THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
April 12, 2016

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Critique Giveaway with Joy McCullough-Carranza

Hello, Writerly Friends.


Those of you who know the back-story of my book (AKA how to write a middle grade novel in eight years), know that I'm a huge fan of Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars. In 2013, when I needed a final push to revise and polish THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, I was selected as a Pitch Wars mentee.

I knew my mentor, Joy McCullough-Carranza, was a middle grade and YA author and book doctor, and that she'd spent time as a playwright in the schools, similar to the school residencies I do for poetry. Joy coached me through that last revision. When the #1 agent on my wish list asked to see an updated manuscript, I was ready! And you all know the rest.

Here is a great way to support the Pitch Wars program. The most recent submission round closed on August 17. This year's mentors are currently making their selections, wrangling behind the scenes to figure out who is going to work on which manuscripts.



Meanwhile, many Pitch Wars mentors are GIVING AWAY first chapter critiques. Yes, folks, Pitch Wars is all volunteer. It's about writers helping other writers to get their books query-ready. And this year, the mentors are going above and beyond to help you with your manuscript.

According to the official giveaway blog, here's how you can participate:

You’ll get a free entry just for stopping by and signing in, and if you want to increase your chances, you can support the mentors by buying their books or pre-ordering them. If you want to increase your odds to get a critique from a particular mentor, you can go and buy/pre-order said mentor’s book by following the links above. You can buy more than one book, and up your chances in more than one giveaway, too! You might even win a chapter critique by more than one mentor.

Lovely Joy is supporting my book! If you pre-order a copy of THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, you'll up your chances of winning a critique with Joy.

And because I'm such a huge Pitch Wars fan, I'm throwing in a chapter one critique with me. That's right! Leave a comment on this post and I will select one person at random to receive a first chapter critique on your work in progress.

To recap:
  • Visit Monica Bustamante Wagner's blog for the full giveaway.
  • There, you will find a full list of mentors giving away critiques including the most excellent Joy McCullough-Carranza.
  • Enter for a chance to win your chapter one critique via Rafflecopter.
  • You will also find links to pre-order books by the mentors and/or their mentees (that would be me -- thanks, Joy!). Remember, a pre-order increases your chances of winning.
  • To win a critique with me, leave a comment on this post. A winner will be drawn at random.
Good luck, Pitch Warriors, whether you're in the game or cheering from the sidelines.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

World Poetry: India

It's Poetry Friday. Take another spin around the globe with  me. Today, we are visiting an accomplished young poet from India, Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal.



Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal (born June 27, 1995) is an Indian poet and writer. She is author of two books of poems, The Myriad (2011) and Musings of Miss Yellow (2015).

The only daughter of Simerjit Kaur Dhaliwal and Yadwinder Singh Dhaliwal, Supriya was was born and brought up in the vicinity of lush green tea gardens and majestic Himalayan valley, Palampur. The town is located in Himachal Pradesh, India where her Sikh parents sought refuge from the rapid pace of the rest of the country and sought solace in the lap of nature. At the age of seven she wrote her first poem, and she first saw publication in a widely read newspaper, The Tribune when she was fifteen years old.

Supriya is currently living in Shimla, where she's studying English Literature at St. Bede's College. She authored her first book of poems at the age of sixteen. Her debut anthology received immense love from its readers which triggered the poetry bug in her to a newer level. 


She is actively involved in the literary scene in India, contributing to numerous literary carnivals across the country, including Kumaon Literary Festival and Delhi Poetry Festival . She is also the core team member of Poets Corner, a one of a kind poetry collective based in the historic city of New Delhi. She aims at reviving this literary spirit in the youth of India which she believes is dwindling at a panther pace.

Her poems are widely anthologized across the globe, Earl of Plaid (USA), A Poet's View of Being (Canada), The Taj Mahal Review (India), Acerbic Anthology (Nigeria).  Her sophomore poetry anthology, Musings of Miss Yellow was recently published. It started its journey from the 100 Thousand Poets for Change World Conference in Salerno, Italy. 


Find the book here.

Musings of Miss Yellow is divided into six sections: A Tryst with Tales in Rhyme, Arcadia, Gobbledygook, If, Rumination and Saudade respectively.

Sharing her experience from the recent 100 TPC World Conference in Italy, Supriya says:

"People often mock and giggle when I tell them I am a poet. They end up patting my back over a ruthless comment, 'You’re just a young woman deciding who she will be.' Last month, I took a leap of faith and traveled to Salerno, Italy to attend the 100 Thousand Poets for Change World Conference. I met poets from so many countries that I failed to maintain a count. 


"When I boarded my last plane from Dubai with a heavy heart, I felt as if I had seen the entire world in one shot. The organizers of the conference, Alfonso Gatto Fondazione and 100 Thousand Poets for Change, translated a few poems from this sophomore poetry collection into Italian and posted a stanza of my poem “If I have a Daughter” with my picture on their Facebook page. 

"One fine evening, when almost everyone was high on poetry and alcohol, nearly about to explode with euphoria while dancing on the tunes of Campagnia Daltrocanto, a local traditional Neopolitan band, a man who spoke only Italian and no English walked by my side to examine my face. He then took out his phone, opened up that particular picture of me on conference’s Facebook page, posted with a stanza of my poem 'If I have a Daughter' in Italian and moved his fingers to confirm if it was me. I smiled and nodded. He said something then, which I failed to understand, still I smiled and nodded and resumed dancing on those energetic beats. After a few minutes, he came to me again. This time he had the Google Translator opened on his phone window. He handed me his phone. He had got the Italian word 'mosso' translated for me into English. 'Mosso' is synonymous to 'moved'. He wanted to tell me he was moved by my poem. My eyes felt heavy. I bowed and said 'grazie' (thank you). I guess I’ll master the Italian language one day and translate Musings of Miss Yellow into Italian myself. I’ll then go to Salerno again to gift him the first copy of 'Riflessioni di Perdere Giallo.'
Supriya in Salerno.
"Being a young poet in India is almost like waking up to a challenge every day. Well, to me, poetry is something that I’d envisaged for my future since the day when I was not even a teenager. I had always wanted by bind my illicit and unripened verses into a slice of surreal treatise. 

"It may sound strange, but there were actually two things that inspired me to write this book. Firstly, it was the sarcastic tone of the society. Though it wasn’t threatening or scathing, but I’d always wanted to upshot the basic convictions of the world around us. Secondly, the nature around me has always fascinated and inspired me beyond any possible levels of anticipation. We were, rather are, always taught at the school that these trees and flowers are categorized as living creatures and they differ us only by the means of communication. So since my early teenage, I have always tried to place myself at their place and speak up a language that perfectly fits in this universal natural maze."

Recommended poet:

"There's this one poet who has always stayed with me, her name is Amrita Pritam, a very prominent female poet in the Indian literary scene who wrote in my mother tongue Punjabi. 
Ajj aakhaan Waris Shah nu (Today I invoke Waris Shah – "Ode to Waris Shah"), an elegy written by her to the 18th-century Punjabi poet, an expression of her anguish over massacres during the partition of India never fails to touch me in the most poignant manner every time I read it."

 [Note: You'll find the poem in English and Punjabi, with historical background about the massacres, at this blog.]

Although I met Supriya at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change conference, I feel that I have met her again through the biography and statements she shared with us today. She was kind enough to share two poems. The first is recommended for upper elementary and older. The second is appropriate for high school and up.

Power of Hope
by Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal (at age 15)
from The Myriad

When all memories leave you with gloom
And you are left with nothing but doom
When you are crippled and you need a rope
Hold your breathe and give yourself a chance of hope
By ignoring the brain and following the heart
Give your life a new start
Build your way when it is hard to climb
Have no fear, because you haven’t done a crime
Taking small steps, learn to cope
Slowly and slowly build you’ll build your hope
Memory
by Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal
from Saudade, Musings of Miss Yellow

Like an
infinite number of concentric circles,
it stretches its existence
beyond an unfelt level.
And like the rings
that increase in number
every year
under the skin of
a tree’s trunk-
it keeps on adding
time, maybe years
to itself.
Yes, I’m talking 
about your memory.
You are the center 
of my concentric circles.
Your memory, I’m sure
will gaze like an addled sage
till what they call- eternity
on my love’s age.

One day
your indifference 
I’ll assume
to be a stone.
Out of angst, 
I’ll let it moan
on the lake’s water.
The ripples 
will refuse to stay
and I wonder
if your memory
will forever sway.
It's exciting to meet young adults who have a deep love for and commitment to poetry. I applaud Supriya for being so involved in the poetry community. All of the 100 Thousand Poets members are looking forward to watching (and reading) what she does in the future.

Catherine at Reading to the Core
is hosting Poetry Friday this week.
Stop by her blog
for all of this week's links.
In the World Poetry Series:

World Poetry: India, featuring Menka Shivdasani

World Poetry:Poland, featuring Danuta Kosk-Kosicka and Lidia Kosk

World Poetry: Israel, featuring Michael Dickel

World Poetry: Ireland, feature Siobhan Mac Mahon

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Leaving Home, Part 2

Thank you for all of the kind, supportive words as we send our son off to college, Poetry Friday friends! I appreciated your comments last week.

Today was the big day. I dropped the kid off at the airport first thing this morning. I was teary, but I did not cry! By noon, he had made his way to CWRU, found his dorm room, and met some fellow early-arrivals. His texts started to get a little cagey after that. When he began to tease me for being nosey, I knew he was fine. Whew.

Sending our guy off into the world got me thinking. Robbie had just finished 5th grade when I began working on the manuscript that became THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY. This summer, Advanced Reader's Copies of the book began making their way into the world. The ARC has been traveling around the country, paying reading visits to my fellow 2016 debut authors.

(Where in the heck is THE LAST FIFTH GRADE? Find out on this map.)

It's an odd feeling, knowing that the book (and child) you spent years preparing for this moment is finally *out there.* It's out there having experiences with people you've never met. They are forming opinions about something (someone) that's not you, but is a huge part of you.

I'm grateful for author friends
who have welcomed Ms. Hill's
fifth grade class into their homes.

There's always a comfortable
place to stay during a visit.

Sometimes the book gets to go
on field trips, like this one to Lake Erie.
And there are new friends to meet,
like Abby Cooper's Lou,
and his pal Squishy Giraffe.
I am amazed at the parallels between a child leaving home and a published book. As a parent/author, you've reached the point where you've poured every skill, lecture, ounce of wisdom, and experience that you can into your baby. He's had teachers, mentors, coaches, and relatives to support his growth. Now he has to put everything he's learned and experienced to use and make the best of it.

Thanks to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater for sharing this poem with me when I was feeling anxious about packing our son up this week. Sharon Olds' observations speak to me, both as a mom who is launching a child, and as an author getting ready to launch a book.


The Summer-Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb
by Sharon Olds
Whatever he needs, he has or doesn't
have by now.
Whatever the world is going to do to him
it has started to do. With a pencil and two
Hardy Boys and a peanut butter sandwich and
grapes he is on his way, there is nothing
more we can do for him. Whatever is
stored in his heart, he can use, now.
Whatever he has laid up in his mind
he can call on. What he does not have
he can lack. The bus gets smaller and smaller, as one
folds a flag at the end of a ceremony,
onto itself, and onto itself, until
only a heavy wedge remains.
Whatever his exuberant soul
can do for him, it is doing right now...
Read the rest at The Writer's Almanac.
My dear friend Heidi Mordhorst is hosting Poetry Friday this week. Get out your fresh fruit and your juicer and join her for a cup full of delicious poetry at My Juicy Little Universe.

Thanks to the Sweet Sixteens debut author group for the photos! You guys are the best. Let's just hope my son is as good about sending pictures home as you are (ha).

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Leaving Home

Today is my son's last Friday at home. This time next week, he will be settling into his home for the next four years: Case Western Reserve University.

He's a Spartan. Just not one of *these* Spartans.

I say "settling in" when I really mean "riding the rollercoasters." Yep. He's kicking off college with a pre-orientation trip to Cleveland's famous Cedar Point amusement park. Talk about letting go. The amusement park trip means sending our son ahead, alone, to begin his new life and meet his new classmates. We'll follow behind in the safe, slow van -- never mind that its nickname is The Mars Rover -- carrying all the stuff that college students need.

It's been an emotional last few weeks. What's speaking to me today is Linda Pastan's poem "To a Daughter Leaving Home." Replace the bicycle with one of the biggest rollercoasters in the United States, and you'll have a perfect metaphor for how it feels to be the one watching from the good, solid ground of home.

College life is going to be a rollercoaster ride.
This one is called Maverick.
To a Daughter Leaving Home
by Linda Pastan

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up...


Read the rest at Poetry 180.

To all of the other parents who have teens leaving home for the next big adventure -- group hug!

Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
is hosting Poetry Friday today.
Hi, Tabatha! Good luck to your Vandy girl
as she heads out for her next year of school.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

World Poetry: Ireland

Greetings, Poetry Friday friends. We're crossing the Atlantic again this week to visit my good friend, Irish poet Siobhan Mac Mahon.

The lovely and talented
Margaret Gibson Simon
is hosting Poetry Friday today
at Reflections on the Teche.
Siobhan is Irish Performance Poet, Playwright and Poetry Activist living in England. She performs widely in England, Ireland and Europe. Her poems, powerful and often funny, celebrate our sacred connection to the Earth and the return of the Divine Feminine. She pokes fun at rigid, patriarchal religions and structures, giving voice to the outrageous, the silenced and the banished (and that’s just before she has her breakfast!)

I met Siobhan in Salerno, Italy, during the 100 Thousand Poet for Change World Conference last month. Her poems had us howling with laughter, especially the one about Rita, who goes on a quest to find herself and causes quit an internal tsunami.

Siobhan reading a poem
about Adam's first wife, Lilith.

Siobhan has been writing and performing her poetry, collaborating with other artists and creating mayhem/Spoken word projects for over 20 years. She has combined Spoken Word with music, with dance and with film, working with poets and artists from many different backgrounds and cultures.

Siobhan organizes poetry events, including a yearly event for the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Movement and a large gathering of poets for International Women’s Day. She Co-founded Wicked Words  - a long running Spoken Word evening in Leeds and is currently co-hosting a monthly poetry night in Leeds – Transforming With Poetry.

Siobhan’s poetry has been published  both online and in print including: Margutte,  Tadeeb, Leeds Guide, Print Radio and in a Bloodaxe/ Raving beauties Anthology – Hallelujah for 50 Foot Women.

Her workshops focus on writing poetry as a tool for self- expression, healing and creative growth, often working with marginalized, vulnerable or dis-advantaged groups, including:  homeless people, Those suffering with mental health, bereaved families, Immigrants, carers, long term unemployed, youth groups,  young mothers, stroke survivors, survivors of domestic abuse.


She has also worked in schools and with young people teaching creative writing and performance poetry.

Of the poem she is sharing with us today, Siobhan says, "The Poet is suitable for all ages and talks about the Poet's connection to a deeper reality/the other worlds and especially our connection to the earth as living, sacred and alive. It can be useful for encouraging pupils to get in touch with their  sense of a ‘magical reality’ and to write from that place as poets themselves. In Ireland the poet, in the past, was considered someone who could travel between the worlds."

THE  POET
by Siobhan Mac Mahon 

People often ask me what I do.
Well, I say, last week
 I decorated the downstairs loo’

‘No, no, they say
What is it that you really do?

‘Well, I say
I make a dam fine stew,
lamb and onions, carrots too’.

‘No, no, they say
what is it that you do all day?

‘Well, I say
I’ve been known to pray
and every day I take a walk
and I love to talk’

‘No, no, they say
what is it that you do for money?

‘Oh right, says I
I’ve got you now.
Well, sometimes I make a little honey.

‘Oh right, says they
(Pleased at last)
where is it that you keep the bees?

‘Oh no, says I, I don’t keep bees
I gather nectar from the wild,
distill it all in little jars
and call them verses
one two and three.

I sit upon the quiet shore,
stroke the sun warmed rocks
and sometimes they whisper songs to me,
hidden mysteries of the dark blue sea.

I watch the world unfold
I hear the lonely crying
of the lost souls
come keening down the winds.

I listen to the stories told
by the gurgling of the brazen stream
flowing wildly down the hill
in a rhapsody of ecstasy.

I glimpse
a holy rosary
of blue bells
ringing in the woods.

And I try to remember
all of this to thee,
In verses, one, two and three.

But mostly it’s
nothing much that I do.

Though as I say
I make a dam fine stew.


Literary girl power.
(L to R) Ann Bracken, Debby Kevin,
Siobhan Mac Mahon, Carla Bertola.
This poem makes a nice companion to Mary Oliver's poem "The Summer Day." If you work with high schoolers, pairing the two might prompt a good discussion about how two different poets address a similar theme.

Before she leaves us, I asked Siobhan to recommend an Irish poet whose work we might not be familiar with in the U.S. Her choices are:

Performance poet Maighread Medbh and quiet "radical" Rita Ann Higgins. Click on their names to check out each poet's website.

In the World Poetry Series:

World Poetry: India, featuring Menka Shivdasani

World Poetry:Poland, featuring Danuta Kosk-Kosicka and Lidia Kosk

World Poetry: Israel, featuring Michael Dickel

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Laura's Bookshelf: My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights

One of the best parts about being a debut novelist has been connecting with other children's authors in the class of 2016.


Brooks Benjamin and I were in the same Pitch Wars group (I can't recommend the Pitch Wars contest/mentorship program enough). We ended up getting book deals around the same time and joining the Sweet 16s debut author group.

I already knew from our hysterical exchanges on Twitter and from working together in the Sweet 16s that Brooks has a kind heart and a big, quirky sense of humor. Plus, he shares my love of interesting socks.

Another benefit of being in a debut author group is Advanced Reader's Copies. Many of us are sending around ARCs for fellow 16ers to read and review.

Brooks Benjamin's debut novel is MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS. 

This contemporary middle grade book launches on April 12. (The same day as THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, and Melanie Conklin's MG debut, COUNTING THYME. We have dubbed  4/12/16 "The Harmonic Convergence of Books.") 

I was lucky enough to be high up on the list for Brooks' ARC tour. After it stops here at Author Amok, I'll send the book along to another Sweet 16 author.

Sam says Brooks' book passes inspection.
Proceed to read!
Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

LIVE IT.

All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.

WORK IT.

At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship? 

BRING IT.

Dillon’s life is about to get crazy . . . on and off the dance floor


This book is filled with hilarious moments, but it also has a tender heart. Dillon's dance crew or solo performer dilemma is clearly laid out by page two. True to middle school, our MC takes a winding path as he figures out how to keep his friends AND get the dance training he longs for. Dillon has to cope with well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) advice, adults and peers who have their own agendas, a secret crush, and an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. 

MY SEVENTH GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS is appropriate for most middle grade readers, fourth grade and up. Dillon is so likable and funny that readers will wish they were part of his Dizzee Freekz dance crew. Thumbs up for an unexpected romance between two of the supporting characters.

Who will like it?
  • Kids who love funny books.
  • Dancers and fans of reality TV dance shows.
  • Middle graders who like to read about groups of friends solving problems together.
  • Children who are beginning to make life decisions (e.g. Do I want to continue with this sport or activity?) for themselves.

What will readers learn about?
  • What its like to be part of a tight-knit group of friends.
  • How to stand up to friends and do what's right for you.
  • You can work  hard and be committed, but still have fun.

The poem I'm pairing with MY SEVENTH GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS is from the teen e-journal Teen Ink.

Hip Hop
By Tajahniya S.BrooklynNY

 What is it about you that is so different?
Is it that booming bass,
Or is it those wavy synthesizers?
Maybe it’s the way you flow,
Or how you say what you mean and mean what you say?
Or it could be your wide range of influences.
From rock and soul to jazz and reggae,
Across the globe you are inspired.
What is it?
It’s the change you’ve made.
From beat-boxing, DJ-ing and breakdancing,
You went on to become an activist,
Standing up for what you believed in.

Read the rest of the poem at Teen Ink.

MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS is available for pre-order at Amazon. Thank you to Brooks for making the ARC available.



IN THIS SERIES: Laura's Bookshelf

God Particles, by Thomas Lux

Thursday, July 16, 2015

World Poetry: Israel

Happy Poetry Friday, poetry lovers!


This week's host is Kimberley Moran.
Stop by her place to find poetry posts
from all of your Poetry Friday pals.
I'm continuing my trip around the world, visiting with poets who originate from or live in countries other than the United States. Many of the poets I am featuring in this series were part of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change World Conference. Last month, we spent a week together in Salerno, Italy, talking about poetry, politics, and about being poetry advocates in our home communities.

This week, I'd like to introduce you to my dear friend, Michael Dickel.


Michael Dickel reading at the 100 TPC World Conference.
Photo by Adelia Parker-Castro
One of the realities of meeting people from around the world is learning about the political conflicts that affect many of their lives. It's one thing to read about these issues in the newspaper. But reading a poem about war, written by someone I know, feels much more real than the news.

This is true of Michael, who was born in the U.S., but has lived for many years in Israel.

Michael Dickel is a Jewish-American dual-citizen of the United States and Israel. He was born and grew up outside of Chicago. He lived in the Twin Cities—except for two years in Connecticut—until moving to Israel eight years ago. In his early adult years, he worked with runaway teens and urban youth, with children at an in-patient psychiatric evaluation unit, and at a crisis intervention and suicide prevention center. 

Michael started writing poetry in grade school. He holds a masters degree in creative writing and a doctorate in English literature. For over 25 years, he has taught in higher education in the U.S. and in Israel—writing and literature, as well as English language and education. He also directed writing centers in the U.S. 

His maternal grandmother taught in a one-room school house; his mother taught elementary school; his father, high school; and many first and second cousins also teach—teaching is probably in his genes.

Michael has done word-play workshops for elementary school children in Minnesota and poetry workshops for high-school students in Minnesota and Israel. Most recently, he conducted poetry workshops related to peace at The Jerusalem School in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The school's motto is "Peace begins with me," and the workshops coincided with its annual Peace Days.

He wrote “Overlook” for the first of these workshops. In the workshops, students were asked to use their senses to describe peace, or how they imagined it. One Palestinian young man wrote this sad, powerful response: “I never smell peace. / I never taste peace, either. / Nothing I hear sounds like peace. / Nothing I touch feels like peace. / Anywhere I go, I never see peace.”

Michael’s third book of poetry, War Surrounds Us, came out this summer. 

Find it on Amazon.

The book contains poems written during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war. Many of the poems, which focus on his family and everyday life during the conflict, are suitable for mature high-school students. 

However, the poem we are featuring today is appropriate for older elementary schoolers and up.

Overlook

Along the Alon Road, near
where we once glimpsed
an Athena owl, the road
widens for cars to rest.
The look-out holds two old
olive trees together, friends.

New maps show new divisions.
Old maps recall old boundaries.
Stone fences, barbed wire
come and go. Land mines
lay sleeping. But the olive
branches don't see these.

Standing guard by the road,
the two see open land: valleys,
wadis, and fields from here
to Jordan's distant mountains
and beyond—slow-moving possibility.

                        —Michael Dickel

Glossary / notes

Alon Road—a winding, two-lane road on the West Bank. It is named for a person but alon also is Hebrew for the live oak tree.

Athena owl—a small, brown owl native to the region

Michael was kind enough
to share this photograph
of the owl (the actual owl)
that inspired the poem.
Wadi—Arabic for gulch or eroded canyon, adopted in Hebrew. Wadi is distinct, here, from valleys because a wadi has steep sides whereas the Jordan River valley is wide with rolling hills, not a canyon. The plural with an “s,” wadis, is an Anglicized usage that also occurs in Israel among English speakers.

Dickel, M. (2013). Overlook. Fragments of Michael Dickel. Blog. 30 April.
http://mydekel.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/overlook-a-peace-poem/


Thanks for visiting today, Michael!

In the World Poetry Series:

World Poetry: India, featuring Menka Shivdasani

World Poetry:Poland, featuring Danuta Kosk-Kosicka and Lidia Kosk