Friday, June 23, 2017

The Case of the Missing Caterpillars


On Tuesday, my husband and older granddaughter spotted some interesting-looking caterpillars munching on our dill plant. My husband, two granddaughters, and I checked them out several times during the course of the day. That night, I counted ten caterpillars on the plant. On Wednesday morning, there were just two left. By Thursday morning, they had all disappeared--even though my husband covered the plant with netting.
 
Our family was really disappointed. We had so hoped to see them metamorphose into butterflies.

I'm not sure what ate them. I doubt they crawled away on a long-distance journey. We couldn't find them anywhere else in the garden.
Thinking of those caterpillars brought to mind Christina Rossetti's poem Caterpillar.

CATERPILLAR
by Christina Rossetti

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry:
Take your walk
To the shady leaf or stalk.

May no toad spy you,
May little birds pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.

My husband and I did some research on the caterpillars. They looked a lot like the larvae of the Anise Swallowtail Butterfly--who like dill plants. I'm not sure, however, that they live here in the Northeast.

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Heidi Mordhorst has the Poetry Friday Roundup at My Juicy Little Universe.

 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Li-Young Lee and Poetry about Fathers



I fell in love with the poetry of Li-Young Lee when I read his debut collection Rose. Published in 1986, the book won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award. In the foreword that he wrote for Rose, Gerald Stern said that when he first came across Li-Young Lee’s poetry, he “was amazed by the large vision, the deep seriousness and the almost heroic ideal “reminiscent more of John Keats, Rainer Maria Rilke and perhaps Theodore Roethke than William Carlos Williams on the one hand or T.S. Eliot on the other.” Stern added that what characterizes Lee’s poetry “Is a certain humility, a kind of cunning, a love of plain speech, a search for wisdom and understanding…”

Stern also wrote in his foreword that the “father” in contemporary poetry “tends to be a pathetic soul or bungler or a sweet loser, overwhelmed by the demands of family and culture and workplace.” He said that the father in Lee’s poems isn’t anything like that. He said the “father” in Lee’s poetry is “more godlike”–and that the poet’s job “becomes not to benignly or tenderly forgive him, but to withstand him and comprehend him, and variously fear and love him.”

 
 
Lee’s second collection, The City in Which I Love You (1990), is a remembrance of the poet’s childhood…and his father. Writing in Publishers Weekly, reviewer Peggy Kaganoff said the book’s poetry “weaves a remarkable web of memory from the multifarious fibers of his experience.”

 
 
 
 
 
For Father’s Day, I have selected some poems from Li-Young Lee’s Rose and The City in Which I Love You to share with you.

Excerpt from Eating Alone

Once, years back, I walked beside my father
among the windfall pears. I can’t recall
our words. We may have strolled in silence. But
I still see him bend that way-left hand braced
on knee, creaky-to lift and hold to my
eye a rotten pear. In it, a hornet
spun crazily, glazed in slow, glistening juice.

It was my father I saw this morning
waving to me from the trees. I almost
called to him, until I came close enough
to see the shovel, leaning where I had
left it, in the flickering, deep green shade.

Click here to read the rest of the poem.

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Excerpt from The Gift


To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.
I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.
Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.

Click here to read the rest of the poem.

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Excerpt from My Father, in Heaven, Is Reading Out Loud

My father, in heaven, is reading out loud
to himself Psalms or news. Now he ponders what
he’s read. No. He is listening for the sound
of children in the yard. Was that laughing
or crying? So much depends upon the
answer, for either he will go on reading,
or he’ll run to save a child’s day from grief.
As it is in heaven, so it was on earth.

Click here to read the rest of the poem.

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Persimmons


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Some old photos of my father, Sigismund R. Drabik (1912-1984): Polish Immigrant, American Citizen, World War II Veteran





 

 
NOTE: I am having trouble with Blogger this morning. I can't figure out why there are whited-out areas on this post.
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The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Carol's Corner.
 

 

Friday, June 9, 2017

What Is Supposed to Happen by Naomi Shihab Nye




Yesterday was my older granddaughter's last day of preschool. She spent three years at that wonderful place...with many of the same children who have become her "best friends." After school, my husband and I took her to a nearby park/playground where she and her classmates had an end-of-the-year picnic. The kids all had a grand time playing with each other.

My husband and I finally got to meet many of the children she has been telling us about. It was great watching her having fun and running  around with her friends--some of whom will be going to the same school for kindergarten. I know she'll miss the others who will be attending different schools in the area.

As I watched my granddaughter chatting and playing with her classmates, it brought to mind a favorite poem written by Naomi Shihab Nye: What Is Supposed to Happen. It's a poem that I included in a memory book that I put together for my daughter as a high school graduation gift.

My little "grandgirls" are growing up--and I'm left with the same mixed emotions that I had as I watched my own daughter mature, widen her world outside of family, go off to kindergarten and then college.
 


WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN
by Naomi Shihab Nye

When you were small,
we watched you sleeping,
waves of breath
filling your chest.
Sometimes we hid behind
the wall of baby, soft cradle
of baby needs.
I loved carrying you between
my own body and the world.

Now you are sharpening pencils,
entering the forest
of lunch boxes, little desks.
People I never saw before
call out your name
and you wave.

Click here to read the rest of the poem.

 
My younger granddaughter came to the picnic too.
 
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Mary Lee Hahn has the Poetry Friday Roundup at A Year of Reading.

 

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Home Song by Henry Van Dyke



This morning, my son-in-law drove by my old home. He took a picture with his cell phone and sent it to me. I loved that house--and my old neighborhood. Mike and I lived there for nearly forty years. I was sad to leave the home where my husband and I raised our daughter...and had spent most of our adult lives. I WAS happy to see that the new owners are taking good care of the place.

Last week, I posted a poem that I had written years ago about the home of my maternal grandparents. I didn't have time to write a poem about my old home this morning. Instead, I'm posting the following poem, which expresses my feelings better than I could at the moment:

A Home Song
by Henry Van Dyke

I read within a poet's book
A word that starred the page:
"Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage!"

Yes, that is true; and something more
You'll find, where'er you roam,
That marble floors and gilded walls
Can never make a home.

But every house where Love abides,
And Friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home-sweet-home:
For there the heart can rest.

Although I miss my old home, I am content now living next door to my daughter...and so happy that I can see my "grandgirls" every day!
 
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Keisha has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Whispers from the Ridge.

 

Friday, May 12, 2017

For My Beloved Mother


This coming Sunday will be the first Mother's Day that I have celebrated without my beloved mother who passed away in January. My mother (Mary Stella Koziski Drabik) was the most selfless individual that I have ever known. She was devoted to her family.



As her dementia advanced, my mother would often tell me that she "wanted to go home." She wasn't talking about the house where my sister and I grew up. She was referring to the home where she was raised--along with her three younger siblings. That house was the place where my mother spent many of the happiest days of her life. It's also where my sister and I and our four first cousins spent many happy hours--celebrating holidays, visiting with each other, playing in the yard, picking vegetables and fruit in my grandparents' garden.

Many years ago I wrote a collection of poems about my Babci and Dzidzi--my maternal grandparents--and their place titled A Home for the Seasons. In memory of my mother, I'm sharing the first poem from the collection. I know the poem would touch her heart.
 
 

A HOME FOR THE SEASONS

My grandparents’ house seems to hug their shady street.
A white duplex, its twin front doors
stand side by side
just three steps up from the sidewalk.
We always enter their house through the side door.
Stepping into the kitchen,
we find Babci sitting at the far end of the table
spooning filling onto circles of homemade dough
and making pierogis, crocheting afghans,
or snipping lacy designs from paper—
a traditional folk art she learned in Poland.
Sometimes we see her painting flowers on the cupboard doors
or hanging starched curtains she embroidered by hand.
The aroma of stuffed cabbage or babka baking in the oven
often greets us at the door.
Most days, Dzidzi spends outdoors tending to his garden
or painting the shutters green
or mending the picket fence
or building a backyard fireplace for summertime barbecues.
My grandparents always busy themselves
making their place a special place
for the family to gather throughout the year,
making it a home for all the seasons.

 


 
SCENES FROM MY MOTHER'S LIFE
 Mom with Her Cousin Julia
 
 My Grandmother, Her Sister, and My Grandfather
 
 Cousin Julia, My Mother's Sister Helen, My Mother, and Her brother Benny
 
 Julia, Helen, and My Mother
 
 Helen and My Mother
 
 My Sister, My Mother, and I One Easter
 
 My Grandmother with her Four Children--Benny, Stanley, Helen, and My Mother
 
 My Maternal Grandparents
 
 My Mother with My Sister Virginia
 
 My Mother and My Father
 

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I want to thank my grandnephew George Blaney for going to the trouble of putting our family photos on compact disks and sharing them with us. Love you, George!!!
 
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My Mother's Last Mother's Day (2016)
 
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Tara has the Poetry Friday Roundup at A Teaching Life.

 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

RIDDLE RHYMES



I have mentioned many times at Wild Rose Reader that I love writing mask poems! I enjoy taking on the "personality" of an animal...or plant...or inanimate object and expressing my thoughts in a "voice" other than my own.

The riddle rhyme is a type of mask poem in which the writer provides clues to the reader about who/what is speaking in the poem. I used to read riddle rhymes aloud to my students. They had fun trying to guess/deduce who was talking in the poems.
Last year, I began working on a collection of riddle rhymes--but never wrote more than a half dozen rhymes. Here is one of the riddle rhymes that I finished:

I’m a sucker for crumbs that fall on the floor.
I gobble them up and go looking for more—
Dead house flies and dog hair and sand from shore.
Your dust and your dirt are foods I adore!
I’m a ravenous, cavernous, hungry machine—
I’m a great greedy beast who keeps your house clean.

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Unfortunately, the books of riddle rhymes that I used in my classroom are now out of print: Myra Cohn Livingston's My Head Is Red and Other Riddle Rhymes and J. Patrick Lewis's Riddle-Icious and Riddle-Lightful.  Fortunately, there are mask poems that can serve as examples of riddle rhymes. Some good ones can be found in Paul Janeczko's book Dirty Laundry Pile: Poems in Different Voices (HarperCollins, 2001.)
You have to remember not to tell children the titles of the poems before reading the rhymes to them.
Here are excerpts from a few of my favorites:
BROOM
by Tony Johnston

I am the trusted consort
of floors, accomplice
of water and swash,
confidant of corners
where skulks shifty, fugitive
trash...


THE VACUUM CLEANER'S REVENGE
by Patricia Hubbell

I munch. I crunch.
I zoom. I roar.

I clatter-clack
Across the floor.

I swallow twigs.
I slurp dead bugs.

I suck cat hair
From the rugs...

THE WHALE
by Douglas Florian

Big as a street--
with fins not feet--
I'm full of blubber,
with skin like rubber.


You can also find some fine mask poems that could be read as riddle rhymes in Douglas Florian's book Insectlopedia:
·         The Dragonfly
·         The Inchworm
·         The Praying Mantis
·         The Black Widow Spider
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ANNOUNCEMENT
Writing Workshop for Kids
Chappaqua Library, Chappaqua, New York
Saturday, May 6th at 2:00 pm

I'll be at the Chappaqua Library in Chappaqua, New York, on Saturday, May 6th. I will be leading a writing workshop for children in Grades 1-3. I'll be talking about "things to do" and mask poems. Cati Chien, the illustrator of THINGS TO DO, will join me for a Q & A session and a book signing following the workshop, which begins at 2:00 pm.
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JoAnn has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Teachings Authors.



Friday, April 21, 2017

This Great Big Sky: An Original Poem


I have been "reworking" a collection of nighttime poems. I'm taking a new approach suggested by my editor. I'm hoping it will give the collection a better focus. Here is one of the poems that I decided to cut from the manuscript:

THIS GREAT BIG SKY

This great big sky,
this starry dome,

this universe that we call home—
it’s a vast and endless place

filled with space
      and space

          and space.

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In other news: Catia Chien, the illustrator of my book THINGS TO DO, was on PBS NEWSHOUR last night on a Brief but Spectacular segment!


I thought some people might be interested in a guest post that Catia wrote for All the Wonders titled ON FAILING.
In her piece, Catia shares her relationship with failures and setbacks she encountered during the process of discovering the voice of a story's illustrations.

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Tabatha has the Poetry Friday Roundup over at The Opposite of Indifference.

 

 

Friday, April 14, 2017

THINGS TO DO: Creative Writing, Language Arts, and Art Activities to do with a Poetry Picture Book



I had hoped to post more often during National Poetry Month--but I have been busy writing up posts about my book THINGS TO DO and on how to write "things to do" poems for All the Wonders, Book Source, and Two Writing Teachers. Two of my posts are already online. One is due today.

For Poetry Friday this week, I am providing a link to my Booksource article...and to three links at All the Wonders.

ALL THE WONDERS
 

In this article, I share the peaks and valleys that I encountered while creating my poems for THINGS TO DO. It includes some poems that were cut from my original manuscript and the revisions that I made to a few poems in the collection.
In this article, Matthew talks about the poetry and art of THINGS TO DO. It includes six of the beautiful spreads that Catia Chien created for the book.

Katey Howes: "One of my favorite aspects of the book Things To Do is the energy contained in the words and layout. These poems are anything but static! The placement, font, size and color of the words move the reader up, down, and all around the page. As I read, I get the urge to jump, glide, buzz and twirl along—which makes me want to create a very kinetic craft."

 


BOOKSOURCE
 
In this article, I provide suggestions for some language arts discussion and creative writing activities that teachers can do with their students in the classroom using my book THINGS TO DO.

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You'll find this week's Poetry Friday Roundup over at Dori Reads.

 

Monday, April 10, 2017

All the Wonders Is Highlighting My Book THINGS TO DO during National Poetry Month



Written by Elaine Magliaro
Illustrated by Catia Chien
Published by Chronicle Books
 

I am so excited because All the Wonders is highlighting my book THINGS TO DO during National Poetry Month with the following:
* an inside look at the book
* two giveaways of the book!
* podcast interview with my illustrator Catia Chien by Nick Patton at picturebooking
* podcast interview with me by Matthew Winner
* a personal piece by me on writing Things To Do
* a personal piece by Catia Chien on Failing
* a poetry mobile craft

http://www.allthewonders.com/wonders/all-the-wonders-of-things-to-do/
 


You can find out more about THINGS TO DO and download a Teacher Guide for it here.