Poetry Friday: RIP, Mary Oliver


Thank you to Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

I don’t know about you, but my heart was saddened to hear the news of Mary Oliver’s passing today.

One of my treasured gifts last June was FELICITY by Mary Oliver. A recorded interview about the book can be founded HERE.

Besides the natural world that she has explored so often, in FELICITY Oliver explores the mysteries of the heart.

There are so many lines to consider in this book:

“I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs.” (The World I Live In)

“All the important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.

To understand many things you must reach out
of your condition.” (Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way)

“Do you bow your head when you pray or do you look
up at the blue space?

…Rumi said, “There is no proof of the soul.
But isn’t the return of spring and how it
springs up in our hearts a pretty good hint?” (Whistling Swans)

And finally this:

Humility

Poems arrive ready to begin.
Poets are only the transportation.

Thank you, Mary Oliver, for transporting poems to the world all these years. You will be missed. Your voice will remain.

Advertisements

Poetry Friday: Summer Swaps

IMG_1077Thank you Tara for hosting Poetry Friday at A Teaching Life today.

It’s summer and thanks to Tabatha Yeatts, I get write and send poems out to participants during the summer.  I also receive little packages of poems.

Last week or so I received a joy bundle from Joy.  Not only did it have this fun poem(and words to live by), but a cool little surfboard for my mobile (how did she know), a letter, one of her grownup poems and an envelope with words to create my own poem.  Thank you, Joy.

20160804_211626-2.jpg

This week, I was blessed with this treasure tote bag from Donna in Maine.  The photo is mine and she wrote a poem to go with it.  I am using this tote tomorrow to deliver four photos to the Clackamas County Fair.  Thanks, Donna.

20160804_210012

This supports our community of writers so much.  It’s so fun to create.  I have two more to send out before the end of summer.

Happy Friday.

Happy Poetry

Poetry Friday: Congratulations, Margaret Simon

IMG_1077.JPG

This weekend, many of my online poet friends are gathered at the annual NCTE conference. Some year, I’m going to get there to hang out with my people.

This year one of those friends is receiving the Donald H. Graves Award. What an accomplishment. So deserved.

I love reading her blog, Reflections on the Teche. It’s rich with student poems, her poems, and celebrations.

Margaret was in Washington last summer. I love the first line of this poem. Clouds do keep you guessing in this part of the country.

Deception Pass, Whidbey Island, July, 2014

The clouds always keep us guessing,
so you have to know the tides.

Deception is easy, looking only
at the horizon line. Sometimes masked as a cloud,

the snow-topped mountain in the distance
deceives us, too.

The rocky beach becomes my foot hold,
a path of colorful stones washed smooth

by the constant lapping of the water.
I close my eyes to the salty air, listen

to the hum-swish of waves crashing the shore,
hear in them the possibility of danger.

Guided by the presence of the moon,
the sea gives and takes.

In the grit on my tongue, I can taste
the unleavened bread of sacrifice.

Be still and know is all I must do.
Marvel at the wonders of rock and air and sea.

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Thank you, Margaret, for all that you do for students and the poetry community.
Poetry Friday is hosted by Becky at Tapestry of Wordsa.

Happy Friday.
Happy Poetry.

Poetry Friday: From Dead Poet’s Society

20140729-185933.jpg Today Heidi is hosting Poetry Round-up at My Juicy Little Universe. I am saddened by the passing of Robin Williams as have many.  Just a few weeks ago, I re-watched Dead Poet’s Society…And so today in his memory I share O Me! O Life! (From The Poetry Foundation)

O Me! O Life!

BY WALT WHITMAN

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
                                       Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
This poem is even more haunting with his passing.  And the movie, timeless.
Thankful for the Poetry Friday community where we may all contribute a verse.
Happy Friday.
Happy Poetry.

Poetry Friday: “Sound Waves” by Amy VanDerwater

20140313-194956.jpg
On Wednesday, Amy stopped by to have tea and talk about her award winning book, FOREST HAS A SONG. Today she’s backed with a poem published in the POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY for SCIENCE.
Listen to Amy read her poem:

Sound Waves

If you have ever seen the ocean
throwing cold waves from her hand
pulling shells from mighty depths
tossing each upon wet sand,
you can understand how sound waves
move like water through dry air.
One-by-one, vibrations follow
pressing sounds from here-to-there.
Sounds can pass through liquids.
Through gases. Solids too.
But sounds waves moving through the air
are sound waves meant for you.
Violin or thunderstorm —
each will reach your waiting ear
to play upon a tiny drum.
This is how you hear.

© Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Poetry Friday is held at Rogue Anthropologist. Thanks, Kara.

Happy Friday.
Happy Poetry.

In Conversation With Amy VanDerwater

20140311-192110.jpg
Today I have Amy VanDerwater, author of FOREST HAS A SONG: POEMS. Her book was recently selected as the winner of the 2013 CYBILS Award for Poetry.
I first interviewed Amy at Check It Out in December 2102

And this just in: Amy informed me that FOREST HAS A SONG just won 2014 Golden Kite Honor Book Award for Picture Book Text that FOREST from SCBWI.

Imagine Amy and me sitting in some cozy chairs, drinking tea, and nibbling on cookies.

Jone: Amy, congratulations on winning the CYBILS’ Award for Poetry. How did you find out?

AMY: Thank you, I was truly surprised, and it was fun to awaken to Mark holding the laptop at the bedside at 5:30am.

Jone: Well, I wonder if we could have a conversation about the process regarding FOREST HAS A SONG? The idea that a poetry book had an arc or a “spine” was discussed during the CYBILS’ deliberations in both rounds. It’s also been discussed among my poetry friends. So how did you decide the arc or the “spine” of the poems for FOREST HAS A SONG?

AMY: I wrote to Marcia Leonard at HMH about your FOREST arc question because I did not determine the order of the poems at all.  I thought that Robbin Gourley, the illustrator, had done so, but she referred me to Marcia. She told me, “Marcia Leonard decided the order after my first attempt. And she was right about everything and got the project on track. She would probably love to share her thinking. I remember she said she spread everything out on her table (my sketches, etc.) and ordered the poems which in the end felt exactly right, very organic.”

Jone: Okay, so did any poems change their form?

Amy: Below you can see two draft  versions of “Farewell”, the last poem in the book, from earliest and then newer and then newer….  A notebook keeper, I still have a soft spot for this first version though it does not give FOREST the voice that the final version does.

Original Draft:
Secrets

Reading my notebook
I think of them all —

Woodpecker poet

Smoke-blowing ball

Tiniest tree frog
trying to woo

A wintergreen leaf

Her silky shoe

One spider spinning
shimmering floss

Mysterious bones

Chickadee

Moss

Forest holds secrets
wild
lovely
small.

Reading my notebook
I think of them all.

Revised Last Draft:

Forest Breathes
Forest breathes
a spicy breeze.
It blows
into my home.
I find a path
of pinecones.
Between tall trees
I roam.
On narrow trails
I silent step.
I go
I don’t know where
through
light brown
dark brown
every brown
on airy earth
in earthy air.

Jone: The transformation of the final poem is incredible.  I felt I was reading the list of secrets of the forest in your notebook.  And then in a process of letting go, the second poem reminds me of a flash draft of the essence of the poem, what you most want to remember.  And then finally you seem ready to say “farewell”   and the essentials returned. So lovely.
What else do you remember about the process of writing this book?

Amy: Sometimes I fear that I am not a very thoughtful writer.  I cannot remember too much about process or why I did things a certain way.  It seems at times that a word is just off or a line must be a particular way, and I don’t even feel that it is me making the decision.  The poem decides.  This  might sound strange, but it feels very true to me.

This is a book about family memories: memories of  my childhood camping days, our family’s hikes behind the house, and our trips to my husband’s family camp in the Adirondacks.  I’ve said before that this book is a sort of love letter to Mark, who carefully observes each wild creature we see or hear.  When I flip through the pages of FOREST now, I can be many places, in many times, at once.

The poems are short, perhaps because I have a short attention span.  But I like being right there in the center of just a few words, evening them out again and again, saying them out loud until all of the extras are gone.  Sometimes I miss one or two extra words, and they can drive me crazy!

Hmm…it is fun to think about something I have not thought about in a long time.  Usually when I write, I simply move on to the next project-voice in my head.  (Keeps the insecurities away!)

Jone: Any word from Marcia?

Amy: Yes, here are words from Marcia:
“As I studied the manuscript, I was struck by the richness of the images and the fluidity of the language, but I was concerned that that the book not be simply a collection of disparate pieces.  When I consider any project, I always ask myself: What will distinguish this book from others that cover the same subject? What is the unexpected element that will add value beyond the intrinsic quality of the text and art?  Very quickly I saw that the poems could be rearranged to create a narrative arc and reflect a year in the life of a girl who loves to explore the woods near her home.  Robbin could then show the progression of the seasons—through the changes in the forest and the actions of the main character, her dog, and her family.  And the reader could absorb all this without it being overtly stated.  It was very satisfying to see the results.  In essence, I feel that my role was to help Forest Has a Song become the book it wanted to be.”

So gracious and smart. I am lucky.

Jone: I find that the idea of creating an arc, or an order of poems fascinating. It’s made me think about my own little book of poetry.
Looking back, I know I could have put more emphasis on the order. It really takes a team to create a book from the manuscript, doesn’t. How great to have an editor like Dinah Stevenson and Marcia Leonard as editorial consultant.

Can you talk about bit about the different forms you used in the book?

Amy: It is so fascinating to see how many people work together to make a book a book.  I feel so lucky to get this peek behind the scenes.  It still feels magical and mysterious, and I love learning about it.
I hear what you are saying about ordering poems.  I wonder if it helps to have a different reader, someone not so close to the work, to see new possibilities in order.  Don’t you just feel like you can be too close to it?

Regarding form, I mostly write in some kind of meter and rhyme, even if it is not a named form.  I do a lot of counting of syllables and spend lots of time flipping through my rhyming dictionary, making lists of rhymes.  In FOREST, there are a couple of haiku, and I explore various forms in my notebook and on The Poem Farm, but usually I just let a poem find the voice it wants to find.  I enjoy trying out the various meters and rhyme schemes in poems I admire; that is a great exercise.  Sometimes I hear favorite poems in my head when I write, and so snips of meters from favorite poems nuzzle their way into my own verses.

Jone: What was your biggest surprise with FOREST?

Amy: My biggest surprise is that FOREST is actually a book and that people have actually read it.  I am honored that Clarion would choose those poems, thrilled that Robbin would take the time to illustrate them, and am just surprised every time likes the book.  I feel lucky to be part of it all, but in a way, I don’t feel responsible.  In a way, it’s as if I got to be there when those poems wanted to be written.  But I did revise them!

Jone: Amy, thank you for stopping by today. I could talk poetry all day long. Thanks for bringing by the cookies.

Please return on Friday for a poem featured in the new POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY for SCIENCE. Bonus: hear Amy read her poem.