A new twist

Hi everyone,

I met poet Joy Acey Frelinger in 2011 when she attended my Highlights Foundation poetry workshop near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Joy, Jeanne Poland, Ken Slesarik, and Cory Corrado were in the same group and I love it that we’ve all stayed in regular contact over these last eight years. That’s Ken and Joy (in red) in the picture.

Yesterday Joy sent me a note about my contribution to Jane Yolen’s new form, which she has dubbed the Tendrillon. Here’s Joy’s note/suggestion.

“I like your reply poem to Jane’s challenge BUT your ending couplet didn’t make much sense to me. I’d like to suggest for the last line:
I’ll drink martinis, very dry.”

And here’s my response.

“Thanks for the suggested revision. I meant my tongue in cheek ending to smack of irony: after over imbibing on wine for so long, my speaker decides to turn to vodka until he gets all that vine out of his system. Your suggestion changes my meaning but is a clearer solution. I’ll mention this on my blog.”

Sometimes when a writer dashes off a line to reflect his meaning, the result isn’t as clear to his reader as it seems in his mind because he knows what he means to convey and the reader has to be told. This may be a good example of it. The floor is open if you care to add your own thoughts to this example or perhaps to speak in general on the subject of clarity of expression. Thanks, Joy, for creating the teaching/learning moment.

Introducing Catherine Slesarik

Hi everyone,
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I had the pleasure of meeting teacher/poet/presenter Ken Slesarik in 2011 when he attended my first poetry workshop for the fine folks at Highlights Foundation. Uh, by the way, Ken has a sense of humor. Here’s a picture he provided after the workshop.

Ken and I have remained in contact and recently he began sharing with me occasional information about his talented artist daughter, Catherine Slesarik. Today is the day I want you to meet her too.
catherine-slesarik
At my suggestion, Ken interviewed Catherine and together they selected a small sample of her work. One of the pictures is of a dragon so papa K pitched in a poem to accompany it. Without further ado, here is Catherine Slesarik with a special assist from her father.

Catherine Slesarik is an award winning artist and collage student from Arizona. She enjoys sharing her talents with people of all ages. An avid reader and science buff, Catherine plans to incorporate science in her work as a children’s illustrator to inspire girls and women everywhere.

Seven Questions for Catherine Slesarik

1. How did you first become interested in art?
I have always been an artist for as long as I can remember but my focus has turned towards realism and people since I was about 14 years old. I’m currently 18 years of age.

2. What is your favorite medium and subject?
My favorite medium is a tie between charcoal and soft pastels. I prefer easily blended mediums like those or paint. My favorite subjects are faces and people as I enjoy capturing expression and emotion.
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3. Do you have any routines to be more creative or do you just jump right in?
I have absolutely no creative routines. I just decide what seems aesthetically pleasing and draw. Sometimes I don’t know what or who I’m drawing until I’m well into the piece.
pic-2-catherine-slesarik
4. What are your future plans and how would you most like to use your talents?
I am working towards selling portraits and cultivating my creativity while completing art school. I hope to collaborate with my dad on a larger scale and ultimately I want to illustrate books for children. I would like to use my talents to challenge the set beliefs that people have about what art is supposed to do. I hope to create beauty and bring it into the world to inspire people, especially girls and women.
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5. Do you have any influences?
Some influences I have are my dad, my mom, my high school art teacher from my senior year in high school and a small group of friends that have encouraged me to grow artistically, one of whom has helped me throughout most of my journey in the art world.

6. What are your other hobbies and interests besides art?
Some non-art related hobbies I have are science and puzzle solving.

7. Have you won any awards for your art?
I have won several awards for my art, among them a youth logo competition and three first place ribbons at the county fair, including the adult/ open category. I also received a superior rating at a national art festival last August.

Now here are the papa/daughter team Slesarik.

pic-1-catherine-slesarik
The Dragon of Didright

There lives a good dragon of Didright
who dutifully does what he’s told.
This dutiful dragon of Didright,
he guards the king’s diamonds and gold.

One day the dragon of Didright
did something especially brazen.
This “dutiful” dragon of Didright,
he traded the gold for a raisin.

The diamonds the dragon of Didright,
he traded for minty herb tea.
This “dutiful” dragon of Didright—
was wrong, I’m sure you’ll agree?

That night the dragon of Didright
was banished and sang a sad song.
He moved from the suburbs of Didright.
He moved from Didright to Didwrong.
(C) 2016 by Ken Slesarik
All Rights Reserved

Ken, thank you for introducing us to Catherine.
Catherine, I enjoyed featuring you today and wish you all the best in your chosen career.

David

We have student W.O.M. poems!

Hi everyone,

With thanks to teacher/poet Ken Slesarik, who teaches at Esperanza Music Academy in Phoenix, we have four poems posted by Esperanza students this month. Click on “Young Poets W.O.M. Poems” and check out the efforts of two fifth graders, Daniela and Emma, and two fourth graders, Landen and Trace. Way to go kids!
Ken Slesarik Photo
I met Ken in 2011 when he was one of eight poets in my first Highlights Foundation workshop near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. We were all taken by Ken’s adroit juxtaposition of words, unexpected rhymes, and wry humor. He’s not only a master teacher and accomplished children’s poet, he also does school visits when his time permits. Meanwhile he’s inspiring Esperanzo students to reach higher and learn the satisfaction of expressing themselves through poetry. It’s a lucky student who has Mr. Slesarik for a teacher.

At a time when so many good teachers everywhere are struggling to find the moments to post their student’s work, Ken remains one of the few who somehow make it happen, and for that I’m grateful. Please read the poems by these young poets and give them the encouragement they deserve.

Thanks, Ken!

David

Time to revamp my blog?

Hi everyone,

When Whiz-Kid Kathy Temean designed my website and blog in 2009, we worked until both sites met our expectations. We’ve made some adjustments along the way but it has been a while now since we stood back to take a look to see how well they fit today’s reality based on six years of experience. Nothing major, just a snip here and a tuck there ought to do it I think.

For example, I NEVER think to keep my schedule current so I think I might drop that little box and maybe replace it with the background information I just finished compiling. Anyone interested in reading some of that would find it a handy reference.

I’m sure I need to drop or rewrite my letter to principals about the Word of the Month Poetry Challenge section for students. I’m sad that teachers everywhere seem overwhelmed these days and few can carve out the time to work with their kids on writing poetry. We used to get dozens of student poems and now we get none most months and a handful in others from stalwarts like Ken Slesarik. I’m not sure what to tell principals but most of them are former teachers themselves so they understand the problem and are sympathetic to it. I keep hoping that the educational pendulum has reached its amplitude and as its velocity slows there will be more time to add in some of the important elements it lost during its initial rush toward change. Kids need time to read, time to write, time to become familiar with and passionate about the power of our language.

Okay, where was I? Oh. So I’ve asked Kathy to look over the current format and content of my blog. Many of you know my blog about as well as I do so I would be remiss if I didn’t ask for your input.

I’m going to leave this up for a couple of day. I think it’s important.

David