Thursday, February 21, 2013

Poetry Friday: Poetry Postcard 38

George Washington
Happy birthday, G.W!

It’s a big day. The 44 Postcard Project is almost complete, as I mail out the 44th vintage postcard with its poem today.

I’ll be blogging poetry postcards for another week or two. It feels too soon to do a major reflection about the project. The short version: Writing a new poem nearly every day was more fun than I expected. Writing in response to antique postcards, with their random images and subjects, has stretched me as a poet and a person.

Today is also my 44th birthday. Here is the card for today, postcard #38.

Happy birthday to our many Piscean Poetry Friday bloggers!

When I read at the Washington Printmaker’s Gallery in December, I invited audience members to sign up for a postcard. A man in the audience told me that his sister and I share a birthday. Would I send her a poem for 2/22? Sure!


February 22

The school photographer
always called me Martha
before the click. It was a trick
to make kids smile,
mistaking each girl with a name
dowdy as mothballs.
We’d bubble in the hall
over who was Doris, Edith,
Josephine. I confess
I wondered why he chose
for me the name
of George Washington’s wife.
Was it written on my lips:
I shared the president’s birthday?
I took this as a sign. How else
could a stranger know me
the way the crow knew me –
the one that haunted our yard.
I heard it when I hid
in the dry leaves. Laura,
Laura, the crow would caw
if I listened very hard.

Laura Shovan

UPDATE: Maybe I wasn't such a weird kid after all. Our local PBS station has been airing a documentary about crows. Scientists have proven that they can recognize individual human faces.

I’ve been keeping tabs on the poetry postcards’ travels. They have gone out to twelve states and three foreign countries. Maryland, naturally, received the most postcards (28 of the 44).

I’ll post a full list of states and countries, along with a list of all the postcard poems, when I blog about postcard #44.

Who else is born on 2/22? Glad you asked! Some of my favorites are:

poet Edna St. Vincent Millay
(great biography, by the way);
Broadway actress Lea Salonga
(she originated the role of Eponine in Les Miz);
actor Kyle MacLachlan
(my celeb crush since Twin Peaks aired,
he hosted my all-time
favorite episode of Saturday Night Live),

and philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.
You'll find a full list of famous 2/22s at this site. Take a minute to search your own birthday. You're sure to find some surprise birthday buddies.

Who's hosting today's Poetry Friday party? It's Sheri Doyle! I can't promise that she'll have cake, but there will be a buffet of poetry posts for you to sample.

Here's a birthday gift from me to you, Lea Salonga singing "On My Own."

27 comments:

laurasalas said...

What a lovely poem, Laura. I love that secret feeling of connection you got from the "Martha," and I also love the eeriness of the crows calling your name (esp since I will now hear them calling MY name). Randy played a videogame for awhile that was set in some old asylum and when you walked into a certain room, a low, flat, monotone, quiet voice would say, "Laura." He would repeat that at various times to creep me out! Anyway, thanks for sharing this, and I just got my postcard. So exciting!

Margaret Simon said...

Happy Birthday! I have enjoyed reading about your project. I would consider it myself but the idea of writing 52 poems (my age in August, 2013) is daunting. This is one of my favorites today. Such a cute story about the photographer and the crow. You are a talented writer and I admire how you have worked on being a better poet with this challenge.

Linda said...

Good morning, Laura! II'm at school so I'm just doing a quick read through of Poetry Friday. I'll come back later and read more closely, but I wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday! Have a beautiful day!
Linda

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

Happy Birthday, Laura. You certainly are in august company - Millay and Schopenhauer! Funny where and how we hear our names and what they become associated with. It's always "Gone With the Wind" for me - I get that almost every time I am introduced to somewone new, even though I could not be less like Scarlett O'Hara! I hope you have something special planned for your special day.

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

Loved the poem, Laura - and happy birthday! Coincidentally, I happen to be related to Marth Washington...so it goes to show there are connections everywhere we look!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Laura. That's exactly it -- the "secret feelings of connection" we get as kids. Your video game story is freaking me out. Promise not to tell my son about that game. Scary!

Author Amok said...

Thank you, Margaret! I'd say go for it! You don't have to do them all in one blast.

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Linda. I hope you're doing well. I appreciate the good wishes.

Author Amok said...

Tara -- Your Scarlett comment cracked me up. How funny would it be to flounce around in a GWTW getup?

We are going to the big arts & crafts fair at the Baltimore Convention Center tomorrow. Can't wait.

Author Amok said...

Matt -- I would love to hear more about your Martha connection. What's the scoop?

Linda at teacherdance said...

Happy Birthday, Laura! I love that you focused on some memories of your name, such an important part of our births, to receive our names. Now when I hear the crows calling, I'll hear "Laura"!

jama said...

The crows were calling your name? I always thought they were calling mine :).

Wonderful birthday poem, Martha,er,Laura. Somewhere GW himself is wishing you a happy birthday too. It's been so much fun following along with this project -- quite a daunting challenge but you did it!

Sheri Doyle said...

Oh, I just love that the crow seemed to know you, too. Sounds haunting and magical all at once.
Happy Birthday! (I turn 44 this year as well.)
And yes, there is virtual cake over at my birthday-themed post. : )

Sheri Doyle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bridget Magee said...

Happy, happy birthday, Laura! Your postcard project was a gift to all of us. I love your February 22 poem - the photographer calling MC Martha and then her thinking:
"Was it written on my lips:
I shared the president’s birthday?"
Perfect childlike POV. Hope your day is wonderful. *cheers* =)

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

Happy Birthday Laura!! Lovely poem. My sister's name is Martha so I never thought of it as old fashioned ;) I am so inspired by your post card project. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Linda, Jama, Sheri, Bridget and Andi. There was a brief time in elementary school when I didn't like my name, but now I do.

Bridget and Sheri -- yes, I was going for that magical thinking we engage in as children. It's one of the things I love about poetry. Most adults dismiss that kind of thought (it's a sign! there's a connection!). As poets, we get to explore the strange connections our minds naturally want to engage in.

Mary Lee said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Thanks for sharing the postcard journey that led to today!!

Hey! I just watched bits of that crow show again and was thinking of them as I read your poem...AND we just had a school photographer yesterday taking pictures of student groups and informal shots in the classrooms. She didn't call anyone Martha!

Liz Steinglass said...

Happy Birthday!
I love the way you chose to celebrate.
I love the poem too and the story about the photographer and the crows.
Liz

Donna said...

Happy birthday first and foremost! The postcard poetry is such a wonderful challenge to have undertaken and accomplished!

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Mary Lee. It was a quirk of that particular photograph, but we actually looked forward to picture day because of it!

Author Amok said...

Liz -- Thank you for the good wishes. And thanks again for linking to my blog today. I'm always glad when someone can make use of the lessons I post.

Tabatha said...

Happy Birthday to you!! Congrats on almost completing your project!

Saw a painting of Martha Washington at the White House this morning (we went for a tour).

Irene Latham said...

I'm a day late, but I'm still wishing you the happiest of birthdays! I love this poem - the Martha trick, the crow calling your name... congratulations, and happy happy year!

Ruth said...

Sorry I missed wishing you a happy birthday yesterday. I hope you had a great day. Your poetry postcard project has been inspirational. (I guess I should have used an adjective starting with p!)

Author Amok said...

Thanks Tabatha! Lucky you. How was Martha?

Author Amok said...

Thank you, Irene. We are still celebrating. 43 was pretty amazing. Excited to see what 44 will bring. So far it has brought a cool new hat.