Monday, April 18, 2011

PEACEFUL PIECES by Anna Grossnickle Hines

Poetry Tag continues with a book review of a new book of poetry connected to yesterday's book review.

Today’s tagline: Poetry about peace

Guest Reviewer: Jan Kirkland

Featured Book: Hines, Anna Grossnickle. 2011. PEACEFUL PIECES. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-8996-7

Jan writes: Hines has assembled a collection of poems and illustrations of handmade quilts about peace. Peace is addressed in a variety of situations from the universal scale to the individual. At the book’s end there is a two-page spread on “The Peacemakers” offering biographical information of each individual represented on the quilt for the poem, “Big Shoes.” This section is followed by “Peaceful Connections” describing the process of quilt making.

This book of 28 poems offers a variety of styles from free verse, an acrostic poem, poems of form using a variety of print sizes, spacing, and boldness of print, as well as length, including a one line poem, and there is shape in the poem “Pass it On” where the words encircle the earth.

The book opens with the idea of how peace will come on drums, with trumpets blaring, waving banners, or by one lone flute, calmly. “Where I Live” provides a definition of peace inviting the reader to experience the complexity and fullness of peace. There is a recipe for the essential ingredients of peace. Feelings are drawn upon in the humor of making peace while standing nose to nose with a sibling, or the pull of heartstrings as a young boy yearns for his soldier daddy to be the laughing daddy he remembers. We feel the awe and wonder of the contributions of the peacemakers, and the poem, “Dominoes” helps us to have a sense of connectedness with other people.

Strong imagery is evident throughout this wondrous book and is beautifully represented in “Reruns” where angry thoughts are exploding in the brain. Words are set against a background quilt of vivid blues and purples with brilliant red firecracker bursts. Picture the words of “What If?” /What if angry words/vanished like/soap bubbles/and punches landed light/as butterfly kisses? /What if guns/fired marshmallow bullets, and bombs burst/into feather clouds/. Angry words engage the senses becoming concrete objects that may be seen, felt, and tasted.

For those who know something about quilting, they will immediately appreciate the beauty and artistry of the quilt pieces. Others will have their eyes opened to a unique art form that captures the richness and detail of an artist’s brush with stitches. Vivid colors cover the entire color spectrum from the softness of dappled light on a pond to the vibrant colored thoughts exploding in the brain. Artistry of words meets artistry of fabric. Hines has made an exquisite contribution with this work.

Poem sample:

Where I Live
by Anna Grossnickle Hines

Where I live the breeze
blows gently across the pond,
the sky is clear and blue,
trees grow tall,
and the song of birds floats in the air.
Where I live people talk instead of fight,
listen instead of talk,
respect and honor differences.
Where I live the hungry are fed,
the sick healed,
the lost returned
safe to their homes.
Where I live there is laughter
and song
and dance.
Where I live there is a stillness,
an openness,
a space for ideas to be born.
Where I live there is no need of fear.
Where there is no fear I live.
Where I live is as big as your heart
and as small as the universe.
I am peace.
Will you have me live with you?

This poem invites the reader to think about many of the actions required to have peace such as talking, listening, helping others, acts of kindness, laughing, singing, and dancing. In other words, we must be an active influence in the world around us to foster peace.

In the hallway of the school, a large quilt mural titled “Promoting Peace” could be displayed. For a six weeks period or perhaps a semester, all of the school’s various grade levels would actively contribute to the idea of promoting peace and then displaying their contributions through photographs or artwork on the hallway mural. Artwork could be done on quilt size blocks to be pieced together creating a school quilt at the end. Other possible peace-building activities include:

• One grade may choose to collect canned food/clothing for the poor.
• Field trips might be made to nursing homes where students could do poetry readings, drama, sing or dance.
• Respecting others by inviting individuals of varied cultures to share, helping students learn what makes the different cultures unique.
• Creating a buddy system to provide support to a newcomer to the school.
• Practicing active listening in classroom discussions and learning the value of hearing others’ ideas.

Students could write about the class activities in promoting peace at the end of the project and have them included in a school newsletter.

Tomorrow’s tagline: Poetry about expressing oneself through art

[We’re now more than halfway through Poetry Month—still time to grab a copy of PoetryTagTime, an e-book with 30 poems, all connected, by 30 poets, all connected and downloadable right now at Amazon for your Kindle or Kindle app for your computer, iPad or phone. Just 99 cents.]

Image credit: Henry Holt; PoetryTagTime

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell and students © 2011. All rights reserved.


Michele Krueger said...

Sylvia and Jan,
What a beautiful and important book! Ever since Anna's PIECES- A YEAR IN POEMS AND QUILTS came out in 2001, I have treasured her work.(I'm a vintage quilt collector!) So glad to see another book.
In the spirit of tag, and in honor of Earth Day, coming up on Friday, I offer this poem:


Last night I dreamt
the whole wide world
was my big back yard plot;
I planted tons of Lettuce Love,
which bloomed right on the spot.
My tools were few and humble,
yet they served me from the start.
I watered with my laughter,
O I sowed with all my heart.
I spilled full buckets on the wind,
that scattered in the breeze.
I ended war forever more,
those pails were filled with Peas.

Happy Poetry Month!
Michele Krueger

Sylvia Vardell said...

Hi, Michele,
Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your timely poem. What a gem!
Happy Earth Day to you, too!