three poems from Mothershell by Andrea Potos (+ a giveaway!)

 

Andrea Potos’s ninth poetry collection opens with this John Keats epigraph:

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

~ Endymion

It is true that the beauty in this world sustains us. Even after physical manifestation or terrestrial existence has ceased, the idea, essence, soul of the person or thing endures.

When a loved one passes away, he or she truly remains “forever in our hearts.”

Judging by the poems in Mothershell (Kelsay Books, 2019), Andrea’s late mother embodied a rare brand of temporal as well as spiritual beauty. Though beauty is always in her line of sight (as it is with most poets), when it is viewed through the lens of personal loss and grief, it acquires tender and poignant facets as it becomes an agent of solace and healing.

Sorrow heightens perception as emotional guard rails fall away. When we mourn, we are blessed with divine clarity.

In these exquisitely crafted poems, Andrea honors her beloved mother by distilling memories that emerge like scattered shells on a beach: “I hold them up/to my ears. On certain days/inside their silence I can hear/the echoes of your voice.”

We get an intimate sense of her mother’s  loveliness and presence through color, light, sensation, sound, image, impression — beautifully sculpted moments that transport us to the center of love and longing: “These pink lilies rising from clear stillness,/ these yellow butterflies stitching a path through daylilies and reeds,” “a fragrance beyond air/a whole melding of the lost rooms of my mother’s house, vanilla scent of her coffee, her Greek oregano, cinnamon just past its freshness but potent enough to be here,” “tranquil joy/on her face like/Renoir/might have painted,/light dappling around and through her.”

Andrea also writes about her other loves — art (Renoir, Cassatt), literature (Dickinson, Alcott), faraway places (Ireland, Italy), her daughter and grandmother — all of which informs and enriches her poetic vision.

I love how she illuminates the eternal bond between mother and daughter with her elegant flashes of beauty:

 

WHERE YOU MIGHT FIND HER

In the dusky sky before dreaming,
behind the cobalt
curtain of your eyelids as
you descend

or rise —
on that landing just before waking–
precipice of expression — her face
like goldleaf shining.

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JUNE SONG

one year later

Through the marrow
of summer
she was gone
through the hollow
of light
she moved
into the bone-
core of our longing,
now everywhere
peonies bloom
the colors of
her coral blouse
scattered with tiny
daylight stars.

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Oh, the beautiful anguish (“the bone-core of our longing” kills me . . . )!

With Mothershell, Andrea has created “a bower quiet for us,” a place both prayerful and powerful in its emotional scope.

Here are three more of my favorite poems from the book:

 

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(actually more than) nine cool things on a tuesday

art by Maira Kalman

 

1. Surely there’s no better way to begin a day, a week, a month, a year — or even a roundup — than with a Maira Kalman fix. The above painting is part of an exhibition featuring 100 pieces of her work, “The Pursuit of Everything: Maira Kalman’s Books for Children,” running through September 15, 2019 at The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and coming to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (October 13, 2019 – January 19, 2020).

If you can’t make it in person, the next best thing is this paperback exhibit catalog:

 

 

LOVE me some Maira! Anytime, anyplace. And the thing is, whenever I think I can’t adore her even more, she’ll do something new to tickle me pink all over again. Take this short film she made recently in collaboration with her son Alex, for example. Can’t decide what I like most — the talking chicken piano teacher? the naps? or the pink cake? When it comes to Maira, every day is a wonderful day:

 

 

And there’s more: look what’s coming out in March 2020!

 

Cannot. Wait. Available now for pre-order!

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welcome friends, soup’s on

 

*enters kitchen, eats three pieces of chocolate, then takes out the soup pot. . . *

Hello, Cutie Pies!

Yes, we’re finally back. 🙂

It’s so good to know I can type a few words, find you here, and share this small, safe space with you — cause things in this world seem to be getting scarier and more tumultuous with each passing day.

It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening to our country with everyone fighting and on edge all the time.

 

 

We’re exhausted, frustrated, demoralized, fearful. We feel broken and powerless in the face of unmitigated hate, corruption, and greed.

And then there’s the profound sadness —  three recent mass shootings, and the loss of Toni Morrison and Lee Bennett Hopkins last month.

What to do? How to cope?

Toni Morrison’s words inspire, ground, and uplift:

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

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ron padgett’s advice on how to live well (+ a summer blog break)

 

To me you are already perfect, but I thought I’d leave you with Ron Padgett’s advice while I’m on summer blog break.

Nibble a little here and there, or inhale in one fell swoop. Either way, enjoy Padgett’s wry humor and words of wisdom on how to live well. Playful and profound, even the smaller, more obvious suggestions ultimately address the bigger picture.

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“Evian” by André Beaulieu (2011)

 

HOW TO BE PERFECT
by Ron Padgett

Get some sleep.

Don’t give advice.

Take care of your teeth and gums.

Don’t be afraid of anything beyond your control. Don’t be afraid, for instance, that the building will collapse as you sleep, or that someone you love will suddenly drop dead.

Eat an orange every morning.

Be friendly. It will help make you happy.

Raise your pulse rate to 120 beats per minute for 20 straight minutes four or five times a week doing anything you enjoy.

Hope for everything. Expect nothing.

Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room before you save the world. Then save the world.

Know that the desire to be perfect is probably the veiled expression of another desire — to be loved, perhaps, or not to die.

Make eye contact with a tree.

Be skeptical about all opinions, but try to see some value in each of them.

Dress in a way that pleases both you and those around you.

Do not speak quickly.

Learn something every day. (Dzien dobre!)

Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.

Don’t stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don’t forget what made you angry. Hold your anger out at arm’s length and look for it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass ball collection.

Be loyal.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Design your activities so that they show a pleasing balance and variety.

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Starting things off with the sumptuous work of Florida-based artist, illustrator, author and teacher Carla Golembe. I love how she describes what she does and why she does it:

We live on an increasingly small planet in dangerous times. The state of our world is impossible to ignore. As humans we straddle the river of our potential with one foot on each bank. Our capacity for love and compassion is equaled by our ability to turn our backs on one another and by the biases and hatreds that people have harbored since the beginning of time.

And yet I continue to paint beauty, joy, connection and harmony. My paintings are human and universal, multicultural and cross cultural. My intention is to create a visual haven that encourages viewers to enter my domain, dwell in beauty, rejoice in color and breathe. The figures emanate wonder and mystery. The work is evocative rather than descriptive. My interest as an artist lies in expressing how something feels rather than what it looks like. As my subject matter expands to include both my inner vision and the outer world. I find myself painting about inclusiveness and caring for the earth. I am painting hope. This is my authentic personal expression and my purpose as a painter. The world of my paintings is not “realism” but perhaps it’s “magic realism”. It’s the reality of what makes my life worth living, what makes us human and what I want to bring into the world.

She so beautifully states why art is more important than ever in a troubled and endangered world. We’re thankful for the haven of beauty and hope Carla creates with her work. Her distinctive style — lush, color-saturated and passionate, also speaks to the power of female spirituality.

For more, visit Carla’s official website and her shop at Fine Art America, where you can purchase prints and posters, as well as totes, t-shirts, pillows, greeting cards, etc.

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2. New Poetry Book Alert! Just released June 4, 2019, is Soccerverse: Poems About Soccer by Elizabeth Steinglass and Edson Ikê (Wordsong, 2019).

The perfect gift for young soccer fans, this picture book features twenty-two imaginative poems that capture all aspects of the world’s most popular sport.

From the coach who inspires players to fly like the wind, to the shin guard that begs to be donned, to soccer dreams that fill the night, Soccerverse celebrates soccer. Featuring a diverse cast of girls and boys, the poems in this collection cover winning, losing, teamwork, friendships, skills, good sportsmanship, and, most of all, love for the game. Elizabeth Steinglass cleverly incorporates thirteen different poetic forms throughout the book, defining each in a note at the end, and Edson Ikê’s bold artwork is as creative as the poems are surprising.

We are thrilled that Poetry Friday friend Elizabeth Steinglass has just published her first poetry picture book. She has certainly scored big with her clever, charming, and positively delightful poems. She once played soccer herself, and has two sons who are obsessed with the game. Suffice to say, soccer is a big part of their lives, so Elizabeth has every reason to celebrate the world’s most popular sport.

Find out more about Elizabeth and Soccerverse in this excellent Today’s Little Ditty Spotlight On Interview, and don’t miss Elizabeth’s TLD Classroom Connections post. Sample poems included in both. 🙂

Congratulations to Elizabeth and Edson!

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