Friday, June 15, 2007

POETRY FRIDAY: Poetry of the Everglades

Last week, I posted two poems about fathers in memory of my dad who passed away more than twenty years ago. I wasn’t sure I was going to have time to post at Blue Rose Girls this week because I have been making preparations for a trip up to Vermont with family. That means lots of shopping and food preparation because my husband and I really like to eat well…wherever we are. There have also been other matters that have needed my attention.

Recently, I did some googling of Anne McCrary Sullivan. Sullivan, a teacher at National-Louis University in Tampa, Florida, wrote an article for the Harvard Educational Review (Volume Seventy/Number Two/Summer 2000) that I love to read…over and over again. The article, Notes from a Marine Biologist’s Daughter: On the Art and Science of Attention, is one of the best that I have ever read in an educational journal. In the article, Sullivan includes her own autobiography of attention in the form of nine poems that touch on the influence that her marine biologist mother had on Sullivan and the way she observes everything in her life. It also speaks to teachers and children and educational research and to the essence of what “paying attention” really means. I highly recommend the reading of the article to teachers, parents, poets, and nature lovers.

Here are subheadings from her article:
I. An Autobiography of Attention (Part 1)
II. Poems in the Academy (Part 1)
III. Aesthetic Vision: A Complex Attention
IV. An Autobiography of Attention (Part 2)
V. Poems in the Academy (Part 2)
VI. Teaching Attention
VII. On Attention, Education, and Art

Here are some excerpts from her poems:

From Notes from a Marine Biologist’s Daughter

My mother loves the salty mud of estuaries,
has no need of charts to know what time
low tide will come. She lives
by an arithmetic of moon,
calculates emergences of mud

waits for all that crawls there, lays eggs,
buries itself in the shallow edges
of streamlets and pools…

From Learning Blue

My mother taught me blue—
water under the boat,
shadow in the marsh,

blue flashing
at the sides of fish…

blue speck at the clam’s inner hinge,
just beside
where the soft body lies…

Unfortunately, I didn’t find the full text of the poems included in Sullivan’s article available on the Internet—but I did find Bringing Art to the Endangered Everglades, an article written by Donna Marxer for Land Views. The article includes two poems about the Everglades written by Anne McCrary Sullivan. Here is the partial text of one of the poems:

From Rangers of The Everglades
by Anne McCrary Sullivan

These are people who love the green,
watery, actual world teeming
with fishes and birds and furry things,

things rooted and reaching toward sky,
blossoming and seeding, needling
and coning. They love the dirt. The mud.

They walk us along sloughs, naming:
great blue heron, little blue heron, egret,
ibis, red shouldered hawk. They tell us
how alligators love and how the anhinga
feed their young…

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Those of you interested in reading children’s poetry about the Everglades may want to look for the following book:
Poems by Frank Asch
Photographs by Ted Levin
Harcourt Brace, 1996

In addition to poems about the animal and plant life that inhabit the Everglades, the book includes Levin’s wonderful nature photographs of this Florida wetland. At the back of the book, there are notes and captions about the book’s photographs.

Today at Wild Rose Reader, I have an interview with children’s poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Simple and the Ordinary today.


Libby Koponen said...

That article on attention sounds great! Is it online anywhere?

Or maybe the Mystic Library (a charming Victorian building on a tree-filled hill behind my house) can order it for me....I'm not optimistic, though. That's one of the drawbacks of living in the country!

It sounds great, though. Thanks, Elaine.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I couldn't find the article online. I would have definitely linked to it. Most articles in educational journals are pretty dense. This one by Anne McCrary Sullivan was a much more personal piece.