Thursday, September 29, 2011

Poetry Friday: Only Love Can Do That

“I don’t believe poetry should be a solitary intellectual adventure. It should be a relationship with people, it should forge a connection. Good poetry does not belong to the poet.” ---Dolores Kendrick, D.C. Poet Laureate, in this interview with the Washington Post

I've been gone from this blog for almost three months now, and it's not because I was on "a solitary intellectual adventure" (although I've been revising a YA novel.) It had mostly to do with three successive moves in the family---or what we have dubbed The Summer of the U-Haul Truck. Which has ended happily with two children in new digs and my husband and I now living in a row house with its own library.

(This picture is pre-books.
Now it's full, every inch of it.)

Still, after a three-month break, it's hard to re-engage with blogging without thinking about why I'm doing it. It's a question authors get asked a lot: Why do you write? (Yes, blogging is writing.) At this past weekend's National Book Festival (to which I walked, thanks to our new location) I heard Gary Schmidt say he writes because a book may be the only companion a child has. He visited a prison where six locked doors separated the kids from the outside world, where the inmates were allowed no personal possessions, and yet, they had been able to read his book and could talk to him about it. One child said he identified with the dog in the story---because he himself would never be able to have one.

Me, Gary Schmidt, and Sondy Eklund
at the National Book Festival
Which brings me back again to the quote above, about poetry not belonging to the poet. Or, as Gary Schmidt might say, books don't belong to the author---they go where they are needed. And yet, it's the age of personal vocalizing. Blogs enable us to catcall, cheer, kvetch, croon, and crystalize our every thought. So does this blog, in fact, belong to me, in a way my poems or my novels don't?

In answer, I overheard last night a cell phone conversation at 2:00am. We sleep with our windows open, and the bay window in our bedroom amplifies sound from the sidewalk below. Usually, it's remarkably quiet---the first morning in the new house, we were awakened in this great city by a noisy. . . bird.  But last night, Mr. Angry Man crept into my sleep, gradually wakening me as he and his phone walked into my hearing zone, until I surfaced to this loud bellow: "I texted you yesterday that I WAS FINE!!!" I could even hear the unintelligible but anguished reply of his cell phone friend before he passed out of range.

So, dear friends, I am fine. This blog is fine. I do write almost all of it as a solitary adventure. I have no routine. No set mission. No way to permanently hold onto the posts or poems that I put out there.

But I don't think I want to do it without a connection with you. You are the only reason I write.

So welcome to Poetry Friday.  Please leave your links in the comments below and I'll round them up.

In lieu of a poem, I'd like to contribute these words from Martin Luther King, whose speech was often poetic. They can be found on his new memorial, which is now open to the public---and is a very long walk from my home, and yet on the day of the National Book Festival, we did that too. Because we could.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; Only light can do that
Hate cannot drive out hate; Only love can do that.

Please read Sondy's wonderful writeup of Gary Schmidt's talk and the rest of the National Book Festival.

Poetry Friday Connections:

Poet Charles Ghigna summons us with an original poem, "Drum Beats," at his new blog, FATHER GOOSE.

Robyn embarked on a walk with "binoculars and optimism," and comes back with The Birds by Linda Pastan.

Teacher Dance collects poems of goodbye for her students, and she shares a lovely one in her post, Endings Hold Mixed Emotions.

At Gathering Books, another teacher celebrates former students through the poetry of their father in The Ties That Bind.

Jone is trumpeting the Cybils Poetry Team today. Huzzah, Poetry! And as Jone says, don't forget that Cybils nominations open tomorrow, October 1st. 

Diane brings a whole basket of poetry links for us: an original poem at Random Noodling"The Oleo Kid" at Kids of the Homefront Armya poem by Gail Mazur at Kurious Kitty and a quote by Joan Giroux.Kurious K's Kwotes'.

At The Poem Farm, Amy is thinking about time and things we "used to do." She reminds me of why I have my old Raggedy Ann doll in my writing office. 

Julie Larios at The Drift Record wants us to meet two geniuses. She has videos about Kay Ryan and A.E. Stallings, two poets who received MacArthur Foundation grants this week. (Bonus: the word "hokum" is used.)  Plus she has enticed me with her call for Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults. Visit "Poetry at Play" and spread the word.

Pentimento is tending to Blake's illustrated poem, The Sick Rose.

Jeff Barger reveals how walking sticks, luna moths, and ladybugs can rock multiplication problems in his STEM/Poetry Friday post, Multiply on Fly.   

Mary Lee at A Year of Reading always has fantastic poetry to share, and today it's a glorious Linda Pastan poem about fall. Go and roll the word "pumpkin" off your tongue.

Love is in the air at Laura Purdie Salas's blog, but with an amusing twist: love poems from one animal to another by the ever-creative  Marilyn Singer. Plus, Laura has her usual (and always unintimidating) invitation to join her in creating 15 Words or Less poems.

Karen Edmisten dips into The Writer's Almanac for her poetry selection today, a pithy bit of wisdom called September Visitors.

Can I quote Maria Horvath on her blog post today? She says Carl Sandburg explains what love was, is, and shall be. A spectacular poem that I'm clipping straight into my poetry common book. 

Rice on your sock? Poems from the "purple cursive of her veins"?  How to Tell If a Korean Woman Loves You by Christy NaMee Eriksen, a glorious find by Tabatha Yeatts.  

Ha! J. Patrick Lewis is always clever, and his poem, One Cow, Two Moos, is that and more. (Be prepared to groan a bit at the pun.) Thanks to Debbie Diller for sharing it. 

On the Stenhouse Blog, Maine teacher/author, Anne Tommaso explores why "Poetry demands you return when you are different." Dang. An exploding kind of thought if there ever was one.

If you've never read Mary Oliver, let this post hit you between the eyes: Joyce Ray gives us Oliver at her finest. 

Liz Garton Scanlon knows how to ease you past a dry spell. Today, you can linger with her and savor Nothing by Ken Mikolowski.

Poetry can take on anything. Even Animal Fights. Thanks, Anastasia Suen for another STEM/Poetry Friday mashup.

I feel a swearing fit coming on after reading Jama's post, "Manners" by Kim Addonizio. But I promise not to take it out in the Clorox aisle at Safeway.

So it turns out Julie Larios (above) was right about POETRY AT PLAY---it's fabulous. You'll be a regular subscriber/cheerleader/greatbighonkingfan after this post about master poet David McCord.

Andi Sibley at the wrung sponge reviews At the Sea Floor Cafe. More science and poetry!

Heidi Mordhorst is joining us with a poem from "the trenches of 7th grade" (hoo-boy, those can be deep!)  and news about the release of the p*tag digital poetry anthology.

Gregory K, you had me at fried: Things I Saw Fried at the Fair Thing I want most to taste fried? One of those chewy orange circus peanuts. Or possibly popcorn. Can popcorn be re-fried?

Elaine Magliaro is "Saving Summer" at Blue Rose Girls and talking furniture, reclaiming a room, and grandbabies at Wild Rose Reader. Cute baby alert!

I'm one of those stab-able morning people. (I'm even worse after coffee and a run.)  So thanks, JoAnn Early Macken, for We Are the Early Risers. Wade in, morning lovers, wade in.

Sally Ito at PaperTigers shares a book her daughter loved (the best kind!): The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base.

For all those who have gotten sidetracked while pursuing the muse: Not the Poem I Wanted to Write by David Elzey.  How true it is, David.

Carlie celebrates webs which "bloom with bursts of silver thread" in her original poem.  Lovely indeed.

Ah, our "bootless cries." What to do when consumed by them? Ruth has Shakespeare's answer in Sonnet XXIX.

Judy is musing on "these seamstresses’ chalks and golden needles" in Galway Kinnel's poem, The Shroud.


  1. I truly think those words are a poem. Thank you for reminding me of them!

    I don't have a link for you, but I wanted to say

    1. HI!!
    2. Glad you're back! and
    3. What a lovely library/sitting room. :)

    Hope you're settled in and happy and that Cell Phone Yelling Man has not made a return, or if he has, that it's at least been amusing.

  2. Beautiful blog, Sara! Your words here touch a chord in all who write. Happy house warming!

    Thank you for allowing me to share my "Drum Beats" with you and all of our blogging buddies at The FATHER GOOSE Blog

  3. Welcome back! My books are still all in boxes, but I finished one revision and have started another one that can only be called a rewrite-and-change-the-genre. The books are GOING IN THIS WEEKEND, though.

    I love the last picture - three varicolored women unironically posing in front of a MLK, Jr. quotation. Hallelujah, amen.

  4. Welcome back! I admit being a bit jealous of your Gary Schmidt interaction. I was too busy to get to National Book Festival this time, and was really only debating it to see him! Though Sondy did tell him my story about Okay for Now, so that helped.

  5. Thank you for hosting, Sara! And for sharing such wonderful aspects of your new home city with us. Your wake-up-bird might like my post - it's a celebration of his kind, with a poem by Linda Pastan:

  6. Glad you're well and settled into your new library and blogging. Also glad to hear about that YA novel coming along.

  7. What a beautiful post! I loved reading through it. And welcome back to the world of blogging.

    This is our contribution for Poetry Friday:

  8. I am rather new to poetry Friday, but love your new room/library. I imagine you do, too. I'm looking forward to reading more from you. I wrote a bit about saying goodbye this time, and I guess you've lately had lots of experience with endings and goodbyes. My link is

  9. I love your library. Wellcome back. My personal blog missed the summer too.
    Here's my link:

  10. How exciting to live in such a beautiful and vibrant city--all those history museums, all that art, all those monuments! And the best part is that they are free for all to enjoy, courtesy our taxes.

    At Random Noodling I have an original poem.

    Kids of the Homefront Army continues with "The Oleo Kid."

    Kurious Kitty shares a poem by Gail Mazur, and, Kurious K's Kwotes' has a quote by Joan Giroux.

  11. That thought that a book might be a child's only companion will be sticking with will light into darkness and love into hate. Thank you for weaving all of this together. Welcome back, welcome home, and thank you for having us over today!

    At The Poem Farm, I have an original poem about time and things we "used to do."


  12. Sara, you're so right about connections. As E.M. Forster said, "Only connect."

    Over at The Drift Record this week, I have links to videos about Kay Ryan and A.E. Stallings, two poets who received MacArthur Foundation grants ("genius" grants) this week. Plus I have a few words ("Please join!") about the new group, Poetry Advocates for Children and Young Adults. Here's the link:

  13. Beautiful post. Thank you for hosting.

    My poem is Blake's "The Sick Rose."

  14. Thank you for hosting today. It is a wonderful post. I have a review of a combination of math, science, and poetry at NC Teacher Stuff:

  15. Coming to your blog for Poetry Friday is like coming matter how long it's been since we visited, it still feels warm and comfortable (and always smart and insightful).

    I'm jealous of the library and the bay windows in your new house! And your D.C. walkability!

    Last thing before I leave my link: I have that MLK, Jr. quote on my classroom wall. It took up permanent residence the year I read aloud City of Ember and People of Sparks -- it is quoted in the front matter of one or the other of them. (And now I'm thinking this might be another good year to read both of those books...)

    I have a Linda Pastan poem about fall this week. No commentary. None needed. She says it all just so:

  16. Welcome back, Sara! So good to hear from you, and congratulations on surviving your U-Haul summer. I am intensely jealous of your new location. What a great adventure to live in D.C.

    I'm in this week with two Twosomes from Marilyn Singer at

    And I've also got 15 Words or Less poems at

    Thanks for the inspiring words you shared today!

  17. Sara, I'm delighted you're back (and in such book-filled digs) and I loved this post. Perfect.

    I'm in this week with a very short selection. The post is here.

  18. Thank you for hosting, Sara.

    Today, over at my blog, Carl Sandburg explains what love was, is, and shall be. Yes, love is powerful, as Martin Luther King Jr reminds us in that beautiful quotation.

    Maria Horvath

  19. Welcome back, Sara! Great post. Love your new digs!

    I've got a poem by Christy NaMee Eriksen today:

    Thanks for hosting.

  20. I have a great children's poem today on the Debbie Diller blog: One Cow, Two Moos.

  21. Happy Poetry Friday! On the Stenhouse Blog we have a lovely poem by local Maine teacher/author Anne Tommaso. Enjoy!

  22. Hi Sara. Thanks for sharing photos of your new home and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Today I've posted a poem by Mary Oliver,who so beautifully connects us all to nature.

  23. I love to think of you walking the streets near the LoC. Lovely post -- a great way to start a Friday.

  24. Welcome back! I'm in today with Animal Fights

  25. So glad you're back! Missed your blog. Beautiful post. :)

    Today I'm sharing "Manners" by Kim Addonizio:

    Thanks for hosting and have a good weekend!

  26. Thanks for hosting, Sara.

    My post is to promote the new Poetry Advocates for Children & Young Adults blog -- POETRY AT PLAY -- with a post about master poet David McCord:

  27. So glad to see you here again Sara! I have been out of the blogging habit too and it feels good to be back in a Friday Poetry mood. I love the photo of your new library home!! Delightful.

    I have a review of At the Sea Floor Cafe, a lovely book I won during last April's Nat. Poetry Month celebrations. Sweet!

  28. Hi, Sara--

    I reckon we're nighbors, now that I know roughly where your bay window is! I'm in today from Bethesda with a poem from the trenches of 7th grade and news about the release of the p*tag digital poetry anthology. Find it at
    Thanks for hosting!

  29. Welcome back, Sara! I'm up with an original today:

    Things I Saw Fried at the Fair

    Thanks for hosting....

  30. Sara,

    Thanks for hosting Poetry Friday. It's so nice to have you back blogging again!

    I haven't been blogging as much myself in the past few months. Now that I'm a grandmother, I spend as much time as I can with my granddaughter--who I can't bear to be away from for more than a couple of days. I wish she lived next door!

    Over at Wild Rose Reader, I have a few more of the old, moldering poems that I've discovered while cleaning out bins in my basement and a couple of new pictures of little Julia Anna that I took last Sunday.

  31. I have no link -- just glad you are back!

  32. Thank you for hosting! I have an original poem for morning people at

  33. I'm back! Over at Blue Rose Girls, I have an original memoir poem titled "Saving Summer."

  34. Hi, Sally Ito at PaperTigers logging in with a post for Poetry Friday:

  35. glad to see you back and that all is well. i was wondering if i missed an announcement of a leave or was simply in oblivion.

    another original this week, though sadly not the poem i wanted to write.

  36. NOW I'm here in the right time and place!!! I'm glad you're back, Sara. Missed you...

    Here's my post:

  37. Lovely quote. I just bought my kids a book about MLK in anticipation of MLK day which I hope to actually celebrate with my homeschooling youngesters this year.

    You can find my contribution at:

  38. This was so lovely, Sara, and reminds me of how much I want to participate in Poetry Friday again. I'm going to to round up all my loose ends in a Uhaul of my own and try to venture back in. :)

  39. I have a Shakespeare sonnet today. Thanks for hosting and for a beautiful post.

    Here's mine.

  40. Thanks for hosting! My choice this week is here

    I love the way he blends death and the natural world here.


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