Madness Poetry Returns: 2018

Madness Poetry competition is back, and I’ll try once again to best the best. I’ve had a series of one-off experiences as an “authlete.” (One against Jane Yolen!) My first poem has been submitted and will be published tomorrow for voting. One big change this year is that both my opponent, Gabi Snyder, and I have to use the same word — overkill — in our poems. I love this because the students, other authletes, and the general public will get more of an apples to apples judging experience.

Please follow along and vote, vote, vote!

Edited to add: Here’s the permalink to my match up with Gabi.

Poetry Friday: “One Today”

For many bloggers, Friday is for poetry. I was so pleased this week to attend a reading by poet Richard Blanco. In his presentation, the poet, civil engineer, and city planner spoke about the importance of place addressing the questions:  Where am I from? Where do I belong? Who am I in this world? Not only were the well-crafted essays and poems  a joy to experience, but I was also able to meet the lovely Mr. Blanco. Even though I was at the very end of a very long signing line, he still took the time to address each of us personally and with intention.

I first heard Mr. Blanco read in Portland’s Merrill Auditorium soon after President Obama’s inauguration in January of 2013. I couldn’t believe an auditorium that seats 1900 was filled—for poetry! When he read “One Today” for us, I had an overwhelming feeling of joy that real change was on the horizon—that we were moving forward.

In Falmouth this week, I had a decidedly different feeling. How was it that in five short years we’d gone from a nation celebrating “all of us” to…this?

There is no poetry in the presidency now. There are no books, no decorum, no diplomacy. There are only bits and pieces of anger and outrage, racism and division. There are short memories and shorter-term fixes.

Every day brings a new scandal that causes us to forget and diminish the scandal that came moments before. And all of these scandals are screens to the real changes in our country and government: lifetime appointments of ultra-conservative judges, a new “Conscious and Religious Freedom” division in the U.S. Department Health and Human Services whose purpose is to deny abortions and transition surgeries to transgendered individuals if a health provider has a religious issue with the medical procedure, free speech and freedom of the press is constantly under attack, and Dreamers and children without healthcare are used as pawns in a political game of will-we-or-won’t-we-shut-down-the-government.

Tomorrow, I will be out in the January cold to march for the home about which Mr. Blanco writes in the final stanza of his poem. Join me and vote in 2018 for the home you imagine.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.

-Richard Blanco

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You can check-out the picture book One Today at your local library or purchase/order it at your local independent bookstore.

 

 

#MadnessPoetry has begun!

In my last post, I promoted the call for poets on the completely redesigned and fabulous Madness Poetry website. Well…I was accepted as an “authlete” and received my first word, “reciprocal,” last night at 8pm with a thirty-six hour deadline. Twenty-four hours later I’ve submitted a poem. Nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing!

Now it’s your turn. Check out the Authlete Brackets to see how the competition is progressing, the Authlete Matchups to see the word assignments, and the Calendar of Events  to see when poems will be posted, then start voting for you favorite poetry. And faithful blog readers, I humbly ask for your votes.

If you are a teacher, there’s a special place for you and your classroom to sign up, vote, and be counted.

Only the best, funniest, most technically sound, fearless poets will survive.

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2017 March Madness Poetry is back!

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For all of you who love reading and writing poetry for kids, it’s time to celebrate. Ed DeCaria is reviving the March Madness Poetry contest. Not only that, but he has also put in  an amazing effort to give Madness Poetry it’s own website with new and improved user experience. He is currently taking 1) Poet Authlete Applications 2) Classroom Teachers who want their students to participate in voting and 3) Fans who want to participate in voting. As we’ve all discovered, if you don’t vote, you suffer the results so go to http://madnesspoetry.com/ today and signup! Thank you, Ed!

Poetry Friday: The Smith-Corona

I recently became the caregiver to a 1953(?) Smith-Corona typewriter which inspired the following poem. Enjoy! (Now if I could only find a new ribbon.)

There aren’t a lot of typewriters out there
not a lot of typers either.
Hard to get ribbons and parts.
A’s require pinkie force that I do not possess.
Computers have made me soft.
Still there is a satisfaction of
FORCE
and noise
each clack of hammer on roller
the absence of wires
no plug in sight
just me and the keys and the return bar.
My thoughts too quick
hammers catch on each other
stuck like a logjam of paperwork
sitting on some secretary’s desk.
She with pencils in her hair
and a pencil slim skirt
doing a hard days work.
I imagine her
young
spunky
driven
wanting more.
To be a journalist
a novelist
the boss.
Just like her
my time will come.


Hooray for Poetry Month 2015

Poetry Month is officially here and I couldn’t be more excited. There are tons of events happening throughout April in the state of Maine. Below I’ve posted a few links to help you plan your poetry pursuits.

I’m a huge fan of POEM IN YOUR POCKET day! April 30th is Brunswick’s Poem in Your Pocket Day (our Facebook page) and the open mic poetry reading that evening from 6:30-8:30 will be at Curtis Memorial Library. Come with a poem in your pocket and a song in your heart. I’ve been asked to read a few of my poems and my sons will be the MC’s! Look for my name tag and say hello!

This article from the Portland Press Herald, “A Rallying Cry for Poetry,” has this wonderful quote from poet Tony Hoagland:

“The joy of creativity should be part of every day. It’s part of what makes us human. It improves everything.”

MAINE EVENTS:

Richard Blanco, known for his presidential inauguration poem One Today, will kick of Poetry Month events with a reception and reading at the Bangor Public Library. Tickets are free but required. Call 947-8336.
Read more here.

This year, Maine Poet Laureate Wesley McNair celebrates annual Poetry Day in the Hall of Flags at the State House in Augusta. The event has traditionally been an invitation-only affair hosted at the Blaine House. This year’s celebration, sponsored by the Maine Arts Commission with assistance from the Maine Humanities Council, is free and open to the public on April 7 at 2:30 p.m.
Read more here. 

Maine’s Largest Poetry Festival is at the University of Maine Augusta. The University of Maine at Augusta will host the 12th Annual Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival on Friday evening, April 11th in Jewett Hall and all day Saturday, April 12th in the Fireplace Lounge of the Richard Randall Student Center.
Read more and see a schedule of events here.

As part of the Words Matter Visiting Poets Series: A Project of Maine Poetry Central and the Portland Poet Laureate Program, Tony Hoagland will be speaking and reading Thursday, April 16, at 7p.m. at University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall Auditorium in Portland, Maine. I was lucky to attend Richard Blanco’s similar presentation and the packed auditorium was a joy in and of itself.
Read more and get tickets here.

If you aren’t in Brunswick on April 30th but you have poetry that needs an audience check out some of these other great library open mic opportunities!

Portland Public Library

Rockland Public Library has events and contests all month.

Topsham Public Library

The University of Maine at Augusta will host the 12th Annual Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival on Friday evening, April 11th in Jewett Hall and all day Saturday, April 12th in the Fireplace Lounge of the Richard Randall Student Center.

There are tons more events that have been lovingly assembled on this PDF by the Maine Writer’s and Publishers Alliance.

***TEACHERS***
The Academy of Poets commissions Chip Kidd for a Poetry Month poster each year. To get yours (either full sized or printable PDF) click here!

A Thursday Ramble

I just finished 50 pages of revision which is a pretty great work run for me. I’ve been having such a hard time sustaining the revision.  Once I’ve merged onto the internet super highway I can’t stop myself from checking out Facebook and the super good news everyone posts (hooray!) that often makes me feel like gum on the bottom of a shoe (aw!). (An interjection starts a sentence right.)

My usual course of action is to take the dog for a walk and come back refreshed which I have tried, but I’m so sick of the cold. Yesterday we got a hit of 37 wonderful degrees. People came out of their houses wearing their smiles and their short sleeves. Yes folks, 37 degrees is all it takes to make winter-weary Mainers strip. However, the heat wave was over before it really started. Today we are back in the 20’s and the wind whipped a string of curses from my lips.

Too, with all this snow pack, I know we are up for the longest mud season ever. I shouldn’t be cranky. I’ve enjoyed snow shoeing and skate skiing for lo these many months. I’m just ready to be warm and ready to take out the bike instead.

I’m happy to say that I’ve been hired to plan Maine Share’s annual event. If you aren’t familiar with the nonprofit organization, they are Maine’s statewide payroll donation program (similar to the United Way) for forty amazing groups that focus on economic development, education, the arts, and social justice. I’m excited to bring a creative concept to the event and up the fun-factor on what is often the obligatory rubber chicken dinner. More later about the exciting concept!

If you are a teacher who loves poetry, I urge you to register your classroom to participate in the March Poetry Madness contest at Think Kid Think. Your students will discuss and vote on regular poetry match ups between fabulous poets. Sadly, I will not be participating this year but there were a record number of applicants.

I have a lot to look forward to…a novel retreat weekend at VCFA, time with dear friends, and some time at Kripalu that I won in a United Way auction. Hooray, yoga and vegetarian gourmet cooked for me!

Spring (ha!) is also full of kid events. My older son is the lead in the local high school production of Legally Blonde and younger son is in it as well with a solo and some lines. Leave me a comment if you’d like to know more about tickets!

Baseball season will start the week after the show and older son is being called for pitcher’s week. I’m supper excited for him.

How does one end a ramble?

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With a cute dog of course. Lucy says, “Take me for a walk.”

Poetry Friday: Astrologically Speaking

Astrologically Speaking
By Anna E. Jordan

He charts lives.
Interprets transits.
Clarifies uncertainties.

She is astrologically
dumb.

He—
Leo,
Scorpio rising,
Aries moon.

She—
Aquarius,
Virgo rising,
Sun in 5th house.

He sees a future
in opposition.
Nodes out of place
He needs space.

She struggles to understand.
Searches for translation.
Grasps at what is already
gone.

He finds truth
in
the language of
Stars.

She in her own
starstuff.

-November 14, 2014

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poetry friday