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Friday, April 25, 2014

Scribble a Verse for Poetry Month*

What better way to celebrate April than to enjoy a little poetry? 

Grab a poetry book and start reading. Or, start scribbling lines that capture your imagination and (keen) sense of observation. Go ahead and try. You’ll be amazed at what you did!

E.D. Hirsch Jr., professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, and author-editor of more than a dozen books, including “The Core Knowledge” series, and “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs To Know,” wrote that “one way to bring our children into the spirit of poetry is to read it aloud to them; another is to encourage them to speak it aloud so they can directly experience the sounds of language.” 

Through poetry, children can understand the power of language to create vivid word pictures. “A child’s knowledge of poetry should come first from pleasure and only later from analysis,” he said.

I love poetry. Poems inspire; they can make you smile. They can give you (new) meaning to life; they can educate and liberate. They can unite people, too.

(When I was younger, growing up in the Philippines, we used to memorize and recite short poems in class. Remember those funny “Mother Goose” nursery rhymes? Those tongue-twisting alliterations? “Hickory, dickory, dock/ The mouse ran up the clock/ The clock struck one/ The mouse ran down/ Hickory, dickory, dock.”)

Let’s have a trivia game and  see how well you know our poets:

1)  He’s famous for his Chicago poems. (Carl Sandburg)

2) She delivered her passionate convocation address on April 17, 2007, following the Virginia Tech school shooting. (Nikki Giovanni)

3) Famous for his “Howl” and Other Poems. (Allen Ginsberg)

4) Once a student of the University of Virginia who penned The Raven and Annabel Lee. (Edgar Allan Poe)

5) An acclaimed author and poet who recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. (Maya Angelou)

6) He wrote "Leaves of Grass." (Walt Whitman)

7) American lawyer and author who penned our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." (Francis Scott Key)

8) The first African American U.S. Poet Laureate (1993-1995) and the Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. (Rita Dove)

9) At age 86, he read his poem, “The Gift Outright” at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 1961. (Robert Frost)

10) The first U.S. Poet Laureate to have served three terms (1997-2000). (Robert Pinsky)

(Other poets that come to mind, at this time, are Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein.)

April is National Poetry Month in the United States. Marie Bullock founded the Academy of American Poets in 1934 “to support American poets and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry.” The academy started the National Poetry Month in 1996 ("to increase awareness of poetry in the public, and the media, while creating more interest in the art form.”) 

The academy sponsors poetry readings, creates displays in bookstores, gives tips on the teaching of poetry to different audiences.

Each year, the Library of Congress designates a poet laureate, whose mission is to promote the reading and writing of poetry in the United States. Serving a second term (2012-2014) is Natasha Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former poet laureate of Mississippi. She’s the author of four poetry collections and a book of creative nonfiction.
Virginia, too, has a poet laureate, appointed by the governor from among the nominees submitted by the Poetry Society of Virginia. Presently serving her second year as Poet Laureate of Virginia (2012-2014) is Sofia M. Starnes, a writer of Philippine-Spanish heritage. Recipient of poetry awards and fellowship, she’s the author of five poetry collections.

Enjoy your poems, be they limericks, haikus, sonnets, ballads or free verse!

-CHRIS A. QUILPA, a North Suffolk resident, is a retired U.S. Navy veteran. He maintains a blog at onebuddingpoet/ Email him at

*Published in the print edition of award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, April 25, 2014. For more information, visit

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Teachers' Hard Work Deserves Respect*

I'd like to express my profound gratitude to those who have chosen the noblest profession---teaching, the "mother" of all other professions.

They are underpaid and yet indefatigable. For their professionalism and dedication, they are unsung heroes. They toil day and night so our children will learn and become successful.

They go to college and become experts in some academic field and then they go through rigorous student-teaching training and acquire the necessary professional certifications. They participate in regular professional development and keep up with the latest trends in education. They collaborate-teach with other teachers to share knowledge and skills.

Without teachers, we wouldn't be who we are today. Our teachers have played pivotal roles in shaping our lives. They are, undeniably, partners in building our future through our children.

With all the things going on in Suffolk, the City Council and School Board should carefully examine their priorities regarding the city budget. Our children's education should be near the top of the list of our priorities. This means we should pay teachers more---a competitive salary commensurate with their education and experience.

Teachers deserve a pay raise for all the hard work and for all the humiliation, disrespect and unpleasant treatment they receive from problem students and others.

Teaching is not an easy job, especially today. They deal with a lot of students with different backgrounds and personalities. Yet, teachers do what they love to do.

There are times when teachers become psychologists, guidance counselors, doctors, nurses, police officers, mothers or fathers in the classroom. Most do more than what is expected of them professionally.

They also volunteer for extracurricular activities at school. Yet they still find time to help students pass their classes, the SOL (Standard of Learning) and other benchmark tests, and move on toward graduation.

Let's give Suffolk's teachers a pay raise so they won't seek greener pastures elsewhere. They deserve every extra money and status.

Here's a poetic tribute to teachers:

Teachers are Educators

Teachers are educators
taught, trained and tested
dedicated, motivated, liberated
caring, giving and loving
enduring, forgiving, interesting
intellectual, philosophical and social
listening, speaking and thinking
experimenting, discovering, researching
enlightening, encouraging and inspiring
hoping, praying and wishing
for the best in all of our students.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a North Suffolk resident, is a retired U.S. Navy veteran who maintains a blog at onebuddingpoet/ Email him at

*Published in the printed edition of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, April 20, 2014. For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hello, April!

Hi, everyone! Good day to y'all! How are we all doing? Me? I'm thankful and glad to be alive and well. Thank God.

The "madness'"of March is gone, for sure, with cold and wintry, snowy weather. Nevertheless, we still have unpleasant events that happened here and there that remain to be solved or resolved such as the following: the mystery crash/disappearance of Malaysian Airline that up to this time we don't know what really happened, how and where it disappeared with a crew and passengers of about 240(?), the mudslide in Snohomish county in Seattle, WA, with over two dozens killed and a number of residents missing; the fiasco over the Affordable Health Care Act, aka Obamacare, the turmoil in Ukraine as a result of the takeover or invasion (?) of Cremea by Russian forces, political instability of other countries or other parts of the world, etc. I keep wondering and asking myself why, though. Despite the advances we have in technology, it appears to me that the world has more and more problems. Insurmountable and unresolved. And such "peace on earth" wish remains elusive and far from becoming a reality. Why? Just asking and wondering...

Now, the reality is seasons change. The much-anticipated springtime is here! Thank God. Hence, let's welcome and say Hello, April! Hope you're bringing us much fun, comfort and relief to our weary heart and soul. I'd like to think positive and optimistic that we'll get better, as a people of/with love and compassion, as days come and go...

What did I do and where did I go for the past days/week? Let me recall, folks and friends...Last week, I accompanied my young adult daughter, Tintin, to a local oral surgeon's office. She had her three wisdom teeth (that have been bothering her for weeks) extracted. Thank God, she's doing well and into full recovery soon.

The past weekend, we had a road trip to The Capital. In spite of a wet, rainy weekend, it didn't dampen our spirit to be excited to visit my young adult son Andrew and to watch him perform, with the rest of the cast, in the play "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad" that Saturday evening. I enjoyed the show; we had a great time with the family. Sunday morning, after our breakfast in the hotel, we attended the 10:30 a.m. Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, DC. After Mass, we had lunch there at the Food Court. Then, we said goodbye to Andrew and braved the nasty weather on our way back to Hampton Roads. Overall, we had a wonderful weekend together as a family.

Monday, I did have a couple of errands to make. After preparing the bills to be mailed, I went to the post office, with Tintin. Then we went to a store, bought some stuff, then ate lunch at Hardee's.

Yesterday morning at ten, I did go visit my former workplace (back in the days when I was U.S. Navy active duty), NMCP, where I had a follow up medical appointment. On the other hand, daughter Tintin drove herself to her follow up dental appointment. It was a long day for me at the hospital because I ended up having another doctor's appointment in the afternoon. So tired, hungry and exhausted I was that, on my way home, I stopped by at Totoy's Filipino restaurant to buy food to go. Arriving home, I ate my "brunch and early dinner" hot food. My, what a day it was! I needed that rest and respite so bad! But I'm glad, and so thankful to be alive and well...

Well, that's about it, for now. Until next time around, my dear folks and friends. (I have an errand to make. I have to pick up my prescription med refill.) Oh, before I forget, the photos...I've shared them to our Facebook folks and friends already. I'll see if I can embed some in this post. Otherwise, if you're interested to see them, visit my Facebook page under the name Fernando. (You and I can be FB friends.) How's that?

Thanks for reading/visiting my blog. Take care and Have a wonderful day! May God bless US always!-chris a. quilpa, 02 April 2014