Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy 449th Birthday, Will Shakespeare!!

Happy 449th Birthday, William Shakespeare!!!!

William Shakespeare: 23 April 1564-23 April 1616

To mark William Shakespeare's 449th birthday today, (he was baptized on April 26, 1564, and children at that time were usually baptized three days after birth) and the 397th anniversary of his death, much celebration is going on in the United States as well as in Stratford-upon-Avon.

When I was in a Shakespeare class in high school (yes, we had an entire semester English elective on Shakespeare available...and it was a very popular class!!), we had a HUGE birthday party for Shakespeare with British food and drink, rather like a high tea. A month beforehand, we had each drawn the name of a fellow student for which we were to make a handmade gift. I remember hemming handkerchiefs in pink embroidery thread with the initials “M.A.” for my recipient, and I still have the floral wreath head-dress strung with ribbons down the back hanging on my bedroom wall…although I don't remember which young man made it for me (or more likely, his mother made it on his behalf, LOL). 

So how is the 449th birthday of the Bard being celebrated?

Celebrations in Shakespeare’s birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon:

So let’s celebrate Shakespeare's birthday today in our homeschools. Here are some ideas:

·        Have a Talk Like Shakespeare Day (or even just an hour, if that’s all you can handle)

·        Perhaps gather around the table with scones and jam and some Earl Grey tea and read some of Shakespeare’s sonnets aloud (you can find Shakespeare sonnet apps for your smart phone).

·        Read some of Shakespeare’s famous monologues aloud dramatically, perhaps even in costume. Here’s a site with a listing of some of the best single-person speeches, one list for men and one for women HERE. Try performing them for family members and/or friends or at a co-op!

·        Perform a Shakespeare scene as a puppet show or act out a scene in costume; either memorize parts or make copies of the scene for all the actors. Here are some scenesand scripts for kids from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.: 

·        Watch your favorite Shakespeare play on film (mine is Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado AboutNothing).  Check your local library or Netflix for some excellent titles, and the International Movie DataBase includes some helpful parents guides with advisory content for you along with ratings and information on most film versions.

·        For older kids, check out Michael Woods’ in-depth documentary In Search of Shakespeare which first aired on PBS in 2004. Both the DVD and the companion book should be readily available through most public libraries.

·        Better yet, see a live Shakespeare play as soon as possible. Check out college/university performances near you as they’re usually much less expensive than professional productions. 

How are you planning to celebrate???         

So, Happy 449th Birthday, William Shakespeare!!

“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.”

~Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare

 With "Will"-power,


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Quotation of the Week

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I've been posting a quotation about poetry on Facebook every day. My Quotation Journal, which I started in August of 2001 (yes, nearly twelve years ago), is very nearly full; this month I started writing on the final page of the journal.

I have dedicated an entire section of the Quotation Journal to quotations about poetry, and I've been choosing one to share each day. My goal was to post a quotation about poetry for each day of National Poetry Month, but becoming ill last week rather derailed my posting for several days.

Here is today's (Sunday's) quotation about poetry; it's one of my favorites:

"It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things." 
~Stephen Mallarme, French poet (1842-1898)

Isn't that lovely? It's so true--we need "silences around things" in order to truly see and comprehend the depth and breadth and meaning of what is right under our noses. It's not in the big, beautiful events that we see meaning and significance; it's in the ordinary, every-day occurrences that are so easily dismissed in which truth lurks, waiting to be unearthed.

So try to unclog words this week in order to hear the silences and truly comprehend the significance of  the ebb and flow of our daily lives.

Happy Poetry Month!!

Poetically yours,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Today, April 18, is Poem in Your Pocket Day, part of the celebration of National Poetry Month. The Academy of American Poets has a whole page dedicated to Poem in Your Pocket Day right HERE.

In past years, I have shared e.e. cumming's lovely "in Just--" which has long been one of my favorite poems. Who can deny the deliciousness of his portmanteau words "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful" when describing the childlike joy of an early spring day? (Despite the rather macabre "goat-footed balloonman" who "whistles far and wee.")

In honor of this day, I am tucking a poem in my pocket to share with at least one other person outside of my family.

This poem is by former Poet Laureate Billy Collins whom I was fortunate enough to meet at the Writer's Symposium by the Sea in February, and it's also a fitting poem for celebrating both poetry and spring.


If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.
Source: Poetry (April 2000).

So why don't you tuck a poem in your pocket today and share it? Here are some ideas for celebrating this day, taken from a flyer from poets.org: 
  • Hand out poems in your school or workplace
  • Teachers: reward students "caught" with a poem in their pocket
  • Local businesses: offer discounts to those carrying poems
  • Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  • Add a poem to your e-mail footer
  • Mail a poem to a friend
  • Post a poem on your blog or social networking site (use #pocketpoem on Twitter)
  • Check out the Academy's Poem in Your Pocket anthologies for adults and young people at poets.org

And my own idea, especially for homeschoolers (or any family, for that matter): try a Poetry Tea Time as celebrated weekly at Brave Writer (even if today isn't a Tuesday). Set up a lovely tea with real cups and saucers (or at least nice mugs), buy or make cookies or scones, and have your kids bring a favorite poem to the table to share with the family, with everyone sipping tea and enjoying the baked goodies while listening. 

So enjoy Poem in Your Pocket Day...and celebrate the beauty and majesty of poetry!!! 

Poetically yours,

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April Is National Poetry Month!!

April is National Poetry Month, and I plan to celebrate all month long!!

In February I ordered and received a free National Poetry Month poster that I plan to hang near our school table and also take with me to our co-op Class Days to share with my writing class. Although they are elbow-deep in research for their MLA essays, we'll take a moment to breathe in and enjoy poetry. 

I hope that you will do the same. Take a moment to read a poem--always ALOUD--but not worrying about what it means or how it is written. Nope. Instead, read a poem for the sheer enjoyment of the artistry of the written word, the music of words rubbing together, the sound of words bubbling from your lips. 

Poetry is magical. 

I love the emphasis this year on epistolary poems: poems as letters and letters as poems. Poets.org has a lovely list of epistolary poems to read if you're interested: Epistolary Poems. I also love seeing letters and poems in the poets' own handwriting--very few literary treasures thrill me more than seeing the actual handwriting of some of my favorite authors and poets, especially their letters. 

Unfortunately, I've been far too busy to write any poems lately; in fact, it's been over a year since I wrote a poem as all of my writing energy has been transferred to the writing of fiction. But I thought I'd share some of my favorite poems here on the blog this month, and I'd love to hear about some of your favorites, too. 

In my Quotations Journal, which I've been keeping for twelve years, I have very few poems copied in their entirety. I copied this one into my journal on April 30, 2002, and it has long been a favorite since I studied it in graduate school with Dr. Irene Williams, a well-known expert in feminism in American Literature. 

So here is Poem 258 from among the over two thousand poems that Emily Dickinson left unpublished after her death. The visual and auditory "heft" of this poem has always appealed to me. 

Poem 258
There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons-- 
That oppresses, like the Heft 
Of Cathedral Tunes--

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us-- 
We can find no scar, 
But internal difference, 
Where the Meanings, are--

None may teach it--Any-- 
'Tis the Seal Despair-- 
An imperial affliction 
Sent us of the air-- 

When it comes, the Landscape listens-- 
Shadows--hold their breath-- 
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance 
On the look of Death-- 

~Emily Dickinson

So enjoy National Poetry Month and take the time to breathe in the beauty and truth-telling of poetry, to try to find a way to express your heart and soul through poetry, whether reading or composing it.

Happy Versifying!!


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