Lois Lensky Exhibit at Florida State University

Courtesy FSU Special Collections

Courtesy FSU Special Collections

Anyone living near Tallahassee would be well advised to check out a current exhibit at Florida State University featuring artwork by Lois Lenski, winner of the 1946 Newbery Medal for Strawberry Girl. The physical exhibit runs through September 30th. There is also a supplementary digital collection, available to all.

Press Release:

“The members of Dr. Teri Abstein’s spring 2013 Museum Object class have been working with Florida State University Special Collections to design the exhibit entitled Farms, Fields, and Florida: Lois Lenski Illustrating the South. Through materials that have not been on display since Lenski presented them herself, the exhibition highlights the children’s author’s connection with the rural south, focusing on the state of Florida. Showcasing tales such as Bayou Suzette (recounting the life of a young Cajun girl in Louisiana), Strawberry Girl (the Newbery Award winning novel depicting the life of a young Cracker girl in Florida), and Judy’s Journey (tracking a young migrant girl’s travels through the south and eastern coast), the exhibition displays the rustic yet realistic tapestry of Southern life woven by Lenski. In addition, with featured photo albums, handwritten manuscripts, fan letters, original illustrations, and her published books, visitors receive a glimpse into Lenski’s own life and process.”

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Mad Libs Poetry

I recently contributed a post about Mad Libs Poetry (a form of erasure poetry) to the Literatures in English blog. It’s a great programming idea for teachers and librarians of all stripes!

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“Spring and Fall: to a young child,” Gerard Manley Hopkins

“Spring and Fall: to a young child,” a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 — 1889) set to music by Natalie Merchant. From Merchant’s 2010 album Leave Your Sleep.

“Spring and Fall: to a young child”
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

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“The Right Words,” Sarah Slean

From Slean’s Land & Sea

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“Prayer’s End,” by Brooklyn Copeland

I heard this recently on a Poetry podcast and immediately rewound so I could listen again.

“Prayer’s End”
Brooklyn Copeland

Nature remains
            faithful by
                         natural light,
only. Immeasurable,
            invisible in the wind.
                         Visible when
blades
            and branches bend.
                         The wind
speaks fluent
            rain. Despite it
                         the rain
falls straight. And beyond it
abandoned barns
                         defend
            abandoned
men.

From an interview with TriQuarterly Online:

TQO: As an avid reader of poetry, what do you say to someone who just doesn’t get poetry—someone who can’t see any pragmatic purpose to it? What about the accusation that poetry can be understood and enjoyed by only a select group of people?

BC: I can empathize, but I think there’s usually a difference between those who don’t get poetry and those who don’t think there is a pragmatic purpose to it. Basically, you just have to allow that poetry serves a purpose the way that music, theater, comic books, and graffiti serve a purpose: creative types can’t help but make their commentary through their art.

And, honestly, there is a point where poetry can only be understood by select group of people. Poetry as we write it in 2011 is a wild animal for most readers who don’t also write it; it doesn’t offer the same access points that a news article or a blog post or a novel offers. And there’s an element of poetry that is like philosophy: readers know it can be skillful and rigorous and smart and taken seriously, but there simply is no “right or wrong” to it, there are lots of variables and opposing approaches. Once readers allow that a poem can be understood “correctly” more than one way (intuitively, contextually, critically, artistically, etc.), they get poetry just as well as any practicing poet. It’s up to that reader to dig deeper into the poem to get the most out of it.

TQO: But if you did have to get a tattoo, what would it be or say?

BC: I worked for the public library in Carmel, Indiana, for ten years off and on. My favorite section was (of course) the 811 section (which in this library is very extensive)—more specifically, the 811.52 section. My friend and fellow poet Danielle Wheeler is the first one I know to have the 811 tattoo, and I was crazy with envy when I saw it—but I’d have to go all the way with 811.52. I haven’t ruled out getting that one but keep bumping up the literary milestone that will warrant it. At this rate, I’ll need to win the Nobel before I get it done. 

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“Fragments of a Dream,” Naomi Long Madgett

Poet Rhonda Welsh reads Naomi Long Madgett’s “Fragments of a Dream.”

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“Traveling Through the Dark,” by William Stafford

Read by Matt Baker (poetry fusion)

Stafford shares his inspiration:

(I love the brief glimpse of Stafford’s submit notes, toward the end.)

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