Thursday, April 28, 2016

Joyce Sidman

"Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery - it's the sincerest 
form of learning."— George Bernard Shaw

Welcome to Day 28 of FEET IN THE CREEK. 

Week 4 Poets:
April 22: Lee Bennett Hopkins
April 23: Langston Hughes
April 24: Margaret Wise Brown
April 25: Allan Wolf
April 26: Renee Latulippe
April 27: Carl Sandburg

For each day I have chosen a favorite poem, a favorite poet, or a favorite friend. I will look at the work, decide what draws me to it, what makes it resonate for me, and then write my own poem about the creek with those techniques in mind. These are first drafts, so nothing will be especially polished, but they will be starting points for revision after the month is done. Feel free to follow along or join in.

Today's poet is Joyce Sidman. You may enjoy this Twin Cities Public Television program on the stories behind Joyce's award-winning book, Winter Bees. Here, Amy Meythaler interviews Joyce on combining science and poetry. I enjoyed this creative, collaborative work with teens.

Photograph © Doug Mindell, 2008.

from The World According to Dog: poems and teen voice


                           Mine          Yours
        is an afterthought          is the main event:
                    a molehill          a long, elegant,
         a period between          labyrinthine
  two sentences of eyes         echo chamber of smell

                                  I           You
                  might deter          are sorting out
                      wet earth         the relative age of
  rank fists of marigolds        squirrels
       the distant tsunami         that passed this way
                       of skunk         last week

                            I live          You're sifting
            for bright quilts          the mystery
                        of color           of invisible breezes
the inflection of voices           messages
         ciphers on a page          from hoof and beak

        Wouldn't it be fine         And I could dive
                                  if,         through
                for a moment,        that ocean of smell
we could switch places?        finding answers to
               You could see         questions
             the distant stars.        I've never asked.

© Joyce Sidman, 2008. All rights reserved. Used with the author's permission.

My Intention: Write a comparison poem using Sidman's right aligned/left aligned format. 

As I was brainstorming body parts to compare and how this could fit into the creek series, I settled on the raccoon, a critter as yet unnamed in these poems. But then there was this girl that showed up last week with Lee Bennett Hopkins' poem. So I settled on a three-character poem--the raccoon, the girl, and my narrator.

                             Raccoon          Girl

                                    Your          Her
                        tender paws           long, thin fingers
          dabble the creek bed           brush dirt
              searching for food.          from a stone.

                                                I watch
                                   from my den in the trees.

                         Your hands          Her hands look
              name you arakum--        soft, keen, precise.
      "he who scratches with          What name would
his hands." Algonquin, who         the Algonquin
    never came this far south.        give her?

                                               I call her
                                           water sweeper.

        You churr your happy          She hums and holds
 sound and rinse your food,         her rock in the stream
  feel it with your forepaws,        picks stubborn dirt from
   find the best place to bite.        its surface with her nails.

                                       I listen in quiet wonder,
                                             want to speak.

                Your paws hover          Her hands gather
           in the shallows, feel          the rocks in a sturdy pile,
                 small vibrations          top it with a willow flag
              the crayfish make.         and stretch toward sky.

                                     I stand, rub my sweaty palms,
                                              decide to wave.

© Doraine Bennett, 2016. All rights reserved.

Week 1 Poets:
April 1: Ralph Fletcher
April 2: Douglas Florian
April 3: Progressive poem. Catch up here.
April 4: Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
April 5: Walt Whitman
April 6: Irene Latham
April 7: Carmen Bernos de Gasztold

Week 2 Poets:
April 8: Janet Wong
April 9: George Ella Lyon
April 10: Bobbi Katz
April 11: Nikki Giovanni
April 12: Margarita Engle
April 13: Mother Goose
April 14: William Carlos Williams

Week 3 Poets:
April 15: Myra Cohn Livingston
April 16: Mary Ann Doberman
April 17: Christina Rosetti
April 18: Rebecca Kai Doltish
April 19: Wallace Stevens
April 20: April Halprin Wayland
April 21: Robyn Hood Black

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