“It’s amazing what you can see when you just sit quietly and look.” Jacqueline Kelly, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Looking closely and seeing familiar objects in new and unique ways is the essence of poetry. H is For Haiku is a joyful collection of haiku by Sydell Rosenberg, a poet and New York City public school teacher who passed away in 1996, that celebrates everyday life 17 syllables at a time. Rosenberg’s daughter, Amy Losak, has lovingly gathered 26 poems to fulfill her mother’s dream of publishing a book of haiku for children. (Read more about this journey here.)
I love that this collection begins with the word adventure, for that’s exactly what H is For Haiku is. Readers step into a world where children’s daily lives and dreams spill across the page, just as the universe seems to be pouring out of a cat’s tail in the first poem. What child hasn’t thought of monsters when they see lobsters in a tank or wondered about turtles perched on a rock?
Rosenberg’s haiku are also full of the joy of language. Young readers may not know what a jaunt is, but they will to go on one with a “wide-eyed doll” after reading the poem for the letter C. The subject of each poem does not necessarily begin with the letter the poem represents. This inventiveness shows children how playful language can be. After reading “a squirrel sweeps up sunbeams/with her transparent tail,” who won’t be inspired to notice the world in new way?
This collection is spirited, inventive, and fun. Sawsan Chalabi’s whimsical illustrations fill H is For Haiku with a diverse cast of expressive characters that perfectly complement the tone of Rosenberg’s poems. After reading H is For Haiku, children of all ages will pay closer attention as they go about their day, always on the lookout for the poetry hiding in unexpected corners of their world.
Honoring Syd’s life,
crafted with her daughter’s love: H is For Haiku
Thank you, Amy Losak, for giving us the gift of your mother’s poetry.
Please be sure to visit Michelle Heidenrich Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty for the Poetry Friday Roundup.
Without intending to, I ended up taking a hiatus from blogging during October. I have missed all my poetry pals, though, so I’m determined to at least get pack to posting on Fridays.
In September, the lovely and generous Irene Latham invited her readers and friends to share “some octopus poems and art” to be featured on her blog during October, otherwise known as #NationalOctopusMonth. I’ve never been a huge fan of octopuses, but I am a HUGE fan of Irene and all her writing, so I dove into learning more about the fascinating creatures.
I soon discovered the wonderpus octopus (Wunderpus photogenicus), who lives in the coastal waters near Indonesia and Malaysia. This beautiful little octopus inspired this poem, “The Wondrous Wonderpus.”
Thank you again to Irene, for always being such an inspiration. Please be sure to visit Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup for the Poetry Friday Roundup!
For the past week or so, I have been attempting to write a sonnet. It is not going well. I have counted syllables, tapped stresses, and written lists of rhyming words. I have read sonnets. I have read about writing sonnets. This has not helped. But I am not giving up.
Among the many sonnets I’ve read, I found this little gem, which seems to be lacking a few characteristics of a sonnet, in the Poetry Foundation’s sonnet collection.
“Talking About the Day”
by Jim Daniels
Each night after reading three books to my two children–
we each picked one–to unwind them into dreamland,
I’d turn off the light and sit between their beds
in the wide junk-shop rocker I’d reupholstered blue,
still feeling the close-reading warmth of their bodies beside me,
and ask them to talk about the day–we did this,
we did that, sometimes leading somewhere, sometimes
not, but always ending up at the happy ending of now.
Now, in still darkness, listening to their breath slow and ease
into sleep’s regular rhythm.
Over the summer, all our students in grades five through eight read Restart, by Gordon Korman. The kids loved the book, and have had some amazing discussions about its characters and themes. Earlier this week, as a culminating event, we had a Skype visit with Mr. Korman, who entertained us with stories and writing advice. Before our visit, the kids came up with many insightful questions. Their thoughtful wonderings inspired this poem. (Which was also inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye‘s ditty challenge for September on Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’s blog, Today’s Little Ditty.)
To the Author Of My Favorite Book:
What made you write this story? What gave you this idea? How did you find the just-right words to show the way I feel? Did you peek inside my diary, or spy on me each day?
Were you ever lonely? Were you ever blue? Did someone ever write a book that felt like a friend to you?
Do you think I can be happy like the girl inside your book? You made her come alive, you gave me a new friend. Please write more of her story so our friendship never ends.
Every teacher knows the week before school starts is one of the busiest of the year; a week that leaves little time for reflective, thoughtful writing. I’ve decided that working through some of the mentor texts in Linda Rief’s The Quickwrite Handbook is a realistic option to keep me writing during these first few weeks of school.
This week, Linda’s suggestion to borrow the phrase “Life is short…” from Maggie Smith’s poem “Good Bones,” appealed to me. Here is my response:
Life is short, so on the last Sunday of August, the day before school started, when I still had piles of books I wanted to read and at least one poem I wanted to write, I drove for half an hour to meet my friend.
Life is short, so we met at a place where we could walk in the sunshine of a late summer morning through a field still wet with dew and bedecked with the lacy offerings of a thousand spiders and talk about our busy week, our busy children, our busy lives.
Life is short, so even though there was laundry to sort and rooms to vacuum, we drove to a diner where we drank hot coffee and ate fluffy eggs and ignored the hustle and bustle around us and talked some more and worked on the crossword puzzle, just like we used to when she lived down the street, enjoying the easy comfort of our long friendship, a friendship that makes this life beautiful.