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.

*

 

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!

*

 

Continue reading

ruminating on janet wong’s a suitcase of seaweed & more (+ a giveaway!)

Sometimes good things can get even better.

I’ve always loved Janet Wong’s A Suitcase of Seaweed — it’s my favorite among her poetry collections. First published by Margaret K. McElderry Books in 1996, it explores her Korean and Chinese heritage and what it was like growing up in America.

When Janet was a Poetry Potluck guest back in 2012, I praised the relatable truths in A Suitcase of Seaweed, shared “Grandmother’s Almond Cookies,” and enjoyed hearing about her paternal grandparents. How wonderful to have a PoPo (grandmother) who was the “Boss of Dessert”!

In February, Janet published A Suitcase of Seaweed & More (Yuzu/Pomelo Books, 2019), which contains all 36 poems (+ 3 prose pieces) from the original book as well as lots of new text (backstories, musings, prompts). I loved learning about what inspired the poems, and appreciated the way she extended their themes and widened their contexts. I know her appealing prompts will get readers thinking, talking, maybe even writing their own poems and stories.

In “Love at First Sight,” the first of Janet’s Korean Poems from Part One, she imagines her parents in the early days of their courtship. They somehow met while her father, an American soldier stationed in Korea, would purchase fresh food for the troops from her mother’s family farm. Her mom could not speak English, and her father did not know Korean, but somehow they managed to communicate. It seems love has its own language.

*

 

Park Hang-Ryul (1950 – )

 

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

I like to imagine Mother
when her face was full and smooth
and she wore her hair in a long braid,

and I like to imagine Father
with his crooked smile and his crooked crew cut,
wearing an American uniform,

running after her
in the narrow dirt streets
of her Korean village,

as she rushes away
laughing,
her long braid

wagging like the tail of a dog
that has found
a fresh bone.

*

Continue reading

an easter tale starring mr cornelius and his checkmates

Happy Good Friday!

We’ve just read Tasha Tudor’s A Tale for Easter, and loved the part that said, “You can never really tell, for anything might happen on Easter.”

In the story, a little girl dreamed that a fawn took her on a magical ride through the woods and fields, where she saw  “rabbits smoothing their sleek coats for Easter morning,” “little lambs in fields of buttercups,” and “Easter ducklings swimming among the lily pads.” She even got to ride up over the “misty moisty clouds,” a place “where the bluebirds dye their feathers, and the robins find the color for their eggs.”

Mr Cornelius especially liked the part about having hot cross buns (or any other treat) on Good Friday, so he invited a few friends over for fun, food, and games. After all, it’s almost Easter, and anything might happen. 🙂

 

 

Continue reading

exploring the land of blue

“Blue is therefore most suitable as the color of interior life.” ~ William H. Gass

 

“Moonlit Night” by Anton Pieck (1941)

 

THE LAND OF BLUE
by Laura Mucha

Across the valley, it waits for you,
a place they call The Land of Blue.

It’s far and near, it’s strange yet known –
and in this land, you’ll feel alone,
you might feel tears roll down your cheek,
you might feel wobbly, weary, weak.

I know this won’t sound fun to you –
it’s not – this is The Land of Blue.
It’s blue – not gold or tangerine,
it’s dark – not light, not bright or clean.

It’s blue – and when you leave, you’ll see
the crackly branches of the tree,
the golden skies, the purring cat,
the piercing eyes, the feathered hat
and all the other things that come
when you escape from feeling glum.

Across the valley, it waits for you,
a place they call The Land of Blue
and going there will help you know
how others feel when they feel low.

~ from A Poem for Every Day of the Year, edited by Allie Esiri (Macmillan, 2017)

*

As the poet explains at her website, this poem was written for a poetry workshop in response to a painting she saw at the National Gallery in London. The painting featured two mountains with a “land of blue” in the distance. She thought perhaps people went there when they were sad.

Though initially written as a children’s poem, Mucha’s observations about sorrow — that experiencing it ultimately helps us develop compassion and empathy — certainly applies to adults as well. I was also reminded of how Mr Rogers stressed the importance of honoring children’s emotions and encouraging them to speak freely about what they were experiencing.

I do love how art begets more art (which is why I’ve always enjoyed ekphrastic poetry). In Mucha’s case, her emotional reaction to the painting inspired her to explore often untalked-about-feelings within the safe space of a poem.

Every day I look at a lot of art, listen to music, and read inspiring words, both poetry and prose. How effectively a piece is able to instantly make me feel something is a good gauge of its worth.

I agree with William Gass that blue is most suitable as the color of interior life. Picasso comes to mind, with his famous Blue Period. He was going through a profound depression after the suicide of his friend, but just as Mucha suggests about the nature of despondency, he was eventually able to move past his dark mood in a few years.

Although blue is quite often associated with coldness and melancholy, we see through the works of other artists that the “land of blue” may also be one of peace, serenity, calmness, reflection, and deep, abiding beauty.

*

Continue reading

[review] A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada by Jorge Argueta and Elizabeth Gómez

Art by Elizabeth Gómez

 

SOUP OF STARS

Many nights
we would go to bed
without eating

We would look up
at the stars —
the stars were our soup

 

I first became acquainted with Jorge Argueta’s work through his delectable cooking poem books (Sopa de frijoles/Bean Soup, Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding, Guacamole, Tamalitos, Salsa). Of course it felt like he had written these books just for me — how could I resist the playful language, mouthwatering imagery, and charming magical realism? Each poem, a spirited, sensory feast with a lasting, distinctive flavor, made me hunger for more.

 

Jorge is one of the original Alphabet Soup Poetry hotTEAS!

 

Two years ago, I discovered another dimension of Jorge’s brilliance when he wrote about the heart-wrenching plight of Central American migrant families in Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds (Groundwood Books, 2016). Winner of the 2017 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, these poems express the child immigrant’s point of view and show how an arduous journey marked by danger and uncertainty is also a testament to courage, hope, resilience, and optimism.

 

Continue reading