[songs + recipe] Celebrating Paul’s 80th Birthday + a summer blog break

“What I have to say is all in the music. If I want to say anything, I write a song.” ~ Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney turns 80 tomorrow!

We’re celebrating Macca’s milestone birthday by sipping English tea, nibbling on fairy cakes, and listening again to several of his best songs. 

photo by Mary McCartney (2020)

We all have our favorite McCartney tunes – from his time with the Beatles, Wings, and as a solo artist. But have you ever wondered which of Paul’s songs he likes most? 

I imagine “I Lost My Little Girl” will always hold a special place in his heart, since it’s the first song he ever wrote at age 14. He composed it on his Zenith acoustic guitar shortly after his mother Mary died.

Yes, he still has that Zenith!

Here he is on MTV Unplugged (1991). Can you detect the Buddy Holly influence? 🙂

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stepping back into fourth grade

James Crews’s new anthology has been my constant companion for the last several weeks. The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy (Storey Publishing, 2022) is a beautifully curated treasure and a welcome spiritual balm for these turbulent times.

Like his previous book, How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope (2021), this “perfect-in-the-hand” soul-nourishing collection contains 100+ poems by a diverse group of established as well as emerging poets. It’s such a pleasure to spend time with “old friends” Barbara Crooker, Andrea Potos, and Penny Harter, and to catch up with PNWers Susan Rich and Kelli Russell Agodon, whose work I featured here awhile ago.

Current Poet Laureate Joy Harjo is included, as well as Young People’s Poet Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye. And as before, Crews offers (for select poems) Reflective Pauses and Invitations for Writing and Reflection  – breathing room for readers to explore ideas, delve deeper, and absorb inspiration for journaling or even writing their own poems.

Today I’m happy to share one of my favorites from the book. Brad Aaron Modlin is new to me, and he does what good poets do: take us a little off center so we can consider ideas from a fresh perspective.

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1959 Fourth Grade Classroom photo by Larry Syverson
WHAT YOU MISSED THAT DAY YOU WERE ABSENT FROM FOURTH GRADE
by Brad Aaron Moldin

Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,

how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark.

After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s

voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—

something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home. This prompted

Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing
how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,

and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts
are all you hear; also, that you have enough.

The English lesson was that I am
is a complete sentence.

And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation
look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,

and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking
for whatever it was you lost, and one person

add up to something.

~ from Everyone at This Party Has Two Names (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2016)

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I love all the quirky lessons Mrs. Nelson shared with her class. Often the most far reaching things can’t be found in textbooks. 

Ideally, all children should be reassured that they already have enough, and more importantly, are enough. 

“I am” just may be the most empowering belief any of us can own.

Ultimately, Modlin reminds us that we aren’t alone in feeling that we might have missed that all-important memo everyone else got. 

Hopefully with all the rich experiences we’ve had so far, we’ve come to realize that peeling potatoes can indeed be a form of prayer, and standing still to listen to the wind is an excellent practice – as is being kind especially when it is the most difficult.

What do you wish your teachers, parents, or mentors had taught you?

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THE PATH TO KINDNESS: Poems of Connection and Joy
edited by James Crews
published by Storey Publishing, April 2022
Poetry Anthology, 224 pp.

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The lovely and talented Buffy Silverman is hosting the Roundup. Be sure to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Have a lovely weekend!

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*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

[review] Viento, Vientito/Wind, Little Wind by Jorge Argueta and Felipe Ugalde Alcántara

Can you feel it gently brush across your cheek? See how it tickles flower petals. Listen for the quiet rustling of leaves. Wind.

Mi nombre es Viento
pero todos me conocen
por Vientito.

My name is Wind
but everyone knows me
as Little Wind.

In Viento, Vientito/Wind, Little Wind (Piñata Books, 2022), award winning poet Jorge Argueta celebrates the power and movement of air from the perspective of a playful child, who after introducing himself, proudly declares:

Nazco por todos lados
y voy a todos lados
de nuestra Madre Tierra.

I am born everywhere
and I go all
around our Mother Earth.

Little Wind explains he can be a swift and happy ‘hummingbird’ wind; ‘zummming’ here and there, but just as quickly, not be anywhere. Still, he’s everywhere – he comes, he stays, he goes.

Little Wind is mysterious too. You can’t see or touch him, but you can feel him. And he has many other names: “north wind,” “draft,” “breeze,” “gale,” and the more worrying “hurricane” or “tornado.”

There are so many things Little Wind can do – become a “Quetzalcóatl Wind,” a river Wind, traveling in serpentine trails, twisting and tangling, rising and falling, zummming as he draws near then speeds off. Can you hear him singing “through valleys and mountains, towns and cities”?

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remembering what truly matters

“Poetry of Spring” by Kent Paulette
REMEMBER 
by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star's stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother's, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

~ from How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-200l (W.W. Norton, 2004)

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“Conquest of the Irrational” by Kent Paulette

This beautiful prayer poem, a meditative paean to the interconnectedness of all living things, is more timely than ever.

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love me some Joe Brainard

“If I’m as normal as I think I am, we’re all a bunch of weirdos.” ~ Joe Brainard

I love it when one good thing leads to another.

Kenneth Koch’s poem “Permanently” (which I shared last June), sparked my interest in New York School artist, writer and set designer Joe Brainard (1942-1994).

Joe in Calais, Vermont, about two years before he died of AIDS-induced pneumonia (photo by Pat Padgett).

Both his visual art and writings were new to me; unlike his more famous contemporaries Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Ron Padgett, James Schuyler, Andy Warhol, Fairfield Porter, and Koch himself, Brainard had somehow slipped under my radar.

Brainard’s “Chewing Gum Wrappers” (1971)

If you’ve been a Brainard fan all along, then you know he was a prolific creator who left behind an impressive oeuvre of innovative, pop culture inspired collages, assemblages, paintings, drawings, and comic book collaborations, as well as multiple collections of mostly autobiographical poetry and prose. 

C Comics No. 2 (Boke Press, 1965)
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