Friday, December 13, 2019

Inspired by Vida Sreta Žuljević


Vida Sreta Žuljević & Her Creations




Students - Today's poem grew from a story shared with me by my friend Vida who you see in the above photograph, surrounded by enchanting handmade animals and dolls. When I read her beautiful words, words that you will soon read, I wished to write a poem inspired by her generosity. As we live our lives, we will at times meet people who inspire us greatly. Vida is one such person in my life. So I invited her to The Poem Farm, to share the story about the photo you see above.

Strangely enough, today, this Friday the 13th morning, after waking up and rereading this poem, I felt something familiar. It reminded me of a song. I knew the song was from LES MISERABLES (which I saw on stage this week), but I did not know which song. I listened to several and realized that today's poem can be loosely sung to Valjean Arrested Valjean Forgiven. Yes, I did watch LES MIS this week, and no I did not realize that this song had lived inside of me as I wrote about Vida. I had to sing it to myself to see if I was right. The workings of the mind are surprising, that is for sure.

A warmest welcome to my dear friend, Vida, who joins us from her home city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And too, a great thank you to the young poets who made this gift-to-the-world possible. Please click to enlarge any illustrations.


Vida Sreta Žuljević:


I fulfilled my New Year's resolution to knit/crochet/sew one hundred toys and ornaments, sell them, and then donate all the money to children from socio-economically deprived families who attend the multi-ethnic, inclusive early learning center "Sunny Bridge,” the only one of its kind (out of 21 early learning centers) in our city, Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


From Google Maps

100 Toys & Ornaments, All Made by Vida

I encouraged and instructed children (my granddaughters and my friends’ children/grandchildren) to write poems about the toys I was making and to participate that way in this fund-raising as well. I informed the children that I'd send their poems and illustration to a local publisher to publish a collection of their poems.  


They wrote some wonderful poems in three different forms: cinquain, acrostic, and couplets, and they drew the illustrations to each. All the children-authors agreed with the idea to donate the proceeds from the books to the ELC "Sunny Bridge" along with the money earned from my toys. I liked that idea very much and named this whole project "Children to Children." 










The event was held at the Gallery of the City's Cultural Center on Dec. 3, 2019. The director of the ELC "Sunny Bridge" and I wrote a short program in which we reflected a little on my 40 years’ experience working with children in four countries on two continents and on my continuous volunteering since my retirement in the U.S. and my return to my home city, Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 


Then, the young poets I worked with, whose poems about the toys were published in the beautifully designed collection, read their poems (How could I do anything without poetry!). 


At the same time, we projected their wishes for all the children in the world on a wall. There were such touching, heartfelt wishes from these little heads! My granddaughter, Bianca, who lives in Washington State, was videotaped and appeared on the screen greeting the people and wishing us a successful event and good earnings from Grandma's toy fund-raising event to help children in need. Her two poems were included in the book, too. My gosh! My heart barely handled that much emotion! 


People in the audience were mesmerized. There were children from the children's choir "Male mostarske kiše" (Mostar's Little Raindrops) performing children’s songs, a fifth-grade pianist, a 15-year-old guitar player performing John Lennon's “Imagine” (Wow!), lots of fun and laughter, and of course, some dance. The gallery was packed. 



The 100 toys were sold in 15 minutes after they were placed onto the tables. If we’d had 200 toys, they would have been gone! But the people attending the event, the children, the employees of “Sunny Bridge,” their director, and I were way beyond happy. 



It was a night of genuine love, genuine humanity, and a genuine feeling of togetherness on many different levels (despite the many kinds of divisions in our city ever since the latest war in the early nineties). And the " glue" that brought us all together were the children of our city, children in need. 

We hope that this will be just a pebble that starts a ripple-effect of love, compassion, and humanity in general in our city and wider. 

If anyone who is reading this post is interested in donating money to the children in need that attend the early learning center "Sunny Bridge" in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, below is their bank's SWIFT number, at which the donations can be deposited in foreign currencies (such as USD).

Name: Multietnički inkluzivni vrtić ''Sunčani most'' ***
Address: Muje Pašića bb, 88000 Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bank: Sparkasse Banka, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
SWIFT#: ABSBBA22

*** ''Sunčani most'' translates to "Sunny Bridge,” which is the name of the early learning center. Preceding its name is its designation as a multi-ethnic and inclusive early learning center.


Thank you, Vida...thank you for all of this goodness.

It would be impossible for me to feel more grateful to know Vida and to have the opportunity to share this story with you. Every single person can do good. Each of us can offer a hand in some way. If you find yourself combining poetry with kind actions, please let me know. I would love to feature your work as well.

Elizabeth is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at at Elizabeth Steinglass with a cool and surprising poem about a favorite word. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness every week.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Choose Good Work, Write About It



Planting Snow Glories in November
Photo by Amy LV

Soon-To-Be-Tulips!
Photo by Amy LV




Students - Today's poem is about an action I recently took - planting - and my feelings about it. I have been thinking about the actions that make me most happy, actions including stacking firewood and planting flowers, baking, knitting, and printmaking. Such jobs have nothing to do with screens or noise, and I like it that way. This past month I planted around 600 bulbs in our yard, 400 of them glories-of-the-snow. Each winter I say I will do this...and I never have done so until now. It will be so exciting to see them peep up come spring! I still do have a couple cords of firewood to move to the front porch, but I will wait for a bit of a warmer day.

In this poem, I consider what spring bulbs remind me of (onions, promises) and too, I marvel at their ability to sleep underground and then bloom when spring returns. I wish for my humble poem to celebrate them and too, to celebrate this fulfilling labor. (You would have laughed to see me walk back into our home again and again last weekend, each time calling, "I just planted another 50!")

Grassy Front Yard Last Week
Photo by Amy LV

Snowy Front Yard This Week
Photo by Amy LV

This action of planting - and this poem - have me thinking about what new actions I will take, actions that will make me feel fulfilled and enriched. Drawing is one such action. So is brushing our dogs. I will do more of these things. And what about you? Which actions make you most joyful? Think away from video games and TV shows or movies...which actions bring you delight or make you feel proud of you? You might try writing about one of these actions as a poem - just begin the first line with an action of what your body is doing or with a description of the material you are working with.

Tanita is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at at [fiction, instead of lies] with a Carl Dennis poem about earthworms, a beautiful sonnet about gratitude, and information about the New Year's Poetry Challenge (starting December 15) through the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness every week.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Sharing Drafts: Thinking All Day




Lake’s Reflections

I am a still lake.
I have a still face.
I am still water.
But I still have memories.
I can still remember
every dear reflection.Sometimes I see them in my mind.



I have watched a family
fishing from a rowboat.
I have scattered moonlight.
I la-la-la-la
A lake is quiet.
But we all have secrets.
I am a lake. I once held you.

Long ago you swam here
with your old dog Samuel
You splashed in my waters
playing fetch for hours.
When I’m feeling lonely
I bring back your picture
One child
One dog
One summer day.

If a person walked by
They would see you splashing
but for just a moment
here upon my face
They would see a stick fly.
They would hear a dog bark.
Then you would disappear
Once more.

© Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Students - I am learning and presenting at a conference this weekend and it is very joyful and very busy too. I squeezed in time this morning to begin a draft about a lake and its memories. You can sing it to the tune of This Land is Your Land...but it is not finished yet. Did you giggle at the la-la-la-la? I really do sing poems sometimes, and those will help me hold my place.

Today I will be thinking about this poem in the back of my mind, trying out new phrases and ideas. I will be back to share again.

December 5, 2019 Update - I still have not come back to work on this one...but maybe someday. Maybe someday...

And you? You might try singing a poem too. Find a tune you like, and fit your words to its rhythm. It's a good stretch.

Rebecca is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at at Sloth Reads with a poem about hot salad and a question for us all. We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness every week.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 15, 2019

milkweed...and monarchs



Milkweed
Photo by Amy LV


I will add an audio recording this evening.

Students - I find milkweed to be one of the most beautiful plants in our yard's fall landscape. When I see a full pod of wishes, I sometimes blow them into air, making wishes for strangers. And I know that these seeds will plant themselves, growing food for monarch caterpillars come spring.

In the above photograph and below video, taken a couple of weeks ago, you can see a milkweed pod in our pasture. Notice how the seeds are holding on. But in just a few more gusts of wind...off they'll go, planting themselves in new dirt homes.

You probably noticed that I had some fun playing with the spacing of the words in this poem. I wanted to mirror the feeling of milkweed wish movement.

And why no capitals? Well, I'm not sure about that. Somehow this poem felt softer to me without capitals and punctuation, I suppose.



If you are interested in learning more about milkweed and how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service harvests milkweed seeds to plant for monarch butterflies, visit HERE. Among other things, you will see a wonderful photograph of milkweed seeds all tight in the pod...that is the milkweed-stage I always think looks fish-like.

If you'd like to see summer milkweed plants in our front garden and read a poem about monarchs and how we love to see them passing through, HERE you go.

Michelle is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at at Today's Little Ditty with a hearty welcome to the 2017-2018 edition of THE BEST OF TODAY'S LITTLE DITTY! We invite everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness every week.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Playing with Form and Story



Waves
Stamp by Amy LV




Students - Today's poem came from the strangeness of the connections of life. Yes, I like shipwrecks. Yes, I am fascinated by cemeteries. And yes, I consulted this book edited by Ron Padgett book today, searching for a form to try.

Paperback Handbook of Poetic Forms Book

I opened up to the ballad page, and suddenly I was writing. Is this exactly a ballad? I am not sure. But I followed the trail. For there is, young writer, always a trail. Keep seeking. Keep seeking. Listen to everything. Jot things down. Our minds are full of hills and valleys, and if we hike them regularly, there are always new surprises.

From THE HANDBOOK OF POETIC FORMS
Edited by Ron Padgett

I was thrilled this afternoon to receive the folded and gathered pages of our forthcoming book, WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!, a friend to READ! READ! READ! Once again, Ryan O'Rourke's illustrations glow from the page. I am so grateful to him, to my brilliant editor Rebecca Davis, and to the whole amazing team at Boyds Mills and Kane. It will be tricky to wait until March 17, but it will be fun to have a book released next St. Patrick's Day!

Book Friends
Photo by Amy LV

Irene is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at at Live Your Poem with some exquisitely wise words for all of us. We welcome everybody to join in each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry goodness every week.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Someday...



Sunlight, Cornstalks, Barn
Photo by Amy LV




Students - I fell in love with sun shining through cornstalks the other day. And so I wrote about it. Thinking about this led me to think about the many ways and places I am enchanted by sunlight. So why not throw a party? A party in a poem.

Today's poem is a free verse poem, no rhyme at all. But do know that I read it aloud as I wrote, to listen for the music. I invite you to write a "Someday..." poem of your own if you wish!

Tabatha is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at at The Opposite of Indifference with ideas for holding your own writing retreat, the Winter Poetry Swap, and a wise poem by Samantha Reynolds. We welcome everybody to join us each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry fellowship roundup every week.

Please share a comment below if you wish.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Playing with Rhyme



Imagined Ghost and Pie
by Amy LV




Students - I am having a fine time carving and stamping erasers again, making Halloween cards for family. Last week's poem about Little Vampire Girl is still on my mind, and as Halloween is next Thursday, it's pumpkin carving time around here. So yesterday, a poem about a ghost began to float through my mind.

Our Kitchen Table Right Now
Photo by Amy LV

As I jotted Halloween-y things, found myself wondering if any words rhyme with invisible...and I found one on RhymeZone: divisible. I was so happy that I started to play with these two words until this poem emerged.

Sometimes a poem can spring from wordplay. If you want to try this out yourself, make some lists of rhyming words in your notebook. Choose a couple and just play around with them until you find something surprising. Follow the thread...see where it leads you.

Karen is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at at Karen Edmisten with a beautiful poem for October by Helen Hunt Jackson. We welcome everybody to join us each Friday as we share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship. Check out my left sidebar to learn where to find this poetry fellowship roundup every week.

Please share a comment below if you wish.