Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Poetry Friday Roundup is Here!

Gene Luen Yang was the National Ambassador of Young People's Literature way back in 2016, but his "Reading Without Walls Challenge" is as important as ever. He challenged readers to 
1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.

2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.

3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. This might be a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, a picture book, or a hybrid book.
I spent this morning Reading Without Walls while learning about the poet Marilyn Chin. She doesn't look like me or live like me, and I was not familiar with her poetry. I "read" in a format I don't normally "read" for fun: I watched an hour-long video! The Library of Congress "Life of a Poet" session featuring Marilyn Chin being interviewed by Ron Charles of the Washington Post is worth every minute. 

Marilyn Chin identifies as a activist poet, exploring the issues of the day as well as the intersection of Asian and American worlds through her roots in Hong Kong (she lived there until the age of 7) and Portland, Oregon. The themes/topics of language (loss of language, loss of culture, loss of ancestors), names, identity, culture, and feminism shine through as you watch the "Life of a Poet" session. Plus, she's witty, sarcastic, and quick to laugh!

Here are a couple of Marilyn Chin's poems you should know (if you don't already):

How I Got That Name
by Marilyn Chin

an essay on assimilation

I am Marilyn Mei Ling Chin 
Oh, how I love the resoluteness 
of that first person singular 
followed by that stalwart indicative 
of "be," without the uncertain i-n-g 
of "becoming." Of course, 
the name had been changed 
somewhere between Angel Island and the sea, 
when my father the paperson 
in the late 1950s 
obsessed with a bombshell blond 
transliterated "Mei Ling" to "Marilyn."

The Floral Apron
by Marilyn Chin

The woman wore a floral apron around her neck,
that woman from my mother’s village
with a sharp cleaver in her hand.
She said, “What shall we cook tonight?
Perhaps these six tiny squid
lined up so perfectly on the block?”

(read the rest at

In her career as a poet, Marilyn Chin has won just about every award, but the one that impresses me most is the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, which she was awarded in 2015. Am I the last person on the planet to have heard of this award? It is the national prize for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity. Why is this not the most celebrated book award in the nation? Why is there not a version for children's literature?

So...what inspired me to learn about Marilyn Chin today? NCTE is offering a webinar conversation with Marilyn Chin, in conjunction with the Library of Congress, and I get to be the member who facilitates this conversation! The event is open to both members and nonmembers of NCTE, so sign up and join us on June 11!

Now let's hear what you're thinking and learning about! Share your link in the comments and I'll round us up old-school!

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Stop over and wish Michelle Kogan a Happy Birthday!


Michelle has the Poems of Presence Wrap Up Celebration at Today's Little Ditty.

Molly shares another week of poems of presence, some paired with photos at Nix the Comfort Zone.

Linda's poems of presence have given her some "at-ease" time this month. Find a few recent poems at A Word Edgewise.

Christie, at Wondering and Wandering, rounds up her #poemsofpresence for the week.


The Poetry Sisters are looking back, and Tricia, at The Miss Rumphius Effect, has an EPIC look-back at a crown sonnet that didn't happen. Spoiler alert -- there's a happy ending to the story.

Sara, at Read Write Think, gave herself multiple throwback challenges with a new numeric poem to pair with an older alphabetic poem. The final result is a stunner with Big Truth in the conclusion.

Tanita, at [fiction, instead of lies], revisits the lai form from the Poetry Sisters’ 2017 challenge.

Poetry Princess Laura, at Poems for Teachers, found a poem inside one of her previous poems that sends positive vibes to her sister on a ventilator in ICU.

Liz, at Liz Garton Scanlon, wrote the pantoum she didn’t write in 2018.

Rebecca, at Rebecca Holmes, looks back to the moment she knew she'd be a scientist, but still didn't know she'd be the physicist she is today.


Ruth, at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town, shares Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again,” a poem that is as true today as it was when it was published in 1936.

Jone, at Deo Writer, finds her thoughts about the current news continuing to churn, even when she seeks solace in nature.

Jama, at Jama’s Alphabet Soup, has two poems and a gallery of portraits honoring our elderly.

Alan, at Poetry Pizazz, is on the same wavelength as Hubby – missing his coffee shop, but adapting/flourishing at home.

Joyce, at Musings, shares a poem by Emily Dickinson that reminds us we don’t need to be in a building to worship.

Janice, at Salt City Verse, speaks out against the death of George Floyd, but finds solace, optimism, and symbolism in her garden.

Catherine, at Reading to the Core, found the perfect poem to inspire her online learners.

MSheehan, at A Few Words, wrote an inspirational poem of personal conviction based on recent events.

Linda, at TeacherDance, took April’s challenge last week at Teaching Authors and wrote an In One Word poem that knocks it out of the ballpark.

Margaret, at Reflections on the Teche, also took April’s challenge and wrote an In One Word poem that takes shelter in an EMBRACE.


Liz, at Liz Steinglass, wrote from Marjory Maddox’s book INSIDE OUT.

Heidi, at my juicy little universe, was inspired by Billy Collins’ Master Class.

Linda, at Write Time, has a poem about the robins outside her window.

Amy LV, at The Poem Farm, has a delightful free verse poem and offers us the invitation, “to begin a poem with the lines, "If you need someone..."

Leigh Anne, at A Day in the Life, wrote about her mother’s struggle with early dementia.

Tim, at Yet There is Method, is in with a poem about intention and roots. 

Rose, at Imagine the Possibilities, captured (literally) a very sweet moment with a wren.

Bridget, at Wee Words for Wee Ones, has a puppy poem (and pictures), plus some more Wee-sources.

Karen, at Karen’s Got a Blog!, is enjoying her garden extra-much this year.

Amy, at Book Buzz, shares a poetic memory of her grandmother’s teacups.

Carol, at Beyond LiteracyLink, has a mini-gallery of woodside goodness for calming our spirits today.

Matt, at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, dusts off a post from seven years ago that feels as fresh as yesterday!

Sally, at Sally Murphy, is mourning the damage done to “her” beach after recent storms…but she’s also looking for a silver lining.

Buffy, at Buffy Silverman, intended to write a poem of NOW, but wound up with a beautiful poem of THEN.

Irene, at Live Your Poem, writes the truth in her newest ArtSpeak: RED poem.

Susan, at Soul Blossom Living, found inspiration for both art and poetry in the bunnies she encountered on the sidewalk.

Donna, at Mainely Write, checks in with a poem of struggle and hope.


Tabatha, at The Opposite of Indifference, shares a poem by the Australian poet Judith Wright that makes a very reasonable request of This Year.

Little Willow, at Slayground, shares a fun excerpt of a Marge Piercy poem.


  1. Mary Lee, thanks for sharing Marilyn Chin's poems and congrats on facilitating the NCTE webinar conversation. I also appreciate the 3 reading challenges you shared. I've been thinking a lot about how to structure my summer and my growth as a human and this helps! This week I'm sharing a few more #poemsofpresence poems.

  2. Hi Mary Lee. Thanks for hosting PF! What an interesting post- I love learning about new poets and how great that you are a facilitator! Congrats! I’m sharing a poem about my grandma’s teacups.

  3. Mary Lee, I agree that the Reading Without Walls Challenge is so important if we hope to work toward mutual understanding and acceptance. The closest I have come to meeting the three challenges lately is reading a MG novel titled The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Jacobson on Libby via my computer. The story featured multi-ethnic characters whose families had purchased fixer upper houses for $1 in an economically depressed former mill town. It's a great read! I'll try to work on this challenge. Thank you for the Marilyn Chin poems and the webinar heads up. This week I'm sharing an Emily Dickinson poem

  4. What an interesting post! Excited to hear about the upcoming Marilyn Chin webinar conversation. I'd only read a couple of her poems before so am glad to see the ones you shared (and the video you watched sounds interesting too). Thanks for mentioning Yang's Reading Without Walls challenge and for hosting this week!

    I'm honoring the elderly (esp. those in nursing homes) with two poems (Linda Crosfield and Samantha Reynolds) and a special birthday celebration:

    My link goes live at 6 a.m.

  5. Hi Mary Lee, I look forward to coming back tomorrow to read you post about Marilyn Chin. I'm in this week with a poem about the robins outside my window. Thank you for hosting!

  6. Hi Mary Lee! Thanks for the challenge and for hosting. I'm sharing a poem by Australian poet Judith Wright today:

  7. Wow! Thank you so much for this introduction. As a mom to children from China, I try to keep up with contemporary Asian greats...and I didn't "know" Marilyn Chin. I so enjoyed 'How I Got That Name.' Wow. You always make me think and I always learn from you. Thank you for that too! And, of course, thank you for hosting the round up this week.

    1. And, of course I forgot to leave my link! I'm sharing some #poemsofpresence from this month at A Word Edgewise:

  8. I remember that cool challenge! Absolutely great idea. Here's my post for this week. Thanks for hosting!

  9. I'm in with a found poem from inside one of my own poems: I've been doing a good job of #1 and #2--not so much on #3. "How I Got That Name" -- wow. Thanks for hosting and nudging.

  10. Mary Lee, thank you for hosting PF tonight with a bundle package of poetry goodness. I am intrigued with Marilyn Chin's prowess and poetry. I laughed about how her name came to be and remembered immigrant stories of names from my Nonnie's past. I would like to join you at NCTE so let me see how my week goes. I am also interested in the challenge and most probably will start with Chin's video.

    1. I also forgot my own link: another mini-meditation for my upcoming #NatureNurtures2020 Gallery. This time it is centering on the woods:

  11. Thanks for sharing Marilyn's poetry, Mary Lee - I've been learning more about her since I've been involved with Poetry Out Loud, as she has been a national judge for the organization. Today I received some disappointing news about an upcoming picture book, so I've dusted off one of my favorite poems to share - one which I didn't plan to write for Jane Yolen, it just sort of happened that way!

  12. I've read broadly for a long time and love Gene Luen Yang's books and challenge. Wishing for his"Hoops" soon. Considering this week's tragic news, it seems more important than ever, Mary Lee. Thanks for the poems by Marilyn Chin, new to me, both touching. Ah, those details! I'm sharing a poem that I wrote for April Wayland's challenge last week, a poem from a word: Thanks for the great post and for hosting!

  13. Oh Mary Lee, what an exciting opportunity! I look forward to tuning in to your conversation with Marilyn Chin, and hopefully hearing more of her engaging and enlightening poetry. Today is the end-of-month #PoemsofPresence wrap-up celebration at Today's Little Ditty. It's a pretty phenomenal collection, if you ask me.

  14. Thanks for hosting Mary Lee and for introducing me to marilyn's work. Amazing. My post today is about my beach - which has been damaged by a storm.

  15. Mary Lee, your journey into the unknown has unearthed treasure and reading pleasure. It's often the case when we are brave and bold and willing to explore new frontiers. More power to you. Thank you also for hosting.
    My post today is centred on coffee in Covid times, a poem by John Asgard and how part of my writing process has been reconsidered as a result.

  16. I adore conversations with and about creative people, so I'm in awe that you get to do this via The Library of Congress (wow) and in conjunction with the wonderful Marilyn Chin. You will rock it, I know! The Poetry Sisters are exploring hindsight this Poetry Friday by looking back at old poems in new ways. I intended to write a numerically themed light poem to go with a previous alphabetically themed one, but it turned out math goes deeper than I thought... especially now. Here's my link:

  17. I'm definitely going to sign up for the NCTE webinar--looking forward to hearing your conversation with Marilyn Chin! I intended to write and share a poem of presence, but somehow wandered back in time:

  18. Wow, Mary Lee! What an opportunity. And interestingly, I just finished reading Molokai, which is about the leper colony that was on Molokai for many years. A good read. Thanks for hosting....Find my post at:

  19. Sounds like a fabulous webinar and I know you will be amazing.
    Like my Poetry Sisters, I'm looking back on an old poem and sharing a bit of our history (may my sisters forgive me for this).

    Thanks for hosting!

  20. Thank you for the introduction to Marilyn Chin. I want to read and hear more of her work and will sign up for the NCTE seminar. As per Gene Luen Yang's advice, I recently read On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. So good.
    Also thank you for hosting Poetry Friday, Mary Lee. My post today has more Wee-Sources: Poetry Pep Up, Puppies, and more! Here's the link:

  21. I'm very taken by Marilyn Chin–she reeled me right into her first poem and wouldn't let go. I also like how she wove the beginning of "The Floral Apron" back into the end. Thanks for sharing her with us, the video, info about the webinar with her, and how exciting that you're facilitating the conversation!

    I'm offering a lighter fair… A virtual Birthday Bash for myself, accompanied with poems and cards from my Etsy Shop:

  22. Thank you, Mary Lee, for introducing me to Marilyn Chin and the information about the Library of Congress event. I've posted an etheree on Salt City Verse. Thank you for hosting!

  23. Thank you for hosting today, Mary Lee! I will be back later to savor your post, but will say that I finished Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park this week and LOVED it! It is definitely "a book without walls."
    Today, I'm sharing "How to walk around the block" by Michael Salinger.

  24. I'm getting over lots of walls by reading the poems that come out of Split This Rock, a poetry organization here in DC, and my last two books have given me new experiences to consider: SUCH A FUN AGE and THERE THERE. Thanks for the encouragement and well-done on navigating the new Blogger! I'm sharing my Billy Collins-inspired poem today.

  25. Hi Mary Lee, thanks for hosting and for introducing me to a new poet and a new award. How cool that you get to facilitate the conversation with her. I love reading books by and about people unlike me. Today I'm sharing a poem I wrote in response to one of Marjorie Maddox's wonderful exercises in Inside Out Poems about Writing and Reading Poems.

  26. Thanks for introducing me to a new poet, Mary Lee. Here's my post for today's Poetry Friday.

  27. Thank you so much for reintroducing me to Marilyn Chin and her poetry! Thank you, as well, for hosting today--I appreciate it! Here's my post for today, published on Yet There is Method:

  28. Thank you, ML, for highlighting Marilyn Chin's important work and for sharing about this upcoming chat. I just ordered a book in response to the challenge.

    Over at The Poem Farm, I have a free verse poem and invitation to begin a poem with the lines, "If you need someone..."

    Thank you for hosting and for your way of leading in the world. xx

  29. I look forward to exploring Marilyn Chin's writing. Thank you for introducing us and round things up this week, especially going at it old-school!

    I am sharing some thoughts on mymother, memory loss, and the blank page.

  30. Wow, a LOT of good links and information. Marilyn Chin is something. Thanks for reminding me this series exists and for hosting today. I'm in with a lai, which is still a form I'm uneasy about, but it was worth revisiting.

  31. Thank you for sharing all of this. I know I need to read more, listen more, and so more. Here's my self call to do more:

  32. Oh, Mary Lee. This post was a bit of a counterbalance to so much injustice -- it was what I needed today. Thank you.

    I'm in with a pantoum, today -- a new take on an old photo.

    Thanks for sharing, and happy weekend.

  33. Thank you for introducing me to Marilyn Chin. I love learning and reading about poets who are not like me.
    I took April's challenge from last week and tried an "In One Word" poem using my One Little Word.

  34. Thanks for hosting, Mary Lee, and for introducing us to the work of Marilyn Chin! I'm looking forward to your convo! This week I have a round-up of my #poemsofpresence inspired by moments in and around my garden and farmer's porch. -- Christie @

  35. Dear Mary Lee - thank you for this invitation to learn more about Marilyn Chin and her work. You're right - that award should be more widely known! I'm late to the party, but I do have a new ArtSpeak: RED poem to share. Thank you for hosting. xo

  36. Thanks for always introducing new poets to our attention! So much to learn still, so many to meet. My link today. Regardless of the pandemic, life has been complex, complicated and often clouded.

  37. Sorry to be so late today. Here's my contribution.

    Thanks for the old-school roundup. I love that.

  38. Am late. Been churning over the events of this week.

  39. Thanks for sharing the poetry of Marilyn Chin--I'm glad to meet her! And thanks for hosting, too. This week, I wrote a silly little poem about a bunnies' tea party inspired by the 3 bunnies sitting on the sidewalk outside my house.

  40. Mary Lee, thanks for introducing me to Marilyn Chin today, and how marvelous that you will be the facilitator for the webinar with her!

    Love the old school round-up, too. :)

  41. Mary Lee,
    I hope I can be on that webinar. Putting on my calendar. We need to hear, know, understand, support, admire, celebrate, champion, respect, honor and do our part to effect the change from the voices of those we don't see or know. Thank you for introducing me to Marilyn Mei Ling Chin. I do like your round-up but it appears it took you a lot of time to create it so thank you. Are you retiring? I do not know how I could have managed to teach during the pandemic ie online (not a tech genius here) and now....there is so much to teach.
    Janet F.


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