Monthly Archives: January 2012

Workin, workin’, workin’ on a po-em…..(or 2)

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I had enough water bottles to quench 24 poets….we got to quench 7!  Christine Rathbun Ernst led a vigorous and varied group of poets on Sunday.  It is kind of a ‘build-a-poet’ workshop.  Some come with comfort and more experience, some come with crazy enthusiasm, some come with a focus that is evident in comment and demeanor, and all work terribly well together to exhibit the range of poetry output.  I guess what I always come away with watching Christine bait and hook the inner poet, is the sense that poetry will wear any cloak, promote any feeling, speak any language but the Real Poem?  That’s one that can get away if we don’t pay attention.  As an initial workshop for opening up your poem tank, Christine has so many good tickets.  We really did have a broad range of focus and purpose among the group and yet, I believe everyone came away with something that can help kick in that poem that needs to be written.  Poems are to be read aloud, and so…this was fun…everyone got to read pamphlets – you know, the kind that promote sea fishing or cereal or a golf course, for example – and put a spin on the interpretation (read as if you were reading to the cutest puppy ever, etc.) of what they were reading.  Try it.  Shakespeare would be proud!  I hope there are further opportunities – sponsored or spontaneous – for teen poets to gather and workshop their poetry.  Thank you, Christine.  I hear you will be returning to Sandwich High for a moment with Ms. Gayton’s freshman class.  Awesome. And, poetry?  Look for the open mikes, the Cotuit Center for the Arts Chili Fest in February, school competitions, slams in Sandwich and the Cultural Center in South Yarmouth. Don’t give up, don’t put up and do Poet Up!  Thanks to a great group and to the ARTS FOUNDATION OF CAPE COD for sponsoring this workshop with Christine Rathbun Ernst.

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A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness

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Monsters. Nightmares, the kind  you don’t know if they are real or not.  Perhaps a title like ‘A Monster Calls’ will lead you to imagine fear, ripping skin, terror, horror and dark stories…but it’s not that way.  Oh, yes, there is a Monster.  This Monster – do you know your celtic/druidic lore? – is a yew tree come to life in Conor’s dreams, or rather nightmares.  Is the Monster real?  Real things happen that he talks to Conor about…but always the Monster asks, “What is your fear, Conor?” Conor’s life is in upheaval. Denial of his mother’s serious illness, denial of a father who isn’t choosing to be a present father for Conor, denial of emotions have seemed to bring this ‘Monster’ – an old yew tree he can see from his house –  to very, scary life.  And, yet, Conor isn’t afraid of the Monster, but the Monster knows what Conor fears. That’s why the Monster has ‘walked’ again.

Patrick Ness is the author of the Chaos Walking Chronicles.  This story comes from an idea that Siobhan Down brought forth before her life was taken by cancer.  A tale that is enhanced by the mythology, realism and human courage.  It may sound ‘ho hum’, but it isn’t.  And, for those families who have children, teens dealing with loss of a parent through illness, ‘A Monster Calls’ could be a cathartic read.  It is well-written, well told and superbly illustrated by Jim Kay.

Walter Dean Myers – Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

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One cannot really tell early on in life what’s in store for that particular life. And Walter Dean Myers, newly appointed National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is surely a testament to that.  We all harbor potential.  We harbor an individual will.  We all are born into a particular family, a particular environment, and a free for all for the choices we make once we hit the earth running.  Walter Dean Myers could have been something else besides an author who is respected for his authenticity of voice, his commitment to young people’s truths, and will now be a trumpeter to the tune of ‘Reading is Not Optional…”, his theme.  Past Ambassadors have included Jon Sciezska and Katherine Paterson.  Not too shabby a crew, I’d say. The following gives you a flavor of Myer’s modus operandi, in his own words, of writing for today’s youth:

Myers’ 2009 title, “Amiri and Odette: A Love Story,” is a modern retelling of “Swan Lake.” “I had seen the ballet of ‘Swan Lake’ as a child. But it was as an adult, when I saw a production featuring Erik Bruhn, that I first noticed how significant a part the ever-present threat of violence played. This juxtaposition of great beauty and grace with a backdrop of pure evil stayed with me for years. As a writer, I absorb stories, allow them to churn within my own head and heart — often for years — until I find a way of telling them that fits both my time and temperament.”

“In listening to Peter Tchaikovsky’s score,” Myers continues, “I found the violence muted, but slowly, in my head; the sometimes jarring rhythms of modern jazz and hip-hop began to intervene. I asked myself if there were modern dangers to young people similar to the magic spells of folklore. The answer of course, was a resounding yes, and I began to craft a modern, urban retelling of the ‘Swan Lake’ballet.”

If you could pick an author, poet, singer, rapper, artist who speaks to you…who would it be?  Someone who says what  you won’t out loud?  Someone who risks what you aren’t ready to yet?  Someone who tells their truth that in turn speaks to you?  Someone whose words remnd you to  “Lighten up.  It gets better.” That’s the value of those who go before us, sometimes a path is laid down that you can use as you build your own internal compass.  And, I also think of Vanessa Gregory, a young adult Sandwich author, poet, college student whose truth is getting others to share their personal truths in writing, seriously and funningly (new word!).  Walter Dean Myers would probably enjoy meeting Vanessa.

As a wrap, to those of you who even make it to this teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy blog with erratic posts, keep your ears open for those Ambassadors of Young People’s Literature.  They arrive in many shapes, ages and attitudes.  And, please, do not forget…READING IS NOT OPTIONAL.

Peace Poetry contest

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17th Annual Peace Week Poetry Contest

Veterans For Peace, Cape Cod invites submissions of poems to celebrate Peace Week, April 9–13, 2012. The poetry contest is open to all Cape & Islands writers. Winners will be selected from 14 categories from grades K­–12 and adults.

 Veterans For Peace, Cape Cod invites submissions of poems to celebrate Peace Week, April 9–13, 2012. The poetry contest is open to all Cape & Islands writers. Winners will be selected from 14 categories from grades K­–12 and adults.

The submission & rules form is located in the Poetry contest(s) link site to your visual right.