Friday, January 25, 2013

Mama Needs a New Pair of Shoes

by Catherine Giordano

Today I posted to the News Print Poetry 2012 blog.  I dug into the archives for an unposted poem about Burmese pythons written on August 14, 2012. Read the poem.

Burmese pythons in the Everglades is big news right now. The state of Florida is sponsoring the “Great Python Challenge to try to reduce the numbers of these snakes in Florida. It’s a one-month hunting season for pythons with a prize of $1,500 for whoever kills the most and a $1,000 prize for whoever gets the largest. 

The challenge continues until February 10, 2013, so you still have a chance to try to collect a prize. And even if you don't win the prize, you might get a nice pair of snakeskin shoes out of it.

You can shoot the snakes or chop off their heads.  But be careful out there—over 1,000 hunters have entered the contest. It might get a little crowded.

Maybe posting some of the extra poems I did and never posted is a way to keep the blog going now that it is 2013. I’ve gotta keep posting and trying and maybe, someday in some way, this blog will lead to a payday. Mama needs a new pair of shoes.

P.S. I had to do this post because I needed an excuse to show these shoes. Aren't they great.

P. P.S.
One way you can help with the payday is to click on the shopping cart on the left when you want to buy something from amazon. You can even by shoes. Snakeskin shoes. CLICK HERE to see more snakeskin shoes.

This picture of python-skin shoes is from

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration 2013: Richard Blanco's Inaugural Poem: "One Today"

by Catherine Giordano

I watched the inauguration today and as Richard Blanco was announced I said to myself, “Maybe one day that will be me.”

I know--Never gonna happen.  But still it inspired me to try my hand at writing an inauguration poem.  If I manage to do one that I think is worth sharing, I’ll post it.  In the meantime, you can read Richard Blanco’s poem.

"One Today"
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper -- bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives -- to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind -- our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me -- in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always -- home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country -- all of us --
facing the stars
hope -- a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it -- together.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Monkey Off My Back

by Catherine Giordano

One year later. Over 400 poems later.  How does it feel to have the “monkey off my back”? It feels great.

The “monkey” is the self-imposed requirement to write a daily poem based on something in that day’s Orlando Sentinel. I actually did it—I wrote one or more of these “news print poems” everyday.

It feels great to have this chronicle of 2012. 

It feels great to have my book, News PrintPoetry 2012: Best of 2012 on

It feels great not to have to go through the paper three times trying to find something that I can turn into a poem.

I thought I would have this hole in my day—the “hole” being the hour or more I spent writing my poem. Not so. It is like a hole you might scoop out of a lake. In a split second, the hole is filled back up.  I don’t feel like I have an extra hour in my day.  

I thought I’d be finding “poems” in the newspaper everyday—poems that would be too good to pass up. Not so much.  Perhaps because I have been so busy compiling the poems for my book.

I’m glad I undertook this project. I’m glad I had fortitude to stick with it. I’m glad it’s over.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

by Catherine Giordano

It’s January 1, 2013. My News Print Poetry Project—a poem a day based on a story from the newspaper –is complete.  I did about 400 poems because some days I did more than one.  How nice to wake up this morning without that obligation.

I had close to 12,000 page views over the course of the year, an average of 1000 a month.  now I know lots of blogs get that many in a day, but I was writing poetry--the audience for poetry is not that big.  

Most of the time I loved doing the news print poetry. How did I love it.  Let me count the ways.

 (1) It forced me to write every day. It was a great teacher of discipline. It forced me to find the poem, even when “there was nothing worth writing about.”  Some of the best poems were written on the days when I was ready to give up.

(2) It also “primed the pump.”  It put me at my desk writing, and when the poem was completed and posted, I’d be ready to continue writing other things.

(3 )It gave me the opportunity to explore different styles and techniques of poetry.

(4) I learned about many things. The project forced me to read the newspaper thoroughly to find a story for my poem. Sometimes, I’d do further research on a topic because the story got me curious. Most recently I did some research on Kwanzaa, and I now know a lot more about the holiday.

(5 )Often the daily poem became a prompt that set me to writing a “regular” poem on the subject. I would rewrite and/or expand upon my news print poem without being restricted by the “rules” of news print poetry.

(6) I had to learn a lot about SEO (search engine optimization) in order to gain a wider audience for my poetry blog. I’m sure this will stand me in good stead.

(7) I had the pleasure of gaining an audience for my work and knowing that I sometimes touched , informed and/or entertained people, friends and strangers alike, throughout the world. (I had a lot of readers outside the United States.)

(8) I t added five books to my curriculum vitae.  News Print Poetry 2012: Volumes 1 to 4, (one for each calendar quarter) and The Best of News Print Poetry 2012. (They haven’t all been published yet, but they will be in-print and available for purchase on by the end of the month.)

2012 was a very good year for my project.  So many dramatic events were in the news that made for great poetry topics—the presidential election (which gave me the opportunity to advocate for my candidate), the tornados and storms, (which gave me the opportunity to speak out on ecological matters), murder and mass murder, (which gave me the opportunity to express the distress of the nation) the death of famous people (which gave me the opportunity to memorialize them with my poem), and many others.

I will continue to do the news print poems, but only when I find a particularly worthy story. I hope to do it one or twice a week.

I also plan to continue this blog to write about writing.I also plan to continue this blog to write about writing.

Most of the time, I didn’t write with pen and paper by a lake: I wrote in my home office on my computer.  However, I did have lots of natural light thanks to a big window and a skylight.  

Sometimes, I did use pen and paper.  I wrote in restaurants, waiting rooms, etc. and then entered the poem into the computer. 

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