Wednesday, August 24, 2016

DMC: "Rosa Parks" by Mindy Gars Dolandis




ROSA PARKS

A woman of color in ‘55
A Montgomery crowded bus 
Told by the driver to move from her seat
She wouldn’t give in or stand up
An arrest, a boycott, a ten dollar fine
A lawsuit defeating Jim Crow
Fueled by a woman of quiet strength
Who simply sat and said no
 
© 2016 Mindy Gars Dolandis. All rights reserved.
 
 
Diana Murray has challenged us to write a poem about an unlikely hero this month. Click HERE for more details.

Post your poem on our August 2016 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, August 26th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fun new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:





Tuesday, August 23, 2016

DMC: "The Escape" by Janie Lazo





THE ESCAPE

An empty cage- a door agape
One hamster gone- a great escape
A frantic search- no clues in sight
No fond farewell - a senseless plight
For safe and sound- one hamster sat
Guarded closely - by our cat


© 2016 Janie Lazo. All rights reserved.


Diana Murray has challenged us to write a poem about an unlikely hero this month. Click HERE for more details.

Post your poem on our August 2016 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, August 26th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fun new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:





Monday, August 22, 2016

DMC: "AMBUSH!" by Renée M. LaTulippe





AMBUSH!

Beneath the cotton-checkered skies,
the hilltop blazed with fiery cries:

“Friends, you know we must arise.
if we’re to win the battle prize.
Open up your compound eyes.
We’re better than those gnats and flies.
Gather up your war supplies.
Bifurcate those tunnels, guys!
A sneak attack! Send in the spies!
Let’s fight as one! Let’s colonize!”

The soldiers seized the apple pies.
They marched off with the chicken thighs.
The hilltop rang with hungry cries.

The rest is history — ant-size.


© 2013 Renée M. LaTulippe. All rights reserved.


Diana Murray has challenged us to write a poem about an unlikely hero this month. Click HERE for more details.

Post your poem on our August 2016 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, August 26th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fun new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:





Thursday, August 18, 2016

DMC: "Cher Ami" by Michelle H. Barnes


Homing Pigeons (public domain)

Diana Murray's challenge this month, to write a poem about an unlikely hero, has been more of a struggle than I thought it would be. Eventually I narrowed in on the story of Cher Ami, a carrier pigeon employed by the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War 1, but couldn't figure out how to tell Cher Ami's heroic story. Nothing felt right. After several attempts, I finally just sat down with Cher Ami and said what was on my mind.




Cher Ami, on display at the Smithsonian
 
                                                   CHER AMI

                                                 If you were exchanged
                                                 for an ordinary pigeon
                                                 who fattens on white bread
                                                 and small bits of French fry,
                                                 if your iridescence was hidden
                                                 in the shade of an easy life,
                                                 then no one would know
                                                 your name, Cher Ami.

                                                 And somewhere in the world,
                                                 soldiers’ lives would be lost
                                                 because you were not there
                                                 to carry their hopes—
                                                 the weight dangling
                                                 on a bullet-shattered leg.

                                                 No one would know
                                                 your name, Cher Ami,
                                                 the burden you carried,
                                                 the pain that you bore,
                                                 as you rose like a Phoenix
                                                 though this wasn’t your war,
                                                 because you, like them,
                                                 just wanted to go home.


                                                 © 2016 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. 
                                       All rights reserved.



The story of Cher Ami and the Lost Battalion

Of the more than 100,000 carrier pigeons used during World War I, Cher Ami (which means "Dear Friend" in French) is probably the most well known. Delivering twelve important messages for the Americans stationed at Verdun, France, it was Cher Ami's final mission that secured a place in the history books.

The message was from Major Whittlesey, who led the "Lost Battalion" of the 77th Infantry Division. In early October 1918, more than 500 American soldiers became trapped in the Argonne Forest on the side of a hill behind enemy lines. Surrounded by Germans and cut off from reinforcements and supplies, things went from bad to worse. They were bombarded by heavy friendly fire overhead since American forces didn't know their location. Major Whittlesey made attempts to inform the American forces of their whereabouts, but carrier pigeon after carrier pigeon was shot to the ground. Cher Ami was their last pigeon and their last hope.

National Archives Catalog 

"We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it."

Croix de Guerre
Cher Ami was hit in the chest soon after taking off, but miraculously, the brave and determined pigeon rose again. After a 25 mile flight that took roughly 25 minutes, Cher Ami arrived bloody and exhausted, blinded in one eye, a message capsule dangling from a leg that was scarcely attached.

One hundred ninety-four lives were saved thanks to this bird's noble efforts; and thanks to dedicated Army medics, Cher Ami survived, as well. Cher Ami was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for heroic service.  

An interesting postscript to this story is that when Cher Ami died on June 13, 1919 and was preserved by a taxidermist, it was discovered that this pigeon was not a Black Check cock as registered, but a Blue Check hen. Yes, according to the Army Defense Department's publication: A History of Army Communications and Electronics at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, 1917-2007, Cher Ami would have been more appropriately named Chère Amie. Why am I not surprised? But apparently the National Museum of American History and many other educational and military history information sources have not yet received that memo. Perhaps if it was sent by carrier pigeon, they would have.


Monument to the Lost Battalion in the Argonne Forest, France (public domain)


I am loving the unlikely hero poems we've received so far! You can read them (and post yours) HERE. This week's featured poems were by Gayle C. Krause and George Heidenrich. Stay tuned for more daily ditties next week and our end-of-month wrap-up on Friday!





Doraine Bennett is our Poetry Friday hero today! Join her for the roundup at Dori Reads.




Wednesday, August 17, 2016

DMC: "Unsung Hero" by George Heidenrich




UNSUNG HERO

Things that make a hero:
Something you are
Something you have
Something you do
Being in the right place at the right time
Or something you don't even know about.

In the last group is Henrietta Lacks.
When she had cancer,
The doctors took it out.
Eventually she died.
The doctors discovered her cancer did not die.
They never told her.
They never asked her permission.
They experimented.

Her cancer is still alive more than 60 years later.
It has been the basis for discovering:
Many new drugs,
Cloning, polio vaccine,
Gene mapping, in vitro fertilization.
It even has its own name: HeLa.
All biology researchers the world over know about it . . .

But hardly anyone knows her name.

© 2016 George Heidenrich. All rights reserved.
 

Read more about the subject in Rebecca Skloot’s book:  
THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS.


Diana Murray has challenged us to write a poem about an unlikely hero this month. Click HERE for more details.

Post your poem on our August 2016 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, August 26th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fun new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

DMC: "An Unlikely Hero: The Birthday Benefactor" by Gayle C. Krause




AN UNLIKELY HERO: THE BIRTHDAY BENEFACTOR

Some kids in my classroom
never bring lunch.
Their clothes are all faded.
They stay in a bunch.

When their birthdays come,
they don't attend school,
cause they can't afford treats,
and they fear ridicule.

I had an idea.
I cut yards of grass.
And the money paid
for their parties in class.

No one has an inkling
I thought of this scheme.
I don't have friends
and I'm not on a team.

But I know what it's like
when the mean kids poke fun.
You see, they have two hands.
But me? I have one!


© 2016 Gayle C. Krause. All rights reserved.


Diana Murray has challenged us to write a poem about an unlikely hero this month. Click HERE for more details.

Post your poem on our August 2016 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, August 26th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fun new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:




Thursday, August 11, 2016

Diane Mayr: Ekphrastic Poetry


Photo: Kevin Barber

We're inside the main reading room of the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building in Washington DC to introduce you to a TLD VIP— the one and only "sprinkler hose of poetry". . .

DIANE MAYR

How lucky we are to have Diane Mayr as our newest TLD contributor! Her extensive knowledge of library and online resources has proven invaluable to me time and time again. Her prowess as a researcher and artful competence as a poet makes me certain that she is the perfect person to sit at Today's Little Ditty's virtual information desk.

Diane is no stranger to Poetry Friday. Many of you will recognize her name associated with two terrific blogs: Random Noodling (her poetry blog) and Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet (her library blog). What you may not know is that Diane is the author of five fiction and nonfiction books for children, and serves her community as the Adult Services Librarian/Assistant Director at the Nesmith Library in Windham, NH. She is also the only person I know who possesses an honest-to-goodness Poetic License. No kidding—see for yourself!

As part of her "Ask a Librarian" series on Today's Little Ditty, Diane has agreed to address readers' questions and offer tips, tools, and insights on a variety of topics for readers and writers of poetry. If you have a question for Diane or would like to suggest a topic for a future post, please email her at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com.

In the meantime, let's give a warm welcome to the eclectic, ekphrastic, and extra-fantastic Diane Mayr!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Thank you, Michelle for inviting me to post today! The fact that I've been a public librarian 30 years this August gives me an air of authority, I guess. Rather than as an authority, think of a public librarian as a partner in unleashing your curiosity and creativity.

With that in mind, I'm going to tell you about one of my favorite types of poetry--ekphrastic poetry. Poems about art. Poems inspired by a work of art. Poems about a creator of art.

Ekphrasis, simply stated, is art about art. (See note below.)

The term is being used a little more often than it used to be, although you still won't find it in some dictionaries. Here's what you get if you look up ekphrasis at Dictionary.com:



Poets have been writing about art probably as long as poetry and art have existed. We can go back to the Greeks for early examples (the term ekphrasis is from the Greek and is translated as "description"). Here's part of Homer's description of Achilles shield from The Iliad:
Then first he form’d the immense and solid shield;
Rich various artifice emblazed the field;
Its utmost verge a threefold circle bound;
A silver chain suspends the massy round;
Five ample plates the broad expanse compose,
And godlike labours on the surface rose.
Read more here.

I daresay everyone's had to read "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats for a class somewhere along the line.

Poets of the recent past, and poets writing today, use art as inspiration. From Amy Lowell to Lawrence Ferlinghetti to Edward Hirsch.

Ekphrastic poetry takes all forms from long, as Homer wrote, to short, shorter, and shortest (think haiku). Amy Lowell wrote haiku-like poems such as this one on a print by Hokusai. I've included a work by Hokusai, but I'm not sure which of his prints Lowell had in mind when she wrote the poem:

One of the "Hundred Views of Fuji," by Hokusai
From "Lacquer Prints" in Pictures of the Floating World (1919)

Being thirsty,
I filled a cup with water,
And, behold!--Fuji-yama lay upon the water,
Like a dropped leaf!
Interested in short poems? Peruse this collection of contemporary five-line Ekphrastic Tanka.

If you take a look at the Ekphrastic Tanka page, the editor wrote, "Links were valid at the time the Special Feature was edited. We have attempted to find stable links for the art, but alas, the links are decaying faster than we can update." That's one of the reasons why I often incorporate my ekphrastic poems into the work of art. You, too, might consider this option using a free online photo editor like PicMonkey https://www.picmonkey.com/ or Canva https://www.canva.com/. As a public librarian, though, I must ask that you only use works within the public domain. Public domain is usually work created prior to 1923, however, if the artist lived well into the twentieth century, the work may still be under copyright. I can hear you asking, "how would I know?" Use art work that you can find on Wikimedia Commons (the urn, and the Hokusai print are both from Wikimedia Commons) or The Athenaeum, where rights are clearly stated. Or, you can ask your local public librarian for assistance!

(Note: art is a broad term, so the art could be 2-dimensional, sculpture, fountains, poetry, dancers, etc.)


Diane Mayr is a long-time public librarian and a freelance writer.  She is the author of a storyhour favorite picture book, Run, Turkey, Run! (Walker & Co., 2007).  Since 2007, she has concentrated on haiku and other short form poems, and works to improve her graphic skills by illustrating them. Find out more about Diane at her website.





In case you missed last week's interview with Diana Murray, her DMC challenge for August is to write a poem about an unlikely hero. Thanks to Rosi Hollinbeck and Jessica Bigi for getting things started! Post your poem HERE.







This week's Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by birthday girl Julieanne at To Read To Write To Be.