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New Year's resolutions are something I never really resolved to make. Considering my "New Year" is a different time of year than it is for everyone else, I never really considered December 31st such a big deal. The only thing that always catches my attention, besides the obvious hard to miss fireworks, giant disco balls, etc., is everyone else's resolve to do a 180 for the year ahead. But if every year we all do a 180, we'd all be doing 360's every other year and never really change anything. Looking forward to the big picture is always admirable, but I like to think that it's just as important if not more so to also be able to look back. If we can see where we got lost along the way, it only helps our resolve to change directions in our lives with purpose. Which, personally, I think beats going in circles.
This is a list of my favorite series for older children and younger adults in the realm of magic, other realities, and the richly imagined. All of these books are fantastic, many are deeply poetic, and I recommend them for all ages — I can re-read them anytime, always with wonder and fascination.
The Sea of Trolls trilogy, Nancy Farmer, 2004-2009. Along with The Land of the Silver Apples and The Islands of the Blessed, this is a brilliant quest adventure of Norsemen and berserkers, slaves, gods and ogres — an exciting, exquisitely detailed world half legend and half fantasy, complete with humor and longing and even philosophy, that should be high up in the canon of children’s and young adult literature. (Note for locals: Farmer is an Arizona native who lives in the Chiricahua Mountains. She’s won plenty of awards, but still deserves to be far, far more widely read.)
The Worlds of Chrestomanci, Diana Wynne Jones, 1977-2006. A seven-book series about a multiverse peopled by a charming cast of relatable, endearing magical characters. Written by one of the world’s all-time finest fantasy writers, the British Wynne Jones, who wrote dozens of wonderful novels and short-story collections — of which I’ve devoured almost all — before she died just a couple of years ago. Wynne Jones’ books sparkle with vigor and wit.
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman, 1995-2000. This excellent fantasy trilogy for young adults, beginning with The Golden Compass, is in fact, like most of the books on this list, for all ages. Gorgeous and almost infinitely memorable, it’ll stay with you for the rest of your life, I predict, once you fall in love. There’s also a movie.
The Poetry Center’s Matinee program now brings poetry readings to schools. Local poets and authors, in addition to poets who have traveled to Tucson to participate in the Poetry Center’s Reading Series, are available to read and discuss their writing with middle and high school students. More than 1000 writers have read or lectured in the series, including most major contemporary U.S. poets, significant international visitors, and emerging artists. The following poets are available for upcoming visits.
Spring 2013 semester: Rebecca Seiferle, Tucson Poet Laureate, author of four books of poetry, and translator of Cesar Vallejo. Read her work here and here.
Fall 2013 semester: Eduardo C. Corral, author of Slow Lightning, winner of the Yale Younger Series Poets Prize. Read his work here.
To reserve a matinee performance by one of the poets above, contact Renee Angle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the name of the poet you are interested in hosting, your school name and grade, and subject you teach. Interested teachers and schools are served on a first come, first serve basis. Each poet will make one visit to one school. Most poet visits are ideal for middle and high school groups. For more infomation, please visit our Matinee page.
With winter upon us, what better way to celebrate the chilly weather than with some snow poems? Check out these wonderful poems about snow, written by students at past Family Days events at the Poetry Center. Snuggle up, get some hot cocoa, and enjoy!
Snow, Snow Wonderful Snow
Snow, snow wonderful
snow. Listen to the silence,
of the wonderful snow
falling over the town,
over the icy pond, on the
mountains over the valley.
Between midnight and
daylight. Little tiny icy gems
Glitter falling from the sky.
Today, we're featuring the writing of our guest blogger, Eleanor Allen-Henderson. Eleanor was a volunteer this past summer at the Poetry Center's annual Creative Writing Camp. She has graciously agreed to share her writing with us. Below is one of her stories.
Ice Cream Dreams
This bite is about dreams
Reba Trimbolli knew from a young age that she was an ice cream girl. She lived in Tucson all her life and the many years she had suffered under the scorching heat has given her true appreciation for the cold treat. In fact, to this day, she remembers the moment she fell in love. The pavement was hot and the sunset maintained a look that was both beautiful and passive aggressive, threatening the smoldering descent of sun and expansiveness of sky. She had gotten a cone from a little shack, and the operator turned to her, said not a word, turned back and returned with what appeared to be some kind of chocolate. He explained it was a homemade creation of chocolate, three types of nuts, and the slightest hint of cherry. As she bit into the cold, she was overcome with the joy of chocolate. And that was it. Love.
Maybe it’s the cliché poet soul-disturbance, but I could hardly find a happy winter poem. One, called “Winterpig” by Denise Levertov, is the only celebratory poem of winter, or the holidays, or the cold, that I discovered. Most are ominous, like John Haines’ immensely deep voice, making the cold months of December and January feel daunting -- not like the Tucson 70 degree days we seem to enjoy in Southern Arizona.
In spirit of the gratefulness and compassion we share in the holidays, I will now share with you poems that have nothing to do with those emotions. Most of these works are extremely short, making me think that perhaps all these poets just want winter to be over -- I can’t blame them, it’s difficult to write with chilled fingers..
I guess I need a little help this month, what are some fun winter poems you have found on Voca?
Most of his poems from Winter News do, indeed, deal with winter. The wild, cold, natural winter. Cozy up to a real wood fire, a quilt, and indulge your ears in this disturbingly low, smooth, voice.
Today, we're featuring the writing of our guest blogger, Eleanor Allen-Henderson. Eleanor was a volunteer this past summer at the Poetry Center's annual Creative Writing Camp. She has graciously agreed to share her writing with us. Below is one of her stories. Keep an eye out for more writing from Eleanor in the next few months!
A burst of color smattered across her face. And by her, I mean my. I don’t mean to be so loud, but sometimes, my interest speaks louder than volumes, and what I feel is not quite equitable to words. So one day, they ask you, “What is Eleanor?” To which you reply, “Eleanor is a burst of color across my eyelids, and she’s never quite predictable, but sometimes she jumps just to get the point across. To say Eleanor, one is to say dancing of hands and the light of her eyes, brimming with all the things she cannot wait to say.” But this is just the capacity to which you know me.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, what better way to celebrate than with an ode to our favorite, ill-fated feathered friend? (That is, unless you’re a fan of Tofurkey). Sit back, relax, and enjoy “Ode to Turkey,” written by the 7-10-year-old class at Family Days this past Saturday, under the “turkelage” of their instructor, Kimi Eisele.
Ode to Turkey
Steaming to the top of the oven
it heats, waiting
Some sit at the table
Some peer in the oven
Some fix the salad or
mush the mashed potatoes
Some slice bread
Some butter the sweet potatoes
Meanwhile the smell of the turkey
flows and flies through the house.
Even dad watching football wiggles his nose.
The dogs salivate.
My goal today, is to make you smile, like the fellow in this painting:
For whatever reason, I was curious what Wikipedia had to say about “humor.” I found this painting, with the caption, “smiling can imply a sense of humour and a state of amusement, as in this painting of Falstaff by Eduard von Grutzner." Inexplicably, my funny bone was struck, perhaps, because wiki tried to explain humor through a goofy painting?
It seems humor is difficult to traditionally define; we are able only by describing its reactions: smiling, laughing, amusement. It’s hard to say what we each find funny. I know my sense of humor is far different from some of my friends, but my sister and I are spot on. We learn our sense of humor from others, and then, simultaneously, we are amused by something no one else understands. This is intimidating for writers, because, what’s funny then? I figure, we just write what amuses us and write it well. If there is one rule for writers, it’s to own your work, something that seems especially necessary in humorous writing.
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 G.C. Waldrep. Waldrep will read at the Poetry Center this Thursday, November 15th at 7:00 p.m. Waldrep’s reading will be best suited for high school students, but his poetry also appeals to a K-5 audience. Please print and read Waldrep’s poem, “Apocatastasis,” with your students, and then follow the writing prompts below. Hope to see you at the Reading!
1. What does the word “apocatastasis” even mean? Before you look the word up in the dictionary or online, write up your own creative definition for this word.
2. In this poem, Waldrep uses many nature images. Using the following images from his poem, write your own poem: spring, stone, sycamore, smoke, sky, and stem.