Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thinking About Dreams



Dreams

                 

It’s hard to dream

with an eviction notice

on my front door.



It’s hard to dream

when I sleep on

a living room floor.



It’s hard to dream

when I’m still hungry,

but there isn’t any more



It’s hard to dream—



But one thing I know

for sure,



when I grow up

I don’t want to be poor!





©Linda Kulp Trout



 A few years ago, I attempted to write a novel-in-verse.  I abandoned that dream because I didn’t feel my writing skills were strong enough to write a story anyone but me would care about.  Today's poem comes from a combination of my own childhood experience and that of my former students.  


As a child, I was a dreamer.  But, like many children born into poverty, I didn’t think my dreams were possible. So, I pushed my them aside and did what I needed to in order to get through each day.   I started babysitting for money when I was eleven and by twelve, I was employed at my first job.  I didn’t mind working because I was determined to live a different life than I had.  Dreams would have to wait.


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams and why we push them to the bottom of our to-do list.  For most of my life, my dream has been to write books that make a difference in the lives of kids.  My lack of self-confidence is a constant struggle. Many times, it takes a life changing experience or event to reassess our priorities.  For me, it happened this past summer, but that’s a story for another time. My way of thinking has changed.  I used to think about my childhood and resent the things I didn’t have.  Now, I choose to be grateful for what I did have. That has made all the difference.


What I’ve learned is that no matter how busy our lives are, even taking the tiniest steps toward our dreams makes life so much richer.  This blog post, "Where Have You Been?" inspires me to make time for my dream.


If you have time to leave a comment, I’d love to hear about your dreams and what you’re doing to achieve them.

A big thank you to Jama's Alphabet Soup for hosting this week’s Poetry Friday.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today would have been my mother's 83rd. birthday. She has been gone for more than six years, but I still think of her every day.  Although the scene in the poem I'm sharing today never actually happened, it is a love poem to my mother, part true, part the way I wish things would have been.

Mom was often lost in her thoughts.  I regret never asking her about her dreams. I'm sure she had some. She liked to write. She enjoyed music and dancing. She loved animals. One time she told me that she wanted to go to Africa to see the lions in the wild.  It never happened.

By the time Mom was in her early seventies, she had dementia. She was only 76 (just twelve years older than me) when she passed away. I think about that a lot. It both motivates and scares me, and it's one of the reasons I keep working toward my writing dreams.  Mom inspired me more than she ever knew.  She did the best she knew how, and I'm grateful for the good times we shared.
 This poem is for her.

A Vow

staring out the window it seems
my mother is lost somewhere between
us and her own private dreams

she once told me she'd like to see
Africa where lions live uncaged-- free
just the way they were meant to be

and she wants to write a book someday
but she's just to busy to start it today
with kids to raise and bills to pay--

sometimes I think she secretly wishes
for freedom from housework, diapers, dishes
always the giver of goodnight kisses--

suddenly seeing me standing there,
she calls me over to her chair--
and points to a piece of sky where

the Evening Star waits with a vow--anything
is possible-- her loving smile says everything
as she beings to sing--

-Linda Kulp Trout


A big thank you to Cheriee for hosting today's Poetry Friday at Library Matters. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Harvest Moon

When I was a little girl, I loved riding in the backseat of the car watching the moon follow us home. There's something spiritual and magical about the moon.

It's been cloudy here the past few nights, so I'm hoping the sky will be clear enough to see the harvest moon (my favorite!) tonight.  In anticipation, I wrote a quick little poem.  I not sure if the meter works but here goes.



Too Shy 



Tonight

I watched

a harvest moon

tiptoe

across the sky.

It hid behind

a wisp of clouds,

looking very

shy.



I said,

Don’t worry

Harvest Moon,

for I’m a lot

like you.



When I’m  feeling 

shaky, shy—

    

I try

to hide it

too.


-Linda Kulp Trout





Here are two beautifully written  and illustrated moon-themed books you'll want to check out:  HELLO, HARVEST MOON by Ralph Fletcher and IF YOU WERE the MOON by Laura Purdie Salas.






A big thank you to Laura for hosting this week at Writing the World for Kids.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Dreamers



Several years ago, I had an idea for a novel-in-verse inspired by the experiences and dreams of some of my students. I wrote a bunch of poems, but I had no idea how to weave them together into a novel.  (It’s so much harder than it looks!)  I saved them in a file and almost forgot about them. Today I'm sharing a poem from the collection.  The title comes from my belief that we should all be dreamers!  (Please forgive white background behind some of the words in the poem.) 


Dreamers

In El Salvador,
my parents
worked and saved
to come to the U.S.
Thieves stole
their money,
they walked
nearly 2,000 miles
on blistered feet
carrying baby me
and a backpack
full of dreams.

Today
I carry
a backpack
full of books.
My dream:
first in my family
to go to college.
Will I be
a doctor,
scientist,
teacher...

It’s up to me!

Papi says
the best thing
about dreams is
no one
can take them
away.

-Linda Kulp Trout


Last year, I discovered a beautiful picture book titled DREAMERS by Yuri Morales.  Yay!



After reading this description on Amazon, I had to have it.

Dreamers is a celebration of what migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It's a story about family. And it's a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own gifts wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.

Both the text and the illustrations are gorgeous. I wish I had DREAMERS when I was teaching.  Yuri's story is similar to the ones I heard my students tell. This book gives their stories a voice.

Here's a video I think you will enjoy.






A special thank you to Sylvia and Janet for hosting this week's Poetry Friday at Poetry for Children.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

ALL THE COLORS OF THE RAIN


I read a lot of novels in verse.  My favorites are character-driven stories with a lot of emotion like the one I just finished reading,  THE COLORS OF THE RAIN by R.L.Toalson.  It is everything I hoped it would be, heartbreaking, hopeful, and unforgettable. I didn’t want the story to end because I felt so connected to the main character's authentic and powerful voice. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, so I’ll just share just a bit of the blurb inside the book jacket.  






Ten-year-old Paulie Sanders hates his name because it also belonged to his daddy, who killed a man and crashed a car. With Mama unable to cope, Paulie and his sister, Charlie, move in with Aunt Bee and try to make a fresh start.  But it's 1972 and their new school puts them right in the middle of the Houston School District's war on desegregation. 

Here is an excerpt from the first poem:

RAIN

Most nights
I sleep just fine
because most nights
it doesn't rain.

The last time it rained like this
we drove past that curve
Gran always called dangerous
and saw lights flashing red and blue
and people walking around
and a body covered
with a white sheet
that glowed in the dark.

Mama didn't slow down long enough
to look at the twisted car.
It was too dark to see, anyhow.
We didn't know who was
under the sheet, but Mama said
a prayer for their family
as we drove on by.

-R.L Toalson

Doesn't that just grab your heart and make you want to know more?  You can read a few more poems from the beginning of the book here.

Go here to read an interview with R.L.Toalson, and be sure to watch this inspiring video where the author shares her writing process.




I'm already looking forward to reading more from this very talented writer.  I really hope she writes a sequel to THE COLORS OF THE RAIN because I want to know more about the next chapter in Paulie's life.

A special thank you to Kat for hosting this week's Poetry Friday on her blog Kathryn Apel.

Friday, August 23, 2019

#DearOneLBH


It has been such a sad summer around here. Within five weeks, we lost a beloved family member, our sweet kitty and now Lee.  So many good-byes.  So much grief.

Lately,  I've been doing a lot of wondering about why things happen the way they do.  I haven't written much lately except in my journal, but when I heard about the Poetry Friday tribute to Lee Bennett Hopkins, I knew I wanted to be part of it. Lee played a huge role in my writing life through his anthologies, his poems, and encouragement.

Just imagine my excitement when way back in 1995 Lee called me to discuss using my poems in one of his anthologies.  Lee Bennett Hopkins on the phone with me!  I remember the two of us laughing a lot, but other than that, I don’t remember much about the conversation. I was in a daze and felt like I was dreaming. 

Not long after that, I started getting little handwritten notes from Lee about upcoming projects.  I kept every one of those notes. They are treasures! Years later,  we corresponded by email.  I kept those too and read them whenever I need a boost of encouragement.  Not all of the poems I submitted to Lee ended up in his books, but when one did, what a thrill!  


The last email I received from Lee said,  “Dear One:  I’m sorry that your poem had to be dropped from the collection. Please don’t fret too much over this. There will be other times I’ll get you into a collection. I have always loved working with you, Linda, and I look forward to new things coming up in the future. I write with love-ness, Lee”


Those were his last words to me. Lee always knew how to make someone feel like the most special person on the planet. He will forever live on in my heart.

For my tribute poem, I chose the lines ”I sit/alone/on the edge of the bed/wondering” from Lee’s poem “Once More” published in AMERICA AT WAR.  It's a poem I have loved since I first read it.




I wrote this poem not only for Lee, but also for all the loved ones I've lost. My poem is very simple, and but it comes from my heart.


Without You

     for Lee Bennett Hopkins

I sit
alone
on the edge of the bed

wondering—

How does the world
keep going
without you?

I see your face.
I hear your voice.
Your laughter—
fills the air.

So how can it be
that you are not here?

I sit
alone

wondering...

           Linda Kulp Trout


Amy is hosting today's Poetry Friday at The Poem Farm with more tributes to the amazing Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Bittersweet Mother's Day Poem


When you reach for my hand,
I pull it away.

I shrug my shoulders,
when you ask about my day. 

I refuse your hugs
when my friends might see,

and I won’t let you walk
too close to me.

But no matter where I am,
or how tall I grow,
I will always love you—

Even when
I don’t let it show.

-Linda Kulp Trout


I hadn't planned to post anything today, but something has been on my mind.  A couple of weeks ago, while crossing a parking lot, I reached for my seven year old grandson's hand.  For the first time, he pushed my hand away.  A clear sign he's becoming more independent.

It brought back memories of my own sons.  I still remember standing outside my son's first grade classroom.  I reached to hug him, and he pulled away. I tried to hide the sting in my heart as he walked through the door.

Watching my sons grow up was bittersweet. I was proud of their independence, and yet, it was so hard to let them go. My sons are grown, and although I miss my little boys, I love the men they have become.  And I've come to realize that they have never really let go. They just hold on in a different way now.

My grandchildren are becoming more and more independent. I know how hard this is for my daughter-in-law so this poem is for her.

Be sure to visit Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass for this week's Roundup.