National Poetry Month

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22 04, 2019

Poetry Reading Yeah or Nay?

By |2019-04-09T15:27:39-05:00April 22nd, 2019|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

April is National Poetry Month.

According to Cynthia R. Green, poetry is a good way to keep our brains challenged and vibrant because

  • Poetry engages our minds. “By its very nature, a good poem asks us to delve a bit deeper to best discern its intention.”
  • Poetry gets creative juices flowing. “Whether we read or even choose to write verse, poetry forces us to think out of our own box or experience.”
  • Poems fit anyone’s time constraints because they come in all sizes-long, short, and everything in-between.

A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) goes a step further saying that reading or writing poetry can be critical to maintaining our mental acuity and potentially reducing our risk for dementia over our lifetimes.

Now I’d say that gives poetry reading a resounding YEAH.

To help you jump-start your poetry reading, here’s one by Shel Silverstein who wrote children’s poetry.

I often used “Listen to the Mustn’ts” from Where the Sidewalk End in my classroom. I love its message about chucking conventionality and negativity, and embracing the power of imagination and possibility. It’s a lesson for everyone.If you want to keep charging your brain, Poets.org will send a Poem-a-Day via email free of charge. You can register here .

Poem graphic taken from Pinterest.

30 04, 2018

My Favorite Poem

By |2018-04-13T18:23:11-05:00April 30th, 2018|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

April has been National Poetry Month. All month Poets.org has provided opportunities and activities to celebrate poetry and poets.

I couldn’t let the celebration pass without posting one of my favorite poems about a realio, trulio, little pet dragon named Custard. I read Ogden Nash’s poem The Tale of Custard the Dragon to my children and grandchildren so often they can quote it even today.

I love Nash’s nonsensical, humorous style. Reviewers criticize him for taking liberties with spelling and rhyme. I find those liberties delightful because I relate to the same habit.

Just ask my children and grandchildren. I’ve always called them each by a nonsensical name: Brooke became Brook E; Abby – Abby Me Gail; Faith – Faith-e-foo; Morgan-Morgan from org; Landry-Landy Pandy, J.B.-J.Beetle; Sara-Sa-RAH; and Stephanie-Steph-fon-ey.

I’m reminded of the poem every time I sit on the back porch and see my metalwork dragon. Named, you guess it, Custard.

In case you haven’t read the poem:

The Tale of Custard the Dragon

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called hum Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
and Blink said Weeck! which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.

Belinda paled, and she cried Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.

But up jumped Custard snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm,
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.

The pirate gaped at Belinda’s dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets, but they didn’t hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim.
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pirate.

But presently up spoke little dog Mustard,
I’d been twice as brave if I hadn’t been flustered.
And up spoke Ink and up spoke Blink,
We’d have been three times as brave, we think,
And Custard said, I quite agree
That everybody is braver than me.

Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio little pet dragon.

Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.

If you enjoyed The Tale of Custard the Dragon and would like to read other poems by Ogden Nash, check out this chronological list of all his work: http://www.ogdennash.org/ogden_nash_titles.htm

23 04, 2018

A Lizard Poem for National Poetry Month

By |2018-04-15T07:01:08-05:00April 23rd, 2018|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday|3 Comments

The Academy of American Poets established April as poetry month in 1996 to encourage people about the pleasure of reading poetry. It’s all explained here.

In honor of poetry month, here’s a little story about poetry writing.

Years ago, my second oldest grandson and I were sitting at the kitchen table discussing his homework. He’s home schooled, and I’d promised his parents to work with him while he was visiting.

Like his daddy (my son), my grandson hated homework. The thought of poetry homework made the task even less appealing, especially when the swimming pool outside was calling.

He twirled his pencil and starred outside at the squirrel climbing the bird feeder. He ate a Pop Tart. He slipped away to play a game of chess with his Pepa. Next thing I knew the rascal was in the swimming pool.

I called him back to task.

Moments later, I caught him at the window. Again.

This time he watched a chameleon on the Maple tree by the kitchen window.

Before I could speak, he pointed to the laptop on the table. “I wrote the poem already.”

This is what I read on the computer screen:

Lizard Poetry

Lazy lizards leap from leaf to leaf

As green as a Sprite can

Lizards like to hide under the weather

Running, hiding, and sneaking around

Crazily, hastily, and hurriedly leaving their tails behind them

The miniature lizards are tiny compared to the big, blue sky

That grandson is off to college next year. I’m sure he’s forgotten about his lizard poem. I haven’t.

I learned a lesson that day about how little boys can multi-task when you think they’re playing.

10 04, 2017

Do April showers bring May flowers?

By |2017-03-06T14:46:40-06:00April 10th, 2017|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

It wouldn’t be right to blog in April without referencing the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”

The phrase probably came from the General Prologue found in The Canterbury Tales:

“Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.”

These words – March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers – can be found in The Dictionary of Proverbs by George Latimer Apperson and Martin H. Manser

Another version can be traced to the 1557 collection of writings by Thomas Tusser, A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry. For April, he wrote:

Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers

Tusser’s rhyme is a short poem, which fits nicely since in 1996 the month of April became National Poetry Month. For ways to celebrate poetry this month, check here.

The writer in me can’t resist sharing the poetic meaning behind “April showers bring May flowers” – even the most unpleasant of things (in this case the heavy rains of April) can bring about very enjoyable things, i.e.an abundance of flowers in May. A lesson in patience that remains valid to this day.

But, do April rains truly bring May Flowers?

Not according to botany and biology research that says, for most species, first flowering is more closely tied to temperature than to rain.

According to Libby Ellwood, “The plants may not be aware of this proverb, but they rarely have to worry about having enough water in the spring to start growing and producing flowers. … But the water itself isn’t dictating flowering times the way that temperature is.”

David W. Inouye, a biology professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, studied bloom times in the Rocky Mountains. He concluded the Alpine flower blooming season, which used to run from late May to early September, now lasts from late April to late September because temperatures in the Rockies are becoming warmer. That means a longer wildflower viewing season for mountain hikers.

Perhaps, if climate warming more closely controls flowering, the proverb should be re-written to read “Warm temperatures in March bring April flowers.”

Somehow, that doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

24 04, 2013

One Word Wednesday – Poetry

By |2013-04-24T07:58:19-05:00April 24th, 2013|one word Wednesday|7 Comments

April is National Poetry Month. That’s why I chose Poetry for our word today.

I read in Cynthia R. Green’s blog “A Mad Obsession’: Poetry on the Brain that poetry is a good way we can keep our brains challenged and vibrant.

To quote Dr. Green: “Numerous studies have shown that intellectually engaging activities such as reading or writing poetry can be critical to maintaining our mental acuity and potentially reducing our risk for dementia over our lifetimes.”

Here’s a Writing Prompt from Edie Melson’s The Write Conversation to stimulate your brain today.

Poetry of Life

Now go read or write a poem.

26 04, 2012

Poem in MY Pocket Today…

By |2012-04-26T14:45:26-05:00April 26th, 2012|poetry, Uncategorized|8 Comments

Poetry plays a huge part of the romantic journey my husband and I travel, especially the poetry of Elizabeth and Robert Browning. You’ll find the words from the Browning’s poems not only in our pockets but other places too.

Around our garden, on stepping stones.

In framed silhouettes of us done at Montmartre Art Colony in Paris with the words of Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning between our figures.

On a  special cross-stitched picture which hangs above his dresser.

In case you can’t read the small print, the first line of Rabbi Ben Ezra says, “Grow old along with me, The Best is Yet to Be.”

My pocket poem today is a love poem Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote to Robert in 1845 that carries extra special meaning for my husband and me.

Listen as I read  Sonnet XLIII from Sonnets From the Portuguese to Jerry and you from my porch swing.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. 

Now go find a love poem to put in your pocket and read it to someone special yourself…

25 04, 2012

PIYP Day is April 26th…Are you ready?

By |2012-04-25T07:29:07-05:00April 25th, 2012|Judythe Morgan blog, poetry, Uncategorized, writing|14 Comments

On April 26th, schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and other venues will ring loud with open readings of poems from pockets on PIYP day or Poem in Your Pocket  Day. The idea is simple:

• Select a poem you love during National Poetry Month
• Print or write it out
• Carry it with you and share with co-workers, family, and friends
• Or tweet about your selection on Twitter with the hashtag #pocketpoem.

If you can’t think of a poem to carry, you can click here to download one or simply enjoy the funny, the serious, and the unusual choices when you click on one of the pockets pictured on the page.

At estate sales I often find books of poetry or handwritten poems in pockets, in desk drawers, framed and displayed, and any number of other places. My favorite discovery happened closer to home when my mother-in-love passed away. We found this poem glued in her Bible and another copy of the same poem in her husband’s.

Should You Go First
By Albert Kennedy “Rosey” Rowswell

Should you go first and I remain,
To walk the road alone,
I’ll live in memory’s garden, dear,
With happy days we’ve known.
In Spring I’ll wait for roses red,
When fades the lilac blue,
In early Fall when brown leaves call
I’ll catch a glimpse of you.

Should you go first and I remain,
For battles to be fought,
Each thing you’ve touched along the way
Will be a hallowed spot.
I’ll hear your voice, I’ll see your smile,
Though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your helping hand
Will buoy me on with hope.

Should you go first and I remain,
To finish with the scroll,
No length ‘ning shadows shall creep in
To make this life seem droll.
We’ve known so much of happiness,
We’ve had our cup of joy,
And memory is one gift of God
That death cannot destroy.

Should you go first and I remain,
One thing I’d have you do:
Walk slowly down that long, lone path,
For soon I’ll follow you.
I’ll want to know each step you take
That I may walk the same,
For some day down that lonely road
You’ll hear me call your name.

Rosey Rowswell wasn’t a Longfellow or Edgar Allen Poe. In fact, his real job was a broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 19 seasons (1936-54), but he did write books of humor and poetry. And, I love this touching poem.

 More, I love the romantic sentiment of finding a copy in both Bibles. My husband’s parents were married for fifty-nine years before Otho passed away. I’ll guarantee you when Rose went to glory five years later she called Otho’s name and met him on that path.

Will you join us and share your favorite poem in a comment? We’ll pretend to hear your voice.

12 04, 2012

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH, who knew?

By |2018-04-13T16:55:06-05:00April 12th, 2012|poetry, Uncategorized, writing|14 Comments

April is NATIONAL POETRY MONTH. I didn’t know. Did you?

Seems back in 1996 the Academy of American Poet established the tradition to highlight American poets and encourage people about the pleasure of reading poetry. It’s all explained on their website.

Though I’m not a poetry writer, I ♥ to read poetry. I’ve memorized many poems by my favorite American poets. I read poems to anyone, willing or not.

To further the observance of poetry month, I’ll be sharing some poems by friends and family. I’ll start with one written by my second oldest grandson.

I may not write poetry, but I am a storyteller so first a little story about how this poem originated.

We were sitting at the kitchen table discussing how he should be doing homework. He’s home schooled, and I promised his parents I’d work with him while he was visiting.

Unfortunately, like father, like son. I remember fighting many a homework battle with his daddy who also hated doing homework. The thought of poetry homework made the task even less appealing, especially when the swimming pool was calling.

He starred outside at the squirrel climbing the pole to the bird feeder. He ate a Pop Tart. He slipped away to play a game of chess with his Pepa.

I marched him back to table and the task at hand. No, I’m not your push-over Nana. Although resisting those big, beautiful brown eyes isn’t always easy!

Then I caught him at the window. Again.

This time he was watching a chameleon on the Maple tree.

I thought he was wasting time and prepared to pull out my mean teacher’s whip! Before I could speak, he pointed to the laptop on the table. “I wrote the poem already.”

And, this is what I read on the screen:

Lizard Poetry

Lazy lizards leap from leaf to leaf

As green as a Sprite can

Lizards like to hide under the weather

Running, hiding, and sneaking around

Crazily, hastily, and hurriedly leaving their tails behind them

The miniature lizards are tiny compared to the big, blue sky

Amazing I think, don’t you agree? How quickly I’d forgotten how little boys multi-task when you think they’re playing.

YOUR TURN: Share one of your favorite poems!