roundup this week. The roundup for July-December is filled, and I send apologies on behalf of Blogger if your comment didn't stick and you were assuming you had a spot. If you got shut out, contact me and we'll prioritize you for next time.