Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Blogi-VERSE-ary!!!!!


Hip (to the 5th power) Hooray!
It’s our Blogiversary!!!!!
Our TeachingAuthors group blog has been teaching authors since April of 2009!

To celebrate the occasion, we’re celebrating you!  Enter our Raffle drawing to win one of FIVE Blogiversary Book Bundles – each bundle a set of five books hand-selected by a TeachingAuthor that includes at least one autographed TeachingAuthor book.  Check the end of this post for details.

But wait!
It’s also our Blogi-VERSE-ary, so smartly re-named by our reader Mary Lee of A Year of Reading, because we six TeachingAuthors chose to celebrate the occasion by reciting our favorite poem in honor of Poetry Month.

I suggested the idea once I read about the Poetry Foundation’s current Favorite Poem Project: Chicago which grew out of former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s national Favorite Poem Project – Americans Saying Poems They Love which celebrates poetry as a vocal art. 

Poetry Foundation President Robert Polito shared in his project description that “a favorite poem can be a talisman or mantra, a clue, landmark or guiding star and dwells deep down in our psyches.”

Thank you for your interest in the Favorite Poem Project: Chicago. Check this page regularly to view the six videos in the series which will be release twice each week starting on Monday, April 14.Hana Bajramovic
"The Order of Key West" by Wallace Stevens
Naomi Beckwith
"The Children of the Poor" by Gwendolyn Brooks
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
"Chicago" by Carl Sandburg
Thank you for your interest in the Favorite Poem Project: Chicago. Check this page regularly to view the six videos in the series which will be release twice each week starting on Monday, April 14.Hana Bajramovic
"The Order of Key West" by Wallace Stevens
Naomi Beckwith
"The Children of the Poor" by Gwendolyn Brooks
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
"Chicago" by Carl
FYI: the Poetry Foundation, located in beautiful downtown Chicago, is an amazing resource – for writers and readers, for teachers, of course, but really-and-truly, for anyone human.
To plan a (highly-recommended) visit, click here.
To explore the children’s poetry resources, click here. 
Students can find recitation tips and look for poems here.
Teachers can learn all about Poetry Out Loud in the classroom by clicking here.
So you’re never without a poem nearby, click here to download the Poetry App.

The poem I chose to recite via SoundCloud (and – fingers-crossed – successfully uploaded to today’s post so you can hear it) is Robert Louis Stevenson’s MY SHADOW.

The poem dwells deep, deep, deep in my psyche, placed there by my mean-spirited third grade teacher Miss Atmore at Philadelphia’s Overbrook Elementary.  (Think every gruesome teacher Raoul Dahl created, to the max (!), down to the spit that sprayed the air when she’d lean in close to admonish a mistake.)

In between Halloween and Thanksgiving of that third grade year, each of us was to choose, memorize and then recite before the class eight lines of a poem.  I instantly knew the poem I’d choose.  I treasured my copy of A CHILD’S GARDEN OFVERSES.  How could I not choose my favorite poem, My Shadow? I loved the poem’s sing-song rhythms; I loved its playfulness. I even recall jumping rope while I recited the poem, practicing, practicing, practicing.  I so wanted to get it right.  Standing before my classmates in the front of my classroom, beside Miss Atmore seated dispassionately at her desk, demanded Courage and Moxie, both of which I lacked.


"My poem is My Shadow,” I bravely began, and Miss Atmore stopped me, cold, mid-sentence.
“Po-em is a two-syllable word, child!” she shouted. “How many times must I tell you all that?!  Now raise your head, start again and this time, for goodness sake, speak the words correctly!”
The rhythm of the lines ran away (probably scared); I mispronounced "India" as "Indian." All I could do was stare at the two shiny pennies that adorned my new brown loafers. 
But that failed recitation serves as a landmark. Thanks to Miss Atmore, I knew then and there that when – I – grew up to be a teacher someday, everything that Miss Atmore was, I would spend my lifetime making sure I wasn't.                                (IIllustration by Ted Rand)                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Ironically, when I was first trying my hand at writing for children, I wrote a poem entitled “P-O-E-M is a Two-syllable Word.” In time the title became a line in the first poem I ever sold, to Ebony Jr. magazine.  I’ve searched high-and-low for my copy so I might share the poem, but alas, no luck.  Even today, I can’t speak the word “poem” without enunciating clearly its two two-letter syllables.


           My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head.
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow –
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

[Note: If you're receiving this post via email, here's the link to the Sound Cloud reading of Robert Louis Stevenson's My Shadow by Esther Hershenhorn ]


             * * * * * * * *
I offer at least five bundles of thanks to you, our readers, for embracing our blog, and to my fellow TeachingAuthors too – Jill Esbaum, JoAnn Early Macken, Carmela Martino, Laura Purdie Salas, April Halprin Wayland and currently in absentia but always in my heart, Mary Ann Rodman and Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford, for embracing me.

I did indeed find that long-ago missing Moxie and each of you makes sure I maximize it bi-monthly.

Here’s to a month of poetic celebrations!

 Oh, and don’t forget to enter our BlogiversaryRaffle to win one of FIVE Blogiversary Book Bundles. 

Good Luck!

Esther Hershenhorn

11 comments:

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Sorry I was unable to correctly upload the one and only recording that was successful - and - have the image appear, not just the link.
Please ignore my practice recordings - even though we all know: practice makes perfect!
Personally, I was mighty impressed I got as far as I did. :)

JoAnn Early Macken said...

What fun to hear your voice and see you in such a lovely setting on a cloudy Monday morning!

Jill said...

I've always loved this one, too, Esther. Hearing you read it made my heart sing. :)

Jill

LInda Baie said...

You apologized for not making it work, but it worked fine for me, and the picture is there, and wonderful! Thanks for your cautionary tale, Esther. I wonder if we don't all have a story like that, and sadly, remember too well! I love the poem, and have already shared it with my granddaughter while we went walking & looking for our shadows. RLS is a treasure still, isn't he? Thank you!

Rosi said...

Wonderful poem. Thanks for sharing it. I had never read it before.

Kym Brunner said...

Great story! I have always said "poem" instead of "po-em." Oopsy..

*runs to check to see if poem can be read either with one syllable OR two.


Darn that Miss Atmore - she was right!
It's two syllables, all right.

Thanks for sharing. Loved having you in my living room reading right next to me. :)

Esther Hershenhorn said...

I'm so glad my (almost-traumatizing)efforts to master Soundcloud were well-received. :)
Miss Atmore was quite the Dark Shadow in my Life that year I was 9 but no matter how awful she was, I STILL love Robert Louis Stevenson's My Shadow.
I owe Carmela Big Thanks for correctly embedding the Soundcloud image for me after my initial post.
And thank you, Sera, for reconnecting me to Poe's poem Alone.
I hope readers will visit the Poetry Foundation website and discover all sorts of wonderful resources.

Buffy Silverman said...

I think your Miss Atmore was related to my Mrs. Poole who castigated me in eighth grade for choosing an e.e.cummings poem to recite and gave me a C- for the choice, since he did not use proper punctuation and was therefore not a real poet. So nice to hear you reading today! I hope you are having a mud-luscious puddle-wonderful spring (take that Mrs. Poole!)

April Halprin Wayland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
April Halprin Wayland said...

Isn't lovely how over a lifetime you've made lemonade from a sourpuss?
Wow.

April Halprin Wayland said...

I just downloaded the Poetry Foundation's mobile app! Thanks for this fab resource--Yay!