Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Passages: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944)

(June 29, 1900 – July 31, 1944) 
"My life is monotonous. I hunt chickens; people hunt me. All chickens are just alike, and all men are just alike. So I'm rather bored. But if you tame me, my life will be filled with sunshine. I'll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Other footsteps send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music. And then, look! You see the wheat fields over there? I don't eat bread. For me wheat is of no use whatever. Wheat fields say nothing to me. Which is sad. But you have hair the color of gold. So it will be wonderful, once you've tamed me! The wheat, which is golden, will remind me of you. And I'll love the sound of the wind in the wheat . . . "

From The Little Prince, first published in 1943 by Reynal & Hitchcock.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Filling the Well: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Steve Powers, and Mariel Waloff

SCAD, Atlanta Campus

Poetry is eternal graffiti 
written in the heart of everyone. 
– Lawrence Ferlinghetti
                                                           Poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

"Love on the El"
A documentary slideshow by Mariel Waloff
based on Steve Powers' A Love Letter For You.

Love Letter is “a letter for one, with meaning for all” and speaks to all residents who have loved and for those who long for a way to express that love to the world around them. He [Steve Powers] considers the project “my chance to put something on these rooftops that people would care about.”
Photos by Lindsey T...

Click HERE to read more about Steve Powers Love Letter project.
Click HERE to browse more artworks from Mural Arts Philadelphia.

Join Carol at Carol's Corner to read a wonderful poem by Jeannette Encinias and peruse this week's Poetry Friday roundup.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Passages: Norton Juster (1929–2021)

(June 2, 1929 – March 8, 2021)
"Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn?” she inquired. “Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause in a roomful of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re all alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful, if you listen carefully.”  
– The Soundkeeper    
From The Phantom Tollbooth, first published in 1961 by Random House.


Thursday, May 20, 2021

Pulling on a Line: A Celebration of Mary Lee Hahn


I once told Mary Lee Hahn that I loved how she managed to live her life as one long poem. (I still consider her a role model in that regard.) Now, in celebration of her retirement from 37 years of teaching and the beginning of a new "stanza" in her life, I am delighted to be able to pay tribute to her publicly. 
No doubt there are hundreds of former fourth and fifth graders who are better human beings for having experienced Ms. Hahn's benevolent guidance in the classroom, but I'd like to speak to the impact Mary Lee has had on me and the TLD community. The first time I sang her praises was in 2014 when she was a featured guest in the Haiku Garden. Since then, she's become a friend as well as a dependable presence on Today's Little Ditty. She's contributed to numerous DMC challenges (with six poems selected for The Best of Today's Little Ditty anthologies) and has inspired readers not only with her words, but with her drive to stretch limits and make her voice heard—creatively and otherwise.
There's a song called "Pulling on a Line" that reminds me of Mary Lee whenever I hear it. It makes me think of her passion for fly fishing and her association with Casting for Recovery, but it also brings to mind the creative process that is a constant presence in her life. For me, it represents the thread of that lifelong poem that stays with Mary Lee from day to day, month to month, and year to year. 
"Pulling on a Line" by Great Lake Swimmers 
from the album Lost Channels
Pulling on a Line
The line runs through like a train in a book
Or metres underwater, ending with a hook
It sways in the air when there's wind enough to lift
The fine ones are boundaries when there is a rift
I'm just pulling on a line, on a line
Oh I'm just pulling on a line
I'm just pulling on a line, on a line
But sometimes it pulls on me

The line, it inks across the freshly fallen snow
Where only those embracing coldness would go
In whistles and in whispers and sometimes in howls
It sings to me sweetly from trees and in vowels

I'm just pulling on a line, on a line
Oh I'm just pulling on a line
I'm just pulling on a line, on a line
But sometimes it pulls on me

The line, it writes itself across the dark sky
In the air, electric flashes ending with a sigh
It weaves itself into a fabric so true
And flows just like the river, graceful and blue

I'm just pulling on a line, on a line
Oh I'm just pulling on a line
I'm just pulling on a line, on a line
But sometimes it pulls on me
© Anthony Dekker and Great Lake Swimmers (Nettwerk Records)
Pulling a few lines from Mary Lee's reservoir of poems on Today's Little Ditty, here are three of my favorites. 
rain again last night
temperatures above freezing
two cocoons wait
it's been a long, dark winter
the right moment is coming
– Mary Lee Hahn 
From Margarita Engle's tanka challenge (March 2015), featured in The Best of Today's Little Ditty (2014-2015).
Peony Poem
an idea
sudden, surprising
like red peony shoots
the first color in a spring garden
a draft
leafy, bushy
too much green, but with buds
sweet enough to attract ants
a poem 
lopsided, fragrant
overly showy, flamboyant, glorious
cut for a vase or for a grave
– Mary Lee Hahn
From Melissa Manlove's comparison poem challenge (May 2017), featured in The Best of Today's Little Ditty (2017-2018).
comet of crow
streaks across dark cloudy sky
contrail of bluejays
– Mary Lee Hahn
From Margaret Simon's #PoemsofPresence challenge (May 2020).

Best wishes for your retirement, Mary Lee, 
and for many more fruitful years 
of discovery, wonder, and poeming!

Many thanks to Michelle Schaub for featuring my poem "Look for the Helpers" on Poetry Boost this past week! Click HERE to read her wonderful blog post about using poetry in the classroom to encourage empathy and spread kindness.

Christie Wyman hosts this week's Poetry Friday roundup with an abundance of heartfelt tributes to #MarvellousMaryLee. You'll find the festivities at Wondering and Wandering.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Filling the Well: Lucille Clifton and Erik Wernquist

Poems come out of wonder, not out of knowing. 
– Lucille Clifton
                                                     Poems by Lucille Clifton
A short film by Erik Wernquist 
(Written and narrated by Carl Sagan) 

Filling the Well was exactly what I needed as a National Poetry Month project—I hope you enjoyed wandering through the inspirational musings as much as I enjoyed gathering and sharing them. There's something to say for choosing a series that's super easy, fun, and full of surprises; and where there's such an abundance of material, not only was I able to keep to a daily timetable, but I look forward to filling the well outside of National Poetry Month, too— albeit on a more occasional basis. If you missed or would like to revisit any of this month's posts, you'll find them listed below. I've also added "Filling the Well" to my list of series links in the sidebar to the right. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey and for sharing your comments, emails, and the sparkly newborn poems these posts inspired!

April 1: John Muir
April 4: Cesare Pavese 
April 11: Elinor Wylie
April 18: John Milton 
April 29: Felice Holman
Matt Forrest Esenwine is sharing some examples of "tricube" poetry over at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Join him there for the final Poetry Friday roundup of National Poetry Month.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Filling the Well: Felice Holman

"Wish Upon a Star" by Anne Worner

There is something about poems that is like loving children:
They keep returning home and singing to you all your life.

– Felice Holman
Humming Bird
Whirring as wound wires whir.
Glistened green and brightened blur. 
Bird a flower dreamed upon.
A moment fanning, and then gone.

                                                – Felice Holman 
from The Place My Words Are Looking For, selected by Paul B. Janeczko

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Find ways to participate here.

April 1: John Muir
April 4: Cesare Pavese 
April 11: Elinor Wylie
April 18: John Milton 
April 29: Felice Holman

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Filling the Well: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ella Rose Howlett

Happiness is not found in things you possess, 
but in what you have the courage to release.  
– Nathaniel Hawthorne
 "I Wish I Was a Dancer"
 A short film by Ella Rose Howlett


April 1: John Muir
April 4: Cesare Pavese 
April 11: Elinor Wylie
April 18: John Milton 
April 28: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ella Rose Howlett

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Filling the Well: Percy Bysshe Shelley, Bashō, and Sir David Attenborough

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world,
and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.

– Percy Bysshe Shelley
shell of a cicada
it sang itself
utterly away
– Matsuo Bashō

"Amazing Cicada Life Cycle"
Sir David Attenborough's Life in the Undergrowth (BBC)

There's going to be a bumper crop (i.e., billions) of Brood X cicadas emerging in the next few weeks. Read my "Love Song" to the humble cicada HERE.

April 1: John Muir
April 4: Cesare Pavese 
April 11: Elinor Wylie
April 18: John Milton 
April 27: Percy Bysshe Shelley, Bashō, and Sir David Attenborough

Monday, April 26, 2021

Filling the Well: Terri Guillemets and Joni Mitchell

Chase down your passion 
like it's the last bus of the night. 
– Terri Guillemets

Joni Mitchell
"Last Chance Lost" from Turbulent Indigo

Last chance lost—
In the tyranny of a long good-bye.
Last chance lost—
We talk of us with deadly earnest eyes.
Last chance lost—
We talk of love in terms of sacrifice and compromise.
Last chance—
Last chance lost.
Last chance lost—
The hero cannot make the change.
Last chance lost—
The shrew will not be tamed.
Last chance lost—
They bicker on the rifle range;
Blame takes aim.
Last chance—
Last chance lost.
© 1994 Crazy Crow Music BMI 

April 1: John Muir
April 4: Cesare Pavese 
April 11: Elinor Wylie
April 18: John Milton 
April 26: Terri Guillemets and Joni Mitchell