{pf: poetry peeps try to byr a thoddaid}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of July! Here’s the scoop: We’re each taking an empowering and inimitable line from Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise,” and from them creating acrostic poems. Each of those forty+ lines are available to poets to create something memorable – grounding, empowering and expansive – of their own. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on July 29th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Well, first off, you pronounce it beer ah TOE-thy’d, which won’t really help you write one, but hey, The More You Know.🌠 Second, once you get into the byr a thoddaid form, they’re… complicated? But, not actually HARD. I’ve decided that byr a thoddaid are like …long division. You might run out of attention before you finish all the steps (shout-out to my former students), but it is nothing that you cannot handle (Insert authoritative teacher-voice.).

That being said, let’s acknowledge: this seemed like a LOT of steps.

Mistakes were made. Repeatedly.

My process, when dealing with an unfamiliar form, is usually to read a ton of examples. Are there a ton of examples online that I like? No. Would I need to read them in Welsh or something to find a bunch of great ones? Probably. Did I spend more time faffing about on Google than I ought to have? Definitely. I kept thinking I HAD it, when it turned out I was forgetting the near rhyme and just concentrating on the end rhyme. At one point, I rhymed everything to the first stanza, which …could be done, I guess, but wasn’t one of the options listed. I finally pulled off a tiny one, but like that long division, it took longer than I felt it should have:

The season spills a thousand scents,

As summer twilight, liquescent

Shimmers, igniting dreams undreamt. Such light

Sparkles through stars at night.

So, that felt… like a good start, but then I heard people were making two stanza poems from their stanzas, I felt I ought to step up a bit. Also, it was time to pull out the Canva and make-believe I knew what I was doing…

Full disclosure, these are from my backyard nectarine and plum trees, but one of the loveliest things about this area is the many, many sidewalk fruit trees, and of an evening, you will see families – small children, whole rafts of folks in the national clothing of their home countries – with boxes, bags, little red wagons and step-stools, all out to get stone fruit for jam, for eating out of hand, to dry it, and more. It’s …it makes me feel like SOMETHING is going right in the world. Friends, I will gladly take this one thing.

Want to see the attempts of the peeps who also assayed this adventure? Tricia’s is here. Sara’s is here. Laura got inspired here, and Liz’s link is here. Cousin Mary Lee’s is here. Michelle K.’s poem is here. More Poetry Peeps will be added as the weekend progresses, so check back later for the full round-up.

Meanwhile, Poetry Friday is hosted by Catherine, at Reading to the Core. Thanks, Catherine!


And here it is, the end of a week, when just days – or hours – or months ago, you never thought you’d get here. See how much you’ve done with what you’ve got? Remember — like long division, life is nothing that you cannot handle. Take that deep breath of summer sweet, and hold fast. Happy Weekend.

{gratitude: 11.1}


Does anyone else share my that end of year time crunching down on them? My angst, as deadlines loom (planned, unplanned, and now somehow EARLIER), and all the things I promised people gladly that I would do, I now am feeling like I’m slap-dashing and barely getting done. Going through my head are the words, “Ugh! I do not have time to post every day in the month of November.”

“Even though I want to, I do not have time to write a poem every day for the month of November.”

“Even though it’s traditional for this time of year, I do not have time for gratiti…”

…wait, really?! This has been a year in which I’ve received a great deal. I’d better have some time for a gratitude project!

I’ve tried to do a gratitude poetry exercise yearly in November, but I don’t always succeed. Additionally, this year, though, I come with limited time, and, (as usual?) a very dubious attitude. Every year, I end the month feeling truly grateful for my life, and I expect the same this year, (even though I have a deadline this month). Here’s to the transformation.

{so, poetry peeps, feeling Zen yet? or just tangled?!}

Okay, is it me, or has anyone else found the Zentangle form a bit… much?! Have you felt like your designs were too busy, too messy, too wordy, or just somehow subtly wrong? Don’t despair! We can make this work! Remember – it’s supposed to be fun. (I am telling MYSELF this, trust me.)

If you’re in need of a little design help, Strathmore has some great examples of patterns for the Zentangle. Can’t wait to see what you come up with Friday!

{to beauty}

UGH, is it still 2020? It’s been six years!

This morning, Nikki Grimes wondered on Twitter if anyone else needed a reminder of something beautiful in this world, and oh, holy heaven, yes. As she shared a picture of her roses in bloom, so I will share my blooms – and some thoughts on the reasons I stare at my plants when my mind is full.

Sonoma County 236

Despite the fact that I garden, I’m… actually kind of terrible at it. So far this year, the Evil Gopher has eaten two whole plants (although today I saw it ate A WEED. I’m not mad about it), and three have simply failed to thrive. I have no clue what’s up with the leeks and beets, or why they’re not doing anything. There are so many things i should put them on a list and make note that they don’t do well here, so as not to try them again – but I’m more bewildered and sad that they didn’t like me. ☺ Gardening is sometimes a lot about failure – and learning how to face it, breathe through it, and walk on.

Between a box of seeds I collected from a house we rented fifteen years ago (!) and seeds from my friend Elle’s crop last year, we planted LOADS of morning glories in at least four colors around the entire yard. Morning glories… are stubborn sometimes. They CAN grow in poor soil and with tons of neglect, but even when you give them tons of fresh, rich soil, sometimes they just… won’t. Right now, while I have morning glories which are just now stretching up trees and staked on sticks and trying to run up the fence, I have discovered myriad tiny new seedlings which are just now germinating.

We planted them in FEBRUARY.

How is it that seeds I planted months ago in the winter are JUST NOW deciding to germinate? Did their older siblings somehow signal that it was safe? Hanging with my plants reminds me I cannot make anything happen except in its own time. Gardening means relinquishing the idea that you’re in your control. It’s enough to make you scream. It’s also …life. Things happen when they do – and all of our stressing rarely moves the dial. Sometimes what’s needed is patience. Other times, a clipper or a trowel and a new location, or even just fertilizer. You don’t know ’til you get in there.

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do. (There’s that failure thing again…)

So, you take a breath, and do what you can. You enjoy the blooms that you have.

Irvington 398

Right now, what with the additional plague of “you can’t tell me what to do”-ers infecting the nation, it feels like we might never stop dying of this disease, or gain social closeness again. It feels like authoritarianism continues to invent reasons to eradicate black and brown individuals. It feels like nothing is working, that nothing is worth working for, and that we’ve lived through the winter of our discontent, which is dragging on into an endless summer. It feels – every day, for some – like the end of everything.

It’s a good thing we have this reminder: there are beautiful things in this world. There is rest – even a moment’s surcease from pain. There is hopefulness. Look for it. See.

{npm: solus 11}

Irvington 359

first salvo

stolen victory –
bright leaves, unfurling, vanished
some battles we lose…

(My beautiful plant is gone – thanks, gopher.

“Now, we don’t want to kill him, just discourage him,” the neighbor called over the fence. “We’re pouring Pine Sol down into his hole.” Er, …okay? This certainly will do something, likely to the groundwater, but to the gopher snacking its way through our plants? Not much. However, we have four crows watching the ground closely, and we’ve heard an owl… we figure something will serve justice eventually. Meanwhile, more seeds…)

{Poetry Friday kicks off December poetry…here!}

Good thing I just checked my calendar! I knew I was doing something else with poetry rather soon… and indeed, Poetry Friday is hosted here this Friday!

…ADDITIONALLY, I’m doing The New Year’s Poetry Challenge! The Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center every year gives out prompts for poetry from mid-month December through the New Year. Since my road buddy, Sarah, is the board secretary for the Center, she and I are opting in this year, and will be posting dueling poems… somewhere, possibly on our Wonderland Dispatches blog, whilst we also look over some of our favorite discoveries in poetry this year. You’re welcome to join the fun.

This year’s NYPC will begin on December 15th. so you’ll get your first prompt the night of the 14th! If you’d like to jump in, email us at Info_at_mostpoetry_dot_org. You will receive a prompt a day for 30 days! You choose to write to all the prompts, some of the prompts, or none of the prompts. It’s all for fun. Toward the end of the 30 days, we’ll put out a call for any poem you’d like to share in an NYPC chapbook.

If you’d like to participate, you need to opt in, even if you’ve done this in the past. That way no one who doesn’t want these prompts gets them. Please feel free to pass this opportunity on to whomever you think might be interested! The more the merrier!

Edited to Add: Early bird Poetry Friday posts from Thursday have been moved to the next blog post!

{so very Monday}

Newark 107

No idea what kind of flower this is, but it was unfurling outside the post office where I – finally, after entirely removing three chapters I’d moved around in the narrative twice before – mailed off my latest project.

I shall take a tiny moment and say “Hurray!”


There is a lot swirling through my head this morning: yesterday, I attended a community concert on behalf of our chamber choir, and upon returning home a.) found out that the mother of a dear Scottish friend of mine has died, a woman I had met and enjoyed; b.) was told a “you’re-not-supposed-to-know” update on my Dad’s cancer, c.) then, my autoimmune disorder, which over the last two weeks lulled me into a false sense of serenity, bloomed out in full malevolent force, and d.) myriad people asked me if I knew what was going with Anne Ursu’s report, and the subsequent discussion in School Library Journal on sexual harassment in the children’s lit industry. (After a bit, the comments are NOT worth reading. Reader discretion is advised.)

I decided to take a bath and go to bed.

Today is a new day, and everything I tried to ignore yesterday has returned to pay a call. In triplicate.

There is so much good – all of the Youth Media Awards from the ALA are in and faaaabulous, and Erin Estrada Kelly’s win is well overdue, so I’m thrilled she’s being honored; the fourth Asian overall, and the first Filipina to BE honored with a Newberry by the American Library Association – within the horrible, there are shades of wonderful swirling past (Witness Rick Riordan’s commentary and Gwenda’s sterling response and empowerment to the community.). Still, I feel like I’ve been caught in a hurricane, one the forecaster had predicted, but which had been ignored.

So, here’s a song to which you can sit and breathe… and then, get up, and head back into the fray.

{december lights: crossing crowded ways}

One afternoon, on a relatively smooth patch of snow, I found: baby steps, goose steps, rabbit, dog and deer prints, and the marks of a cane. The magic of looking is never knowing what you’ll find.

Lauriston Castle D 10 HDR

intersection

Crossing time’s wide street
here, our life’s heartbeat
beguiles.
Individuals meet,
explore, part, retreat —
Meanwhile,
Our song’s incomplete,
But, from its downbeat,
worthwhile.

Leave your footprints, though all such prints be ephemeral. They’re playing your song. Arise and shine.