Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)
Poet friend Kate Coombs sent me a copy of her new picture book, Breathe and Be (Sounds True, 2017). It came in the mail on a busy day (is there such a thing as an un-busy day?), and I was going to wait until the weekend to cuddle up with it. But then I snuck a peek at one poem and couldn’t put it down. It is swoon-worthy.
And, honestly, that story is the perfect illustration of why I need this book. Why kids and adults both need this book. Most of us are so busy all the time. I strive for mindfulness but often fail. I do an extremely brief sort of meditation in the morning (we’re talking single digit numbers here), and sometimes I can’t even just breathe and be for that long!
The tanka in this book, and the absolutely lovely full-spread illustrations by Anna Emilia Laitinen, are like one-minute vacations for your mind. As I read this book, my mind lets go a little bit. The weight of the heavy stock paper, the grounded words–it all feels so calming and reassuring. I took this to my critique group meeting earlier this week, and everyone sighed happily as they wandered through the book.
I have often wondered what we tell kids who are in horrible situations: refugees, people displaced by natural disasters, kids in abusive homes…So many times, we can offer limited practical, immediate help. And though the practical problems need to be solved, too, I would wish to place this book in the hand of every child in a dire situation. Because sometimes all they have is this moment. This breath. One of my favorite poems describes the narrator’s thoughts as leaves floating away–one leaf being worry, another sadness. I’ll share that one with you next month.
But this isn’t bibliotherapy. It’s wonderful poetry! Here’s another one of my favorites:
Some days I bark and snap
like a little dog. Instead
I will be a tree.
Leaves, branches, roots–patient
in summer, in fall, winter, spring.
–Kate Coombs, all rights reserved, from Breathe and Be
[Addended to add: Check out the lovely Breathe and Be story hour guide prepared by Kate and the publisher!]
And for lots of wonderful poetry today, don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with Irene at Live Your Poem!