Friday, May 3, 2019

A truly beautiful book

Beautifully written, urgent in style, important in message.

Those words come to mind about White Rose by Kip Wilson. I urge people to buy this book if you can or order it from your local library. This historical fiction written in verse is among the first books published by the new Versify imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, led by Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander.

White Rose was the name of a small group of German university students who attempted to wake up the populace to what Hitler was doing. They printed pamphlets and wrote street messages, urging people to resist the Nazi regime.

In the end, they were caught and did not make the impact they had hoped when they put their lives on the line. But their story stands today as an important lesson in recognizing and speaking out early against fascism.

Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and their friends have not been forgotten in history.

One of the things I like about the way Kip Wilson writes Sophie's story is she makes it clear that it took time for Sophie and Hans to stand up. At first, they joined the Hitler youth groups, which were framed more like scout troops, enjoying the camp atmosphere but not the propaganda. Their father was briefly imprisoned for being outspoken in opposition to Hitler, as was Hans later.

They were uncomfortable when they saw Jewish friends being harassed ("as if Jews aren't people like us at all"), but it took them time to put their necks on the chopping block (quite literally) and form the White Rose. Sophie's boyfriend Fritz was even a German soldier.

Here is one of the verses, stunning in its impact:

 Fritz tells me
 officers' mail

that I should
feel free
to say
what I like,

which is good
because I have
to say.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Snow day

sea of white, whirl of
snow-smoke, junco flung sideways--
picture-window scene

If you haven't guessed it's snowing in Seattle. Low temps in the 20s this week, which for here is cold. I'm enjoying the pretty and scribbling haiku.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

haiku to an eclipse

pale opal hangs in
the sky caught between the stars
and towering pines

Haiku upon watching the Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse. I felt like I should dance or something.

The neighborhood kids decided to howl.

 The clouds kept their distance until after totality and then gently took back the night.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

first haiku of 2019

January sky--
cotton-candy dawn follows
evening's pink-snow ridge

Friday, November 30, 2018

Blood Water Paint

I knew nothing of Artemisia Gentileschi before I read Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough. I loved this beautiful, harrowing novel told in a combination of verse and prose.

This story based on a real life is more relevant than ever despite Artemisia living from 1593 to 1653. She struggled for recognition for her work and dignity in her life even though her father took credit for her paintings and her tutor raped her. Artemisia took her accusation to court and suffered terrible consequences.

And yet this is a story of perseverance and a belief in truth. Artemisia is bolstered by the stories her mother had told of the Biblical women Susanna and Judith. The stories were far different than the ones told by men about those women, and they instilled strength in Artemisia for all she would do.

This is a story of perspective both in painting and in life.

I highly recommend this extraordinary book.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

when morning inspires haiku

this winter morning
rose and pewter sky--soft wool
nestled below

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

When you retreat

A few weeks ago I attended a retreat that met all my expectations--the Weekend on the Water  held by the SCBWI-WWA at the incredible IslandWood on Bainbridge Island.

One thing I really appreciated about this retreat was that organizers made the extra effort to reach out to participants, coming up to talk or sit at their table, rather than keeping to themselves. I know it made me feel welcome and comfortable. I imagine the dozens of people in attendance felt the same.

Weekend on the Water originally was held at a different place along Puget Sound.

IslandWood, which was developed to teach environmental awareness and sustainability, is deep in lovely forest, but there is water: The Pond.

A docent led those of us who were interested on a walk that included these marvels:

Tree House #1 is built so the central tree can move within a ring, swaying without disturbing the structure.
Tree House #2 where you can write in the woods or study the forest canopy

Suspension Bridge

Bird blind located at a bog, which is about 10,000 years old. A bog is an enclosed basin, whereas a marsh has water running through it. Since a bog is acidic it keeps trees stunted within the basin while they grow to full size along the perimeter.

Communal room in a sleeping lodge
Did I mention the FOOD? Some of the best I've eaten anywhere and I forgot to photograph its beautiful bounty until the last meal. So here is a salad in all its freshness.
The meals are served family style, and the staff goes above and beyond to be sure everyone has what they need.

Of course, this was a writing/illustrating retreat so there was solid programming that focused on ways to feed creativity by finding an art/life balance.

Kirby Larsen (Newbery Honor Book HATTIE BIG SKY) talked about how to slow down and sit with a problem awhile when frustration sets in. She suggested a drift journal to jot down seemingly unrelated stories to see where they may go.

Joni Sensel, who writes YA and middle grade fantasies, discussed the idea of liminal space and creativity. I loved the exercise of placing your character on a threshold/a doorway and see what happens. The unknown can be transformation, growth, or something monstrous. Whatever direction it takes it represents change.

One roundtable discussion yielded these ideas I find fascinating: Do some art for each chapter to get a refreshed view. Think of three disasters that could happen and a solution.

There was so much more, including inspiring talks from Candlewick illustrator Jennifer K. Mann and author Beth Bacon. If you can find such a retreat, go if you can, recharge your batteries and your heart.