Poetry Friday: Long Lost Treasures

Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading has all the poetry goodness of the world. This week many in the Poetry Friday Literasphere are celebrating our new Young People’s Poet Laureate, Naomi Shihab Nye.

Today you can read about Naomi Shihab Nye at Deowriter.

I’ve been organizing my writing room and that means finding some long lost treasures from former students.


Well, you can see how long ago this poem is, look at that printing! Lauren was either in 5th or 6th grade.

Ocean

People fly kites across
the sand
Kids play,
Shells wash up on the beach,
the blue and green water makes
crashing waves!
Sometimes things
get eaten and are never found,
fish jump with the whales
Under
The
Summer
Sun.

Lauren M, 5th or 6th grade

Land of the Elephants

Upon my bed, I dream of 8,000 pound elephants looking at me,
motioning me to follow them.
We walk for hours.
I rest curled up beside them all
under the starry night.
Wakening from deep sleep, I find myself on an elephant’s back.
We get to the edge of Africa.
everyone is as still as night,
The elephants blow their outstanding trunks;
I listen to its sweetness.
Magically a cloud falls from the heavenly sky.
My elephant puts me on this fluffy cloud
the cloud whips me through the air with ease
I find myself at a golden gate with elephants this land full of animals
they changed my clothes into a white gown
I lay on a bed of clouds looking Dow to my city.
Then I found myself on my bed surrounded by elephants.

Tanisha M, 5th grade

Back during this time, when testing wasn’t a priority and there weren’t blogs for posting student work, I coordinated a monthly First Friday for students to read a page from their stories or poems. We had such great fun.

I am lucky to have had these two wonderful girls who have grown into fabulous adults with careers and families.

WINNER, WINNER…

Dani at Doing the Work That Matters won a copy of A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE. Email me at macrush53 at yahoo dot com so I can get your address.

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Poetry Friday: An Interview with Janet Wong

Today, Dani at Doing the Work That Matters is bringing us all things poetry at the round up.

And here at Check It Out, I am thrilled to be interviewing Janet Wong about A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE. I have had such great success using this book as a mentor text during my recent time in classrooms. Food and family are such inspiring topics. Kids can relate to food and have strong emotions around food. It was such a delight to see them write their poems.

JRM: How did it come to be that you were able to re-issue an updated edition of A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE?

JW: A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED was published originally by McElderry Books (part of Simon & Schuster) in 1996. When it went out of print in 2006, the rights reverted to me. Right away I made a simple paperback reprint of the original book through BookSurge/CreateSpace, but last year I decided that I really wanted to tell the stories behind the poems and expand the scope of the book to make it more useful in a classroom. Sylvia Vardell and I create books through Pomelo Books (PomeloBooks.com), but our Poetry Friday books are somewhat different in flavor from this book, so I published this book through my YUZU imprint.

JRM:I love the backstory from the poem, “A Suitcase of Seaweed”.  I can just picture the anticipation of presents from grandmother and then the disappointed to find food instead.  What prompted you to write the backstory of many of these poems?

JW: I speak to children at many school visits each year, and I find that putting a poem in a “sandwich” of backstory and questions is a fun and effective technique. It’s not something I’d ever done in writing before this book, but I think it worked really well to give the established text a whole new twist.

JRM:Were there notes to look back on in order to write the new material, the back story?

JW: I think I might have notes and multiple drafts somewhere in a box in my garage, but I relied on memory for the backstories here.

JRM:I’m really questioning how it is that I have never tried kimchi.  I love cabbage, chili peppers, and garlic. What do you eat kimchi with or is it eaten alone?

JW: If you are a traditional Korean person, you eat kimchi with everything—and alone, too! Kimchi and several other little dishes of mung bean sprouts, boiled spinach, soy-soaked chili peppers, little fish, shredded squid, black beans, potato salad, etc.—“banchan” or “panchan”—will appear at every dinner (and often at lunch and breakfast), along with rice.

JRM:Were you at all tempted to revise the poems besides adding the new text boxes?  Were there poems that didn’t make the book?

JW: Yes, I was tempted to revise—but decided that it was best to leave the poems alone. All of the poems made the book.

JRM: In the poem, “Sisters”, you explain that the poem is really about your mother.  Did you ever let your mom know about the poem?

JW: No, I never told my mom that she was my sister in one of my books. She used to love it, though, when people would mistake us for sisters, especially after I turned fifty and my hair started turning gray. One stranger even told her that I looked like her OLDER sister! She really loved hearing that.

JRM:What do you hope readers will take away from A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE?

JW: I hope that readers will feel inspired to write about their own family memories—and snippets of memories. Poems are perfect for capturing little memories—an image, a taste, a funny saying.

JRM:Your “Advice for Writers” is spot on.  Especially the starting small and making the time to write. I have been thinking a lot about organizing poems.  Do you categorize your poems as you write so they’re easy to locate? What tips might you have?

JW: I wish I were organized enough to categorize my poems as I write! But one thing that I feel—and I think it’s a healthy thing—is that it’s OK to write something and do nothing with it. It’s OK if it gets lost. It’s OK if no one ever sees it. But if a person wants to share, and have other people read and talk about her work, then she shouldn’t just wait for a traditional publisher to say yes. Go ahead and use KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or another company (Ingram Spark, Lulu, Blurb, etc.) to get it out in the world. Work like crazy on a book, get it done, and spread the word!

JRM:Yes, I agree! I’ve used KPD and Blurb for a couple of photo and poetry books. What is one food that all readers who read A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED AND MORE should run out and try?

JW: Seaweed, of course! It’s funny that my grandmother needed to bring seaweed in her suitcase so that my mother could have it, and yet now you can buy it even at Walmart and Costco.

JRM:How does one choose a good restaurant for Asian food?

JW: Word-of-mouth and Yelp! Readers: if you need a recommendation for an Asian restaurant, just email me with your city name. I’m pretty fanatic about food (especially Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food) very good at sifting through Yelp reviews, and I also have tried a lot of restaurants (particularly in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Central Jersey, and Philadelphia). And if you HAVE a recommendation for an Asian restaurant that you love, let me know! (janet@janetwong.com)

Students wanted to know: What is your favorite food?

JW: Japanese: sushi (sweet shrimp, albacore), ramen (fresh extra firm noodles and broth cooked at least 24 hours); Chinese: dim sum (ha gow – shrimp dumplings), wonton noodle soup (shrimp and pork wontons with Hong Kong style thin but chewy egg noodles), soup dumplings, ma la (spicy tingling) beef tendon; Korean: soon dae (blood sausage); Mexican: cochinita pibil tacos (very soft stewed pork tacos with small corn tortillas), empanadas with potato; Italian: gnocchi (potato dumplings); Swedish: potato pancakes; Danish: potato chips (I had the BEST potato chips ever in Iceland, a Danish brand called Kim) . . . I think the better question is: what foods don’t I like? (Answer: I’m trying to stay away from processed foods that contain ingredients I can’t pronounce.)

I love this book SO much that I have an extra copy to give away this week. Please leave a comment and I will let the winner know next Friday.

Want to read some very fun food poems? Visit these posts:

Friday, May 17, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Poetry Friday: Two Verse Novels You Should Read and Announcements

Hooray it’s Poetry Friday. I’m a bit late today. But super excited to head over to to Linda at TeacherDance. Thanks, Linda.

On February 14, 2019, the CYBILS Awards announced Jason Reynolds’ LONG WAY DOWN as the poetry winner. I had the pleasure of sitting on the Poetry Round Two, something I haven’t done in a long time. The seven finalists were spectacular and it was difficult to select the winner.

If you have read the CYBILS Poetry winner and need a new read, please consider the two other verse novels which were finalists.

THE POET X
by Elizabeth Acevedo
HarperTeen; 1st Edition edition
March 6, 2018
978-0062662804

I had the pleasure to listen to the audio book.  The narrator pulled me into Xiomara’s life from the very first track.  Xiomara’s teenage life with strict parents and her coming of age made me reflect on my own teen years.  Her poetry book, her brother, and her life in the Bronx is vivid and rich. You can’t help but to fall in love with this book.  There were times when I sat in my car in the garage to hear how the chapter was going to end. Yay for poetry and the power it has on lives.

MARY’s MONSTER: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
by Lita Judge
Roaring Brook Press
January 30, 2018
978-1626725003

I have a confession.  I think the only Frankenstein book I’ve read was one adapted for early readers.  I think this is the year to correct that after reading Mary’s Monster. Lita

Judge created an amazing Gothic story about the creator/writer of this British classic.  I was drawn into the story of Mary’s life and so unaware of her hard life. The art in the book was incredible.  The darkness of the content is sure to give teens a book that they can’t put down. I read it in one sitting, or rather staying up way beyond my bedtime to finish.

I also really enjoyed the back matter that Judge put in the end of the book.

Announcement Time

March is an exciting month with a fantastic blog tour featuring Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

Return on Thursday, March 14 for an early Poetry Friday and an interview with Laura.

 

3/11               Mile High Reading

3/12               Reflections on the Teche

3/13               A Year of Reading

3/14               Check It Out

3/15               Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

3/17               Great Kid Books

3/18               Simply 7 Interview

3/19               My Juicy Little Universe

3/20               Live Your Poem

3/21               Reading to the Core

3/22               KidLit Frenzy

                        Beyond LiteracyLink

And on the heels of Laura’s new book, I can announce that GAIL ALDOUS won the copy of

Gail, please email me your snail mail address book.

Poetry Friday: An Interview with Ellen Hopkins

Thanks to Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for hosting this amazing community of poetry lovers.

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I am a long time fan and reader of Ellen Hopkins. Her book, CRANK, introduced me to novels in verse. It made me revise my WIP from prose to verse.

My oldest grand girl has been reading her since sixth grade. This year I purchased her latest, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE, to give oldest. I had to read (it was a CYBILS nomination after all). It’s a must read.

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Ellen Hopkins graciously answered the followings interview questions for me:

JRM: When and how did you get starting writing?


EH: I’ve been writing ever since I learned how. Poetry was my first love, but also short stories, essays, nonfiction, journalism. It’s a talent. It’s a passion.

JRM: What process do you use when writing in more than one voice?  Do you write the different voices as the story unfolds or each separately or a combo?

EH: I have to write chronologically, so I write each voice in succession. Often those voices connect somewhere, somehow, so it keeps everything in order in my mind, if nothing else.

JRM: If we could hear the actual voice of Violence, how would it sound? Old? Young? Or would it change?  What kind of picture did you have in your head as how Violence would look as a character?

EH: The call to violence is an ancient one, so for me the voice of Violence is ancient. Sometimes soft, sometimes loud. I picture Violence as a crone, but maybe one who can make herself beautiful if the need arises.

JRM: What kind of research did you do for this book?  Did you talk with people who’ve had first hand experience with Violence? Were you able to ask people the question of why pull a trigger?

EH: I mostly interviewed victims of gun violence… that, of course, includes the families of victims. I can tell you once someone crosses that line it changes lives forever. I was also raised in a household that had guns. My father hunted and also collected/traded them, so there has never been an aura of curiosity or inexperience with weapons surrounding me. On two occasions, as a child I witnessed my “responsible” gun-owning father (alcohol involved) put a loaded gun to my mom’s chest. She talked him down, but the fear was incredible.

Blending immigration, racism, violence and gun control seemed like a such tremendous task to weave together into one story.  Were there points when you needed to step away from the manuscript to allow it to percolate?

Stepping away from the manuscript was mostly for research. The percolation is in the pre-write for me. I generally have a real relationship with my characters before I sit down to write, especially with multiple viewpoints in the story.

JRM: How did you counter balance these hard themes when you were in the middle of writing? I wonder if it energized you or drained to write this book and how you balanced that out.

EH: Honestly, it depended on the day and what was going on, both in my life and in the world. There were several mass shootings in the news, which made it more difficult to write but also much more important. Without understanding the WHYS of gun violence we can’t work to mitigate it. Rarely do I have the luxury of stepping away from a writing project too long, by the way.

JRM: Would you like to share what’s next for you in the writing world?

EH: The next YA, which releases in October, is SANCTUARY HIGHWAY, a politically charged near-future look at where this country could end up if it keeps moving in the direction it has been. After that, I’m hoping to finish a middle grade novel about how a troubled kid who changes the lives of his new family negatively—-but much more positively.

**********************************************************************************

Stay tuned! In fourteen days, the CYBILs Awards will be announced.

Poetry Friday: Sneak Peak at Soaring Earth by Margarita Engle

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Thank you Carol W. at Carol’s Corner for hosting today’s Poetry Friday. A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have Margarita Engle send me an ARC of SOARING EARTH. This is the companion memoir to ENCHANTED AIR.

Now if you haven’t read ENCHANTED AIR yet, stop by your local library and borrow it. It was nominated for a CYBILs Poetry Award in 2015.

SOARING EARTH continues as Engle begins high school just as the social issues: Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, environmental concerns are heating up. In Engle’s lyrical language, she paints a landscape of what it’s like for a teen during the late 60’s.

Despite not being allow to travel to Cuba (thanks to the revolution there), Margarita finds other way to spread her wings through friends, writing and education.

Readers of both books are in for a treat of rich and delicious language. It’s sure to make your spirit soar.

Available in the world in February. Give youself the Valentine of a book and purchase a copy or make sure your local library has it in their collection.

Title: SOARING EARTH
Author: Margarita Engle
Illustrator:
Published: Available, February 2019
Pages: 192
Reading Level: 7th gr and beyond
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9781534429536
Source: ARC sent to me by the author

The ARC I have is available for the next reader. If you’d like to read it and share the love, leave a comment and I’ll draw a name next week.

Poetry Friday: Voices in the Air by Naomi Shihab Nye

IMG_1077Thanks to Irene at Live Your Poem for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

This week, I want to show case the title I nominated for the CYBILS Poetry Awaed:  VOICES IN THE AIR, POEMS FOR LISTENERS by Naomi Shihab Nye.  If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I consider her a mentor.  Last April, I attended the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture given by Naomi Shihab Nye.   I, of course, bought her latest book.

What if we were the listeners of all the voices in the air? Those who came before us or those we have yet to meet? What if we took the time to listen? What would we notice?

VOICES is divided into three sections: Messages, Voices in the Air, and More Worlds.

Nye begins with an introduction, a pondering of making sense of the strange world we currently reside in with a quote by Galway Kinnell, “To me, poetry is someone standing up to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.”

She reflects on a conversation student at the Yokohama International School in Japan. She said listening and writing poetry give us more yutori– a place to stand back to contemplate what we are living and experiencing…more spaciousness in being and more room to listen. I love this!

This ninety-five poem collection is contemplative and we should listen to one another read these poems aloud. Many of the poems were written for specific people. At the end of the book, Nye includes Biographical Notes.

We should take the time to slow down and listen.

Some of my favorite poems in this collection include: “Twilight”, “Train Across Texas”, and “Where do Poets Find Images, and For the Birds”.

Here’s the first few lines of perhaps my favorite (I’m not sure I can really choose)

Reserved for Poets
(Signs on first rows of chairs at poetry festival. La Conner, Washington)

Sunsets.

Trouble.

Full moons.

No really–they’re everybody’s.

Nothing is reserved.

I highly encourage to find this book, read it, and listen.

Title: VOICES IN THE AIR, POEMS FOR LISTENERS
Author: Naomi Shihab Nye
Illustrator:
Published: 2018
Pages: 190
Reading Level: YA
Publisher: Greenwillow
ISBN: 978-0-06-269184-2
Source: Personal purchase

Poetry Friday: H IS FOR HAIKU Book Talk

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Thanks to Linda B. at TeacherDance who is hosting Poetry Friday today. It’s going to be great.

This week, I’m starting a new chapter on this blog. The last few years, the blog has focused more on student work and less on book reviews/talks/ recommendations. Over the last month, I’ve been mulling over what to do with this blog. Certainly, when the opportunity presents itself to showcase student work, I will.

So I’ve decided to feature poetry books on this blog for Poetry Friday.

I am please to share with you H IS FOR HAIKU A TREASURY OF HAIKU FROM A TO Z by Sydell Rosenberg today. Rosenberg was a chartered member of the Haiku Society of America (HSA). She was a public school teacher and used her experiences as a springboard for haiku.

In Amy Losak’s introduction of her mom’s book, she speaks of the small moments that haiku makes big. This is what I love. It’s the very reason I write haiku and teach students about the form. In a society where the small moments can be missed, slowing down for discovery is so necessary.

H IS FOR HAIKU begins with Rosenberg’s definition. My favorite part of her explanation? “Haiku can’t be gimmicked; it can’t be shammed. If it is slicked into cuteness, haiku losses what it has to give.”

Here are a few examples as page spreads.

adventures over
the cat sits in the fur ring
of his tail and dreams

first library card
and a promise to read all
authors A to Z

queuing for ice cream
sweat-sprinkled office workers
on Queens Boulevard

Whether you are a first grader practicing a recorder or Xavier at the beauty parlor or seeing children with umbrellas as mushrooms, each haiku is a fresh small moment that still resonates today. It’s difficult to believe that the original haiku were written long before the publishing of the book. Rosenberg’s word choice is impeccable and rich.

Sawsan Chalabi’s illustrations are a bright complement to the text. Did you know she was responsible for the lettering of the haiku? To me it adds to the structure of the book. I’m not sure the book would work as well had the lettering been a standard font and size.

I would recommend getting this book if you need a mentor text in haiku. Losak addresses the English interpretation of haiku as being the 5-7-5 structure while explaining that many writers (including her mom) aren’t so strict about the syllable count. I think this is important when teaching young writers. I’ve been told that rules were created to be broken and the hard fast syllable structure should be broken when appropriate.

H is FOR HAIKU is nominated for the CYBILS Award in Poetry.

Title: H IS FOR HAIKU
Author: Sydell Rosenburg
Illustrator: Sawsan Chalabi
Published: 2018
Pages: unpaged
Reading Level: 3rd grade and up
Publisher: Penny Candy Books
ISBN: 978-0-9987999-7-1
Source: Personal purchase