Friday, March 30, 2012

Poetry Friday: Kites, Books and Blogs


I'm pleased to say that Sylvia Vardell's new book is out, titled The Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists. It contains "155 different poetry bibliographies and research-based strategy lists featuring 1500 poetry books for children and teens (ages 0-18.)" Click here to go to Sylvia's blog, Poetry for Children, where you can learn a little more about the new book.I'm going to get a copy for sure and recommend it to my MFA students. It sounds like a wonderful reference tool.

Hopefully, getting poetry into more teachers hands will help answer Janet Wong's recent call-to-arms over at Friends of the ALSC Poetry Blast (on Facebook):  "If you are in a position of power in ALA, how about asking (again) why there isn't a poetry award? If you are active in IRA, NCTE, or some other group that is planning a big convention/conference, how about suggesting a poet for the keynote or luncheon speaker? Lee Bennett Hopkins or J. Patrick Lewis or Joyce Sidman or Nikki Grimes? We cannot be content with preaching to the choir at our lovely poetry programs (where everyone in the audience knows everyone else); we need to get out and reach those people who haven't heard a poem in 20 years."

Head over to my juicy little universe to see what other people are sharing for Poetry Friday.

Also, don't miss new posts over at Books Around the Table - Julie Paschkis reflects on Imperfectionism, Margaret-Chodos Irvine on Beauty in Limitations: A Printmaker's Perspective, Laura Kvasnosky on Responding with Wonder, I offer up my choices for the Best Children's Poetry Books of 2011. 

There have been some lovely posts lately by colleagues of mine (in the MFA-Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts) over at Write at Your Own Risk.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poetry Friday: A Triptych of Tournament Poems


One, two, double-dutch stew,
cook up a kettle of skip-a-rope stew,
mulligatawny and mulligan, too,
chicken cocido and beef ragout.
Into the broth goes this and that,
spuds and turnips and bacon fat,
dumplings to the dog, carrots to the cat,
and peas to the lady with the porkpie hat.

Today I'm posting all three of the poems I've written as part of the March Poetry Madness tournament (Round One - above - and Round Two and Regional Semifinals - below.) The voting is still going on (no registration necessary - just click on "Vote") and Ed Caria (who designed the tournament) is hoping for a big surge in votes for this round of match-ups. I hope if you're reading this you'll go over and vote for your favorite. It's like a basketball tournament, but the outcome is determined not only by the skill of the players but the taste of the crowd. Some of my favorites have moved forward, other favorites have gotten clobbered, but I think all the poets are having a good time. Click here to go vote for your favorite in my current match up through Friday around 6 p.m.  - and you can vote for all the other Regional Semifinal match-ups via this page. Doesn't take long - it's good for morale - and it's good practice for next November (better choices in poems than in some of those candidates, definitely.)

Jump Rope Stew was written for Round One - the assigned word was "mulligan." When I was a kid, jump rope was a passion.
One, two, double-dutch stew....

Here are the other two poems:

Round Two - Assigned Word: "barrage"


One barrage, the battle’s over,
Best friends now, like cows in clover.
Kiss me quick, then chew your cud –
Rain comes down, and up comes mud.
Fee, fi -  fiddle me a song,
Everything’s right but something’s wrong.
Cows in the corn and the moon is blue –
Fo, fum, foo -  out goes you!

Best friends now, like cows in clover....

Regional Semifinals - Assigned Word: "heft"


Nest-chirp, feather-float, lamb-laugh, wind-waft.

Lake-lap, night-smile, flame-call, star-breeze.

Leaf-lift, mower-bite, shovel-lug, hammer-heft.

Sky-scowl, snow-show, sled-slip, face-freeze. 

lamb-laugh, wind-waft...

Kennings are an Old Norse riddle form, joining two independent words with a hyphen, making one compound word for the original word which is not mentioned (in this case Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall.)
Poetry Friday is being hosted this week by Mary Lee Hahn, my worthy opponent for the Regional Semifinals, over at A Year of Reading. She's already put her Poetry Friday post up today (Thursday) so you'll have an extra day to vote in the March Poetry Madness tournament over there, too. I'll post this now, though here on the West Coast, it's still a few hours from Friday!  Head over to Mary Lee's site to see what other people are posting.

A Poetry "Tournament"? Yes, A Poetry Tournament....

The March Poetry Madness tournament is in full swing (maybe I should say full basketball-style bounce) at Ed Caria's website. The first two rounds were great fun - we went from 64 poets in the first round to 32 poets in the second round - only 16 of us have been left standing. This time, I took a risk and entered a poem made entirely of kennings (an Old Norse literary trope where something is described via two other linked words that are hyphenated - it's an odd little riddle form I like a lot) and I'm not sure many people know what those are, though it's kind of self-explanatory. I think I'll get skunked! If I do, that will be fine - I have a worthy opponent in Mary Lee Hahn. And to tell the truth, I'm feeling almost poemed-out. Speed has never exactly been my thing, and we're having to come up with poems quickly (based on arbitrarily assigned words), send them to Ed, and then wait while people vote for their favorites. More power to those who can maintain their energy, creativity and quality!My head is spinning.

Want to see what's up? Head over to the tournament by clicking here - then vote (you don't have to be registered, you just click on "Vote.") And don't forget to follow the links to other match-ups. There are two other writers associated with Vermont College of Fine Arts who made it into the semi-finals (Stephanie Farrow, whose poem match-up is up already, and Peter Langella, whose entry will go up tomorrow.) - GO VCFA!!

P.S. I'll post all three of my poems here tomorrow for Poetry Friday!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Librarians' Choices...and My Choices

Sylvia Vardell is a treasure in the world of children's poetry books, so I hope everyone reading this will follow the link to her blog, Poetry for Children,  to read about the seventeen books of poetry which made the Librarians' Choice list for 2011. Laura Purdie Salas's BookSpeak! Poems About Books is on the list, as are two other favorites of mine from last year, Never Forgotten by Patricia McKissack and Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka. All three of those books are included on my own slightly belated list of Best Poetry Books 2011. You can find that over at the Books Around the Table blog my writing friends and I have just started. And Betsy Bird at Fuse #8 has written about Lemonade, too.

I'm in awe of what Raczka manages to do with a single word in Lemonade. In case you can't make out the poem in the image below, he takes the word "constellation" and creates the following poem, which spills down the page according to the letters' positions in the original word:
"a silent lion tells an ancient tale"

If you don't think that's hard, take a single word and give it a try yourself.  You can only use letters from the original word, and the poem must define or conjure up an image of what the word suggests - in this case, the constellation of Leo. Amazing!! I don't spend a lot of time envying other poets, but I sure wish my name were on that book.
The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted today by Myra (Happy Birthday, Myra!) at Gathering Books - head over there to see what other people have posted today. And don't forget to check out the new blog I'm contributing to (I've posted my Best Poetry Books for Kids 2011 list there) called Books Around the Table.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Poetry Friday: For a New Generation of Voters

Poet Janet Wong

Poet Janet Wong has just brought out an upbeat new collection of poems titled Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for an Election Year. When I say Janet brought it out, that's exactly what I mean - the book is not only part of Janet's Poetry Suitcase line of e-books available through Amazon,  but it's also available as a limited-edition paperback the author designed and had printed up in a lovely perfect-bound format with cover art by Julie Paschkis.

The book, perfect for classroom use (Teachers: Heads up!), contains twenty poems about "liberty, kids’ rights, free speech, political debates, unusual presidential candidates, the two-party system, voting, a declaration of interdependence, and a dozen writing prompts." One of my favorite poems in the book shows just how fractured our points of view about a candidate have become: 


You're So "In"
                     Easy to Ignore
Smooth Sweet Talker
                     Grouch Out of Touch
                     Thinks Too Much

 To encourage classroom conversations about our electoral process (and we could use a new generation of pro-active voters who understand the need for civility and interdependence in that area, couldn't we?) Janet includes  "A Voter's Journal" at the end of the book where kids from the youngest right up through young adults can jot down their thoughts about issues and candidates.

If you're local to the Seattle area, the paperback is available through Sue Nevins' wonderful all-kid bookstore, Mockingbird Books, over in the Green Lake neighborhood. It's also available, along with a Kindle-ready edition, online through Amazon.

Janet's books Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams and Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions occupy a special place on my poetry-for-kids bookshelf. She cares deeply about poetry for kids, and she is a model of energy, enthusiasm and community-building for all who know her. We sometimes have lunch together, along with other writer friends, when she visits family in the Pacific Northwest, and I always come away from out conversations scribbling down ideas for new books! I admire her for finding and embracing new ways to publish her books and for sharing all she knows about how to do it. She and Sylvia Vardell have been busy putting together the Poetry Tag, P*Tag and Gift Tag e-book anthologies, which I'm proud to say I contributed to. Check out what Janet has to say about e-books at her website.

And you can read a few more excerpts from The Declaration of Interdependence over at Elaine Magliaro's wonderful blog, The Wild Rose Reader.
The Poetry Friday round-up this week is being hosted by Dori over at Dori Reads. Head over there to see what people are sharing.