Be sure to head to Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. He is hosting the Poetry Friday Round Up and celebrating the arrival of Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children, created by members of The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, Massachusetts.
Do you like challenges?
The Poetry Sisters have an invitation:
You’re invited to join our challenge for the month of November! We’re writing an Ode to Autumn. An ode is a lyrical poem, a way of marking an occasion with a song. Whether you choose an irregular ode with no set pattern or rhyme, or the ten-line, three-to-five stanza famed by Homer himself, we hope you’ll join us in singing in the season of leaf-fall and pie, and sharing on November 26th in a blog post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.
The #inklings offer this challenge: “Write a poem that includes the idea of percentage or percent. Percentages are all around us in recipes, prices, assessments, statistics. Include the idea of percentage in your poem in some way.”
Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children, created by members of The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, Massachusetts, was officially published November 8, 2020!
I've been reading GOOD LUCK GOLD and MORE by Janet Wong. This is her re-issue and expanded collection of poems from her DEBUT book in 1994. I have the original book signed by her.
I highly recommend this book be in every elementary and middle school for sure. These poems are timeless. I remember reading them twenty-seven years ago and being astonished by the treatment given to the author and now reading them they still give me pause at how some humans treat others. The “story behind the story” or “story after the story” additions are powerful and provide such a good bridge to talk to students about racism.
JRM: GOOD LUCK GOLD was your debut book for kids in 1994. What was it like to take a class from Myra Cohn Livingston?
JW: Myra Cohn Livingston mentored a whole generation of children’s poets in her Master Class in Poetry. This was a UCLA Extension class that was offered only to those Beginning Class alums who were invited by Myra; there was seldom an opening. As a result, Myra’s Beginning Class was full of students who had taken it five or more times and were not beginners at all: Monica Gunning, Kristine O’Connell George, Joan Bransfield Graham, and more.
Some people who took Myra’s classes were published picture book writers who wanted to know more about poetic techniques: Alice Schertle, April Halprin Wayland, Ruth Bornstein, and Tony Johnston, for example. Earlier this year I was invited by Julie Hedlund to speak with the 12x12 group, and I felt like I was channeling Myra with my emphasis on assonance, consonance, and internal rhyme.
Myra died in 1996, but you can still learn from her book Poem-Making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry (now out of print, but you can find it at a library).
JRM: And you can also find it at Thrift Books. GOOD LUCK GOLD was written twenty-seven years ago. How has life experiences informed you when writing the new content?
JW: Five years ago, I thought that the discussions about anti-Asian racism weren’t really needed any longer. I was content to let the original GOOD LUCK GOLD rest in peace. But the recent surge in anti-Asian racism has scared me. I’m afraid for my 86-year-old father, worried that some crazy racist will attack him on the street. I’m even afraid for myself sometimes; I’ll think twice before walking somewhere alone. Because of all this, I felt an even greater urgency when writing the prose pieces about racism, an immediate need to connect with readers on a basic human level.
JRM: I could see this book being a mentor text for students to write their own poems about their parents and grandparents, food, and culture. Have you worked with students to create their own collections?
JW: In 2013 I worked with some students from Chadwick School in California to create anthologies—a 6th grade anthology and a 3rd grade anthology where every student was involved somehow: writing, illustrating, editing, copyediting, typing, doing technical work, and even marketing the books that they created, selling them on Amazon to raise funds for charity. I think those students really enjoyed having a “real world” publishing project. If schools want to embark on this kind of project for students in a certain grade or in a publishing club, I know that there are several poets who could provide guidance (for a fee). Jone, YOU would be an ideal poet to help schools make their own books. (Parent volunteers: raise some funds and hire Jone!)
JRM: Was there one poem that was more challenging to write?
JW: The poem “Bound Feet” went through many, many drafts. The prose piece, too. There is so much that can be said about the complicated history of foot-binding. After trying to write a narrative poem, I finally decided to keep the poem close to my own personal experience, writing about how I felt as a child when my grandmother first told me about her grandmother’s bound feet. When a poet—or any writer, even a writer of nonfiction for adults—is having difficulty with a topic, I think one good approach is to pretend that you are a child again and write from the child’s point of view.
JRM: What would you like readers of this interview to know about #StopAsianHate and bystander training?
JW: The Hollaback! bystander training session is free and takes just one hour of your time; you can sign up in a minute at ihollaback.org. There are sessions focused on anti-Asian racism and also on different communities and issues. My main takeaway: as a bystander, we sometimes worry about getting involved because we know that we can’t fix the situation alone. And maybe we’re scared. But you don’t have to resolve the problem all by yourself. Just do something to get things started. You can distract. You can document. You can delay until more help arrives. Be the first bystander to step up, and others will follow.
JRM: What is your next project?
JW: Sylvia Vardell and I plan to continue with our Anthologies 101 and 201 courses next year, working on books similar to the THINGS WE DO book of ekphrastic poems with your fun poem "ZOOM,” Jone. People can learn more about these workshops at our website here. Next up for the January/February 2022 Anthologies 201 group is THINGS WE EAT, a topic near and dear to my heart (and stomach). One of the photos that Sylvia and I have selected features a Korean restaurant scene and the word "kimchi." I am super excited for that book—you could even say I’m hungry for it!
For fun: Sylvia's and Janet's next project is THINGS WE EAT. What would be a food for the letter X? Comment below. Janet is generously sending 6 books to people who comment (3 from last week and 3 this week) I will announce the winners next FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19.
Thank you, Janet for providing readers with great back story about GOOD LUCK GOLD and More. Looking forward to the next books that you write.
All photos and poems in these blog posts are copyrighted to Jone Rush MacCulloch 2006- Present. Please do not copy, reprint or reproduce without written permission from me.
2023 Progressive Poem
April 1 Mary Lee Hahn, Another Year of Reading
April 2 Heidi Mordhorst, My Juicy Little Universe
April 3 Tabatha, The Opposite of Indifference
April 4 Buffy Silverman
April 5 Rose Cappelli, Imagine the Possibilities
April 6 Donna Smith, Mainely Write
April 7 Margaret Simon, Reflections on the Teche
April 8 Leigh Anne, A Day in the Life
April 9 Linda Mitchell, A Word Edgewise
April 10 Denise Krebs, Dare to Care
April 11 Emma Roller, Penguins and Poems
April 12 Dave Roller, Leap Of Dave
April 13 Irene Latham Live You Poem
April 14 Janice Scully, Salt City Verse
April 15 Jone Rush MacCulloch
April 16 Linda Baie, TeacherDance
April 17 Carol Varsalona, Beyond Literacy Link
April 18 Marcie Atkins
April 19 Carol Labuzzetta at The Apples in My Orchard
April 20 Cathy Hutter, Poeturescapes
April 21 Sarah Grace Tuttle, Sarah Grace Tuttle’s Blog,
April 22 Marilyn Garcia
April 23 Catherine, Reading to the Core
April 24 Janet Fagal, hosted by Tabatha, The Opposite of Indifference
April 25 Ruth, There is no Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town
April 26 Patricia J. Franz, Reverie
April 27 Theresa Gaughan, Theresa’s Teaching Tidbits
April 28 Karin Fisher-Golton, Still in Awe Blog
April 29 Karen Eastlund, Karen’s Got a Blog
April 30 Michelle Kogan Illustration, Painting, and Writing