Friday, May 26, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Peony Poem



Peony Poem

an idea
sudden, surprising
like red peony shoots
the first color in a spring garden

a draft
leafy, bushy
too much green, but with buds
sweet enough to attract ants

a poem
lopsided, fragrant
overly showy, flamboyant, glorious
cut for a vase or for a grave


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


This poem was written for Melissa Manlove's challenge at Today's Little Ditty: "Write me a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else. Convince me!"

Margaret has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at Reflections on the Teche.


Monday, May 22, 2017

My Stack for #cyberPD 2017



Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading
by Vicki Vinton

MUST read.



Disrupting Thinking
by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst

MUST read.



No More Telling as Teaching
by Cris Tovani

Probably more secondary and probably preaching to the choir, but MUST read because we get so caught up in galloping toward the test that sometimes we forget. (We...meaning I.)



The Teacher You Want to Be
edited by Matt Glover and Ellin Oliver Keene

Yes, next year I'll be entering my 32nd year of teaching and I'm down to less than one hand before retirement, but I'm STILL trying to be the teacher I want to be. Why stop now, right?



Friday, May 19, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Student Blackout Poems
































I Wanna Be Mature
by A. E.

ten
nine
eight
seven
six
five
four
three
two
one

some days
each year
even months
I wish
I was one hundred



Irene Latham was wondering if students could be successful with found poetry/blackout poetry. We had some time this week to give it a try, and I was pleasantly surprised by my students' poems. This is one of the best so far.

I gave them this first page of Sandra Cisneros' "Eleven" in a page protector, and they used wipe-off markers to find their first drafts.

Happy Friday! Happy Poetry! Happy 4 more days of school!

Kiesha has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Whispers from the Ridge.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Music and History, Part Two



Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War
by Debbie Levy
illustrated by Gilbert Ford
Disney Hyperion, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

"That's amazing!" Zak said, after reading Soldier Song yesterday. "All that happened because of a single song!"

My 5th graders recently completed work on a standard that asked them to describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described. We talked about first- and secondhand accounts. Then in writing workshop, they crafted a piece of narrative nonfiction, blending researched facts (secondhand information) with invented firsthand points of view. I shared this book with them to show that the thinking they'd developed via the reading standard and their own writing are not just standards to study or hoops to jump in school, they are alive in books being published out in the "real world."

In Soldier Song, Debby Levy focuses small, on one standoff of the Civil War -- the battle at Fredricksburg and what happened within both sides and between the two sides via a musical volley across the Rappahannock River. Woven throughout the facts are snippets of actual soldiers' letters and journal entries. The woodcut illustrations perfectly invoke the mood/tone of the story.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Music and History, Part One



Stand Up and Sing! Peter Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice
by Susanna Reich
illustrated by Adam Gustavson
Bloomsbury, 2017
review copy provided by the author

After spending the month of April with the folk singer and activist Malvina Reynolds (list of posts here, or read from April 1 here), I was interested to find similarities and differences between her life and Pete Seeger's.

Both grew up in a house filled with music, and both had parents who were politically active, though Pete's parents weren't labeled Socialists, resulting in him being denied a high school diploma.

Pete and Malvina both learned from other folk singers/songwriters. They even learned from each other, having met in the late 1940's - early 1950's. It was Pete Seeger who made Malvina's song "Little Boxes" famous.

Both Pete and Malvina wrote and performed for children.

Pete Seeger went on to have a stronger voice and presence in the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War protests, and the fight for clean water. Because he lived until 2014 (Malvina died in 1978), his voice lingers more clearly in our collective memory.

Without either Malvina or Pete, American folk music would have been less of a treasure, and less of a force for good in our world. This book, Malvina's songs, and Pete's recordings can remind a new generation of the power of music to change the world.

For a closer look at Stand Up and Sing, see Jama's Poetry Friday Post at Jama's Alphabet Soup.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Summer #Bookaday!

Well with nine days of school left, it is time to get ready for the Summer #bookaday Challenge invented by Donalyn Miller.  If you missed Donalyn's Facebook Live event where she kicked off this 9th Annual event, you an watch it on her Facebook Page.

To get started, I counted the days of summer. If I counted correctly, we have 80 days of summer so I will try to read 80 books. I try to read a book every day but sometimes that doesn't work out so it works for me to have a total number goal that matches the total days of summer. So 80 is my number this year.  I need this because I have gotten very behind in my reading lately.

I will be moving to a 5th grade classroom next year and I am excited to catch up on books for 5th grade readers. Thanks to lots of friends I am building a stack and a list of books that are popular with 5th graders today. There are stacks all over my house, just waiting for Summer Bookaday Reading time. I hope to fit in a few YA and adult fiction and of course I'll be reading lots of picture books!

I'd love any suggestions as I move from 3rd grade to 5th grade.

Here is one of my stacks!


If you have never participated in Summer Bookaday, I would highly recommend it. A fun challenge and a great way to catch up on your reading!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Mother by Ted Kooser



Mother
by Ted Kooser

Mid April already, and the wild plums
bloom at the roadside, a lacy white
against the exuberant, jubilant green
of new grass an the dusty, fading black
of burned-out ditches. No leaves, not yet,
only the delicate, star-petaled
blossoms, sweet with their timeless perfume.

You have been gone a month today
and have missed three rains and one nightlong
watch for tornadoes. I sat in the cellar
from six to eight while fat spring clouds
went somersaulting, rumbling east. Then it poured,
a storm that walked on legs of lightning,
dragging its shaggy belly over the fields.

The meadowlarks are back, and the finches
are turning from green to gold. Those same
two geese have come to the pond again this year,
honking in over the trees and splashing down.
They never nest, but stay a week or two
then leave. The peonies are up, the red sprouts
burning in circles like birthday candles,

for this is the month of my birth, as you know,
the best month to be born in, thanks to you,
everything ready to burst with living.
There will be no more new flannel nightshirts
sewn on your old black Singer, no birthday card
addressed in a shaky but businesslike hand.
You asked me if I would be sad when it happened

and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house
now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots
green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner,
as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that.
Were it not for the way you taught me to look
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have to be lonely forever.



Tara has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at A Teaching Life.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Two Silly Books


The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors 
by Drew Daywalt
illustrated by Adam Rex
Balzer + Bray, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

So fun to read aloud! So fun to know the back story behind the popular game!

And isn't it true that everyone wants a worthy opponent?




Rodzilla
by Rob Sanders
illustrated by Dan Santat
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

There are plenty of visual clues to help readers predict the true identity of Rodzilla. By the time the truth is revealed, it is not really a surprise, but still fun, all the same.

This book is sure to be a favorite of the toddler set, and anyone who once was one!



Monday, May 08, 2017

Two Serious Books


I Like, I Don't Like
by Anna Baccelliere
illustrated by Ale + Ale
Eerdmans Books, 2017
review copy from the library

The child on the left page likes shoes (getting shoes, wearing shoes, playing dress up with shoes). The child on the right page (shining the shoes of others) does not like shoes.

The child on the left page likes soccer balls (playing with them).
The child on the right page (sewing soccer balls by hand) does not like them.

This book prompts powerful conversations about child labor and the rights of children worldwide.




by Brenda Reeves Sturgis
illustrated by Jo-Shin Lee
Albert Whitman, 2017
review copy from the library

The reality of living in homeless shelters often means that families must be split up with fathers staying in a men's unit, and mothers and children in a separate unit. The little girl in this book holds tight to the notion that hers is still a family, even if they are separated at times.

My fifth graders wondered how homelessness could happen, and were able to understand the illustrator's choice to use a very childlike style in order to reflect the point of view of the child in the story.



Thursday, May 04, 2017

Poetry Friday -- Hippos


Hippos on Holiday
by Billy Collins

is not really the title of a movie
but if it were I would be sure to see it.
I love their short legs and big heads,
the whole hippo look.
Hundreds of them would frolic
in the mud of a wide, slow-moving river,
and I would eat my popcorn
in the dark of a neighborhood theatre.
When they opened their enormous mouths
lined with big stubby teeth
I would drink my enormous Coke.

I would be both in my seat
and in the water playing with the hippos,
which is the way it is
with a truly great movie.
Only a mean-spirited reviewer
would ask on holiday from what?



Surely you've seen videos of the premature baby hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo, Fiona? No? Well, let's take care of that with my favorite one where she learns to use the ramp into her pool.





I'm sorry I didn't get around to all the the end of Poetry Month posts last week. This weekend feels like there's more elbow room than I've had in months. To that I say, "WHEW!"

Jama has the Cinco de Mayo Poetry Friday Roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Olé!


Tuesday, May 02, 2017

3 New Nonfiction Books for the Classroom Library


I discovered 3 new nonfiction books that I am excited to share with my students.  

I love anything by Suzi Eszterhas so when I saw she had a new book I ordered it immediately.  Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat's Foster Mom is Suzi's newest book and this one is a bit different. It is a narrative with more text than many of her other books. The photos are amazing as always and this book tells the story of one wildcat-Moto-and how Suzi cared for him after he was separated from his mother.  It is a great book and a great addition for readers who know Eszterhas's work or for readers in the middle grades who are ready for a bit more text in their nonfiction reading.




125 Pet Rescues is new from National Geographic Kids and it is great fun.
Each page gives the short story of a pet that has been rescued. There are lots of dogs but also pigs, goats and snakes.   Each story is a paragraph long with details of one animal's rescue and new life.  The photos are happy and the Table of Contents will be a huge help to readers. There are so many possibilities with this book for minilessons in both reading and writing.

Shell, Beak, Tusk: Shared Traits and the Wonders of Adaptation by Bridget Heos shows the ways that animals around the world adapt in order to survive. The thing I love most about this book is the way that it is organized to compare the same adaptation on different animals.  The book will introduce readers to some animals they may not be familiar with.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Professional Books on My Stack

As I get ready for summer reading, my stack of professional books is growing. Right now, these are the 4 I am looking most forward to reading.

I read Ralph Fletcher's Joy Write last weekend and loved it. It reground me-brought me back to the roots of writing workshop and helped me realize what we've lost with the additions of mandates and testing and units of study.  It helped me remember what it is that is important. I read it quickly and want to reread it this summer to really think about the year in writing workshop and to think about joy in the writing workshop.

The others are on my stack but I haven't had much time to dit in yet.

Another writing book that I am anxious to read is Feedback That Moves
Writers Forward by Patty McGee. I have been doing more with feedback and love the way it looks like Patty approaches it in this book.  The chapters I am most excited to read are "Integrading": How to Live in a Grading World and Still Gibe Feedback and When It Is Time to Stretch and Grow: Feedback for Goal Setting.  Really, when I look through the Table of Contents, they all look like fresh new thinking that will help me be a better teacher of writing.

And I love everything written by Vicki Vinton and am very excited to read her newest book, Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading.  Vicki always reminds me how to let go and let the kids do the thinking and she helps me to find ways to help them read with deeper understanding. I am so excited to read her newest thinking!





And I purchased Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had by Tracy Zager in February but knew I needed to wait until summer to really dig in and start to think about next year. This book is packed with so
much that I want to give it the time and energy it deserves. I think it will be a critical book for me.



Which professional books are on your summer reading list?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

This World



For the second half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.






What Scientists Know That We All Should Remember

This world values diversity
over singularity

adaptation
over stasis

the many
over the few

balance 
over imbalance.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017




I saved this song for last because, as you can hear, it is simultaneously a goodbye song and a love song to the world. The world she sings about in this song is the natural world, but it is also the world of humanity. 

Malvina loved this world (these worlds) enough to fight for all she found to be right and true, using her musical and writing talents. Her name needs to be added to our list of women heroes who 

Persist (like Elizabeth) 
Inspire (like Malala)
Speak (like Maya)
Influence (like Sonia)
Defy (like Rosa)
Fight (like Hillary)
Empower (like Gloria)
Focus (like Michelle)
Rule (like Ruth)
Sing (like Malvina)

My poem today was doubly inspired by a month spent with Malvina and the book I'm currently listening to, The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson. My wish for the future of the human race would be that we could come to know about ourselves the things that scientists know about life in general on this planet. Maybe if we could build our human society to be in tune with the scientific principles of life, we could keep the whole planet alive.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

There's a Bottom Below


For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.

Children's songs, songs about current events, the environment, politics, and gender inequity -- I've gotten to know Malvina Reynolds, but today's song makes me laugh. It's as though Malvina Reynolds has gotten to know ME! Add blues to her list of musical genres. My version of this song doesn't match her rhythm well enough to be sung, and I certainly could have written a more sobering and depressing version about my March, but I couldn't resist capturing a snapshot of the past couple of days.





The Fifth Grade in May Blues

Do you think you've hit bottom?
Do you think you've hit bottom?
Oh, no.
There's a bottom below.

There's a low below the low you know.
You can't imagine how far you can go...down.

Every once in awhile your lesson hits home
It clicks, it’s fun, but don’t forget...next time you’ll go...down

Do you think you've hit bottom?
Do you think you've hit bottom?
Oh, no.
There's a bottom below.

You watch the Kleenex fill up the trash can
Wash every surface with Chlorox and then (on the weekend)
you go...down

Do you think you've hit bottom?
Do you think you've hit bottom?
Oh, no.
There's a bottom below.

You’re patient and kind and your voice is kept low
You’re frustrated and angry and then you yell...you’ve gone...down

Do you think you've hit bottom?
Do you think you've hit bottom?
Oh, no.
There's a bottom below.

There's a low below the low you know.
You can't imagine how far you can go...down.


©Mary Lee Hahn (with apologies to Malvina Reynolds)


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Pennies



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Along with all of the songs she wrote about the issues of her times (still current now), Malvina Reynolds also wrote songs for children. In the documentary Love it Like A Fool, she mentioned that it irked her that men were taken seriously when they were any age, but with her white hair and her songs for children, she became known as "The Singing Grandmother." Anyone who's been listening along through this month knows without a doubt that Malvina Reynolds was much much more than a "Singing Grandmother."



Pennies

The beaded coin purse
full of loose change,
mostly pennies,
bulged on the kitchen counter
beside the mug full of leaky pens and
pencils with dried out erasers.

In the top dresser drawer
beneath silky slips
that hadn’t been worn in decades
was stashed a plastic bag of pennies.
All wheatheads,
collected because perhaps they’d become valuable.

Mom’s laudable thrift,
learned at the knee of necessity
makes my lack of frugality
appear extravagant.
Her someday was always out of reach.
Mine jingles in my hand.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017




Sing It, Malvina!

April 1 -- Working for Change
April 2 -- A Lifetime Filled With Change
April 3 -- Red
April 4 -- Little Red Hen
April 5 -- Childhood Dreams
April 6 -- Lonely Child
April 7 -- Quiet

April 8 -- Storyteller
April 9 -- Troublemaker
April 10 -- Girl Power
April 11 -- Choices
April 12 -- My Gal, Mother Nature
April 13 -- Not a Joke
April 14 -- I Don't Mind Failing

April 15 -- What is Feminism?
April 16 -- Holes
April 17 -- They Can Have Their Cake and Eat it, Too
April 18 -- We Won't Be Nice
April 19 -- Grass is Persistent
April 20 -- Ticky Tacky
April 21 -- Regrets

April 24 -- Rain
April 25 -- I Live in a City
April 27 -- Current Events
April 28 -- Pennies



Joann has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Teaching Authors.


Current Events




For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.

Sometimes in Malvina's songs, she pulled her topic straight from the headlines of the newspaper. Her song today is about a little mouse who chewed some wires, causing big problems for humans.

Language alert if you are listening with children. 
Be ready to hit mute at 1:06-1:09 and again at 2:40-2:43. 




My poem topic today came from this article: Cassini Spacecraft Starts Weaving Between Saturn and Its Rings. It's a blackout poem.

























In Order to Survive

plan
a
precautionary measure
for
the Grand Finale
of our "pale blue dot"
Earth.

©Mary Lee Hahn



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Hard Work of Real Human Beings



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Through her music, Malvina addressed issues of diversity and collaboration, as well as economic and labor issues.




The Hard Work of Real Human Beings


Where do cherries come from?
They come from a tree!
And who picks them one by one?
Neither you, nor me.

Where does asparagus come from?
It grows in a field!
And who stoops down to cut each stalk?
Neither you, nor me.

Where do apples come from?
They grow on a tree!
And which strong worker fills buckets all day?
Neither you, nor me.

Where do peppers come from?
On bushes, low and green!
And who must pick each single one?
Neither you, nor me.

How much money do they make?
Do they have the things they need?
Who values their important work?
Neither you, nor me.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Live in a City



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Through her music, Malvina addressed issues of diversity and collaboration, as well as economic and labor issues. 




Riddle Poem

What is bigger than all its parts,
full to the brim of stops and starts,
more colorful than the boldest rainbow,
only silent when buried in snow,
less significant than it wants you to believe,
a problem to solve, a tragedy to grieve?

("...a city made by human hands")


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017



Monday, April 24, 2017

Rain



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Another unifying topic in Malvina Reynolds' songs is the environment. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.





Ode to an Inch of Life-Giving Rain

Oh, Rain!
You fall so abundantly further east
but we treasure every hundredth of an inch
here on the western high plains.

Oh, Rain!
You have rescued the wheat crop,
not to mention the Russian Olives
in the windbreak on the north side of the house.

Oh, Rain!
You lift every spirit.
Are your ears burning? The inch that fell last night
is the topic of every conversation at the post office.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Sunday, April 23, 2017

The World's Gone Beautiful



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Another unifying topic in Malvina Reynolds' songs is the environment. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.





The World is Asking Not to Die

The world is asking not to die,
yet humans look away,

overpopulating the planet,
changing the climate past the point of repair,
destroying biodiversity in a mass extinction,
killing oxygen-producing phytoplankton with nitrogen runoff,
polluting fresh water sources,
acidifying the ocean,
contaminating air, water, and soil with plastics and chemical compounds,
depleting the ozone layer,
clearing forests at an alarming rate.

How can humans look away
from a world that is asking not to die?


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Skagit Valley Forever



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Another unifying topic in Malvina Reynolds' songs is the environment. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.




wild is worth saving --
find your own Skagit Valley --
fight for our future --


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Friday, April 21, 2017

Regrets



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


Another unifying topic in Malvina Reynolds' songs is the environment. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.

Today's poem is a Golden Shovel. The last word in each of my lines reads down, like an acrostic, and is a line from today's song by Malvina Reynolds, "Let it Be." Last month, I buried the story of the loss of two beautiful and magical places inside a book review, and when I set out to write today's poem, it became a lament of the most recent replacement of magic with convenience. Clearly, I'm not over that yet.



Regrets

You do the best you can until you
can do no more. You think
about the choices that
you made and you
wonder if your love
could ever have been enough for her
survival. You planted and
weeded and you
hoped someone else would want
to become caretaker to
this magical place where kids could discover
the workings of nature -- how
intricately she's
designed -- made
with milkweed, for example, expressly so
there can be monarchs. Because you
loved that plot, you take
it personally that they leveled her
and undid all your work; took apart

a piece of what made this world good and
right, wild and free. Your regrets threaten to break
 your belief in yourself, but her
 beauty remains whole in your heart.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017




Sing It, Malvina!

April 1 -- Working for Change
April 2 -- A Lifetime Filled With Change
April 3 -- Red
April 4 -- Little Red Hen
April 5 -- Childhood Dreams
April 6 -- Lonely Child
April 7 -- Quiet

April 8 -- Storyteller
April 9 -- Troublemaker
April 10 -- Girl Power
April 11 -- Choices
April 12 -- My Gal, Mother Nature
April 13 -- Not a Joke
April 14 -- I Don't Mind Failing

April 15 -- What is Feminism?
April 16 -- Holes
April 18 -- We Won't Be Nice
April 19 -- Grass is Persistent
April 20 -- Ticky Tacky
April 21 -- Regrets


Tabatha has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at The Opposite of Indifference.



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ticky Tacky



For the next half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


One of the strongest unifying topics in Malvina Reynolds' songs is politics and protest. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.





Ticky Tacky
(to the tune of "Little Boxes")

It’s the sameness, lack-of-change-ness
It’s the absence of diversity
Economic inequality
Absolute conformity

It’s a boilermaker
Never varying
So redundant
Truly tedious

It’s the absence of diversity
And it all looks just the same.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Grass Is Persistent



For the second half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


One of the strongest unifying topics in Malvina Reynolds' songs is politics and protest. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.





Grass Is

People want to tame me or
Eradicate me. They underestimate my
Root
Structure and my
Indomitable
Spirit. I am
Tenacious. I
Exist
Not to please, but to break concrete and spread
Truth.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We Won't Be Nice



For the second half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.

One of the strongest unifying topics in Malvina Reynolds' songs is politics and protest. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.





We Won’t Be Nice

Cause a disruption
Form an obstruction
March and rally and chant.

Shake up the status quo
Make a line and block the flow
March and rally and chant.

Rebel with civility
Abstain from docility
March and rally and chant.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017





Monday, April 17, 2017

They Can Have Their Cake, and Eat it, Too



For the second half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.

One of the strongest unifying topics in Malvina Reynolds' songs is politics and protest. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.

Let Them Eat Cake was recorded live in concert, November 1972.




They Can Have Their Cake, and Eat it, Too

They sugar coat the truth for us,
fake the daily news,
make us look the other way.
What could they possibly lose?

They divert to keep the facts at bay,
disguise false validations,
sweeten fibs with taradiddles,
no need for vindication.

“What could we possibly lose?” they ask,
on the brink of a nuclear war.
They’re blind to even the simplest truths,
and deaf to our uproar.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holes



For the second half of National Poetry Month 2017, 
Malvina will Sing It, and I'll write a poem in response.


One of the strongest unifying topics in Malvina Reynolds' songs is politics and protest. The next few days will feature songs written in the 1960's and 1970's, but which are fresh and topical today.

The World in Their Pocket was recorded live in concert by KQED in 1967.




Holes

They say the world is richer,
With jobs and giant bankrolls.
But their logic’s got a hole.

They say we’ll build the pipeline,
Bother with leaks and spills later.
But their logic’s got a crater.

They say the world is safe,
In their constant Twitter spasms.
But their logic’s got a chasm.

When crater, hole and chasm
Become a vast abyss,
They’ll say, “Oops, we were remiss…”


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Saturday, April 15, 2017

What is Feminism?





What is Feminism?

Some women
have the luxury of
joining a cause.
Fighting for equal rights
and equal pay.
Finding their voices,
expressing their true identities.

Other women
have the necessity of
work.
Finding the work
and doing the work.
Keeping their families fed,
running the businesses.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017





"My mother came from a long line of women who worked outside the home. Her grandmother ran a deli while her husband read Torah. Her own mother and father ran a naval tailor shop. When I was in the fifth grade, my mother’s father died, and she and my father and grandmother ran the shop together."

http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/malvina-reynolds/

Friday, April 14, 2017

I Don't Mind Failing





Language alert: if watching the video with children, be prepared to hit the mute button at :33-:38 and 4:15-4:20. Also, apologies (and gratitude) to William Carlos Williams.






This is Just to Say 

I have failed
the test
that measures
my worth

and which
you were probably
planning to use
to pigeonhole me

Forgive me
I refuse your labels
I am deliciously
worthy and capable


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017





Sing It, Malvina!

April 1 -- Working for Change
April 2 -- A Lifetime Filled With Change
April 3 -- Red
April 4 -- Little Red Hen
April 5 -- Childhood Dreams
April 6 -- Lonely Child
April 7 -- Quiet
April 8 -- Storyteller
April 9 -- Troublemaker
April 10 -- Girl Power
April 11 -- Choices
April 13 -- Not a Joke
April 14 -- I Don't Mind Failing



Dori has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Dori Reads.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Not a Joke




Not a Joke

Isn’t it funny
(not a joke
no humor
no puns)
Isn’t it funny
how war creates a necessity
that strips away all the labels
previously preventing a person’s
life work?

Isn’t it funny
(not a joke
no humor
no puns)
Isn’t it funny
how the devastation of war
creates industries
and builds an economy out of
destruction?


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017




“My mother was writing her dissertation when I was little and got her Ph.D. in 1939. But it was the middle of the Depression; she was Jewish, a socialist, and a woman; and she couldn’t get a job teaching. But when the Second World War broke out, she got a job on an assembly line in a bomb factory, and Bud went to work as a carpenter in a shipyard.”

http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/malvina-reynolds/


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

My Gal, Mother Nature





“...it was while doing graduate work in English there (University of California Berkeley) that she did some student teaching. She used pop songs to teach her high school students about rhyme scheme and meter, as they were not poetry readers."

http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/malvina-reynolds/


Malvina Reynolds would have been at Berkeley in the 1920's, and "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" was a popular song then. Perhaps it was one she used to teach about rhyme scheme and meter.



Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue
Words: Sam M. Lewis and Joseph Widow Young; Music: Ray Henderson (1925)

Five foot two, eyes of blue,
but oh, what those five foot could do:
has anybody seen my gal?

Turned-up nose, turned-down hose
Flapper? Yes sir, one of those
Has anybody seen my gal?

Now, if you run into
a five-foot-two
covered with fur,
Diamond rings,
and all those things,
Bet your life it isn't her

But could she love, could she woo!
Could she, could she, could she coo!
Has anybody seen my gal?




My Gal, Mother Nature

Birds and bees, rocks and trees
Oh the breeze and green green leaves
Has anybody seen my gal?

Skies of blue, rivers too
Nature? Yes we need her hues
Has anybody seen my gal?

Now if the skies are hazed
Parks are paved
Trash everywhere,
Species dead
Sewage spread
Bet your life there’s no clean air

The temps are high, could she die?
Could she, could she, could she die?
Has anybody seen my gal?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Choices




Choices

Even the right man
Must wait for the right time
Because mother is right
That “career first” is the right path.

But when you're on the left path
Your heart keeps looking for the right man
You left behind
For all the right reasons


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017






“It was while she was in high school that Malvina first met William “Bud” Reynolds, at a socialist dance. He was a merchant seaman, seven years older, handsome, and even more shy than she. He was self-educated, having left school after the eighth grade. They read poetry to each other in Golden Gate Park, but when he proposed, she refused. Encouraged by her mother, she had her sights set on college and a career.

She married someone else, and so did Bud. He ran for governor of Michigan on the Socialist ticket, with the slogan, “You provide the evictions, we’ll provide the riots!” They found each other again after she was divorced, and this time she said yes.”

http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/malvina-reynolds/


Monday, April 10, 2017

Girl Power








GIRL POWER

Gentle and meek are things of the past.
I am
Ready to take on the world. To
Lead,
Persist, and
Open doors
With my own talents, my own skills, and my own
Expertise. World, are you
Ready for me?


©Mary Lee Hahn




Sunday, April 09, 2017

Troublemaker




Troublemaker
(Ever so slightly to the tune of "Little Boxes")

When we want
What they’ve got
And we ask for it
In the right ways
And the logic’s there
And the signatures
And they still tell us NO

Then we don’t stop
And we’re not quiet
And we make them
Pay attention now
To the voices
Of the people
Who pursue what they’re due.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017



"I had first come to the attention of the principal’s office with a premature women’s liberation movement on the school grounds. At noon, the boys could leave the grounds to play around on the streets and to get hot dogs, hamburgers, coffee, and pop at the little store across the street. I circulated a petition that the girls be allowed out of the yard at noon also. The answer was no. It wasn’t proper for girls to be on the street. [The girls then asked that the boys be restricted, and were told] if the school tried to restrict the boys they’d just climb the fence. Probably in the same situation now, the girls would climb the fence. Then, nothing happened except that quiet, shy me was fingered as a troublemaker."

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Storyteller




Storyteller

Storyteller, storyteller
come on out.
Tell us a story.
What’s it about?
Pirates or dragons,
a farm or a zoo?
Zebras? Lions?
Kangaroo?

Storyteller, storyteller
spin us a yarn.
Make it a good one,
one that will charm.
One full of laughter,
or one full of fear--
no matter what you tell
all of us will cheer!


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017





"The times I have been happiest were the rare times when I was one of a gang….I had a kind of gang when we lived on Buchanan Street [in San Francisco]. I must have been seven or eight. We would sit in the light of the street lamp in the evening on the high wooden flight of stairs, a dozen of us, and while the bigger boys played “One Foot Off the Gutter,” I would make up long stories to tell the others. I don’t remember what the stories were about, but they must have been interesting; I can remember the young voices in the evening, calling me to come out."

http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/malvina-reynolds/

Progressive Poem -- Line #8


Go ahead. Skip to the bottom of the post. Read my line. I know you want to. :-)
Short introduction for the uninitiated: Progressive poem, written one line at a time, one day at a time for the month of April. Tradition started by Irene Latham. Check the sidebar to follow along as the poem grows.

*  *  *

Didn't Heidi get us started off with a line full of pure possibility? She introduced our character.

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—

Then Tabatha gave us some show-not-tell action to help us get to know our character better. We've got a storyteller here (or at least, a story sprouter...hmm...a magical plant?).

I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,

Along comes Dori, who takes the word stories and cracks it open just a bit for us.

stories of castles, of fires that crackle,

Michelle linked the words fire and stories in a surprising way. Is our character a dragon?

with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

Diane established stanzas of four lines and a bit of conflict...

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,

...and Kat elaborated. (No, Kat, we won't change your Aussie spelling of vapour!)

like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.

Yesterday, Irene got our character ready for action...but without armour (don't you love how she gave Kat that wink?!)

So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour

And now I'm left to decide the action our character might take. Or would take if this were my own poem and not this big, messy, fun, collaborative, surprising thing it is every year  (this is our SEVENTH!!).

Our character might be a girl. That happens a lot in stories. So our character might be a boy. A boy who does atypical things. A boy who is searching for his true identity, who is willing to lose the frazzle-dazzle storytelling and the costume he's wearing, in order to try living honestly in his own skin. Yeah. I like that. For right now, in this small moment of Line Eight, that's who this poem is about for me. So what gift can I give to this child, what gift for all children who are in that tricky spot of growing up, when they have to take off the princess dress or the super hero cape and find out who they really are? 

(There are a lot of F words early on, and a lot of S words in the past 5 lines. Did you notice that? And we don't seem to be keeping to any syllable count or regular rhyme scheme...Can you tell I'm writing this line in my head as I write this post?)

facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

Yes! I love it! And yes, I did go read Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins before I chose my words because it occurred to me that this character could be part of what Hopkins was praising -- so I borrowed "fickle, freckled" from him. I don't think he'd mind! And lookie there -- I used F sounds and S sounds in my line!! (A peek at the final edits: The line was originally "ready to face the day as my fickle, freckled self." Our character was going to FACE the day, but I went to the thesaurus and decided on BRAVE as a synonym that packs just a bit more punch, even though I'd have to lose an F sound. Then I read through the whole poem, including my line, and the rhythm seemed off, plus, I really really loved that F sound. So I went back to FACE the day. Then I had to consider the necessity of the word and...keep? lose? keep? lose? We already have a but and a so in this stanza...I'm going for the verb, folks! Fidget, friction, fickle, freckled...say that five times fast!)

Go forth, brave character! Whether or not you turn out to be seeking your true identity, or if other amazing adventures await you in this poem, we've launched you out the door. Have fun, Linda! Give us hints as to what THE DAY will hold for our character, whoever he or she or he/she might be!



I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.


But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.




Friday, April 07, 2017

Quiet








Quiet

Sometimes
it takes a lot of loud
to be noticed.
Roar your truth
in a pride of lions.
Demand change
with signs and signatures.
Surge with the chanting crowd
and be heard.

However
you don’t need loud
to be strong.
Sing your truth
as confidently as a single wren.
Gently nudge change
to the tune of genuine smiles.
Harmonize in a chorus
of allies.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017



Sing It, Malvina! 

April 1 -- Working for Change
April 2 -- A Lifetime Filled With Change
April 3 -- Red
April 4 -- Little Red Hen
April 5 -- Childhood Dreams
April 6 -- Lonely Child
April 7 -- Quiet


Irene has the Poetry Friday Roundup (and the next line of the Progressive Poem) today at Live Your Poem. Come back here tomorrow for the 8th line of the Progressive Poem!



Thursday, April 06, 2017

Lonely Child




Lonely Child

I’m quiet
She’s loud
I like alone
She likes a crowd

I’m shy
She’s bold
She likes to tell
I like to be told

I’m a cloud
She’s a storm
Hard to believe
Someday I’ll perform


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017





"I was a lonely child; I can’t remember any friends in grade school except Esther. Why she picked quiet, shy me for a friend, I don’t know. She was bold, laughing, quick. She would sit back of me in school and slowly pull one hair out of my braid. Miss Geary would say, “Hit her! With your ruler!” I never would. I liked Miss Geary. I intended to be a teacher, and would be like her—a good sport….I am still shy with people. I can easily face and talk with and sing to a hundred or a thousand. But at a party, next to a stranger, I haven’t much to say."


http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/malvina-reynolds/


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Childhood Dreams




Childhood Dreams

Dream, child, dream.
Your bed is a boat
on the wide sea
of possibility.

Close your eyes.
Fling your arms wide.
Dance in the light
on the stage.

You’re a movie star today,
tomorrow a dancer,
maybe a teacher.
Dream, child, dream.


©Mary Lee Hahn




“My mother, Malvina Reynolds, once told me that when she was young, she would lie in bed and imagine that she was onstage, dancing, with a spotlight following her. She wanted to be a movie star, but she assumed that that would never happen, so she decided she’d be a teacher instead and work a smaller stage.”


http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/malvina-reynolds/


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Little Red Hen








Little Red Hen

Red is the color of socialists,
and what do socialists believe?
Everyone works, everyone helps,
together, everyone achieves.

Hen asked for help planting wheat.
The other animals said no.
Hen did all the work without any help,
from seed to plant, flour, and dough.

Little Red Hen is a socialist
and what do socialists believe?
Everyone works, everyone helps,
together, everyone achieves.

Work is a part of the process:
no help with the work means no bread,
no help with the work makes you lazy,
when the lazy don’t help they aren’t fed.

Little Red Hen is a socialist,
and what do socialists believe?
Everyone works, everyone helps,
together, everyone achieves.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017