What’s Making Me Happy 4/30/13

  • The first thing that is making me happy is the date!  I love that it’s the 1st of May tomorrow – all 1sts are great! – and I love that I have one more opportunity to plug Poetry Month! 
  • Poetry makes me happy!  Here’s a flowchart (courtesy of Book Riot) to help you choose one poem to read before May dawns a new month to celebrate.  I chose two poems from the list and copied them below:  

DEEPER

Dennis Lee
From:   unpublished, 1999.

Often at night, sometimes

out in the snow or going into the music, the hunch says,
“Deeper.”
I don’t know what it means.
Just, “Push it. Go further. Go deeper.”
And when they come talking at me I get
antsy at times, but mostly I stay put and it keeps saying,
“Deeper. This is not it. You must go deeper.”
There is danger in this, also
beautiful fingers and I believe it can issue in
gestures of concord; but I
cannot control it, all I know is one thing—
“Deeper. You must go further. You must go deeper.”
http://www.library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/lee/poem3.htm

Dennis Lee’s works copyright © to the author.

I had a little nut-tree,

I had a little nut-tree,
Nothing would it bear.
I searched in all its branches,
But not a nut was there.

‘Oh, little tree,’ I begged,
‘Give me just a few.’
The little tree looked down at me
And whispered, ‘Nuts to you.’

Roald Dahl
  • I finished reading “The Accidental Tourist” by Ann Tyler.  I listened to about 2/3 of it and then after I finished my other book I picked it up and read to the end.  It is a great book!  The audio was painfully slow – I would count to 7 between sentences sometimes.  Just try listening to someone talk that way!  So I was glad to pick up the book and review it and power through to the end.  I look forward to seeing the movie and getting together with book club to discuss!  I think I may be a little bit of an Accidental Tourist… and can’t decide if it’s a good thing!  
  • I had the bonus weekend off last week and enjoyed the beautiful weather (baseball game! walks! playgrounds!) but still made it to two Rochester International Film Group Festival movies!
  • Saturday I saw “Caesar Must Die” (Italy), which is about inmates at a high security prison who put on a public performance of “Julius Caesar.”  Random thoughts: Even Italian prisoners at high security prison have fashion sense; it was powerful seeing prisoners memorizing Shakespeare in their solitary cells; it was even more powerful seeing the prisoners return to their solitary cells after their beautiful performance.  Good stuff.
  • Sunday I saw “A Royal Affair” (Denmark), in which a young queen, marries an insane king, falls secretly in love with her physician – and together they start a revolution that changes a nation forever.  Random thoughts:  Beautiful people, those Danes; gloomy weather, that Denmark; beautiful dresses and corrupt government; sad story with hopeful ending, foreshadowed during a conversation about the purpose of working for change today when you may not live to see it, but realizing that we hope for a better world for the future.  I cried.
  • Tomorrow is May Day, a fun memory from childhood!  Doubt I’ll see any May Baskets on my door tomorrow, but if I do I’ll be home to chase the givers!  Day off!  Woot!  Gonna spend it cleaning madly and then get a haircut!  Maybe other fun stuff will be thrown in there, but although the weather may still threaten winter, I’m going to clean like it’s spring!
  • And tomorrow “Silver Linings Playbook” on DVD and ‘Helen the Second Wife” by Lian Dolan should arrive from amazon.com!  Yay!  Woot!

So that’s it for tonight … so much to be happy about.  

How about you?  

What’s making you happy??

What poem will you be reading in the wee hours before May brings new celebrations?  

11/11 What’s Making me Happy This Week

The things that make me different are the thin...

The things that make me different are the things that make me – me. (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

  • Symmetry in dates – 11/11 and 11/11/12!
  • A weekend off!
  • Sunshiny weather on my day off Thursday – and being out and about during the daylight!  Durn daylight savings time!
  • Wearing capris in November – one more warm burst for a bit!
  • Poetry reading with the girls – from Shel Silverstein to to e.e. cummings to Japanese Haikus.
  • Poetry written by the girls!  Funny haikus!
    Haikus

  • A surprise party, even if it wasn’t a surprise in the end! It was still a good party!
  • Being with family
  • Watching the boys at the Metrodome tonight – fun to see them win!
  • A good book that makes me want to carry it around and read at every spare moment!
  • Having fun things to look forward to this week – Springsteen and book club!!
E. E. Cummings

E. E. Cummings (Photo credit: o admirador secreto)

Starting a Commonplace Book

April 30.  How did it happen that we’re here already?  Very crazy.

I was trying to figure out a way to honor the last day of Poetry Month and was reading 30 things to do in Poetry Month.  One of the things to do was to start a ‘commonplace book.’ It sounds exactly like what we did in high school and that I have done every now and then ever since.

Commonplace book

Commonplace book (Photo credit: vlasta2)

I have owned many blank books over the years to collect words inside.  To-do lists or other kinds of lists (40 things to do before 40 or the Man o’ My Dreams list), favorite quotes or paragraphs from books, ideas of things to try or read or watch or do. Once I kept track of random overheard conversations of strangers.  What fun that was!

So I’m inspired to find a small book to write snippets in again.

Below is the information from poets.org.  Visit the site for lots of inspirational ideas!

Start a Commonplace Book:

Since the Renaissance, devoted readers have been copying their favorite poems and quotations into notebooks to form their own personal anthologies called “commonplace books.” These collections can be a source of enjoyment and solace, reminding the keeper of favorite books and poems, and can even become family heirlooms. You may devote a corner of a regular journal to jotting down quotes or poems that strike your fancy or obtain a blank book just for this purpose.

As Max W. Thomas says in “Reading and Writing the Renaissance Commonplace Book: A Question of Authorship?”, “commonplace books are about memory, which takes both material and immaterial form; the commonplace book is like a record of what that memory might look like.” Or, in Jonathan Swift’s words:

“A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that ‘great wits have short memories:’ and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there.”
—from “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet”

Today, find a small notebook to record poems or fragments of poems that you come across in your reading. As you add to your own commonplace book, you will be drawing a map of your life as a reader and thinker, creating a valuable portrait of your memory and time.

Haiku for You!

Cover of "The Sound of One Thigh Clapping...

Cover via Amazon

Again, in honor of poetry month, another example of words that make me smile.

 

Haiku is traditionally written in the 5-7-5 syllable formation and is meant to evoke a feeling or sensation or to describe something.  It can be a powerful meditation or be silly fun.  There is a haiku category on craigslist, mixed in among the jobs and classifieds.

 

I own a book called “The Sound of One Thigh Clapping: Haiku for a Thinner You,” (Meredith Clark, 2003) which is a book of meditations on dieting.  Mostly very silly.

 

A few examples:

 

Lose inches with lard…!
Fight fat with peanut butter…!
The alarm clock sounds.

 

Mrs. Butterworth
beckons with syrupy smiles.
The evil temptress!

 

Training wheels, training
bras, and personal trainers.
The Cycle of Life.

 

Sad realization:
Fat-free foods never taste as
good as fat-filled ones.

 

The one thing that you
can eat with abandon while
still losing weight: Prunes.

 

Smiling Buddha of the Bao Jue temple

Smiling Buddha of the Bao Jue temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See smiling Buddha.
Popular, happy, and fat.
Pass the Krispy Kremes.

 

One grand Memorial Day Weekend, my cousin Emily and I sat on my deck, grilling burgers, laughing over this book, and writing page after page of haiku.  I have searched and searched, but I think it’s lost.  I’m sure it was all brilliant.  At least some of it, anyway.

 

It may seem like a simple thing to do, write five syllables, follow it with seven and then five again, but it is more complicated than that.  Japanese haiku differs from English haiku.  WikiHow has a page dedicated to it, and step 6 is PRACTICE.

 

I think I’ll practice a little and see if I can recreate some magic that I once felt I possessed! Feel free to practice in comments here! I’d love to see your haiku.

 

Off to read!

 

Poems of Love

Last night I was browsing the internet for unique wedding gifts, especially literary wedding gifts, and I was reminded of this great poem.  The poem was made famous to me by the book and movie “In Her Shoes,” and I found a tiny dish that has the final words stamped on it: “i carry your heart.”  The dish holds a ceramic heart and will be perfect for wedding rings by the sink or special mementos on the dresser.

Needless to say, the dish has been purchased and now a book of love poems will go along with it…

Here’s the inspiration:

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

BY E. E. CUMMINGS

The photographer's wedding ring and its heart-...

The photographer's wedding ring and its heart-shaped shadow in a dictionary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

“[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” Copyright 1952, © 1980, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage.

Another poet I was introduced to through movies was Pablo Neruda.  I love the movie “Il Postino,” even more everytime I see it.  I remember in the early days of the internet that I found a great site dedicated to his poetry and translations and I loved it. (Do you remember those early days of discovering all you could on the internet? As a reader of the encyclopedia set we had at home, this internet exploring was nirvana!) 

I didn’t have a favorite poem at that time and I will have to spend some more time with his works before I can pick one, but here is one that I found today that is great. Enjoy.

Always

I am not jealous
of what came before me.

Come with a man
on your shoulders,
come with a hundred men in your hair,
come with a thousand men between your breasts and your feet,
come like a river
full of drowned men
which flows down to the wild sea,
to the eternal surf, to Time!

Bring them all
to where I am waiting for you;
we shall always be alone,
we shall always be you and I
alone on earth,
to start our life!

Pablo Neruda
Do you have any favorite love poems? Inspirational wedding gifts?

Off to read!

 

Things that Made Me Smile…

I don’t know what it is about April, but I love it.  Maybe it’s because April 1st is six months from my October 1st birthday, so I feel a yin and yang or something. It’s a transition month, moving from winter into full-on spring. It’s poetry month, and I once wrote a poem about April (which I’ve probably shared here before, but I’m sure I’ll share it again before I’m through tonight!). April 1st is about pranks and jokes, and I love to laugh. I know some good people who were born in April.  It’s just all good.

Last year I posted about Things that Make Me Smile, so I thought I’d do round 2.  I’ll stick to the recent past…

Smile Español: Sonrisa

Smile Español: Sonrisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things That Made Me Smile Recently:

  • Hearing Rees read. Wow. So fun to have kindergartners around!  Can’t wait to be around two of them next weekend!
  • Intentionally letting my plant die. It’s not really funny, except that I’m not a plant person and I’ve had it for 3 1/2 years (today!) and I’m done taking care of it. It’s growing all wonky and needs more care than I’m willing to give it at this point. Maybe I’ll look for some potted African violets and a pretty little stand for my bedroom.
  • Reading the April Fool’s jokes on Facebook… many of them started by pregnant women!
  • Knowing I have a few days off work and then GET to work overnights three nights in a row!  The night owl in me is excited for the first time!  Talk to me next year to see how much I like three nights a month of staying up all night!
  • Feeling so mentally stimulated and exhausted by a great new job!
  • Book club last week with former colleagues and upcoming plans for get-togethers!

I know there’s more… I’ll reprise it another time.

I’ll leave you with my original poem about April, written circa 1984:

Umbrella

Umbrella (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

April
The April skies
are much to despise
as they’re full of many surprises.

They look awful grey
as they start out the day,
and leave us to making surmises.

Some days it may shower,
some days with more power
its buckets of wet do explode,

and once in a while,
God looks with a smile,
and shovels of snow He unloads..

A. A. Milne – Now We Are Six

Young Milne with bear

Last night before I went to bed, I read that it was A. A. Milne’s birthday – January 18, 1882.  I have always been a huge fan and still count “Now We Are Six” as one of my favorite books.  It was given to me as a gift when I turned six and it has been a gift that I give to the six year olds in my life.

It is filled with smart and witty poetry on many topics that children (and child-like adults) love to read about – kings and dragons, shipwrecks and friendships, fooling adults and questioning adults.  Most of the poems are long-ish stories and are begging to be read aloud.  For example:

Sneezles
Christopher Robin

Had wheezles
And sneezles,
They bundled him
Into
His bed.
They gave him what goes
With a cold in the nose,
And some more for a cold
in the head.
They wondered
If wheezles
Could turn
Into measles,
If sneezles
Would turn
Into mumps;
They examined his chest
For a rash,
And the rest
Of his body for swellings and lumps.  

Don’t you want to know what happens?  There are four more stanzas of the poem and a clever, funny ending.  Ah.  Good stuff.  The Knight Whose Armour Didn’t Squeak, King John’s Christmas, The Old Sailor, and King Hillary and the Beggarman are all great stories, and the list goes on.  I’m sure I appreciate it more now than I did when I was six.  I know I included a few of the poems in my “poetry notebooks” in 9th and 10th grades, favorite poems we collected and illustrated (by cutting up old greeting cards and magazines – remember those pre-clip-art days?).

I also remember back when the internet was brand new finding a game of Pooh Sticks online and being so happy that I would be able to look at classic Pooh illustrations and learn about the man who wrote these books.

Does anyone else have a love of A. A. Milne’s work?  What is your favorite?

Off to read!

Poetry Month

magnetic poetry

Thankfully mine isn't in a pile like this. Image by surrealmuse via Flickr

I have always loved poetry!  When I was young, my aunt gave me the book, “Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle (Put Up One Summer by Felicity)” and there was hardly a poem in there I didn’t love.  Somewhere along the line I lost the book – but the miracle of the internet and online shopping put it back in my hands a few years ago.  I still love the poems in there – some even more now.  The poems are mostly light and humorous, but there were some heavy and meaningful ones, as well.

I still have the book, “Now We Are Six” by A. A. Milne, which was given to me when I was six (by the same aunt) – and those poems are precious and fun as well.  It is a favorite gift for any six-year old in my life.  Such fun poetic stories about King John or The Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Thief.  And of course, Pooh.

I also still have the “Poetry Books” we created in 9th and 10th grades, probably for National Poetry Month.  They are construction paper covers with pictures cut-out from magazines and greeting cards taped on the typing paper.  No clip-art or fancy graphics available to me in 1985.  But the poems I included were from “Now We Are Six” and “Reflection on a Gift…”, as well as from teen magazines – those sappy love or friendship poems found at the back of the issue!  I wrote a few as well, including a few limericks.

Lately, the most interesting things I’ve written are a few haikus.  They are a lot of fun.  I have great memory of sitting outside on my deck on a hot Memorial Day weekend with my cousin (that aunt’s daughter) reading and writing haikus.  I think many of them are lost, but I still have the book that was the inspiration. I also still have several versions of magnetic poetry around – I just love words!

I lost a lot of books in the flood, but I am thankful for these favorites that were on a shelf high enough to be saved!

Here is a favorite from “Reflections..”  I hopefully will post more favorites in the month of April.  I just love poetry.  🙂

Well, off to read!

Advice to Travelers

    by Walker Gibson

A burro once, sent by express,
His shipping ticket on his bridle,
Ate up his name and his address,
And in some warehouse, standing idle,
He waited till he like to died.
The moral hardly needs the showing:
Don’t keep things locked up deep inside —
Say who you are and where you’re going.