Tag: Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday- Haiku Riddles!

In the midst of this challenging winter, I’m trying to keep warm by surrounding myself with great poetry books.

Lion of the Sky– Haiku by Laura Purdie Salas

LION OF THE SKY: HAIKU FOR ALL SEASONS presents a delightful gift to teachers who want to introduce their young writers to poetry writing and haiku. Author/poet Laura Purdie Salas presents a raft of fun haiku, organized by the four seasons. Each illustrated poem is itself a riddle; it’s a haiku written in the voice of an object or place, making it a mask poem. Readers get to guess what the object is!  Engaging backmatter invites young writers to try the form, which Salas calls “Riddle-ku.” Published by Millbrook in 2019, it’s perfect for a classroom library.

I love this book for its playfulness, the wonderful illustrations by Mercè López, and the way it deepens our appreciation of seasons and invites us to look closer. Happy Friday!

On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share resources about children’s poetry. This week, Mary Lee hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at her blog. Check out the celebration of poetry there today!

Poetry Alert at the Latinx KidLit Book Festival!

Two poets I admire are having a conversion today, and we can all tune in. 

The ongoing LATINX KIDLIT BOOK FESTIVAL is happening on youtube, and poets Margarita Engle and NoNieqa Ramos will be talking about how poetry can convey emotion, tone, and drama. This is happening at noon EST. I will be at work at that time, but I am grateful that all of the dynamic presentations of the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival are available on youtube. I am looking forward to learning from these two women this weekend when I watch the recording, and my notebook will be at the ready!

Margarita Engle has written verse novels, picture books, and memoirs, and she was the Young People’s Poet Laureate in 2017-2019. Her poetry collection BRAVO! POEMS ABOUT AMAZING HISPANICS is one of my favorite poetry books. Then there’s the playful and dynamic picture book YOUR MAMA by NoNieqa Ramos, full of poetry and love and feminism and a kick-ass mother-daughter duo. 

I can’t wait to hear these two authors in conversation! I hope you tune in, too.


On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share resources about children’s poetry. This week, Cathy hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at her blog. Check out the celebration of poetry there today!

Poetry of place: where did you call home?

Can you picture the house or apartment where you grew up? The texture of the couch, the sound of water in the pipes? Did the windows rattle, and what did the doorknobs look like? Can you draw a map of each room?

So many sensory images come flooding back to me as I read George Ella Lyon’s poetry collection MANY-STORIED HOUSE. She focuses on family, on small moments, on tiny details of her childhood home. Her poems about memory, relationships, and sense of place are beautifully specific and universal at the same time. She’s inspiring me to write about my first home, a two-bedroom apartment in a fourth-floor walk-up on a one-way street in the Bronx. The closet doorknobs were made of glass; the rumble of the subway was our metronome.

Lyon writes for both children and adults, and I’m looking forward to learning from her in an online workshop hosted by poet Georgia Heard in January. You can read about it here. Maybe I’ll see you there!

On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share resources about children’s poetry. This week, Michelle Kogan hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at her blog. Check out the celebration of poetry there today!

Poetry Friday: What’s “Poetry PLUS?”

I’ve learned so much about what it takes to put together a poetry anthology by taking classes from Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell. “Poetry PLUS” is one aspect of the art and craft of assembling an anthology that fascinates me as a poet and an educator.

Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong

On the Pomelo Books website, Janet and Sylvia define it this way:

We believe in “Poetry Plus”—poetry PLUS writing, poetry PLUS language arts mini-lessons, poetry PLUS curriculum connections for social studies and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), poetry PLUS mindfulness and movement, and poetry PLUS lots more fun!

There is even a packed page of Poetry PLUS treasures on their Pomelo Books website!

Janet and Sylvia’s latest anthology, THINGS WE DO, is a beauty. I may be biased since I have a poem in this collection! THINGS WE DO is an alphabetic book of playful poems bursting with children in action– from Ask to Zoom! Each spread in this book features a vivid photo of a child doing something active, accompanied by a poem such as Invent, Dance, Fly, and Type.

But beyond those 26 poems, there’s more! This is where the PLUS comes in. There is a section for parents, caregivers, and educators called “Tips for Readers” that details “strategies for sharing poetry with children” such as using props and “echo reading.”

The “Fun Activities to Try” section features suggestions on extending the poetic experience with movement, learning letters, writing poetry, reading a poem at breakfast time, and sharing with special family members. 

But there’s even more to the PLUS! So many gems are highlighted in the web resources, including Reading Rockets and We Need Diverse Books. And finally, there is an “About the Poets” section, with a tidbit of info about each of the poets. 

I have a poetry collection out on submission now (fingers crossed!), and I included “Poetry PLUS” by featuring juicy facts, almost like side-bars, to add some nonfiction heft to each poem. That’s one way to add more “Plus” power to poetry. But THINGS WE DO has inspired me to consider other ways of adding to the poetry experience for readers. 

What might you add to your poetry? Or what have you included? STEM connections, craft activities, maps, timelines, or something more? The possibilities are exciting! Thanks to Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell for the inspiration.

On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share resources about children’s poetry. 

THINGS WE DO- a playful A to Z book of poems for children!

It’s publication day for a very special poetry anthology for young children. THINGS WE DO is an alphabetic book of playful poems bursting with children in action– from Ask to Zoom! Each spread in this book features a vivid photo of a child doing something active, accompanied by a poem such as Invent, Kick, Jump, and Clap. Published by Pomelo Books, THINGS WE DO is now available by ordering from QEP Books, and will soon be available on Amazon. It’s perfect for PreK through first grade.

Many poets contributed to this A-Z collection, including some very well-known poets! My poem, “Type,” is inspired by my work as a K-2 Literacy Coach. Each day I get to see children making letters, then their names, then words… it’s a magical process that made its way into my poem. I can’t wait to share it with the first graders I work with each morning!

Poet Janet Wong and poetry expert Sylvia Vardell assembled this anthology, and they are a joy to work with. It was a revelation to be part of their Anthologies 101 and 201 classes and to watch how they encourage and guide poets in the creative process. Vardell and Wong are donating all the profits from THINGS WE DO to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund. You can see their fun video about the book here (and you can also see why they are a delight to work with!).

THINGS WE DO has been selected as “Hot Off the Press” books for October by the Children’s Book Council! (along with Janet Wong’s  brand-new book Good Luck Gold & MORE)

THINGS WE DO is a beautiful and playful book of poems, perfect for the young child or teacher in your life. Be sure to add it to your holiday shopping list!

On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share resources about children’s poetry. This week, Jama Rattigan hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at her blog Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Check out the celebration of poetry there today!

 

THE 10-10 ANTHOLOGY: NEW POETRY BOOK WITH MIDDLE-GRADE GEMS

“maples

trade green

for gold,

 

treasure

drops, 

        floats…”

So begins “Tenth Month,” a poem about October by Irene Latham in the just-published 10-10 POETRY ANTHOLOGY. I found so many poems that would be perfect for a middle-grade English Language Arts classroom. In Irene’s poem, for instance, there is both playfulness and reverence for nature; plus it’s packed with great verbs!

Science teachers will find wonderful content in Janice Scully’s brief yet descriptive poem “The Floating Water Strider,” about how an insect manages to skate across the surface of water.

Poet Moe Phillip’s description of a tug-of-war competition will have children laughing in recognition– “Heels dig in, teeth are bared, toes to temples taut.” It’s brimming with juicy language that will inspire young writers!

Bridget Magee created THE 10-10 POETRY ANTHOLOGY around ten themes or prompts, including the words tentative, tenderness, and tenacity.

My poem, “Necessary In-Tent,” is included in this collection. It’s inspired by a memory of going camping for the very first time as a 12-year old (tentative!). I was used to city living and city sounds, and the nighttime woods were a bit scary for me! Many of the poets who I follow on Poetry Fridays and elsewhere are included in this collection, including Jay Brazeau, Linda Baie, Janet Fagal, Marilyn Garcia, Mary Lee Hahn, Michelle Kogan, Carmela Martino, Linda Mitchell, Aixa Perez-Prado, Laura Purdie Salas, Buffy Silverman, Eileen Spinelli, Linda Kulp Trout, Janet Wong, Tabatha Yeatts, and more!

There are many riches to explore in this anthology– and it would make a great gift for the teacher in your life.

On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share resources about children’s poetry. This week, Bridget Magee (editor of the 10-10 Anthology!) hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at her blog Wee Words for Wee Ones. Check out the celebration of poetry there today!

 

 

BLACK LIVES MATTER: POETRY FRIDAY

Every poem is a blow against silence. ~ Carlos Fuentes

***

“This is for the unforgettable… 

the ones who survived America by any means necessary. 

And the ones who didn’t.” 

Kwame Alexander’s book THE UNDEFEATED is an ode to the African American experience, a book-length poem with illustrations by Kadir Nelson that will leave you breathless.

THE UNDEFEATED is both ageless and utterly of the moment, as we as a nation wrestle again and again with the worth of Black lives. 

It’s impossible to turn the pages without names coming to mind:  Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd… and many more.

Stephen Fry writes in his book The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within, “Deriving from odein, the Greek for to chant, the ode is an open form of lyric verse made Public Monument.”

Public Monument.

A monument, a history book, a cry of urgency and celebration, THE UNDEFEATED belongs on every bookshelf in America. 

On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share their love of all things poetry. This week, Jama hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Check out the feast of poetry there today.

POEMS IN MANY VOICES

I love reading a poetry collection in many voices, and Walter Dean Myers’ HERE IN HARLEM is a masterful example of this. In his introduction, Myers writes that he was inspired by Yeats, Synge, and Spoon River Anthology to write about his beloved neighborhood in Harlem. “As the idea for this book ripened in my mind, I began to imagine a street corner in Harlem, the Harlem of my youth, and the very much alive people who would pass that corner. So began Here in Harlem.”

About ten years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Myers and he signed my copy of HERE IN HARLEM — a treasured book on my shelf.

I’m working on a poetry collection in many voices. It takes me down research rabbit holes and illuminates forgotten corners of history. I’m taking it slow. Each poem allows me to step into the shoes of another person, to see the world through their eyes.

 

Myers did this beautifully in HERE IN HARLEM, whether that was a newsstand worker, a little girl, or a tired nurse from Harlem Hospital (in a poem that could have been written in the time of Coronavirus!).

HERE IN HARLEM is a poetic gift I return to again and again. If you were going to write a poetry collection in many voices set in one location, I wonder where it would be.


On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share their love of all things poetry. This week, Tabatha hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at The Opposite of Indifference blog.  Check out the feast of poetry there today!

Telling a Life in Poetry

I love reading biographies, and when an author succeeds in telling the story of a person’s life in poetry– that’s magic. In honor of National Poetry Month, here are three favorites I have come across lately.

 

RUNAWAY: THE DARING ESCAPE OF ONA JUDGE by Ray Anthony Shepard, Illustrated by Keith Mallett. (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2021)

Shepard manages to break open history in a way that is bracing and forthright. Many young readers may not know that there were enslaved people in the household of our nation’s first president, George Washington. Ona Judge was one of those enslaved people, and she escapes in this dramatic and poetic story of her life. Shepard uses lyrical language and repetition in such an effective way. As Shepard writes in the backmatter, “In my poem, I reclaim those questions to show the inherent humanity of the enslaved.” I love this book and the illustrations by Keith Mallett are breathtakingly beautiful.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: ARETHA FRANKLIN, QUEEN OF SOUL by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Frank Morrison. (Atheneum, 2020)

Masterful poet Weatherford manages to tell the story of Aretha Franklin’s life in a spare, poetic text that highlights adversity as well as Franklin’s rise to fame. The story is told in COUPLETS, and it works beautifully! And they all have the same end rhyme– a poetic feat. In less than 300 words, Weatherford conveys the Queen of Soul’s life, her struggles, hardships, and glorious moments of triumph.

GRASPING MYSTERIES: GIRLS WHO LOVED MATH by Jeannine Atkins. (Atheneum, 2020)  

In this middle-grade work in verse, Atkins portrays the life of seven women who employed math in their trailblazing lives. A Native American statistician, two astronomers, a scientist who mapped the ocean floor…each portrait in verse uses precise, poetic language to show us the subjects in childhood, their love of math, and their striking accomplishments. Atkins drew me into each life with finely crafted images, lyrical language, and a sense of wonder. As she writes in the backmatter, “History can happen when no one watches, as simply as a girl wonders about the sea, counts backward, turns over a rock, or reaches up holding the string of a kite.”  With beautiful illustrations by Victoria Assanelli.

As I work on my various projects, including a poetry collection and a picture book biography, these poets inspire me! I hope they inspire you, too. Happy National Poetry Month!

On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share their love of all things poetry. This week, Mary Lee hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at A Year of Reading. Check out the feast of poetry there today, and all the treasures abounding for National Poetry Month!

The Writing Life: Creativity, Generosity, and Luck

Writing is a solitary craft. But we also need the spark and alchemy of sharing with and learning from others.

I’m right in the middle of a three-week poetry forms class led by poet Georgia Heard. I am learning wonderful techniques that will elevate my writing, but I’m also gaining so much from the energy and insights of the other poets, and the way that Georgia establishes a sense of community. Last week we had poet Marilyn Singer present to us about reversos!

The magic that happens in a supportive creative community is a key to surviving the writing life, and so is sharing time and talents with a generosity of spirit (something Georgia Heard does especially well!). Twyla Tharp writes about this in her amazing book THE CREATIVE HABIT:

“I cannot overstate how much a generous spirit contributes to luck. Look at the luckiest people around you, the ones you envy, the ones who seem to have destiny falling habitually into their laps. What are they doing that singles them out? It isn’t dumb luck if it happens repeatedly. If they’re anything like the fortunate people I know, they’re prepared, they’re always working at their craft, they’re alert, they involve their friends in their work, and they tend to make others feel lucky around them.”

I think this captures the spirit of Poetry Friday, too!  Wishing you a happy Friday, a good weekend, and a way to share time and talents with supportive and generous friends.


On Fridays, I love taking Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share their love of all things poetry. This week, Susan hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Soul Blossom Living. Check out the feast of poetry there today!