“the patience of ordinary things” by pat schneider

“Mountain Blues” by Karen Hollingsworth (2013)

 

THE PATIENCE OF ORDINARY THINGS
by Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

~ from Another River: New and Selected Poems (Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2005)

“Connected” by Karen Hollingsworth (2010)

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And is it not a kind of love how a poem can hold the words you most need to hear? Vessel of heart, unadorned yet profound, luminous in its simplicity, Schneider’s poem speaks to the sacred in the everyday and is a beautiful paean to patience and gratitude.

If you’re a writer, you know all about waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Every step in the process has a distinct purpose and unfolds in its own time. Every story or poem waits its turn for someone to give it form, shape, and resonance. Just as I appreciate the cup that holds my tea, I marvel at how ideas know how to find just the right people, and how the hundreds of books on my shelves silently wait for me to reach for them. I am most grateful for the patience of stories waiting to be told, and smile at the thought of how happy characters must be when we finally open their books and let them speak.

“Reading Woman by the Open Window” by Asta Norregaard (1889)

This poem gives me an inner sense of calm, making me feel centered and grounded. The outside world is chaotic and full of upheaval and uncertainty. It is good to know there are things we can count on, and that no matter what happens, there is art, the power of the imagination, unique voices and vision. One person’s poem can be another’s prayer.

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A renowned teacher of writing, Pat Schneider is the author of ten works of poetry and nonfiction, including Writing Alone and With Others. Founder of Amherst Writers & Artists, she travels frequently to teach and has been leading workshops in creative writing at the Pacific School of Religion for almost thirty years. Garrison Keillor has read her poems sixteen times on “Writers Almanac.” Her most recent book is How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice (2013). Find out more about Pat’s books and writing workshops at her Official Website.

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🐶 PET CRAZY GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🐰

Thank you for commenting about your favorite pets last week. Enjoyed reading the rhymes and picturing a white stray cat named Silmarillion lapping milk, a hound who croons at the moon, and a dog who likes to lick his owner’s feet. There was also a Lizzy and a Lizzie, one a salamander, the other a fish . . . or a dragon? 🙂

Mr Cornelius picked the winner with the careful long distance supervision of Monsieur Random Integer Generator, who’s in Provence having his mustache trimmed.

So, with a little trumpet fanfare and a jiggedy jig (drumrolls are passé this season),

we are pleased to announce that the winner of a brand new copy of Pet Crazy is:

🎉 Jan Godown Annino at BookSeedStudio!! 🎈

Congratulations, Jan!!

Please send your snail mail address to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com to receive your book. 🙂

Thanks again to everyone for entering the giveaway!

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The lovely and immensely talented Laura Purdie Salas is hosting the Roundup at Writing the World for Kids. Glide over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. I can’t believe September is all but over already! Enjoy your weekend. 🙂


Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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Barking About Pet Crazy by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (+ a giveaway!)

Jump, roll over, sit, and stay . . . it’s time to sniff out Pet Crazy, the third title in the popular Poetry Friday Power Book series created by poetry goddesses Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. Yip!

Just for this post, you may bark, meow, cluck, or tweet your approval at any time. Perfectly acceptable. After all, it’s hard to curb your enthusiasm for this fun and frisky interactive story-in-verse and writing journal rolled into one, just purrrrfect for kids in grades K-3 (or bears of any age).

Pet Crazy includes 36 poems in all, with three poems featured in each of 12 PowerPacks.

PowerPacks include:

  1. Powerplay Activity
  2. Anchor Poem
  3. Response Poem
  4. Mentor Poem
  5. Power2You Writing Prompt

The anchor poems in Pet Crazy were written by Kristy Dempsey, Janice Harrington, Carole Boston Weatherford, Eric Ode, Helen Frost, Tamera Will Wissinger, Elizabeth Steinglass, Laura Shovan, Padma Venkatraman, Eileen Spinelli, April Halprin Wayland and Don Tate. Five poems culled from the Poetry Friday Anthology series take their place alongside seven newly penned verses.

Janet Wong has written original response and mentor poems, cleverly weaving all into a charming story about young Ben, who yearns for a dog of his own, friend and cat lover Kristy, and Daniel, Ben’s best friend, who gives Ben an unusual pet for his birthday.

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a celebration and a cautionary tale (oh, oh, oh)

OH, WOW! (Icing on the Cake)

Here in this humble blog space, the furry kitchen helpers and I have cause to celebrate.

Alphabet Soup is now officially TEN years old!

To think that when I first started blogging — pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-diverse books movement — I could barely insert an image into a post, and pretty much knew next to nothing about how the internet worked. I did know from day one that my focus would be food and books, but I had yet to read a single food blog.

I think this was a good thing, because it would have been way too intimidating to see all those fancy, artfully designed sites with magazine quality photos — blogs written by people decades younger than I was with ten times the energy, ambition, and technical smarts.

Unlike some others, my primary motivation was not to promote my books or profit from sidebar ads or sponsored posts. I wanted to join the online conversation about children’s books, practice a different form of writing, and build self-confidence. I wanted to “take readers by the hand and show them what I loved.”

Though I had published three picture books in the mid-90’s (when there was a blip of interest in “multicultural books”), by 2007, after years of rejection and the crushing realization that books by and about POC were relegated to a kind of ‘afterthought’ sub-category, I had stopped writing altogether, except for personal letters and journals.

If you hear “NO” often and long enough, pretty soon you tell yourself that no one is interested in what you have to say. ‘Don’t go where you aren’t wanted’ is advice I often heard growing up. Life is short — was this a good, healthy way to live — feeling like a failure every single day? Obviously I wasn’t good enough, or maybe “white” enough or young enough or smart enough or perky enough or lucky enough.

But a writer has to write. There is that innate desire for creative expression. As there didn’t seem to be a place for me in the traditional children’s publishing landscape, what about this blog thing? The only person who had to say “YES” to it was me.

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good advice for creative types from Marge Piercy

“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ~ Ray Bradbury

“Young Woman Writing” by Pierre Bonnard (1908)

I have always believed writing chooses you, rather than the other way around.

You are either compelled to write, or not.

No sane person would willingly choose the loneliness, rejection, crippling self doubt and relative poverty that are part and parcel of the writing life. The rewards must come from the creative act itself, from having made sense out of chaos if even for a fleeting moment.

Given that you absolutely cannot help yourself — that you must write to feel alive  — you simply go about setting down one word after another after another every single day, while battling your inner demons and that pesky inner editor.

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friday feast: chatting with barbara etlin about antique piano & other sour notes

Extremely cool cover art by Kevin Slattery

I’m just sitting here tickling the ivories, tickled pink that author, poet, fellow blogger and online friend Barbara Etlin has just published her very first book of poetry! Hoo Hoo!

In between tending her tulips, perfecting owl calls and waiting on HRH Echo (genius good-looking-poetry-writing dog), Barb has managed to cook up 33 mostly humorous, tickle-your-fancy poems exploring “the crescendos and diminuendos of life.”

Call Antique Piano & Other Sour Notes a quirky smorgasbord, a recital of finely-tuned off key musings and amusings about everything from “broken hearts to broken appliances.” It’s fitting that she’s chosen a musical theme for this collection, since she loves to play with lyrics by parodying popular songs and referencing favorite artists like Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles.

Barb’s fave Art Deco vase.

Writers, especially, will appreciate the ode to an electric typewriter and the memo to Lewis Carroll from the Seven Maids’ Union. For minimalists, Barb has included four haiku; for mind-benders, a conversation between refrigerator magnets; for pet lovers, two barks and a meow; and if you’re feeling spacier than normal, check out the “Etiquette for Astronauts.” For the first time ever, we get to hear the Moon’s side of things (and it’s a little dark)!

I asked Barb to share some tips about humor writing and self publishing, and I was curious about the antique piano. Of course I also asked for a favorite recipe (yes, it’s chocolate!). And, as a special added treat especially for you animal lovers, we’re serving up a sample poem from the book by Echo himself (it’s a good thing Barb takes good dictation). Ruff!

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