Friday, November 01, 2013

Giving Thanks; Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving

Edited and with reflections by Katherine Paterson, Illustrations by Pamela Dalton.Chronicle Books, 2013. (review copy) I was delighted to receive this lovely, timely book in the mail the other day. It is absolutely gorgeously illustrated with paper cut done by Dalton in a sixteenth century German and Swiss technique called "Scherenschnitte" or "scissor cuts," which was brought to the States by Pennsylvania German settlers. See some of her work and read more about it at her site The team of Paterson and Dalton also produced Brother Sun, Sister Moon in 2011.

Giving Thanks is a collection of short prayers, poems and praise songs taken from a variety of cultures and traditions. Opening to a random page one can find wisdom and beauty shared from Islamic prayers, Chinese proverbs, Native American poems, Vietnamese prayers, King James Bible verses, and traditional American blessings. It is a balanced and graceful smorgesbord that will charm a child's heart and lift the spirits of weary adults gathering the family together at the end of a long day or preparing to face the day's challenges. Hildegard of Bingen and Matsuo Basho share a page to remind us of the simple joys found in a single, precious day:

Katherine Patterson introduces each section of the book with a reflection of her life and growing up years. Her stories are just the right touch to bring us closer to finding meaning and unity in this diverse, wide ranging panorama of the celebration of thanks in the human heart. If you are looking for a refreshing splash of thankfulness and joy this season presented with beauty and exquisite skill - this is the book for you and your family!

Publisher's Weekly review

Friday Poetry is hosted by Linda at Teacher Dance on this All Saint's Day. Enjoy!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Poetry Sisters Write Pantoums

We've been at it again. My poetry sisters have been up to hijinks once again. I've been privileged to be schooled in several poetic forms by these fabulous and talented women before, when we challenged each other to write a crown sonnet , villanelles, and rondeau redoubles. Liz got us going this time by challenging us to write pantoums sparked by the line "I've got better things to do than survive," from Ani DiFranco's song "Swandive." Several years ago Miss Rumphius's Monday Poetry Stretch taught us the form and I tried it out here. I really struggled with this one, editing and fussing over it right up to today's publication time. I am not done tweaking I am afraid, but we agreed to go public so here I am,  jumping into free fall. Please go read the others at Laura's Friday Poetry roundup post, and share some love with the kidlitosphere's weekly poetry celebration.

doll bin.JPG

Moth Sisters

"I've got better things to do than survive"
she flung over her shoulder on the way out.
The crash of her door a shattering cry
supplanting my lamp with a far distant star.

Gusting over her shoulder on the way out,
her tresses diffused a cool honey shine,
supplanting my lamp with a far distant star
(silk spun for protection hides hooks on the end).

Her tresses diffusing her cool honey shine,
a cocoon once jostled begins to emerge.
Silk spun for protection hides hooks on the end.
And me alone with my dolls in a muddle;

a cocoon once jostled begins to emerge,
from crumpled wings expanded she flutters away.
And me alone with my dolls in a muddle.
She believes she's outgrown what once kept her whole,

from crumpled wings expanded she flutters away.
The crash of her door a shattering cry
She believes she's outgrown what once kept her whole -
"I've got better things to do than simply survive!"

Andromeda Jazmon


Friday, October 04, 2013

Rock Climbing Haibun

Last weekend we went hiking in a state park where there is a large outcropping of rock towering above a creek that winds through the valley. We ate lunch on the top of the ridge with a view that scanned the clouds floating on the horizon, the forest hills, and the tumbling whitewater far below.

could be trout
far out of casting distance;
rushing stream

We climbed down the trail twisting between trees that sometimes clung to the very rock wall on our left. We passed climbers strapped into high tech gear and trail crews scrubbing graffiti. Everyone was in a cheerful mood. I got an ache in my neck from straining to take in the sheer awesome bulk of the rock that rose above us. Trees grew below, beside, in the midst of, and above rock in every shape an size. Roots exposed or sunk into the crevices, each one found a way to flourish and catch the sun.

roots in the air
from trees clinging to cliffs;
rocks in the treetops 

Down at the bottom of one of those formations, under a trickle of spring water sliding over mossy rock, we found a tiny pool of muddy water.
moss from spring 

 I bent down to get a closer look and discovered a tiny frog sitting under a leaf in the puddle. He held still for me to take several photos and didn't seem startled to see me hovering over him. Perhaps he is accustomed to ignoring massive shadows looming over his head. He was secure in his fortress; stone wall at his back. 

frog in rock pool

little frog at home
under the rock wall;
all else is sky

This type of haiku story-writing is called Haibun. It's an old form of prose poem/travel log or journal with haiku poems interspersed between short narrative descriptions, made famous by the 17th c. Japanese poet Basho in his writing The Narrow Road to Deep North. Read more about the form here.

Today's Friday Poetry roundup is hosted at Dori Reads. Enjoy!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Autumn is Good for Melancholy Haiku

 Our cherry tree turns/ yellow; last time you were here/ tight buds newly green #haiku #FridayPoetry #melancholy

our cherry tree turns
yellow; last time you were here
tight buds newly green

-Andromeda Jazmon

Haven't done Friday Poetry in a while but with the changing seasons I am inspired again. I always enjoy a good melancholy haiku.

Today's Friday Poetry round up is hosted by Amy at The Poem Farm. Enjoy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer

by Mary Holland. Sylvan Dell, 2013. (Review copy). This charming book is packed with gorgeous close-up photographs of a fox kit in his first summer. Holland is a nature photographer and environmental educator doing a fine job of introducing children and adults to the secret lives of foxes . You may think there are no foxes living near you, but if you are in the Northern Hemisphere you might be surprised. Foxes live in farmlands, forests, prairies, deserts and cities. Last summer my son and I saw a fox running home with a groundhog in her mouth while we were standing at the local suburban ice cream place having a cone. She ran across a field, crossed a parking lot and major roadway, and disappeared behind the next housing development, bringing dinner to her kits I am sure. Foxes are nocturnal and adapt very well to human habitats. They will eat a wide variety of things including groundhogs, garbage, earthworms, mice, voles, berries and fruit or garden produce, frogs, snakes and turtles.

Holland's nonfiction picture book follows the first summer of young Ferdinand, the runt of his litter, as he emerges from the den, nurses from his mother, wrestles with his litter-mates, learns to hunt and grows into an independent young adult. The back of the book includes sections "For Creative Minds", with fun facts, life cycle events to put in order, and photographic examples of all the things foxes eat.

My sons and I also read the ebook on our iPad Mini, downloaded from iTunes. The photos are even more stunning on the iPad, although the screen is smaller than the 8.5"x10" paperback. The paperback has the photos spread between both pages with significant sections of the images lost in the center fold space. On the screen you can zoom and pan to take in small details with no loss of image (although you can see where the fold is). The story can be read to you with automatic page turning, or you can chose to read it yourself with your child. At the end of the ebook are several educational modules including some fun quizzes.

During Children's Book Week (May 13-19, 2013) you can go to the website Sylvan Dell and read the book for free under the Staff Picks section. And, this week only, all the featured ebooks are just 99 cents! Check out the Events and Author Visit page to see if there is something happening near you.

I am giving away a copy of this wonderful book from the publisher Sylvan Dell. Just leave a comment with your contact info to get put in the drawing!! (US and Canadian addresses only).

Today's Nonfiction Round up is hosted by Julie at Instantly Interruptible. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2013

It is that rollicking good time day when you are encouraged to carry a poem and share it with friends, family, strangers - pass it around like a smile!

It started in NYC several years ago and now is celebrated all over. Go to for ideas of how to celebrate and poems you can print to carry or share. At my library I am postings and passing out some of my favorites by Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, and many others. Fun times!

You can follow the hashtags #poetrymonth #pocketpoems or #poemaday to follow my Twitter and Instagram haiku with photos (haiga) all month and find other poets that are posting today and all through National Poetry Month.

My eight year old son went to school with this in his pocket:

Put Something In

Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-grumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.

-Shel Silverstein

We found it in the Special Edition (2009) A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.

What are you packing today?

The Friday Poetry Round up is celebrated today  by Irene at Live Your Poem...

Friday, April 12, 2013

April Rain Haiga

leafing willow haiku

I am continuing to post haiga on my Instagram account every day in April, as an exercise for National Poetry Month. The whole collection is gathered here on this post. You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram also.

I am experimenting with using Phonto and the Flickr photo editor Aviary to add text so the haiku is directly on the photo. So far I like what I am getting. I wish my iPod Touch had a better camera though! Maybe I should upgrade to this.

Haiga is a Japanese poetic form developed in the 17th century. It is a combination of haiku poetry, images, and caligraphy. In old Japan it was ink paintings suggesting a connection to the haiku word images. Nowadays many poets use photography. You can learn more about the form here and here. I have been looking at other modern English haiga on these two sites: DailyHaiga and HaigaOnline. If you have done haiga before please share where and let me know how your work procedes!

Today's Friday Poetry Round up is hosted by Diane at Random Noodling . We are in the middle of a fabulous National Poetry Month with action all over the kidlitosphere linked here at Jama's blog. Enjoy your weekend!