Poetry Friday – Sealey Challenge Update

It’s Poetry Friday. Molly at “Nix the Comfort Zone” is hosting today. She shares photos of Maine and a gorgeous bouquet of haiku in celebration of the nature of summer.

Here are the poetry books I read this week:

August 11, 2023The Land of Counterpane by Robert Louis Stevenson

August 12, 2023One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and Dinosaur Dance! and dozens more board books of poetry and prose that my baby grandson sat and listened to. Or sometimes crawled around while I finished.

“Tiny little dino goes deedly dee.” So cute!

August 13, 2023What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer – This is a wonderful anthology in three parts (dating, marriage, and children). Kate is beautiful and brutal in her honesty. It was a gift of poetry from my daughter. Follow Kate at @KateJBaer (If you haven’t heard of her, you won’t be disappointed.)

I found these A. A. Milne books at a  library sale, and realized I hadn’t read them for decades, so they were two of my books this week.

August 14, 2023When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne

August 15, 2023Now We are Six by A.A. Milne

Look at those sweet dirty knees! Milo helped me keep on track this week in the Sealey Challenge.

August 16, 2023E. E. Cummings Selected Poems edited by Richard S. Kennedy.

I love this children’s rhyme. Be sure to read it aloud.

August 17, 2023Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Oh, my. I missed this beauty when it was published in 2010. It’s really a long found poem, created from the author’s favorite book of all time: A short story collection called The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz. The Author’s Afterword is fascinating and heartbreaking, and I cannot do it justice in summary here. Suffice it to say, the story of this book includes the Holocaust, the Wailing Wall, along with Schulz’s senseless killing and most of his creative work being lost during the war. In the Afterword, Foer writes: “At times I felt that I was making a gravestone rubbing of The Streets of Crocodiles, and at times I was transcribing a dream that The Streets of Crocodiles might have had.”

Here are two pages transcribed, which I think show the typical  poetic gems in  this book:

The earth was covered
with a tablecloth of winter
The hours of darkness
hardened with boredom
One cut them with blunt knives

August has passed,
and yet summer continues
by force to grow days.
They sprout secretly
between the chapters
of the year,
covertly included
between its pages.

For one who can’t imagine how the book was designed, like me, Tree of Codes is a feat of paper engineering magic.


August’s Ethical ELA Open Write begins this weekend. I will be hosting on Saturday, so I hope you’ll come and check out the prompt and join us with a draft of your own to share.

15 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – Sealey Challenge Update

  1. A fascinating collection! Thank you for sharing it with us. Tree of Codes is such an original homage. Those are some sweet dirty knees!

  2. Thank you for sharing the poetry books you are reading. I ordered What Kind of Woman and The Tree of Codes, and I can’t wait to dive in. And those knees!!! Adorable.

  3. I laughed out loud when I read about Kate Baer’s poem and the brined man. Wonderful. Would love to read that book as well as Foer’s. Thank you.

  4. I loved reading about “your” reading, Denise. The Milne books travel in & out of the bookstore but I’ve kept mine! Others are new & that Foer books seems incredible in thought and execution. “The hours of darkness/hardened with boredom.” Exactly! I will look for it!

  5. Oh golly. Oh my. Oh rumbling gale of desire: TREE OF CODES. Had not heard, have not seen, wish I had made. Your selections this week are winners!

  6. Wow! I went to check out Kate Baer, and there went an hour. Thanks for sharing all your treasures from this week!

  7. Dozens of poetry board books and sweet dirty knees- what a great combination! A happy, sweet balance to beautiful brutal honesty and the found poem that made the poet feel as if he were making a grave rubbing. All the books you shared call out to be read… revisiting The Land of Counterpane, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, a collection of board books and some whimsical e. e. cummings (especially if we find our own little person with sweet dirty knees to read to)… and venturing into the others that will be so thought-provoking.

  8. Wow, Denise! This post is such a rich pool, inviting us all to take a breath and dive in. You’ve shared such fabulous snippets…my head is almost spinning from the force of them all combined. Each of your shares could easily have been a full post. “Tree of Codes”–wow! That e.e.cummings poem–sheer wordplay delight! Those fabulous dirty knees! I could go on and on! So much to love here!

  9. Where to start with a response to this rich, full, diverse and nourishing post? Thank you, Denise, for sharing your found treasures and introducing me to poets I didn’t know about, and offering a chance to visit some I did. PRECIOUS time reading with your grandson – I’m enjoying the same with ours, who just turned 14 months old and loves loves loves books. Best wishes on this busy weekend for you!

  10. Such a rich post Denise, many thanks for sharing all these poetry books–a couple I have, the A. A. Milne’s. “Tree of Codes” sounds intriguing, and I 💜 Kate Baer’s poem, and the E. E. Cummings, so many treasures!

  11. Thanks for sharing all this poetry goodness, Denise. I love that your grandson helped keep you on track.

  12. Thanks for the chubby fingers pointing and the grubby knees listening and the excellent recommendations (two books on hold at the library, thanks to you)!

  13. Denise, Thank you for sharing these books. “The Wife” is …DELICIOUS!! And I am in LOVE with Milo’s knees! How fun that he is helping with your Sealey Challenge. The glimpse into Frantzen’s book is staggering. Raw. Wow.

  14. What a great selection of readings for this week! Love seeing everyone’s Sealey Challenge progress.

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