Saturday, January 19, 2019

RIP Mary Oliver, accessible poet of the natural world

Copyright 2011 Joanne R. Fritz

My favorite poem by Mary Oliver, who died Thursday January 17, 2019:

Starlings in Winter

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

~Mary Oliver, from Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, 2003

(Many thanks to my source The Exponent II,

Monday, January 7, 2019

MMGM -- thoughts on the Newbery Award

Happy New Year to all and I'm sorry I haven't been around for two months.

Believe it or not, I was so out of my mind last January, February, and part of March, that I only recently learned that Erin Entrada Kelly won the Newbery Medal in January 2018 for HELLO, UNIVERSE. (For sports fans, I'm from the Philadelphia area and I also didn't know the Eagles won the Superbowl until August 2018, when my husband finally thought to mention it to me. I said to him, "You're kidding, right? You're pulling my leg!")

I'm so embarrassed that I didn't know about this award back in January 2018. In November 2018, I suddenly remembered that I'd never seen the American Library Association's ALSC Book and Media awards, so I looked them up. Imagine my surprise to find out a Philadelphia author won the Newbery (she's a Professor at Rosemont College)! Plus, I've met her in person.

Huge and much-belated congratulations, Erin! It's so well-deserved. An intriguing, thought-provoking novel from four different points of view (even the bully) and the author pulls it off with great mastery. Three tweens have to work together to outsmart the bully and rescue Virgil, an 11-year-old Filipino American, from a well where he's been trapped. The three rescuers are Valencia (a Deaf girl on whom Virgil has a crush), Kaori Tanaka, a would-be fortune teller, and Kaori's sister Gen, her rope-skipping apprentice.

Coincidentally, HELLO, UNIVERSE was the last book I read a few days before my Sept 29, 2017 rupture. So I never got a chance to review it here. If you haven't read it, it's well worth the read.

As for this year's awards, I've only read half the books I normally read in a year, so I'm probably not the best person to make predictions, as I usually do. I'm quite partial to THE BOOK OF BOY by Catherine Gilbert Murdock and JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS by Melissa Sarno. So I'd be happy if either receives even an honor award. But I've heard good things about THE JOURNEY OF LITTLE CHARLIE by Christopher Paul Curtis and THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE by Kekla Magoon.

What are YOUR predictions?