For this week’s Poetry Friday I offer an old and dear favorite, The Lady of Shallot. I’ve always loved this poem and was thrilled when I read Lisa Ann Sandell’s story version of this Arthurian lady in her book Song of the Sparrow.
The Round-up is here.
The Lady of Shalott
by Alfred Tennyson, Lord Tennyson
August 6, 1809 October 6, 1892
ON either side the river lieRead More»
In the ooh, oooh, ooh I gotta have this category…
Yay! It’s Poetry Friday and I get to share another one of my favorite poems. I’ve always loved anything by Edna St. Vincent Millay and today I’m sharing one of her poems. Eel Grass is short, simple and says so much. It’s just beautiful.
Today the Round-up is here.
NO matter what I say,
All that I really love
Is the rain that flattens on the bay,
And the eel-grass in the cove;
The jingle-shells that lie on the beach
At the tide-line, and the trace
Of higher tides along the beach:
Nothing in this place.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Author: Junot Diaz
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
I was in New York this June for Book Expo America and was walking through a crowded aisle on my way to a meeting when something caught my eye and made me stop dead in my tracks. The name Junot Diaz on a simple white cover was enough to stop my fast moving walk to a meeting a had about a minute to get to clear on the other side of the Javits center. I not only stopped, I gasped and then I grabbed. I held that book like it was the Holy Grail and enraptured, carried it to my meeting which I couldn’t concentrate on because all I could think of was the book, the long awaited book burning a hole in my book bag.Read More»
Today I awoke feeling wistful and when I feel wistful I always think of the Garcia Lorca poem Romance Sonambula. It’s so evocative and the sense of longing is so strong that it just pulls at me. I find myself thinking the words, “Verde te quiero verde” often throughout my days.
The poem haunts me with it’s sadness and longing. It makes me think of a man I used to know who exuded longing and sadness.
Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered by Frankist soldiers during the Civil War in Spain and his booked were banned and burned in the Plaza del Carmen in Granada. To this day, no one knows where his body is.Read More»
Publisher’s Weekly reports that Siobahn Dowd, author of the wonderful first novel A Swift, Pure Cry has died in Oxford at age 47 of cancer. I’m saddened that this beautiful talent is gone.
For Jonathan Fryer’s comments, click here.
For Siobahn Dowd’s website click here.
Kelly over at Big A, little a sums it up succinctly and eloquently.
Read what Write Away has to say about the work of Siobahn Dowd.
Read the lovely obituarity that Jonathan Fryer wrote for the Guardian here.
PN Direct reports that Chicken House is seeking talent. Click here for the full blurb and scroll down.
The Poison Diaries is one of those books that you can’t help gazing at again and again. Story aside, the book is gorgeous. Rich, pastel like drawings that cover every inch of the page make it captivatingly sumptuous with all the style of an old-fashioned, Victorian herbal.
Each plant is lovingly drawn in great depth and detail and the book appears to be a kind of field guide to the plants in a garden as you first flip through it. Then you start to notice that the plants have almost human characteristics that they appear to be not only alive, but also malevolent. My first reaction was to stop flipping through it and start back at the beginning.
The story unfolds as darkly gothic as something from out of Lovecraft. The story is of an orphaned boy named Weed who works in his cruel master’s poison garden tending to the plants. He discovers that he can hear the plants talking and they him.
The plants are evil creatures who adore telling tales of the manner in which they kill. They goad Weed and try and encourage him to kill his master, glorifying murder and offering justification. He refuses to go along with them until one day he finds that his only friend and true love Marigold has experimented with one of the poisons and dies. With Marigold’s death, Weed unravels, sinking into a madness that the plants feast on and use to control him into doing what they want which is to kill.
I was completely caught up in the story even though I tend to shy away from very violent books and this is violent make no mistake about this. It is violent and graphically so. Still, the story is a good one, riveting though chilling. I have a feeling there will be more stories about Weed and his plants in the future or at least there should be given that the book left me wanting more.
I’m fascinated by the fact that the author was once a Disney animator. I could completely see this story animated although certainly not for children. It would make a very dark, very interesting film I think. The Poison Diaries comes highly recommended.
Book Description from the publisher:
This truly gothic tale, a facsimile of Weed;s journal found at Alnwick Castle, in England, is not only a story of the battle between good and evil, but an educational parable of the curative and lethal properties of plants.
Weed,an orphan boy who apprentices with an evil old apothecary, is both used and abused. His journal is part botanical workbook and part diary of his own relationship with poisonous plants.
Weed discovers that he is one of the few people whom the plants talk to, and they try to persuade him that, with their help, his master can easily be disposed of. Although he refuses at first, after Weed’s first love, Marigold, experiments with the poisons and dies, he is pushed over the edge and plots to kill his master with a taste of his own evil medicine.
Each chapter of the story begins with Weed’s botanical notes: a plant’s appearance and properties, where it is found, how it should be cared for, the most poisonous parts, and how poison is extracted and administered. Accompanied by Weed’s sketches of the plants in their natural form, his diary also reveals the real personalities of the plants.
About the Author
Jane, Duchess of Northumberland has long researched poison gardens. She is responsible for creating the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens in England, which opened in 2004 to worldwide acclaim. The Poison Garden is the culmination of her life’s goal to teach children and adults alike the curative and lethal properties of poisonous plants. Colin Stimpson worked as an animator at Steven Spielberg’s Amblimation studio in London and then at Disney Feature Animation in California.
There are several reasons this book has been around so long. It’s great. It’s simple. It’s charming. I’s powerful. It deals with a common issue for both children and adults, that of fitting in and of self-esteem. With simple line drawings and laconic but eloquently poetic text, it conveys a strong message with gentleness and humor.
I first bought this book years ago, in its first printing. I bought it for my then three-year old son Albert who saw it at a bookstore and wanted it. When I read it to him that night, I was so struck by the truth of the book that I cried. The book touched me deeply and made me see something about myself that I had never really looked at. You see, I was the painfully shy child, the quiet one who hid behind books, never raised her hand in class and rarely spoke. My friends now will laugh and think I’m telling a fib, but no, that was me. I entered into a marriage far too young and it ended early and badly. Shel Silverstein’s book helped me to heal and grow as a person and find myself, my self-esteem and become the woman I am today.
Over the years, I’ve bought this book more times than I can count. Each of my children owns a copy as do my grandchildren. I give it away to nieces and nephews, children of friends, strangers on buses, you name it. I always seem to find a person in need of this book and it finds its way off my shelf and into those eager and waiting hands. I just go out and buy another, and another, and another!
So enough about me and onto what makes this book a classic. The Missing Piece Meets the Big O tells the story of a little triangular piece sitting all alone.
“The missing piece sat alone
waiting for someone
to come along
and take it somewhere….”
The story goes on to tell about the pieces that didn’t fit, or fit but couldn’t roll, or grew annoyed when the piece started to grow. The piece meets the Big O who says he isn’t missing a piece but the piece is welcome to roll with him if he likes. By the end of the book, the Missing Piece is rolling on his own and has become his own complete self.
Each page is a simple and compassionate lesson. The book tells you to be yourself, of how important it is to be who you are on your own power and that you don’t need someone to complete you. You can BE who you want to be all on your own initiative and determination. That’s a strong message and an important lesson. A lesson most of us have a hard time learning.
In these days of girls and boys feeling so compelled by plastic surgery, weight loss, fitting in, cutting, peer pressure and so many things to deal with, this book becomes all that much more important for children of all ages and adults to read.
This beautiful children’s book changed my life. It taught me that I was somebody. That just finding myself then being myself was enough. I wonder just how many people this book has changed just so. I’ll forever be grateful for it and the difference it made in my life and that of my children’s. Any book that can cause change for the good is a classic in my mind and this one especially deserves that honor and more.