It’s Poetry Friday and a busy week for me, so here is a quick haiku inspired by a morning walk.
Have a great Friday!
This week I had a day in the city, and I took a couple of hours to check out four bookshops. On a personal note I was delighted that three of them had Fly-In Fly-Out Dad, displayed face out (and multiple copies, too).
The fourth didn’t, but had two of my other bookbabies, so that was wonderful, too.
Anyway, I came home and I drafted this poem as a celebration of bookstores, and of their lovely staff.
A Note on Shopping
looking at lists
racing up and down aisles
or blocking them
‘Had her baby’
‘Did you hear?’
In hardware stores
there are dusty aisles
people who are NOT the ones
and the staff never look
as they do
on those advertisements.
In bookshops though
that new book smell
of unearthed treasures
In the kids’ section)
who are happy
to come to work.
(Poem copyright Sally Murphy, 2015)
If you are a bookseller, have a wonderful Bookshop Day tomorrow. Thank you for making the world a better place. And if you are a reader, why not take the time to visit your local bookshop.
It’s Poetry Friday and this week I have been thinking about teachers, partly because I am always asked about which parts of my own life appear in my books, and also partly because I saw this amazing tribute to a teacher online, which made me weep.
Anyway, as a result of this introspection, I’ve started blogging about the teacher characters in my various books – yesterday I posted about Stanley and Elizabeth in 1915, and over the next few weeks I am going to post about several of my other teacher characters. So, today I went looking for poems about teachers.
In Pearl Verses the World, Pearl has a bit of an up and down relationship with her teacher, Miss Bruff. She even writes a poem about her:
A teacher known as Bruff
Was very, very gruff.
She preached and she taught
Much more than she ought
Till the class had had more than enough.
Poor Miss Bruff! The good news is, by the end of the book, Pearl has a new understanding of Miss Bruff (who, incidentally, I’ll be blogging more about on Sunday).
One of my favourite poems about teachers is Taylor Mali’s poem, which you may have come across before. It begins:
What Teachers Make
by Taylor Mali
He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?
You can read the whole poem on Mali’s website here or, you can see his performance here:
Teachers do make a difference. Thanks Taylor Mali – and thanks Mr Tamatea who was such an amazing teacher that 1700 students turned out to honour him. And thanks to the teachers who populate so many of my stories and do their best to guide my young characters, to cheer them on and to just teach them.
Among the other wildlife that abounds in my suburb, there are many many ducks. I love seeing them on my walks, and out my front window, though I’m less keen on seeing them when I’m driving. I have to admit it puzzles me that they insist on walking on roads, when they could fly! Fortunately, most drivers slow down and give them to cross.
Anyway, because it’s Poetry Friday, and because I’ve been thinking a lot about these ducks, here’s a favourite duck poem, from Ogden Nash, and a favourite duck photo that I took a while ago.
by Ogden Nash
Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.
What I love about this poem is that, like so much of Nash’s verse, it makes me smile. The humour in the choice of rhyme, and the duck-like flow of the short sharp lines never fails to bring a grin.
It’s been a big week for me – with the release of a new book, the anniversary (bookiversary) of the release of another, and the news that the latter book, Roses are Blue, has also been short-listed in the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards.
As a result, when I wondered what I could post for Poetry Friday today I got thinking about poems about books. I think my favourite is from Emily Dickinson:
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
The metaphors of a book as a boat, a horse, a chariot taking the reader on great adventures are so apt. I also love that she points out that books offer an affordable and accessible experience, yet at the same time that books are so important that the bear the human soul. Beautiful.
Another favourite is Dylan Thomas‘ Notes on the Art of Poetry:
I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,,,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,, ,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.
Wow! What magical use of words, words, words to remind us how immense can be the impact of a good book.
Books are my life. Many of my earliest memories are connected with sharing books with my mum, and now I make my living from writing and reading. How lucky am I!
Have a great Friday.
Welcome to Poetry Friday.
During my time in residence last week, I had a request to focus on war poets for one of my sessions. Because Stanley, in my book 1915, writes poetry, the teacher felt I might have some insight into the war poets and their work.
This got me thinking about war poetry and the people who wrote (and still write) it.
Often when we use the term War Poets, we are referring specifically to the poets who wrote during and about the first world war. In fact, writing about war has a longer history than that, with poems about experiences of war being written throughout history and still being written today. Still, since world war one was a time where a great body of such poetry was produced and published, and since looking at one era can help shine light on others, focussing on world war one poetry is useful.
The war poets of that time came from a range of backgrounds, and also served a range of roles in the war. Though many were soldiers, others were civilians, or journalists. Many, but not all, were male.
The poems they wrote also varied, from upbeat and inspirational, to poems of loss, of indignation, of despair.
And, of course, the war poems we study and read today are only a portion of what was written, because unless they were published, or kept by family members, many would have been lost in the century that has passed.
So why did these poets write about war? Probably for a range of reasons, but I think that a major reason was as a means of coping. When you are faced with great adversity, great turmoil, confusion, emotion, you need an outlet. Some will vent to their loved ones. Some will pray. Some will write diaries. Some may try to escape through reading. And some will turn to the arts, and create.
The war poets wrote about their own experiences, or the experiences of their friends, their family. Some, particularly in the early days of the war, wrote with patriotism and fervour. Others, especially as the war progressed, and in the years that followed, wrote of their despair.
Some of the poets created before the war, others took it up during and after the war. Some may have written just one or two poems, others wrote volumes.
Who were the war poets? People like you and me, who picked up a pencil and a piece of paper and wrote poetry about their experiences of the time. Why is their poetry still relevant? Because it is a powerful way to connect with the reactions of people of the time to the events of the time.
One of my favourite war poems, is nice and short, and powerful because of this brevity. It is Siegfried Sassoon’s The General:
“Good-morning, good-morning!” the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,
And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
“He’s a cheery old card,” grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.
But he did for them both by his plan of attack.
Not a cheery topic this poetry Friday, but I guess an important one. And, though it’s sad and serious, I think War Poetry works because it makes us feel.
The Poetry Friday round up this week is at Carol’s Corner.