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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome Guest Author Jane Kelley

Jane Kelley in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY


Since we are writing about cycles on Poetic Asides with Robert Brewster, I'll say we've come full cycle with our guest author Jane Kelley. Jane's novel, Nature Girl was reviewed here. I've done an Examiner.com article about her, and she was my guest this Thursday on Blog Talk Radio on Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. I am delighted that she accepted my invitation to be my guest author here. If you caught the show you might have heard some of this, but I always enjoy reading things for myself. Jane was a fascinating guest and I'm sure you will all enjoy her here.

Questions for Guest Author Jane Kelley

Barbara: In one of your bios it says you wrote educational books. What kinds of books did you write? What are the titles and are they still in print? Are you still doing this?

Jane: Yes I am. I've written many short science and social studies books for elementary school. A few of titles are: Life On The Prairie, Beaks and Feathers, Ancient Egypt, Meteor Showers. Most are still in print.

Barbara: Since you wrote for educational purposes, why did you decide to start writing fiction?

Jane: I love doing both kinds of writing. I love learning about topics as I research them. Explaining is kind of like teaching. But I also really enjoy telling a story and bringing characters to life.

Barbara: It also says in your bio that you were inspired by your grandmother to write, since she was also a novelist. Did she publish any books?

Jane: Yes my grandmother Katharine Carson published several novels in the 1940s. Her most acclaimed book is called Mrs. Pennington, which is loosely based on her grandmother's life in Kansas. It's out of print.

Barbara: You grew up in Wisconsin but now you live in Brooklyn, NY. What was the reason you left Wisconsin? What made you decide to move to Brooklyn?

Jane: I like to say that there are two reasons to move to New York City. One is if you are hugely successful. The other -- which was the case for me -- is if you haven't found what you want to do with your life yet. I was drawn to New York City because it's a place of great possibility and excitement.

Barbara: Recently I wrote an article about how you were inspired to write Nature Girl. Would you please tell our listeners what this was? How did it involve a large park in Brooklyn and your backyard in Vermont?

Jane: I live in Brooklyn with my husband and daughter close to Prospect Park. It is a beautiful place -- but it is a city park. I grew up in Wisconsin so I could just go out the back door into the woods behind my house. I loved that freedom. I think it is something that many modern children miss. We decided to rent a house in Vermont for one summer to recreate that experience for our daughter. While we were there, I began to write the story of the city girl in the country -- and how she came to love being there by hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Anyone who has grown up in New York City knows the only place to be in the summer is the country. How wonderful you were able to share it with your daughter. My parents used to send me away and visit me at summer camp. I would much rather have spent the summers with them instead of mean girls at camp:) But these are different times.

Barbara: Would you please share your writing process with our listeners?

Jane: It starts with a character. I write the first draft in a notebook because that feels less intimidating and more intimate. Then when I switch to the computer, I outline the shape of the novel. There will be many drafts before I'm done.

Barbara: Was it difficult to get Nature Girl, your debut novel, published? Please take our listeners through the publication process.

Jane: It was difficult to get it written! I had tried to write in other genres for years before finally honing in on a middle grade novel. Once that girl's voice clicked for me, I was pretty confident that eventually Nature Girl would be published. I showed it to an agent. She submitted it to several editors before it was bought by Random House.

Barbara: How close is the main character, Megan, to anyone you know?

Jane: I have a daughter, but Megan is closer to me than to her. I am much more of a grumbler than she is.

Barbara: Would you describe your own experience of hiking The Appalachian Trail? Did you have any of the experiences that Megan encountered?

Jane: I have only hiked small stretches of the trail -- never anything as extensive as what I made my character do. Although I do plan to do that sometime. I have been on many hikes in many other places. I haven't met a bear, but I have certainly climbed mountains and swum in rivers and picked wild raspberries.

Barbara: Would you tell us what kind of research you did for this book?

Jane: I made a conscious choice NOT to hike the stretch I describe because I didn't want to be too tied to reality. Certain things happen because they need to for Megan's inner journey. They might not have been able to if I stuck to the physical reality. I did make sure that everything was plausible.

Barbara: As I was reading the book I realized that it would really be a book that teachers could use in the classroom. Do you have a Teacher’s Guide?

Jane: Thanks for reminding me that I need to do that! I think it is an excellent way to bring reluctant kids to nature as well as boost self esteem and learn an appreciation for the natural world.

Oh, you're welcome! The teacher in me comes out every now and then.:) I can think of so many themes that could be used in the classroom. If you need any help let me know.:)

Barbara: In keeping with the last question, have you planned to do any school presentations?

Jane: I have done school presentations. I will be doing a nature writing workshop for Writopia Lab in NYC on Oct. 17. Writopia is a terrific writing workshop for kids. I highly recommend it. If you'd like more information about them -- or my workshop, go to their website. http://www.writopialab.org/

Barbara: What are you doing to market your book? Please tell us what has been done by your publisher to help you.

Jane: Random House sent out lots of advanced review copies. Because of that, Nature Girl received many nice blurbs and reviews. Random House also continues to arrange author appearances for me.

Barbara: Do you have any plans to publish any other books?

Jane: Yes Random House will publish my new middle grade novel next fall. It's called The Girl Behind The Glass. It's the story of what happens when twins move to a creepy old house. Anna adjusts to their new school -- but Hannah becomes dangerously obsessed with the strange things that happen in the house.

Barbara: Do you have any projects on which you are working?

Jane: Yes -- my next book is a medical thriller. A young girl tries to find out about the virus that has made her mother who is a scientist seriously ill.

Barbara: Please give all of the places where our listeners can find your books and information about you. Also, tell us where we can find out more about The Appalachian Trail. (At this time I will also give the link to my Examiner.com article and refer people to the blog interview and my review of your book.)

Jane: My website is http://www.janekelleybooks.com/. I am a goodreads author http://www.goodreads.com/ I also have an author page on Amazon. This is my Random House page:
http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780375856341/
You can learn about the Appalachian Trail at http://www.appalachiantrail.org/
But you don't have to hike two thousand miles. There are so many wonderful trails to explore.

Thank you, Jane Kelley for being here and telling us more about you and your book, Nature Girl. If you want to hear Jane Kelley you can go Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages and listen to the show from the archives. We are holding a drawing for a free book. All you need to do is leave a comment or question for the author to be entered into it. This is a hard cover, new book in excellent condition. So join in the contest. You could win a book. By the way, I did that on a chat and won a book! You never know.

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Sometimes I wish there were a way to show an author applause when you really enjoy what someone wrote. That is how I felt when I read Maureen Johnson's blog post last week: Sell the Girls. Did you ever read a piece where you are constantly nodding your head yes, alternating with applause? You might be considered a little crazy if you did this in public, but I was thankfully in a car and reading what my daughter had emailed to me. Maureen Johnson's piece delves into the whole question of why aren't more women writers represented in book lists for curriculum study. Why are these lists predominately male? Why is there this push to have more stories for boys? Did I feel a little guilty thinking that maybe there didn't need to be more stories for boys, since most of the books they read have male main characters? Perhaps I should get on this bandwagon and push it myself, but no, not after reading this post. What do you think about the need for more stories for boys? Think about your answer and then read the post. Did your opinion change? I know that mine did. Please let me know how you felt both before and after. You can leave your comment here or contact me on Facebook if we are friends. I have the link on my wall too.

Until the next time, thank you to all of my readers. I will post my poetry next post. In fact, with so many poems that will probably be an all poetry post.:)

Friday, September 17, 2010

What Happens When the President Visits Your City!

President Obama leaving Stamford. See the sanitation truck.
from: Stamford Advocate -President Barack Obama is greeted with cheers as he is whisked down Tresser Boulevard in the presidential motorcade after attending a fundraiser for Democratic Senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal at the Stamford Marriott Thursday, September 16, 2010. Photo: Keelin Daly / Greenwich Time

Last night we wanted to get some take out food and go home and eat it. That isn't such an unreasonable idea, right? You would think you could go to your own favorite restaurant, get your food and get home if the place is only five minutes away. But last night that five minutes turned into an hour.

We should have realized something was going to go horribly wrong when the street where we usually turned to go pick up my daughter was blocked by a garbage truck. At first I thought this was a horrible misjudgement by the sanitation crew driver, but no. Once we picked up my daughter the heavens opened up and it started to pour. So I had to go to the department store (I won't say which, because then I'd have to balance it.) The street with the department store was blocked and we could only turn right. That was where we had to go, so it was all right. After I got out of the store we drove to the restaurant without any trouble. It didn't seem like anything could go wrong. We actually bought two different kinds of food: sushi and hot burger-type. With the two bags separated we were sure we could get home in plenty of time to keep the food both cold and hot. We figured we'd get home in the usual five to ten minutes.

But President Obama was in town speaking at the local Marriott and the police had closed the area from traffic. What that meant was when we tried to take the road to go home it was blocked. The sad thing is that the policeman who was doing this had no idea why or how to direct us to another route to go home. I felt like we were mice in a maze as we kept finding dead ends due to the roads being blocked. The policeman had told us to head north, which was away from where we needed to go and we kept going, not knowing another way to get home. Even though we have lived here since February we don't know the little side streets and how they connect with each other.

So I took out my trusty traffic app and tried to figure out a new route. I found one, but my daughter, who was driving, didn't want to know any of my alternative routes. My other daughter in the back of the car kept worrying about the sushi. It was already a half hour since we had picked up the food and home was nowhere in sight. We stopped and got out an insulated bag (Yes, we are those people who keep insulated bags and Whole Foods fabric bags in our trunk) and then got back on the road searching for a street that would take us home. At this point with the hot food and the sushi in the back my daughter suggested we stop and eat there. But we were bringing the food home for my husband. So we continued, but the daughter who was driving started screaming at me in reality show volume that she didn't want to hear any new routes as we continued to find roads blocked. Finally we were on the outskirts of the city and there on a stretch of empty road we saw a line of cars with a police escort and figured that must be the motorcade. We breathed a sigh of relief, but it took us almost another half hour to get home. The roads opened up and it was smooth sailing back home. I was sad that we didn't actually get to see Obama, because we are still big supporters of him and his policies. But really, the amount of security around the president is getting ridiculous! We basically drove around in circles for the hour. There needs to be more concern for the people in a city where the president goes in the future.:)

Now think of this scenario: There was a huge storm. Obama was in town. We had hot and cold food in the car.:) It was the perfect storm! LOL. By the way, the sushi was fine and we gobbled up the hot food, which was still remarkably hot!:)

*********************

An author friend of mine Kari-Lynn Winters sent me this and I thought I would help her publicize it. Anything that helps children read is for me!! I know this is a good cause and I will be happy to help her.

All children should have the opportunity to learn to read!

Please help us spread the word pass and give impoverished families access to books by posting this press release on your blog.


ACCESS BOOKS AND “AIR LIFT TO L.A.” DELIVER BOOKS TO COMPTON SCHOOL ON OCTOBER 2


Los Angeles – As part of their ongoing commitment to strengthen inner-city school libraries throughout Los Angeles and beyond, Access Books has joined forces with a team of Canadian authors to help Ralph Bunche Elementary (16223 Haskins Lane, Carson, CA 90746-1092) on October 2, 2010 at 9 a.m. One of 25 elementary schools in the Compton Unified School District (CUSD), Bunche is in desperate need of books for its 450 students.

Access Books, “Air Lift to L.A.” and a team of volunteers from Bunche will spend October 2nd revitalizing the library by painting murals and cataloging brand new books. In addition to the books, Access Books will provide a reading rug, rocking chair and sofa to create a warm and inviting environment for students. Five authors from Canada will be on hand for the event and to give fun and exciting presentations to the students.

The participating authors are:

Rob Weston, author of Silver Birch award winner Zorgamazoo

Kari-Lynn Winters, author Jeffrey and the Sloth, On My Walk, and other award-winning books.

Jill Murray, YA author of Rhythm and Blues and Break on Through

Wendy Kitts, Freelance Writer, Book Reviewer, and author of a soon-to-be published picture book from Nimbus Press

Helaine Becker, author of more than 40 books for children including Silver Birch award winners Boredom Blasters and Secret Agent Y.O.U.


Sadly, only 48 percent of Bunche’s students are scoring “proficient” or “advanced” in English & Language Arts on the California Standards Test. Research has shown that the best predictor of how well a child will learn to read is the number of books to which he or she has access, but 61 percent of economically disadvantaged children don’t have age-appropriate books at home. The students of Bunche Elementary fit this profile: 90 percent live at or below the poverty line. According to a 2009 report from the Jumpstart Foundation, communities ranking high in achievement tests share a common denominator: an abundance of books in their libraries.

California's Department of Education recommends 28 library books per student, according to the February 2010 draft of its School Library Standards. Bunche, however, has a mere three books per student. Therefore, Access Books has set a goal: Collect at least 5,000 books for Bunche’s library and classrooms. Many of these will be brand new, popular fiction titles – books that have been carefully selected to get students excited about reading.

Access Books’ partner for this endeavor, “Air Lift to L.A.,” grew wings after Canadian children’s author Helaine Becker visited a Long Beach elementary school and saw the empty shelves. Shocked and saddened, she rallied her Canadian colleagues and started a book drive. “The conditions [in Los Angeles] are on par with the worst of the Third World countries,” she writes on the “Air Lift to L.A.” Facebook page. “Actually, they are worse, because in much of the Third World, people are doing their best to raise their standards, while in Los Angeles, conditions have deteriorated abysmally in the last ten years.”

Bunche has just moved its campus library into a new, larger space to afford room for growth, but unfortunately, many of the shelves are bare. The library assistant nicknamed the library “The Dream Shop,” but with so few books, its dreams have yet to be realized.

California ranks last in the nation in funding for school libraries, spending less than one dollar per child. Although the 2011 federal budget proposal includes a $400 billion investment in education, there’s no mention of federal funds specifically geared toward school libraries. According to Sandra Barnett, head of the American School Library Association, “the budget is proposing to take away the last access to literacy for these kids in high-poverty areas.” The American School Library research data clearly shows that students with access to school libraries and good books score higher in state reading scores and are more interested in reading.

“I think the big issue is that we really need to make reading part of school and make reading fun and interesting,” said Rebecca Constantino, P.h.D., the founder and executive director of Access Books. “And that starts with having a good library.”


About ACCESS BOOKS: Access Books provides quality, high-interest books to Southern California's most impoverished school libraries. Since 1999, they have donated more than a million books to school and community libraries in the greater Los Angeles area. Access Books has been featured in USA Today, the L.A. Times, the New York Times and School Library Journal among many other media outlets. Access Books’ founder, Rebecca Constantino, is a recipient of Oprah’s “Use Your Life” award. She has published over 100 articles and a book in the areas of literacy development, equity in education, urban school and cultural perspectives of language acquisition.



Give a Child a Book, She’ll be Happy

Give a Child a Library, She’ll be Literate

P.O. Box 64951, Los Angeles, CA 90064

310-284-3452

www.accessbooks.net

As always, thank you to my new readers. And thank you to the people who continue to read my crazy meanderings. Has what happened to us with the president in our city happened to you? I know that the security is necessary, but what do you think of closing streets that aren't even near the president? Please leave me a comment here.

Coming in the next blog is my interview with Jane Kelley. Jane Kelley, author of Nature Girl reviewed on my last blog post and Sandro Isaack, author of Stork, MIA will be my guests on Thursday, September 23rd on my radio show, Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. Also, please check out my article in Examiner.com on the book festival in Jersey City, New Jersey this weekend, September 18th, A Tale of Our City.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jane Kelley's Nature Girl Reviewed


At Last, A Coming of Age Story for Girls - A Review of Nature Girl by Jane Kelley

What would you do if you were an eleven-year old girl from New York City stuck on a farm in Vermont with your family for the whole summer? This is what happened to Megan whose parents were artists and believed it was necessary to have the whole morning devoted to ART. Megan’s best friend, Lucy was supposed to be there with her, but she had to stay with her mother, who had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and her grandmother, Mrs. T, in Massachusetts. The worst of it was Lucy wasn’t answering her phone calls. Megan had given up on seeing her friend that summer. But as luck would have it her parents had to go away for a couple of days and left her sister Ginia in charge of her. Her mom thought it would be good if Megan went hiking with Ginia. But Ginia had other plans with her boyfriend Sam and ignored Megan, who had become accustomed to that during this summer. So Megan, who had never gone hiking before in her life, is suddenly lost between Vermont and Massachusetts on The Appalachian Trail.

As Megan hikes with her tiny dog, Arp, her travels along The Appalachian Trail change her from the girl she was to someone different, “a nature girl”. Along the way she must face hardships, but she continues in spite of them. She doesn’t give in to that “yucky you can’t–do-it voice.” Jane Kelley has written a story with which many girls will identify. It is a story of hope and triumph as Megan hikes along never knowing if she will get to her friend Lucy. It moves at a fast clip and you are with Megan every step of the way. Once you start reading it will be difficult to put this down. Written in Megan’s POV, this is an outstanding middle grade novel that delivers a strong story with a likeable heroine and lots of doodles. This is Jane Kelley’s first published novel and I am hoping it will be followed by a sequel.

If you are interested in learning more about Jane Kelley after this review, listen to my show on Thursday, September 23rd at 3PM Central Time, Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. She will be talking about her book, Nature Girl and you might find out if she is going to write a sequel to it. :) On the same show will be Sandro Isaack, author of Stork,MIA, a picture book about a dad and dad who search for the stork. This should be a great show!! Scheduled for October so far is Michelle McGriff, who has a new urban fantasy novel being published in November.

Again, thank you to my readers. I meant to post this earlier, but as usual, life got in the way.:) I am happy to say that Jane Kelley will be my guest author next week.

In the interest of disclosure I received this book from the publisher, Random House, as a gift from the author. However, this did not sway my opinion of it at all. It was arrived at objectively. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements in Advertising.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Rosh Hashanah to all!!!

I couldn't choose so I posted all the pictures I liked. These are my New Year cards to you!!!!!







Apples and honey with challah are traditional so you will have a sweet year!!!



I won't say this summer has been fun, because it hasn't. But at least my husband is better.:) We are all trying to get back to normal, but things keep getting in the way. I had to have a cataract operation in August and I'm still taking care of that eye. But guess what? I have to have the other eye done now in October. It's funny having 20/20 vision in only one eye, but soon it will the same for both and I'll be back to before 7th grade. That's when they decided I needed to wear glasses to see far. Only now all I'll need is reading glasses. Not wearing glasses all the time is going to be different for me.:) People will have to get used to seeing me without them too!

So Rosh Hashanah came very early this year. It crept up on me and suddenly it's the New Year! It's another chance to start anew. It's a chance to atone for my sins, but seriously, I've been trying to think of anything that I've done that I might atone for and with this last year I can't. I know that some of my family won't think that. I'm sure they have things they hold against me, but this year I have gone out of my way to make sure people were happy. Yet they never are! So next week when Yom Kippur happens I'll once again fast and hope that it will all be okay.:)

For everyone who celebrates, a Happy Rosh Hashanah -- Shana Tova!!

I was going to put my review of a new children's MG here, but since I haven't posted in awhile I'm going to do another post right after this with the review. Instead, I'm going to post the poems I have done since the last time I posted:

Poems Posted on Poetic Asides with Robert Brewer

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Prompt: Use "as I was saying"

DECIDING ON DINNER

“What do you want for dinner?” I ask.
“I’m busy you choose,” one of them answers
I don’t want to choose.I’d rather be writing
my fingers tapping on the keys
My mind occupied with thoughts
no one there will want to hear
Instead I ask again to the air
“Should we have chicken?”
Then I think, too much to do
Raw chicken to marinate or
roast or fry and hours away from
my writing, and I decide no never mind

It doesn’t matter since it has sat on the
air like a giant empty balloon deflating
as I speak. No one is listening and I’d
rather be writing to this week’s prompt
So sad I am away from my computer and
in the middle of these uncaring people
with whom I must share my life

“What does anyone want for dinner?”
The silence spreads like a fungus
They are busy discussing the latest
political news and ignoring me
Until one of them glances over and says
“What did you say?”

I seethe invisibly and try once more
“As I was saying…”
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu



HAIKU
As I was saying
You don’t know the me inside
Only the outside
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


Strolling down PA Street

My heart is breaking as I stroll through the offerings
Hearts on sale today
along with love here and not here
Party bores and walks through stores
Conversations on dead ears

As I was saying, PA street abounds with joy
Infused by the heady words of each poet
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


Wednesday, August 20, 2010
Prompt: Write a poem about service of any kind


Ambulatory surgery ballet

This is not their first rodeo
I can tell by the casual way they all stroll around
Green suited they meander in
chit chatting with the nurses
who at intervals disappear to ministerto the supine bodies in wait for the doctors’
services – not all for eyes

My nurse, Tracey shows me to my cubicle
And unable to read or watch TV I listen and
wonder at the casual talking outside my curtain
as they drip drops and gel into my eye
and the ballet continues with each new bed
moving toward the opening doors
The prologue proceeds until my eye
filled with pupil-opening drops and numb
finally opens to the doctor who places more gel
inside and then it is curtain time

I’m on stage and my door is open
They lay me on a soft sculptured bed
and place me under a sheet leaving
only my eye exposed
I am a Cyclops bound to the table
Floating in an oxygen haze as I concentrate on
the light and behold a kaleidoscopeof color
bouncing in the air above my eye
Until finally the curtain lowers and the finale
As they walk me back to my cubicle they
are lining up more who must follow the
steps to the eye scraping ballet.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


Poem #2

In Service to Us

The exodus began in secret
As if we could slink away
in the dark of dawn and
somehow heal the wounds
caused by our service

For citizens we said we came
To change their lives
Mold them into more
manageable shapes
more like us
Make them push away
their heritages and embrace
Americanism

We believed it would work
Through the the bloody
attack-filled years when
men and women sent
In the name of service to
liberty ate sand and sweltered
under a mid-eastern sun
Some came home damaged
Too many in flag draped caskets
returned to tear-filled eyes they
would never see. to half-grown kids,
to wives holding babies never to be
held by them

They had gone in service to their
country - bright eyed boys and girls
filled with patriotic zeal
Some against the war yet bound
by honor to serve to find the enemy
no matter the enemy kept changing
like a giant shell game

Now they returned sliding through
Kuwait's border. We saw the last
convoy still armed, roll to safety
and begin the long journey back
to where roads didn't hold IED's
in wait to destroy their friends
and cause them to shudder at each noise
Back to malls and the warm arms of
family
Back to the ease of Monday night football
and Saturday afternoon baseball
Back to barbecues and days around the pool
Back to the freedom they thought they were saving
fueled by the false fear of a political agenda
that pushed our best into the hot sands of Iraq.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu



August 27, 2010
Prompt: Use Whatever in the title and write poem about that


Whatever Happens will Happen

When I send it out there will be no fanfare
For it is an everyday thing to send an email
No matter the email has my life attached to it.
Whatever happens will happen
The story attached to the email has been
pulled from my mind in creative turmoil
Smoothed into existence and fine tuned
like a girl on her first date

But this girl’s been around
and knows the score
If you reject her she won’t lay down
like a defeated dog
Instead she will rise up and shine
after polishing and revision
rid her of the snags they found
But maybe they will hold hands
with her and savor the joy
oozed into each word as it
poured from my mind

Whatever happens will happen.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


Whatever…

A man rants false prophecies
while Lincoln’s statue looms over him
A reminder of real freedom
and the bravery of a one who walked
into danger and laid the path for others
And a man who walked upon it and found
himself on the steps next to Lincoln
The rightful place for MLK
a real prophet with a real dream

And fifty years later a bloated blowhard spouts lies
as his followers follow him like he were the
Messiah and listen as if his words were honey
But he spouts ribbons of hate
that leap into the crowd and bind
them, for in their minds they are patriots
They are fighting for their freedom
Knowing they had lived the dream all their
lives and now refused to accept MLK’s
dream had come to fruition.

And across town at the site consecrated by
the deeds of MLK were the ones who
had stood as guides as so many walked
the path to the dream
Celebrating the joy, the life, the awe of the
journey and the goodness of the man
as their speeches spread through the crowd
reminding all that hope was still alive

When freedom is attacked we must fight back
With truth and justice against the ribbons of hate
that wish only to twist the truth for their own ends
Spewed by false dreamers who wish to move the
country back to where some were separate but equal
and the color of skin mattered
As they twist the ribbons in their mind they vow to do
whatever it takes to get back that supremacy
While the ones who march for MLK’s dream
take a breath and say, “Whatever it takes”
And MLK wishes he were there standing next
to Lincoln and spreading the joy of hope.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


WHATEVER WILL BE WILL BE (for my husband on our anniversary)

We have traveled a long road together
since we pledged our love all those
years ago when we saw the future as
a green grass meadow we would skip
across to find our own version of Oz
Events haven’t gone our way
though your strong arms have been
there to soften those blows
When life imploded
your arms encircled me as if they
were breathing life into the husk of
my empty shell

I, the lion and you the bull, an unlikely pair
Tied together by a simple gold band
circling our fingers – the symbol of the
journey begun so many years ago when
you dropped to one knee on the horsepath
in Central Park and asked me to be with you
forever

Through too many moves and the joy of our daughters
Through times when I held your hand and prayed
so hard I thought the heavens would shake from
the effort. and I missed your arms around me
when I cried into my pillow still praying that you
would be spared as you lay there your heart healing,
incommunicado.

Resilient as a rubber band you have bounced back
time and again when life gave you sinkers
you hit them away like a baseball
All Star. And you were here tonight to celebrate our
life together though months before we thought
you had aged twenty years. Now you are back to
me though not the same I will still love you
For you were the boy who crept into my life when I
least expected and stole my heart and I gave it to you
as our future stretched ahead not knowing but
believing whatever will be will be.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu

September 1, 2010

Prompt: Write: I’m going to set the world on fire


I’m shedding my good girl exterior
and donning my new virtual leather bustier
and studded collar to kick the ass of anyone
who keeps me from my dream

There’s no stopping me as I climb to the top
and light the match of joy
for all who wish to come with me
and follow the dream I seek
We will get on our virtual cycles
and tear up the internet with our
brand of truth and poetic justice
the flagbearers of freedom
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


Come with Us (For Marie)

Come with us, Marie
Let your hair fly
as you ride your own
virtual cycle in your own path
Dream your own dreams
And fly over your own words
For we are together
a company of poets
whose lives create
images we must inscribe
From fireflies to lover’s passion
they flow liquid onto the screen
There for anyone to see
Our hearts and minds bared
nude to the world and at times
scraped bare as if the words have
seared off our flesh and exposed
the innermost layer of mottled skin

You are us and we are you
We write in free verse and haiku
We praise birds and trees, old lovers
and speak of events around us
They are our meat and we chew on
the muscle and gristle only to spit
it out in our own ways

We are poets
Flaming through each piece
with our own versions of passion and glee
Hoping to bring forth the words that
constantly swirl in our brains as we
watch this world and marvel at the joys
as we suffer from the sorrows.

We place our virtual arms around each other
For we are all the same
Our voices find the music so many ignore
in the darkness and the light
in the beauty and the trash
We live with a fire only we can understand
We are poets and that is enough
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


DON’T REMIND ME OF FIRE

One night fire found me
Its constant companions smoke and chaos
surrounded me while it flamed
out of control poking out of windows
pushing into corners
Always moving
Climbing stairs and rolling over
bodies entwined in love

Fire doesn’t think
It places itself wherever there’s fuel
Licking the edges of elegant mansions
Or the sad cardboard lodging of the homeless
It’s the great measure of equality

And though I hid my eyes to stop the
scene in my mind the fire raged on
Blackening the outside as it destroyed
the inside in its mad mindless quest
Leaving in its wake the charred, burnt smelling wreck

Extinguished by the power of the hoses
it can be pushed into submission
But like a recalcitrant child its deeds survive
Though you may punish it and spray it out of existence
its pushy presence remains for days
Reminding one of the horror of its destructiveness.

Don’t remind me of fire.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


One thing I wanted to say was that one of these poems here fueled a political debate on the website. Some people decided that there was no reason to talk about war when the war is basically over. They thought that the poems were too political and decided to leave the poetry board on which I post. To this board's credit the discussion was very balanced and eventually we got back to writing poetry. Since this prompt on Fire caused some of my old feelings to stir it was very difficult for me. However, I don't think that praising soldiers is political. Also the poem that caused the furor, the one about MLK was only my take on a series of events on one day. My feeling is poets write their own feelings and that is why you can't judge poetry except on its own merit. If it makes you feel anything then it's good.:) So when people started arguing over my work I had mixed feelings. My first thought is always to make people happy. That's what I did. Therefore you see the poem about writing poetry. The other one is a poem in answerto the person who didn't like the idea of political poetry. So now you can go back and reread them and see them in a new way.:)
Look for my review of Nature Girl by Jane Kelley on the next blog. Jane is going to be my guest along with Sandro Isaack, the author of Stork MIA on Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages on Thursday, September 24th at 3PM Central Time. She will also be a guest author on this blog soon. (Just click on the Blog Talk Radio icon on the sidebar and you will get there.)

Until the next time thank you to the new people who have visited and decided to follow this blog. Of course, thank you to my loyal readers.:) Sorry I haven't posted as much, but health issues related to my eyes have kept me very busy.:) I have a question for all of you.
What would cause you to feel that someone went beyond the limit in poetry? Would you be able to read a political poem that is not your point of view? How many of you are offended by any of the poems I posted here? Please leave a comment for me. I am really interested in knowing what you think for the future.:)

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