Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Challenge: Fall Into Reading 2009

badge fall into reading 2009I ran across this reading challenge as I was surfing the internet, and decided to join. I'm kind of late - but you know what they say . . . And it beats what I have been doing, obsessing about unemployment and my relative value (or lack thereof) to the universe.

The challenge is hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days, and it's low-pressure. You create a list of books to read between September 22 and December 20 and add any other literary goals you would like to to meet in the fall season.

My goal is to read these books by December 20, 2009:

1. If Holden Caulfield were in my Class Room by Bernie Schein COMPLETE
2. Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks COMPLETE
3. Good Woman by Lucille Clifton COMPLETE
4. The Way I See it by Temple Grandin COMPLETE
5. Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire by Rafe Esquith
6. Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
7. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexandra McCall Smith
8. Out of Mind by J. Bernlef COMPLETE
9. Far Beyond the Field by Makoto Ueda COMPLETE
10. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking COMPLETE

11. Gone by Jonathan Kellerman COMPLETE
12. Cat Haiku by Deborah Coates COMPLETE
13. Obsession by Jonathan Kellerman COMPLETE
14. The Haiku Year by Various COMPLETE
15. Compulsion  by Jonathan Kellerman COMPLETE
16. Eva-Mary  by Linda McCarriston COMPLETE
17. Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell COMPLETE 
18. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell COMPLETE 
19. Cat''s Eyewitness by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown COMPLETE
20. Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay COMPLETE

* My additional goal has to do with my own writing. I always wanted more time to write, but I've found that, as the sage says, "What can be done anytime, never gets done." Or thereabouts. So my goal is to complete one complete poetry manuscript in the challenge time frame. I have the raw material. It is doable.

If you would like to join the challenge as well simply click on the image.


Judy Blume with bicycle at beachCENSORSHIP
"They want to believe that if their children don't read about it, their children won't know about it. And if they don't know about it, it won't happen."

~ Kids
~ Teachers and Librarians
~ Writers

KIDS, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: A Young Person's guide to Intellectual Freedom

[UPDATE] Judy Blume: "I Was Margaret" : An interview with the YA Writer Who Couldn't Wait For Puberty. -
"Though Blume wrote her best-loved novels in the 1970s, they endure today because they deal frankly and compassionately with the fears, relationships, and sexuality of young people."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Toni Morrison Burn This Book

"BURN THIS BOOK is a collection of essays about censorship; written by some of today’s most talented writers, and edited by Toni Morrison. The book was published by HarperCollins in May 2009. . . . It was born out of a speech last April that Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison gave at the PEN International Festival dinner. Morrison observed that night, “A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.” As she paid tribute to the difficulties and challenges writers face in many parts of the world, she also reflected on the steep price we all pay when voices are silenced. This powerful, incantatory talk sparked a notion for a book of essays that would explore the issue and impact of censorship in the world.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I found this at: We read banned books, and other stuff too… The (unofficial) blog of the BCLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee
I have not, however, found any follow up on the story.

seagull sitting on sign that says no seagulls

School locker library

A student at a strict Catholic school has started a library of banned books, which she distributes (with due dates and everything) from her school locker. The student started the library after the principal and school teacher council released a long list of “books we’re not allowed to read.”

See the student’s question and answers.

This student is in good company.

Rosa Parks booking photograph

M. Gandhi

Sunday, September 27, 2009


pencil drawing of a hand reaching for books through a guillotineFahrenheit 451, (1953)

Ironically, Bradbury's indictment of censorship has itself been repeatedly censored. Fourteen years after its initial release, some educators succeeded in persuading its publisher to release a special edition. This edition modified more than 75 passages to eliminate certain words, and to "cleanup" two incidents in the book (a minor character, for example, was changed from "drunk" to "sick").

When Bradbury learned of the changes, he demanded that the publishers withdraw the censored version, and they complied. Since 1980, only Bradbury's original text has been available.

As a result, some schools have banned the book from course lists. Through all these attempts to sanitize or banish it completely, Bradbury has remained diligent in his defense of his masterpiece, writing in a coda that appears in some editions of the book:

"There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist / Unitarian, Irish / Italian / Octogenarian / Zen Buddhist, Zionist / Seventh-day Adventist, Women's Lib / Republican, Mattachine / FourSquareGospel feel it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse….Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by the minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the library closed forever. ..."

"Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with the censorship and book-burning in the future, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony."

Do not insult me with the beheadings, finger-choppings or the lung-deflations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my hand to wave or make into a fist, my lungs to shout or whisper with. I will not go gently onto a shelf, degutted, to become a non-book.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Banned Books Week begins today.

HarperCollins set up a site for Banned Book Week 1995 (no longer up) which featured a number of their books that have been banned over the years. Included is a top ten list which is silly on its face, but sobering when you think that children's books have actually been challenged for these reasons.

photo of book cover, where the sidewalk ends

Top Ten Silly Reasons

to Ban a HarperCollins Children's Book

1. "Encourages children to break dishes so they won't have to dry them."
(A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein)

2. Children shouldn't be "scared by materials they read in school."
(Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz)

3. The book "portrays the U.S. government as lacking in intelligence and responsibility."
(The Fragile Flag by Jane Langton)

4. The book "teaches children to spy."
(Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh)

5. "The little boy did not have any clothes on and it pictured his private area."
(In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak)

6. "Children are not ready for illustrations and conversation about jockstraps."
(The Dallas Titans Get Ready for Bed by Karla Kuskin)

7. School board members were concerned about a "sad ending."
(Alan and Naomi by Myron Levoy)

8. Challenged as a summer reading assignment because, "it sounds like pretty explicit stuff."
(The Contender by Robert Lipsyte)

9. The book is "demented."
(The Long Secret by Louise Fitzhugh.)

10. "Promotes cannibalism."
(Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein)

Fahrenheit 451: Freedom to Read

Friday, September 25, 2009

STILL . . .

small baby clenching fist

Making a Fist
- Naomi Shihab Nye

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

"How do you know if you are going to die?"
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
"When you can no longer make a fist."

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.


The logo above links to A LOT of information!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

abstract cropping of sculptural jungle gym

- Matthew Schwartz

My crutches felt heavier than I was.
They landed with a thick thud on the blacktop
each time I took a step. I had to watch how I walked

so I didn’t fall, like the other kids expected.
I liked to leave my crutches half-buried
behind the sandbox, where I couldn’t see them,

and creep up the uneven monkey bars
arced like the upper half of a globe.
I wanted to see the whole playground.

The rungs crowded too close together,
and none of them was shaped the same.
I lifted my feet slowly to keep my braces quiet

against the metal. At the top, I could still hear
the jump rope flying, my friend throwing
handfuls of sand. I slipped. I locked my arms

tighter around whatever bars I could reach, and my leg
tensed and shook and hit the rung too close to me
when I tried going down, and my foot shot

through the gap, and dangled there.
I thought I could maybe slide out.
I thought my body could fit like my foot did,

but I was stuck. Everyone could see me,
everyone could hear me asking myself
What do I do with my body if it’s

not a secret?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Phenomenal Woman

- Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.


What music those words evoke in my mind . . .

For years I thought that Ray Bradbury was their originator. His book of short stories balanced beautifully on those enticing notes, especially the title story. (It became a television movie, The Electric Grandmother - not nearly as poetic.)

But they are from Walt Whitman's ode to the wonders of the body human by the same name, in Leaves of Grass.

Is it surprising then, that as I read on I noticed many of the same harmonies in both book and poem? No.

Writers read.
Good writers read a lot.

I firmly believe that whatever your vocation, or avocation, it can only be bettered by reading.

Here is a taste. Follow the link for the complete text.

I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body
were not the soul, what is the soul?

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Poet's Work
- Lorine Niedecker

advised me:
Learn a trade

I learned
to sit at desk
and condense

No layoffs
from this

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Aye, here be the link for the original site. (Remember, Pirates) It's chuck full of saucy links, some be more risque than others. Indulge your inner pirate, matey.

book front the pirate lifebook front pirate who's who


I found this wonderful photo for Mark Strand's Eating Poetry at a site called The International Edible Book Gallery: Tasty Samples.

What a great representation of the artist's metaphor, and jumping off point for a deeper analysis. (eating, nourishment, sustenance, etc.)

There are great offerings from all over the world on this site. Please take some time to browse. You won't be sorry.

I always said I was a voracious reader!

Eating Poetry

- Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

Friday, September 18, 2009


abstract painting of wind blown trees in greens, blues, and rusts
Who Has Seen the Wind?
- Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.
The painting - Windy trees
Inna Deriy

phone: (630)-670-0554
location: Bolingbrook, IL
"A very unique technique of painting on stone, wood, glass or canvas with pigmented polymers was developed by Inna in Russia and brought to the US for your pleasure."

Thursday, September 17, 2009


blessing the boats
- Lucille Clifton

(at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Let America Be America Again
- Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


i carry your heart with me

- E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Sunday, September 13, 2009



After School
- Sukasah Syahdan

tell me one good thing
you did to yourself today

and tell me another
that you did to others

let us check our lives
with these questions, daughter

for as many tomorrows
we borrow

(02 December, 2005)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Yes, I Ponder This Type of Question

There is a website, Lolcats, that is very popular these days. I wonder if Mr. Yeats would have liked it.

The Cat And The Moon

- William Butler Yeats

The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet.
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Possibilities And Associations

black and white photo of Frederick Seidel standing in a home libraryI just read a brief essay on the poetry of Frederick Seidel, and was intrigued. Not owning any, myself, I looked him up online and found the poem excerpted below.

It seems there is a great deal of controversy surrounding both the man and his poetry. Most of it is hinted at, no great detail.

Imagine my surprise also when, along with the pros and cons listed in the essay, I found a strong penchant for word play - after my own heart, as my grandmother would say.

After researching this post, I can't say Seidel will ever rank among my favorites. But I do have soft spot for word play.

For our students it's a way to explore alternative possibilities and associations - to exercise their Language Arts muscles, if you will. I love watching them learn when they think they're not actually working.

from Ode to Spring
by Frederick Seidel

I can only find words for.
And sometimes I can't.
Here are these flowers that stand for.
I stand here on the sidewalk.

I can't stand it, but yes of course I understand it.
Everything has to have meaning.
Things have to stand for something.
I can't take the time. Even skin-deep is too deep.

I say to the flower stand man:
Beautiful flowers at your flower stand, man.
I'll take a dozen of the lilies.
I'm standing as it were on my knees


The Man Who Walked Between The Towers
- Mordicai Gerstein

Magic, Memory Make Towers Immortal

The man who walked
- 03 octubre 2007

Philippe Petit
- The man who walked

Thursday, September 10, 2009

PHALANGES, what a cool word!

Some people love mind maps. This one is interesting, and if you follow the link, each of its little phalanges is clickable. It's a handy reference in this form.

This is its companion, (of course).

ATHERTON J S (2009) Learning and Teaching; Contents [On-line] UK: Available:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


lion chasing zebra who is escaping on a motercycle
I understand circle of life and all that,
but whenever I see one of those nature shows on television,
this is kind of what I'm hoping for.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


If at first you don't succeed,
do it like your mother told you.
~Author Unknown

tattoo like cartoon of mom in heart

Sunday, September 6, 2009


photo of Nathalie HandalEven
- Nathalie Handal

Nothing is even, even this line
I am writing, even this line I am waiting in,
waiting for permission to enter
the country, the house, the room.
Nothing is even, even now
that laws have been drawn and peace
is discussed on high tables,
and even if all was said to be even
I would not believe for even I know
that nothing is even—not the trees,
the flowers, not the mountains or the shadows…
our nature is not even so why even try to get even
instead let us find an even better place
and call it even.

Made in Palestine
May 3 through October 23, 2003.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


color photograph of world from space
No matter how hidden the cruelty,
no matter how far off the screams of pain and terror,
we live in one world.
We are one people.

Alice Walker

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Where do words come from?
- VĂ©nus Khoury-Ghata
(trans Marilyn Hacker)

Where do words come from?
from what rubbing of sounds are they born
on what flint do they light their wicks
what winds brought them into our mouths

Their past is the rustling of stifled silences
the trumpeting of molten elements
the grunting of stagnant waters

they grip each other with a cry
expand into lamentations
become mist on the windows of dead houses
crystallize into chips of grief on dead lips
attach themselves to a fallen star
dig their hole in nothingness
breathe out strayed souls

Words are rocky tears
the keys to the first doors
they grumble in caverns
lend their ruckus to storms
their silence to bread that's ovened alive

Jacket Magazine 18, Destiny’s Choice

PEN american Center

Venus Khoury-Ghata

Two poets with Mideast roots cross paths in St. Paul
"Some set aside Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember the horrific lessons of the past; others choose to take the time to envision a brighter future. Two poets--one Israeli, the other Lebanese--are reading and discussing their work in an attempt to create greater cultural understanding across international borders."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Some kind soul knitted a nice, warm sweater for this lonely little tree.

- Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Song of the Open Road
- Ogden Nash

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Each banner links to a different information page.

September 26−October 3, 2009

Some September Holidays

September 3 is . . . . . Skyscraper Day
September 4 is . . . . . Newspaper Carrier Day
September 5 is . . . . . Be Late For Something Day
September 6 is . . . . . Fight Procrastination Day
September 7 is . . . . . Neither Rain Nor Snow Day
September 8 is . . . . . International Literacy Day
September 9 is . . . . . Teddy Bear Day
September 10 is . . . . Swap Ideas Day
September 11 is . . . . No News Is Good News Day
September 12 is . . . . National Chocolate Milkshake Day
September 13 is . . . . Defy Superstition Day
September 14 is . . . . National Cream-filled Donut Day
September 15 is . . . . Felt Hat Day
September 16 is . . . . Collect Rocks Day
September 17 is . . . . National Apple Dumpling Day
September 18 is . . . . National Play-doh Day
September 19 is . . . . National Butterscotch Pudding Day
September 21 is . . . . World Gratitude Day
September 22 is . . . . Hobbit Day
September 23 is . . . . Dogs In Politics Day
September 25 is . . . . National Comic Book Day
September 26 is . . . . National Good Neighbor Day
September 28 is . . . . Ask A Stupid Question Day
September 30 is . . . . National Mud Pack Day