THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
April 12, 2016

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

NPM 2015: What Are You Wearing, Donna Smith?

What are you wearing for National Poetry Month 2015, readers? How about today's find, an upcycled denim skirt with ribbons of poetry embroidered on it?

Colors of the Snake River poem skirt
with poem hand-painted on silk ribbon
available at Etsy.
Throughout April, guest bloggers are dressing up in their poetry finery as Author Amok features poems about clothes. Why clothes? Read this post.

In addition to the guest bloggers, every Friday in April I'll post a round-up of original and recommended clothing poems. (Send those via email to laurashovan at gmail dot com or leave them in the comments). You'll find this week's writing prompt at the bottom of this post.

Time to stop skirting the issue and get to today's clothing poetry post. Guest blogging for us is Donna Smith of Mainely Write.  So, Donna, what are you wearing?

“What are you wearing for NPM?” they asked.
“Once I had a tutu or two”, I trilled, skirting the question addressed to me...
Quote by Elle MacPherson: “I wanted so badly to study ballet, but it was really all about wearing the tutu.”

For me it was not just about the tutu (though a good tutu can take attention off many a misstep).  I loved dance, especially ballet.  I began lessons when I was in first grade, but even before that, I would dance to any music playing...even the music playing in my head.
Alas, as I got into my middle teen years, I realized that I did not have that long, lean dancer’s body that I thought I should have, and gave up that dream.

My first poem offering here is an original, paying homage to my younger self, and my older self, who gave up becoming a dancer:
Skirted

when I was but a little girl
I loved to twirl
and swirl
my spinning skirt would billow out
I had no doubt
about
my dream that I was born to dance
as in a trance
I’d prance
with leaps and bounds, my pointed toe
smooth rhythm flow
aglow
upon my stage of grassy glade
in verdant shade
a maid
in skirt with pleats of flower hue
one day time flew
and blew
into the now my skirt was swept
no promise kept
I wept.

©Donna JT Smith, 2015
In some ways I think writing poetry and dancing are very similar.  You need a music and a rhythm, you need a flow, you need heart and soul, and you need to breathe it in and out.  I gave up dance, but found a new dance in poetry.

My daughter also learned to dance, (and sew). I wrote this poem for her when she sent me a picture of herself twirling out on the sunny green lawn in her new dress she made from a bed sheet: 
 


A Tyburn to a Twirl

Whirly
Twirly
Curly
Girlie
Spinning in her whirly, twirly dress
Is my little curly, girlie lass.

by Donna JT Smith, 2013

Just had to include this picture of my daughter’s skirt that she made from old neckties! It has been in storage, so it needs a little steaming perhaps, but you get the idea!



One of my favorite poets of all time, and probably greatest influence in my own writing is Robert Louis Stevenson.  He was one of the first poets of whom I was made aware as a child.  My mother gave me the book, A Child’s Garden of Verses (first published in 1900), and I read it over and over savoring the smooth and easy rhythms and rhymes in each poem.

There are two poems in this volume that have “skirts” mentioned in them.  Women always wore long skirts back then, and even in my childhood, skirts were the norm for women.  Even as a child in school, girls could not wear slacks, unless it was winter...and then only under your skirt outside at recess.

Check out (http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/  Lit2Go.  It is a free collection of stories and poems in audio and pdf formats.  There are also many that have a word count, the reading level and activities for your classroom.
Auntie's Skirts
By Robert Louis Stevenson

Whenever Auntie moves around,
Her dresses make a curious sound,
They train behind her up the floor...


The Wind
by Robert Louis Stevenson
I saw you toss the kites on high 
And blow the birds about the sky; 
And all around I heard you pass, 
Like ladies' skirts across the grass-- 
                   wind, a-blowing all day long, 
                   wind, that sings so loud a song! 

Hymn to the Night
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I heard the trailing garments of the Night
      Sweep through her marble halls!
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
      From the celestial walls!


Putting Tu and Two Together
Skirts,
Tutus, 
Dresses,
Muu muus
Require
you have
the proper
hair-dos,
And on
your feet
the right (and left)
shoe-shoes.

©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Donna has recently retired from teaching, having taught first, second, third and sixth grades; and computer technology. She has written many poems and has produced two photo/poem collection books: “The Fall of the Leaves of Fall” and “Winter Ways”; and has had her poem “Two Rainbows and the Moon” published in an online poetry collection by Shadow Express. Her blog, Mainely Write, has much of her poetry collection online.

BTW: Donna wears a skirt every day.  Yes, literally, every day. 

She has a skirt for every day;
She owns no slacks, no jeans for play -
And even in the snow they stay;
She likes the way they swish and sway!

©Donna JT Smith, 2015

Thank you for visiting Donna. I love that you are an unapologetic skirt-wearer. Skirts are my go-to in the summer months. And I still remember a favorite skirt from childhood that was nearly floor-length, quilted, and brown. What can I say, it was the 70s.

ICYMI: In our poetry closet, you will find...

Jane Elkin looks in her childhood closet. Poems by Mark Irwin and Ron Koertge.
Linda Baie's outfit would not be complete without a poem in her pocket.
Robyn Campbell is showing off her favorite vintage clothes with a poetic picture book from Mary Ann Hoberman.

*Your suggested clothing poem prompt for Friday, April 24: Vintage
Tell the story of an old article of clothing. It might be the oldest thing currently hanging in your closet, something you found in a vintage or second hand store, a Christening gown passed down through your family (I have my grandfather's, from 1898), or an old concert tee that you can part with, even though it no longer fits. Begin with "It reminds me of the time when..."

Send your poems any time. I'll post original work and recommended poems on Friday.

7 comments:

Tabatha said...

The tie-skirt really caught my eye! I like that your daughter can sew clothes for herself. You can make so many one-of-a-kind things. The drawing you made of the girl in a tutu is great. So many skirt poems to enjoy -- thanks!

LInda Baie said...

Beautiful post of skirt heaven, Donna. I remember that 'twirly-swirly' poem about your daughter, still have it in my 'saved' poems. You've shared so many wonderful things here. I do have one student who wears skirts every day. I'll share this with her, think it will please her too. My mother made a tie-quilt which my brother has now-beautiful look and feel, like your daughter's skirt. Thanks for all these poems.

Donna Smith said...

Tabatha: Haven't drawn a person in quite a few years, but I do like to sketch in pencil every so often.
My daughter always comes up with neat ideas when she sews! Love to see her great-grandmother's skills being carried on.
Linda: That necktie skirt is amazing. She put it on when she found it the other day and was happy that after two children, it fit again! And so did her twirly dress.

Pam Margolis said...

a skirt every day?? wow. btw, i wear a tutu on the weekends for tea parties i host.

Donna Smith said...

Pam: I have worn skirts full-time for 15 years. Except when the wind wants to whisk it over my head...they are comfortable and warm. I think you should post a tutu tea party pic!

jan godown annino said...

I love everything about this article including Donna's tutu sketch & her eyedeer that someone post their tutu pix.
And the mother-daughter connection is a sweet hearbeat. The tie skirt & the twirly bedsheet skirt from your grown lovely girly are precious, Donna.
Much fond flouncing & thoughtful tucks in the poems here, including Donna's interesting nonbroken ribbon of skirtwearing. Applause for that Donna!

And thanks to Laura for this evolving poem partee.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Donna, I am not at all suprised that you wear a skirt every day--they fit your twirly swirly personality, which shows liberally in this post! What doesn't show however, is what you wear UNDER your skirts in the Maine winters...

Robert Louis Stevenson taught me a thing or two about what poetry should be, too. I'd forgotten the skirt one.