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National Poetry Month continues: More Staff Picks

With just over a week left of National Poetry Month, some of our staff members have submitted more of their all-time favorite poems. We hope you enjoy!

Kathy Potetti’s favorite Mary Oliver poem:

Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,

she took me back so tenderly,

arranging her dark skirts, her pockets

full of lichens and seeds.

I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,

nothing between me and the white fire of the stars

but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths

among the branches of the perfect trees.

All night I heard the small kingdoms

breathing around me, the insects,

and the birds who do their work in the darkness.

All night I rose and fell, as if in water,

grappling with a luminous doom. By morning

I had vanished at least a dozen times

into something better.

from Sleeping In The Forest by Mary Oliver

© Mary Oliver

 

 

Two of Alexa Scott-Flaherty’s favorites from Naomi Shihab Nye and Joy Harjo

Jerusalem

By Naomi Shihab Nye

“Let’s be the same wound if we must bleed.

Let’s fight side by side, even if the enemy

is ourselves: I am yours, you are mine.”

—Tommy Olofsson, Sweden

 

I’m not interested in

who suffered the most.

I’m interested in

people getting over it.

 

Once when my father was a boy

a stone hit him on the head.

Hair would never grow there.

Our fingers found the tender spot

and its riddle: the boy who has fallen

stands up. A bucket of pears

in his mother’s doorway welcomes him home.

The pears are not crying.

Later his friend who threw the stone

says he was aiming at a bird.

And my father starts growing wings.

 

Each carries a tender spot:

something our lives forgot to give us.

A man builds a house and says,

“I am native now.”

A woman speaks to a tree in place

of her son. And olives come.

A child’s poem says,

“I don’t like wars,

they end up with monuments.”

He’s painting a bird with wings

wide enough to cover two roofs at once.

 

Why are we so monumentally slow?

Soldiers stalk a pharmacy:

big guns, little pills.

If you tilt your head just slightly

it’s ridiculous.

 

There’s a place in my brain

where hate won’t grow.

I touch its riddle: wind, and seeds.

Something pokes us as we sleep.

 

It’s late but everything comes next.

 

 

 

 

Perhaps the World Ends Here

BY JOY HARJO

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

 

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Writers & Books Presents our Second Annual Literary Peep Show

No, not THAT kind of peep show!

Just a fun way to get rid of all those leftover peeps..

 

Snow Child

“In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding peeps among the trees.” – The Snow Peep by Eowyn Ivey

 

 

Dracula

“Listen to them, the peeps of the night. What music they make!” – Peepula by Bram Stoker

 

 

Hamlet

“To peep or not to peep, that is the question.” – Hampeep by William Shakespeare

 

 

Oliver Twist

“Please peep, can I have some more?” – Oliver Peep by Charles Dickens

 

 

Cinderella

“A dream is a wish your peep makes.” – Cinderpeepa by Charles Perrault

 

 

Dr Jekyll

“I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of peeps; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.” – The Strange Case of Dr. Peepyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

 

Phantom

“If I am the peeper, it is because man’s hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me.” – The Peeper of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

 

 

GoT

“In the Game of Peeps, you win or you die.” – Game of Peeps by George R. R. Martin

 

 

 

Oz

“There’s no peep like home.” – The Wizard of Peep by L. Frank Baum

 

 

Sherlock

“Elepeepary my dear Watson!” – Peeplock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 

That’s All Folks!

We hope you enjoyed our peep show!

We’ll be posting all this peep-tastic fun on our Facebook, Twitter, and Tumble – so don’t forget to like, retweet, and reblog! And send us your very own literary peep scenes!

 

Outtake 1

 

Till next time!

Chris, Kristen, and the rest of the Writers & Books staff

 

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SummerWrite Open House April 26th

summerwrite2014 cover

Rochester, NY: Writers & Books will be hosting our annual SummerWrite Family Open House on April 26th from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Come learn about our SummerWrite youth programs, offering innovative week-long classes for students ages 5-18.Class topics range from fiction and poetry to film making and illustration, and also cover exciting book series like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, American Girl, and Lord of the Rings, as well as linking other disciplines—such as cooking, horseback riding, yoga, and more—to the literary arts.

 

This is a wonderful opportunity for families to meet Writers & Books staff, SummerWrite faculty, tour the facility, participate in fun workshops and have any questions answered for them. We will also be offering a special discount on that day only—$10 off a household membership and $10 off SummerWrite classes!

 

The schedule for the day will be:

10:15 Storytelling with Marna Rossi

11:00 A Plentiful Plethora of Poetry performance with MJ Iuppa, John Cieslinski, and Sally Bittner Bonn

11:40 Poetry mini-workshop with MJ Iuppa

12:15 Mini writing workshop with W&B instructor

 

For more information or with questions regarding the Open house or SummerWrite classes, contact Sally Bittner Bonn at 585-473-2590 ext 109

 

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National Poetry Month: Celebrating African American Poets

Some of the most moving, influential voices in poetry have come from African-American authors. Whether it is the rich language, the empowering message, or the soulful story, many of my favorite poems come from the African-American tradition. Below are a few of my favorites.

Enjoy! And please remember to submit some of your favorite poems to Rylie Day at rylied@wab.org

(Please note: links to all poems have been listed below.)

Still I Rise

by: Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Still I Rise

by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15623#sthash.Zz5M40QG.dpuf

(http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/still-i-rise/)

“Everyone has gone to bed at one night or another with fear, or pain, or loss, or disappointment.” — Maya Angelou

See Maya Angelou recite this poem here! : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqOqo50LSZ0

 

I, Too, Sing America

By: Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

 

But I laugh, And eat well,

And grow strong.  

Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,”Then.

 

Besides,  

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

 

(http://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/3781/i_too_sing_america)

 

Expect Nothing

By: Alice Walker

Expect nothing. Live frugally

On surprise.

become a stranger

To need of self pity

Or, if compassion be freely

Given out

Take only enough

Stop short of urge to plead

Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger

Than your own small heart

Or greater than a star;

Tame wild dispointment

With caress unmoved and cold

Make of it a parka for your soul

Discover the reason why

So tiny human midget

Exists at all

So scared unwise

But expect nothing.

Live frugally

On surprise.

http://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/23192/expect_nothing

 

 

 

Still I Rise

by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15623#sthash.Zz5M40QG.dpuf

Still I Rise

by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15623#sthash.Zz5M40QG.dpuf

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Welcome, National Poetry Month!

As many of you know, April 1st kicked off National Poetry month. Well, WAB wouldn’t really be WAB if we didn’t celebrate somehow. So, tune in periodically for some staff picks of our favorite poems. We will have several installments this month and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Also, we don’t claim to know all the best poems! We would love to hear some of your favorites. So, please feel free to send in a lymric, an ode, a sonnet, some free verse … (you get the idea). You don’t need to tell us why you love the verse so much, but any explanation may satisfy our curiosity.

Please email Rylie Day at rylied@wab.org. If there are enough responses, we will post a cumulative blog at the end of the month!

Happy reading! (Please note we have provided links to credited websites.)

 The following poems are suggestions from Kristen King and Rylie Day:

 

Why Poetry Can Be Hard For Most People

by: Dorothea Lasky

Because speaking to the dead is not something you want to do
When you have other things to do in your day
Like take out the trash or use the vacuum
In the edge between the stove and cupboard
Because the rat is everywhere
Crawling around
Or more so walking
And it doesn’t even notice you
It has its own intentions
And is searching for that perfect bag of potato chips like you once were
Because life is no more important than eating
Or fucking
Or talking someone into fucking
Or talking someone into something
Or sleeping calmly and soundly
And all you can hope for are the people who put that calm in you
Or let you go into it with dignity
Because poetry reminds you
That there is no dignity
In living
You just muddle through and for what
Jack Jack you wrote to him
You wrote to all of us
I wasn’t even born
You wrote to me
A ball of red and green shifting sparks
In my parents’ eye
You wrote to me and I just listened
I listened I listened I tell you
And I came back
No
Poetry is hard for most people
Because of sound

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23690

since feeling is first

By: e e cummings 

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the worldmy blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
–the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2006/06/04

 

On Turning Ten

by: Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light-
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that it is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk thought the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I would shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

http://www.smith.edu/poetrycenter/poets/onturningten.html

One Art

by: Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

 

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176996