Poetry Friday: Poetry Camp and Cynthia Grady


Thank you Catherine at Reading to the Core for hosting Poetry Friday.

One week (or six sleeps as I tell my kinders) until I go to Poetry Camp!  I can hardly wait.  This is the brain child of Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell.  It’s happening at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA.

There are so many people I have connected with online, through the Progressive Poem, poetry prompts, inclusion of my poem in a Poetry Friday Anthology, and poetry swaps and next Friday, I get to meet them.  This is better than Christmas.

So in honor of the upcoming camp, I am featuring a poem from Cynthia Grady’s book, I Lay My Stitches Down; Poems of American Slavery.  It’s illustrated by Michele Wood.  The poems and illustrations compliment each other well.  It’s a must see book.

Cynthia explains that the poems are “unrhymed verse, ten lines of ten syllables to mimic the square shape of the quilt block.”  Shes included three references in the poems: a biblical or spiritual reference, a musical reference, and a sewing or fiber reference.

Each poem is named for a traditional quilt block. It was difficult to select which poem to share.



The little time we have to call our own
be filled with gardening, feeding chickens
mending clothes, and music making: shaking
stones in the basket, clapping hands, stomping
feet. Sometimes a banjo and fiddle be
played, or hollowed-out tree drum and washboard.
But lo, the singing! Piecing shouts here to
Bible stories there, interweaving  tunes
and hollers, singing up a frenzy of
song!  Be a kaleidoscope of sound: Joy.

(use with permission by Cynthia Grady)

With author’s and illustrator’s notes at the end and a list of resources, this is a poetry books that you can lose yourself in for hours.

I am thrilled to be meeting Cynthia next week at Poetry Camp.

Happy Friday.

Happy Poetry.


12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Poetry Camp and Cynthia Grady

  1. I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN looks & with this introduction, reads, like a multi-layered must-have for me. Appreciations for my introduction to Cynthia Grady. It is on the To Read list.

  2. It sounds like my time last week, just awesome to meet so many that we’ve “spoken with” over the net. Have a marvelous time! “The little time we have to call our own
    be filled with. . .” The images after this opening are wonderful, like a thankfulness for the community had in spite of the hard lives. I love this book, Jone!

  3. Cynthia’s book is a gem. We selected it for the Notable Books for a Global Society list the first year that I served on that committee (before I had met Cynthia): http://clrsig.org/pdfs/NBGS_list_2013rev.pdf.

    Re Poetry Camp: WWU’s PoetryCHaT Center has worked SO hard to make this happen on a grand scale. And they are doing pretty neat things in addition to this camp, such as curating quite a poetry collection. (Jane the Raincity Librarian: visit PoetryCHaT the next time you visit Bellingham!) https://library.wwu.edu/poetrychat/collections

  4. Coming here after Jama’s post (reviewing Jorge Arguleta’s WE ARE LIKE THE CLOUDS), it’s interesting to see the parallels in the role music plays to both of these cultures. The power of song, transcending all. Cynthia captures that so beautifully here. Happy poetry camping to you both!

Comments are closed.