Poetic Strokes & Word Flow Anthology 2014: Homeschool Writing Group Well Represented!

JJM Braulick, Leslie Schultz, & Atia Cole  (photo: Liana Cole)

JJM Braulick, Leslie Schultz, & Atia Cole (photo: Liana Cole)

In our longstanding writing group of four, three of us were eligible to submit work to the Southeastern Libraries Cooperating Organization (SELCO) 2014 Poetic Strokes/Wordflow regional anthology. (Scroll down for text of our poems!)

Each of us did, and–surprise!–each of us is thrilled to announce that our work is represented together in the same volume. SELCO represents eleven Minnesota counties. Poetic Strokes is open to adults (ages 19 and older) resident in these counties; poets in this age group could submit two poems each. Wordflow is open to residents aged 14 to 18; younger poets could submit one poem each. All told, 307 poems were received this year from 223 poets residing in 37 communities, and 51 poems were selected for publication (23 by 21 adults, 28 by 28 younger poets).

We three are very honored to be included, and to know that our work is on the shelves of the libraries in those 37 communities. We are also proud of the legislators and the people of Minnesota for making this possible with funding from the Arts and Culture Legacy Fund (ACHF). The ACHF was created in 2008 from the Clean Water, Land, & Legacy amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution. Funds are used to help promote arts and culture throughout the state (including this year’s Northfield’s Sidewalk Poetry Project and Poem in Your Pocket Day projects.)

Legacy Logo ColorFinal

Poetic Strokes Tide

Poetic Strokes Chosen

Poetic Strokes Forest

If you would like to have a copy of the anthology for your personal or civic library–or to receive notice of the 2015 competition next fall–please contact: Reagen A. Thalacker, Regional Librarian, 2600 19th Street NW, Rochester, MN 55901 (507) 288-5513!


The Allure of Birds: Photos by Karla Schultz; “Compass” (Poem)

Male Cardinal, Atlanta Botanical Gardens  (photo: Karla Schultz)

Male Cardinal, Atlanta Botanical Gardens (photo: Karla Schultz)


Flickering flame, face
Black as soot, the cardinal
Flies north, points to spring.

Leslie Schultz

At the vernal equinox, here in Minnesota, we start looking for migratory birds heading north, one of the clear signs of spring.

Male Cardinal, Calaway Gardens, GA  (photo: Karla Schultz)

Male Cardinal, Calaway Gardens, GA (photo: Karla Schultz)



Nuthatch near Macon, GA  (photo: Karla Schultz)

Nuthatch near Macon, GA (photo: Karla Schultz)

At this time of year in Minnesota, the landscape holds a lot of white, black, and grey on both sides of the horizon line. One has to look harder to see the subtle colors that are, in fact, there. This is the time of year when I long for a few days of Caribbean blue waters, the intense terracotta of the southwestern mesas, the legendary emerald greens of Ireland. I understand the impulse of the snowbird.

Warbler near Savannah, GA (photo: Karla Schultz)

Warbler near Savannah, GA (photo: Karla Schultz)
















Travel is not on the table just now, but, thanks to my sister, Karla, here are some images of bright-winged travelers. All images were taken in the southeastern United States (Georgia and Florida). Just the roll call of their names gives me the lift of color I crave: roseate spoonbill, green heron, Great Blue heron, red-bellied woodpecker, greater yellow-legs…! All of these species, and more (including those with beautiful white, black, brown, and grey plumage) are here, including the art history star, the goldfinch. (Mystified? Scroll to the bottom to uncover the reference!)

Roseate Spoonbill in Florida (photo: Karla Schultz)

Roseate Spoonbill in Florida (photo: Karla Schultz)

Egret in Florida  (photo: Karla Schultz)
Egret in Florida (photo: Karla Schultz)


Egret Chicks in Florida  (photo: Karla Schultz)

Egret Chicks in Florida (photo: Karla Schultz)


Greater Yellowlegs in Florida  (photo: Karla Schultz)
Greater Yellowlegs in Florida (photo: Karla Schultz)












Coot near Savannah, GA  (photo: Karla Schultz)

Coot near Savannah, GA (photo: Karla Schultz)





Black Vulture in Florida  (photo: Karla Schultz)

Black Vulture in Florida (photo: Karla Schultz)















Eastern Bluebird in Atlanta, GA  (photo: Karla Schultz)

Eastern Bluebird in Atlanta, GA (photo: Karla Schultz)


Wren  near Macon, GA (photo: Karla Schultz)

Wren near Macon, GA (photo: Karla Schultz)

How do you feel about the colors in nature at this time of year? If you need a little extra “color therapy”, how do you find it? 


Goldfinch near Macon, GA  (photo: Karla Schultz)
Goldfinch near Macon, GA (photo: Karla Schultz)
















On a literary note, if you are looking for a long, satisfying novel to dive into, consider the new title by Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch. Tim gave it to me this year at Christmas. I found it to be a mesmerizing, art-filled, lyrical page turner and so did he.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch cover









Allure of Birds How to Be Perfect

Or dip into the modern poems of Ron Padgett…

Allure of Birds Bright Wings Copy

Allure of Birds Bright Wings Back Cover Copy

…or seek out this gorgeous anthology that pairs watercolor illustrations of particular birds with poems–classic, modern, or contemporary–from dozens of authors, each chosen with care by Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

Thank you for reading this! If you think of someone else who might enjoy it, please forward it to them. And, if you are not already a subscriber, I invite you to subscribe to the Wednesday posts I am sending out each week–it’s easy, it’s free, and I won’t share your address with anyone!


In Celebration of Sonnets: Sonnets by William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, & Leslie Schultz; Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest 2014

I love sonnets. I have been writing them since I was in college. I respond to and create both the two dominant classic forms, Shakespearian and Petrarchan, and have attempted a few Spenserian sonnets. I have a whole host of fourteen-line poems that are variously sonnet-like, and discerning readers will have noted that the poem I published here last December, entitled “Winter Walk”, was an entwined double sonnet of my own devising. Some years ago, at the turn of the year, I was able to channel the grief I felt at the anniversary of my father’s death into art: in the space of twenty-four hours, I found I had written a five-sonnet sequence.

Sonnet Ice Heart

Why sonnets? They are the perfect size to establish, develop, and then reverse or sum up an idea. With fourteen lines of iambic pentameter one has 140 syllables at one’s disposal. A poet whose work I revere, and was very kind to me as a mentor, Amy Clampitt, told me that when she had a poem that was going on and on and she couldn’t tell where the heart of it was, she would try writing it as a sonnet, because that always clarified the essence of the work at hand. I enjoy the rhymes or slant rhymes, depending on the choices of the poet–I especially love to read a poem and then review it to realize it is a sonnet when I didn’t first observe that because the rhyme and enjambment was so skillfully handled. I also love the turn a sonnet reliably provides. Sonnets have enough room to be discursive, even chatty, but they are also succinct. They take just over one minute to recite slowly, with expression.

When Tim and I married, we included a favorite by Shakespeare in the service.

Sonnet CXVI

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


William Shakespeare



This sonnet is one I know so well that I have it memorized. I have even tailored it by one syllable to make it more universal: in the last line, I change “man” to “one”.


Sonnet two roses
For our tenth wedding anniversary, I wrote the following sonnet, in the Shakespearean style for Tim.


Midsummer Song
(August 6, 1998)
for Tim


So now our marriage completes its tenth year.
Surely this occasion is consequential,
but how to pluck one day apart, to say, “Here
we celebrate”? Fuss seems tangential,
after-thought. Each day unfolds like a rose,
gold or crimson, in its turn, opening to sun;
then, as petals drop, the heart is free to close,
to brood and transform, to ponder two-in-one.
A decade ago, we publicly pressed our lips
together, setting sail into these middle years.
A start, but a loss, too. The honey of rosehips
tastes of tart autumn, tinged with cold and tears.


Each flower holds it sleek, obsidian seed.
I hold fast to you. I know what I need.


Leslie Schultz



Below, I have included some sonnets in the other dominant English-language form, the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet: two by William Wordsworth and one by me. (How to tell these two sonnet forms apart? The rhyme scheme is the first clue. Shakespearean sonnets end with a rhymed couplet, and the couplet supplies the “turn”. Petrarchan sonnets only occasionally end with a couplet–in some variations–but the logical turn happens much earlier, usually in the ninth line.)



The World is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us. Late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.


William Wordsworth

2014 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest: Deadline 

As many of you know, the 2014  Great River Shakespeare Festival/Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest is now open.  Full Contest rules and details are found at GRSF.org/SONNET. This contest is now in its seventh year. For sonnet writers all over the globe, it is a wonderful chance to compete in a range of sonnet formats and tones–from Shakespearian, Petrarchan, and non-traditional metrical and rhyme schemes, from straight-forward love poems to humorous observations, story-telling, and impassioned social commentary.

Contest organizer, poet Ted Haaland, has edited a beautifully made anthology of the sonnets from the first five years of the competition (2008-2012).

sonnet Cover Melody

Sonnet Back Melody

This Melody Weaves In and Out, showcases the possibilities of the sonnet form. Copies are available for $10.00 (postage included), and proceeds are added to the pool of prize money for future sonnet contest winners. If you’d like your own copy–to inspire your own sonnets or simply to enjoy–send a check for $10 and your mailing information to:

Sonnet Ted's Address

Ted also says, “This year, to mark this 7th annual Contest, the 3rd in memory of Maria, you are invited to join us at a Sonnet Contest “Kick-Off” event on Saturday, April 26th (during National Poetry Month) beginning at 11 AM, at Jefferson Pub and Grill’s 2nd floor meeting room, here in downtown Winona on Center Street.  This is a free event, and is held on the last day of the Mid West Music Fest.  Room seating capacity is around 60, and since this event is a first for us, we’ve no idea how many to expect, so we encourage promptness. This is an opportunity for some of us to learn about sonnets, and others of us to read sonnets,either their own or those of favorite poets.  We anticipate that Winona’s present and past Poets Laureate will be attending.  We will have a drawing for a book of collected sonnets spanning several hundred years, and, of course, coffee and snacks will be available. Since some of us can’t seem to avoid rhyming, we say, ‘Come & celebrate Will’s skills with quills.'”

Sonnet Pink Rose

Tintern Church of England School for Girls
(Melbourne, 1973)

With plaits and dresses neat, we stand
to see the sheep and shearer meet.
We have our cotton gloves in hand
to fan away November’s heat,
and we pull our stockings to our knees
while Third Form herds its project in.
The black-faced ewe weights down the breeze;
her rank coat makes the shearer grin.
“Stand and deliver!”  He grabs the ewe,
wrapping her legs in one strong hand.
His shears are rough and bite a fold
Of clumsy skin.  As bright as dew
The blood drops bead, then scatter on the sand.
Despite the heat, I shiver, shorn and cold.

Leslie Schultz

The above sonnet was written some years ago, and it is based on a memory of an enrichment event at an Australian girls’ school I attended. (Interestingly, I never heard anything about Wordsworth’s masterpiece, its long title usually abbreviated “Tintern Abbey”, until I was a senior in college.)

I entered it in the Maria W. Faust Contest in 2013 and was awarded a prize. I have already addressed an envelope for this year’s submission, and am listening intently. I have several sonnets that I might send, but if I catch wind of an engaging iambic pentameter line, who knows, I might find myself with an even better candidate. Stay tuned! Better yet, try your hand at a sonnet and send it in to the contest!


Portrait of Maria W. Faust

“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
“So long this lives and this gives life to thee.”
(William Shakespeare, Sonnet XVIII)

Roses in front of the beautiful Northfield Public Library

Roses in front of the beautiful Northfield Public Library

Scorn Not the Sonnet


Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch’s wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
With it Camöens soothed an exile’s grief;
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few!


William Wordsworth


Sonnet Rose

Thank you for reading this! If you think of someone else who might enjoy it, please forward it to them. And, if you are not already a subscriber, I invite you to subscribe to the Wednesday posts I am sending out each week–it’s easy, it’s free, and I won’t share your address with anyone!



Quilting at a Leisurely Pace & “The Book of Quilts” (Poem)

Cover of The Quilters

The Quilters chronicles the lives and quilts of pioneer women of Texas and New Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century. Compelling black and white portraits of the women accompany their moving oral histories, while thirty-six color photographs showcase the quilts.  This award-winning book was the basis of the Broadway play Quilters, nominated for seven Tony Awards.  Patricia Cooper taught at the University of California at Berkeley until her death in 1987.  Norma Bradley Allen is a freelance writer who lives in Cedar Hill, Texas.”

The quote is from the Amazon page featuring this book, which is still–wonderfully and amazingly–in print after almost forty years. A copy of this book has been part of my own library since 1980–I bought it at a garage sale–it inspired me to begin making quilts, and it inspired this poem (written in 1983 and published in 2011 in the regional anthology Poetic Strokes.)


Every parting is a death; to join is holy.

IThe Photograph
Hattie Wooddell at 20, Jaspar, Texas

Wrapped in double wedding rings,
she rocks on the front porch, piecing.
Across from her, a tin love seat.
Above, the shingles, dancing octagons,
carry rain from the roof down
a glittering drain spout back
to the kitchen garden.
Her lap fills with diamonds
colored like new lettuce.

II.  The Pattern

This background
a reverse field:
now crosses,
now stars.
Both dark and the positive, light,
tell of the first split;
birds in flight,
on sections of blue ether,
pennants of gold like standards,
quadrangles of blood.

III.  Prairie Women 
Is it the Lone Star or the Star of Bethlehem?

They pieced for sanity,
for silence in the wind’s continuing,
stasis in the shifting dust.
Their faded dresses,
rose, indigo, black,
warmed the cooling bodies of their dead:
an embrace to last.
They knew, they must have known,
that a central, vivid red, like fire at midnight,
outlives any dark;
that something resides in the groans
of windmills and tight joists,
in shingles creaking, and chicken wire,
and in the long boards of a house,
that some order abides
in even the craziest patched quilt.

Leslie Schultz

I was inspired in so many ways but this seminal work of The Quilters. It combines the oral histories of women (and some men) who made quilts out of physical, economic, emotional, communal, and artistic imperatives, and it blends these first-person accounts with photographs of the quilters themselves, their quilts, and the elements in their world that gave rise to the shapes and names of the quilt patterns. It was revelatory to me to see photos of the cut ends of log cabin walls juxtaposed near photos of log cabin quilts, or photos of windmills and chicken wire paired with photos of windmill and hexagon patterned quilts.

In addition to writing the above poem, I learned how to make my own quilts while was working on a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry. Though I have a sewing machine and a rotary cutter, I typically trace and cut each piece by hand, hand piece, and then quilt by hand as well. The pace is leisurely, to say the least.

Quilt Under Glass

One of the last quilts I finished before Julia was born was her baby quilt. I have made a few since then, but they were for other people. Meanwhile, the quilts I had made for our bed were wearing out. One of my favorites (much mended, made the year Tim and I were married) survived the dumpster and has been repurposed as a covering for our dining room table. So I began fashioning a replacement…

Which brings us to today! Below is the center of the quilt I began about ten years ago to replace the Baskets quilt that was fast wearing out after fifteen years of service. It has been quilted and awaiting the finishing borders for … oh, about six years or longer.

Quilt Center

Quilt Pieces

Quilt Border Detail

Quilt Border

Finishing this quilt has been on my New Year’s list of goals for three years in a row. I now have momentum. And when it is complete, I vow to post a photograph of the finished quilt!

Signature2Thank you for reading this! If you think of someone else who might enjoy it, please forward it to them. And, if you are not already a subscriber, I invite you to subscribe to the Wednesday posts I am sending out each week–it’s easy, it’s free, and I won’t share your address with anyone!

Next week, more on quilts!