The Proper Way to Celebrate a Poet

My dear friends, in January I got a job as the Special Events Coordinator at the children’s book store Books of Wonder. I love the work I do, creating book events for authors and illustrators for both our 18th and 84th Street stores. In the first two months I’ve been there, we put on a successful birthday party for Dr. Seuss that celebrated early readers, picture book bonanzas, launches, and middle grade panels. It’s been very satisfying and extremely busy.

I’ve been so immersed in presenting the work of other authors and artists that I’ve completely failed to celebrate my own work. This week, the poetry anthology, The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-to Poems from Candlewick launched! The beautiful book with illustrations from Richard Jones is now in the world with two of my poems included. I’m grateful to be listed in the table of contents with poets I’ve long admired.

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Our editor, Paul B. Janeczko, passed away just before publication and I wasn’t sure what it would look like to celebrate this book in the face of his death. Watching others on social media, I realize that selling the book is a celebration of his life and work. I hope you’ll support your local poet and local independent bookstore with your purchase.

If you are my Mom (hi, Mom!), or my sister, or a past roommate, and you’d like me to personalize your book, order the book from Books of Wonder and write in the comment section of the order form that you’d like Anna Jordan to sign it. I’d be honored.

Until then, perhaps everyone could write a poem or find one you love to keep in your pocket—a few words that you can take out on the subway, or while waiting in line at the grocery store, or before a test at school. A small slip that takes up space to remind you that there are poets and poetry all around us and that you are one too. I think that Paul would like that.

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!

poetry friday

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.


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

Wee Bits of Happiness

I was going to write a list poem about all the things that make me sad, but I got about four topics deep and it was too much to take. There has been a lot of sad recently– both personal, and global. I’m finding out that grieving my divorce is a longer process than I expected. It makes me silent. It makes me cry. It makes me angry. It makes me doubt myself. And then something small will snap me out of my grief, and I think that maybe it’s gone.

Wee Bits of Happiness

The light through autumn leaves.
The smell of baking banana/nut bread.
A newly mopped floor.
Cut flowers on the dining room table.
A call from an old friend.
A rockin’ sweat-filled Zumba class.
The disgust in my sons’ eyes when I show them moves from said Zumba class.
Looking forward to a camping trip with my youngest.
Knowing all the names of my students without looking at the roll.
Reclaiming my name.

Creative Chaos can now be found at http://www.annaejordan.com. Join me while I find and write about wee bits of happiness.

Dahlia

March Madness Poetry 2014 Gets Real. No Foolin’!

Perhaps you were one of the kind people who voted for me in the first round of the #MMPoetry 2014 competition. If so, you were one of a minority. The majority voted for Queen of Children’s Literature, Jane Yolen. Her humorous poem had to include the word svelte (Which I thought was Yiddish in derivation and so the bacon reference especially funny… actually the word has an Italian derivation.)

My word was bemoan. I always try to write two or more poems in the time we’re given (under 36 hours). Some of the drafted poems end up being very bad. For bemoan, I wrote three, two of them decent. Because it would be published on the first day of spring, I went with the more serious. Perhaps that was a mistake.

You can read both poems from the competition here.

A huge thank you to Ed Decaria for organizing and mediating the logistical beast that is the March Madness Poetry competition. He puts in a ton of time and energy all to fulfill the honorable mission of getting kids excited about poetry.

Here for your viewing pleasure are all three of the poems I wrote in advance of the competition.  These are the first drafts. Feel free to make comments below and while you’re feeling critical, head over to the Think Kid Think website to judge the #MMPoetry 2014′s “Elite Eight”!

The Sub

John plays music while we work
he lets me change my seat.
His stories make us gasp and cringe
we email, chat, and tweet.

We sang Bohemian Rhapsody
he’s epitome of cool,
We all bemoan tomorrow
when Miss Phlegm returns to school.

Poet’s Note: The concern here was, would people know that the named John was the sub in question.

First Day of Spring (this poem appeared in the competition.)

I never though the day would come
when I’d bemoan the snow.
Instead, my nose against the glass
I’d watch the white stuff grow.

But now I crave some color
some warmth, and sun, and rain.
The calendar says springtime
but the snow has come again.

Poet’s Note: Here I was concerned that the poem was too quiet and serious for my audience but I liked the rhythm and the wording. In the comments of the competition, many people connected to the imagery in the line “nose against the glass” which made me happy.

Brotherly Love (a limerick)

There once was a boy who played flute
His brother preferred drums and lute
He’d often bemoan
The flute’s squeaky tone
So he rendered the instrument mute.

Poet’s Note: Because there were two boys, the second he is difficult to understand. Plus, I didn’t have enough lines or syllables to be explicit about what happened to the poor flute.