REMINDER: Don’t forget to vote for this month’s Hall of Fame Poets. The ballot boxes were posted yesterday.
Avis Harley loves poetry in all its many forms and faces. As my Featured Guest today Avis demonstrates her skill and passion by presenting her remarks in — what else? — verse. Read on!
FEATURED GUEST INTERVIEW
By Avis Harley
A good poem gives repeated pleasure.
Tender or tough: it is a treasure.
But all too often through the years,
delight in poetry disappears.
The adult count is very small
of those who read a poem at all.
Did ‘Simile Safaris’ in days of yore
burden poetry and make it a chore?
Whatever the reason, we need to effect
ways that have kids and poems connect.
How about poetry as a daily diet?
Imagine if everyone would try it!
It’s a World of Words, so inviting—
but it’s crafty business: poetry writing.
Sometimes I stare at a blank white page
stuck in the tabula rasa stage.
What to say? Where to begin?
How to get out what is within?
Should it be free verse? Limerick? Haiku?
Acrostic? Sonnet? Clerihew?
My poems go through multiple revisions.
Over and over I review decisions.
polishing a poem, line by line.
Always, I read the lines out loud.
Does the rhythm flow? Do the syllables crowd?
Does the subject dictate how the form should be?
Do words resonate inside of me?
Like a butterfly in its chrysalis stage,
lines take shape within the page:
(Editor’s note from David: I cannot get this poem to line up to show off the acrostic poem below. Be assured I’m trying and I apologize to Avis for my failure so far! Anyway, please note the initial letter in each line.)
EDITING THE CHRYSALIS
“At last,” cried Butterfly,
“My final draft!”
Many poems grew out of my teaching career,
recording those moments, year after year.
Life in the classroom is a wonderful place
for a poet to find ideas to embrace.
My teacher said I should look up
this word: PROCRASTINATE.
I’ll check it out when I get home,
it’s just a little wait.
But after school my friends drop by,
we laugh and play and fight;
then suddenly it’s dinner time,
I’ll look it up tonight.
But now the television’s on,
homework’s looking bleak.
PROCRASTINATE can wait a bit,
I’ll look it up next week.
If kindergarten kids know Tyrannosaurus
(and longish words should never bore us)
why not onomatopoeia and alliteration?
Such delicious words for exploration!
Children will ask what makes a poet.
The best preparation, as I know it,
is to be an observer—take second looks,
and read and read all kinds of books.
This book is the best—
I woke up to read it
Before getting dressed.
This book is so cool—
It’s the first thing I grabbed
When I rushed home from school.
This book is a winner—
I forgot I was hungry.
I almost missed dinner.
This book is just right—
I’m reading by flashlight deep into the night
Deliciously thirsty to see how it ends.
Books are such mind-thrilling
Encouraging poetry memorization
offers the wonderful realization
that a favorite poem off the shelf
is a lifetime gift you can give yourself.
My advice to writers is never lose heart.
Poem rejections all play their part.
Choose a subject where passion lies
and try to describe it with fresh clear eyes.
Nature themes appeal to me
and invite me into their mystery.
Whether it’s stars in the galaxy…
In the language of stars
lie stories of old
told and retold.
Spelling out sagas,
Spilling out light,
a mythical manuscript
filling the night.
…or creatures gliding beneath the sea:
Examine the suckers on tapered limbs –
moon sequins pale as porcelain skins.
See how the flow of elbow and angle
smoothly moves in a tasteful tangle.
Think how this creature can gracefully scroll
down through the tiniest, narrowest hole.
And imagine the pageant with eight arms at play
when they bow at the end of their octo ballet.
It falls on adults to bring to light
the magic of poetry—to share the delight
with kids as they savor words at play.
A poem-a-day is a wonderful way.
This week my Featured Guest is poet Avis Harley. Avis lives in Canada and is a retired teacher. Here is the bio she sent to share and wouldn’t you know, some of it’s in rhyme. This is a refreshing way to read a bio! Here’s Avis.
Born in Vancouver
close by the sea,
she earned an MA
from the U. of B.C.
A teacher, writer,
mother, and wife,
lover of poetry
all of her life—
she’s now retired
and devotes her time
to the crafty business
Avis has worked in elementary schools in Canada and England, and has given poetry presentations in Canada, U.S., Hong Kong, and Japan. She has also taught at the University of British Columbia in the Language and Literacy Department, exploring ways to bring children and poetry together with teachers and librarians.
Her early love of poetry grew into a life-long interest in experimenting with words, rhythms, patterns, and poetic forms. Avis has written and illustrated Fly with Poetry: An ABC of Poetry; its companion book, Leap into Poetry: More ABCs of Poetry; and The Monarch’s Progress: Poems with Wings.
Her poetry book, Sea Stars: Saltwater Poems is illustrated with photographs by Margaret Butschler. The photographer for African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways is Deborah Noyes. Many of her poems are published in anthologies and magazines, and are largely focused on the natural world.
Now retired from teaching, Avis enjoys hiking, gardening, crosswords, reading, and music—especially singing. She lives with her husband in Vancouver, British Columbia. They have one son.
Thank you, Avis. I look forward to introducing you tomorrow!
If you want to reread the May Word of the Month poems, I’ve posted them below the ballot boxes. David
POEMS BY ADULTS
1) For You
There is a glamour in your eyes,
Soft the south wind sighs,
pale the lonely stars above,
while the night will promise dreams of love.
There is romance in your smile-
wait for me a little while,
let me prove that love is true
all my hearts’ saved for you
— Don Barrett
2) Said the Pony to the Lab
Foraging along fence lines
Pony pauses, lab draws near
Hey, you Labrador, c’mere
Check out my domain, all mine
Queen of screamin’ green
Pleads, eyelids dancing
Lab approaches, prancing
Butter me up, promises keen
And I’ll be your quiet king,
And turn screamin’ green serene….
3) Foolish Games
It was a foolish game.
Rubber bands around purple wrists,
Fingers cold and tingly,
Imagining blood would cease
And icy fingers would drop
Screaming for life
To the floor.
But the foolish game ended.
Rubber bands returned to junk drawers,
Fingers warm and alive,
Imaginations running on
For other childish games
To be enjoyed
So is the tyrant’s game.
As he sifts through his junk drawer,
Looking for rubber bands
He seems warm and alive,
His people heed the promise,
And we just look
For more new games.
Oppression squeezes tighter.
Like rubber bands on purple wrists
Once screaming for life,
The oppressed grow icy
And drop to the floor.
There’s no return–
And foolish games go on.
— gay fawcett
4) No Promise
The word of love
Cross your heart
Hope to die
Sworn to love
Death do us part
Shouldn’t be said
If easily broken
For part of the heart
Dies and promises
Blow in the wind.
Promises, Promises, Promises
I want them all
Some say my order’s too tall
I want health, wealth, happiness
I’ve been told that is just sappiness
The world’s opportunities are
new each day
I can gather my desires all
along the way
Peace, joy, health are mine
Moving toward wealth all the time
I am greatful for blessings
Accept the promises in you.
— Janet Kay Gallagher
6) Right Whale Bones Eubalaena glacialis
One day I’ll take a whale watch boat
To see your great descendants float
And breach up their enormous girth,
Before they perish from the earth.
That day I’ll hear their right whale song,
And I will gladly sing along,
As they intone with mammal mirth,
Before they perish from the earth.
And if I’m lucky, I’ll have spied
An infant calf by mother’s side,
Who weighs a ton his day of birth,
Before they perish from the earth.
Your skeleton is ghostly white,
But I will join your faithful fight.
If humans learn your precious worth,
You’ll never perish from the earth.
This way, please.
It’ll only take a minute.
Do we have your paperwork…?
Okay, yes—here we go.
Now, that was easy, wasn’t it?
We’ll have the results on Tuesday.
Oh, I can’t say.
But they’ll be here by—
Yes, I promise.
What will they show?
Nothing you have to worry about,
How can I be so sure?
Oh, I see—
you’re not sure.
Ummm… well, yes.
That’s a possibility.
but… as I was saying—
we’ll have the results….
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Tests are one thing;
results are another.
What did you say?
Oh—your mother had it.
And your grandmother?
the tests are just routine—
No. I’ve never—
Well, because . . .
I’ve never been exposed to,
Ah, that’s better now.
Yes, I know.
Everything will be okay,
You’re upsetting the other patients.
I—you—we… we’ll just have to wait—
Oh, don’t mention it…
we all have bad days.
— julie Krantz
8) Yeti’s Promise
Yeti made a privy promise
between him and Sheriff Thomas.
Pledgin’ to stay out of trouble
in lieu of costs with fines double.
One night, the Yeti, out from hidin,’
tryin’ to be law abidin,’
had the urge to “kick it.”
Root beer lead to sassafraassin’
so he was cited for harassin’
bystanders and pedestrians.
Then we mad equestrians,
gathered guns and tawny ropes.
Some read their horoscopes in hopes
of guidance in the thicket.
The search, it lingered on for days
then somethin’ moved beyond the haze.
It spooked the horses and the men.
We heard it once and then again.
In that darkness he approached us,
then smiled and said “Buenos noches,
how ‘bout a game of cricket?”
Not lookin’ for a fight that night
we played cricket by the moonlight.
The game, was too complex for us
and he was ambidextrous.
We thought we were appeasin’ him
and no one teased him on a whim,
yet he began to picket.
“Your promise, Yeti, that’s why we’re here
just pay your fine, no need to fear.”
“We’ve searched and you’ve eluded us.”
“Don’t picket and be rude to us.”
Then shots rang out, the chase was on.
We think we hit him but he’s gone…
and someone paid the ticket.
— Copyright 2011 by Ken Slesarik
All Rights Reserved
I didn’t. I said I would try.
You did! And you lied!
You would do it.
If it could be done.
You promised you’d do it
I said…Stop! Don’t run.
I’m leaving. You promised. You promised.
You promised you’d stay.
Please don’t go.
— liz korba
10) It’s Sneaky – Be Aware
I’m going crazy
out of my mind
that creepy little ivy
was the poisonous kind
I didn’t even know
that’s how this plant works
days later rash shows
it itches, it hurts
I try not to scratch
poor body’s rubbed red
each bump, swollen patch
keeps growing; it spreads
It’s vicious and mean
but I restrain; stay strong
apply calamine cream…
Still, recovery takes long
Well, I did learn a lesson,
how to ID and give care –
So now I promise you skin
I’ll watch out. I’ll beware!
— Jackie Huppenthal
11) Are You Sure?
Think before you speak.
Promises easily made
are often not kept.
— Beth Carter
12) The Promise
Boughs bare brown
Bounty-full buds flower blossoms vivid-white
Buzzing pollen kisses
Green leafy embrace
Cherrilicious red harvest
Nature’s pledge-unspoken, unbroken
— Cory Corrado
13) I Promise, I’ll Write It!
The paper sits before me.
It’s empty lines implore me.
The words inside are forming…
I promise….I’ll write it!
Oh yes, I have the plot.
Adventure and fun, I’ve got!
Characters, a mischievious lot…
I promise…I’ll write it!
And the ending, oh it will surprise!
Amazment right before your eyes!
Tears for girls, guffaws for guys…
I promise…I’ll write it!
I’ll get it all down, quick as a wink.
But, of course, I must take time to think.
O darn…my pen ran out of ink.
But I promise….I’ll write it!
— Martha Dinsdale
POEMS BY YOUNG POETS, GRADES 3-7
1) The King’s “Grammer”
(The title has a grammatical error in it because many of my friends say that I am “too perfect.”)
I once had a friend
That would give me a dollar
if I promised I would not correct his
or other people’s grammar.
I said, “Fine!” and the game was started.
Quickly however, I insisted I could not do it.
It was just far too hard.
Someone said an incomplete thought to me.
This is what I said:
“Your attempted formation of a sentence has failed, because you have not a predicate.”
Another friend said, “You Thailand people…”
This is what I said:
“When describing a nationality of a country, you use the demonym of the country,
not the country itself that you wish to describe from where that person is from.”
When a sparrow is born,
he will learn how to fly.
No one can say, “Don’t fly today!” to the sparrow.
It is natural;
The sparrow was born to fly,
and it is natural that a sparrow can and will fly.
Alas, a sparrow can only be a sparrow.
Thus being said, I can only be myself.
— P. Andrew Pipatjarasgit, grade 6
Teacher: Jana Smith
2) Broken Home, Broken Field
I look at the floor hoping to see my reflection against shimmering wood
But all I see is concrete
The bed is now grey fluff and rotting wood
It will never be the luxurious mattress that I wish it was
I draw my eyes to the broken window that you promised to fix last week
Clouds carrying thunder and lightning come closer each second
The land is dry like a prairie
But not as dry as a desert
The sun hides behind the clouds
like a child hides behind a maple tree
during a game of Hide-and-Go-Seek
Not a single ray beams over the once-was grass
Not a single bit of care was put into them
Just like the room
With the broken bed
— Maya Dayal, grade 6
Teacher: Jana Smith
The creature’s beauty
Was like that
Of a falling star
With not only its own light
But with that of the moon as well
Its one horn
Protruding from its forehead
With a radiance
Could safely behold
To her white coat
Just a promise
In his dark aura
Swirling about him
Keeping everything back
One shedding light
The other stealing it
They race around the world
Always on opposite sides
Do day and night meet
And as much as they wish otherwise
It must always be so
Emma Lavetter-Keiden, grade 5
sitting on your lap
looking into your old eyes
You hold out your pinky
I peer at it…
“That you will
stay with me forever.”
I nodded my two-year-old head
And hold out mine.
Packing my bags
We seal boxes
Tears stream from your eyes
As we load them into the car
I get in,
But you don’t.
You wipe a tear
I lean out
“I will always be with you,
while pointing to your heart
You nod you 63-year-old head
and wave you hand
as the door shuts.
Pushing past the hospital curtains
to find you,
I run to the side of your bed,
and grab your hand,
and repeat our promise.
We nod our heads
and look into each others eyes
I never thought that,
I would see you like this.
I sit there
Drip from my eyes
until the nurse escorts me out.
Back then, I didn’t know
that we would
I gaze at the stars
I see your constellation,
Smiling down at me,
Pointing to your heart.
And there it is…