Friday, October 1, 2010

Wonderful Words...

I'm so glad you could come to class tonight at my house...Mercy and I had a marvelous time hosting you here. Thanks for not parking on the wet grass. ;-)

Some of you wanted to order my little book of poems, "Roots & Vines." The books are $10. each, plus $2.00, shipping and handling, for a total of $12.00.
Send us an order with your check to: Becky Morecraft, 302 Pilgrim Mill Rd./ Cumming, GA 30040.

We've only just begun to consider poetry -- we'll continue to think about great poets, their poems, how to read and write poetry ourselves in the next two sessions. During one of them, I hope to have my sister, songwriter Judy Rogers, as a guest, helping us pursue the subject of writing poems as songs

Here's a link to some music and books I love. The "Little Lamb" song I sang tonight from William Blake's poem, was recorded by Carly Simon and one of her sisters in the '70's on a recording called, "Sing Songs for Children," which has recently been re-released. Judy and I sing it often to our grandchildren. You will love this recording! I think you'll enjoy all the children's songs on this recording, but I haven't heard the whole thing in a while, so 'disclaimer' if there's something objectionable -- I'm pretty sure It's all good.

Don't forget to go to my sister's website and listen to some samples from her recordings. The web address is  Judy's music is impeccably biblical and singable.  If you aren't already a fan, you will be after even one listen. You can also hear and download Judy's music at I'm privileged to sing many songs with her on the recordings, the most on "Arise! Shine!" Our children, all grown with children now, (except for Mercy), sing on the earlier recordings. What a blessing to see our children's children now learning and loving Judy's God-honoring music!!

Two of the women who have most influenced my writing are Suzanne Rhodes and Luci Shaw. Their books are wonderful and easily available. Suzanne's books can be purchased from Canon Press. The link for her student poet's manual -- The Roar From the Other Side -- which I referenced many times tonight is:

And her newly released book of poetic prose and wonderful poems about her life as a mother, wife and observer of God's grace is entitled, A Welcome Shore. The link:

Luci Shaw is one of America's premiere Christian authors and poets. All of her writing reveals her God-owned heart. I first read, Listen to the Green, when it was given to me as a gift in the late '80's. My thoughts about poetry have been expanded and my writing of both poetry and prose, become more compact ever since. I know you will love this book especially, although I have many of her others as well. Explore and enjoy.

Here's a little poem I wrote, fresh from the inspiration of her writer's retreat in 1997:

(background: I had just been to South Africa with my husband for a mission trip and saw Zulu and other tribal women sitting outside the Pretoria zoo, making beaded jewelry, belts and trinkets...)

Bartering, Pretoria
(for Luci Shaw at Kanuga)

All day she beads her bright poems
onto belts and bands,
squat in the dirt,
her baby tethered to her
by a long, red rag.

Her nimble fingers fly,
sorting fragments,
chips of hope on thread,
strung together
and sold for silver.

Around my waist I'll wear her bartered skill
to art shows, conferences and concerts
when I choose denim and Africa;
while she in trade
will feed her child tonight.


Tonight many of you asked for lists of poetry books I would recommend. Suzanne Rhodes and Luci Shaw have written many of the modern poems I enjoy. Most of their poetry is what is called 'blank verse,' or unrhymed poetry. They are both extremely skillful in this genre. But, I'm certain they could each write rhymed verse that is equally wonderful. In Listen to the Green, Mrs. Shaw's rhymed verse is breath-taking. I'll be reading a selection of some of her work next week, I hope. Rhymed poetry can become trite -- simplistic, soupy and wordy. Paring your words down to the 'exact' words needed to convey your message should be one of your goals as a poet, whether your poetry is rhymed and following exact patterns (we'll talk about those next week) or unrhymed, blank verse.

Who do I love to read? There are many, many poets I love and read as often as possible. I cut my teeth on poets such as Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Wordsworth, John Milton, Geoffrey Chaucer, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Frost, Shakespeare, Robert Service, Eugene Fields, Rudyard Kipling and many others. I came from a family of readers and writers, so I had early and frequent exposure to so many great writers in every genre. One of the greatest encouragements I ever gave my own children was to teach them to read using McGuffey readers. There are many wonderful poems in these readers! My son, John Calvin, recited, "The boy stood on the burning deck, whence all but him had fled...," at about nine years of age...there wasn't a dry eye in the house! Read great poems of every type aloud to your children -- it's important to learn HOW to read poetry, not in a sing-songy voice, but putting the emphasis on verbs and nouns and not at the end of each line. And then have your children read them aloud -- find poems that are appropriate to your children's stage and age and have them memorize portions of poems or whole poems. These lines will stay with them FOREVER! Especially poems that are put to music will stick in the know what I mean, don't you?

Purchase a great book -- "Best Loved Poems of the American People." (see link) When our older children were able to read, we would frequently have a poetry reading night, sit around the living room and choose favorite poems to read aloud. What great memories that made! Alongside a collection of poems, I recommend your children memorize poetry. A common practice that has been abandoned in modern times, perhaps because so many children watch television which has brief segments of action, broken up with commercials. Modern children haven't developed the skills required for memorization. I highly recommend a book that I have a link for on this page called, Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization, student workbook. Also, you can purchase a 3-cd set of poems,  read aloud by Andrew Pudewa, along with instructional book. Here's the link: Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization, a Mastery Learning Approach , Poems Selected and Read By Andrew Pudewa 3cd's and 1 Dvd in Case. This book will guide you and your student through the steps necessary for memorization of poetry and show the additional benefits that will accompany this endeavor. Thanks to the Tully family for telling me about this book.

In terms of curriculum,  I would highly recommend your listening to Victoria Botkin's cd, (available from Vision Forum, I believe ?), on how to choose curriculum. Those Botkins are bright folks and I highly respect their educational advice.

But in terms of teaching writing, my best advice is to do what I did and give your children lists of books to read, appropriate to their stage, and report to you about each one. As they write a short report, you will be able to ascertain if they actually read and understood the content, as well as teach important grammar lessons. Mind you, reading for reading's sake may be valuable on some levels, but it profiteth little. Grasping the content and precepts of books should be your ultimate goal. I am working on an updated list of recommended books for each level; but for now, check out Vision Forum's books -- particularly biographies and historical fiction. I hope this gets you started! I've already recommended some of my favorite books for teaching grammar and writing skills on earlier blog posts. Just go to my archived section and look back ...
Please thank Mercy some time -- she really worked hard this week and was rewarded with a successful slide presentation as well as great audio. She has to work from my PC instead of her Macbook because of the program we use to record each session. Bless her heart...what a daughter!!
 God bless you and I look forward to our next class...the man of fire...who was he?

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