April 12, 2016

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Summer Reads: Chapter & Verse (The Book of the Maidservant)

It's Poetry Friday. The leaves aren't falling yet in Maryland. Here at Author Amok, we are still enjoying some late-summer reading. Poetry Friday regular Tabatha Yeats-Lonske is here to share her Chapter and Verse selection.

I'm also guest-posting this week. You can find my Today's Little Ditty rant against rhyme (at least in the elementary classroom) at Michelle H. Barnes' blog.

This week's host is
Renee LaTulippe
at No Water River!
Tabatha's pairing of a novel and poem is the ninth post in a series called "Summer Reads: Chapter and Verse." Guest bloggers and I have matched books we read this summer with a poem that complements the novel.

So far, we've paired:

Shared by guest blogger Janet Wong

with blackberry poems by Galway Kinnell, Sylvia Plath, and Crescent Dragonwagon

with Margaret Atwood's "This Is a Photograph of Me"

Welcome back to Author Amok, Tabatha!

Tabatha reading with Penelopeep
(Peep for short).

My match-up pairs the poem "Listen" by Barbara Crooker with MG historical fiction The Book of the Maidservant by Rebecca BarnhouseThe Book of the Maidservant traces the journey of Johanna, servant to holy woman Dame Margery Kempe, as they travel from England to Rome in the 1400s. (Read a review here.)

Note: Dame Margery Kemp was a real person. You can read about her at the Online Reference Book (ORB) for Medieval Studies.

Available at ABE Books.
You can see how tough life is for servants, how easy it would be to give up, but Johanna never does. When she finally finds a field of blankness before her, she takes advantage of it. And as much trouble as other people can be, one of the toughest things Johanna has to do is make peace with is herself. Like the moon, though, people get the chance to bloom again.

The poem: 


I want to tell you something. This morning
is bright after all the steady rain, and every iris,
peony, rose, opens its mouth, rejoicing.
I want to say, wake up, open your eyes, there’s
a snow-covered road ahead, a field of blankness,
a sheet of paper, an empty screen. Even
the smallest insects are singing, vibrating
their entire bodies, tiny violins of longing
and desire. We were made for song.
I can’t tell you what prayer is, but I can take
the breath of the meadow into my mouth,
and I can release it for the leaves’ green need.
I want to tell you your life is a blue coal, a slice
of orange in the mouth, cut hay in the nostrils.
The cardinals’ red song dances in your blood.
Look, every month the moon blossoms
into a peony, then shrinks to a sliver of garlic.
And then it blooms again.

Barbara Crooker, from Line Dance

I read this poem on Poetry Friday blogger's Margaret Simon's blog, Reflections on the Teche

Here's the link for author Rebecca Barnhouse's website:

Tabatha is enamored of words and fascinated with the world. Her blog The Opposite of Indifference showcases her love for art, music, and poetry. She is working on a project involving another of her interests, botanical medicine. Her book about Holocaust survivors has just been released as a Kindle edition. 

Tabatha, I have some favorite books set in the same time period: CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY by Karen Cushman and Kevin Crossley-Holland’s MG series that begins with THE SEEING STONE. Thanks for recommending THE BOOK OF THE MAIDSERVANT. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Readers, I am proud to say that Barbara Crooker—isn’t the poem Tabatha shared beautiful?—has published work in the journal I edit, Little Patuxent Review. Crooker's poem “Rufous-Sided Towhee” appeared in our science-themed issue. We are reading submissions *right now* for an issue about food. Please send your poems through Submittable, but be sure to read LPR’s guidelines first. 

To get an idea of the work we publish, check out LPR's YouTube channel, where you will see contributors reading their work. The deadline is November 1. The Food issue will go on sale in January.

Do you have an idea for Summer Reads: Chapter and Verse? I'm still looking for guest bloggers. The series will continue until summer ends on Monday, September 22. For more information, find a full explanation of this series and a sample Chapter and Verse pairing at this post.


Tabatha said...

Thanks for hosting me today, Laura! I like Catherine, Called Birdy. I'll have to try The Seeing Stone.

Author Amok said...

The Seeing Stone is first in a beautiful trio of books, Tabatha. Literary, dark (in the chapters set during the Crusades), and inventive. They're about a Medieval-era 'tween with a mysterious connection to the Arthur of legend.

Linda B said...

I know the books Laura mentioned, Tabatha, but am not familiar with your book, The Book of The Maidservant. When we toured castles in Germany & Austria a long time ago, they showed us where the servants had to live and then walk to do their duties, a hard life! Barbara Crooker's poem is a lesson in being, isn't it? Thanks Tabatha, and Laura for the hosting!

jama said...

What a wonderful pairing, Tabatha. You know I'm a big Barbara Crooker fan so I love the poem, but now I need to check out The Book of the Maidservant (I also enjoyed Catherine, Called Birdy).

Diane Mayr said...

"Even the smallest insects are singing, vibrating their entire bodies, tiny violins of longing
and desire."

OMG! What a great line!

Have any of you read The Ramsay Scallop by Frances Temple? Here's the book summary: "At the turn of the fourteenth century in England, fourteen-year-old Elenor finds her betrothal to an ambitious lord's son launching her on a memorable pilgrimage to far-off Spain." I remember reading it about a dozen years or so ago and really liking it.

Margaret Simon said...

I was reading your post and thinking "Ah, I love Barbara Crooker" and then I saw you had read the poem on my site. Serendipity! I love how we all connect. Like others, thought, I do not know The Book of the Maidservant. Thanks for sharing.

Susan Taylor Brown said...

These pairings are such a wonderful adventure for readers. I look forward to them all. And yes, another Barbara Crooker fan here.

Mary Lee said...

This sounds like a trilogy I would love, having adored Catherine, Called Birdy and The Ramsay Scallop.

That Barbara Crooker poem I'm sure would resonate even more if I knew The Seeing Stone, but it is powerful on its own. I want to read it every day to my students to encourage them to be alive and aware.

Tara said...

That poem is just breathtaking - I'm reading it over and over, and losing myself in all the imagery, the call to be still and to pay attention.

Keri said...

I love the contrast between the blankness and color in this poem. What a tremendous pairing. Thanks, Tabatha, for sharing these new-to-me books!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

I love how this series forces us to think more deeply, Laura. And Tabatha, thank you for your pairing, and for Barbara Crooker's call to life... or, as Linda describes it, her "lesson in being." Love that.