Saturday, October 18, 2014

No Egrets





No egrets. No yeller feet either. It's a drawing from a photo I chose in Prathro's class at the CPITS retreat last weekend. I didn't write the poem. Didn't have the heart to add words to my drawing. He's backwards, in that if I was drawing fro real life, I'd choose a bird facing the other way. It's a handed thing. What feels right. So I was out of my comfort zone drawing him to the left. I suppose I could've transposed him. I've a mind like that. The walleyed ability to see two different directions at once. He had black legs and feet. I love the silly yellow feet of our native snowy egrets—they use them as bright decoys to shuffle out small fish resting in the shallows. We used to call them cattle egrets as they'd hitch rides on the backs of cows in pasture. I remember being so bored watching them at Audobon Canyon Ranch—everybody being all hush-hush and whispery like we were in church watching birds preening and flapping their wings in the treetops—but I am glad now for the experience. My grandmother had a hat decorated with egret plumage that she wore to church on Sundays. Back in the 70s, I used to work for Alice Kent at Western Star Press, selling glossy prints of egrets to raise money for the Audobon Canyon Ranch, and tarot cards for the Aquarian Age. Funny, when I see them now, I am in a church of sorts.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Spent the day shuffling paper


Spent the day shuffling paper, and rearranging books, scanning notes and bits and dross. Shepherded large piles (including laundry) here & there & back again—including a cool article from Archaeology that someone had sent: Sacred Landscape of Ancient Ireland—on books, as in the ancient Irish mss, that I'm sorry to say, sat unread since 2011. Making a pile of orphaned work that needs to be typed, I found an email from a friend who wants to publish my book....I'd totally forgotten about it. In arrears, I am. Am actually nauseous from working nonstop. Didn't get to any of my pending POL tasks, but it's all related. Now if only I could find my old mss clip binder with all my poems in it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Cave Art


After viewing the cave paintings of Altamira, Pablo Picasso said "after Altamira, all is decadence."

Enamored by  the cave paintings of Altamira and Lascaux, I used to collect photos of cave art—I couldn't get enough of them. Usually they were poor, grainy, or worse, in black and white on newsprint.

Now we can zoom in and visit detailed images via the internet. And now there are more sites added to the list....I loved the photos of penguins in the walls at the Chauvet, France site—discovered in 1994. I'm still waiting to see a photo of the horses panel.

Celia Woloch and I once traveled the long backcountry canyons of Utah to see spectacular wall art there, petroglyphs—and also Kokopele, the water sprinkler at Los Alamos, New Mexico.

And Mouse's Tank, a winding canyon in The Valley of Fire in Nevada is a virtual garden of petroglyphs leading to a rare natural cistern in a land of no water.

I never knew about Magura Cave, Bulgaria. It even has a a solar calendar. Or the Cueva de las Manos in Argentina—a forest of left hand stencils done in the same style as Kakadu, in North Oz. Or Laas Geel, in Somalia, depicting a once lush North African landscape.

And now, the hand stencils of Sulawesi, Indonesia joins the Paleo-art hit parade.

I use Paleolithic hand stencils as an intro to poetry when I teach kids. Those stenciled hands, the first "I Am" ever written. A petroglyph of a swirled hand was once the logo for California Poets in the schools, an organization I work for, but the poets of color felt it was too negative, and now Peets coffee cups sport it.

What was the sidestory in The English Patient? The Cave of Swimmers in what is now desert? It still haunts me. All that memory of water, red deer, aurochs, mammoths, painted and written in stone. A decadent testimony on the cave walls, the megafauna that met their demise, were also immortalized by the hands of those first cave painters.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Possessed iPhone


Chris's iPhone and my cellphone are having a little tête-à-tête, a long-distance affair. It called my cellphone at least 6 times the other night—all night long. I'd no sooner get to sleep when it would ring its siren call—Mná na hÉireann—Lament of the Women of Ireland. A haunting melody.

I'd answer—no one there. We're deep in the Sonoma County hills and have poor cell reception in the canyon, so I can only send her very disturbed iPhone some random texts. Clearly, it's lonely. It called me right back within the hour and even left a few blank verse messages. Was it sexting
 me?

I was so tired from lack of sleep. Neil too. I thought about killing my phone but I needed it for the alarm function to wake up early in the morning for our poetry workshops. I finally put it on vibrate under my pillow. I had such strange dreams of earthquakes and horses running on paved roads.

So in desperation, I took my phone for a walk. Under the waning moon, I hiked to a ridgetop to get reception, dialed Chris, and got—Mexico. Then I began to imagine all kinds of scenarios. She was mugged, kidnapped, her phone was calling me for the ransom money
, but I couldn't answer it. No one there. What then? It was relentless. Apparently my friend's iPhone was busted skinnydipping without a wetsuit in the Sea of Cortez, and now it has the hots for my prime numbered dumbphone.

It's a real long distance affair (no matter that she and the iPhone are back in Vegas, baby. A case of extreme butt-dialing. Clearly, rebooting's not working for her. 

I finally had to block her number. I shudder to think what my phone bill will be. I've pay as you go plan. Now it's pay as you went. I will contact my phone carrier and see if we can stop the random charges, Nothing like a possessed, lonely smartphone and it's nearly Halloween. Somewhere in all of this is a story buried in a phone graveyard in another country.

A few nights later:

It's 3 AM. HI! I'm awake now thankyouverymuch!

Her iPhone must really be in love. It called my cellphone 16 times so, far, and keeps leaving blank little ditties in my message box. Is there any way she can delete my number (provided that she can restore her iPhone software), as a workaround? 


Unfortunately blocking her number didn't work, the iPhone can still call me. My cellphone doesn't ring. I disabled it. It vibrates and shimmies whenever the iPhone has left a message, though. Voicemail dutifully picks up every call and records nothing—no one is ever there, of course. Merely blank verse. Meanwhile, after every voicemail, the phone buzzes and spins like a sonic hedgehog with itchy 'roids. Torrid little thing.

So I pulled out the battery and SIM card—which doesn't fix the problem, Just lets me sleep. Unfortunately I had just put in $100 so now the iPhone's having a rare old time partying with my available minutes! Sort of like an open cocaine bar at a proctologist's convention. This could go on for a while. AUGH!

8     8     8     8

Chris writes:
To all my Facebook friends: my iPhone got wet and became a psycho schizo thing from hell. It has been dialing people on my list and leaving messages from Mexico. If this happens to you and there is a cost, I will be happy to reimburse you. I have tried turning it off and doing a restore but so far nada. Otherwise, things are great! Thanks for all the birthday wishes!

8     8     8     8

Sorry,
You are not the only one. It's off and unplugged and I'll be getting a new iPhone after wishing  this one a good long rest in the looney bin. I'll send you a check for any minutes that my iPhone has been gallivanting with yours. Just let me know how much. If it's any consolation, it kept me awake buzzing too, so finally unplugged. Tori got a call at 2 am.  Thank you Mexico!


8     8     8     8


I texted Chris suggesting that she delete my number. But she can't reboot the iPhone. In desperation, I dismantled my cellphone, removing battery & SIM (stomping on it, was not a productive option). A whole lotta good that'll do. It has my number. I'm sure it's still calling my voicemail. Meanwhile, that leaves me equally cellphoneless in Gaza. So don't call me, already. OK? I'm not answering da phone. OK?

8     8     8     8

Chris writes:
And the good news is: "ding dong the old iPhone is dead and gone." Stumped all the folks at Apple with its mad antics. Better news is that I only paid $39. for a new iPhone 5, with a recycle trade in allowance. If you consider that the old iPhone was free 2 years ago, I think I'm waay ahead. Anybody who incurred charges on their phones from my wacked out old one, just let me know and I'll cover the costs.

8     8     8     8




Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bringing Poetry into Schools

For 50 years, bringing poetry into schools   BY KATIE WATTS

PETALUMA CORRESPONDENT

October 10, 2014, 2:11PM 

Maureen Hurley is a teacher poet with California Poets in the Schools, a collective of professional poets who bring literary craft into classrooms. This weekend they celebrated the group’s 50th anniversary with a conference at IONS retreat center in Petaluma, but before it began, Hurley took time to introduce the group and explain why and how they take poetry into classrooms.

What is the value of poetry?

Poetry allows us to examine our emotions and contemplate our thoughts. Doctor poet William Carlos Williams wrote, “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”

Wordsworth wrote, “Poetry is human emotion recollected in tranquility.” Not that there’s much by way of tranquility to be had during this day and age. In the process of recollection, poetry gives shape and form and meaning to those constantly chattering voices inside our heads, and renders them into an art form.

What can poetry accomplish that prose cannot?

Prose is to poetry as math is to music. You need both, but prose is analytical, expository and tends toward the utilitarian. Poetry is like dancing with words.

Poetry gives shape to our innermost feelings and presents them in a tangible art form that others can enjoy and get the Aha! epiphany. The ancient Greeks dubbed poetry the mother of all arts.

How does the Poets in the School program capture and hold a child’s interest?

Poets create a personalized, standards-based grade level curriculum and infuse it with magic and mystery, often marrying theatre, music and visual arts with the literary arts.

Through the immediacy and approachability of our lesson plans, we offer poems from the great body of literature, as well as peer student poems as models. It’s a mirroring process. We write our poems based on other poems.

Imagine being a student cut off from writing about your feelings and thoughts. With the current state curriculum standards, most student writing is expository, or fill in the dots, and there’s no room for creative self-expression.

Then imagine these wild poets who come along, take language, damsel it up and shake it all about. Suddenly that stuffy poetry is equal parts theater and soap-box pulpit, coupled with innermost feelings fueled by wild imagination. Suddenly it’s fun.

Most kids discover that writing their own poetry is liberating, especially those who traditionally don’t do well in school, or have trouble accessing the language arts curriculum.

Because there’s no right or wrong way to write poetry, it’s a place they can excel. Then, their poems are published in a school handout or a book, and suddenly poetry matters.

Why do you do this?

As a poet, I’m a role model. I can reach those kids who traditionally fall through the cracks and show them how they can access their minds. Poetry creates a powerful tool for change and self actualization.

A former student from Mark West School, who didn’t think poetry was important, called me up at midnight to read me a poem he had just written out of the blue.

If the program isn’t at my child’s school, how can I help bring it there?

The best way to get poetry into the schools is through a parent volunteer, the PTA or a teacher. There are numerous school and community funding sources that can be used to fund a poet’s residency. We are trained to work with teachers to locate and develop funding sources.

Contact Sonoma-Napa Area Coordinator Meg Hamill at megmariehamill@gmail.com, (415) 221-4201 or go to cpits.org.

Friday, October 10, 2014

SUDDEN OAK DEATH


SUDDEN OAK DEATH


Tussock moths teased the oak leaves.
He said why didn't you wake me?
I said: am I your timepiece?
I am most at home among the ridgetops.
I am more myself there than among the folds of earth.
Her shoes clattered on the road like a herd of goats.
Flies practiced vertical ascent in late afternoon.
Where does the self end and the horizon begin?
My mother said babies were more interesting than cats.
I hugged Blackie to me as if he were my only comfort.
I hid her craziness from the others.
The cancer, she said, it came back.
I didn't hear her and said something else.
I didn't see the truth in front of me.
She said You were made at sunset, 
on top of the mountain.
It was a wedding of light and sky.
The following Wednesday, her heart faltered.
My truck gears ground like millstones 
as I drove up the dirt road. 
Dust storms chasing me down.
I fought the urge to rewind time.
At the memorial, I remember what she said, 
that her eyes were to go to Stevie Wonder
and her ashes to the outgoing tide at sunset.
I left that box in the closet for 20 years
just like the way she had left me alone
so many time before. This crazy mother.
How was I supposed to deliver her eyes?
The horses of memory lipped at the straw,
it was a season of extreme drought, like now.
No time for more tears, I said.
Moth wings whispering in the oaks.
Sometimes the phone rings, no one there.
The clock is still set on Mountain Time.
What was the name of that song?
You are the Sunshine of my Life?
Plenty of time now for rest, someone said.
The darkness begins, it begins on the edges 
of sleep. The oaks facing their own death
their sap weeping red tears into the earth.
The moths holding vigil.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Questions for the Medievalists


I have some questions for the Medievalists: It took one guy to carve those wooden ceiling bosses and two guys to paint them? Sounds like the beginning of a Medieval lightbulb joke. Shouldn't be the other way round—surely it took longer to carve, than to paint them. They got the easy job. Hardly any paint was used.

Did Leonardo daVinci really write backwards in his journals? (Hard to tell from photo)—I heard rumor that he did). Were mirrors offered to decode his writing? What did it really say? Was it really about his cat?

Nice manly buttocks on the carved Italian altarpiece, BTW. Could you add a close-up, for detail on the carving methodology, of course. please? 

How on earth did that old oil lamp stand up on its own spindly spider legs (or is a leg missing)—surely it was a fire hazard? Was there enough detail to see the chess game in progress on the salt cellar? What was the next move? Tristan or Isolde's? The actual salt cellar—the bowl's gone missing? Fie. I wonder if it too was as ornate? And what about the spoon? Was it a runcible spoon?

And about that roundtable of King Arthur's, very impracticable table. No one can reach the meat in the middle. Is it suspended in the air, on is it glass, where did they get sheetglass glass way back when, are there small people hiding under the tablecloth ready to serve their lordships? (But then, if they were really small people, then their arms wouldn't be long enough to reach the meat, let alone serve it.) I have so many questions. Signed, The Serving Wench.
And I'm only on my first cupp tae. And what about the cafe?

AIRHEAD



He set his sights too high 
and became a citizen of the air.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Photographing the Eclipse (not)


Well, my camera decided that when it's auto-focusing, it needs to wander all over the sky like a roving eye. A camera equivalent of Damn You AutoCorect moment.  No way to stop its inexorable grinding. Like teeth. Mine. The moon swinging on a gravity-defying pendulum, the camera lens refocusing and grunting its way through fresh sets of  batteries. I gave up. So did all my batteries.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Value of Poetry: Pure Gold



After I sent out a zany email to the Press Democrat to cover our upcoming California Poets in the Schools symposium, Voices of Gold, they decided to write a little feature on me instead. Oops. I became the news. Last time the PD did a story on me, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. The next time I had something big and newsworthy, 9/11 happened—just as I was going out the door to the Marin Poetry Center reading, and the coffee table book I was promoting, Writing the Rails—Best Loved Train Stories (Black Dog & Leventhal), was remaindered before it was released. Third time's a charm? These are my soft notes. It will be interesting to see how it will be shaped. It has a Sonoma County slant as those are the newspaper demographics. It took me two days to write this—like a cat writing my way out of a paper bag. Of course, now that I've sent it in (too late now), I see all kinds of rough segues, errors, and bits in need of revision. It is what it is...


What is the value of poetry?

The doctor poet-William Carlos Williams wrote: 'It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” Poetry allows us to examine our emotions and and contemplate our thoughts. Wordsworth scribed: “Poetry is human emotion recollected in tranquillity.” Not that there’s much by way of tranquillity to be had during this day and age. In the process of recollection, poetry gives shape and form and meaning to those constantly chattering voices inside our heads, and renders them into an art form.

What can poetry accomplish that prose cannot?

Prose is to poetry as math is to music—you need both—but prose is analytical, expository, and tends toward the utilitarian. Poetry is like dancing with words. Poetry gives shape to our innermost feelings, and presents them in a tangible art form that others can enjoy, and get the Aha! epiphany. The ancient Greeks dubbed poetry as the mother of all arts. During a poetry lesson on “If…,” one of my kindergarten students at San Miguel School stood up and proclaimed: “If I were king of the universe, I’d dance for a living.” He got the Aha! moment.

Ironically I hated the study of poetry when I was young, because I didn't get it. I have dyslexia—which was part of the problem. But I was looking at form versus content, or meaning. As a writer, I’m not a big fan of metered verse, though we tend to speak in iambic stress. It took me a long time to make that full circle—which is ironic in that I coach high school students to recite poetry for the Poetry Out Loud competition.

CPITS poets create a personalized a standards-based grade level curriculum (California history, the ancient world, water cycles, or health ed.,) and infuse it with magic and mystery, often marrying theatre, music and visual arts with the literary arts.

How does the CPITS program capture—and hold—a child’s interest?

Through the immediacy and approachability of our CPTS poetry lesson plans, we offer poems from the great body of literature, as well as peer student poems, as models. It’s a mirroring process. We write our own poems based on other poems. 

Imagine being a student cut off from writing about your feeling and thoughts. With the current state curriculum standards, most student writing is expository, or fill in the dots, and there’s no room for creative self-expression. Then imagine these wild poets who come along, they take language, they damsel it up and shake it all about. Suddenly that stuffy poetry is equal parts theater and soap-box pulpit, coupled with innermost feelings fueled by wild imagination—and suddenly it’s all fun.

Most kids discover that writing their own poetry is liberating—especially those kids who traditionally don’t do well in school, or have trouble accessing the language arts curriculum. Because there’s no right or wrong way to write poetry, it’s a place where they can excel. Then, their poems are published in a school handout or a book—and suddenly poetry matters.

Suddenly you’ve kids with a vested interest in getting every word right, and every simile and comma in its exact right place. It happens like that. I was teaching in a tough East Oakland inner-city school where a fifth grader, Franklin, my star poet, was expelled. As he cleared out his desk, he eavesdropped in on the poetry lesson. He put his stuff down, grabbed some paper out of the trash, and madly wrote an amazing stream of consciousness poem that was later published in our 2012 CPITS anthology, Turning into Stars.

I wish there was a CPITS residency offered when I was in school. Since CPITS was founded in 1964, it could’ve been technically possible. It would’ve changed my entire relationship with school and with poetry. About the time I began to write poetry, I was also diagnosed with dyslexia. There’s a reason why I had so much trouble in school, and why did I have to wait until I was 30 to discover that I loved to write?

When traditional education failed, poetry taught me to think, and I went on to write essays and arts grants—I had seven California Arts Council artist-in-residency grant at Mark West School in Santa Rosa. And I became a feature writer for the Sonoma County Stump as well as for the West Sonoma County Paper (now the North Bay Bohemian.) None of it would’ve happened if I hadn’t discovered poetry.  

The reason why I’m in the classroom, is that, as a poet, I’m a role model. I can reach those kids who traditionally fall through the cracks, and show them how they can access their minds. Poetry creates a powerful tool for change and self actualization. A former student from Mark West School, who didn’t think poetry was important, called me up at midnight to read me a poem he’d just written out of the blue. Scott Meisner was a 21-year-old college student with a MBA who finally got the Aha! moment when he realized that poetry matters.

If the program isn’t at my child’s school, how can I help bring it there?

The best way to get poetry into the schools is usually through a parent volunteer, the PTA, or a teacher. At Alexander Valley School, a teacher, Peggy Maddock, brought poetry to the school—and now first grade teacher Shannon Hausman continues the tradition. Since 1991, I’ve taught an entire generation of Alexander Valley kids poetry.

There are numerous school and community funding sources that can be utilized to fund a CPITS residency. We are trained to work with teachers to locate and develop funding sources: including specialized school funds—from gifted and talented, youth at risk, library funds, etc; to state and local arts education resources: the Community Foundation of Sonoma County, and the California Arts Council. We’ve become gifted grantwriters in the process.

During this time of dire funding for the arts, we’ve some great breaking news: thanks to a California Arts Council /Artists in Schools grant, Sonoma County CPITS poets will offer long-term, in-depth poetry writing residencies at four schools in Sonoma County. Contact the Sonoma-Napa CPITS Area Coordinator Meg Hamill, megmariehamill@gmail.com, or the San Francisco CPITS office info@CPITS.org, (415) 221-4201, for more information.

CPITS, a collective of professional poets who bring literary craft into classrooms statewide, is one of the nation’s oldest visiting writers program—and this weekend we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary October 10-12 at IONS Earthrise Retreat on the Sono-Marin border. If you’re an artist and want to work in the schools, or you’re a teacher interested in enriching your language arts curriculum, our CPITS Symposium, Voices of Gold, is an excellent resource and training ground. We’ve ten more spaces open for day-use folks, either Saturday, or Saturday and Sunday. Two more IONS rooms just opened up if they need to stay over. The view from the ridge is breathtaking and the food is fabulous.

Our keynote will be former California Poet Laureate Al Young. On Friday, an intensive “method writing” workshop will be led by Los Angeles poet and screenwriter Jack Grapes. The symposium will also features spoken word artist Josh Healey and visiting poets from around the state who will share proven strategies to deliver hands-on and out-loud poetry in schools.

If you’d like to become involved as a teacher, poet, donor or school, please find us on the web at www.cpits.org to help build the future for young writers in California. Statewide CPITS residencies reach more than 25,000 students, and trained CPITS poets offer time-tested teaching tools to enhance literacy, and foster creative problem solving and self-expression. Poetry workshops are held at public and private schools, juvenile hall, libraries, after-school programs, hospitals, multilingual settings and other community venues.

And if you can’t come to the symposium, you might want to order our inaugural CPITS lesson plan book, “Poetry Crossing: 50 Lessons for K-12 Classrooms.” Edited by former CPITS AC, Phyllis Meshalum of Sebastopol, it’s a large format ready-to-roll writing lesson ideas for all ages.



==================================

For follow up: Phyllis Meshulam meshalom@sonic.net
Sonoma County & Napa County CPITS Area Coordinator
Meg Hamill megmariehamill@gmail.com




PRESS RELEASE/ event for calendar listing

California Poets in the Schools 50th anniversary Symposium
Oct 10 to 12, at IONS Earthrise Retreat, Petaluma, CA

Dear Dan Taylor & Linda Castrone


Tthanks for the Facebook followup. Duly appreciated.

FYI: CPITS holds its annual workshops in northern and southern California ion alternate years. I've been a CPITS poet since 1979, and was Sonoma/Napa CPITS Area Coordinator for a decade (or was it 2?—I trained a lot of poets including Terry Ehret. Dana Lomax, Jane Hirshfield, and Arthur Dawson); after me Arthur Dawson was AC, then Phyllis Meshalum and now, Meg Hamill is the new Area Coordinator for Sonoma/Napa counties.

We've two books that will be released at the event as well: So I'll give you several bits/angles to choose from.


Two CPITS Poetry Books Hot off the Press: If the Sky Was My Heart, and Poetry Crossing: 50 + Lessons for 50 Years

I can send you a more formal press release in a bit—but I just wanted to get the info to you ASAP for calendar, etc. Hence the "we" slant. I've also included some graphics, and we've a photo release for Andy—the student—he's featured on our brochure. Any publicity you can give us would be most appreciated!

Maureen


# # #


Voices of Gold: California Poets in the Schools Celebrates 50 Years of Poetry, Oct. 10-12 at IONS Earthrise in Petaluma


NB: Katie Watts from The Press Democrat wrote: The press release is SO well-written, I have to congratulate you. After 20 years in journalism, I am a fan of great press releases and I see them so seldom. Thorough, funny, literate -- you are a calendar editor's dream come true. Here's my editor's comment on where we want to go with the five questions, included partly because I enjoy her sense of humor. The questions would focus on ways to create fabulous poetry, engender a love in children and the value of doing both. Hopefully s/he will wax poetic while also being concrete.


I replied: I used to work for the Sonoma County Stump, then The Paper (which morphed into the West Sonoma County Paper, then The Bohemian). I managed to make the grade past all the editors/owners, except the last one... Now a CPITS student of mine, Gabe Maline is the editor! So, I knew nothing when I joined the printed world, I was poetry editor at the Stump with Bliss Buys and Joe Leary. Simone Wilson—who knew how to write a press release was my partner in crime. I happened to have a camera. This harkens back in the days of upright typewriters.

When the Stump folded, we went to Nick Valentine and Elizabeth Poole and convinced them to take us on—we were so totally faking it. I continued on as a photographer and late shift PMT camera woman (Phil Osborne, a student of Ansel Adams, trained me). I still didn't know what I was doing behind the camera—I just did it.

Then Ron Sonenshine left me babysitting his Bodega beat while he was on vacation. All hell broke loose as my first story (page 1) was Suck Mud. The big illegal dredging controversy in Bodega Bay. I was in waaaay over my head with no snorkel—but managed to pull it off.

And Nick began to give me arts assignments. And that's how I learned to write—in the trenches. Scissors and gluestix were my best friends. I wouldn't have learned to write prose at all if it wasn't for poetry. I'm dyslexic—I shouldn't be able to write...but poetry led me to prose. I didn't know the difference between a noun and a verb...but I digress...

OK, so I'm procrastinating...




Ghosts of symposiums past:


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Two CPITS Poetry Books Hot off the Press: If the Sky Was My Heart, and Poetry Crossing: 50 + Lessons for 50 Years



IF THE SKY WAS MY HEART: SONOMA COUNTY STUDENTS WIN PUBLICATION HONORS

Sonoma County students sixth grader, Ryan Murgatroyd, 4th grader, Nicholas Voegels, and 3rd grader, Gemma Ahern, of Kenwood Elementary School; 6th grader, Eduardo Lopez, of Cali Calmécac Language Academy, in Windsor; 3rd grader, Gavin Rognlien, of Prestwood School; and the entire Fort Ross School Kindergarten-2nd grade class all have poems in the new poetry anthology, If the Sky Was My Heart, just released by California Poets in the Schools. The book features poetry by more than sixty students from around California, their poems were selected from among thousands of poems written during the past year.

Dawn After Sappho

A moment ago, gold-sandaled
dawn woke me up
with the voice of my mom.
She tells me to wake up
or the bus will leave me.
I get dressed and I put
on my golden-winged
sandals. I brush
my teeth and then
I grab my backpack
and go flying to
the bus stop.

Eduardo Lopez
Grade Six, Cali Calmécac Language Academy, 
Windsor, Sonoma County
Richard Meza, classroom teacher, 
Phyllis Meshulam, poet-teacher


If the Sky Was My Heart, edited by Blake More, also features poems by Sonoma County CPITS poets Arthur Dawson of Kenwood, Gwynn O’Gara (Sebastopol Poet Laureate), Phyllis Meshalum—both of Sebastopol; Jabez W. Churchill (Ukiah Poet Laureate), and Maureen Hurley. Other Sonoma County CPITS poets in the program include Molly Albracht-Sierra, Claire Drucker, Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Jackie Hallerberg, Meg Hamill, Kyle Matthews, Blake More, and Kathleen Winters.

(The book title If the Sky Was My Heart, came from a poem by one of my 4th grade students Emily Mozzetti of Buri Buri School in South San Francisco. I also have a poem in the anthology, KINDLING).



POETRY CROSSING: 50 + LESSONS FOR 50 YEARS

Sebastopol's Phyllis Meshulam is the editor of another new CPITS book, Poetry Crossing: 50 + Lessons for 50 Years. It’s an anthology of teaching resources chock-full of 50 fabulous creative writing lesson plans, and contains a foreword by Susan Wooldridge, author of Poemcrazy. Said Phyllis: This book is filled with ready-to-go lessons for poets of all ages. It features model poems by award-winning poets and poets laureate, as well as student poems, and bilingual resources.”

Contributors with a California connection include former United States Poet Laureate Robert Hass along with Jane Hirshfield, Brenda Hillman, Ellen Bass, Juan Felipe Herrera, Al Young, Gary Snyder, Francisco Alarcón, David St. John, and other poets who have have donated their poems in order to further the mission of inspiring youth. Poetry Crossing makes tangible decades of CPITS creative writing pedagogy, aimed to stimulate the intellectual curiosity and creative problem-solving skills of today’s students.








A generic statewide press release in the works:

IF THE SKY WAS MY HEART: CALIFORNIA STUDENTS WIN PUBLICATION HONORS

California students from kindergarten to 12th grade are featured poets in the new poetry anthology, If the Sky Was My Heart, just released by California Poets in the Schools. The anthology features poetry by more than sixty students fromSan Diego to Del Norte counties—their poems were selected from among thousands of poems written during the past year.

Dawn After Sappho

A moment ago, gold-sandaled
dawn woke me up
with the voice of my mom.
She tells me to wake up
or the bus will leave me.
I get dressed and I put
on my golden-winged
sandals. I brush
my teeth and then
I grab my backpack
and go flying to
the bus stop.

Eduardo Lopez
Grade Six, Cali Calmécac Language Academy, 
Windsor, Sonoma County
Richard Meza, classroom teacher, 
Phyllis Meshulam, poet-teacher


The book title If the Sky Was My Heart, came from a poem by one of Maureen Hurley's 4th grade students Emily Mozzetti in South San Francisco.



If the Sky Was My Heart

If the sky was my heart
the birds would be my voice.
If the river could talk
it would tell me to swim
until the end of time.
If the wind was my breath
the sky would be my soul.
If our galaxy was a rollercoaster
there would be a line
running through the Milky Way.
If I was the sun
I would be the king of light.
If my heart were the world
it would be filled with love.

Emily Mozzetti
Grade Four, Buri Buri Elementary School,
South San Francisco, Sam Mateo County
Ms. Moussa, classroom teacher
Maureen Hurley, poet-teacher











If the Sky Was My Heart, edited by Blake More, also features poems by CPITS poet-teachers.






Saturday, October 4, 2014

INDIAN SUMMER

      —from a photo by Joy Harjo

During the dry heat of Indian summer,
toad families crawled out from their dens
along the earth bank above our house. 
Because they cried like babies, 
I put them in the wicker crib that 
corralled three generations of family. 
If I picked the toads up wrong 
or scared them, they'd pee on me,
gazing at me with gilt-rimmed eyes
the color of dry summer grass,
as I weighed their squat mossy
coolness in my grubby hands.
It was a time of little water, our spring,
reduced to a trickle, meant no baths,
our bodies became rough as toadskin.
What brought them out? Hunger? 
Thirst? Anticipation of rain?
I'd carefully place them back 
by their gopher hole burrows
not thinking of the water I'd stolen.
Little hogan earth dwellers, they'd tuck
back into the cool darkness,
waiting for a safer time to migrate
down to the creekbed and lay
their beaded strings of pale eggs.


Western toad, A. Boreas —Wiki



2nd draft: Late summer, the toads would come out. Because they cried, I put them in the old wicker baby crib that corralled three generations of children. If I picked the toads up wrong or scared them, they'd pee on me. It was a time of little water. What brought the toads out? Thirst? But I always put them back by their reclaimed gopher hole burrows. Little earth dwellers.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

BY-THE-WIND-SAILORS



Adrift.
By wind, and by sea
flotillas of Velella velella set sail
& the skin of the ocean is their home.
Offshore pelagic dreams will beach them
on distant shores where people will puzzle
over their cobalt mantles and glassine sails.
They will make odd metaphors and similes,
reducing them to jellyfish—or man-of-wars,
not realizing that their strange uniqueness
makes these small by-the-wind-sailors 
a singularity in the animal kingdom
that defies simple classification.
& they'll set sail into the void 
to lodge in the flotsam 
of the mind.




By-the wind-sailror, purple sail, sea-raft, little-sail, or the euphonious Valella valella —Wiki

This is from a Facebook rant, I fought ignorance, lost the battle, but won a poem.

Way back when, I took biology classes at College of Marin, we'd go out to the marine station in Bolinas and hang out—and when the Vellela velella were blown ashore, it was class time! My biology teacher waxed poetic about Velella velella's uniqueness and that they have no close relatives. They are a singularity. Aka By-the-wind-sailors, velella are hydrozoans, or rather, a hydroid polyp with only one species in the entire genus. They're very special and are vaguely jellyfish-like. Sort of...but that doesn't make them jellyfish. Same phylum, and class, that's about all. 


Velella velella family tree

Phylum: Cnidaria
Subphylum: Medusozoa
Class: Hydrozoa
Order: Anthomedusae
Family: Porpitidae
Genus: Velella
Species: V. velella

Jellyfish family tree
Portuguese Man o War

Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Hydrozoa
Order: Siphonophorae
Family: Physaliidae
Genus: Physalia
Species: P. physalis

Of course everybody on the Facebook post wanted to take the easy way out and just label the creatures as jellyfish. I guess it's too hard for some folks to say Velella velella. They float on top of the water. They can't submerge like jellyfish. The Greek name for jellyfish is cuplike. Velella velella are not cuplike at all. Sure, they're gelatinous on the underside but so are slugs, tunicates, and slime mold, as well as grape jelly sandwiches. Shall we call all grape jelly sandwiches jellyfish because they vaguely resembles jellyfish? Or call screws nails because they're similar in shape? Agh!


It was a losing battle. 


A more accurate write-up than Wiki, which has old, outdated info, is Velella velella By-the-wind sailor "biologist have examined the Velella as a single hydroid... The most striking aspect of the Velella velella is the direction of its sail, beacause it represents the direction the Velella is going and eventually to what shore it will arrive."

In “By the Wind” Sailors: Seasonal Velella beaching mystery solved, my old co-worker in the schools, Michael Ellis wrote:" It averages two inches across its flattened oval body and has a prominent sail. This flexible, triangular projection catches the wind and can move the animal quickly along the water even in a gentle zephyr. It is this remarkable ability that inspired early mariners to christen it the “By-the-wind Sailor.”

Velella is in the same phylum as anemones, corals, jellyfish and hydroids. It was once thought to be a colony of animals similar to the infamous Portuguese Man-of-War, but careful research has shown that it is a complicated individual rather than an assemblage of animals."

FIRST DRAFT:

By wind, and by sea they sail
the skin of the ocean is their home
Pelagic dreams drift to shore
where people puzzle over them
making poor metaphors
calling them jellies, not realizing
their uniqueness as they sail into the void.


Voices of Gold: California Poets in the Schools Celebrates 50 Years of Poetry, Oct. 10-12 at IONS Earthrise in Petaluma




Poets, teachers, poet-teachers, and plebeians who want to become poets in the schools: join us October 10 -12, for our 50th Anniversary celebration, Voices of Gold Symposium at IONS in Petaluma. If you haven’t yet marked this on your calendar, do it now. Good job! Now, if you can't attend the whole the weekend, then come for Saturday's fabulous festivities. You'll get to spend the day or the entire weekend participating in innovative writing workshops and partying like rockstars with kindred poets, of course.

Did we mention that many California poets laureates, and civic poets laureates are/were CPITS poets—including Jane Hirshfield, Celia Woloch, Molly Fisk, John Oliver Simon, and our latest California Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, have gone on to win huge accolades? Yep. Poetry is us. Jane Hirshfield credits CPITS as that “superb and still thriving program” that gave her first job as poet teacher; she said CPITS instils in young writers a passion for poetry, allows freedom of mind and offers the open-ended “writing invitation.”



LA poet-actor-playwrignt Jack Grapes, publisher of ONTHEBUS, will lead a deep writing intensive on Friday, Oct. 10. His Method Writing Approach teaches us to listen deep within ourselves. Celebrate and honor the elders of CPITS with a banquet, and welcome newcomers with special festivities.



Saturday, Oct. 11 former California Poet Laureate and CPITS board member, Al Young will give a keynote address, followed by four sets of workshops that embrace themes of poetry & sound, poetry & visual art/media, poetry & movement, and poetry performance—we'll be joined by special guests, performance poet-activists Josh Healey and Jason Bayani.

California poet teachers—from San Diego to Del Norte—will lead ab-fab workshops. CPITS workshop leaders include Amanda Chiado, Phyllis Meshulam, Karen K Lewis, Claire Blotter, Tree Bernstein, Jim Cartwright, Karen Benke, Dan Zev Levinson, Julie Hochfield, Prartho Sereno, DanaTeen Lomax, Blake More, Margo Perin, Kathy Evans and Sally Doyle.

More cool workshops on Sunday morning, including poetry & yoga, poetry & art—and don't forget to leave extra time to say those long goodbyes with newfound friends.

WHERE: at IONS Earthrise Retreat Center in Petaluma—right off Hwy 101, at San Antonio Creek. The beautiful campus is nestled in the Northern California foothills. You will dine on sumptuous organic meals while engaging in a multitude of interactive poetry workshops that will enhance your own writing or teaching in the classroom.

Please visit https://www.cpits.org/events.htm for registration information and complete workshop descriptions or contact Tina@cpits.org, better yet, just call Tina 415-221-1401 to register. See you there!

We also have great weekend commute special (Sat/Sun) $230; SaturDay Pass only $200—includes IONS' day use fee and abfab organic homegrown meals and snacks. No sleepovers. But two rooms are still available: contact TIna@cpits.org (415) 221-1401 ASAP.

To download the Voices of Gold brochure:
http://www.cpits.org/.../2014/CalPoetsFinalFlyerOct2014.pdf



ABOUT CALIFORNIA POETS IN THE SCHOOLS: Founded in 1964, California Poets in the Schools is one of the largest literary artists-in-residence programs in the nation. We encourage students throughout California to recognize and celebrate their creativity, intuition, and intellectual curiosity through the creative poetry writing process. We provide students with a multicultural community of published poets, specially trained to bring their experience and love for their craft into the classroom. CPITS serves 25,000 students annually in hundreds of public and private schools, juvenile halls, after-school programs, hospitals, and other community settings. We also partner with the California Arts Council to broadcast the Poetry Out Loud recitation program to high schools and audiences throughout the state. 2014 marks our 50th Anniversary of Poetry in California’s Classrooms!

California Poets In the Schools | 1333 Balboa Street, Suite 3 | SF CA
94118 | www.cpits.org
https://www.facebook.com/events/223260891209905/permalink/280199338849393




CPITS began as the Pegasus Project at San Francisco State in 1964 and is now active in more than 25 counties, reaching 26,000 students annually. Noted poets including Juan Felipe Herrera, Jane Hirshfield, Alison Luterman, Karen Benke, Opal Palmer Adisa, Richard Garcia, devorah major, Duane BigEagle, John Oliver Simon, Molly Fisk, and hundreds more have led workshops in K-12 classrooms, juvenile halls, hospitals and other community settings. In partnership with the California Arts Council, CPITS also delivers the national Poetry Out Loud poetry recitation program to high school students statewide.






Ghosts of symposiums past:

Write, Sing, and Move the Future Poetry Writing & Teaching Symposium 2013


Passing the Gift Forward, California Poets in the Schools Poetry & Writing Symposium 2012


California Poets in the Schools 47th Symposium  2011


California Poets in the Schools Science & Spirit Symposium 2010