Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Valentino: Poetry in Action from Diane Birch

Growing up, I was obsessed with the performing arts—theater, dance, music—and how they could be used to tell stories and communicate a shared human experience on many levels.  These days my primary focus has been on writing, but I would not be true to myself if I didn't find a place in my blog for those other interests as well.  To that end, I introduce you to Poetry in Action—a recurring feature on Today's Little Ditty that highlights a variety of expressive means, all living and breathing in tandem with the written word.

Today's little ditty is brought to you by singer-songwriter Diane Birch.  The following is taken from the bio on her website:

Birch was born in Michigan, but at a very young age she moved to Zimbabwe with her South African-born parents. Her dad was a conservative pastor who moved his family from continent to continent. So the young Birch migrated with her folks from Zimbabwe to South Africa to Australia, following her father’s mission. Throughout her journeys, Birch longed to be back in America, and finally got her wish when her family relocated to Portland, Oregon, when she was 10.

Compared to the average American teenager, Birch was truly exotic, both in terms of where she had resided and in how she had lived – within the confines of a strict religious community that had little interaction with its secular neighbors. She had to be resilient and adaptable, which at times meant seeking refuge in a rich fantasy life, imagining herself as someone living in say, the eighteenth century, conjuring up imaginary friends/muses like Valentino, the subject of one of her songs, an Amadeus like-figure, somewhat more dashing in proportion than the real Mozart.
Unfamiliar with Diane Birch until earlier this month, I instantly fell in love with the creativity and fun of this video and I think you will too.  Perhaps she'd consider loaning me her muse from time to time...?

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Garden is Your Garden

Welcome to Haiku Garden— a place to ponder some of poetry's littlest ditties, planted with love for our reading pleasure.  This is not just my garden, it is a community garden.  If you would like to take part in this new and recurring feature on Today's Little Ditty, please contact me at michelle (at) MichelleHBarnes (dot) com, or by commenting below.  I happen to know that there are many wonderful poets reading this blog post who excel in Japanese short form (haiku, senryu, haiga...). Please join me!  Or maybe you don't typically write in this form, but would like to try your hand at it just for fun.  Please join me!  Here, it's all ditties and it's all good.  Haiku Garden will only grow as beautiful as the community that gathers to appreciate it, and I look forward to featuring you and your blog!

In the meantime, today's little ditty was inspired by a memory that I've kept close to my heart for the past seven plus years.  It was January, summertime in Sydney, Australia, and the beginning of the school year.  My 5 year old was starting Kindergarten.  Each morning, we walked up a steep hill on a street lined with Frangipani trees to get to his school.  Along the way, he liked to collect the best blossoms from those that had fallen to the ground-- his daily ritual which I accommodated as best I could without being late for the morning bell.


Cradled in his hands
like newborn chicks, Here Mummy,
keep these forever?

© 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.  All rights reserved.

Hungry for more?  Laura Purdie Salas has the Poetry Friday roundup at Writing the World for Kids.  See you there!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Teardrops: an Earth Day haiku

Today's little ditty... well... my original plan was to head off to the library and find the perfect poem in celebration of Earth Day.  To be sure, there is a lot to celebrate about our beautiful planet!  But, as luck would have it, I saw a squirrel get hit by an SUV on my morning walk.  As I used a stick to gingerly move it to the side of the road (no sense in letting another car add insult to injury), I thought about this poor creature as a reflection of Mother Earth herself, and thus this poem was born.  It's a little darker than what I would typically like to post here, but I hope you can appreciate the optimism.

A trickle of blood
from the eyes of our Mother…
but it’s not too late.

© 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

In the wake of more senseless tragedy

Today's little ditty is in response to what happened this week at the Boston Marathon.  It is inspired by Fred Rogers, a man whose spirit will always live in my imagination's beautiful neighborhood.


In the Wake of More Senseless Tragedy

Look for the helpers,
Seek out the heroes,
               the everyday joes
               with offers of food,
                                      a bed,
                                      warm clothes.
Follow their lead,
     harness your power—
          spread kindness and love 
                in your own finest hour.
Be who you are,
     fan your flame at the source,
          and ask, “What can I do to change Future’s course?”

© 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.  All rights reserved.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mighty Saguaro

I'm a sucker for a poetry challenge, especially one inspired by a photograph.  

That's one of the things I enjoy most about writing greeting card copy.  An editor sends a batch of artwork to a group of writers and says, "Here, see what can you do with these."  Twelve birthday greetings and a few weeks later, you find out if any of your copy was selected.  Or, sometimes all you hear back from the editor is silence, which is not nearly as much fun.

Today's little ditty was inspired by a poetry contest being run by Gayle Krause at The Storyteller's Scroll.   If you want to join in the fun, hurry, the contest only runs until April 20th.  Good luck!

 Mighty Saguaro

Mighty saguaro!
Defender of calm—
woodpecker’s beat and coyote’s song.

Giant saguaro!
Sixty feet tall—
proud desert hero, protector of all.

Fearless saguaro!
Silent, yet strong—
arms poised for action should something go wrong.

Noble saguaro!
Imposing you stand—
benevolent king throughout the land.

© 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Welcome to Today's Little Ditty

Hello!  I am here
with the blog of the day—
another keen writer
with something to say.

I’m not much for rants
or lengthy tirades,
for tangents, or rambling,
or silly charades.

What I’ve got to say
can be said in a ditty—
brief and concise,
though it may not be pretty.

In fact, truth be known,
it may not make much sense.
“I yam what I yam”
is my only defense.

So welcome aboard,
glad to have you along
to this world I call life
chiseled down to a song.