The Big Poetry Giveaway: Silverstein and Eliot

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Well, Easter passed us by as softly as a stingray shaking off sand in the shallows. My family wouldn’t have noticed it, were it not that we almost stepped on it. Maybe this is just what holidays are like for us now. I wouldn’t know, it’s been four years since I’ve had Easter with my parents. Or maybe I don’t notice holidays anymore (I did miss Pi Day, after all.) But this time, I think it is because the last day of March signifies yet another holiday, for it is the eve of National Poetry Month.

That’s right! Rev your engines, poems, poems all month long, my poems, other people’s poems, poems you might not even think are poems. It’s going to be great. And one more way in which I’m celebrating is taking part in the Big Poetry Giveaway and, well… giving away poetry.

Why give away poetry? Because poetry is awesome. Okay, so why Silverstein and Eliot? Now you’re asking the right questions.

In the past few years, I have seen the development of a hoity-toity attitude toward literature, as if only that which is long-winded, uses large words, or doesn’t make a lot of sense to begin with is real literature. This attitude is especially persistent in academic circles, where it sadly produces the exact opposite of the intended effect. I have had several teachers who complain that students or people in general don’t read enough or don’t read enough poetry, but in the same breath condemn perfectly legitimate literature for not falling into an acceptable genre. I had one teacher who’s example of an uneducated slob who doesn’t read real poetry is an (adult) person who’s favorite poets are Dr. Suess and Shel Silverstein. But it all that falls into the genre of “acceptable” is that which is long-winded, wordy, and dense, why do we wonder that so few people take interest in reading?

The irony of making this argument and giving away a copy of poetry by Eliot is not lost on me. I could say that though I believe good poetry does not have to be dense, I do not believe the dense poetry cannot be good. I could say so truthfully. But even Eliot could not have been serious and dense all the time, as can be seen by a delightful little set of poems he wrote about cats. Are these poems dense and wordy and full of existential meaning? I don’t think so. And they certainly lack the footnotes which The Waste Land is famous for. Are they nevertheless wonderful poems? Absolutely. Why? Because they are fun. The same goes for Silverstein (and yes, as it happens he and Seuss really are my favorite poets). Thus:

THE GIVEAWAY

I will be giving away one copy of Falling Up, Where the Sidewalk Ends, or A Light in the Attic by Shel Silervstein (winner’s choice)

And one copy of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. (Note: there are two winners here, I will pick one for each prize.)

How do you enter? Leave a comment below telling me who your favorite poem or poet is. Please do not forget to give me a way of contacting you if you win, such as a link to your own blog or an email address.

And don’t forget to come back throughout the month, where I will be posting more about my favorite poems, as well as my own.

Happy National Poetry Month!

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Candlelight Vigil

There is some kind of magic in fire. Perhaps this is why so many stories exist about it–from Prometheus to Aziraphale in Good Omens. Furthermore, fire and candles are versatile. Fires are seen in celebrations of Yule, Imbolic, and Midsummer. They are used in spells of all types and we brew potions over them (not to mention real food.) But lest we think it’s all pagan, remember Hannukah is a holiday celebrated with the symbolic lighting lf candles (which themselves harken back to a story of fire and lights). When we go to churches, we light candles for those who we pray for, and we hold candlelight vigils to remember those who have passed. So, when Percy got hurt and Noah and I were sitting around having no idea what to do, (what could we do?) we bought candles.

UPDATE: Percy called on Saturday to say that she was okay. Looks like nothing is broken, but something did get dislocated. So she needs to rest for a while. Fortunately, she seems to be in good spirits, and when I told her Noah and I were prepared to have a candlelight vigil in her honor, she snorted, “I’m not dead!” As true as it is, and as aware of this fact as we were, we were just as aware of the magic of candles and were prepared to harness that said magic to conjure her safety.

Of course, Noah had stopped by her house and gotten some of this news already, so after we met up, we didn’t light candles immediately. We had dinner first. And listened to my parents play music. And then I went to sleep early to open the store the next day. But even though our candle ceremony didn’t get off the ground, the whole thing has got me thinking about religous rituals in Zennis, kind of an important thing since Stix edpisode two involves a religious service.

Speaking of Stix, I got my last scene written for episode one and Noah thinks it’s strong. Screenwriting is getting easier. I’m more familiar with the format and the characters. I still haven’t written ten pages in a single day since that first time, but four is a regular amount for me, so it’s getting better. It feels good, like my characters can run loose and banter endlessly with each other, which is usually all they want to do. I know that when
I was first taught screenwriting, I was told, “screenplays are about action,” but it’s nice when I don’t have to come up with all the action myself, but can leave some of it to the director to block. Also, Noah says he feels like the characters’ personalities are coming across pretty strong, which I think is the most impoortant thing for this type of project. Hooray!

I’ve developed my first lesson. It’s not really TESOL because it’s about reading maps, but tht’s a skill the students I’m working with have been working on. And we’ll talk about directions and so forth. I’ll also be teaching quite a few vocabulary words because “The Musicians of Bremen,” has a lot of big words. Like emaciated. Who uses a word like that in a children’s story? Of course, if they can understand the circulatory system, they can understand this. I hope this leads to further lessons, and hopefully my practicum.

The last thing I have to say is this: April is almost upon us. That means two things. First, national poetry month, and with it the writing challenge to write a pooem every day. It has been some time since I’ve worked on poetry, so it will be nice to get into. Second, it’s Script Frenzy. Okay, Script Frenzy has been officially disbanded due to lack of funding 😦 but that doesn’t mean I can’t try writing 100 pages of script anyway. (Not to mention, if I’m not doing it official, no one will be around to complain that I’m writing TVshow episodes instead of a full length film. Episode one was 27 pages, which means that if I pull through in April, I will have added thirty new poems and four more episodes to my repitoire. I also thinks this means you can expect to be hearing a lot from me soon.

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A Very Belated Pi Day or Why Do Bad Things Happen

So, I missed Pi Day. I mean, I blogged on Pi day, but I never acknowledged it. I didn’t even realize until about midnight when I was dating food at work. So… no pi, no pie. Percy and I decided the next day that we should just have a Life of Pi party to make up for it, since I haven’t seen the film yet and it’s one of my favorite books. Percy and I are always talking about books, leaving poor Noah out of things. So he’s decided to start reading, and we hooked him up with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series.

Last week we went in to Fayetteville to post flyers for a different webseries which Percy and Noah are working on. (But they’re interested in having me guest write a script! Yay!) it was great fun. We ate at a self-serve stir-fry place and introduced Noah to frozen yogurt. And we walked around the city and campus and went to Hastings, and it just felt like Albuquerque again, and for a day everything felt right, like I’d finally found my place. But alas, there is the title of this post to contend with…

Last week, we passed a tree in Fayetteville, a magnolia tree, I believe, which had nostalgia because my grandmother used to have one, but also was a great climbing tree. And we decided that we should have a write-in there. And thus our unofficial Friday outings became official: Ficticious Friday! I fell asleep in contentment (and woke up the next day for hell on wheels at Subway, due to the parade in town.)

A week passed, during which several things happened. I finished another week’s homework assignment. The teacher I’m working with suggested I make a lesson for her students out of one of the stories in my Lithuanian/English fairytale book. I decided my daily writing goal should be (a) two pages of novel or (b) ten pages of script. And each day I succeed, I get points toward a prize of some sort. Each day I fail, the prize point price goes up. I talked to my mom about the possibility of travelling by bus or train to OWFI in May. And I finally finished episode 1 of Stix, which it is tentatively called. Now we just need a way of making the title fit.

Today, Noah, Percy, and I met again for our second official Ficticious Friday. We went to the Tea Room in Eureka, and I dressed “posh” because… Well, because tea room. And who doesn’t want an excuse to dress up, even when it’s snowy and freezing? The Tea Room was lovely. There was oreo cake. And probably the best tea I have ever had. Then we decided to go to the library for a write-in.

Now, if you haven’t been to Eureka Springs, there’s a couple things you should know. It is filled with hills and crooked narrow streets. Spring Street, the main street, which the library is on, has many a curve and is barely wide enough to fit three cars, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, except that there are very few parking lots in Eureka Springs. Most of the time, we have to parallel park. I hate parallel parking, especially when the roads are not straight.

Now it being cold, we wanted to be outside as little as possible, but the only open space near the library was one I had had to back into (unless I turned around, which would have been a hassle). Percy got out to direct me, so I didn’t hit the car. She did a good job on that part. I didn’t hit the car. I hit her instead. Granted, I could not have been going very fast, and I was already breaking, but hitting a car is never fun, and I drive a hulking minivan, so she has a lot of pain in her knee. The good news is, she is not unconcious. The bad news is, I’m not sure she can walk. And thus, after her mom picked her up and after lots of awkward hugs from Noah (I cried for like half an hour after Percy’s mom picked her up), I drove home asking God why bad things happen.

I’m not particularly religious, in fact, I like to think of myself as being like Newton Pulsifer, from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, one of my favorite books. Newt doesn’t really have the faith to follow any religion, nor does he have the necessary lack of faith not to. I am perhaps, not so much agnostic as apatheistic. But when the going gets tough, I still turn to God for help. I don’t know if it’s the Christian God or someone else’s, but it’s good to have someone to turn to, and I kind of feel like I need to go to church and ask atone. Maybe it’s that I just read such a scene in Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqualine Carey. I don’t even know what it is I’m worried about exactly, whether it’s whether Percy’s okay, or how much I’m going to have to pay to cover her medical expenses, or how much the insurance will go up if I file a claim or how pissed her mother will be mad at me and if she will let me see Percy again or if this is going to somehow screw my chances of getting to OWFI. I just know I feel jumbled and my high from last week plumeted as fast as the falling temperature.

But, I guess, as Penny says in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, “Everything happens.”

Melissa’s Midnight Snack

In the past, I’ve thought about starting up a cooking blog, and now that I’m a closer, I guess that’s what I would call it. After getting home at about one in the morning, I put on Howl’s Moving Castle and set about making cottage pie. I didn’t finish until about five, when Ethan gets back from his paper route. Then I woke up six hours later to go volunteer assistant teach. This wonky sleep schedule is making me hungry all the time and giving me headaches. But damned if I’m going to keep eating boxed mac and cheese like I did on Monday. That pie has lasted me all week. Ethan ate some too.

I’ve done the volunteer thing all week, and I won’t give details other than to say that the kids seem to like me and the teacher is talking to me about designing a lesson based on one of the fairytales I have in a book of stories in Lithuanian and English. I think I’ll go with “The Bremen Town Musicians,” because it’s probably my favorite of Grimms’. Okay, that’s the easy part. Now I have to figure out what I’m actually teaching. By now, the combined feeling of terror and excitement is as familiar as the Subway sandwich formulas.

Of course, between work and volunteering, I’m supposed to be designing a curriculum for my class, as well as, well, the Zennis Project. The update on that is that I have found nineteen unfinished manuscripts lurking around on my computer. Several are shorter works, but I didn’t know I had so many projects. So I’m going to start knocking them out with one simple rule: two pages a day. After the volunteering and the closing Subway and the textbook reading, etc, I sit down and write/revise two pages. It sounds like nothing, just two pages. But The Underground Swing Club is currently at forty pages. If I revise two a day, I’ll be done in a month! That is why this is brilliant. Unfortunately, I still haven’t figured out a similar method for working on my scripts. As a result I’m more than seriously behind. Also, late as I’ve been getting home, it’s difficult for me to make time for both projects before I pass out.

Tomorrow, Percy, Noah, and I are going into Fayetteville so they can hang flyers for casting for their other show. I hope these production meeting/get togethers keep up because with everything going on, I need a social life. Of course, I also need time to wash dishes and clothing. somewhere in there I guess I’ll figure it out… That’s all the news I have time for now. Ethan’s back from the recylcing center, which means I should have left five minutes ago. I will catch you later. And maybe, if I can manage my time like I did back in UNM, I’ll even get sme new entries into the encyclopedia. 😉

Teaching Experience and The Glass Girl

Well, it has been exactly one week since revealing my inadvertent secret of having approximately zero classroom teaching experience. The initial shock has worn off, but not the embarrassment and guilt (not to mention the guilt at being guilty–I have said this before. Was someone just not paying attention?). But I haven’t buried myself in my favorite books again, so I seem to be handling it okay. If all goes well, I will be meeting folks at BHS tomorrow to talk about teaching assistant positions (volunteer work, but vital for this classroom experience thing). The whole idea scares the pants off of me, even more so than it did before, due to the embarrassment and the guilt, so, uh… we’ll see…

We’ve officially held two production meetings, making the webseries seem ever more plausible, despite all the completely implausible aspects (like the fact that it’s essentially being spearheaded by three college kids with restaurant jobs and little pocket change). Nevertheless, if there’s one thing I’ve always been good at, it’s dreaming, so I’ve promised to get the first episode written by the eighth. And you know what? I think that just might happen? I checked last night, and I’m up to page 15, and a little more than halfway through my outline. I have hit a bit of a snag, and I know that even when I finish the last scene, there are going to be some kinks to work out, but for the first time in a long time, I will have something to show for all my work.

In the meantime, Zennis is going through some interesting overhauls, namely involving some destruction of the laws which govern the electromagnetic spectrum, so if anyone out there has a good understanding of physics, let me know. (It looks like I’m going to have to call in my friend Simon to teach me some math and science details and get one of my planets back on track.) On the bright side, this has resulted in (drum roll) the third migration period, which means the news of the Svene System might be showing up in the encyclopedia sometime soon. I’ve got big plans for this one, some new magical workings that have been floating around in there–I just have to decide which ones to use.

Annnddd… since there doesn’t seem to be much else going on in my life, I give to you a fairytale from the Burch Twins’ Bedtime Stories (Note, the Burch Twins are part of my universe. This story is my own work.)

Warning: As in most fairy tales, there is death and grusome themes (but no explicitly grusome imagery.)

The Glass Girl

Once upon a time, there was a glass maker whose wife was sick with child. He took her to a healer, who said the woman was very sick, and would die soon if not helped. The healer had the medicine to cure her, but would not do so without payment. Unfortunately, the glass maker and his wife were very poor and did not have the money to pay her. The healer had never had a child, and so offered to heal the mother, if they gave her the child when it was born.

“My child is my life,” the woman said, “if I am to lose it, there is no point in healing me.”

The glass maker told the healer that though he could not give her a living child, he could make one for her out of glass. The healer agreed. So the glass maker made a beautiful baby girl out of glass. But a prince of the underworld took pity on the healer and breathed life into the glass, so that when the glass maker delivered the payment, it was not a glass baby that the healer received, but a living, breathing, child.

Overjoyed, the healer doted on her daughter as any loving mother would. But she coveted the child, and worried that someone would come to take her daughter away from her. So she moved deep into the woods, into a tower with no entrance or exit but a single window.

The girl grew into a lovely beautiful young woman with long, long hair, like spun gold. Whenever the healer left and wanted to return to the tower, she would stand below and call, “My darling, my glass girl, let down your hair!” The girl would hang her hair out of the window, and the healer would ascend.

One day, the prince of the realm was out hunting when he heard a beautiful voice. He followed the sound through the brush until he found the tower. He recognized that the person to whom the beautiful voice belonged lived within, but he did not not know how to speak with her, for the tower had no entrance but the window. He was pondering this when he heard someone coming. The prince darted into the brush and watched as the healer came to the tower and called up, “My darling, my glass girl, let down your hair!” And down came the girl’s hair, like a lovely golden rope.

The prince waited hours, until well past nightfall, when the healer left again. Then he went to the base of the tower and called up, “My darling, my glass girl, let down your hair!” The girl did not recognize the voice, but having been starved of companionship, had no qualms against letting the stranger into the tower. When the prince reached the top, he told her what a beautiful voice she had, and she asked him all about the world beyond her home. The agreed to meet again the next night, and then every night after. After many nights, the prince came to her and asked if she would marry him.

“You can live with me in my castle,” he said, “and be my queen.”

“Oh my,” the girl said, “let me speak to my mother first about it, for she will be quite upset.”
The prince knew how much the girl loved her mother, and how much her mother loved her. “I would not dream of taking you away from her. You shall both live there, of course.”

“That is very kind of you,” the girl said, “but please, let me speak with her alone first. I am sure I can convince her.”

“Very well.” The prince agreed to return the next day, when the girl would present him to her mother.

When the girl’s mother returned, she told her about the prince she had fallen in love with and asked her mother to live with them in his castle after they married. But the mother was distraught that she had not kept her daughter to herself. She flew into a rage and attacked the girl. After cutting off her hair the healer climbed down from the tower, using the vines, as she had used before her daughter’s hair grew so long and thick, and buried the girl’s body in a swamp.

The healer returned to the tower and waited for the prince, for her daughter had told her he was coming. When he arrived, he called up to the tower window, “My darling, my glass girl, let down your hair!” Hanging the girl’s hair on a hook on the ceiling, the healer dropped it from the window. When the prince arrived at the window, he saw only the girl’s mother, and asked where he could find his bride to be.

“Fear not, for you will soon be with her,” the healer said, and pushed the prince out of the window. His body shattered as it hit the ground. When the healer realized her folly, she died of despair.

But the prince of the underworld had kept an eye on the girl, and did not like that she had not even had the chance to die with her true love. So he made a body for the prince out of clay, and put his life inside. Then he delivered the new child to a couple who had been praying for a child. The he went to the swamp, where the girl’s body was buried and did likewise, vowing that the lovers would not die again until they had found each other.

The girl’s body turned once again into glass. But having known life once, the glass refused to stop growing, and so a patch of glass flowers marks her grave.