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Local artist Sid Henderson has been making quite the splash at the Poetry Center these days. The mural that he's creating in the Children's Corner is just about finished! Come on by to watch Sid in action, creating the mural, before he finishes up in the next week or so. One last thing: if you look at the black, rock geodes close enough, you'll notice that there a few poems, written in white chalk, on the rocks. When the mural is completed, the public will be able to come on in and write poems on these rocks, which are made of chalkboard paint. Pretty sweet, huh?
The It-Doesn’t-Matter Suit
by Sylvia Plath
Illustrated by Rotraut Susanne Berner
St. Martin’s Press, 1996
In the little town of Winkelburg, where the mountains are all capped with scoops of vanilla and where the tables are always set with tarts, Max Nix wakes each morning and wishes he had a suit. A suit to wear proudly before the grocer and the goodwives. A suit to call his own. A suit to be admired by the minister and the mayor, the tinker, and even the tailor. Such is the great dilemma for this book’s Max Nix—a seven-year-old Robin Hood look-alike and the youngest of seven sons. Like many children’s books, the premise is a simple one; however, the book’s creator is anything but.
Sylvia Plath has been getting a lot of attention these days. But, as too often is the case, it’s more about the shadows than the light—the years of mental anguish and depression, followed by her dramatic suicide at age 30. For the average kid growing up now, it’s hard to think of Plath in any way that doesn’t involve an oven. But a couple of new-ish books are attempting to change all that. The It-Doesn’t-Matter Suit presents a more carefree Plath; the manuscript was discovered in the years after her death, and it was first published in 1996. Another book comes from Elizabeth Winder; it’s a bit of nonfiction called Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, 1953 (Harper Collins, 2013).
My mom is reading Winder’s book right now, and she has spent the better part of her days off lately curled up in a yellow chair, reading about young Sylvia trying to make it in the Greatest Winkelburg of all – New York City. Winder’s angle is to provide a window into Plath’s life in a very specific way, by focusing on a single summer she spent with twenty other young women, serving as guest editors for Mademoiselle. This is the time in Plath’s life that would come to be loosely represented in her novel The Bell Jar—a heady cocktail of late nights and literati, a time where she would feel great insecurity in her own skin.
Need a break from the heat? Want to see some amazing art work, being made live, right in front of your eyes? Then come on over to the Poetry Center! Our Children's Corner is undergoing a major face-lift, specifically with a new mural. Come on over to watch local artist, Sid Henderson, paint a mural of a desert bed landscape. While you're there, Sid might even let you test out the river rocks, which are made of chalkboard paint! Once the mural is finished, patrons will be able to write chalk poems and draw pictures on the desert rocks. Pretty cool, huh? Sid will be working on the mural during the week for the next few months, from around 9am - 12 pm. Come on by and watch this amazing mural in progress, right before your very eyes.
Last March, the Poetry Center took their trusty typewriters out to the Tucson Festival of Books. At our booth, we set-up a gaggle of typewriters, and asked the Tucson community to type away! One of the writing prompts we asked was this: "Describe the contents of your pockets or purse." Below are some of the responses. Enjoy!
Contents of my pocket
The contents of my pockets show the true image behind my face
the lint tells a story my mouth never will
the change of past experiences now scatter the floor
pockets now empty
new adventures await my open pockets
to be filled with time and memories from moments long forgotten
pockets change in size
my hands will always fit inside
to be emptied and start anew
When I retired for the day I empty my heavy
River of Words: Images and Poetry in Praise of Water
Edited by Pamela Michael
HeyDay Books, 2003
Today in Tucson, we had an oven-like high of 113 degrees. I rode my bike in the middle of the day, the heat of the day (a mistake), and between shouts of OH-MY-GOSH and DANG-IT’S-HOT and YOU’VE-GOTTA-BE-KIDDING-ME, a desperate question branded my brain: When will the rains come?*
This is a question, a conversation that’s common among Tucsonans. In fact, a good chunk of us abandon the city in the summer. But for the die-hard (read: crazy), we withstand the abuse because we know that the monsoons are on their way.
In light of the recent heat wave, and in anticipation of the forthcoming monsoon season, I can’t think of a more fitting collection of poetry than River of Words: Images and Poetry in Praise of Water. This collection of poems and artwork, written and illustrated by youth, is an initiative through the River of Words® program, which “trains teachers, park rangers, youth leaders, and other educators around the world on ways to incorporate nature and the arts into their own work with children.” Co-founded by U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass and writer Pamela Michael, the organization promotes literacy, water-shed awareness, and the arts.
Hi, everyone! Thank you so much for a wonderful Spring season on Wordplay. Thanks to our awesome contributors, we had some excellent posts this Spring: Recommended Reading lists, Reading Series in the Classroom posts, Book Reviews, Voca posts, Family Days writing, and so much more.
We'll see you back here in June 2013 for a whole new line-up of exciting posts and contributors.
See you soon!
The Wordplay Blog
For this month's Recommended Reading list, Alison Deming--Director of the Creative Writing Program and Creative Writing Professor at the University of Arizona--shares her recommended list of poems for youth. Enjoy!
Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses
Among my favorite poems in this book are “Bed in Summer” and “My Shadow.”
This was my first poetry book as a child. It taught me how musical both language and thoughtfulness can be. Be not afraid of the archaic poeticisms. This book speaks to a child’s inner life.
This past Saturday, we celebrated our last Family Days of the Spring 2013 season at the Poetry Center! Check out some of the awesome writing, generated by students during our Poetry Joey's writing workshops this past weekend. And be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, September 28th, the first Family Days of the Fall 2013 season!
Quiet as a flea
Quiet as a flea, quiet quiet as a bug on a tiny rug
A wall on a ball on a rolly-polly tolly
In California, I do warn you about the California scene
It will haunt you in your dreams forever and ever
Sneek the wall of windows or the wall of widows
Dad or mom of windows or dad or mom of widows
P.S. Was it 8 or 9 windows?
Window wall window wall through all your beautiful windows
Every day what do you see?
Through all your windows do you spy lots of cars on the rough road?
Tiny tiny little bug on your little little rug
This week, in continuation with our series, “The Reading Series in the Classroom,” we here at Wordplay will introduce your students to the writing of Carmen Giménez Smith. She will read at the Poetry Center on April 25th at 7 p.m., along with J. Michael Martínez and Roberto Tejada. Giménez Smith’s reading will be best suited for high school students, but her poetry also appeals to a K-8 audience. Please print and read her poem “Photo of a Girl on a Beach,” with your students, and then follow the writing prompts below. Hope to see you all at the Reading!
1. What words or images are most memorable to you in the poem?
2. Are there any lines or images that stick out to you as odd or quizzical?
3. Pick your favorite line and discuss it with a neighbor. Why did you pick the line?
4. At the end of the poem, there’s an interesting twist with narration. For most of the poem, the narrator is “I,” but by the end of the poem, the narrator shifts to “she.” Who, in your mind, is the girl on the beach? Is it the narrator or some other girl? Or do you have a different explanation?
5. Find a family photo when you go home tonight, and write a short imitation poem, based off of Carmen Giménez Smith’s “Photo of a Girl on a Beach.” For example, the title of your poem could be “Photo of a Grandpa at a Birthday Party.”
Join us for the 2013 Tucson Youth Poetry Slam All-City Championships at 1:00 pm at the Poetry Center!
The 2013 Tucson Youth Poetry Slam All-City Championship will be held Saturday, April 20th from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. Twenty of Tucson’s most dynamic poets 18-and-under will rock the mic with their original poems in the 3rd annual competition. Judged by the audience, this is poetry that aims to surprise you. The event will feature a performance by nationally recognized performance poet CARLOS CONTRERAS of Albuquerque! The event will also mark the book release of LIBERATION LYRICS written by local students studying pressing social issues through original poetry.
The Tucson Youth Poetry Slam and Liberation Lyrics are programs of Spoken Futures, Inc. This event is made possible in part by the UA Poetry Center, the Tucson Pima Arts Council, the Crossroads Collaborative, Casa Libre en la Solana, Bentley’s House of Coffee and Tea and broad community support.
See you there!