Friday, March 9, 2012

Women's History Month collides with Poetry Friday--CRASH! BAM! BOOM!

Howdy, Campers--happy Poetry Friday!  Lucky you--today's poem and Writing Workout are below.

But first, a quick word about the brand-spanking new March Madness Poetry Tournament, which promises to give birth to 126 new children’s poems in 21 days!  The brain child of poet Ed DeCaria at THINKKIDTHINK!, it's set up just like March Madness basketball tournaments.  The first round begins Monday, March 12th. The tournament continues for three weeks, ending April 2nd.

And--she says nervously--I'm one of the 64 poets in the first bracket.

I have two feelings about this.  The first is YEE-HAW--this'll be fun!  The second is--YIKES--what was I thinking?!?!  So bookmark the tournament, come to Ed's virtual stadium and cheer--then vote for your favorite poems and let's see who's left standing!

And now back to our regularly scheduled program...
Mary Ann and Carmela have posted brilliantly about Women's History Month and children's literature.  Frankly, I'm in awe of those who write any kind of nonfiction. I love the idea of research, but I don't dig through dusty files or interview 106-year-old survivors of avalanches. I'm absolutely terrified of getting facts wrong.  That's why writing this blog sometimes scares me--I'm sure I'll miss mentioning something crucial or misquote someone. 

Oh, the circus in my brain!

photo credit: Double--M via photopin cc
Like Mary Ann, I have strong memories of reading Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink.  After reading it, I remember feeling a hysterical sort of joy in finding out that girls were feisty and fearless.

I went to my picture book shelves to re-read some of the books that featured women in history and found one I want to share.  I hope, regardless of your political views, you can appreciate the poetry and genius of Kathleen Krull's book, Hilary Rodham Clinton--dreams taking flight and Amy June Bates' wonderful illustrations.

I'm highlighting this book because I love the way Krull, in just a few words, carries the subtitled theme through the book, showing us both metaphorically and literally how much Clinton wanted to fly. Here are a few sentences from the beginning: "Once there was a girl who wanted to fly.  She dreamed of zooming in a spaceship...She wrote to the national space agency to volunteer.  But it was 1961, and some paths were still closed to women, such as the job of astronaut." 

It was published in the heat of the 2008 election.  From the last few sentences:  "Was the land ready?  No matter...Sooner or later, we will have a woman president, and it will be because of every girl who has wanted to fly."

Krull, on her website, writes: Women's history is one of my passions. This book follows directly from one of my earlier books-- A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull (2004). Woodhull was the first woman to run for president, Clinton the one who has gotten the farthest, with 28 other strong women in between. May I live long enough to see a woman in the White House, and perhaps write books on some of those other women.

Watch a webcast of the Kathleen Krull speaking about her book, A Woman For President at the National Book Festival, Washington, D.C.
photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

Recently I was inspired as I listened to the autobiography of Helen Keller as I cruised Los Angeles freeways.
by April Halprin Wayland

I am reading this book for the ten thousandth time.
I have read this book over and over,

so the words are worn and pressed—
I can scarcely make them out.

Never mind, though—
I have read Little Lord Fauntleroy ten thousand times.

I can say every word of this book to myself,
sitting on the grass, leaning against the great elm tree.

I open the book again
because it pleases my fingers to caress each word.
poem © 2012 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

                                             WRITING WORKOUT ~ Quote Unquote

1) Find a beautiful or inspiring quote by a woman.  You might try this site--there are many.  I Googled quotes by women.
2) Read about this woman's life.
3) Can you make her quote into a poem using what you've learned about her?  I used Helen Keller's quote about reading as my title and took off from there.  Since I'd "lived" with Helen, listening to the audiobook of her autobiography, I felt as if I were Helen...I knew what it was to be her.
4) C'mon--toss those words in the air!  Run around in circles until you collapse on a fluffy phrase! Put a mirror on your desk and soften your serious, wrinkly writing face.  It's not as hard or as stressful as we make it!  And believe me--I'm talking to myself here...

 And thank you Myra, at Gathering of Books, for hosting


Robyn Hood Black said...

Such a lovely poem, April! And way to lift Women's History Month off the ground. Thanks for much to ponder today.

Liz Steinglass said...

I love the idea of "caressing each word." It makes me think of the way we savor special words as we read but also how many of us love the tactile experience of holding an actual book with paper pages.

Books4Learning said...

What a brilliant creative writing activity! Nice poem. Thanks for sharing.

Carmela Martino said...

Terrific, terrific, terrific! I love your post, your poem, and your Writing Workout, April. And I'll be rooting for you in the March Madness Poetry Tournament!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Robyn, Liz, Books4Learning and Carmela, Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your comments mean SO MUCH to me because I sweat and sweat and sweat about these posts. And then, of course, I LOVE doing them...go figure!

Linda B said...

"so the words are worn and pressed" - lovely words to think about Helen reading, April. It's a wonderful thought to imagine that blind people must make the pages of their favorite books smooth and flatten. I love your idea for writing, have bookmarked it for the future. Thank you for the beautiful words and ideas!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you Linda--the whole idea of how the blind read moved me. (And what Keller was able to accomplish is nothing short of amazing. I could spend a whole blog on her.)

Mary Lee said...

Brilliant poem! I love the writing exercise, too! I'll try this in April, in honor of April!

Amy Goldman Koss said...

I love the circus in your brain!
xo A

April Halprin Wayland said...

Mary Lee...I'd love to hear how this exercise work. You know how it make up these things in a coffee house or a quiet corner of the house...and hope they actually fly in class!

And Amy...that 3-headed image made me laugh out loud, so I had to include it ~

Amy LV said...

"I can say every word of this book to myself..." What a beautiful poem and writing idea. To read enough about someone that you feel you ARE that person - what a wonderful way to begin writing. This would be a fantastic project to do with children who are reading biographies. Honestly, I cannot wait to try it myself! a.

Janet Wong said...

Wow--you managed to fit so much into that post, April! Great job! I'll eagerly follow you and your challengers in the Poetry Tournament (and thanks for the inspiration to write about a notable woman for Women's History Month).

Tammy Flanders said...

Thanks for your recommendation for both book and writing idea.
Apples with Many Seeds