Thursday, January 21, 2021

Raising the White Flag

 
"Surrender" by Jess

 
Hello friends.
I wasn't expecting to post this week, but it's been quite a momentous one, hasn't it? 
 
When my daughter was home for the holidays, she asked if I had chosen a One Little Word for this year. Until she mentioned it, I hadn't given any thought at all to a guiding word for 2021. I've hardly been in that frame of mind. As it was, I completely lost track of my 2020 word until Mary Lee Hahn indirectly reminded me of it with this post around the same time. Funny how that happens. I think my muse, or as Julia Cameron calls it, my inner child, might have something to do with that little coincidence.
 
“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” 
          – Julia Cameron
 
Even though I haven't been writing lately, I have been trying to get back in touch with that inner child (the one that loves creative play and happy accidents) in other ways. For me, the most difficult phase of embarking on a new project are the weeks when I'm walking around in creative limbo. When the ideas have not yet formed in a concrete way and I'm flailing around for something I'm not at all sure is even there. It's uncomfortable at best, this amorphous cloud of confusion. 
 
"Confusion" by Erik

 
You'd think that if I'm familiar enough to recognize and talk about it, I should be able to trust that it's just part of my creative process, and yet, time and time again, I cower under the dread that I may never again be able to connect with my muse.

Over the last several months I have discovered that life can be confounding in a similar way. Last year I came to a crossroads, and while I'm okay with the direction my life is taking, I am confused by the "new normal." I feel stuck creatively, overwhelmed by my to-do list, and anxious about the not-knowing. Is this, in fact, my new destination or am I still in transition—on my way to some place I've never been before? 
 
Yes, I'm a bit of a control freak. There's no doubt about that. I'm also impatient—especially with myself. But I'm also resilient. I'm determined and I'm a problem-solver. So what if, instead of seeing the future as something to be fearful of, I looked to it with anticipation. Amanda Gorman in her inaugural poem spoke of a nation—our nation—"that isn't broken, but simply unfinished." I take that to heart in my own life as well. My creative process is not broken—I am not broken—I am evolving.
 
Always say "yes" to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to something that already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say "yes" to life—and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.
                                – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
 
 
 
 
What if I surrender to the changes in my life and simply trust the process?

 





 
From the Tao Te Ching (chapter 13):
 
     Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.
     Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.
 
                       – Lao Tzu
 
Surrender is my One Little Word for 2021. Not in the sense of giving up, giving in, or losing hope, but in the sense of yielding to the flow of the universe and heeding the whisperings of my inner child. She's never let me down before. 
 
 
"Sweet Surrender" by Sarah McLachlan

Wishing you a perfect word to guide you through the next year of your life's journey.


This week's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by author Laura Shovan.

 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Poem to Calm Yourself

 
"Pigeon Man, Clarion Alley, San Francisco"  Photo by ricardo.

Three things in human life are important. 
The first is to be kind. 
The second is to be kind. 
And the third is to be kind. 
 
– Henry James
Overheard by his nephew, Billy James, in 1902; 
quoted in Leon Edel, Henry James: A Life, vol V: The Master 1901-1916 (1972).
 
 
Happy World Kindness Day!

Celebrated globally each November 13th, World Kindness Day promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. Its purpose is to help everyone understand that compassion for others is what binds us all together. 
 
When I considered what poem to share today, my first thought went to "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye. You really can't go wrong with Naomi Shihab Nye—it's a beautiful poem, without doubt. I was also reminded of Rebecca M. Davis's November 2015 DMC challenge to write poems about acts of kindness. Remember that one? What I finally decided upon is a lesser known poem by psychiatrist Helen Montague Foster. "For a Patient..." appears in Rattle's "Tribute to Mental Health Workers" (Winter 2010) issue. Given the fractured mental state of our nation and our world, I found it to be spot on.

FOR A PATIENT: YOU SAID YOU HATED POEMS

because you didn’t get what they meant.
I said poetry is a language of pictures.
I meant to show you how to pick a calming
song for singing to yourself. You asked:
How can you calm yourself; you are yourself.
I said: None of us is single-minded.

                                                            Read the rest HERE.

For more about World Kindness Day, visit inspirekindness.com. To their list of 13 Ways to Participate in World Kindness Day 2020, I suggest adding "give someone a poem." It's a random act of kindness that works any day of the year!


For this week's Poetry Friday roundup, visit Robyn Hood Black (one of the kindest people I know) at Life on the Deckle Edge.


While the Ditty of the Month Club continues its extended hiatus, this is a great time to peruse the TLD archives. You'll find an alphabetical listing of spotlight interviews HERE and links to all 50 of our ditty challenges HERE. You'll also find The Best of Today's Little Ditty (2014-2015, 2016, and 2017-2018) available in paperback and ebook versions on Amazon.com.


Monday, November 2, 2020

Monday Musing: Election Day

 
 
Lifting Off, by Kenneth Cole Schneider

 
One Vote
Aimee Nezhukumatathil
 
After reading a letter from his mother, Harry T. Burn cast the deciding vote to ratify the 19th amendment of the U.S. Constitution
 
My parents are from countries
where mangoes grow wild and bold
and eagles cry the sky in arcs and dips.
America loved this bird too and made

it clutch olives and arrows. Some think
if an eaglet falls, the mother will swoop
down to catch it. It won't. The eagle must fly
on its own accord by first testing the air-slide

over each pinfeather. Even in a letter of wind,
a mother holds so much power. After the pipping
of the egg, after the branching—an eagle is on
its own. Must make the choice on its own

          Read the rest HERE.



If you haven't already, please vote tomorrow. Your voice really does matter.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

A Halloween Hootenanny

 

Greetings, Friends!
           Welcome to my humble, haunted abode—
 
 
HAUNTED HOUSE
     by Valerie Worth
 
Its echoes,
Its aching stairs,
Its doors gone stiff
At the hinges,
 
Remind us of its
Owners, who
Grew old, who
Died, but
 
Who are still
Here: leaning . . .
 
                   Read the rest HERE.
 
 
We're all feeling a bit exhausted these days, aren't we? 
 
So, please, rest your weary bones at Today's Little Ditty's Halloween Hootenanny!
 
There will be singing,
 
 
 
there will be dancing,


 
and there will be storytelling— oh yes, there will be storytelling!
 
Today I'm serving up a selection of Halloween-flavored treats from the last seven years. Think of it as a haunted open house—spend as much time as you like sampling what's on offer. There's something for everyone (you never know what you'll die for), but rest assured, it's all good, light-hearted, spooky fun.
 
 
MUSIC AND DANCING:
 
  •  a pas de deux performed by a zombie ballerina and her mummy dance partner.
  • a song for voice and piano, based on a poem by the French poet Henri Cazalis.  Also a cartoon aired by PBS in 1980.
 
MY ORIGINAL POEMS:

  • an unfolding story in limericks
  •  a poem about an unlikely friendship
  •  a zombie zeno (Read more Halloween-themed zenos HERE.)
 
TLD COMMUNITY COLLECTIONS:
 




 
QUOTATIONS:
 
 
 
PICTURE BOOKS:
 
 
Magic For Sale, by Carrie Clickard (Spotlight ON interview)
 
 
 


And now, an extra special treat for five lucky TLD trick-or-treaters! The winners of last week's giveaway for one copy each of HOP TO IT: Poems to Get You Moving (Pomelo Books), courtesy of Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, are:

Linda Baie
Shannon Gebhart  
Mary Lee Hahn
Kathleen Mazurowski, and
Carol Varsalona
 
Congratulations! 
 Please email your postal addresses to me at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com.
 

For more Halloween fun and an extra large grab bag of bite-sized poetry goodies, join Linda Baie for this week's Poetry Friday roundup at TeacherDance.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Home Run for HOP TO IT (Giveaway!)

No one was sure it would happen this year, but here we are, two games into the 116th World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tamba Bay Rays, tied one game a piece. While I don't have an allegiance to either team, I do love the excitement of it all!
 
It's a great opportunity to share a baseball poem, don't you think? Not any ol' baseball poem, mind you—my baseball poem, published in HOP TO IT: Poems to Get You Moving by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books, 2020).

 
When it comes to children's poetry anthologies, one of the things Pomelo Books does best is meet the needs of educators and home schooling parents by giving them exactly what they need, exactly when they need it. HOP TO IT was originally intended as a book to get students out of their seats and moving because, let's be honest, we all have become way too sedentary. When the pandemic struck, the need for this book became even greater with the onset of remote learning. Who doesn't need occasional "brain breaks" after being stuck to a computer screen for too long? Poetry to the rescue! 
 
But COVID-19 introduced new real-world concerns, as well. Never ones to duck from a challenge, Sylvia and Janet decided to expand their anthology to include poems about life during a pandemic, wearing masks, virtual learning, staying connected with friends, and social justice issues like standing up for what you believe in. In true Vardell-Wong style, the fun, kid-friendly poems (all 100 of them) are matched with practical tips, connections across learning areas—science, social studies, language arts, etc—and supplemented with extensive back matter. For just-in-time learning or just-for-fun reading, HOP TO IT is a home run!

"Home Run at Yankee Stadium"

Which brings me back to baseball. :)
 
Are you wearing your favorite team jersey or cap? Snacks at the ready? You shouldn't need sunscreen since we'll be indoors, but here's some music from 1908 to help you get in the mood:


Now, maybe just a few arm stretches and knee bends to warm up. I wouldn't want anyone in this bookish poetry crowd to overdo it! Your role is the home team crowd.
 
Play ball!
 
Click on image to enlarge or read below.

 
 
ALL TIED, BASES LOADED
          by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
 
The crowd is hyped. 
They do the wave.
Next batter up is looking brave.
 
But I'm brave too.
I stare him down
from here, atop my pitcher's mound.
 
He swings—a miss!
Strike one! Crowd cheers.
The roar is music to my ears.

Fast ball. He swings—
and hits a foul.
Clapping, stomping home fans howl!

Can I do this 
one more time?
He wants a hit—pride's on the line.

I throw a curve, 
then start to doubt.
He swings—
          (can't watch)

                    Strike three! YOU'RE OUT!

Nice job, y'all—I heard you howling from here! It was sure fun to write this poem with all the actions of the players and crowd. It's easy to imagine a whole classroom getting into the act. (Who doesn't like clapping, stomping, cheering, and doing the wave?) As it turns out, I will be reading my poem aloud this afternoon (Friday, 10/23) at a Pomelo Books Zoom Poetry Party and would LOVE some folks to take on the roles of the adoring home team fans. If you're available, please join us at 4 pm Eastern Time. Email me at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com for the zoom link.
 
HOP TO IT: Poems to Get You Moving is available at QEP Books (currently at a discount), at Amazon.com, or . . .
 
 
WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY RIGHT HERE! 
(Is that cheering I hear again?)
 
Janet and Sylvia have generously offered to send a copy of HOP TO IT to *FIVE* lucky Today's Little Ditty readers! (Domestic U.S. addresses only, please.) To enter, leave a comment on this blog post or send an email to the same address above with the subject "HOP TO IT giveaway." Comments and emails must be received by the end of the day on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Winners will be selected randomly and announced on Friday, October 30th. Good luck!
 
 

 
 
Before I shuffle off to the locker room, since I haven't been around much, I'd like to take a moment to mention two other recent anthologies that I'm honored to have poems in. 
 
A World Full of Poems, also released this month, is a gorgeously illustrated introduction to children's poetry featuring a diverse selection of contemporary and historical poets. The poems, selected by Sylvia Vardell (busy lady!), are about everything from science, sports, and space, to friendship, family, and feelings. They are complemented by interesting, topical facts; prompts and activities that inspire children to create their own poetry; and introductions to poetic devices which are fun and accessible. Published by DK Children, A World Full of Poems is available for purchase at Amazon.com or an independent bookstore near you.




Behind the mask: haiku in the time of Covid-19, edited by Margaret Dornaus, is a collection of more than 250 pandemic-themed haiku from more than 140 internationally acclaimed haiku poets. Published last July by Singing Moon Press, at the present time it is only available for purchase at lulu.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jama Rattigan is known for her excellent batters—in the kitchen, that is, not on the baseball field. ;) Give a cheer for Jama and this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup.
 
 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Monday Musing: Indigenous Peoples' Day

 
 
 
Invisible Fish
     by Joy Harjo
 
Invisible fish swim this ghost ocean now described by waves of sand, by water-worn rock. Soon the fish will learn to walk. . . .
 
          Read the rest HERE.
 

 

To date, 14 states (Alabama, Alaska, Hawai'i, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin), the District of Columbia, more than 130 cities, and growing numbers of school districts celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of or in addition to Columbus Day. Here are five ideas for celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.


Monday, October 5, 2020

Monday Musing: World Teachers' Day

 
 
Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay
 
 
I never teach my pupils; 
I only attempt to provide the conditions 
in which they can learn.
                                        
                                        – Albert Einstein (unsourced)
 
 
According to the UNESCO website, World Teachers’ Day has been held annually since 1994 "to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions. . . In 2020, World Teachers’ Day will celebrate teachers with the theme Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future. The day provides the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, take stock of achievements, and draw attention to the voices of teachers, who are at the heart of efforts to attain the global education target of leaving no one behind."