Hello, my kind poetic souls. Welcome back to Poetry Time! I hope National Poetry Month, the beatific month of May and the picturesque month of June has brought you much joy and happiness. It certainly did for me. Here's the goings on in my life.
On April 25th I performed two shows at the Voila L. Sickles School in Fair Haven, NJ. Thank you to teacher Kathleen Bayer, and PTO member Kerry Maguire for facilitating my visit. I've spent time in Fair Haven before on weekend trips and the occasional holiday because my close friends, The Foderaro's live there. The Fair Haven seaside vibe agrees with me very much. I can't wait to visit again, soon. The school is interested in workshops for the 2016-2017 school year!
I made a return visit to The Churchill School & Center in New York City on April 26th. I conducted workshops and helped students perform their own poems. Thank you Paula Zamora Gonzalez, Elementary Librarian and Diversity Initiative Co-Coordinator for asking me back. I'm so proud of the hard work each student put into writing and performing their work.
On April 28th I performed and conducted workshops at the Torey J. Sabatini School in Madison, NJ on April. I'm much obliged to Beth Landau and Mike Post for their hard work and detail in order to making sure the students and faculty had a unforgettable poetic time.
Had multiple visits to Harlem Academy for writing and performance workshops on May 26th, June 6th, and June 13th. I worked exclusively with the 4th graders and what a lovely group of students each of them are! So proud of the poems they created and performed for their class. Thank you, Vincent Dotoli and LaShonda Davis for the invitation, and to my acting pal, Jon Freda, for making the connection possible.
I was hired again by the Queens Public Library to perform Poetry Time at more of their locations. The Rosedale branch on June 3rd, the Lefferts branch on June 7th, the Windsor Park branch on June 9th, and the McGoldrick branch on June 16th. Thank you, Mary P. Smith, Program Planner and Services Department/YES for the opportunity.
Had a chance to reunite with Poets House again by being the Master of Ceremonies in Poem in Your Pocket Day. This event had a plethora of guest readers, new poets and a lovely poetic sense of community. I even tried out a few new poems to add to my Poetry Time show list. I'll be working on Thursday June 9th, 23rd and 30th as part of the Poets House "Tiny Poets" series where reading, laughter and poems will be shared by me with the toddlers of NYC. Thank you Suzanne Lunden for the poetic work.
I was asked by my forever poetic pal, Irene Latham, to contribute to a progressive poem. That’s when different children’s poets contribute lines to a poem, continuing someone else’s thoughts, coming up with a family of words. We were allowed to write two lines a piece.
Besides me and Irene, the other writers were: Jeannine Atkins, Doraine Bennett, Robyn Hood Black, Julie Larios, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and April Halprin Wayland. Here's what we all came up with. Enjoy!
At the Po E. Tree Ranch
Words gallop and graze
until a rope slices the air,
lassos one word,
then another. These slip
through and turn to swans.
They flap, trumpet,
gather, and glide
on a skylake whisperblue.
Wordswan poets write to you.
They dip their necks in swirling light.
Shade your eyes—what do they write?
Excavate this universe, report on what you see
When you're finished, write it down, that is poetry.
Words gallop and glide, they slip, they slice,
they sigh and - oh, when words sing - we fly!
P.S. This poem appeared in an online journal called The Dragon Lode under an article titled THE POET'S CORNER which was written by children's poet/publisher Janet Wong.
To celebrate National Poetry Month in April, Irene also asked me to contribute to her annual Progressive Poem shindig, and I happily accepted! Besides myself and Irene, there was a big list of Poetry Friday bloggers who contributed:
1 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Diane at Random Noodling
5 Penny at A Penny and Her Jots
6 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
7 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
9 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
10 Pat at Writer on a Horse
11 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
12 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
13 Linda at TeacherDance
14 Jone at Deo Writer
15 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly
17 Kim at Flukeprints
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Me at Poetry Time
20 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
21 Jan at Bookseedstudio
22 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
23 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Mark at Jackett Writes
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
28 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
30 Donna at Mainely Write
Here’s the final piece:
A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky.
A hummingbird holds and then hies.
“If I could fly, I’d choose to be
Sailing through a forest of poet-trees.”
A cast of crabs engraves the sand
Delighting a child’s outstretched hand.
"If I could breathe under the sea,
I’d dive, I’d dip, I’d dance with glee."
A clump of crocuses craves the sun.
Kites soar while joyful dogs run.
"I sing to spring, to budding green,
to all of life – seen and unseen."
Wee whispers drift from cloud to ear
and finally reach one divining seer
who looks up from her perch and beams —
"West Wind is dreaming May, it seems."
Golden wings open and gleam
as I greet the prancing team.
"Gliding aside with lyrical speed,
I'd ride Pegasus to Ganymede."
To a pied pocket, the zephyr returns.
Blowing soft words the seer discerns
"from earthbound voyage to dreamy night,
The time is now. I give you flight!"
Yet I fear I am no kite or bird –
I lift! The world below me blurred
by tears of joy. I spiral high,
"I hum, I dive, I dip, I hive!"
"Behold, Spring is but a dance away!"
I grasp my pen, then capture this day.
I saw the musical RAGTIME performed by the high school students at the Professional Performance Art School in NYC. Based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow, this work of historical fiction weaves different stories into a piece about race, dance, and dignity. My friend Lori Centeno's son, Antonio Del Valle played Tetah an immigrant looking for opportunity in America. Antonio, and his fellow students have much to be proud of, it would not surprise me if most of them go on to professional careers, if that's what their heart desires. Trust me when I write this: Antonio will have a long career as a singer, dancer, actor. A true triple threat. And he plays a mean piano, too!
Got new acting close up, medium and full bodied photographs taken for my other website www.charleswaters.net. Thanks, Kim-Julie Hansen, for taking such rich, diversified photos. I'll have them posted on the website in due time, meanwhile, if you want to see a few batches of them, please check out my new acting twitter handle at: https://twitter.com/actorcw.
Saw Lynda Carter: Long Legged Woman at the Frederick P. Rose Hall as part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center series. While known for her work in the 1970's TV series WONDER WOMAN, Ms. Carter has performed as singer for many years, covering famous songs in multiple genres, as well as with her own compositions. Also, she was my one and only childhood crush, so seeing her live and in person was a thrill.
Attended the Broadway show DISASTER! Currently performing at the Nederlander Theater, this smorgasbord of disaster movies, 1970's music, and a slot machine obsessed nun, among other interesting characters, was a hoot.
A special surprise happened after the show when Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which according to their website, "is one of the nation's leading industry-based HIV/AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations," held an auction which culminated in Tony Award winning actor, Roger Bart, who co-stars in DISASTER! performing the Academy Award nominated song "Go The Distance" from Disney's 1997 animated film HERCULES, which he was the voice of in the movie. It was only the second time, according to Mr. Bart, in almost twenty years that he performed the song for an audience in a professional setting. If that wasn't enough, Vanessa Williams, Emmy, Tony and Grammy nominated artist, sang the 1995 Academy Award winning/Grammy nominated song, "Colors of the Wind" from the Disney animated film POCAHONTAS. That's what I call a great night of theatre!
Read-a-Poem or R.A.P. My rallying cry to bring children’s poetry to every human being in the world continues rolling along. Not every book I mention has to be about children’s poetry but that’s the main thrust. I have read:
BLAST OFF! Poems about Space. Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
A BURST OF FIRST: Doers, Shakers and Record Breakers by J. Patrick Lewis. Illustrated by Brian Ajhar.
HEY YOU!: Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes and Other Fun Things. Edited by Paul. B. Janeczko. Illustrated by Robert Rayesky.
TOMIE DEPAOLA'S BOOK OF POEMS. Selected and Illustrated by Tomie dePaola.
MY NAME IS JORGE: On Both Sides of the River by Jane Medina. Illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck.
FATHERS, MOTHERS, SISTERS, BROTHERS: A Collection of Family Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman. Illustrated by Marilyn Hafner.
SUGAR HILL: Harlem's Historic Neighborhood by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.
DANIEL FINDS A POEM written and illustrated by Micha Archer.
LITTLE DOG AND DUNCAN by Kristine O’Connell George. Illustrated by June Otani.
SUBWAY SPARROW written and illustrated by Leyla Torres.
STARS by Mary Lyn Ray. Illustrations by Marla Frazee.
MR. RABBIT AND THE LOVELY PRESENT by Charlotte Zolotow. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
JAZZ BABY by Lisa Wheeler. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.
VISITING DAY by Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by James E. Ransome.
KNOCK KNOCK: My Dad's Dream For Me by Daniel Beaty. Illustrated by Bryan Collier.
SIT-IN: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney.
This will be my last post until the school year starts back up in August/September. So far I've had more school visits this year than at any point since Poetry Time began in 2014. I look forward to what the summer will bring and to more visits for the rest of 2016, they haven't lined up, yet, but with hard work and word of mouth among teachers, administrators, parents, and organizations, I have belief that they will.
I leave you with a poem about kindness, something we can all put to use more often in this unpredictable world we temporarily inhabit.
Lending a soft ear,
a hug, a smile
or a word of
can take a person
and make them feel
they walk on air.
© Charles Waters 2016 all rights reserved.