Friday, October 05, 2018

Poetry Friday: James Weldon Johnson's "Sonnet"



After a lot of dispiriting news this week and the feeling that women and their truths don't seem to matter to a great many people, I found James Weldon Johnson's "Sonnet" to be a welcome antidote.

Sonnet
by James Weldon Johnson

My heart be brave, and do not falter so,
Nor utter more that deep, despairing wail.
Thy way is very dark and drear I know,
But do not let thy strength and courage fail;
For certain as the raven-winged night
Is followed by the bright and blushing morn,
Thy coming morrow will be clear and bright;
’Tis darkest when the night is furthest worn.
Look up, and out, beyond, surrounding clouds,
And do not in thine own gross darkness grope,
Rise up, and casting off thy hind’ring shrouds,
Cling thou to this, and ever inspiring hope:
Tho’ thick the battle and tho’ fierce the fight,
There is a power making for the right.

~~~~~

Friday, September 28, 2018

Poetry Friday: Hours


I have known hours of such varying intensity this week ... lovely hours, wrenching hours, calm hours, hours of laughter, anxious hours. Hazel Hall knows.


Hours
Hazel Hall

I have known hours built like cities,
House on grey house, with streets between
That lead to straggling roads and trail off,
Forgotten in a field of green;

Hours made like mountains lifting
White crests out of the fog and rain,
And woven of forbidden music—
Hours eternal in their pain.

Life is a tapestry of hours
Forever mellowing in tone,
Where all things blend, even the longing
For hours I have never known.

(Found here, on Poets.org.)

~~~~~~~~~~

Jone Rush MacCulloch has the roundup today.  


Friday, September 07, 2018

Poetry Friday: Credo, by Alfred Kreymborg


From one of the (new poet to me -- do you know him?) earlier adopters of free verse, Alfred Kreymborg (1883 - 1966). This one really spoke to me this week!


Credo
  by Alfred Kreymborg

I sing the will to love:
the will that carves the will to live,
the will that saps the will to hurt,
the will that kills the will to die;
the will that made and keeps you warm,
the will that points your eyes ahead,
the will that makes you give, not get,
a give and get that tell us what you are:
how much a god, how much a human.
I call on you to live the will to love.

(This poem is in the public domain.)

~~~~~~~~~~ 

The Poetry Friday roundup is at Carol Varsalona's Beyond LiteracyLink.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Bits and Pieces of Our Days: A Good Rainy Morning


 

This isn't my actual window (I'm a mediocre photographer so I'm thankful for Pexels) but it could be. This is the drizzle of our day. 

It will be punctuated by the sunshine of hot coffee and breakfast-out somewhere, to kick off the school year for Ramona and me. Anne-with-an-e and Betsy are free from work/school today and can join us, which is a delight. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Work, as always, is keeping me busy. I'll be teaching two six-week sessions of The Writer's Jungle Online for Brave Writer this fall. (There are still spaces open in the Oct. 29-Dec. 7 class, but the Sept. 10th class is full.) I've also been getting to tinker with just a wee bit of behind-the-scenes writing for Brave Writer, and that's a lot of fun. 

I might have a new book in the works; I'll keep you posted as things develop.

~~~~~~~~~~

I've mentioned our swallows before and wrote here about our resignation to their stubborn beauty.
And of course, you've heard of swallows returning every year to San Juan Capistrano?
What I may not have mentioned recently is our fear that the Edmisten home is turning into Edmistrano.

I give you Exhibit A:



~~~~~~~~~~

One night in mid-August, about 11 pm I think, at the height of the Perseid meteor showers, we drove out into the country to get a better look. It was worth the drive, but we actually ended up seeing the most spectacular shooting star after we got home. We were lying on blankets in the backyard when we saw one that looked like an amazing special effect. 

Again, not my photo. Again, thanks, Pexels.com

It was a needed bit of beauty in a rather hard month. 

There are a number of health things happening at Edmistrano, but one that's currently front and center is Betsy's autoimmune disease. 

In December, I shared that she'd been diagnosed with a chronic illness, but I don't think I ever shared the details. Betsy has Crohn's disease (I have her permission to talk about it -- oh, for the days of thinking only about cute kid quotes!) We thought it was being well controlled with a biologic that she's received every 8 weeks, since December, through an IV infusion. Although she'd had to leave school in the fall semester of 2017, she was back at it last semester, and went into the summer feeling good. She was in clinical remission, but testing in early August showed that she's not in endoscopic remission and symptoms were beginning to flare. So, after too much waiting and some stressful phone calls with the insurance company, she started a new biologic, which we hope will work. The girl who a year ago was deathly afraid of needles not only learned to deal with regular IVs, but now will learn to give herself injections. 

My daughters repeatedly teach me what real bravery looks like. 

Which brings me to the kitchen. 

I'm helping Betsy investigate an autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet, and these ladies are fast becoming my new best friends: Mickey and Angie, at Autoimmune Wellness, are a wealth of information and recipes. (Many thanks to my dear friend who steered me their way.) I've been listening to their podcast, too, which is super-helpful. I've been talking about Mickey and Angie so much that Atticus suggested I just refer to them as McAngie. 

For a vegetarian who was leaning toward veganism, learning to cook with high-quality proteins is a challenge, so wish us luck. And if you have any AIP diet stories to share, hit me up. 

In short, if I've been really quiet on the blog, it's at least in part because I've been so busy in the kitchen. 😮

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Poetry Friday: The "I Am From" Project

I couldn't decide what to post this week. Yeats? Billy Collins? The always amazing Richard Wilbur?

I was dithering, so I started flitting around the Kidlitosphere and saw that Tabatha had posted a "Where I'm From" poem. (Hey, I remember those! I wrote one ages ago. Thank you, Tabatha, for this week's inspiration! W.B., Billy, and Richard will have to wait. Also? I'm stealing your idea to include a picture, Tabatha. I'm all about stolen ideas this week.)

Tabatha's post led me back to Heidi Mordhorst's blog, and this explanation of George Ella Lyon and Julie Landsman's beautiful project. Be sure to go here to check out the details of the I Am From Project, and consider writing one yourself.

In the meantime, here's where I'm from.

Me, age 7


I Am From 
Karen Edmisten

I am from knee socks,
Hostess cupcakes
and black patent leather shoes
worn home from the store.

I am from coast to coast,
from everywhere
and nowhere,
the child of a pilot and his bride.
I am from Air Force base housing,
plain vanilla walls
and Barbie clothes sewn from Thailand’s silk.

I am from hollyhock dolls and walking to school,
from dandelion bouquets,
from Alaskan glaciers
and from the sun rising on a Florida coast.

I am from summer car trips
to Grandma and Grandpa's,
with stops at Lookout Mountain
and the Truman Museum.
I am from staid New England stock,
from Indiana folks,
from John and Norma,
Madeline and Jim.
I am from lightning bugs in the backyard
and the sleepy scent of Noxzema.

I am from “Be polite” and
“Do your best,”
and “Goodnight, John-boy”
at bedtime,
from “I’m rubber, you’re glue,”
and from “Nuh-uh is not a word.”

I am from a squishy pillow at the drive-in,
and a six-year-old’s delight in the
dark, safe cocoon of the car.

I am from Santa Claus
and Easter eggs,
dinnertime grace,
and prayers
that faded away.

I am from Germany,
Scotland,
from home cooked meals,
doll-cakes on my birthday,
and home-sewn clothes
that made me proud of my mother’s skill.

From Grandma, who thought I loved peas
because I gobbled them up
(to get rid of them),
and from Grandpa, who convinced me
that a signal tower
was his own private Christmas tree.
I am from my grandmother’s way
of smearing butter on a scraped knee,
and taking me to “the groc'ry”
no matter what store it was.

I am from Mom, who decorated
the house for every holiday,
and took us blueberry hunting by the creek;
from Dad, who told me that thunder
was giants bowling in the sky,
and whose hand holding mine
was all I could see at the airport
when he came home from a year in Korea.

I am from Air Force brats bonding
through a shared, strange life,
from a 1960s family who taught me
without words
that “skin color” meant nothing
and “human being” meant everything.

I am from nomads,
from possibilities, and from imagination.

I am from a longing for roots, found finally, and only, in God.

~~~~~

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Poetry Friday: Birthdays in July



Birthdays in July 

One is sixteen. 
Sixty-one is another. 
One is my daughter. 
My husband's the other. 

© Karen Edmisten 


Ramona was, Atticus always says, his 45th birthday present. 
Happy birthday to my old man and my youngest daughter! 


~~~~~~~~~~


The Poetry Friday round-up is at Reading to the Core.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Poetry Friday and Bits and Pieces of Our Days

Eeeek! Has it really been a month since I posted?

Summertime and the livin' is easy? Or summertime and we're-so-busy-I-don't-have-time-to-post?

That depends on the week.

Ramona did two theater camps in June, so those weeks flew by. Atticus bought our thespian some lovely flowers, and they lasted for ages:

What is the purple flower? Some kind of ornamental cabbage?

~~~~~~~~~~

Ramona and I experimented with baking vegan chocolate chip cookies and we discovered that aqua faba (translation: chickpea liquid) is an excellent substitute for eggs. (These were as good or better than my usual recipe.) Yum.



Speaking of all things vegan, how did Omaha get so lucky as to be the landing spot for Isa Chandra Moskowitz's incredible vegan restaurant, Modern Love? Atticus and I recently tried it for the first time and the food was crazy-good. I could eat their gnocchi carbonara all day, every day.

~~~~~~~~~~

In pet news, we decided to try a thunder shirt for our poor, anxious doggo:

"Okay, it's kind of helping. Do you have it in another color?"

And we're all truly, madly, deeply happy that fireworks season has passed.

~~~~~~~~~~


We did an overnight at our favorite state park. I like to call this kind of getaway "camping" because the trip requires that I pack insect repellent, no make-up, and we must all be on constant alert for ticks. Combine these factors and I can pretend, in casual conversation with other midwesterners, that I enjoy camping. But in reality, I am deeply appreciative of cabins that are equipped with air conditioning and coffee makers. 

~~~~~~~~~~

And now, for the point of this post -- Poetry Friday! 

I shared this poem a few years back, along with a story about the swallows that nest on our front and back porches. We love them, despite the mess they create. They've made their peace with us (almost no divebombing to speak of these days) and we happily accept their messes in exchange for the joy they provide.

Happy midsummer, and here's to further mash-ups of easy livin' and too-busyness!

~~~~~~~~~~

Swallows
by Leonora Speyer

They dip their wings in the sunset,
They dash against the air
As if to break themselves upon its stillness:
In every movement, too swift to count,
Is a revelry of indecision,
A furtive delight in trees they do not desire
And in grasses that shall not know their weight.

They hover and lean toward the meadow
With little edged cries;
And then,
As if frightened at the earth’s nearness,
They seek the high austerity of evening sky
And swirl into its depth.

(This poem is in the public domain.)

~~~~~~~~~~

The Poetry Friday round up is at Poetry for Children

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Poetry Friday Round-up is Here This Week!

Welcome to Poetry Friday! 

(I'm posting early because I know how you guys are. I'm the same way, so welcome, kindred spirits.) 

I was waffling about what to post today. Atticus gave me a couple of ideas and they were lovely and heady but I was in the mood for something about marriage. ("Sorry, honey, I don't want your ideas. I want something about marriage," I said to my spouse. Hmmm. Perhaps there's something wrong with that but there you have it.)

Then something whispered in my ear: Barbara Crooker.  Crooker's poems are so real and rich. Deep currents run through her deceptively simple work -- currents we all swim and sometimes struggle through: love, nature, grief, food, dreams, marriage. Life.

So, I went wading through Crooker's website and came upon this one, which is lovely and new to me:


Sustenance
by Barbara Crooker

The sky hangs up its starry pictures: a swan,
a crab, a horse. And even though you’re
three hundred miles away, I know you see
them, too. Right now, my side
of the bed is empty, a clear blue lake
of flannel. The distance yawns and stretches.

(Read the whole poem here, at The Poetry Foundation.)

~~~~~~~~~~

After I chose that one, I remembered a poem I wrote about eight years ago, also titled "Sustenance." I decided to share that one today, too.



Sustenance
by Karen Edmisten 

Bread,
like marriage,
requires the promise
of leavening.

There is flour and water —
foundation — yes,
but it begs
something more:
fermentation, lather,
messiness
and growth.
It must take on life,
risk failure,
swell in size,
though never
sloppily escape
its necessary confines.

My husband
mixes flour
and water,
baking bread for me.
It is nothing,
he says.

It is everything,
I counter,
as I watch him
measure, stir yeast
and add salt,
carefully constructing a promise.

~~~~~~~~~~

For your weekly poetic sustenance, leave your link below, and then go devour some goodness.

Thanks for stopping by!

~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, June 08, 2018

Poetry Friday: Driving Lessons



Driving Lessons

Child #1:
My right foot
is pressing
desperately on an
invisible brake pedal.
My voice: tense.
Body: rigid.
Knuckles: white.
Mortality: powerfully aware.

Child #2:
Her tranquilizing
confidence becomes
my confidence.
She says the wheel
in her hands feels
just as it did
in her dreams.
What a second-y second child
this girl is.

Child #3:
Six years younger
than her closest sister.
(A final round, then
I'll retire from this gig.)
She has been watching
road signs, listening,
absorbing.

We are both grateful
for those who
came before, for the girls
who have been
helping both of us
to grow up.

© Karen Edmisten

~~~~~

Poems are being rounded up this week at Whispers on the Ridge

Friday, June 01, 2018

Poetry Friday: A Haiku for the First of June



June. Liquid sunlight. 
Cardinal calls the cat but
he, solemn, is still.
    
© Karen Edmisten 

(Photo credit: Ramona) 

~~~~~~~~~~
The Poetry Friday round-up is at Buffy's Blog

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Ending the School Year With Beautiful, Heartbreaking Literature (and some poetry)




It is (I say without hyperbole) a perfect novel.

I love it so.

Ramona and I finished reading it aloud today and I'm so glad we lived it together instead of my having "assigned" it. This was, after all, my last opportunity to experience Mockingbird for the first time with one of my daughters.

Betsy told Ramona, before we started the book, "You can't really know how good it is until you finish it."

Today Ramona concurred.







~~~~~~~~~~






Our other read for May was Thornton Wilder's Our Town. This, too, is a book I thrust into my children's hands and say, "I loved this play desperately when I first read it. Forty years later, I still love it. I hope you will, too." Then I add, "But ... umm ... no pressure, y'know?"

I am a lucky, lucky woman though because all three of my daughters willingly clasp these books to their hearts and look back into my eyes, happily, and with tears.









Emily: "Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners ... Mama and Papa. good-by to clocks ticking and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths ... and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. (She looks toward the Stage Manager and asks abruptly through her tears):  

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -- every, every minute?"

Stage Manager: "No. (Pause.) The saints and poets, maybe -- they do, some."


Our Town was inspired by Edgar Lee Masters' "Lucinda Matlock" and the works share a common theme: life is mundane and profound; it is nothing and it is everything. It is the stuff of saints and poets.

Lucinda Matlock

by Edgar Lee Masters

I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed—
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you—
It takes life to love Life.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Poetry Friday round up is at Reflections on the Teche this week. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bits and Pieces of Our Days



Spring is finally here, so naturally I have to post pictures of lilacs. It's a law. 

Or a guideline, at the very least. 

~~~~~


 Where has Maggie O'Farrell been all my life? 

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death is a gorgeous memoir. I went straight from that to one of her novels, This Must Be the Place and I will assuredly be reading more of her lovely work. 


~~~~~


 Ramona's writing group! 

I gathered this collection of objects and we each did a freewrite based on the items here. Our local library recently did this and called the workshop "Chopped: The Writing Edition." It was such a fun idea that I had to steal it. 

For other freewriting ideas, you can always visit the Brave Writer blog. Loads of freewriting prompts! 

Speaking of Brave Writer, I absolutely love being a part of the Brave Writer team and teaching The Writer's Jungle Online. I'm on a little break right now, but I'll be teaching again in the fall, with classes starting on September 10th and October 29th. 

Brave Writer is developing new classes all the time. Check out the amazing array of what's available

~~~~~



Oh, how the Edmistens love the Penderwicks! 

~~~~~



This was one of my Mother's Day gifts from Atticus. 

As a middle child, I must say, it was deeply appreciated. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018

Poetry Friday: Poetry Month Blues


Poetry Month Blues 
Karen Edmisten 

Another April -- Poetry Month! --
has slipped through my fingers.
Failed plans, lack of sharing ...
The guilt in me lingers.

"Next year will be different!"
I shout with conviction.
Really? Inner Me sneers,
A doubtful prediction. 

Who knows? Should I worry?
I think not. You see,
every Friday's poetry day.
That's just Weekly Me.


~~~~~~~~~~


The Poetry Friday round up is hosted today by the amazing Irene Latham, at Live Your Poem.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Poetry Friday: World Make Way, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins (and pssst: Happy Birthday!)


Could you resist this book? 

I couldn't. I ordered it the second I saw it. 

World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, is precisely what the title says it is. This lovely book begins with this splendid quote from Leonardo da Vinci: 

"Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, 
and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen."

(Pardon me while I pause and nod in appreciation.) 

The poets are delightful, the selections delicious. Here's a snapshot (from the backcover) of the featured artists and poets: 


I'm sure I need not say more? 
(I'll get out of your way as you race to your local indie bookstore....) 

~~~~~

Oh, one more thing: 

Happy 80th birthday to Lee Bennett Hopkins, 
Poetry Advocate Extraordinaire! 
Thank you, Sir Hopkins, for all that you do 
to champion the beauty of language and share it with children the world over. 

~~~~~

Robyn Hood Black has the Poetry Friday round-up 
(and a bunch more birthday wishes for Lee)