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Poetry Friday: Dear Happy by Gabrielle Aplin

Dear happy, don't go
Not there but I'm close
I just always thought I'd never win
Dear happy, you see
It's not easy for me
But I know that I'm close

I'm somebody with a recovering heart
You've waited there for me
Keep waiting there for me

- selected lyrics from Dear Happy by Gabrielle Aplin

Listen to the song.

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Poetry Friday: The universe is full of magical things by Eden Phillpotts

In the marshes the buckbean has lifted its feathery mist of flower spikes above the bed of trefoil leaves. The fimbriated flowers are a miracle of workmanship and every blossom exhibits an exquisite disorder of ragged petals finer than lace. But one needs a lens to judge of their beauty: it lies hidden from the power of our eyes, and menyanthes must have bloomed and passed a million times before there came any to perceive and salute her loveliness. The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

- excerpt from A Shadow Passes by Eden Phillpotts

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Booklist: Tough Issues for Teens

One afternoon in the bookstore, a young woman in her late teens approached me and said, "Excuse me. Can you help me? I want some books like . . . " She named a few teen fiction titles that dealt with drug abuse and anorexia. She looked slightly uncomfortable but mostly excited. I told her that I could recommend many good books. Within minutes, she was sitting on the floor in the teen fiction section, a plastic basket full to the brim with books, with additional titles in her hand and next to her knees and her feet.

We had a great discussion. I was happy on any levels: happy that she felt comfortable enough to come to me, happy that she was open-minded, happy that I got some realistic, well-written books in her hand. This urged me to make a list of books dealing tough issues - eating disorders, loss and grieving, addiction, abuse, and so forth.

Due to subject matter, many of these books are recommended for older teens as well as adults, be they parents, teachers, librarians, or simply avid readers.

I've read every title on this list, and have given each book a rating according to the United States movie rating guide - G, PG, PG-13, or R - based on content, and a number of stars - four being the best - based on quality (my personal opinion).

PARENTAL ABUSE OR NEGLECT - Physical or emotional abuse, alcoholism, etc.
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ABUSE BY OTHERS - physical or emotional abuse; date or acquaintance rape; accusations, secrets and lies
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TEACHER/STUDENT RELATIONSHIPS - be they romantic relationships or rumors or no romance, but a definite abuse of power
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POSITIVE & PLATONIC TEACHER/STUDENT RELATIONSHIPS - teachers positively influencing and educating their pupils
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PARENT/CHILD RELATIONSHIPS - reconnecting with or distancing oneself from absentee parents, dealing with restrictions and expectations
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LONG-LOST SIBLINGS - reconnecting with siblings, or meeting them for the first time
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ORIENTATION AND/OR GENDER ROLES
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VIOLENCE AT SCHOOL
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EATING DISORDERS
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PHYSICAL DISORDERS/INJURIES/SPECIAL NEEDS - protagonist, siblings, friends
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BODY CHANGES - growing up and dealing with natural physical changes (as opposed to health, weight, or body image issues; disorders/injuries are in a separate list above this one)
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TEENAGE PREGNANCY - may also deal with adoption and/or abortion
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TEENAGE ALCOHOLISM
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MENTAL ILLNESS OF A PARENT, RELATIVE, OR PEER
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DEPRESSION
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RECOVERY/SUPPORT GROUPS
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CUTTING
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STEALING
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DIVORCE, SEPARATION, AND/OR STEPFAMILIES - parents dating, getting remarried, etc
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LOSS OR PHYSICAL ILLNESS OF A PARENT
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LOSS OR ILLNESS OF A SIBLING
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LOSS OR ILLNESS OF A FRIEND OR PEER
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LOSS OR ILLNESS OF A GRANDPARENT
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LOSS OR ILLNESS OF ANOTHER CLOSE RELATIVE AND/OR ADULT
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PROTAGONIST WITH AN ILLNESS
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DRUG ADDICTION
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CAR ACCIDENTS (and similar accidents)
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INCARCERATION OF A RELATIVE
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ADOPTION - Also foster care, group homes, and counseling
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KIDNAPPING
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CULTURAL IDENTITY
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SUICIDE OR SUICIDAL TENDENCIES
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ACADEMICS - cheating, excelling, or otherwise dealing with academic pressure
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SOCIAL STATUS - at school or otherwise with peers; popularity, bullying, et al.
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PEER PRESSURE
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RELIGION
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POLITICS
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ACTIVISM
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INTERNET SAFETY - and/or cyberbullying
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SEEKING SHELTER - family shelters, homelessness, runaways
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I hope that this list helps readers of all ages find books they may be too shy to openly discuss with a bookseller or librarian. I want those readers to know they may leave a comment here and tell me which books they have found valuable. Most of all, I want them to know they can talk to their friends or adults they know in order to get the answers and help they may need.

If you would like for me to add more titles about a certain subject, or if you want more information about any of the books on the list, please leave a comment.

Special thanks to those who have shown their support of this list by offering me links, comments, and compliments, such as Jen Robinson, Bookseller Chick, Robin Brande, Sassymonkey at BlogHer, Daisy Whitney, Caroline, Bookstore People, and Jennifer R. Hubbard.

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Poetry Friday: Winter Solstice by Hilda Morley

A cold night crosses
our path
                 The world appears
very large, very
round now       extending
far as the moon does
                                       It is from
the moon this cold travels
                                       It is
the light of the moon that causes
this night reflecting distance in its own
light so coldly
                                         (from one side of
the earth to the other)
                                       It is the length of this coldness
It is the long distance
between two points which are
not in a line        now
                                      not a
straightness       (however
straight) but a curve only,
silver that is a rock reflecting
                                                     not metal
but a rock accepting
distance
                    (a scream in silence
where between the two
points what touches
is a curve around the world
                                                     (the dance unmoving).

- Winter Solstice by Hilda Morley

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Poetry Friday: Older, Younger, Both by Joyce Sutphen

I must begin again, and again I
must begin.

Everything I plan must wait, and
having to wait has made me old, and
the older I get, the more I wait, and everything
I'm waiting for has already been planned.

I must stop my stopping and start to start-

- selected lines from Older, Younger, Both by Joyce Sutphen

Read the full poem.

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Poetry Friday: A Position at the University by Lydia Davis

I think I know what sort of person I am. But then I think, But this stranger will imagine me quite otherwise when he or she hears this or that to my credit, for instance that I have a position at the university: the fact that I have a position at the university will appear to mean that I must be the sort of person who has a position at the university. But then I have to admit, with surprise, that, after all, it is true that I have a position at the university. And if it is true, then perhaps I really am the sort of person you imagine when you hear that a person has a position at the university. But, on the other hand, I know I am not the sort of person I imagine when I hear that a person has a position at the university. Then I see what the problem is: when others describe me this way, they appear to describe me completely, whereas in fact they do not describe me completely, and a complete description of me would include truths that seem quite incompatible with the fact that I have a position at the university.

- Lydia Davis

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