Check It Out

Books and life in a school library

Archive for July, 2009

Poetry Friday: Summer Book Study for One

I am spending the summer with the book Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold.   Reichhold’s written about twenty-four techniques to improve your haiku.  This week features the following techniques:

Using a Metaphor
Using a Simile
Using the Sketch or Shiki’s Shasei
Using Double Entendre for Double Meanings
Using Puns
Using Wordplays

Some interesting pieces of information were discovered in these techniques.  I was particularly fascinated by “Shiki’s Shasei.”  Shiki, a Japanese poet made it his mission to “depict a thing just as it is.”  He was not fond of the many common techniques used and he pointed overuse of the techniques by poets.  He loved simplicity, the telling it as he saw it. 

I read this as my husband I were traveling through the Columbia River Gorger early Thursday morning.  I decided to try the “sketch”:

early morning
sun on wide river

After reading this section, I think the key to writing haiku is to mix the techniques up and do not overuse any particular one.  In the end Shiki was guilty of what he accused others.

Good news:  I was informed today that two of my poems will be published in the August short form poetry journal, Four and Twenty.  One poem will be a “Featured Poem of the Week” and another will be in their monthly journal.

Poetry Friday is at Sylvia Vardell at Poetry For Children.

Happy Reading.


Non-Fiction Monday: Yellow Star

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy is a rare blend of poetry and memoir.  Roy has retold the story of aunt Sylvia, one of 12 children who survived the Lodz ghetto during World War II.  The story is broken up into five parts with a factual overview of each section. Then, Roy  brilliantly tells her aunt’s story in poetic free verse.  The book includes a timeline at the end.

Aunt Sylvia did not share her story with many for almost 50 years. Thankfully, she agreed to taped phone interviews which Roy used as the basis for the story.  She creates a strong first person character in  Sylvia as we see the invasion of Poland by the Germans through her eyes. 

Sylvia is just four at the story’s beginning. She is among the 270,000 Jews rounded up and put into the ghetto with barbed wire. At ten, Russians liberate the ghetto’s 800 survivors of which 12 are children.  She has seen it all the brutality, the need to hide in the cemetery with her father, and not allowed to be outside for four years, hiding in the cellar with other children.

In the final push to get all the Jewish people on the trains  to concentration camps, it is indeed a miracle that the children and their families survived the Lodz ghetto.

I have always been fascinated with the period of history.  It has been about two month’s but I keep coming back to a scene in which her father had her hide in the cemetery as he did not believe the Germans when they said would keep everyone safe.  This book is on the reader’s choice list for my state. I am looking forward to sharing it with my staff and students.  I am thankful that Jennifer Roy decided to honor here aunt by writing her story.  She almost didn’t, having avoided talking about the Holocaust for years.

Title: Yellow Star
Author: Jennifer Roy
Date Published: April 15, 2006Pages: 242 pages
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish ISBN-10: 076145277X
ISBN-13: 978-0761452775
Source of Book: Listened to audio book from public library.

Nonfiction Monday is rounded up at Wrapped in Foil today.

Poetry Friday: Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold

In Writing and Enjoying Haiku (my book study for the summer), Jane Reichhold writes about 24 techniques to consider when writing.  I am going look at 6 per week over the next four weeks, applying them to my own haiku.  Two weeks ago, I introduced the book.

The first six:

1. Technique of Comparison: looking for how two different things look similar to create a single event.
2. Technique of Contrast: creating opposites within the three lines creates excitement.
3. Technique of Association: “how different things relate or come together”, a Zen term for it is “oneness”.
4. Technique of the Riddle: probably the oldest of the poetic techniques, the trick is to state as in puzzling terms as possible.
5. Technique of Sense-switching: speak of the sense of one thing and then switch to a different sense organ, also called “synesthesia”.
6. Technique of Narrowing the Focus: !st line, wide angle, 2nd line, normal lens, and 3rd line zoom in close up.

Based on the above techniques, I see ways to revise the following haiku to create a stronger piece.

Original Draft

morning confession
cacophony of crows
clamor in treetops
prayer litany: caw-caw-caw
solitude punctuated

Draft Two using the Technique of Narrowing the Focus:

clamor in treetops
cacophony of crows

Draft Three using the Technique of Sense-switching:

treetop clamor
cacophony of crows
morning tea sipped

Draft Four using the Technique of Contrasts:

treetop clamor
cacophony of crows

I like these drafts and feel that the haiku packs more punch as a result.  I have to wonder if it also has to do with cutting words.

Maybe you will try some haiku revision. Let me know if you do.  For me, my biggest challenge in haiku revision is to move away form the 5-7-5 pattern. 

A list of participants for Poetry Friday is over at A Year of Reading, hosted my Mary Lee! Thanks for taking some of your summertime relaxation to host us!

Happy Reading.


Non-Fiction Monday: Shape

My  four and a half year old grand-daughter visited on Saturday.  It was a perfect day for sitting on the patio swing and reading books together. It marked the first time she sat and listened to not just one book but several.  Thank goodness for the stack of picture books received from publishers.

Among the books I read was Shape by David Goodman and Zoe Miller.  The bold shape filled cover with the letters slightly raised just invites the reader to peek inside. 

Shapes of all kinds and ways to create shapes are described in the book.  My favorite was the way to make a star with fingers.  We had to wait for grandpa to return home to do it though.

The book includes both 2-D and 3-D shapes.  It also covers tessellation, patterns and symmetry. Granddaughter and I spent a lot of time on this book.  Text is minimal with the focus on visual presentation.  We poured over the pages looking for the specified shape.  After the book, granddaughter wanted scissors to make her own shapes.

Miller and Goodman have a fun blog about shapes.  This book is a winner for young and old. I enjoyed its creative presentation

Title: Shape
Author: David Goodman and Zoe Miller
Date Published: 2009
Pages: unpaged
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: Abrams Books
ISBN: 978-1-85437-779-1
Source of Book: Sent by publisher.

In Need of Chocolate is hosting Non-fiction Monday today. Head over and find out what others are reading.

Book Study: Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold

I am doing my own book study. I picked up Jane Reichhold’s book which has sat on my book shelf for the last two years.  I have frequently thumb through it reading snippets. This summer, however, I decided to make it my focus.  My goal is sharing what I have learned and thought about each week until I return to school or finish the book.

In the opening pages of Writing and Enjoying Haiku, the author states, “I want this book to be your book –with sentences underlined, comments written in margins, your poems on fly leaves…” It is such an invitation to make it your personal class with the author.  I love that!  It reminds me of the work I did in Denver last winter, the idea to really be thinking about your reading and make notes as you read.  So along with the book I have my pen, sticky notes and highlighter.

Five favorite phrases, sentences, etc underline in the this weeks’ reading (pages1-52, which cover chapters one and part of two):

“Haiku acts as a door to our past.”  In writing haiku, the focus is on the here and now.  In reading, haiku, you open the door once again to the past.

For me, the way I live in order to be prepared to receive haiku inspiration is more valuable than the poems I finally do write…(…I do believe they are given as gifts)…”  This affirms my own thinking about writing, that when a poem comes to me so effortlessly, I have received a gift.  And I must work at being aware, nonjudgmental, and living with simplicity. The author expands on these and others.

“Haiku is based on what the author observes.”  In re-reading my haiku, I can see times when I have not observed the outside world but have gone in the direction of the telling others about what they think, feel, believe.  I  strive to put away the personal pronouns and just report what is there.

“Poetry is what happens between the words.”  In haiku those spaces are short, the brevity of the form creates a real need to create visual images rapidly.  Each reader bring their own experience to the experience; what I see as I read maybe totally different from your picture.

“Haiku should not be a run-on sentence or sound like a complete sentence with each line fitting neatly into the next.”  The reading I did this week talked a lot about going beyond the Americanized 5-7-5 form of Haiku.  There is an in-depth explanation about the language differences between Japanese and English which can change a writer’s perspective about haiku.  I have been fighting the need to use the 5-7-5 pattern for years.  It comes naturally most days (partly because it was so ingrained in me). It is not necessary.  What need to have is to have two distinct sections in the haiku.

Just as I enede my reading for the week, Reinhhold listed 6 rules for writing haiku:

1. Write in 3 lines, short, long, short without counting syllables.
2. Have a fragment and a phrase.
3. Have an element of nature.
4. Use present tense verbs.
5. Avoid capitals and punctuation.
6. Avoid rhymes.

The first two are rules that I know but will look closely at my own work.  They are two areas that need improvement.

The next section of the book shares twenty-four valuable techniques. I will divide and share the techniques over the coming weeks.

Poetry Friday is being held at Jama Rattigans’ Alphabet Soup.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: Acrostic Disneyland

Just returned from  vacation with daughter’s family.  We traveled to Disneyland. Thanks to Tricia I captured some of the experience.

Dance toward the castle with granddaughter
Infectious delight and wonderment
Seen on the face of a four year old
Not to be missed
Exuberance, the word of the day
Yesterday I was that child
Let Grandmother hold my hand
As we explored this place together
Never forgotten
Dream wishes granted

Tabatha A. Yeatts is hosting Poetry Friday.  Hop over to see what others are offering today.