Friday, February 24, 2017

A Poem in Memory of My Mother


 
Mary Koziski Drabik
February 24, 1918--January 5, 2017
 
My mother Mary--or Manya as her parents called her--was the daughter of Polish immigrants who came to America in the early part of the 20th century. My mother came from a close-knit family. The eldest of four children--two daughters and two sons--she was the last of all her siblings and cousins to pass away. She was one tough old gal who was well loved and admired by everyone who knew her.
 
My mother was devoted to her family. She doted on my father. She took care of my daughter Sara so I could return to teaching. She also helped care for her parents and her mother-in-law when they were elderly. She was always busy doing things for others in order to make their lives better.
 
My mom passed away on the evening of January 5th surrounded by her loved ones. We all miss her terribly.
 
For more than a decade, my husband and I hosted a family gathering in celebration of Mom's birthday. On Sunday, we plan to gather again to celebrate my mother's life...and to share happy memories of our lives with her.
 
I had wanted to read a poem by Christina Rossetti at my mother's funeral--but knew I wouldn't be able to share it without coming to tears. I'd like to share that poem this Poetry Friday with all of my kidlit blogging friends.
 

[Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome]

By Christina Rossetti

Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name:
In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
Of time and change and mortal life and death.
 
 
 
 
 



 
 








 My Mother's Last Mother's Day (2016)

Head on over to Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup to read her interview with me...and to find out more about my first book THINGS TO DO:
 
 

 
 
 
 


Friday, February 10, 2017

ALL THE WONDERS Podcast Interview with Matthew Winner


Last week, Matthew Winner of All the Wonders interviewed me about THINGS TO DO. We talked about my book, the best ways to teach children how to write poetry, the importance of children going outside and observing the world around them, and the wonderful feeling of getting something out of my head and onto the page. We discussed Catia Chien's gorgeous illustrations for the book. In addition, I talked about Grace Lin and Janet Wong--two good friends who have always been there for me when I needed help and advice.


 
 
Over at Seven Impossible Things, Julie Danielson is highlighting three of Catia Chien's beautiful illustrations from my book THINGS TO DO.

Julie also wrote about THINGS TO DO being an excellent book to use in the classroom as a creative writing prompt over at Kirkus earlier this week..

**********
 
Katie has the Poetry Friday Roundup over at The Logonauts.
 

 





Friday, November 11, 2016

THE INCIDENT by Countee Cullen.

I am so depressed. You can probably figure out why for yourselves. I have been reading about all the racist incidents that have been happening in this country since Trump got elected--so many of them in schools. My heart bleeds for minority children who may be fearful of going to school now.

Today, I am posting one of the most powerful poems about racism that I have ever. It hits me in the gut every time I read it.

THE INCIDENT
by Countee Cullen

Once riding in old Baltimore,
    Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
    Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
    And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
    His tongue, and called me, "Nigger."

I saw the whole of Baltimore
    From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
    That's all that I remember.

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

Jama Rattigan has the Poetry Friday Roundup today.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Sherman Alexie: The Powwow at the End of the World

 

November is Native American Heritage Month. In recognition of that, I am sharing one of my favorite poems by Sherman Alexie. I also have an excerpt from an article titled The Human Right to Water at Standing Rock.


The Powwow at the End of the World
by Sherman Alexie

I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall   
after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam   
and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive   
and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam   
downriver from the Grand Coulee. I am told by many of you   
that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find   
their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific   
and causes all of it to rise. I am told by many of you that I must forgive   
and so I shall after the first drop of floodwater is swallowed by that salmon   
waiting in the Pacific.

Click here to read the rest of the poem.

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

The Human Right to Water at Standing Rock
By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout/News Analysis

Excerpt:
As thousands of Indigenous people from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, other Native American tribes, and their allies continue their protest against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), corporate media have continued to focus almost exclusively on the presidential election. Most media ignored last week's vicious attack on the Water Protectors, as they call themselves.
The construction of the pipeline would violate the human right to peace, the right of Indigenous peoples to practice their cultural traditions, and several federal statutes.
On October 27, more than 100 police from seven different states and the North Dakota National Guard, clad in riot gear and carrying automatic rifles, arrived in MRAPs [Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected military vehicles], Humvees and an armored police truck. They defended Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the pipeline, and arrested 142 Water Protectors. That brings the total arrested since August to over 400. More than 40 people have been injured, and some have broken bones and welts from rubber bullets fired by officers.
Ret. Army Col. Ann Wright, who spent four days at Standing Rock, reported: "Police used mace, pepper spray, tear gas and flash-bang grenades and bean-bag rounds against Native Americans who lined up on the highway."
The 1,170-mile, $3.7 billion oil pipeline is scheduled to traverse North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa. Slated to transport over 570,000 barrels of fracked oil daily, the pipeline would pass under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, just a half-mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's drinking water source. It could affect 28 tribes and millions of people.
An inevitable oil spill from the pipeline, releasing diesel fuel and toxic levels of contaminants into the river, would be culturally and economically catastrophic to the tribe, polluting its source of water and critical farmlands...

Those arrested were held at the Morton County Correctional Center in 10-by-14 foot cages, some in dog kennels. They reported being forced to wait for access to food, water, bathrooms and medical attention. Some charged with misdemeanors were strip-searched. Women were left naked in their cells and male guards harassed them. Some people were zip-tied in stress positions for hours.

Click here to read the rest of the article.
********************
Laura Purdie Salas has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Writing the World for Kids.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

One Minute till Bedtime: 60-Second Poems to Send You off to Sleep


Guess what came in the mail a couple of days ago? A copy of a great new poetry anthology titled One Minute Till Bedtime: 60-Second Poems to Send You Off to Sleep. The poems were selected by former Children's Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt and the illustrations were done by Christoph Niemann. The anthology includes more than one hundred selections--many by some of our most respected children's poets, including Nikki Grimes, Jack Prelutsky, Ron Koertge, Lee Bennett Hopkins, J. Patrick Lewis, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Marilyn Singer, Mary Ann Hoberman, Julie Larios, X. J. Kennedy, Pat Mora, Nancy Willard, Jane Yolen, Janet Wong, Joyce Sidman...and Kenn Nesbitt. There are so many other poets whose works are included that I just can't list them all!

I am so happy to tell you that one of my poems is included in this wonderful book—which has already garnered three starred reviews!



* "These pithy poetic observations and Niemann's engaging illustrations prove at once antidote and anodyne for the sleep-averse child demanding just one more....A dreamy collection of bedtime poems and witty illustrations that's anything but sleepy."―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "With a broad range of voices and sentiments, the collection delivers poems to meet any mood."―Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Exuberant for the most part (with some serious musings to lend ballast) and in perfect harmony with its cartoonish, color-washed illustrations, this sleepy-time volume is just the thing for the rhyme-loving child who has graduated from Mother Goose."―School Library Journal, starred review


One Minute till Bedtime is due for release on November 1, 2016. 
It would make an excellent holiday gift for parents of young children...and for kids who love poetry. I'm planning to order several more copies to give as baby and Christmas presents.



NOTE: Not all the poems in this anthology are about bedtime. They touch on various and sundry topics. Titles of some of the poems: A Hard Rain, The Dandelion, Our Kittens, Skateboard Girl, The Tadpole Bowl, A Visit to the Forest, Me and My Feet, and Armadillo.

The poems are divided into six sections--each of which begins with a poem by Nesbitt.

The first poem in One Minute till Bedtime is Whew!, Nesbitt's list poem in which a child tells us all the things he/she has to before being able to enjoy reading a book.

Here is how the poems ends:

Telephoned
my gramps and grammas.
Changed into 
my soft pajamas.
Fluffed the pillows.
Got my Ted.
Said my prayers.
Climbed in bed.
All that's done;
at last I'm freed.
Finally,
it's time to read.

And here is my contribution to One Minute till Bedtime:



Chirping in the dark, their song
Resonates
In the still air. A
Chorus of summer night strummers in concert with
Katydids
Entertaining warm evenings with
Their
Symphony of wings.

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

Linda has the Poetry Friday Roundup at TeacherDance.