Archive for November 7th, 2013

See more Poetry Friday with Diane Mayr at Random Noodling

See more Poetry Friday with Diane Mayr at Random Noodling

Ava Leavell Haymon, Louisiana Poet Laureate

Ava Leavell Haymon, Louisiana Poet Laureate

“Somewhere, out beyond ideas
of wrongdoing and right-doing,
there is a field.

I will meet you there.” –Rumi

Thus is the epigraph that opens Ava Leavell Haymon’s latest work of poetry, Eldest Daughter. Ava is the most recently appointed Louisiana Poet Laureate, and she is coming to New Iberia next weekend to a Fall Poetry Night. (Fist-arm pump) Yes! If you met Ava, the thing you would remember about her is her laugh, and she laughs often.

Ava’s poetry is masterly crafted, yet easily accessible. Lemony Snicket selected one of Ava’s poems, The Witch has Told You a Story, to feature in his article, All Good Slides Are Slippery for Poetry Magazine. Mr. Snicket says that “poetry is like a curvy slide in a playground — an odd object, available to the public — and, as I keep explaining to my local police force, everyone should be able to use it, not just those of a certain age.” I shared this article with my students this week. We wrote our own poems by stealing a line from one or more of the poems in the article. This was a great activity and produced some funny poems. Stay tuned.

Ava has given me permission to share two of her poems with you. This first is from the collection Why the House is Made of Gingerbread. I love this collection. Who would have thought that the classic Hansel and Gretel would have yielded such moving and thoughtful poetry?


You are food, she said.
You are here for me to eat.
Fatten up, and I will
like you better. Your brother will
be first. You must wait your turn.
You must feed him yourself.
You must learn to do it. Take him
eggs with yellow sauce, and muffins,
butter leaking out the crooked break
in the sides. Fried meats
later in the morning and sweets
in a heady parade from the oven.

His vigilance, an ice pick of hunger
pricking his sides, will melt
in the unctuous cream fillings.
He will forget. He will thank you
for it. His little finger stuck every day
through the cracks in the bars
will grow sleek and round,
his hollow face swell
like the moon. He will stop dreaming
the fear in the woods without food.
He will lean toward the mouth
of the oven, the door
that yawns wide every afternoon
to better and better smells.
–Ava Leavell Haymon, all rights reserved

The second poem comes from Ava’s latest work Eldest Daughter. I haven’t read them all yet, but the ones I have are so full! Full of childhood fears, sensibilities, and humor. LSU Press says “she combines the sensory and the spiritual in wild verbal fireworks.” And to hear her read them, you see the fireworks glow in her eyes. She is a delight, and I can’t wait to introduce her to my town.


with a caul
the child who eats the skin that forms on scalded milk
the child who bites cuticles instead of fingernails
the child who sucks her hair at night
the child who sings in her sleep
the child who does not mind the squeak of blackboard chalk
the child who swallowed a blue bead
the child who will not throw up
the child who refuses to listen
the child with the gristle knob at the arch of her ribs
the child who knows where the matches are
the child who looks too long at her father
the child who likes to spit
the child who looks in the eyes of the dog
the child who sits for hours
the child who sometimes laughs when she’s by herself
the child whose cold hands
the child who eats clay
the child who can look cross-eyed
the child who starts fires
the child who hides in a chinaberry tree
the child who listens
the child who grows quieter and quieter
the child who can be trusted with knives and scissors
the child who never reaches under her bed
the child who goes where no one is
the child who cuts things out
the child who hums little songs no one can recognize

Ava Leavell Haymon, all rights reserved

Fall Poetry Night will be Saturday, November 16th at 6:00 PM at A&E Gallery. Other poets reading will be Mickey Delcambre, Suzi Thornton, Diane Moore, and Margaret Gibson Simon.

Ava reading from Eldest Daughter on YouTube (This one is for adults only despite what Lemony Snicket may say.):

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