Community Collection 5: SMALL COMFORTS with Janet Wong

Welcome to Poetry Month 2018 at No Water River!
Please take a moment to peruse the how-to below, and then dive in! Happy writing — and thank you for helping to build our collection(s)!
Remember: The Community Collections are open indefinitely, so you can visit each post at your leisure to add your poem!

 

Today’s Guest…

is a tireless poetry advocate who has authored and/or published dozens of poetry collections and picture books on a staggering array of topics. Please welcome author, publisher, speaker, and best friend to poetry …

JANET WONG


 

 THE POEM

 

THE PROMPTS

My mother was a hairdresser. When I was a child, she owned three different beauty shops—one on 8th & Vermont in Los Angeles, another on 3rd & Alexandria, and one in San Rafael. When I was in high school, she no longer owned a shop but gave perms in our garage to Korean women from her church. Forty years ago, there weren’t very many Korean women in our town (Walnut, a suburb of Los Angeles that is now more than 50% Asian), but they all had the same short, curly hairstyle, courtesy of my mom.
WRITING PROMPT #1:
Alliteration puts some music into this poem. See how it might sound if you took some (or even all) of the alliterative words out—for instance, instead of “carefree curls,” you might say “happy curls.” Experiment! (Who knows? You might like your revised version better!)
WRITING PROMPT #2:
What makes you (or someone you know) feel happier when you are angry or frustrated? Is there something you can do—or someone you can count on—to help you “carry your load”?
 

COMMUNITY COLLECTION 5: SMALL COMFORTS

WANT TO ADD YOUR POEM?

1. Paste it into the comment section below. I will gather the poems and add them to this post. OR
2. Email it to me at renee@reneelatulippe.com and I will add it to this post (graphics welcome)!

*****

Tasteless

Life without flavor,
Empty, gloomy, dim, tasteless,
Toss color to your life!


(haiku, Maritza@2016)

 

pink pedicure

~for Teresa

Finally there was night
I don’t remember
when I nearly died
after months of childbirth blood
and my beloved had to decide
that my womb had done its work
and could be traded for
survival, life, motherhood—
but it was the footbath
in my parlor the next week,
grainy, bracing blue scrub,
rhythmic, clean clip
of my cuticles,
careful coats of primer,
pretty, protective
pink polish—
my first ever pedicure
that let me step sanguine
into the next stage.

draft (c) 2018 by Heidi Mordhorst
 

Indulge!

You have a way to play with words –
like mother, like daughter,

it slakes us like water.

Although you say time’s hard to find,
to write moves matters from your mind.
As stressed as life will tend to be

your writing sets some stressors free.

So, in your day…
take moments to caper;
dance with those words,
then put them on paper!

Colleen Murphy
© 2018
 

Clean Sweep

You might believe
it’s strange advice
to grab a broom,
(feels oh so nice)
to sweep the dirt,
the dregs, the drops
of  discontent
tying me in knots.This recipe’s
an easy way
to clear my heart.
Go! Sweep today!

Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved
 

Comfort

I call him
my late-in-life
blessing,
born not
of my womb,
but my heart’s
healing salve.

This tall, strong
man-child,
whose warm hugs
equal a million words,
surpass
a rainbow’s
pot of gold.

His warm hugs
are everything.

(C) Sherry Howard
 
(click to enlarge)
 

Family Fun

Finally the sun.
Bits of snow on the front yard, melting.
And Easter morning, a game of ultimate frisbee.
Two boys, one twice as tall as the other, bending to scoop his brother onto his shoulders.
Three girls running, hair wild and glowing with spring light.
Dad grabs the frisbee, jumps and rolls, victorious.
Mom throws the wrong direction.
A chorus of laughs.
Thankfully the sun.

@Kirstine Call 2018
 

Massage Magic

Tension melts beneath her touch.
Tissues like knotted ropes untie with ease.
Muscles, weary with work,
burdened with building a body,
a business, a bank account,
release command of bones,
become putty in her hands.

© 2018 Doraine Bennett
 
a walk with nature
nurtures me summer, spring,
winter or fall…

© 2018 Michelle Kogan
 

Puppy Love

elbow nudge, wet nose,
sad brown eyes catch mine,
blink, understanding

(c) Ann Magee 2018
 

Some Foods

When we lie awake in worry,
when we rush in harried hurry,
when we strain our brains with schemes and spin
in circles of concern
some
foods
comfort.
Slow sweet pour of caramel,
ease.
Foamy rise of sugar bubbles,
sooth.
Lilting drift of ice cream rising,
heal.
Root beer float, relieve me,
retrieve me,
believe me…
you save me.

© 2018 Heather Kinser
 

Created by Grandpa (work in progress)

I was sixth.Three more grandchildren
followed soon after. A busy bunch.
Summer lasted a year.
It meant trips to grandma and grandpa’s house,
near the ocean, near the bay.
The one with many porches
filled with rocking chairs and hugs.
A circle of pines in the middle
of the long front lawn,
private space for dreamers and eager readers.
A large green gliderswing in the giant oak,
built, sanded, painted, hung happily by him.
Adirondack chairs made with love,
gracing the lawn, next to hand-carved
duck families all in a row.
Grandpa’s blue eyes sparkled, a gentle man,
kind. Quiet.
I never heard a harsh word.
I don’t remember his stories.
I remember what he made.
And what remains. My blue-eyed son,
my blue-eyed granddaughter,
all thanks to him.


Janet Clare Fagal (c) 2018

 

Bald Hill Farm

I walk where the wind
whips my hair, vibrates
the dog’s long leash
while up in the Delft
blue sky the puffy white
clouds stay still as a postcard.
Turkey vulture glides,
wobbles, wobble-glides.
Wind rushes, WHOOSH,
rustles dry leaves,
echoes in my ears,
vibrates the skin
on my cheeks. I open
my mouth and match
my howl to the wind’s.
It flies upwards to push
the puffy clouds into
movement.


© 2018 Gabi Snyder

 

Mad

My husband’s niece,
a precious, priceless, prized,
woman in my life,
stabbed to death last week,
in her own home
she never had a chance.
My anger grabbed me,
SMACK
it longed to consume me,
SUCKING SIPHONING
devouring, disposing of my joy.
When someone stepped through
CLIP CLOP
and neighed three words,
eight letters, three syllables,
I love you.
As only he could,
with a slurp of his tongue
against my cheek.
And a nudge of his head
against my shoulder.
I’m still mad,
but it can’t swallow me,
it won’t gobble the joy.
I’ll use it for good because of
three words, eight letters,
three syllables.
And one horse.
There’s power in love.


© 2018 Robyn Campbell

 

Letting Go

Jamie watches as a herring gull
drops mussel shells from above,
smashing them on the rocky shore.
The gull swoops down, and with his bill
swiftly grabs his gifts from the sea.

As each shell falls from the sky,
the tension in Jamie’s stomach
subsides, as if she’s just spilled
her guts (and tears) to a friend.
Deeply, she inhales the sea air.

Nourished, she imagines herself
as the gull, now coasting, his wings
stretched wide, yet not flapping.
She knows he’s trusting the wind
to carry him, carry him—home.

© Linda Jean Thomas

 

THE POET

Janet S. Wong was born in Los Angeles, CA, the daughter of a Chinese-immigrant father and a Korean-immigrant mother. She grew up in Los Angeles and in San Anselmo.

Before becoming a writer, Janet attended Yale Law School and went on to practice corporate and labor law for GTE and Universal Studios Hollywood. But after a few years she chose to write for young people instead, and subsequently enrolled in writing classes at UCLA, where she studied with the accomplished children’s poet Myra Cohn Livingston. Since those early days, Janet has published over two dozen books for children and young people, including picture books, poetry, and novels, and has become an accomplished publisher–along with her publishing partner Dr. Sylvia Vardell–through their company Pomelo Books.

Pomelo has produced a whole range of poetry books in the Poetry Friday Anthology series and the Poetry Friday Power Book series, and Janet speaks all over the world, sharing her stories and writing tips with children, teachers, librarians, parents, writers, toy companies, marketing experts, and women leaders in need of a creative nudge.

Janet’s awards include the International Reading Association’s “Celebrate Literacy Award,” presented by the Foothill Reading Council for exemplary service in the promotion of literacy, and honors from the Claremont Graduate School and Penn State University. She also has been appointed to the Commission on Literature of the National Council of Teachers of English. Articles by and about Janet have appeared in Scholastic’s Instructor magazine, Creative ClassroomBooklinks, and magazine; Janet and her work have been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other television programs.

Discover more about the author and her books at www.JanetWong.com.
(adapted from the author’s website)

 

THE BOOKS

A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED
from the author’s website: A Suitcase of Seaweed is my second book, and my personal favorite of my books because I was able to pay tribute to both the Chinese and Korean sides of my family in it, while also talking about “American” me.

I divided the collection into three sections: a Korean section (in honor of my mother), a Chinese section (in honor of my father) and an American section (since I was born and raised in Los Angeles). Sometimes it was difficult to decide where a poem should go, and the determining factor was as small a thing as a certain salty smell. But there was no problem at all deciding where the poem “Face It” belonged. It is about my son, who is Chinese, Korean, German and French. As the poem says, he has my grandfather’s nose, and my husband’s mother’s eyes, but his mouth – his handsome, sweet-talking, big-talking mouth – truly belongs to him alone!

 

 

 

HERE WE GO: A POETRY FRIDAY POWER BOOK (with Sylvia Vardell)
This book for children, tweens, and teens features 12 PowerPack sets that combine: 1) diverse anchor poems; 2) new original response poems and mentor poems by Janet Wong; 3) PowerPlay prewriting activities; and 4) Power2You writing prompts.

The twelve anchor poems for HERE WE GO were written by: Naomi Shihab Nye, Carole Boston Weatherford, Joseph Bruchac, David Bowles, Ibtisam Barakat, Eileen Spinelli, David L. Harrison, Kate Coombs, Robyn Hood Black, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, Renée M. LaTulippe, and Margaret Simon. Their poems are joined together with twenty-four new poems by Janet Wong that form a story featuring a diverse group of kids who are concerned about social justice and work together to fight hunger with a walkathon and school garden.

Sylvia Vardell’s inventive PowerPlay activities make it easy for writers to get inspired, while her Power2You writing prompts extend the learning. Vardell also created extensive back matter resources for readers and writers.

Note: This is the second book in the Poetry Friday Power Book series and was selected for the NNSTOY Social Justice Book List. Book 1 in the series, You Just Wait: A Poetry Friday Power Book, was published in September 2016 and was selected as a 2017 NCTE Poetry Notable.
(adapted from the author’s website)

THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR CELEBRATIONS (with Sylvia Vardell)
This latest book in The Poetry Friday Anthology series offers 12 poems per month and 12 poems with the theme of “Birthdays and Baby Days” PLUS “Take 5!” mini-lessons for teaching and sharing skills and standards such as the CCSS and the TEKS. In addition, each poem is linked to a picture book recommendation and other poems in the book for text-to-text connections. Choose your favorite celebrations for each month! Choices include traditional holidays, book-related holidays, celebrations of diversity, unusual celebrations, and historic commemorations.Each poem in the book appears in English and Spanish, and is accompanied by a “Take 5!” mini-lesson for librarians, teachers, and parents to use. The “Take 5!” gives step-by-step instructions on how to share a poem and offers picture book pairings and curriculum connections for every poem. Celebrate holidays—and learn at the same time!
(from Amazon.com and the author’s website)

 

 
Don’t miss a prompt! Save this calendar to your desktop.

CALENDAR OF POETS ~ APRIL 2018

Check out the poetry video library!
“Joyce’s Beauty Salon” and prompts copyright ©1996, 2018 by Janet S. Wong from A Suitcase of Seaweed by Janet S. Wong
Copyright on community collection poems held by authors indicated. All rights reserved.
Other post content © 2018 Renée M. LaTulippe or as indicated. All rights reserved.
Cupcake photo by Pixabay via Pexels (no attribution required).

 

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25 Comments

  1. Man, I LOVE this poem. I think *A Suitcase of Seaweed* is the one book of Janet’s that I don’t know well–time to change that! The alliteration is key (always!) but “Dozens of mad Korean women…ugly, furious, frustrated” puts a depth into a poem about perms that you could never predict.

    1. Heidi, I highly recommend SUITCASE. I adore it for the “family poems,” each of which says so much with so few words (like “Joyce’s Beauty Salon”). It’s one of my favorite collections.

      1. Renee: It is such a joy to visit your blog–you put love and EXCELLENCE into every carefully-crafted post. Thank you for including me in this month of innovative features!!!

    2. Thank you, Heidi! Lately I’ve been working on A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED: REVISITED–where I’m taking the original poems and adding commentary and writing prompts. It feels like I’m visiting a favorite little cousin. Look for that new book in a couple of months!

    1. Thank you, B.J.! One thing that I like to do at schools is to try to “sandwich” each poem in story–or at least set it up with questions and end it questions that connect the poem to the reader and start to form a story in the reader’s mind.

  2. Thanks for the prompt, Janet. It’s great to see how others clear their frustrations!My mother had her hair done in someone’s home, too, always said it felt so inviting and friendly!

    1. Dear Linda: I remember being annoyed at the time by how the women chatted away so loudly and passionately in Korean in our garage (which reeked of garlic and perm solution), but now I appreciate the way it kept me somewhat in touch with Korean culture!

  3. I am tearing after listening to Janet share “Gong Gong and Susie”. I have heard it before but this video is wonderful because she is so encouraging and wise. The prompt here intrigues and I am hoping to write a work-in-progress for the community collection, though I am hoping the caveat of 1st draft writing will accompany these where it applies! Janet is a generous and enthusiastic poetry ambassador. One of the first bits of wisdom she shared with me was to write my stories. I have done some, but there are many to get to. Thanks for this wonderful post, Renee.
    Janet Clare F.

  4. I HAVE always been a fan of Janet Wong’s work since the beginning of her career. I used a new poem by her “Walking to Temple” based on the painting by Utagawa Hiroshige in my recent WORLD MAKE WAY (Abrams) – yet another example of pride in heritage.

    1. Thank you, Lee. It’s always an honor to be included in any of your anthologies, and WORLD MAKE WAY is such a gorgeous book!!

  5. Thanks for stopping by today, Janet Wong. I really love this poem about Joyce. She’s quite a gal….and I feel like I know her from just a few lines. I got writing this morning after your prompts!

    1. How wonderful to hear that the prompt inspired you to write this morning, Linda–that’s the ultimate compliment!!!

  6. I’ve been a fan of Janet’s poems for many years. For any teachers out there, Janet’s poems are excellent for teaching voice. If you have older students, be sure to get your hands on a copy of BEHIND THE WHEEL. They will love it!

    Great picture of you, Janet!

    1. Good to see you here, Linda Kulp Trout! Last week I visited a school and shared your poem “Welcome” from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (the poem about being a good neighbor). I love that poem!

  7. “GongGong and Susie” is wonderful, thanks so much for this inspiring read of your poem! I had to listen to it twice–it’s rich. Thanks also for “Joyce’s Beauty Salon,” you painted a layered story, a moment in time, in so few words. Thanks Renée for sharing Janet with us!

    1. Thank you, Michelle. When I read “GongGong and Susie” at schools, I always feel like I’m visiting my grandfather (again) for a minute!

  8. I love Janet’s SUITCASE so much! This brings up a memory from my social work days… when we gave a man who was then homeless some cash, he hugged us and said he was going right then to get a haircut. A haircut IS a small comfort and can make someone feel human again. Thanks to both! xo

  9. A poem for the collection: I don’t actually know Jamie; she lives in my imagination. But if I were to write a YA novel in verse, maybe she could live there.

    Letting Go

    Jamie watches as a herring gull
    drops mussel shells from above,
    smashing them on the rocky shore.
    The gull swoops down, and with his bill
    swiftly grabs his gifts from the sea.

    As each shell falls from the sky,
    the tension in Jamie’s stomach
    subsides, as if she’s just spilled
    her guts (and tears) to a friend.
    Deeply, she inhales the sea air.

    Nourished, she imagines herself
    as the gull, now coasting, his wings
    stretched wide, yet not flapping.
    She knows he’s trusting the wind
    to carry him, carry him—home.

    © Linda Jean Thomas

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