Friday, March 16, 2018


Howdy, Campers and happy Poetry Friday!

The link to PF and my rough draft poems are below, along with a Poetry Challenge to you. I really want to read what you've written!

We TeachingAuthors are doing a round robin, of course, but first: Bobbi Miller has written a timely post about the power of students which you should not miss (it goes without saying, of course, that you shouldn't miss any of our delicious posts!)

Now it's time to leap into our Women's History Month extravaganza. First is Carmela's Women's History Month Sonnet (the first she's ever written!), then Esther offers an explosion of resources on women's history as well as a top ten books list about powerful, creative women.

What woman in history could I write a poem about? My subject was hiding in plain sight.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was an environmentalist, author, journalist, feminist, civil rights defender for whom the now-famous Parkland, Florida high school was named.

(Note: all quotes are from this Wikipedia article, which is particularly well written.)

Born in 1890, Marjory changed the state of Florida. Her book "The Everglades: River of Grass was published in 1947 and sold out of its first printing in a month. The book's first line, 'There are no other Everglades in the world', has been called the 'most famous passage ever written about the Everglades'...It "galvanized people...[and] has been compared to Rachel Carson's 1962 exposé of the harmful effects of DDTSilent Spring; both books are 'groundbreaking calls to action that made citizens and politicians take notice' [and]'remains the definitive reference on the plight of the Florida Everglades.'"

"Mrs. Douglas was half the size of her fellow speakers [5'2”, 100 lbs] and she wore huge dark glasses, which along with the huge floppy hat made her look like Scarlett O'Hara as played by Igor Stravinsky"

"At the age of 79...Douglas founded Friends of the Everglades to protest the construction of a jetport in the Big Cypress portion of the Everglades. She justified her involvement saying, 'It is a woman's business to be interested in the environment. It's an extended form of housekeeping.'"

What a tireless, funny, cunning, strong-willed woman!  Of course there should be a high school named after her! 

Here are rough drafts of two poems about her. The first I wrote before I had read very much about her. The second was written after I had read more and was zinging with excitement. But I was also overwhelmed; there was too much wrap my arms around!

I have new respect for those of you who unwrap layers of  history to make it concise, exciting, lyrical and accessible. How do you non-fiction writers DO it?!?! 

I don't have much distance from either poem...which works best for you?

by April Halprin Wayland
This building
this hallway
we crouched there
in darkness
we fled it
in terror
this woman
before us
was gutsy
our candles
are lit by
her insight,
her fire.

MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS ~ In Defense Of The Everglades
a found poem
by April Halprin Wayland

5 feet 2
huge dark glasses
huge floppy hat

with a tongue like a switchblade 

she was not impressed
Can't you boo any louder?
everybody stopped slapping mosquitoes...

nobody can stop me

nobody did.
poems © 2018 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Don't you just know Marjory would be proud of the students who are stepping up and speaking out?

Here's my challenge to you, dear Readers: read the Wikipedia article (and/or other sources) and write your own poem about her...then share it in our comments. I really want to read what you come up with!

PS: Consider joining KidLit Marches for Kids on March 24th. Here's the Publishers Weekly article about this organization.

And thank you for hosting PF on TeacherDance, Linda!


Linda B said...

I have the rest of the day with a granddaughter, but will be back to read your articles & try a poem response, April. I read both your poems several times & actually love both. The first highlights the students' courage, emulating her, though perhaps they didn't know much about her until recently. The second shows "how" she was, that flinging back her own fighting words. I know of Rachel Carson's book, but not of this one about the Everglades by Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Wow! Thanks for sharing all this about her.

April Halprin Wayland said...

You so rock, do you make time to read each post so carefully and then make cogent and kind comments, as you always do? You DO NOT have to respond to this! <3

Linda Mitchell said...

For Marjory Stoneman Douglas

I was not present to hear you SAY
Alll you did about the Everglades and all. WHAT
With 70’s women’s lib I was safe, right? YOU
Led the way for babies like me. I MEAN
What can I do? Did you MEAN
Follow in your brand of righteousness ? WHAT
About my house, kids, pets..vacation, car? YOU
Beckon now still to speak— to SAY

April Halprin Wayland said...

Oh, LINDA! This is terrific!!! What form of poem is this?

Linda Mitchell said...

This is a golden shovel. It's really fun....and that message on the end was on my morning teabag.

Cathy said...

Interesting the connection of courage from both Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the students now lifting their voices into this world. I love the way the internet gives young citizens a voice today to shape their tomorrow. I enjoyed both of your poems. I have to say just the words, "we crouched there/in darkness" makes my heart hurt. Our children shouldn't have to know this fear.

Kay said...

What a strong, inspiring woman. Yes, I agree that she would be proud of the students speaking up from the school named for her. I want to come back to your challenge to learn more about her and write my own poetic response.

Michelle Kogan said...

I like both your poems April, though the second sounds like Marjory herself! I wrote an earlier poem when the tragedy happened. Here's another take as a pantoum.

Hear my voice throughout time,
I’m Marjory Douglas Stoneman–
Fighting emphatically for our everglade environment,
speak out, protect your inalienable rights!

I’m Marjory Douglas Stoneman–
Student’s take your stand against guns,
speak out, protect your inalienable rights!
Push beyond the status quo.

Student’s take your stand against guns.
Your lives’ overrule any second amendment.
Push beyond the status quo,
Hear my voice throughout time!

© 2018 Michelle Kogan


Tabatha said...

LOVE learning about MSD! I am going to save this so I can try to find a poem or write a golden shovel or something. Great idea!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Linda Mitchell ~ I'm embarrassed that I've never explored Golden Shovel poems. I had heard of them. Thank you for your example to spur me on. And I love that the inspiration for those last words were from your morning tea bag.

Cathy ~ yes. The words "we crouched there in darkness" came to me immediately and were almost too painful to write. #NeverAgain

Kay ~ and when you do write your poem, please add it here--or send it to me privately. It really does take a village!

Michelle ~ my favorite line is the first/last. A pantoum but also an envelope poem (first and last lines are the same). Thank you for sharing it!

Tabatha ~ and please share your discoveries!