Poetry Friday: Sydell Rosenberg’s H is for Haiku

“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.

 

 

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Poetry Friday: “Talking About the Day”

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.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Please be sure to visit Jone Rush MacCulloch at Deowriter for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: “…With Care in Such a World”

As I searched for an idea for today’s post, I came across this poem by William Stafford:

“The Well Rising”

The well rising without sound,
the spring on a hillside,
the plowshare brimming through deep ground
everywhere in the field–

The sharp swallows in their swerve
flaring and hesitating
hunting for the final curve
coming closer and closer–

Read the rest of the poem here.

The final line, “with care in such a world,” resonated with me, and I decided to use it as the strike line for a Golden Shovel.

Please be sure to visit the lovely Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

 

Poetry Friday: Questions for the Author

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.

© Catherine Flynn, 2018

Please be sure to visit Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: W.S. Merwin’s “Beginners”

Like many of you, and hundreds of thousands of educators around the country, I’ve been busy preparing for the start of school next week. The buzz of anticipation at meeting new students, sharing new books, and embarking on our learning journey never fades. Unfortunately, there are always aspects of our teaching lives that we have no control over and don’t always agree with. What we can control, though, is our response to the situation.

I’ve always admired people who remain calm in every situation because I occasionally go to DEFCON 1 in an instant. I know this is not always appropriate or even warranted. It’s usually also never helpful. This is something I’m working on. I will carry the last line of this poem by the very wise and wonderful W.S. Merwin into the new year to help me.

“Beginners”
by W.S. Merwin

As though it had always been forbidden to remember
each of us grew up
knowing nothing about the beginning

but in time there came from that forgetting
names representing a truth of their own
and we went on repeating them
until they too began not to be remembered
they became part of the forgetting
later came stories like the days themselves
there seemed to be no end to them
and we told what we could remember of them

Read the rest of the poem here.

Wishing you all a great year!

Please be sure to visit my wise and wonderful friend, Margaret Simon at Reflection on the Teche, for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: The Heron

A quick scroll through the photos on my phone would let you know that I am fairly obsessed with birds. So when Christie Wyman, a true kindred spirit and fellow bird devotee, issued a “bird-related poem challenge…to anyone willing to fly along,” I knew I was in.

My contribution to Christie’s feather-filled roundup was inspired by a chance encounter earlier this summer.

The Heron

All at once, a heron
is standing
in the middle of the road.
Maybe she thought flecks
of mica in the pavement
were fish darting back
and forth in a creek.

But no quicksilver fish
swim in this endless
stream of asphalt.

Bewildered, she extends
her graceful neck
like a periscope,
searching.

Suddenly, an alarm
only she can hear
buzzes and
the moment is over.

Without a sound, her wings lift,
beat the air, and she is aloft,
her beak a compass needle
pointing toward true north.

© Catherine Flynn, 2018

Please be sure to visit Christie’s blog, Wondering and Wandering, for her “Birds of a Feather” Poetry Friday Roundup.