Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's 2010

I am joining librarian Kristen at Bookworming the 21st Century for a New Year's Eve reading party. I'll be in my pjs reading Angie Sage's Magyc, the first in the series, when the ball drops. The kids in my library love these books and I've been waiting my turn to read them. I checked the first two out to read over vacation and I am really enjoying them.

Before I put the kids to bed we'll be reading Katie and the Big Snow and Tell Me Something Happy before I Go to Sleep.

What are you reading tonight?

For my New Year's Resolutions, I have three:

1. Serve the Lord with Gladness (Psalm 100)
2.  Complete my MLS with a 4.0 GPA
3. Complete another 150 gym visits to get my refund from the health insurance company, for the second year in a row.

How about you? What are your goals for 2010?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Review: Pemba Sherpa

by Olga Cossi, illustrated by Gary Bernard. Odessey Books, 2009. (Review copy.) This gorgeously illustrated story tells of two Sherpa children, brother and sister, living in the shadow of the Himalayan mountains in Napal.  Pemba is a young boy who dreams of becoming a Sherpa guide to mountain climbers. His little sister Yang Ki want to be one as well, but at the start of the story Pemba is convinced that girls can't do the job.

Pemba goes off the collect fire wood for his school and Yang Ki tags along. He is angry and annoyed with her being a pest, as little sisters do. I really adore the stubborn, precious tension in Yang Ki's posture as she stands up to her brother. He soon finds out her slender shoulders are strong enough to do whatever it takes to keep them both alive. It only takes Pemba getting caught in a harrowing landslide and a dangerous rescue by his little sister Yank Ki for him to change his mind and  proudly profess,
"Girls were once thought to be too weak of fragile to work as porters and guides. But my little sister, with her enormous courage, changed that thinking.. Today, women are among the most famous Sherpas in the world. Yang Ki taught us that girls, even little girls, could be brave and strong, with a heart big enough to be Sherpa."

 Pemba Sherpa is dedicated to  "Pemba Doma Sherpa, the first Nepali woman to summit Mount Everest wia the North Face."

The vibrant watercolor painting depicting this stunning story are enchanting. I can almost feel the icy wind and smell the bracing snow sweeping the landscape. You will love sharing this story with the children in your life.

I can't help paring this story with Stones into Schools, Greg Mortenson's latest. Mortenson was a mountain climber attempting the highest peeks in the Himalayans when he got lost and was rescued by a Sherpa guide. He went on to fall in love with the people in the village where he recovered, and has spent the last 13 years raising money to build schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I was fortunate enough to hear him speak in person last winter and enjoyed reading his first book Three Cups of Tea. I purchased a couple copies of Stones into School to give as gift books this season, and am looking forward to reading my son's copy this week. It's a fascinating story and a winning strategy for bringing peace into the world.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Villanelle


Let joyful thanks forever now be given!
We banish all fear at the birth of love.
Friend Jesus comes to us from highest heaven.

What once was wretched, torn and shriven
finds comfort and healing here from above.
Let joyful thanks forever now be given!

This tender babe so soon hard striven
bold angels bend low, with joy, to speak of;
Friend Jesus comes to us from highest heaven.

And all for us to be forgiven
the grime, the rot, the grit we're free of;
Let joyful thanks forever now be given!

The dark of night far far is driven,
But soft the cooing of the dove.
Friend Jesus comes to us from highest heaven.

The stars a royal cloak fresh woven
to praise our dear - we do belove!
Let joyful thanks forever now be given
friend Jesus comes to us from highest heaven.

-Andromeda Jazmon

After working on the villanelle with the Poetry Seven last week, I have the form on my mind and couldn't let go of it. In order to celebrate finishing a very difficult semester in grad school I dove into working on another villanelle this week.

The form comes from nineteenth century France, and is described on Wikipedia in this way:

"The highly structured villanelle is a nineteen-line poem with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. The form is made up of five tercets followed by a quatrain. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated alternately in the last lines of the succeeding stanzas; then in the final stanza, the refrain serves as the poem's two concluding lines. Using capitals for the refrains and lowercase letters for the rhymes, the form could be expressed as: A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2."

In order to write a villanelle I used a table created by Trisha in Google docs., with the repeating lines and rhymes indicated to remind me of the pattern. I felt the song quality of the form went nicely with Christmas carol traditions, so for this poem I decided to focus on the birth of Christ. The repeating lines echo for me Psalm 136:1, "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting."

Once I had the theme I worked on the repeating lines of the couplet and looked for good end words that would carry the theme and offer useful rhymes. I use Rhymezone to make a list of end words that fit my message, and then go to work crafting and revising the rest of the lines.

I wanted the poem to follow the gospel message that Christ came to us from God as a gift of love and grace, to heal the world and bring us full and joyful lives. A villanelle can follow a rising and falling storyline that fits this conflict/resolution path well, so it was very satisfying.

The final step for me is to match a photo with the poem. The one above is the creche I put up for my boys every year. They enjoy moving the characters around to retell the story.

You can find much more poetry linked at the Friday Poetry roundup today at Random Noodling. Enjoy!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Thanksgiving Villanelle

sunset on the road.JPG

Thanksgiving for my friend is still my song   
though stumbling lost beyond the road once known;
the days we walk alone draw shadows long.
I woke & rose too late to find the wrong
surprised that in the night the wind had blown.
Thanksgiving for my friend is still my song.
Although we parted once, we still belong;
the stubborn shoot unbidden yet has grown.
The days we walk alone draw shadows long.
Above us stars we counted wildly throng,
their muscle darkness stretched from bone to bone.
Thanksgiving for my friend is still my song.
We've traveled far yet come back here along
the pathways where the singing bird has flown.
The days we walk alone draw shadows long.
The light of sinking sun our hopes prolong,
with colors sharp & quick but short the loan.
Thanksgiving for my friend is still my song, 
The days we walk alone draw shadows long.

-Andromeda Jazmon

I have been in such a rush lately, between finishing up term papers and big projects for grad school, developing new curriculum for the media center, and preparing for the holidays. I haven't had much time for writing poetry. When I heard my sisters the Poetry Seven were working on another project, however, I had to find time to jump in. We've all been working on villanelles, and today they are revealed on all our blogs. 

Here are the other six Poetry Seven blogs:

Tanita Davis
Sara Lewis Holmes
Kelly R. Fineman
Laura Purdie Salas
Liz Garton Scanlon
Tricia Stohr-Hunt

Friday Poetry is rounded up at Wild Rose Reader.