Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Thanku and a Tetractys for Day 6 of our Two Weeks of Thanks-Giving

Here in the United States, many people are preparing to celebrate tomorrow's Thanksgiving holiday. As we busily cook, clean, grocery shop, and/or travel, it's easy to forget the purpose of this holiday--to take time out to say "thank you." So last year, when Esther shared a new poetry form called a "Thanku" (a thank you note written as a haiku), it inspired us here at the TeachingAuthors to dedicate a series of posts to expressing gratitude. This year, we've designated Two Weeks of Thanks-Giving, Nov. 16-30. In our posts for these two weeks, we're focusing on expressing writing-related thanks, for either a writing teacher/mentor, or for an author whose work we admire, as suggested by Sherman Alexie in his Top 10 Pieces of Writing Advice:
When you read a piece of writing that you admire, send a note of thanks to the author. Be effusive with your praise. Writing is a lonely business. Do your best to make it a little less lonely. 
Before I post my gratitude for today, I want to remind everyone that you're invited to share your own writing-related thank-yous with us. You can do so on or before Nov. 30 in one of three ways:
1) a comment to one of our posts,
2) an email to us at teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com, OR
3) by writing a thank-you blog post of your own and then sharing the link with us via 1) or 2). Feel free to copy and paste the image below into your blog post. We'd love if you'd also link back to this post and invite others to participate. (As the lovely Linda Baie has done on her TeacherDance blog.)

Your thank-you needn't be written as a Thanku, or even as a poem, but if you're posting it as a comment or email message, please limit it to 25 words or less. We'd especially love for teachers to send us thank-yous written by their students. We may share some of them on the last day, November 30, along with our round-up of links to Two Weeks of Thanks-Giving blog posts.
And now, for my thank-you: Today, I'd like to thank and pay tribute to my marvelous mentor and fellow TeachingAuthor: Esther Hershenhorn.

Esther was the Regional Advisor for SCBWI-Illinois back when I first began trying to write for children. If not for Esther, I doubt I would have persisted in my quest to become a published children's author. She encouraged me to connect with fellow writers (some of whom became my critique group) and to step outside my comfort zone by volunteering to help with SCBWI events (which allowed me to meet editors and agents). Esther always shared her time generously when I asked her advice, whether by phone, email, or in person. And when I finally got my first novel published, she was one of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters.

For this post, I'd planned to write a Thanku in Esther's honor, but Susan Halko, a former student of Esther's beat me to it by emailing us the following Thanku:
Esther Hershenhorn!
Thanks for your words of wisdom
and inspiration.
Great job, Susan!
Instead of competing with Susan's lovely Thanku, I've written a five-line tetractys (see definition below) in Esther's honor:


          Selfless teacher,
          But most important of all, a "true friend." 

[A tetractys is a five-line poem in which the syllables per line form the series 1, 2, 3, 4, 10. Euclid, a mathematician of ancient times, thought the series had mystical significance because 1+2+3+4 = 10. ]

In case you're wondering, "true friend" is in quotes because it alludes to the ending of Charlotte's Web:
"It's not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."
And so is Esther. 

Happy writing, all, and Happy Thanks-Giving!


Linda B said...

Thank you for the mention, Carmela. It is wonderful to be able to publicly acknowledge people one admires, & you all have made it possible! Love your story of your friend & fellow author, Esther, & the tetractys. I am glad to know about it! Happy Thanksgiving!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

My mouth remains open at the surprise - and - Kind Words of your Thanku and tetractys!
I shall print out your post and keep it by my desk.
Writing not only helped me uncover and recover my voice; it gifted me with such T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C friends.
My teaching and coaching gifted me with numerous "storied treasures, such as Susan Halko.
I'm One Grateful Thanksgiving Celebrant today.

Carmela Martino said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Linda. And thanks again for helping to spread the word about our Two Weeks of Thanks-Giving. I know at least one new participant found us because of you. :-)
And Esther, I'm so glad you like my post. I could have gone on and on about what a great support you've been, my friend. Glad I had the form of the tetractys to rein me in. Hugs to you!

Margaret Simon said...

I am thankful to find this blog, more support for my life of teaching and writing. I tried my hand at a thanku to thank those who support me as a writer.
Thanks for offering this forum for connecting and learning and praising.

Carmela Martino said...

We're glad you found us, too, Margaret. Welcome! And thanks for sharing the link to your lovely Thanku. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Linda said...

The thanku is a great idea! I gave it a try. : )

Carmela Martino said...

So great to have you join us, Jill!

Susan Taylor Brown said...

Esther rocks! As do the rest of you wonderful teachers.

I love this idea of gratitude poems. I don't normally teach at this time of year (I have Jan-May assignments) but I'm thinking I might need to try some gratitude poems with my groups. After all, giving thanks should be something we do all year long.

Ruth said...

I enjoyed this post. Thanks especially for the Sherman Alexie link.

Mary Lee said...

You have inspired so many with your thankus!

laurasalas said...

What lovely thank yous! I've met Esther briefly at conferences once or twice, and I can easily see how she would be worthy of the thanks you're giving her:>)

Leanne Pankuch said...

What lovely words about our lovely Esther, Carmela! Your blog inspired my own entry this month--my humble thanks to you! Leanne

Carmela Martino said...

And thank YOU, Susan, Ruth, Mary Lee, Laura, and Leanne, for stopping by. I'm so happy to know that this series of posts is inspiring you.

Charles Waters said...

Thank you for this post and for the poetry passing you all do.

Carmela Martino said...

Charles, thank YOU for stopping by. :-)