Friday, September 25, 2020

My Latest Writing Career Surprise and a Poem from Louisa May Alcott

Happy Poetry Friday! You'll find a link to this week's roundup by Jone Rush MacCulloch at the end of this post. Today, I'm sharing an excerpt from a poem that appeared in a classic novel. The roundabout way I found the poem is tied to my topic: "Surprises Along the Way." Last week, Gwen kicked off this series by discussing several surprises in her writing journey. While I, too, have had many career surprises, I'm going to share just one—my latest. Also, at the bottom of this post, I include a link to an anniversary giveaway for Playing by Heart

Before I begin, let me announce the winner of our giveaway of Carol Grannick’s debut novel in verse, Reeni's Turn. Congratulations to:

Merysa C!

Now, for today's topic.

After years of writing everything from nonfiction articles for newspapers and magazines to novels for tweens and teens, my latest surprise is that I'm back to my first love: poetry. I mentioned my return to poetry back in this August 2019 post. Of course, I've dabbled in poetry off and on over the years. I've even had a few poems published in magazines and anthologies for kids. But I haven't been focused on poetry the way I am right now.   

In my very first TeachingAuthors post, I talked about how I began writing in sixth or seventh grade, when I started keeping a journal and writing poetry. I was published for the first time around age 16: my seven-line poem, "My Sanctuary," appeared in Crystals in the Dark: An Anthology of Creative Writing from the Chicago Public Schools. Several more of my poems were published while I was still in high school. But I eventually put poetry aside for more "serious" endeavors.

It's been probably two years now since I made the decision to rework a picture book manuscript into poetry. In that time, I've been having great fun reading, studying, and writing poetry in a variety of forms. Although the draft is nearing completion, I want to make poetry an ongoing part of my life. 😄

I mentioned above that I discovered the poem I'm excerpting from today in a roundabout way. I'd been looking for kid-friendly poetry anthologies when I saw this one on a shelf in the juvenile section of my local library: The Waldorf Book of Poetry edited by David Kennedy. 

The book includes a poem by Louisa May Alcott that appears in Chapter 16 of Little Women. I haven't read Little Women in years and didn't recall the poem at all, or even that the book contained poetry. When I read Alcott's cheerful "A Song from the Suds" in The Waldorf Book of Poetry I was especially struck by the second stanza:

Excerpt from "A Song from the Suds"
by Louisa May Alcott 
(from Little Women) 

I wish we could wash from our hearts and souls   
      The stains of the week away,   
And let water and air by their magic make   
      Ourselves as pure as they;           
Then on the earth there would be indeed   
      A glorious washing-day!

(You can read the whole poem here.) 

There's so much I'd like to wash from my heart and soul these days. The closest alternative I've found is spending time outdoors. Nature has been my greatest balm lately, and I'm grateful for the lovely fall weather we're having.

For more poetry, be sure to check out this week's Poetry Friday roundup hosted by Jone Rush MacCulloch at her new blog.  

Finally, as promised, here's a link to the book giveaway I'm hosting to celebrate the third anniversary of the release of my young-adult historical romance, Playing by Heart

Posted by Carmela


Linda B said...

I've read Little Women, too, Carmela, but don't remember this. It's has a special ending, doesn't it, about the head & heart & hand? I connect to it because I often, when exasperated or in need of some kind of break, go out to sweep, the porch, the patio, the walk. It helps! Thanks for sharing your 'surprises' & best wishes for this new picture book!

Ruth said...

Lovely! And yes to being outdoors!

Carol Varsalona said...

These lines resonate with me:
I wish we could wash from our hearts and souls
The stains of the week away,
I am with you. This week has been so charged with ponderous events that I needed the seabreeze to fill my heart with peace. The roars of the ocean quieted by soul. I tweeted out your giveaway, Carmela.

Linda Mitchell said...

Yes! I am getting outside today and letting the air and trees and grass all wash over me. Now, this is going to be in my yard as I weed and trim away some of summer's gush of greenery. But, it counts! Thanks for a wonderful post.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Linda, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who didn't remember this poem.

Carmela Martino said...

Carol, those are the same lines that resonated with me. Thanks for tweeting about my giveaway!

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for commenting Ruth. I'm heading outside this afternoon!
And Linda, the yard definitely counts! Thanks for stopping by.

Tabatha said...

That would be a glorious washing-day! Thanks for sharing this :-)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Although I have been following your journey, I love reading it again. It's quite a story.

Alcott's poem reminds me of the song, "I'm going to wash that man right out of my hair"

Donna Smith said...

Love that "glorious washing day"!

Margaret Simon said...

We might like to wash away all of 2020. Thanks for sharing this wonderful find. Makes me want to read Little Women again.

Jone said...

Wishing the stains of the week away has been needed most weeks this year.
Thanks for sharing this gem.

Catherine Flynn said...

Good luck with your picture book! I don't remember this poem in Little Women, either, but agree that there is much to "wash from our hearts and souls!" Thank you for sharing!

Carmela Martino said...

Yes, Tabatha. Thanks for stopping by!
April, I hadn't thought about the South Pacific song, but I see the connection. :-)

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Donna!
And yes, Margaret, Jone, and Catherine, I'd love to wash much of this year away!
Thanks for the good wishes, Catherine!

Mary Ann Rodman said...

Marti--I had forgotten "Song of the Suds" but remembered it instantly seeing it in your post. (Little Women is one of those books I've read to where I have it all but memorized.) Thank you for sharing it...Jo is a good literary model to contemplate in my current mood.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Oh, thanks for this, Marti.
Louise May Alcott held so many secrets close to her chest. :) said...

Thanks for sharing this lovely post. I don't remember there being any poems in Little Women, either. But I like the one you shared--so appropriate for the times we're living in. And a funny way to find out about Waldorf Education!

Carmela Martino said...

Yes, Susan. Thanks for stopping by!