Poetry is. . .

According to Robert Frost, poetry is “when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” To Carl Sandburg, poetry is “an echo, asking a shadow how to dance.” Emily Dickinson wrote a poem about poetry “To see the Summer Sky/ Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie -/ True Poems flee.”

When the 6th graders are introduced to poetry, I read them several poet’s thoughts on poetry, and then I ask them how they define poetry. Here’s what they said and some poems that they wrote soon after. Each author was asked to write about their favorite place; they each have their own color.

Author 1

“Poetry is the loving art of rhyming random words and becoming famous. Poetry is the color cherry.”

PIZZA PLACE

Ukrainian pizza place

I arrive at a place where an unknown pizza lays on the table,

I arrive where a new ceiling is above me.

I arrive at this pizza place,

An eating place for me.

Oh waiter of the food! The customer humbly offers his money to buy food for himself.

Author 2

“Poetry is someone’s thoughts or feelings. It’s something about someone, something, or the person’s culture, society, government, and their rights and economy.” 

UNTITLED

This place is hot, 

Its beautiful sites

It was the place that I flew a kite, 

It’s where I was, 

it’s my homeland, 

its the south, 

it also is the state

that has most of my relatives, 

it’s Arizona.

Author 3 “Poetry is the words that make a person warm, sad, happy, and confused.”

MY HOME

There are three people who I love

My sister, mother and father

Home is my best place, because they are there

There are also many things I can do

I can eat food, play games, sleep, and talk

Home is my best place, because I can do those things there

Even though there are some bugs and it is not clean,

home is my best place!

Because there is my family

Author 4 “[Poetry is] Words that describe something you like or don’t like. Poetry can be beautiful or sad. It expresses feeling, like how you are feeling right now.”

MY PLACE

My place is where I was raised, I spent all of my life

in the Caucuses where almost everything is fresh. The

language was easy but difficult sometimes. 

How I would love to see my home again. 

How i would love to see my old friends again. 

How i would love to play in the streets again. 

How I would love to see my place again. 

My place Azerbaijan! 

Author 5 “[Poetry] is boring.” 

HELLO SEOUL

Hello Seoul. 

My home, my friend. 

Hello Seoul.

Many food, many friend

Hello Seoul

People, buildings, cars.

Hello Seoul

every time has sound. 

Bye Seoul. 

Let’s meet 2 years later. 

I miss you. 

Author 6 “Poetry is horrible! I think poetry is boring and everything besides good. Poetry is a story usually with rhythm or rhyming. Sometimes it doesn’t rhyme, but then it sounds bad. I would say poetry is blackest black.”

UNTITLED 

A place of comfort for me is home

Where I was born in the morn

Where the sky is bright to my eye

And where I eat with delight

I can feel the floor covered in a rug after getting a hug instantly when coming home.

Author 7

UNTITLED

I live over here in Moscow, 

But my place is far away. 

Way over in the USA, 

I would like to stay, 

There I was born, 

And lived for years. 

When i remember it, 

It makes me drop some tears. 

There I keep all my fears and smiles, 

My first laugh, secrets, and first cry. 

I think: how far is it until, 

These memories die?

it’d be so painful to forget, 

Such moments in my life. 

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A Hint of What We’re Missing By RKC

It’s the small things which make our time Stateside so enjoyable: driving a car down to the store, loading up the trunk and driving home again; trips to Target to browse anything and everything; looking out the window to breath-taking views of Colorado peaks and the San Juan Islands at sunset… Most treasured, though, would be the sound of Anna squealing with joy at the sight of a grandparent coming to scoop her up for a hug – I wish we could bottle up these special moments and relive their day-to-day resplendence at any time.

We’re filled with very mixed emotions as we prepare to return to Moscow just days from now. What a delight to be here in the States with family and friends during this season of our lives. We’re so thankful for the opportunity to be here: we recognize that the opportunity to be in the US for Peter’s birth was truly a luxury that many families in our line of work are unable to pursue. Each day here has been a gift. As we prepare to say goodbye, we recollect the treasured memories we’ve made here over the past months – not wanting this time to end. Returning overseas with small children who adore their grandparents (and vice versa) is quickly becoming an emotional experience for which we feel desperately unprepared. The looming heartache feels staggering.

Sometimes emotional heartache, although overwhelming, feels spiritually healthy. It reminds us that there is something more, something missing, something coming for which it’s better to wait. I think the coming of the fullness of God’s kingdom feels a lot like this imminent separation. We’ve had a taste of life in daily fellowship with family and friends, celebrating the gifts of life, of love, of creation, of beauty, of light. But for a little while, we suffer the lack of this fullness. We live at a distance from the people we treasure with simply the hint of what we’re missing.

So we return to Russia because so few Russians know that a new Kingdom has come. They don’t know of the fullness of life in fellowship or a love worth waiting to experience. They do not even recognize the hints of the Kingdom, let alone the existence of the King who will reign for all time. “We talk of the second coming, half of the world has heard of the first” (Oswald J. Smith.) We return to Moscow for the sake of this coming Kingdom and for the faces and faces of people living outside the Kingdom but desperately wanting to come in.

Any Hope for Moscow’s Winter? Or Anything?

When it is Autumn, all my love for family and friends, close or far, kindles with the color of the leaves. It deepens, and then bursts into red, orange, and purple flame. The people who are in front of me, I hug more. Those far away, I write more or call. Then I get so homesick, even for those nearby. In contrast, the next moment, I feel amazed at the existence of such beautiful people that could possibly care one wit about me; and then I get to love them back and get to know them–it’s incredible and mushy. There are so many emotions in Autumn. Life just pours out of everything until everything suddenly has no more life to give.

After a month or two passes, my proverbial beautiful leaves curl up, dry, and catch embers to burn. It’s like the song “Time is All Around” by Regina Spektor. “Leaves become more beautiful when they’re about to die,” she warns. She was loving beautifully, in the most beautiful way, and then the love died. She grows tired of putting forth effort “I’m so tired/ Why am I suppose to love if I don’t want to?” she says, “I don’t want to/I don’t want to/ I don’t want/I don’t want.” Winter here is just like that.

It sets in quickly, and it promises to be numb–cold, a chronic gray, and numb. Not sad, not happy, not melancholy, just nothing. A bad case of the “I don’t want” anything mood becomes chronic. Every year I’ve added a new weapon to my artillery against Moscow’s winter. Last year I whipped out exercise and now enjoy an activity that I always loathed before, running. This year I added extra vitamin D and a small, bright blue lamp called “happy”: this lamb blinds me for 15 minutes a day and supposedly will stuff some emotion back into my heart. We’ll see . . .

But what will really get me, and other Moscovites, through the looming winter? What will combat the apathy, the whining, the blues? I don’t mean to be cliche, but I have to be honest, it is just a little bit of hope. And yes, it’s vitamin D, and happy lamps, and exercise, and extra hugs and smiles and buying that bouquet of flowers or coloring with as many colors as possible: it’s all those little things AND it’s the one big thing:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature, children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And it is not by your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast, for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2: 1-10
The leaves will fill with bright color again: it’s simply the truth. They’ll be green and alive and then, they’ll be willing to, in a beautiful fit, die to themselves because they trust that they will be resurrected to an even brighter and broader green then was known before.
Okay, winter, here’s the deal: In faith I’m working on saying “yes” to the dying thing, by His grace, I believe the dying will be beautiful, and finally, by His great love, not by my own doing, I will choose to hope that I will be raised again from winter and everything else. I hope you can claim that, too!

Searching for Cornbread

As a child I didn’t like cornbread for two reasons. First my sister liked it, and secondly it was cut into triangles. Silly I know, but cornbread tastes better cut into rectangles. As I got older I realized that it is simply ridiculous to forgo my Grannie’s southern cornbread just because of a few hard feelings. Before moving to Moscow I was a cook-it-straight-out-of-a-box kinda girl (not just for cornbread). After moving to Moscow I realized that cornbread is one of my comfort foods, so I needed to learn how to make it. During the past year I have had a difficult relationship with cornbread because I just couldn’t seem to get the right texture, flavor, or moisture. I almost gave up on cornbread after a terrible experience at Thanksgiving, but as a foreigner failure is no stranger. I decided to combine a few recipes and a little bit of my new baking experience to finally settle on a good recipe. After about 6 unfortunate cornbread recipes, I have finally settled with my very own.

cornbread

Cornbread Recipe

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup melted butter, plus 1 Tablespoon for the pan

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 T vinegar, then fill to the 1 cup line with milk)

2 eggs

1/2 cup canned corn, drained

Preheat the oven to 400F (204C). Melt 1 T of butter in an 8×8 inch pan in the oven being careful not to burn the butter. Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Combine 1/3 cup melted butter, buttermilk, and eggs in a small mixing bowl. Lightly beat the buttermilk and egg mixture. Then add to the dry ingredients. Stir just until all of the dry ingredients are wet but still lumpy. Fold in the corn. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.