Ready to watch something incredible?
When I have children of my own, I know I'm going to want to share with them all the books and stories that have come to mean so much to me: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (and, frankly, every story ever written by Oscar Wilde), Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway, The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Swim Team by Miranda July, Joyas Voladoras by Brian Doyle, Sea Oak by George Saunders, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and, of course, the entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
A quick glance at the above list demonstrates that these books/stories wouldn't necessarily resonate with a toddler (I mean, unless he/she was a G-E-N-I-U-S!). Therefore, someday I'll need to be on the hunt for children's books--books with charming photos, books with a good message, books that would help get my little kiddo interested in the beauty of the written word.
Wouldn't you know: I think I've found my first one! It's called "Henry Hikes to Fitchburg" by D.B. Johnson. This author must, like me, be a huge Walden fan. "Henry Hikes to Fitchburg" is a gorgeously illustrated book that details how Henry the bear and his friend take two very different paths to get to the same destination. While his friend stops at just about every corner to earn money, Henry takes the Walden-esque approach by taking in all of his surroundings, enjoying the beauty of nature, and not letting money dangle like a carrot in front of his nose all the time. Today, Brainpickings.org highlights the incredible approach Johnson takes with his debut children's book. You can read the story here, and see photos from the book itself. Talk about cute!
*Cue applause for D.B. Johnson now*
As much as I want to use this space to compose something beautiful and poetic, I feel the need to just move you right along. I encourage you to push "play" on each of the following videos, and I kindly ask you to take a few minutes out of your day to not only watch, but also listen. I don't think we do enough listening nowadays. I also think that poetry sometimes goes unrecognized, but these three poets are doing something special that is helping to keep the genre alive . . . they're lighting their words on fire, balancing them on the tips of their tongues, and demonstrating that they are brave enough to share them with us.
I'm posting this video for anyone who has ever questioned the act of proofreading. I'm also posting it because the weather is warm and it's a perfect time to enjoy good, hilarious poetry. Enjoy.
Photo courtesy of Ashlee Kiel
It's a place where the poets go. A festival full of words. Stanzas. Appreciation. Inspiration.
The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival takes place in Newark, New Jersey, every two years. When I attended my inaugural festival in 2010, I remember not wanting the weekend to end. I had the opportunity to explore the city with a wonderful group of classmates and meet influential poets such as Billy Collins and Sharon Olds. To borrow a lyric from Dashboard Confessional: Days like that should last and last and last and last. (Shout out to Dance, Andy, Jordan, Kristen, Carissa, Ashlee, Todd, Lydia, Kat, Kate, and Eric.)
The invitation to attend Geraldine R. Dodge this year arrived a little last-minute, but turning it down was not an option. I took off work. I packed my bags. I brought my favorite hat. The weekend began Friday morning at 11 a.m. and as far as I'm concerned, it hasn't ended. A festival of that caliber just doesn't end . . . it stays with you--the poets, the poetry, the city, the memories--the festival stays with you until you can experience it again.
While I'm tempted to chronicle every good thing that happened in Newark and name every poet we had the pleasure to listen to (and in some cases, meet), it would be difficult to keep writing paragraphs about this weekend when I feel as though it would be more appropriate to write stanzas,
as if this entire post
should have been written
like a poem, separated
into lines and influenced
by my desire to return to
Jersey or to find a way
to rewind rewind rewind
rewind > play > time.
If you're a lover of language, don't dodge the Dodge.
P.S. Get ready for 2014 by linking up here: www.dodgepoetry.org.
I was looking through old photographs and folders at my workplace yesterday when I came across this old letter. If you appreciate language and the way people use it--especially people who lived "way back when"--hopefully you'll appreciate this as much as I do. May your mind be so completely unclouded.
Fiction, poetry, and all that good stuff . . .