Jun 19, 2015

POETRY FRIDAY: "One Boat, One River" by SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth

Thanks to Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for hosting Poetry Friday this week
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In the wake of this week’s heartbreaking events in Charleston, I have been thinking about “One River, One Boat,” a poem written by SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth. In January, Ms. Wentworth was supposed to read her poem at SC Governor Nikki Haley’s inauguration, but was omitted from the program due to “time constraints.” (You can read more about this here.) Since January, the exposure her poem has garnered has been enormous, and the praise is well deserved.

Yesterday, as I was reading online about the beautiful men and women who lost their lives on Wednesday night, one of my boys came up behind me. “Why are you reading about this if it makes you so upset?” he asked. “Because we can’t just ignore all of the bad stuff that happens and pretend it doesn’t exist,” I responded.

I have thought about his question ever since. My children are growing up in SC in a wonderful Norman Rockwell-esque neighborhood that I refer to in my head as a “bubble.” But down the road, in a city where we have family and visit frequently, yet another crime has been committed that is whipping the already agitated social consciousness of this country into a frenzy. I want to protect my boys from this type of thing, but at the same time I know that it is important to share and discuss it with them. They are 12, on the cusp of their teen years, with high standards of justice and a huge capacity to feel everything—love, empathy, outrage, sorrow, the list goes on and on. It is my job as a parent to channel this enormous ability to feel into an attitude of loving acceptance and a desire to BE the change this country needs as they grow and mature. So today our conversation will continue.  

Please take a moment and read Ms. Wentworth’s poem, which I decided was well worth a second blog post this week. The specific references to Charleston’s history are especially poignant today, as we are
“...huddled together on this boat
handed down to us–stuck
at the last bend of a wide river
splintering near the sea.”

One River, One Boat
by Marjory Wentworth

I know there’s something better down the road.
~ Elizabeth Alexander
Because our history is a knot
we try to unravel, while others
try to tighten it, we tire easily
and fray the cords that bind us.
The cord is a slow moving river,
spiraling across the land
in a succession of S’s,
splintering near the sea.
To read the rest, click here.

Jun 13, 2015

Poetry Friday Fun

We are in the midst of a fun friends and family marathon at our house, but I wanted to be sure to post a link to this week’s poetry Friday roundup. Please head over to Jama's Alphabet Soup for a look at this week’s links. Thanks for hosting, Jama!

Jun 9, 2015

Summer Reading

Every June, I download lots of books to my Kindle and pile my bedside table with stacks of books I plan to read in all of the “free time” that is supposed to miraculously appear in my schedule because it is suddenly SUMMER. But, like for lots of people, “summer” doesn’t necessarily equal “free time” around here. I have set goals—to rise early every day to write, spend fun and meaningful time with my boys, tackle overdue household projects (those closets are not going to clean themselves), catch up on scrapbooking (aack!), etc.—so this summer I am consciously adding “reading” to my summer “to do” list. Even at my busiest, I read every single day; I can’t go to sleep without reading a few pages at night, and often I will read while I eat my lunch. But this summer I am going to be more intentional about finding time (and giving myself permission) to simply enjoy reading good books!

Along with the various kids' books that I am always reading, right now I'm finishing the latest book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. For those of you familiar with the Starz series, the books have much more literary value than what you might assume from the (quite steamy, often disturbing) onscreen representation. But Gabaldon is an extraordinarily talented writer, and I kind of view her as the J.K. Rowling of adult writing. As a writer, I am fascinated by her style, plotting, characterization, and the many threads she weaves in and out of her books. I am convinced that she must have an extremely high IQ!

The next book on my list is C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I have heard wonderful things about this one, and am looking forward to finally reading it. And just last week I ordered and received The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. (I'll let you know how this goes!) I am looking forward to learning about Kondo’s unconventional approaches to helping her clients “transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration.”

My boys came home with their own reading lists for summer. This year, all rising sixth through eighth graders at their school must read at least two books off of the SC Junior Book Award Nominees 2015-16 List during summer break, or read one book from this list and another from a list of preapproved classics. For my boys, this won’t be an issue; they are enthusiastic readers and have already selected their books. I will definitely read some books off of these lists, as well—there are some amazing choices here!

SC Junior Book Award Nominees 2015-16 List:
1. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg - Fiction
2. Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible on Schindler’s List by Leon Leyson –Non-Fiction
3. Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan - Fiction
4. Eruption! Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives by Elizabeth Rusch –Non-Fiction
5. Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher - Fiction
6. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal - Fiction
7. Gated by Amy Christina Parker -Fiction
8. Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson - Fiction
9. The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe by Dan Poblocki -Fiction
10. Jungle of Bones by Ben Mikaelsen -Fiction
11. Lawless by Jeffery Salane -Fiction
12. The President Has Been Shot by James L. Swanson –Non-Fiction
13. Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz - Fiction
14. QB1 by Mike Lupica -Fiction
15. SYLO by D.J. MacHale -Fiction
16. Tesla’s Attic by Neil Shusterman -Fiction
17. Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald -Fiction
18. Winner’s Curse by Maria Rutkowski -Fiction
19. Zebra Forest by Adina Gewirtz- Fiction
20. Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi - Fiction

Classics List:  
1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein -Fiction
2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein-Fiction
3. Fahrenheit 454 by Ray Bradbury-Fiction
4. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes-Fiction
5. Call of the Wild by Jack London-Fiction
6. Dune by Frank Herbert-Fiction
7. A Separate Peace by John Knowles-Fiction
8. Watership Down by Richard Adams-Fiction
9. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson-Fiction
10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Fiction
11. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier-Fiction
12. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane-Fiction
13. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss-Fiction
14. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson-Fiction
15. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder-Fiction
16. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery-Fiction
17. The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis-Fiction
18. Sounder by William Armstrong-Fiction
19. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott-Fiction

What books are on your summer reading list this year? Have a great week, and Happy Writing!