a writer's journey as a reader

POM(s) for May: Because one month of poems is not enough

I’m finding it difficult to wean myself from inserting a poem into my blog having recently filled my April calendar with a daily poem. So who says I have to? Good, glad we agree on this. Along with my spotlights on blogs, my ongoing series on “Why We Say,” as well as the usual spate of book reviews, I will include a POM–Poem of the Month. There are just way too many poems to wait again until National Poetry Month in April to post. Yes, I’m a confessed poetry junkie. Indeed.
In fact, I am accruing so many poems already, that my meter is running overtime (that’s for you, Mike A.). Here are three plus one extra, just because I couldn’t stop at three poems that seem to fit my almost-done-with-the-school-year mood.

“The Yawn”--my students are yawning a lot these days. I can’t believe studying the poems and literature of the Modern Era isn’t making them jump up and down with enthralled enrapture.

The Mentor”–I’m hoping down the road my students will realize they truly did learn something in my class.

“Dandelion”–though I teach English, not science, I do find wisdom in knowing the importance of knowing parts to understand the whole. And, yes, I am ready to float away on strands of gossamer fluff.

“Who Burns for the Perfection of Paper”--I do appreciate paper. My life would not be the same without it. I can relate to paper cuts as well.

Mockingbird Winner!

I have yet another reading quiz result. This time I explored what kind of hero I might be–I am quite pleased with the findings. Honestly, I wasn’t peeking at the choices. Yet, here it is and *tadah* I’m feeling vindicated. Ready…


Apparently because I like to read in my spare time, fight for what I think is right, and prefer my own company I’m an Atticus kind of hero(ine). All this time I thought I was a scrappy bookworm. This time I included the link. Do tell what your results are.

What kind of hero are you? Take the quiz!

Reading Challenge: #20–My Salinger Year

Joanna Rakoff has provided that rarity, a memoir that reads like a novel. She does admit she needed to fill in some gaps, which is totally understandable and quite forgivable. The point is that Ms. Rakoff allows her readers to peek behind the curtain where most plebeians are barred when it comes to the world of lit deals. We are given glimpses of when one of the old venerable literary agency’s began to roll out of the Stone Age of carbon copies and Dictaphones into the pacings of the WWW. This is the agency that represented J.D. Salinger. The title is both misleading and essential to understanding the book. Salinger plays his part in Rakoff’s memoir like he did in real life for so many: an enigma of reverberation. He left a lasting impression on Rakoff long after her encounters with him, and she is able to pass that enduring awe to her readers.

Front Cover

The following is a passage, which, for me, serves as the book’s metaphor. How so many freshly degreed lit majors hope to “make good” in NYC as an assistant  at a publishing house or agency and live beyond their means by believing in their facade, to almost succumb to disaster only to recover and continue in the momentum of living as a twenty-something.

 My shoe, with its narrow heel, caught on the thick carpet, and for a moment I thought–I knew, my heart beating faster–that I was going to trip and fall down that small flight of stairs, the world around me rotating, but then I simply laid my hand on the railing, steadied myself, and continued down. p.139

If you are looking at the reminiscent or retro view of the book world, a bit of Mad Men of the literary scene, then I urge you to find My Salinger Year. It’s a bit of The Devil Wears Prada peek of publishing. I wonder if Emily Blunt is busy for this one because I do see a film in the making. Heck, I could see Meryl Streep as an agency queen. Oh yeah–

What Book Are You?

I am drawn to determinant quizzes. You know the ones–you answer all sorts of questions that lead to some revealing aspect of your personality or your secret career or dream vacation spot or other stuff that thought we knew about ourselves but obviously don’t.
One of my countless book-related web subscriptions, The Reading Room, dropped an irresistible quiz into my mailbox: what book am I? Obviously any matters of import ceased until I discovered my book type.
I was lead through a gamut of questions starting with the obsequious “What kind of book do you most think you are like?”
Their choices weren’t really working for me: Mystery, Quirky, Romantic, Escape. Where is the classic option?
I was hoping to nudge my answers towards the announcement I was indeed a Jane Eyre kind of book–a heroine who triumphs over injustices and is remembered for her unwavering principles that finally show the world that intelligence wins over beauty. That is Jane Eyre, right?
Well, with “classic” unavailable I went for “quirky” figuring Thursday Next is pretty quirky and she got to know Rochester as well.
Be careful if quirky, as it leads to surprising results.
Other questions involved preferred people types, job and vacation choices, a couple of introspective questions that lead to my supposed book type.
A drumroll would be appreciated
Then again, which do you think is the result?
1. Da Vinci Code
2. Sherlock Holmes
3. Harry Potter
4. Tom Sawyer

I wasn’t wasn’t terribly disappointed but grew a bit miffed when I read what choices other commenters were bestowed. I retook the quiz three times and never did get Pride and Prejudice or even Alice in Wonderland.
What’s your guess? What book type dost thou thinkest the Cricket be?

Why We Say: #16

This round involves some flash and splash in terms of remberance…

Flash in the Pan
We know the story: a new talent comes on the scene, everyone is appropriately dazzled, and whist and fizzle, the name fades from view. The expression “flash in the pan” comes from 17th century muskets and how the flint sparks ignited the powder in the loading pan. The powder, like flashy talent, gave off a spark, yet had no significance or long-lasting effect.

these guns were fairly flashy in their day image: revwarheart/Morguefile

Flirting is a behavior most associated with women, although I’ve known a few men who can rustle up the attraction factor as well. However, I don’t think too many men would consider waving a fan about to get attention, which is from where our term of “flirting” originates. Women desiring the attention of available men at dances, balls, or other gatherings would practice the fine art of waving or flirting their fans about. Fans are out, but flirting is still in play today. Perhaps words and actions have replaced the fan’s muted motions.

Pennywise (Morguefile) might be suggesting that someone fanning this about would definitely attract attention


These sweet little flowers have a sad story image: Jusben/Morguefile

These are garden favorites of mine. Every year I faithfully sprinkle out seeds and hope for the best. Not as many pop up as I hope, yet once planted they perk up the summer landscape with their multitude of blooms. Now that I’ve discovered their story I appreciate them even more. I’ve added a wee bit more to the snippet I found:

Once upon a time, (like all great German tales start), a dedicated knight decided to surprise his lady-love. Making his way down to the banks of the Danube river he began to pick a bouquet of the blue-star flowers that grew there. So intent was he upon gathering the flowers that he did not notice how close he was to the edge of the riverbank. Alas, the ground gave way and he fell in. Being a fighter and not a swimmer, he found himself being swept away by the river’s current. His lady-love rushed along the riverbank, yet she was not a swimmer either. Before the river claimed the gallant knight he tossed the remaining flowers he held in his hand towards his lady and called out “Vergiss mein nicht” asking her to “forget him not.” It’s said the lady never married and instead of black she wore the gentian blue of the little flower, as her way of always remembering her lost knight.

Next time we’ll look at different ways a person gets burned…

Poem In Your Pocket Day

*disclaimer–apparently this post was so anxious to get out and about it momentarily escaped before it received its final polish, which included the insertion of poetical bling of links, imagery, and spell check (the editor of this blog remains astounded that faithful followers nevertheless endured the raw form of its content and left friendly commentary anyways–gosh, I’m humbled at your polite endurance)

How To Eat a Poem
by Eve Merriam

      Don’t be polite.
      Bite in.
      Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
      may run down your chin.
      It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.


Today culminates an entire month of celebrating poetry. I hope you have found some new poetry and poets to reflect upon. I also hope you aren’t any verse for wear for enduring 30 days of poems.
Today I hand out scrolls of selected poems to students for them to carry about. Some keep them and others toss them to the floor. I can’t force poetry on my students, though I do try my best to enlighten them of its nuances. If anything, I hope they don’t fear, loathe, or dislike poetry after experiencing it in my classroom. Maybe they will embrace how poetry is just another way for our spirit to sing life’s song.

Here’s a link to PIYPD and a fun video:

Blue Skies,


NPM: #29–morning has broken

I am a definite morning person. This trait, along with being a “tidee” versus being a “messee”, did not follow genetic pathways to my kinder. No one in my family can understand my bounciness in the early a.m. When “Morning” by Mary Oliver dropped into my mailbox, I read it, related to it, and couldn’t wait to share it. It reminded me ever so much of the Cat Stevens song as well.

Morning by Mary Oliver

NPM: #28–a classroom poem

This poem is for all you teachers out there, and yes, to you students as well. We ask a question, and know our students know the answer, but there is such a reluctance to share the knowledge, unless you are the student who always has the willingness. What about the others? This poem helps to unravel the mystery of the reluctant hand.

The Hand

“Take a chance…” image:


NPM: #27–of imagery and such

Amy Lowell doesn’t quite get the press like Emily Dickinson does, although Amy did receive a Pultizer for her work. Very much influenced by the Imagist Movement, Lowell, like Ezra Pound, captures the essence of a scene in only a few words.  So much is left unsaid, which is what makes this poem so complete.

image: morguefile/rezdora70


Amy Lowell, 18741925
Over the shop where silk is sold
Still the dragon kites are flying.

NPM: #26–a gift

A Gift

Leonora Speyer

I Woke: —
Night, lingering, poured upon the world
Of drowsy hill and wood and lake
Her moon-song,
And the breeze accompanied with hushed fingers
On the birches.

Gently the dawn held out to me
A golden handful of bird’s-notes.

I hand out over 200 literary terms to my AP students to learn prior to their May exam. They manage to do so for the most part. Admittedly, some of the terms I keep having to remind myself of what they are, others stick in the brain and I delight when I recognize them. One such term is “polysyndenton” which is when the writer strings a series of words, usually nouns or verbs, together with a conjunction such as “and.” At first glance the reader might think, “combine that, if you please–a bit wordy and redundant, don’t you think?” Once understanding the use of polysyndenton, the reader gets that second understanding that there is a purpose to the stringing together of words. Why say you of Speyer’s writing of “hill and wood and lake”–is it superflous or meaningful?

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