Posted in Poetry

Book Title Poems From a Stormy Night

Last night, thunderstorms and a pot of evening coffee proved to be the perfect combination for pulling books off my shelves and making some more book title found poems. Here are a few of my latest creations:

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The Arrival

In the lake of the woods,
strange little girls
wait ’till Helen comes
out of darkness
(beautiful darkness)
the girl from the well
extending the shade,
inhaling the silence.

Old friend from far away,
time you let me in.

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Growing Pains

hard times,
brave new world–
the flag of childhood
catching fire

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Why the Dwarf Had to Be Shot

Miss Nelson is missing!
The walls around us red as blood,
the creeping shadow leaving a trace
a darker shade of magic.
Mortal coils fuel
smoke from this alter.
All that lives must die.

I am not a serial killer.

*

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Journaling the Apocalypse

Vampires in the lemon grove
howl the sound of water.

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie
speak of the devil.

Places left unfinished at the time of creation
linger

The sky is everywhere
when you are engulfed in flames.

*

Posted in Poetry, Teaching

Listen Louder Than You Sing

It’s hard to believe that just two and a half months ago I was still substitute teaching. I feel so at home in my new classroom and so involved in the lives and lessons of my seventh graders that I sometimes forget I didn’t start the year with them. They feel like mine now. My kids. And that feels really good.

The truth, though, is that ten short weeks ago I was still spending my days with other people’s kids, and I was reminded of that today when I found something in one of my notebooks.

Subbing can be a hard job. That probably doesn’t surprise anyone. But it can also be a really fun job, a really inspiring job. There are so many amazing teachers in Austin, and once in a while, as a sub, you get to see those teachers in action.

On September 2nd, I “subbed” a girls’ choir class at Bowie High School in south Austin. I put the word in quotes because sitting in a chair and listening to beautiful music for an hour and a half does not count as work. The class I was in was co-taught, so, as the sub for one teacher, I just had to sit by and watch while the other teacher– Randy Cantu— flawlessly and fearlessly taught/encouraged/conducted/coached 50+ high school singers.

I was mesmerized.

The girls were so talented, the class flowed so smoothly, and Mr. Cantu worked so hard every minute to make them better singers, better students, better people.

For an hour and a half, I listened, and I wrote what I heard. Words, phrases, advice, small admonishments, questions, answers, lyrics, and laughs. I filled my page and then some with the language of the lesson. Later that day, I sat down with my notes and wrote a found poem from the list.

I’m so grateful that I had the pleasure of watching this teacher do his job. His enthusiasm and work ethic and joy has stayed with me and, I hope, carried into my own classroom.

Here’s the poem I wrote from the words of Mr. Cantu and his students:

Listen Louder Than You Sing

1, 2, 3, ready and
so fa me fa
let me hear the la
big beautiful brave sound
tall vowels, lots of space
make sure you travel
sing what you see
la ti la so la me re do
tone, posture, contour
now we are here

ma meh me mo mu
think about that for 30 seconds
ma meh me mo mu
sing it in your head
ma meh me mo mu

Do it again from the same place
so me re me do
it gets more complicated
it’s breathy, uncomfortable
don’t give up
this business—it’ll get better over time
keep singing
from the beginning
starting from scratch and it’s ok
1, 2, 3, ready, be brave

– Carie Juettner

[found poem composed of phrases heard while observing Randy Cantu’s choir class at Bowie High School in Austin, Texas, on September 2, 2016]

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(Take a moment this week and thank a teacher!)

 

 

Posted in Poetry, Reading

More Book Title Poems

My new bookcase! Which I put together mostly by myself. Every book shown here was written by a Central Texas author. I love living in such a vibrant literary community.
My new bookcase! Which I put together mostly by myself.

I recently got a new bookcase, which necessitated the reorganization of my books, which resulted in books EVERYWHERE, which led to more BOOK TITLE POEMS. Yea! I first discovered this lovely little time-consumer about a year ago when two titles sitting side-by-side on my shelf made me laugh. A lightbulb went off in my head and three hours later my house was a mess and I’d written this piece for my blog.

What are book title poems? It’s pretty simple, really. They’re a type of found poetry where you create poems out of book titles. And I was definitely not the first person to have this idea. Just google “book title poems” and you’ll find all sorts of examples of this art form, ranging from the super sweet to the naughty. In fact, if you do google it, one of the first links that will pop up is from my friend Annie. Her poems are awesome, and we have several of the same books. What’s funny is I didn’t discover her book title poems until after I’d already written mine. 🙂 If you like this idea, you should definitely check out Annie’s post because she has links to other good book title found poetry, as well as tips for how to create your own.

Ok, so here’s what I came up with this time. The poems are typed out for your convenience, since some spines are difficult to read. Also, while I’m hardcore and stick to only books I have in my house and don’t add any additional words to my poems, I do format and sprinkle in punctuation where necessary to enhance the meaning.

Enjoy!

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This is the first poem that emerged from my pile of books this time.

Inhalingthesilence

Inhaling the Silence 

Stargirl,
Wish girl,
Shopgirl,
speak
the words
under
the words,
little women,
inhaling the silence
within these walls.

 

“Within these walls” was just too good of a last line, so I had to use it again.

BraveNewWorld

Brave New World

I was told there’d be cake
at the gates of darkness—
a mango-shaped space,
accidental joy.
Quicker than the eye
things fall apart.
A monster calls
out of my mind.
The skin I’m in shrieks
at midnight
much ado about nothing.
Even cowgirls get the blues
within these walls.

 

Here’s one about the writing process, specifically about the process of getting a great idea in the middle of the night and realizing in the morning that it doesn’t make any sense.

OnWritingPoems

On Writing Poems That Last Forever

The eleventh hour,
something’s brewing—
a light in the attic,
notes from the midnight driver,
anything but typical.

The trouble with poetry,
it all changed in an instant.
Fear of flying,
the place my words are looking for
(places left unfinished
at the time of creation)
come with me.
The things they carried:
pure drivel.

 

This is my favorite one. I think it’s haunting.

IkIlltheMockingbird

I Kill the Mockingbird

I know
why the caged bird sings.
The god of small things
eats, shoots
& leaves.
We the living
shiver.
All that lives must die.
My wicked
wicked ways
walk two moons
on the road.
Remember me like this:
the prince of mist,
red as blood,
sailing alone
around the room,
going
going
to kill a mockingbird.

 

I’m also partial to this one. And I think it’s the most visually pleasing of all the poems.

TheOctoberCountry

The October Country

As I walked out one evening
walking the black cat,
vampires in the lemon grove
schooled the death catchers.

This I believe:
There is no long distance now
     the sky is everywhere.

What my mother doesn’t know:
I have lived a thousand years
     at the gates of darkness.
Holes linger
where I’m calling from.

 

Sometimes short and sweet is the way to go.

Ice

untitled

Rats saw god
in the kingdom of ice,
mortal coils
surviving Antarctica,
misery
salting the ocean,
the light fantastic.

TheLastGeneration

The Last Generation

When you are engulfed in flames
in the lake of the woods,
eat, pray,
love little green men.
Speak
the machineries of joy,
call it courage.
Only you can save mankind.

 

This is another favorite. Habibi is the Arabic word for “beloved.”

Habibi

Habibi

Before I die,
remember me like this:
the giver off the road,
the book thief
tap dancing on the roof,
lord of the flies
walking the black cat.
Speak my own true name:
habibi.

 

I wanted to format this poem as two voices. The first voice (on the left) is hers, and the second voice (on the right) is his. The centered sections are left to interpretation, maybe things they both agree on. There was no way to make this format work in the photo. I couldn’t get the books to balance that way. But I created the visual I was going for below.

WhyWeBrokeUp

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.21.15 PM

It was getting pretty late when I created these last three. I was running out of books and things were getting weird…

Evidence

 

Evidence of Things Not Seen

The turtle of Oman
     surviving Antarctica
A monk
     swimming the writer’s journey
The miniature wife
     writing down the bones
The illustrated man
     saving fish from drowning
Brown girl
     dreaming the thirteenth tale
The book thief
     giving thanks

DeptOfSpec

 

Dept. of Speculation

We the living wonder
how did you get this number?
What have you lost?
A wrinkle in time,
the box,
the secret life of bees?
Let’s explore diabetes
with owls.
This is the story
of a happy marriage:
not quite
what I was planning.

DontReadThis

 

Don’t Read This!

Johnny and the dead
eat, pray, love
@ the restaurant
at the end of the universe.
A pig with six legs
sees behind trees.
Frankenstein, Dracula,
Mr. Mysterious & Company
(a confederacy of dunces)
linger forever.
Which witch
rides a dread legion?
The outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place
wonder.

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I think I’ll stop there. They just got weirder and weirder after that. I hope some of these made you smile. If you decide to create some of your own, have fun and enjoy the mess. 🙂