Monday, April 28, 2008

The PoeTree Project

This year's Newburyport Literary Festival in Newburyport, MA honored local poet Rhina Espaillat. In honor of Rhina and the theme of poetry, I designed and coordinated The PoeTree Project, an outdoor installation of poems on trees near several of the Festival venues. I was inspired by an image of a folding screen by the seventeenth century Japanese artist Tosa Mitsuoki.

Students from the sixth and seventh grades at the Rupert A. Nock Middle School wrote poems on strips of tyvek with sharpie markers. They were tied to trees and bushes and were a beautiful sight fluttering in the breeze. The timing was perfect as several of the magnolias were in bloom.

In addition to the children's poems, participating Festival poets wrote poems for Rhina which were tied to the weeping cherry tree that is planted in front of the library in her name.

I was able to attend three of the poetry events: the opening evening with Dana Gioia, Rhina, Lewis Turco, and X.J. Kennedy, a breakfast with the poets with readings by members of the Powow River Poets, and the closing evening with a reading by Erica Funkhouser and Melopoeia: Poetry Recited with Musical Accompaniment with readings by Rhina and Alfred Nicol accompanied by John Tavano on guitar.

Monday, April 21, 2008

St. George's Day

is April 23rd. He is the patron saint of several countries including Catalonia in Spain, England, Portugal, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republic of Macedonia. St. George's Day in Catalonia is especially rich as it celebrates three things: St. George who fought and slayed the dragon and the day of the deaths of Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare (April 23, 1616). Boys and men give their girlfriends and wives roses; girls and women give their boyfriends and husbands books.

The Creative Year
has a simple book project as well as directions for making a paper rose.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Green Bookmaking Workshop in Newburyport

Green Bookmaking for Families
at the Newburyport Literary Festival

Saturday, April 26, 12:30-2:30
Unitarian Universalist Church (downstairs, entrance on the left if you are facing the church)
26 Pleasant Street
Newburyport, MA

Family bookmaking engages the hands, the head, and the heart. All ages are welcome to drop in to craft an environmentally green book from recycled materials. See where your imagination will take you, and have something to bring home when it's finished.

The Newburyport Literary Festival is a wonderful free event with something for all ages. Check out the website to see the complete schedule.

Opening Day

Last year I was making books at the Bryn Mawr Elementary School in Auburn, MA on Opening Day of the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Everyone was dressed in Red Sox garb and the school cafeteria served hot dogs for lunch. One class made a Who Am I? Book and most of the class planned to make their books about Red Sox players. It is a reminder that children need to spend time writing about their loves and interests as well as curriculum material. This month's links are websites relating baseball and curriculum, but children can make books about their favorite stars of other sports, bands and singers, actors, actresses, dancers, and musicians. I made my book from the back panel of a grocery bag (the one without any writing). I used a cereal box for the cover and velcro instead of yarn. It's about one of my favorite Red Sox players, Jacoby Ellsbury.


Major League Baseball
A good place to research players and teams.

Take Them Out To the Ball Game!
Education World has a page with lots of links to sites for using baseball across the curriculum, including the text of Abbott and Costello's Who's On First? and several sites for baseball math.

Science of Baseball from the Exploratorium in San Francisco
Lots of good stuff including how to find the sweet spot on a bat, an experiment with bouncing and temperature, how to throw different pitches using a styrofoam ball, and much more.

Math Baseball
Answer addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems and hit the "Swing" button. Correct answers are hits. Whether it is a single, double, triple, or home run is based on the difficulty of the problem. Wrong answers are outs and the game lasts for three outs. There is a choice of levels from easy to superbrain and it can be played with one or two players.

Adapted from the April 2008 issue of Making Books Monthly
Free subscriptions available at

Friday, April 11, 2008

Children's Voices: A Celebration of Poetry

The Newburyport Literary Festival takes place on April 25-27. This year the Festival honors local poet Rhina Espaillat. In connection with the theme of poetry, the Firehouse Gallery has an exhibition of poems by children. Kindergartners from the Brown selected and illustrated poems while students from the Bresnahan wrote and illustrated ones of their own. The poems are on a variety of subjects: nature, the seasons, friendship, sports, food, and family and in a variety of forms: acrostic poems, limericks, diamante poems, rhyming verses, and free verse. Written on colored paper and graced with lively illustrations, the display is a visual as well as verbal treat.

Some of the poems:

I am the turquoise blue ocean of Bermuda.
It feels good when people dive in me.
I feel happy when the sun generously shines on me.
I get angry when people pollute me.

There once was a small lad from Cork.
He especially loved the pork.
He ate and he ate.
His size became great.
He realized he was a dork.

You can smell the chocolate,
You can taste the goodness,
Touch it and never stop,
And it all came from my mom.

Children's Voices will be on display through April 27 during normal Firehouse Gallery hours (Wednesday through Sunday 12-5 pm with extended viewing on performance mights until curtain time ) and throughout the Literary Festival.