Library of Congress Poetry: The Great Warrior Sees

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of theLibrary of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

The Great Warrior
knows better
than to trust the One who seems
smaller than
the eye

The Great Warrior
sees beyond
the scale of days behind him,
falling into
days ahead

The Great Warrior
understands this,
fears this, too –this coming change
pushing into
his World

The Great Warrior
contemplates You –
consumes You in his mind —
swallows you
whole.

Blinks.

Process Note: This is an image of the eye of the American Indian leader, Geronimo, with the reflection of the photographer in Geronimo’s pupil. It’s an odd, evocative image, with deep (sad) symbolism, right? I had this idea of the shift of the world underway as the photo is being snapped. Even as the American tribes knew terrible change was afoot, they could do little to stop it.

Peace (to all),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: This Won’t Hurt a Bit

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of theLibrary of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

This will only take a moment
so sit quiet
and still
and let me rummage
through your head

This map of You
is defined not by
longitude and latitude,
nor by crude compass
but by the crevasses
of your cranium

Who you are becomes
what you may be so that
where you are going is
when things take shape although
why this is so,

I don’t rightly know.

Thanks for letting me look
at what you cannot see
yourself, but can only feel with
fingertips as you brush your hair
each morning.

The real You is hidden
from view, beyond the contours
of your face, your eyes,
your public mirror.

Close your eyes;
This will only take
a moment.

Process Note: The Library of Congress has this whole collection on Flickr of Mystery Photos (odd images) and it challenges visitors to make guesses. This one is a classic. The woman seems so happy! But look at that contraption being lowered on her head! Don’t worry. She is not getting electrocuted. It is a phrenology machine, apparently, and her life is about to be analyzed through the bumps on her scalp. Go figure.

Peace (it’s rather bumpy),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: The Notes In the Air

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

I glance your hand
on the edge
of my peripheral vision

A palm open with fingers outstretched,
as if to collect the gift of
the notes of my solo

But this muted melody is mine
and mine alone;
I’m not sharing

this song with you tonight.

Process Note: This image in the Jazz Collection struck me for the two things nearly outside of the frame. The hand coming in from the top left and the face of Cab Calloway in the lower edge. I ended up ignoring Calloway, and yet, look at this eyes watching Jonah Jones playing his trumpet. I was more intrigued by the hand. It is outstretched in joy? I suspect it must be one of those “Oh Glory, Give Us More” moments of a listener (white?) and yet I wanted Jones to remain inside his trumpet, ignoring the world. The world can wait. The notes are still in the air. They are his.

Peace (in jazz),
Kevin

 

 

Slice of Life: Art on a Large Scale

Polar Vortex Quidditch

On Thursday, we hold our annual (17th annual, apparently) Quidditch Tournament. The other day, all four sixth grade classes were hard at work on posters. There were kids and posters and paints everywhere in the cafeteria. It was pretty cool to see the floor turned into a colorful art gallery. We don’t do enough of those kind of large-scale art endeavors like we should. The banner posters (our team name is Polar Vortex) will hang up on the gym walls on behalf of each of the four teams that will play all day long before crowds of younger students and parents and others.

I gave my blue t-shirt to some students to paint for me (they are working on their own, too). They gave me a nickname and a number, and I am just about ready to coach, and have a blast.

Then, on Thursday night, after a full day of running and jumping and competing, the students get to team up and play against us teachers (our team name: Pink Fury). I’m tired just thinking about it.

:)

Peace (in the art),
Kevin

 

Library of Congress Poetry: Prisoners of Frozen Time

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

This waiting
is killing me.

Just knowing
something will happen,

And here we are,
prisoners of frozen time.

Process Notes: This image is from a collection of “stereo images” from the Civil War. I’m not sure exactly what that is but I think it is when you put the image into a pair of old-time 3d glasses, and the juxtaposition of both left and right gives you a 3d feel. I was struck by this picture — of the three Southern soldiers as prisoners, just waiting. And they will wait forever, frozen in this mirrored moment.

Peace (takes its toll)
Kevin

Grids and Gestures: A Comic Make

Gridsgestures1

Nick Sousanis, whose work as a graphic story/artist is always intriguing (see Unflattening) and interesting, is hosting an informal week of Grids and Gestures, his activity that invites you to make a conceptual comic built around time and design. Nick did a Make with Me hangout with CLMOOC this past summer, and we all did the activity. He also wrote a great piece for Digital Writing Month about the art of comics.

The image — done in the Paper app on my iPad — above is my first Grid and Gesture attempt for the week .. tracking my weekend day over time.

Here, Nick explains how Grids and Gestures works:

Give it a try this week. I’ll be doing mine, too, as I think about my days in terms of conceptual design. You don’t need to be an artist or a writer or a comic creator. That’s the beauty of Nick’s activity. Anyone can enter, at any level, and still come out with an understanding of the world.

Comics space time

Peace (inside and beyond the grids),
Kevin

Graphic Novel Review: Mouse Guard (The Black Axe)

Story and narrative are at the heart of the Mouse Guard graphic novels by David Peterson, and this prequel to the first two books is as powerful in that regard as the others. Mouse Guard: The Black Axe feels as if Peterson has created his own world and history, with fonts and maps and text bubbles and art design all contributing to the overall experience of the reader immersed in a world that seems real and alive.

It’s been some time since I read the first two Mouse Guard books, to be honest, but I was quickly drawn right into this story of a mouse sent on a mission to find the lost weapon of lore. The Black Axe, a weapon of lore, is bestowed to a hero of the mouse world, and less you think that the world of mice in Peterson’s imagination are small and fragile … think again. These mice are fierce and courageous and live in a dangerous world.

The artwork is spectacular here, right in tune with the writing. I had meant to only read the first section and found myself glued to the chair, reading the entire book in one long, enjoyable sitting. Here, in The Black Axe, the mouse hero Celanawe is sent on a quest by his only kin, an elderly mouse, and battles storms, ferrets, fisher cats and a fox. You will root for Celanawe, even as you mourn with him for the cost he pays, and you will sit in wonder of the fabric of this fictional world.

This graphic novel is suitable for middle school and high school students, but it may be a bit violent for some elementary school students. My youngest son is turned off by the different fonts and text bubbles, and the rich language, of Mouse Guard, for some reason. Those are among the things I like most about the series. Go figure.

Peace (for even the smallest of us all),
Kevin

Where That Sound Comes From

Poem day ten

It’s interesting … the concept of where ideas come from. I was watching this performance by Colin Hay (formerly of Men at Work) of an excellent song called Waiting for My Real Life to Begin, and thought of where our Muse comes from.

Where does music come from? Where are the seeds of sound planted in all of us? That’s where today’s poem emerged from — the wondering.

Peace (planted and nurtured),
Kevin

Book Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Now, here is a novel with quiet power. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is not just the story of a young Texas girl, growing up in the late 1800s and realizing that she has a desire to become a scientist. The novel tells the tale of the social confines that hemmed in girls for so long while also celebrating the independent spirit that pushed against those walls to (eventually) force change and gender equality (still underway, right?).

To put it like that, however, steals away the real power of the writing here, as Kelly does a masterful job of bringing us into the mind and world of Callie Vee, who connects with her rather aloof, mysterious grandfather, who has made his fortune with a cotton gin and pecan farm and now intends to spend the rest of his life observing nature, documenting science and if possible, discovering a new species of plant in the world. Calpurnia, armed with a notebook, joins him in his scientific inquiries in rural Texas, even as her family is getting her ready for the age when she should be attracting a husband for her ordained future as a housewife.

Calpurnia has no interest in that at all.

She wants to be a scientist in a world and age when few women were allowed those opportunities. Luckily, she has her grandfather and that connection with him grows stronger throughout the book as he does his best, in his own way, to educate her in the sciences. As writer, Kelly does a fine job of bringing this Texas family from 1899 to life, and it’s nearly impossible not to root for Calpurnia to break free of the gender constraints and follow her inner voice that seeks to make sense and understand the natural world around her.

I started reading this book only a whim. Someone donated it to my classroom and it has been in the bookshelf for a year. I was intrigued by the title itself (Yes, Darwin’s theories play a role in shaping Callie Vee’s view of the world), and I am glad that I took the plunge. Calpurnia’s voice has lingered with me for days after putting down the book. (Oh, and I see there is a sequel: The Curiosity of Calpurnia Tate. I wonder what Callie has been up to.)

Peace (in change),
Kevin

I Write Slanted

Day nine poem

I saw this quote from EB White about writers writing slanted (or something like that), and while I suspect White was after the metaphor of politics, I was stuck with the imagery of the writer, leaning over.

“I have yet to see a piece of writing, political or non-political, that does not have a slant. All writing slants the way a writer leans, and no man is born perpendicular.”

E.B. White

Peace (off-kilter but still stable),
Kevin