Tag Archives: poetry

November 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

One of my favourite first lines in a book starts “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” The line from the Dickens classic goes on to continue with its incredible contrasts such as “…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” I am thinking about buying the shirt with this quote on it, as it sums up what 2021 was like for me…
I’d have to say that my life is on the upswing though. The wind is whispering of new beginnings and a new direction. I see the cracks of light as my seed starts to find its way out of the earth.
I’m not sure what my blog will look like next year, but it will be a different format. But for now, onward to my monthly report.

Here’s my wrap up for the month:

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.
I really have not been doing well in this challenge. I don’t believe I will be able to complete it this year.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I didn’t read any this month.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

I did start reading more though, particularly in this category.

“Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say” by Kelly Corrigan
I thought I wasn’t going to like this when I started to read it, but the more I read the better I liked the book. Totally relatable and so many truths. I love the phrases that she is learning to say—I could use more of these phrases in my life—and my favourite chapter is “I love you”.
On the phrase “I love you”:
“The first time the words pass between two people: electrifying.
Ten thousand times later: cause for marvel.
The last time: the dream you revisit over and over and over again.”

“The Book of (Even More) Awesome” by Neil Pasricha
This was a score at a little library, and I brought it home intending to read it to cheer me up during my down times, but oddly it only made me feel good if I was already in a good mood. Also I found it was geared towards a certain audience. Still there was some good stuff in there like the chapters that begin with “The sound of water lapping against a dock” and “The sound of snow crunching under your boots”.

“Every day is a poem” by Jacqueline Suskin
This is a book I will be returning to again and again for sustenance. The book is filled with Suskin’s observations about poetry interwoven with her own poems. Several poetry writing exercises are included. Here’s a video of Suskin reading her stunning poem about her own poetic purpose.

“Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wisława Szymborska”
Suggested by more than one person at the “How Three Women Use Science in Writing” webinar. This is a translated book of poems by the winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature. Some truly stunning poems here. My favourites include “There But For The Grace”, “The Terrorist, He Watches”, and “Life While You Wait”. Two of my other favourite poems from this book (“Utopia” and “The Joy of Writing”) can be read on this page along with three of her equally exquisite poems.
I would like to write a poem like the structure of her “Possibilities” poem, which begins every sentence with “I prefer…”, e.g., one line is “I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.” Me too, Ms. Szymborska, me too.

Bonus:

“moms” by young-shin ma
Though this graphic novel about a bunch of unconventional Korean moms, who are all in their mid-fifties, doesn’t technically fit into this category, I loved it so much that I’m giving it a mention. The author actually had his mom write down her memories of her and her friends’ lives and then based the book on them. The story is very complex yet still easy to follow.

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

I did work on my writing, including getting back to writing my novel, but not every day.

Read related literature to my novel writing.

Not so far.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month.

I have become fascinated by “hermit crab” essays, and so I am focusing on them.

“!Fast and Easy! A Short and Sweet Guide to Making a French-Canadian Favourite: Pâté Chinois” by Joni Cheung
A fantastic hermit crab essay. The structure is a recipe, which juxtaposes with a discussion of anti-Asian racism.

“What’s Missing Here? A Fragmentary, Lyric Essay About Fragmentary, Lyric Essays” by Julie Marie Wade
A couple of observations I appreciated:

“…the lyric essay asks you to do something even harder than noticing what’s there. The lyric essay asks you to notice what isn’t.”

and

“I think lyric essays should be catalogued with the mysteries.”

Bonus:

“Frances Hodgson Burnett Really Loved Gardens—Even Secret Ones” by Marta McDowell
I had to share this, because I found it so uplifting! An excerpt from McDowell’s book called “Unearthing the Secret Garden”.

Favourite quote:

“As long as one has a garden one has a future, and as long as one has a future one is alive.”

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

“We are Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom; Michaela Goade
-winner of the Caldecott Medal
What I like about this book:
-how water is seen through a spiritual lens
-personification: the black snake
-alliteration: “Tears like waterfalls stream down.”
-fabulous back matter
-eye catching floral motifs

“Kits, Cubs, and Calves: an Arctic Summer” by Suzie Napayok-Short; illustrated by Tamara Campeau
What I like about this book:
-it’s longer than a traditional picture book, making for a more satisfying taste of life in the Arctic
-the seamless weaving in of Inuktitut
-the glossary of Inuktitut
-modern day life is explored—they even have an underwater sound recorder
-secondary story of the beluga whales

Bonus:

“The Beatryce Prophecy” by Kate diCamillo; illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A lovely friendship story for ages 9+. This video sums it up beautifully.

Submit one story to a contest per season.

I’ve already done this.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

November is always a great month for writing webinars. I watched five this month!

“Quantum Physics, Biology, Genetics: How Three Women Use Science in Writing” (Wild Writers Literary Festival, hosted by Erin Bow)

“From Plants to Pages: Helen Humphreys on Field Studies” (Wild Writers Literary Festival)

“Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Trees as Participants in Theatre and Performance (University of Guelph Arboretum)
Megan de Roover is the inaugural writer in residence at the Arboretum. This article gives you a taste of what she talked about.

“The Dressmaker of Auschwitz—A Talk with Lucy Adlington” (Idea Exchange)

“Hiding the Mona Lisa—A Virtual Talk with Laura Morelli” (Idea Exchange)

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

I didn’t do this.

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I did this.

Blog at least twice a month.

I didn’t do this.

Weekly treasure:

I had fun using sage leaves to make these leaf prints.

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo
I wrote four.

100 day challenge:
I do this sporadically.

How have you been weathering 2021? I already have a couple of new things in the works for 2022 including our own version of “In my Backyard”, which I’ll be doing with my critique partner Bev, as well as participating in the “Kindred Readers Book Club” that she is co-facilitating. Stay tuned to read about these events next year.
Stay tuned also to read about what my “Word of the Year” will be in 2022. Have you chosen one?
Wishing you a peaceful, joyful, and harmonious holiday season.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

August 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

This was another challenging month for me with a lot of soul searching, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Here are my results:

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben

In my third attempt to read this book, I finally succeeded! I don’t know why I didn’t finish the first two times, because it really is a wonderful book. Perhaps I just got distracted? Anyway, to read more about my impressions of the book, see the entry below.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben 

This quote sums up the book and the feeling that you will leave with after reading it:

“When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you no longer can just chop them down and disrupt their lives with large machines.”

I believe the book should be required reading material in school.

Apparently also there is a related movie.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

“World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Written by a poet, Nezhukumatathil weaves her story into observations of nature. A delightful read!

Favourite quotes:

“And so, I ask: When is the last time you danced like a superb bird of paradise? I mean, when was the last time you really cut a rug, and did you mosh, bust a move, cavort, frisk, frolic, skip, prance, romp, gambol, jig, bound, leap, jump, spring, bob, hop, trip, or bounce?”

and

“It is this way with wonder: it takes a bit of patience, and it takes putting yourself in the right place at the right time. It requires that we be curious enough to forgo our small distractions in order to find the world.”

“Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku” by Natalie Goldberg

I started this when I was on vacation in July and finished it upon returning home. Part history, part travelogue, I really enjoyed journeying along with Goldberg. The book motivated me to write several haikus about what happened on my vacation, and I wrote them in the book, so the book has become a keepsake.

“The Comfort Book” by Matt Haig

I loved this book so much that I bought it after I read my library copy. So much deliciousness here!

Example:

“…one of the most common feelings among people was the feeling of not fitting in among people. The comfort, then, is the weird truth that in one sense we have most in common with others when we feel awkward and alone. Isolation is as universal as it gets.”

and

“I used to worry about fitting in until I realized the reason I didn’t fit in was because I didn’t want to.”

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Very sporadic.

Read related literature to my novel writing.

No, I didn’t do this.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month. These are the two that I analyzed:

“My greatest pandemic discovery has been finding the wild in the city” by Andrea Curtis

What I like about this essay:

-Evocative language:

“We’ve also slipped down the side of steep embankments, threaded our way over boulders, passed ancient washed-out bridges, dodged storm water outtake pipes, graffitied underpasses and fjorded frozen streams.”

-Unexpected discoveries:

‘In his beautiful book about walking called The Old Ways, the British naturalist Robert Macfarlane calls unofficial urban paths, the ones trodden but not formally marked “desire lines.”’

-A thoughtful takeaway

“Hearing the voices from my family’s past 50 years later felt like coming home again” by Gayle Belsher

A couple of discoveries:

-The essay starts with a few facts.

-The essay mentions how the author’s journey links to the pandemic, which I am seeing is a common topic now in creative nonfiction essays.

Overall I am starting to see patterns, and I am going to try such techniques as peppering facts in my creative nonfiction essays.

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

These are the two that I analyzed:

“This Pretty Planet” by Tom Chapin and John Forster; illustrated by Lee White

The book is based on a song, so it’s not a surprise that the text is musical. Short and sometimes rhyming text make it easy on the ear; the illustrations also make it easy on the eye.

Favourite part:

“You’re a garden

You’re a harbour

You’re a holy place.”

“Peace” by Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul; illustrated by Esteli Meza

What I liked:

-beautiful and creative rhyming pairs, such as correctly/directly

-peace explained in a child friendly way: “Peace is pronouncing your friend’s name correctly

-animals are featured in the pictures, and the author’s note explains how peace also affects animals

Submit one story to a contest per season.

Not a good month: I got five rejections. However, I am planning on repurposing two of those stories.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

I didn’t do this.

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

I’ve been working my way through a course about marketing writing.

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I have dropped out of one of my critique groups due to scheduling conflicts. However, I still continue meeting with my first critique partner weekly.

Blog at least twice a month.

I’ve completed this task.

Weekly treasure:

The birds that have been coming to my bird feeder have provided a lot of comfort. How many sparrows can you see?

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo

I wrote four!

100 day challenge

Read two chapters of a book a day. This works well for me, and I will continue it.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

April 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I read two: 

“Dear Scarlet: The Story of my Postpartum Depression” by Teresa Wong

and 

“Der Erste Tag Vom Rest Meines Lebens” by Lorenzo Marone

Click here to read about them.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I finally finished my first course, and with it my textbook written by Mitchell Hewson.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

I read three.

“the lost spells” by Robert Macfarlane; illustrated by Jackie Morris

This, a companion book to “The Lost Words”, is meant to be spoken aloud. The pictures are as gorgeous as the words. This is one book that I will buy as gifts for people.

Click here for a taste.

“If I Knew Then: Finding wisdom in failure and power in aging” by Jann Arden

I love this memoir. Arden writes like she is talking to you as a best friend, which makes it a pleasurable read. A lot of the book is about embracing your cronehood—something I wholeheartedly agree with—but also about Arden’s past as the daughter of an alcoholic father and an alcoholic herself.

Favourite quotes:

On her dad:

“I am starting to forgive him for being absent, even for being mad all the time. I realize now that he wasn’t mad at us kids or at Mom; he was mad at his own life. “

and

“Sometimes the devil you don’t know isn’t as bad as the devil you do know, and I will never let anybody tell me any different.”

“The Reason I Jump” by Naoki Higashida

A fascinating, much needed, and rather poetically written look into the mind of an autistic teenager, written by a 13 year old autistic boy.

As someone studying horticultural therapy, I appreciated the following passages:

“… our fondness for nature is, I think, a little bit different from everyone else’s. I’m guessing that what touches you in nature is the beauty of the trees and the flowers and things. But to us people with special needs, nature is as important as our own lives. The reason is that when we look at nature, we receive a sort of permission to be alive in this world, and our entire bodies get recharged. However often we’re ignored and pushed away by other people, nature will always give us a good big hug, here inside our hearts. 

“…nature is always there at hand to wrap us up, gently: glowing, swaying, bubbling, rustling…You might think that it’s not possible that nature could be a friend, not really. But human beings are part of the animal kingdom too, and perhaps us people with autism still have some leftover awareness of this, buried somewhere deep down.”

Higashida also writes his own stories, and I really love his story called “The Black Crow and the White Dove”. 

I had no idea that the book had been turned into a movie!

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Done!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week. 

Done!

Here are my favourites:

“We all have privilege to some degree. What we do with it matters.” by Taslim Jaffer

Favourite quote:

“As a brown Muslim woman, I have been the butt of jokes, the target of overtly racist comments and on the receiving end of microaggressions that prick like tiny needles but nonetheless leave scars. 

But I also go unseen in other situations. Like when I am fair enough to escape colourism or when my Muslim identity isn’t obvious because I don’t wear a hijab. Or, like in the case with the clerk casually referring to the “China virus,” I am not the racial group being targeted. 

In those circumstances, I am privileged enough to decide to say something or not.”

“I lost my mother. This is how I know when she’s with me” by Kandace Chapple

Do you have a sign from a departed loved one? When I see a feather, I associate it with my mom.

“The Covid-19 pandemic may be an opportunity to transform the way we live” by
David Suzuki

Favourite quote:

“In this moment of crisis, we should be asking what an economy is for, whether there are limits, how much is enough and whether we are happier with all this stuff.

Can we relearn what humanity has known since our very beginnings — that we live in a complex web of relationships in which our very survival and well-being depend upon clean air, water and soil, sunlight (photosynthesis) and the diversity of species of plants and animals that we share this planet with?

Can we establish a far more modest agenda for ourselves filled with reverence for the rest of creation?

Or will we celebrate the passing of the pandemic with an orgy of consumption and a drive to get back to the way things were before the crisis?”

“How Not to Get Kidnapped: a Suggestive Guide” by Meredith Town

I really enjoyed this hilarious essay.

“Gliding Toward the Sun, an Essay on Cross-Country Skiing” by Kandace Chapple

Favourite part:

“I skated two full strides and figured I was above water over my head. Few swam in these waters even in the hottest days of July because it would mean bringing out a souvenir leech between the toes. It was just as well. Lake Dubonnet is a lake’s lake—all business, no play. The shores housed a thick racket of brush and trees for birds and deer and coyote. The water bred mosquitoes and bluegill and bass. I loved the lake for its solitude. Not once had I come here to find I couldn’t hear the silence on the other side of the lake.”

-Read 5 picture books per month

Done!

My favourites:

“A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart” by Zetta Elliot; illustrated by Noa Denmon

A Black child explores his emotions over the year, and the emotions include joy, fear, anger, pride, and peace.

“Ten Ways to Hear Snow” by Cathy Camper; illustrated by Kenard Pak

On the way to her grandmother’s house to help make a meal, Lina discovers several different ways to listen to snow.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

I am still working on my synopsis for the CANSCAIP contest.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

“Fresh Stories for a New World: Finding Your Stories Through a Practice of Side Writing” with Karen Krossing (SCBWI)

Natalie Goldberg on her new haiku book (Geneen Roth)

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

Alas, I did not do this.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

I attended at least one per week, usually two.

-Blog at least twice a month.

I didn’t blog twice last month, but I have already blogged three times this month.

-Weekly treasure:

My tulip that looks like another flower

Challenges:

100 days

I have done it! I have completed reading my German book! Yay me.

Since the 100 days challenge is not over, I have started a new book written in German, but even after the challenge is done, I’m going to keep reading one book I really want to read but find intimidating using the just two pages a day method.

HaikuForTwo

I wrote two, one from “the lost spells” and the other from “The Reason I Jump”.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees: from “Hamnet” to “off script: Living Out Loud”

It’s the first “Six Degrees” challenge of the year, and I am super excited to see where our book journeys will lead us this year.

For the first chain of 2021, we are going to start with “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell. Alas, I am still waiting for the book from the library, so I’ll have to construct my chain based on the synopsis.

From Goodreads:

“Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child. 

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.”

Let’s dive right in.

“Running on the Cracks” by Julia Donaldson

I also haven’t read this book, but I read recently that Donaldson, more know for children’s books such as “The Gruffalo”, also lost a son. His name was Hamish, and it is in this YA book that he is most present. I have put the book on my TBR list.

“You Won’t Always Be This Sad” by Sheree Fitch

Another children’s book writer—“Mabel Murple” is her most famous book, and it’s a book that is delightful on the tongue—Fitch also lost a son. In this memoir in verse, Fitch writes movingly of the loss and of her reconstructed world. 

“Still: a Memoir of Loss, Love, and Motherhood” by Emma Hansen

On my list for my Mount TBR challenge, this book I acquired from one of the local little libraries is a memoir of one woman’s experience of something little talked about in our society: stillbirth.

“How to Pronounce Knife” by Souvankham Thammavongsa

This 2020 Giller award winning book of short stories pivots around the theme of loss of culture and values. All the main characters are from Laos, a country I’m not too familiar with, but I’m always interested to learn more about other countries and cultures. Favourite quote: “We lose each other, or the way we know each other gets lost”.

“How to Fly: In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons” by Barbara Kingsolver

Though the poems in this book, Kingsolver’s second book of poetry, have many themes, there are many that are threaded with a palpable sense of loss, especially in her section on ancestors. Kingsolver ends her poem about the death of her mother, with whom she had a challenging relationship, with “Here begins my life as no one’s bad daughter.”

“off script: Living Out Loud” by Marci Ien 

Rounding out the list is this book that I mentioned in last week’s blog post. Ien writes about the ups and downs of her career and her personal life, including several significant losses. 

I hope the theme of loss hasn’t gotten you down. As we look back on 2020, we have all experienced some sort of loss, and sometimes reading about others’ loss in some form or another helps us to cope. I hope that you find something to read from this list, and I hope you join us next month where we’ll start with “Redhead by the Side of the Road” by Anne Tyler.

That wraps up my first blog post in 2021! Happy New Year! Here’s to better times in 2021.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees: From “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” to “Dearly”

It’s time again for the monthly “Six Degrees” challenge hosted by Kate from Books are My Favourite and Best. This month we are starting with “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Did you know it is the 50th anniversary of the book? Wow! The book is one of my favourite childhood books. Have you read it? It is considered controversial—and has even been banned—for its talk of periods. 

This is what my beloved copy looked like.

For those of you who have never read the story, here is part of the introduction from Goodreads:

“Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends—Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.”

My first link is “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell. What? you might be thinking. How would that link? Specifically, I am talking about the essay called “John Rock’s Error (What the inventor of the birth control pill didn’t know about women’s health)”, which I think that all those who are having periods—and all those who love them—should read. Gladwell has other essays in the book that I also found fascinating, such as “True Colors (Hair dye and the hidden history of postwar America)”.

From there I am making the connection to “The Slow Moon Climbs” by Susan P. Mattern.

From period matters to lack of period matters. There tend to be a lack of good menopause books. This one comes highly recommended, and I had intended to read it this year, but it’s one for my 2021 Mount TBR challenge. The book is a comprehensive look at menopause from prehistory to today. Historian Mattern takes us on a journey in which she discusses how the way we look at menopause today is incorrect.

Now I will connect to “The Dangerous Old Woman” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. This is a book that I’ve been listening to a bit at a time. The gifted storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estés is more famous for another book, but I am choosing this book, because it is six stories and commentaries about the “old wise woman” archetype, in which the author writes about a different way to look at aging.

Speaking of storytelling, this is one of the spiritual endeavours that Anne Boksma experiences in her book “My Year of Living Spiritually”, which she wrote about her year long quest at age 55 to become more spiritual. I wrote about the book in last week’s blog post.

Another gifted storyteller, poet Rupi Kaur’s latest book is “home body”. Kaur is never afraid to talk about blood or women’s blood. In fact, click here if you wish to see her period picture that went viral. In this book, my favourite section is “rest” although my favourite poem is from the “awake” section. It begins:

“give me laugh lines and wrinkles

i want proof of the jokes we shared”

My final link is to “Dearly” by Margaret Atwood, who was a poet before she was a writer. “Dearly” is Atwood’s latest collection of poems, and the collection contains poems about a wide variety of topics including aging. Click here if you want to hear her reading the title poem “Dearly” as well as hear the background behind it. I’ve not read the book, but I’ve listened to a webinar in which Atwood has talked about the book and read some of her poems, and I am really looking forward to reading “Dearly”.

So what’s the connection here? Both Blume and Atwood (most famous for “A Handmaid’s Tale”) are authors who are not afraid to tackle controversial subjects including menstruation. They like to tell it like it is, and we are the better for it.

Be sure to check out some of the other chains where you’re sure to discover some book that piques your interest. I’m in the middle of reading one of the books I discovered last month.

Maybe you’ll join us next month? Click here to read the guidelines.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

Weekly Treasure Challenge

One of my journalling books called “Journal Sparks” by Emily K. Neuburger has an awesome challenge called “Weekly Treasure Challenge”. The idea is to discover at least one treasure per week. But what exactly does she mean by “treasure”? Neuburger writes “The treasure does not have to be tangible…It could be a…discovery, a conversation, a song.”

I do this on an informal basis, often finding more than one treasure a week, but I think it’s good to remind myself to find at least one treasure a week, because I may forget if I am having a rough week, and those are the most important weeks to do so. It’s important for mental health to keep wonder in our lives no matter what’s going on.

My first weekly treasure that I am going to share with you is the 10 week University of Pennsylvania course Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (“ModPo”). Yes, a poetry course. I’m not a big fan of poetry analysis, but I’ve been entranced by how it’s done in this course. Part philosophy, part history, I’ve already learned a lot, and I’m only in the first unit. I have become more convinced how important poetry is in our lives. 

The course is free on Coursera and you can join in when it’s actually being run “live” (September through November) or do it on your own time. 

What treasure have you discovered this week?

Bonus treasures: This morning I allowed myself to wander, which I don’t let myself to do often enough. When I returned home, I wrote a list poem called “10 Treasures on my Walk Today”.  One treasure was the squirrel I found “chilling” (as my daughter would say) in a newly discovered oak tree, and I spotted the creature only because I took the time to slow down and really look at the tree, which included looking up into its branches.

Another treasure I found today.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees of Separation: From “How to do Nothing” to “In the Palm of Your Hand”

I first heard of the Six Degrees of Separation challenge last month from my critique and book club partner Bev. Thanks Bev! It sounded like so much fun, especially because there are so many possible connections to make, that I decided to participate this month.

The challenge is hosted monthly by Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

The rules summarized from the website:

“On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.”

“Join in by posting your own six degrees chain on your blog and adding the link in the Linky section (or comments) of each month’s post. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your chain in the comments section. You can also check out links to posts on Twitter using the hashtag #6Degrees.”

Here is my “six degrees of connection”.

The book that starts it this month: “How to do Nothing” by Jenny Odell

I’ve not yet read this book, but I’ve wanted to for a long time. I’ve currently placed it on hold at my local library.

From my library’s website: “A galvanizing critique of the forces vying for our attention–and our personal information–that redefines what we think of as productivity, reconnects us with the environment, and reveals all that we’ve been too distracted to see about ourselves and our world. Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. But in a world where our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity. doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance. So argues artist and critic Jenny Odell in this field guide to doing nothing (at least as capitalism defines it).”

When I was a child, I had the ability to do nothing—and it was one of my favourite things to do—but I have found that it has waned over time. I am currently rediscovering this skill. And yes, it’s become a skill, the ability to resist all the calls of you to be doing “something”, especially something productive.

I’ve been doing a lot of reconnecting to the environment lately. Bee balm, from one of my nature walks

“The Art of Noticing” by Rob Walker

This is one of my favourite books, and I’ve done several of the exercises from it.

This book “will help you to rediscover your sense of joy and to notice what really matters”. For me that is sometimes doing nothing, which is where I made this first connection.

“The Art of Bev Doolittle” by Bev Doolittle

I focussed on the word art, and I thought of another of my favourite books. I love Doolittle’s pictures, as they are all puzzles. Trying to figure out what is camouflaged in each picture is pure joy.

“Sneaky Art: Crafty Surprises to Hide in Plain Sight” by Marthe Jocelyn

Continuing to focus on the word “art”, I chose this next book. I won this book, and I have actually done several of the activities in it. The art installations are meant to be displayed publicly.

I know that one of the art installations my daughter and I did brought great joy to a neighbour in a much needed time. 

“Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature” by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter D. Sieruta

Here I connected “wild” to “sneaky”. It’s a book that is on my TBR list, and hopefully I can read it as part of the Mount TBR challenge.

From the book jacket: “…this book chronicles some of the feuds and fights of the children’s book world, reveals some of the errors and secret messages found in children’s books, and brings contemporary illumination to the fuzzy-bunny world we think we know.”

“Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words” by Susan G. Wooldridge

“Crazy” connected to “wild”. This is also one of my favourite books, and I have done several exercises from it. 

From the get go, the book is magical. Consider the opening paragraph: “Poems arrive. They hide in feelings and images, in weeds and delivery vans, daring us to notice and give them form with our words. They take us to an invisible world where light and dark, inside and outside meet.”

“In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop” by Steve Kowit

Which takes me to the last book, related by the theme of poetry.

I forget who recommended this textbook to me as one of the best guides about creating poetry.

From the back cover: “If you long to create poetry…that is magical and moving, this is the book you’ve been looking for. In the Palm of Your Hand offers inspiring guidance for poets at every stage of the creative journey. It is a book about shaping your memories and passions, your pleasures, obsessions, dreams, secrets, and sorrows into the poems you always wanted to write.”

Another magical book.

Well, there you have it, my journey from “How to do Nothing” to “In the Palm of Your Hand”. Thanks for joining me. Hope you are able to go to the original blog post and check out some of the other entries, which are sure to be just as compelling.

Like this challenge? Maybe you’ll join in next month.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

Word Jar

Do you keep a list of your favourite words? I first heard of this idea from Karen Benke in her book “Rip the Page”.

In the book “Journal Sparks” by Emily K. Neuburger, I decided to try the “Tiny Poems” exercise. In one variation Neuberger suggests that you use a word jar filled with your favourite words. Perfect. I printed out and cut up a list of some of my favourite words and then made a word jar.

Then Neuberger recommends you draw 1-3 words and write a poem between 2-30 words using those randomly drawn words.

Here is one I came up with using the words “sparrow” and “rasp” in a 16 word poem:

Sore throated sparrow

Rasped through the notes in his repertoire

Attracting the “wrong sort” of bird.

I choose most of my favourite words based on their sounds, not their meaning. For example, I love to say the word “broth”, and the word “tumble” almost always finds its way into any story I write.

What about you? What are some of your favourite words?

Bonus: If you want to get your kids thinking about their favourite words early, I recommend the book “The Word Collector”. To learn more about this book, watch this video of author Peter H Reynolds talking about his book. The book is also a great read for the young at heart.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

Five Favourites (List 5)

These are some of the things that have been making me smile lately.

Article: “What’s behind Japan’s moss obsession?”

It’s an older article but still relevant. I could use a moss ball right about now.

Challenge: Donna Eden’s 28-Day Joy Challenge

You’ll learn all about the “Triple energy smoothie” and “Radiant circuits”. Click here to watch day 1.

TV program: “Forage”

Learn how to forage and cook with Anishinaabe chef Shawn Adler. I’m definitely going to try some of his recipes including sumac sun tea.

Recipe: Radish Greens

Apparently, according to this article, radish greens are actually more nutritious than the radishes themselves. The recipe is a delicious way to eat them.

Yum!

Poetry: Jacqueline Suskin and The Poem Store

I took part in Suskin’s free five day course via Commune, and I learned a lot from her approach. Watching her pound out her poems on her typewriter is fascinating! I wish I could do on demand poems.

You can watch her Tedx Talk by clicking here.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

What Do You Want to Take with You?

There has been such a focus on what we are going to do after isolation ends. However, during the height of Covid-19’s isolation, I came across this thought: What do I want to take with me from this experience? It’s not the usual focus, but it’s one we should all consider as things start to open up.

Here’s a list poem that I made:

10 Things I Want to Take Away from Covid-19’s Isolation

-the question: “Do I really need it?”; “Do I really need this grocery item or smoothie?”

my kindness jar, developed during Covid-19

-my new morning routine: every morning I spend the first 1/2 hour doing something for myself

-learning about the impact we really have on our planet in real time, eg, a drop in CO2 levels

-my reconnection with my garden and plants

-better use of my time, eg., do I really need to go shopping so often

-gratitude for life’s little things, such as speaking over the fence to a neighbour

-getting more involved in my daughter’s education, eg., the chance to see what she is really learning and even learn along with her

-appreciation for people I usually take for granted

-the desire to change, and the motivation to continue to do so

What about you? What’s on your list?

My wisteria

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler