“I have great respect for children. And I have great respect for their ability as writers.” ~ Patricia MacLachlan
“Words have not only a definition… but also the felt quality of their own kind of sound.” ~ Mary Oliver
Where do poets find their words?
Young Lucy learns the answer to this question in My Poet, a luminous new picture book by late Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan and illustrator Jen Hill (Katherine Tegen Books, 2022).
One summer day, Lucy and the poet next door – whom she calls “my poet” – explore their seaside town with a shared goal: to find words. Lucy, an aspiring poet, takes along her notebook and pen.
Together, they visit the farmers market, stroll along the beach with the poet’s dogs, meander through the woods by the marsh, and take refuge in a boathouse during a thunderstorm.
Throughout the day, Lucy notes that her poet sees objects differently, describing them in novel ways. A strawberry is a jewel. A stone has a story. Lucy wonders how her poet hears the words she writes about her dogs.
“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?” ~ Mary Oliver
Today, in honor of Mary Oliver’s 86th birthday, I’m sharing several tender and affecting tail waggers from Dog Songs (Penguin Press, 2013) and Red Bird (Beacon Press, 2009).
Even now, it’s easy to imagine Mary roaming the woods, fields, and shore with her faithful canine companions Luke, Benjamin, Bear, Sammy, Ricky, and especially Percy, for whom she seemed to have held special affection.
Simple, unadorned words, maximum emotional resonance. She wrote about dogs and humans, but it was always about so much more.
Our new dog, named for the beloved poet,
ate a book which unfortunately we had
Fortunately it was the Bhagavad Gita,
of which many copies are available.
Every day now, as Percy grows
into the beauty of his life, we touch
his wild, curly head and say,
“Oh, wisest of little dogs.”
“The bluebird carries the sky on his back.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
WELCOME TO POETRY FRIDAY AT ALPHABET SOUP!
Please help yourself to warm blueberry muffins and green tea. 🙂
Something I look forward to every Spring is spying that first flash of blue alighting on a bare branch outside my window. Bluebird!
If the sun’s out, the bluebird’s feathers dazzle. He must know how handsome he is. Before the trees have budded, this show of color offers hope and such joy. It’s amazing how just one little bird in a natty blue coat can transform a landscape.
The bluebird has been considered a harbinger of happiness by many world cultures for thousands of years. On this Mother’s Day weekend, here are bluebird poems by Emily Dickinson and Mary Oliver. I love the shared delight of these two poets, born 105 years apart.
Wishing you the gift of sweet birdsong amid the din, a spot of beauty to light the way, and many happy moments.
THE BLUEBIRD by Emily Dickinson
Before you thought of spring,
Except as a surmise,
You see, God bless his suddenness,
A fellow in the skies
Of independent hues,
A little weather-worn,
Of indigo and brown.
With specimens of song,
As if for you to choose,
Discretion in the interval,
With gay delays he goes
To some superior tree
Without a single leaf,
And shouts for joy to nobody
But his seraphic self!
WHAT GORGEOUS THING by Mary Oliver
I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
beak, body into the pink air
of the early morning. I like it
whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing
in the world that is without
questions that can’t and probably
never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully, says so.
Now, please leave your links with the dashing Mr. Linky below. I hope you enjoy flitting from blog to blog, sampling all the poetry goodness laid out for the taking. Thank you for joining us this week!
“A man’s interest in a single bluebird is worth more than a complete but dry list of the fauna and flora of a town.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
DON’T FORGET TO THINK BLUE.
🐦 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!! 🦋
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Happy May, and Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!
So, a new month, the month of flowers and strawberries and Mother’s Day (sigh). Tell me, on the first of May, did you wash your face with morning dew to maintain your youthful appearance? Will you scamper through the meadows wild with a garland of blossoms in your hair?
And are you smiling right now? In the UK, May is National Smile Month. Sounds good to me (call me Cheshire Cat). 🙂
I think a good way to celebrate this new month is with a Mary Oliver poem. We’ve talked before about the importance of art, beauty, and gratitude. Whether you write or draw, it all begins with careful observation, being fully present, and as Oliver says, “learning to be astonished.” What is your message?
MESSENGER by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
~ from Thirst: Poems (Beacon Press, 2007)
Though this poem is the perfect writer’s credo, this “job” of rejoicing in the wonders of the natural world is a worthy one for all human beings. In this way we become stewards of this fragile earth. In this way we are all poets. 🙂
I’m anxious to see what you’re sharing this week, so please leave your links with the amiable Mr. Linky below. Do help yourself to a little light refreshment to bolster you on your travels from blog to blog. 🙂
🎈 KEEP A POCKET IN YOUR POEM GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🎉
Happy to announce that the winner of a brand new copy of Keep a Pocket in Your Poem by J. Patrick Lewis and Johanna Wright is:
TANITA S. DAVIS!!
Please send along your snail mail address so we can get the book shipped out to you pronto.
“It is Spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” ~ Rilke
Good morning, Poetry Friends, and Happy Spring!
More than a few rabbits have invaded the Alphabet Soup kitchen but we don’t mind in the least. Thought we’d ease into Easter Weekend by serving up an iconic Mary Oliver poem and some delicious baked french toast.
In this season of renewal, growth, and fresh starts, it’s good to remind ourselves that something wonderful may be waiting for us just over the horizon. As someone once said, “you can’t turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again.”
So let’s toast this new morning, this new day, with all the positive energy we can muster up and nourish ourselves with food for the mind, heart, body, and spirit.