Friday, April 18, 2014

Listen, my children and you shall hear

            It’s Poetry Month! All the month of April—as if I don’t every month—I’m reveling (maybe even wallowing) in poetry. Here are some poetry resolutions.
1.      Read more poetry!
2.      Find poets I haven’t read before.
a.       John Koethe
b.      Harryette Mullen

c.       Larry Levis
d.      Rosemary Catacalos
3.      Read old friends
a.       Billy Collins
b.      Maxine Kumin
c.       Shakespeare (!)
d.      Sharon Olds
e.       Rita Dove
My little reading table is getting
overloaded! So many books. . .

Here I’ve got to stop to tell what happened yesterday as I thought about reading old friends. One of my oldest poet friends (I’ve written about this before) is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Now a poet friend of mine has told me Longfellow is “out” in these day. Not to this girl. I have lots of his lines tattooed into my brain during my grade school days. Never know when they’ll come in handy; like this morning. When I glanced at the morning paper the date sprang out—April 17. Hmmm. Then, tomorrow is April 18. And the words popped not just into my head but out of my mouth—
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteen of April in Seventy–five
Listen my children

Minutes later, the book was in my hands and I read the tale aloud right to the final words.
Through all our history, to the last,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

There I was, in the fifth grade wearing my new spring dress in the center of the stage at the Wolflin School spring program. I gave it all I had. Did everything but bring a horse on stage with me and wear a three cornered hat. Now that I think about it, maybe I did wear a hat. My whistling, stomping dad led the ovation that followed. Thank you, HWL for a great poem, a bit of history, and a fine memory.

Now back to my list:

4.      Write some poetry—I write lots of haiku (check me out on Facebook, occasionally I’ll post one.) This month I’m stretching. Maybe a longer poem about the cats, or the kids at the museum, or the big oak tree. Maybe, one about what’s going on in the news—does history repeat itself?
Poet Laureate of Texas
Rosemary Catacalos
5.      Hear some poets read in person. My wonderful indie bookstore Brazos Books has almost weekly readings. I’ve made one. Last night I met a new poet friend—in person. Off I hied to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston to hear Rosemary Catacalos, the Poet Laureate of Texas, read her poems and to top it off to a party where I’ll met her. What a treat! You saw her name in my new-to-me poets list. Not anymore. I’ve read (more than once) her recently reissued 30-year-old book “Again for the First Time.” They ran out of her new one, “Begin Here” before I could buy one. Not to worry. I ordered it first thing this morning.
and her book.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Art Fun

 I love Wednesday. It’s my museum day. Yes, I go to look and appreciate, but I do more. I share.
            I’m a docent with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Once a week, sometimes more often I share the glory of art through the ages—with third and fourth graders. Always I assure them that they are going to have fun, fun, FUN. And they do—so do I.
A museum docent shares her joy in art
with Houston third graders and their

            For some, it’s a return visit. They do have fun, see new things they can share with their families on the next visit. But for many in this most diverse city in the nation, it’s a brand new experience. Now there’s the real fun! For them, and for their docents. I hear gasps, I see eyes open wide. Best is the laughter! The fun.
            Part of the fun is learning. Learning how art—and I’m talking all forms here—can help us learn in other subjects from math (Who sees the triangle?) to science to literature. That’s what makes this book lover have extra fun.
A fun way to learn for kids and for
the slightly older.

            I usually tote around at least one book, sometimes more, so that we can find how reading makes us appreciate learning about art. Maybe it’s a ferocious picture about the Hercules myth or a poem about “The Winding Road.” Most appropriate since books and art are, indeed, the road to learning.
            My scholars are not the only ones having fun and learning. I am. Anyone who took a look at my Amazon shipping records would know that, or think that I have a house full of third graders. I’m enjoying the art picture books so much I want them in my own library. These books are more than just for kids. It’s a great way to explore art for grownups. The fun book When Pigasso met Mootisse taught me more about the competition between this duo than many a learned lecture.  And speaking of Pigasso, I mean Picasso, Cave Paintings to Picasso: the Inside Scoop on 50 Art Masterpieces gave this art history novice enough knowledge that I could follow along in another learned lecture.
            If you want to learn lots about art—go volunteer at your art museum. Talk about having fun. Yes, let’s talk about having fun, fun with picture books. Fun with kids. Fun with art. Fun, fun, fun!

Tastes vary. Some students
adore the glorious Turrell
Tunnel of Light; other go for
the escalator!

( This entry also appears at )