Thursday, July 24, 2014

Poetry Friday: Last Impressions and What I'm Reading

For Poetry Friday, I'm sharing a poem from a book coming out this fall from J. Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyon. I just received an ARC of Voices from the March on Washington (WordSong), and I've only read three of the poems. But they all knocked my socks off! I'll share more closer to the publication date, but here's a sneak peek to whet your appetite.

Last Impressions

black without white
a moonless
a life
of endlessly
falling snow
white without black

--J. Patrick Lewis, all rights reserved

This lovely poem especially connected with me because I just wrote three poems about diversity for consideration for a friend's scholarly book on children's literature, and the one he chose uses blizzard/snow imagery as well!

And I love the way you can create many different complete thoughts that kind of overlap each other because of the line breaks. Gorgeous.

Here I am reading Pat's poem:

Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, creators of the amazing Poetry Friday Anthology books, are hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at Poetry for Children. Don't miss it!

Now on to what I've been reading. I've been working on attacking my to-read shelf this summer! I joined the Book-a-Day Challenge through Donalyn Miller and the Nerdy Book Club ( My goal is to average a book a day (surprise:>) And it's not too late! You pick your start and stop days, so if you have one month left of summer, go for it. Commit to reading a book a day, and share your books on your blog or Twitter (#bookaday). I post mine on Twitter--that accountability is great. Anyway, the thing I've learned most is that having a book-a-day really helps me get to a lot more picture books and poetry books--which are my favorite books, anyway. But they often get lost in the shuffle as I read research books or escape into mysteries. Below are the most recent 10 books I've finished. I have more in progress.

Looking over my list, I would say two other things I've learned are that I abandon books without guilt now (a major change from 10 years ago), and I want to read MORE picture books and poetry. Once book-a-day ends, I might have to come up with a picture book plan to keep me going!

P.S. Check that last book for the most finely-crafted nonfiction picture book I've read in months.

P.P.S. Those of you in the Los Angeles area who are aspiring picture book writers, check out Teaching Authors' April Halprin Wayland's upcoming class, Writing Picture Books for Children. It's Wednesday nights from August 6 through September 10. It might be just right for you, so don't miss out :>)

Happy reading,

Laura's bookshelf: read

4 of 5 stars
Drama, a lizard wizard, an evil crow, and a superhero worm. All in delightful rhyme. What more could you ask for?

Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature
4 of 5 stars
A terrific nonfiction book to introduce the fairly complex concept of fractals (shapes that have smaller parts that resemble the larger, overall shape). Clear text and well-chosen photos are the strong points. I might have given this 5 s...

Guilt by Association
4 of 5 stars
A smart-mouthed DA sets out to prove her colleague's innocence (after being ordered to stay out of the investigation) on the side while investigating the rape of the daughter of an annoying, powerful businessman. Strong, relatable charac...

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?
4 of 5 stars
Great rhyming nonfiction. We get to hear the calls of several species of birds and learn about their habits. Interspersed with that is a narrative about a bird that's calmly and quietly sitting on its nest--the nesting bird. It's a robin...

You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think: The 5 Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees
4 of 5 stars
I am not very savvy about financial planning. I'm a good budgeter, but at age 47, I've only thought about retirement in general, far-off terms. I'm SO glad I read this book. After starting to follow the basic steps spelled out here, I'm ...

Feathers: Not Just for Flying
5 of 5 stars
Basically a perfect nonfiction picture book. The primary text, secondary text, and art work beautifully together. Great mentor text for exploring functions or for using similes. And terrific for units on birds. Gorgeous work!


Janet Wong said...

Yes, yes--and yes! Yes, I do love VOICES FROM THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON--the poems, the handy "Who's Who" of civil rights in the back matter, and that first photo of the boy in the mirror sunglasses--instant impact. And YES to more picture books!! And YES to April's UCLA class! (April cares more about her students' happiness than any other writing instructor I know.) Wow, Laura: you covered a LOT here!!!

BJ Lee said...

J. Patrick Lewis is so clever! and so are you for organizing your reading! My favorite books to read are picture books and poetry too. I should join you in doing the twitter accountability thing.

laurasalas said...

Janet, I can't wait to read the entire book. I know Pat's and George Ella's poems will be an experience and deserve a slice of quiet time from me.

BJ, He is! His range is amazing, and he does social justice and history poems beautifully. I like the #bookaday, even though I don't converse that much. It still makes me think, "OOh, better read something now!"

Carmela Martino said...

Wow, what a poem! Thanks so much for sharing it, Laura. I can't wait to see the book.

jan godown annino said...

Laura, Thank you for the ARC intro to this new one forthcoming from 2 authors whose sensitivity to soul & spirit catches me in the gut. This one by J. Pat Lewis is stunning. Thank you for the Sound Cloud reading (I learned about SC through Teaching Authors awhile back & don't go to it enuf - glad for the reminder.
Do you have one from George Ella Lyons to paste in a reply comment? She is equally magnificient, remembering WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? Wish I were a pencil in a coffee cup at their table as they worked on this together deciding what to include. It must have brought out strong emotions.
Triply important book, it looks, with photos from history illustrating. - thank you so much for the head's up.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

What an exquisite little poem by JPL! I look forward to reading more. And well done on your reading consumption, Laura- thanks for including some recommendations.

Rosi said...

Very powerful poem. I'll be looking for the book. I also loved Feathers: Not Just for Flying. Beautiful book.

Anonymous said...

Wow! J. Patrick Lewis is a master of capturing the essence of his topic with exactly the right words. Thank you for sharing your recent reads. I see some intriguing titles on your list. Off to the bookstore!

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

I agree, what a tremendous poem - powerful, yet subtle. Thanks for sharing it!

laurasalas said...

Marti, isn't it lovely?

Jan, they are both fabulous poets, aren't they? Here's a powerful one from George Ella Lyon:


Mama said,
"The one
who stands out
is the one
who dies."

Daddy said,
"Might as well
try on
a noose
for size."

My brother said,
of your future!
to your place."

My sister said,
I'll go
with you,

--George Ella Lyon

Michelle, thanks! I'm not reading nearly as much as I want to, but I'm working on it!

Rosi, I'll blog more about it closer to pub date to remind people:>) So glad you loved Feathers, too!

Catherine, he is! Happy reading! It's intimidating sharing my recent reads--I don't usually show my Goodreads list because I don't want to insult the authors of the books I didn't love much, and also because I don't read many "literary" books, and it seems like everyone else does! Ah, well.

Matt, glad you enjoyed the poem!

Bridget Magee said...

Thank you for sharing JPL's amazing poem. My appetite is whetted for the book. And thanks for your reading recommendations. I've put a few on hold at my library. = )

Linda said...

I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts about this book. I'm going to check to see if it's on pre-order yet! Thanks for sharing it, Laura!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Laura. The J. Patrick Lewis poem is a gem.

laurasalas said...

Thanks, Bridget, Linda, and Monica! When I'm wondering, "What do I post for Poetry Friday," the answer could almost without fail be, "Something from the new JPL book." There's always a new JPL book, and it's always a delight:>)

Liz Steinglass said...

My appetite is whetted. I look forward to reading the entire book. Thanks for sharing the poem by JPL and the one in the comments by GEL. I'm also very curious about the feathers book.

Author Amok said...

It's so cool how this poem circles back on itself -- a pattern of balance.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Two of my favorite writers on a vital topic--can't wait!

(I am proud to say that I wrote George Ella Lyon her very first fan letter--for Father Time and the Day Boxes!)