Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Birds, Hope, and A Way to Give

Handstitched Bird by Stitch Buffalo Artisans
Photo by Shelby Deck

Find this poem at The Poetry Foundation
It is in the public domain.

Students - Today I was thinking about Emily Dickinson's poem, the one you just read.  It is a poem that stays inside of one's heart, a poem you can pull out and hold when you need it.

Today I also wanted to write something, and when I did not know what to write, the words of Emily whispered into my ear.  Her words helped to write my own.  

Handstitched Birds by Stitch Buffalo Artisans
Photo by Shelby Deck

When you read my poem, you will notice that many of the words are the same words that Emily used, but I have used them in different places and ways.  You will also notice that the rhyme scheme and meter of my poem matches Emily's.  Her poem helped me write today, in more ways than I feel able to explain.

The other week, I wrote about poems having friends, and I hope that the poem I wrote today, below, might be a good friend for Emily's words.  The more poems we know, the more poems will come to our minds when we need them.  And every once in a while, a poem we love may inspire us to write a new poem in its honor, to be its pal.

Writing can help us make sense of the world, and it can help us do good, each in our small way.  Today I am happy to share that just like last year, I will be offering free shipping on the gorgeous handstitched birds you see above, birds made by refugee artisan women of Stitch Buffalo, living in Buffalo, NY.  

Artisans of Stitch Buffalo
Photo by Shelby Deck

And this year, I have something new and lovely to share.   Just for us, and just announced today, these artisans have begun making writers notebooks with pen pouches, small notebook covers designed to hold 5" x 8" Moleskine-style notebooks. Each includes a notebook and pen.

Sewn and Handstitched Notebooks by Stitch Buffalo Artisans
Photo by Shelby Deck

In the words of activists Dawne Hoeg and Shelby Deck --

The vision for Stitch Buffalo was conceived with an impulse to unite the communal craft of textile arts with Buffalo’s growing refugee population. Our goals were to: educate individuals in contemporary textile design methods, nourish and honor global textile traditions, provide cross-cultural interaction, providing a supportive social network, stimulate literacy skills, improve financial opportunities, create a community of women supporting women.

Over the two and a half years, Stitch Buffalo has grown from one Congolese woman to more than than 50 women from all over the world who come on a weekly basis for skill training and creative support in the vast and beautiful field of textile art and design.  Along the way, non-refugee participants have enriched the class as well, further deepening the experience for everyone involved.

Each item sold creates financial and artistic opportunity in the life of the woman who made it and a truly unique connection for the person who purchases it.

If you would like to learn more about Stitch Buffalo, enjoy the clip below.

The cost of each embroidered hanging feathered friend is $20, and the cost of each writers notebook with pen holder is $25.  I will pay your shipping for an order of any two items or more. You will receive a surprise color and for each item you purchase, and 70% of the money will go directly to the refugee woman who stitched the piece, the remainder going to materials.  Each stitched piece will be tagged with the artisan's name and home country.  

If you are interested in ordering two of any Stitch Buffalo pieces, either birds or notebooks, The Poem Farm will pay shipping to send your order to your home (or a friend's home) in the continental US.  Please just drop me an e-mail to me, and I personally will mail your birds or notebooks!  All orders (and checks) must be received by December 15.  I am also happy to hand carry birds and notebooks to NCTE in Atlanta later this month.

To order birds and notebooks, please:
  • Send an e-mail by December 15 to me at with STITCH in the subject line.
  • Include what you wish to order.  (Colors will be a surprise!)
  • Include your address.
  • Wait for an e-mail with information about mailing your check.

If you wish to make a donation of stitchery materials, gorgeous buttons, glass beads, or money to Stitch Buffalo, please let me know, and I will connect you with them.

You can learn more about Stitch Buffalo HERE.

You can learn more about our refugee population in Buffalo, NY HERE.  The family story of one Stitch Buffalo artisan is highlighted in this BUFFALO NEWS series from Fall 2016.

Thank you for being here for each other, for me, and for our good, beautiful world.


This month I am grateful to have artist Tim Needles visiting my other blog, Sharing Our Notebooks.  I've admired his work on Twitter for a while, and it's a treat to peek into his fabulous notebooks and to learn about his faith in process.  Don't miss.  (And there's a book giveaway for a commenter too!)

It is now Friday, and I would like to invite everyone over to this week's Poetry Friday roundup over at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  All are always welcome in this warm community of folks who love poems and people.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. Amy,
    Thank you for this poem today. It is just what I (and I am sure many people) will need to read over and over again in the coming days. Early this morning, this exact poem of Emily's was flitting in my mind, reminding me that hope can still be found -- yet, it will take awhile, I think. I will keep your poem in my heart as a beacon for hope.


  2. I love your Emily-inspired Hope poem, Amy! It is perfect for the way I have been feeling. Your giveaway is lovely, too. xo

  3. Sorry, I meant offering free shipping!

  4. Hi Amy - thanks for sharig beautiful things today: the poem, and these lovely gift items for a good cause. I would like to purchase 4 notebooks and 5 ornaments. Thanks again!

  5. Thank you, Amy. You have given me hope. It is just what I needed this morning.
    Yesterday was a grey and rainy day here in PA, but this morning the sun is out. Another reminder that there is always a new day.

  6. Balm for my weary soul, Amy. Thank you for your beautiful poem based on Dickinson for it's beauty and example. I get so many ideas from you! I'm on my way to send you an e-mail with an order.

  7. Amy, you have given Emily's poem a BFF poem for sure! So lovely. And your support of STITCH BUFFALO is inspiring. What beauty. Thank you. xo

  8. Amy, really love your take on the poem and your message. And your timing is perfect - I've just been looking for a notebook cover!

    Also, shared your Drop-Off Cats essay with my students this week. Can't wait to see the powerful writing it will help inspire! Best, Katie

  9. Your hope poem is so beautiful, Amy, brought tears to my eyes. I love the idea of creating a friend poem for a classic one. :)

    Thanks for telling us about Stitch Buffalo -- what a wonderful project! Appreciate your free shipping offer and will be emailing you.

  10. Amy,

    That is such a beautiful and touching poem. I am trying to hold onto hope--but it is really difficult for me at the present time. I fear for this country, for my granddaughters' future...and especially for minority children and their families.

  11. Amy,
    Thank you for your inspiring blog. I follow it regularly and look forward to your weekly posts. I am a teacher and writer from Vancouver, Canada and am interested in the Stitch Buffalo notebooks with penholder. Do you know if they ship to Canada?
    Thank you.

  12. Hopeful words to inspire us as we strive to be the balm for a hurting world.

  13. I ordered some of those birds a few years ago, and am so glad to hear about the notebooks, Amy. I love seeing that new poem here, too. Considering this "friend" poem thing you have going, it feels like a good idea for a picture book!

  14. I first read your poem on FB, and was glad to have a second opportunity here...a nice job following up Dickenson's words. Inspiring, too, as so many experience the loss of hope too often.

  15. I hope your bird heals and flies. I send you an email, and I have a question in it.

    I looked at the Stitch Buffalo site, and the things are so beautiful. They remind me of some Barefoot Books illustrated by textile art. What wonderful illustrations they would be. They make me want to write a story for them.

  16. My wings are feeling less damaged today and a bit stronger, though I'm not quite sure which direction to fly in. Your post gives me an important, hopeful errand! I'd like two notebooks, please--emailing you as requested.

  17. What a beautiful, generous offer! I love how you draw attention to doing something positive and uplifting at this time. (And you've done a great job of using Emily Dickinson's poem as a mentor piece)

  18. "She WILL perch in our souls again --
    Such sweetness CANNOT die -- "

    (emphasis my own)

  19. Amy, I love that you crafted a companion poem to ED's work. Such a sweet little bird with damaged wings needs our comfort. Thank you for all the links and supporting such a worthwhile cause.

  20. Adrienne - I will be happy to ship to Canada for you. xx, a.