Saturday Micro-Fiction #12

Bernini - Apollo and Daphe

Apollo and Daphne by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1625. 

“Metamorphosis”

I am a river dryad, daughter of the river god Peneus, and devoted to the huntress Diana. I have vowed my virginity to her, and Cupid has made it doubly so. My lord Apollo knows this and yet still he pursues me. He too has been pierced with an arrow of a different sort. I run as fast as I can, begging him to leave me alone.

“Peneus, my father, help me I beseech thee!” I scream as I run.

He grants my request, and suddenly my feet become roots, a thin bark covers my body and my raised hands and flowing hair starts sprouting leaves.

Apollo catches up to me, and still wants me despite my transformation. “If you are not to be mine, let me at least honor you.” And so I became a laurel tree, beloved of Apollo.

Saturday Micro-Fiction #11

Marta - Eyes as Big as Plates

Marta, from the Eyes as Big as Plates series. Riita Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth, Norway 2011.

“Autumn”

Demeter is lost in thought and the fallen leaves have formed an autumnal crown around her divine head. She is contemplating the fate of her daughter Persephone and the time that must now pass before Persephone returns from the underworld. A single tear slips down her cheek remembering that unhappy memory. They hadn’t been on speaking terms in awhile, not since the last fight they had. Both are too proud to admit they need the other. Demeter doesn’t want to think about it anymore and lets out an anguished sigh before silently continuing her journey through the orchards surrounding the temple at Eleusis. Leaves crunch underfoot as she stops to gather a bouquet of late-blooming orange poppies, and sets them near the temple entrance. They are for the women who are about to start the Thesmorphoria

Saturday Micro-Fiction #10

I haven’t posted one of these in forever, so wanted to start it up again because I miss writing them. I’m going to start with one of my favorite sculptural pieces ever, which I was lucky enough to see in the Villa Borghese in Rome. 

Pluto and Persephone - Bernini

The Rape of Persephone – Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1622-23

“Shanghaied”

I’m sitting in a field of flowers with my mother Demeter. Suddenly I spy a narcissus, which would be the perfect centerpiece for the flower crown I am making, when suddenly the ground opens up. I can see a glowing pair of eyes in the darkness, looking right at me, which causes a shiver to run down my spine. Suddenly my taciturn uncle Hades comes bursting out of the ground in his golden chariot driven by four sable horses. Without a word, he drags me kicking and screaming back into the depths of the underworld with him, his fingers sinking into my nubile flesh. The flowers fall from my hand as I descend and are lost in the nothingness. I am calling out for my mother to help me, but it is too late. The ground closes up above my head and now there is no hope.

Long Way Down

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, narrated by the author

Published Oct 2017

I haven’t done a proper book review in awhile on here, but I really wanted to share this one because it was a book I probably would not have picked up on my own, if I hadn’t already been using it as part of a teen verse novel booklist already. It’s not a topic that jumps out at you to pick up. Will’s older brother Shawn is killed right in front of him. Will must follow The Rules (Don’t Cry or Snitch and Take revenge on whoever has hurt your family/friends) and exact his revenge on his brother’s killer. So he puts a gun in his waistband and takes the elevator down from the 8th floor down to the lobby. I liked that the author, in the notes at the end, called the book a combination of “A Christmas Carol meets Boyz in the Hood” and that’s pretty accurate. It honestly took me awhile to figure out if the people were all in his head or actually real. Basically, at every floor in the minute it takes to get from his floor to the Lobby, he sees all these important people in his life that were killed by guns, and each gives insight into Will and his brother Shawn, how things have come to a head with Shawn’s death, and how Will is handling or sometimes not handling his grief.

I also loved that the whole point of the book, according to the author, is for everyone to gain a little empathy into the lives of others, and the author does this by forcing us to experience Will’s pain at his brother’s death and giving us an insight into how things have been for his family and friends. In this review, the author also said “Even though this book is an obvious warning against gun violence, it is also meant to humanize young people in the midst of all of this.” I adored the poetry form that he decided to do the novel in and language he used was gorgeous and rich, despite the hard-to-hear subject matter. I really enjoyed this book and very glad I decided to listen to the audiobook read by the author because only an author knows how to put the right emphasis on the words. Highly recommended for ages 13+, 5 stars.

Summer Reading: Libraries Rock!

The program theme for Summer Reading this year is:

Libraries Rock

I’m really grooving on the theme this year because after eleven months of being closed for repairs and renovation, the library I call home and work at has finally reopened. It looks amazing and even though we are still making it a home again, I’m glad to be back. Below is a picture of our 5th floor reading/study space.

Burton Barr 5th floor

I found the below comic this afternoon from the artist, Grant Snider, whose newsletter I subscribe to. I wanted to share because it reminded me of Summer Reading.

Library-Final-fb

Summer Reading is always super important to make sure the kids don’t lose all the reading achievement they gained during the school year, aka “summer slide”. For more information on this topic, check out this article on Reading Rockets. This year I’m trying to challenge my kid to read for 1000 minutes, partially to see if he can beat me and so he can win a free book and a cool medal. He’s not bothered the last couple of years but I’d really like him to finish this year. I usually read (not counting audiobooks) between 1500-2000 minutes every June-August for Summer Reading. If you are interested in booklists for children from birth to 8th grade, please check out the Association for Library Services to Children’s (ALSC) Summer Reading booklists. For teens, check out the Young Adult Library Services Association’s (YALSA) award-winning booklists. For adults, I would recommend the Great American Reads list from PBS as it has a good mix of classic and modern books on it. So everyone keep reading! Children, teens, and adults can join the summer reading program. Just go check out your local public library and get signed up. There’s still 6-1/2 weeks of Summer Reading left. 

 

Simon Armitage

Image result for poems by simon armitage

While I’ve never heard of him, Simon Armitage has apparently been making quite the splash in the UK over the last 20 years. I find his educational background interesting as he originally got his first degree in Geography and second in Social Work, where as the biography on the Poetry Foundation tells us:

“He studied the impact of televised violence on young offenders. He went on to work as a probation officer for six years before focusing on poetry. Of course, his crowning achievement was becoming the Oxford Professor of Poetry in 2015, and currently works at the University of Leeds. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Literature. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Armitage was named the Millennium Poet in 1999 and a Commander of the British Empire in 2010.”

He is famous for his new translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Odyssey. For more information on his work, check out the poet’s personal website. I’m curious to read his book Walking Home: Travels with a Troubadour on the Pennine Way, where he literally depended on the strangers of others to support himself as he hiked, and read poetry for his supper, the 256 mile route through England and Scotland. 

I chose “To His Lost Lover” from The Book of Matches, 1993 and “I Kicked a Mushroom” from his latest collection, The Unaccompanied, 2017. 

“To His Lost Lover”

Now they are no longer
any trouble to each other

he can turn things over, get down to that list
of things that never happened, all of the lost

unfinishable business.
For instance… for instance,

how he never clipped and kept her hair, or drew a hairbrush
through that style of hers, and never knew how not to blush

at the fall of her name in close company.
How they never slept like buried cutlery –

two spoons or forks cupped perfectly together,
or made the most of some heavy weather –

walked out into hard rain under sheet lightning,
or did the gears while the other was driving.

How he never raised his fingertips
to stop the segments of her lips

from breaking the news,
or tasted the fruit

or picked for himself the pear of her heart,
or lifted her hand to where his own heart

was a small, dark, terrified bird
in her grip. Where it hurt.

Or said the right thing,
or put it in writing.

And never fled the black mile back to his house
before midnight, or coaxed another button of her blouse,

then another,
or knew her

favourite colour,
her taste, her flavour,

and never ran a bath or held a towel for her,
or soft-soaped her, or whipped her hair

into an ice-cream cornet or a beehive
of lather, or acted out of turn, or misbehaved

when he might have, or worked a comb
where no comb had been, or walked back home

through a black mile hugging a punctured heart,
where it hurt, where it hurt, or helped her hand

to his butterfly heart
in its two blue halves.

And never almost cried,
and never once described

an attack of the heart,
or under a silk shirt

nursed in his hand her breast,
her left, like a tear of flesh

wept by the heart,
where it hurts,

or brushed with his thumb the nut of her nipple,
or drank intoxicating liquors from her navel.

Or christened the Pole Star in her name,
or shielded the mask of her face like a flame,

a pilot light,
or stayed the night,

or steered her back to that house of his,
or said “Don’t ask me how it is

I like you.
I just might do.”

How he never figured out a fireproof plan,
or unravelled her hand, as if her hand

were a solid ball
of silver foil

and discovered a lifeline hiding inside it,
and measured the trace of his own alongside it.

But said some things and never meant them –
sweet nothings anybody could have mentioned.

And left unsaid some things he should have spoken,
about the heart, where it hurt exactly, and how often.

 

IKickedAMushroom

Kwame Alexander

Image result

I’ve been wanting to read him for awhile, ever since I heard about his Crossover verse novel. So in honor of National Poetry Month, I grabbed a copy of Crush: Love Poems for teens and loved it, because it showed all the different aspects of love and not just the mushy bits. Plus you gotta love any volume that includes Neruda, as I adore his 100 Love Sonnets.  Below are two of my favorite poems (especially the second one) from Crush, 2007.

“I Want You”

 

to think of me      as

Ellington thought of jazz and

Ella thought of scat     as

Lady Day thought of loss and 

Luther thought of love

 

yes, think of me

as the first aria and

the last allegro

in this symphony

of life

 

in other words

let this ancient language of love

be the music

that keeps you 

humming through the night

 

that keeps you

dancing

naked

on the

floor

 

“The Examination (AKA The Before-You-Holla Quiz)”

 

Can you study my heart, and learn to love me with your mind?

Can you lift my spirits, bench press my burdens, exercise my intellect?

Can you get deep like Atlantis, precise like Google, outstanding like 

a Serena Williams serve?

Can you love me like a book of poetry, read me over and over,

uncover the magic between my lines? 

Can you solve me like a quadratic equation, recite Neruda in Spanish?

Forget sexy, can you bring SmartBack?

Can you flirt with me like an E. Ethelbert Miller poem, tease me like

a Bossa Nova song?

Can you sweet-talk me with cotton candy on a rainy day, love me

like Nikki Giovanni loves Tupac?

Can you speak to me with your mouth closed? 

Can you kiss me 100 times with your eyes open? 

Can you love me…with your mind?