National Poetry Month: “Poetry…Cubed!” poems & winners!

What a weekend! I spent three days in Springfield, Massachusetts with hundreds of fellow children’s writers and illustrators at the annual New England SCBWI conference – and with folks like Jane Yolen, Kwame Alexander, Jo Knowles, and Dan Santat in attendance it could not have been more inspiring or exciting. (I’ll be sharing details next Tue., when I post my annual list of the Top Things I Learned at the NESCBWI Conference!)

National-Poetry-Month-Logo (2015)

Right now, I need to focus on poetry! In just a few days, National Poetry Month 2015 will be but a memory…but first I need to thank all the folks who emailed me their poems for my National Poetry Month challenge…

Poetry Cubed logoIf you’ve ever watched The Food Network, you’re probably familiar with the show, “Chopped!

Four chefs battle each other by trying to create the best dishes they can, using specific (an often incongruous) ingredients given to them in a special basket. The dishes are critiqued by a panel of judges and after three elimination rounds, the last chef standing claims victory.

So for this contest, I took the basic premise of the TV show and applied it to poetry! I call it “Poetry…Cubed!” Instead of food, I gave you the following three “ingredients” for poems:

theatre seat (Katie)Flowers & BeeMonster Truck

Here’s what our challengers needed to do:

  • Use the 3 images (“cubed,” get it??) as inspiration to write a poem.
  • The poem could be any form, any number of lines, rhyming or not.
  • The only hitch was that there needed to be some sort of reference to all three images in the poem – either via concrete imagery or something more abstract.
  • I then asked readers to email me their poems, and out of all the submissions, two lucky writers would be chosen at random to receive their choice of the brand-new Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books) or the self-help book Psychoetry: Lessons in Poetic Parenting by Brian P. Wohlmuth, whom I interviewed earlier this month.

PFAC-front-cover-Nov-30-WEB-jpeg-705x1030Brian-Psychoetry cover

I was glad to see such a positive response…whenever a new challenge comes along, you never know what kind of reaction you’ll get! Lots of poems came in from seasoned writers as well as new folks – and what diverse paths they took!

Here, then, in no particular order, are the poems:


hot wheels of
yellow nectar

bee rumbles
a long low road

bee blazes a trail
towards one red center
in the distance

bee lights
lights up
lights upon it

tiny monster
stalking pollen
in the theater
of green

– © Heidi Mordhorst 2015, all rights reserved


Daddy’s Little Girl

It’s our first date,
He’ll just be bait!
My dad will eat him on a whim!
The movie show,
Is where we’ll go.
My dad will tear him limb from limb!
A monster truck?
It’s just my luck!
My dad, his sails is gonna trim!
He’s at the door,
I’m feeling poor!
My dad is looking pretty grim!
He has flowers
For more powers!
My dad is going to murder him!
The birds and bees –
We spoke of these.
My dad expects proper and prim!

– Donna JT Smith ©2015, all rights reserved


Opening Night

The lights dim,
folding chairs creak.
Someone clears his throat.
Someone shuffles a program.
Someone shushes her child.

Anticipating actors
pace backstage.
The first booming sound
from the orchestra,
deep and ominous,
wakes up my soul
like a monster truck
riding muddy trails
dragging me along.

Just when my senses catch up,
silence again.
Thick red curtain becomes
a newly blossoming flower
fluttering under a bee’s wings.

I am one with the stage,
feeling, seeing, hearing

– Margaret Simon



garden matinee–
honeybees hotwheel it
to the best seats
– © 2015, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes



when he’d enter a theater
he’d notice, count the seats
in each row. Check for a center aisle.
15 with a center aisle, 26 without.
More than that he’d check the exits
one door for each three rows.
He knew the hazards
thought of the ladies
wearing flowered dresses
not attracting the bees.

He thought of the fire trucks rolling
like big monsters
the tires slick with rain
gushing down the gutters.

The panic bars locked
no one could exit
or enter and the fear
racing through
the dancers
who knew
the illegality
of yelling

Ah, the Rhythm Club,
the Iroquois Theatre,
The Coconut Grove
changed so many lives
so many fire regulations
and broke the hearts
of so many families.

– Joy Acey


Free the Poetry

I chopped and chopped to my dismay.
I sliced and diced some more.
When regal words had failed me, I knelt down to the floor.
On bended knee, said gallantly,
“Art thou, to be, or not to be?”
This is one wacky recipe!
A theatre with no emcee? A flower with a honey bee? A monster truck upon debris?
Come on. Are you kidding me?
With majestic indignation, I stood and solemnly swore,
a decree to free the poetry!
“In all the land, from shore to shore, poetry shall be cubed…no more!”

– Angie Karcher


Minnesota, Theater of Seasons

April is here

The snow has melted

Soon the flowers

And a bee or two

Will appear

In the mean time

I’ll need to fill

A monster truck

With frozen dog turds

Before they thaw

And smear

Oh Minnesota, theater of seasons

How I love you when the snow is gone

But when you’re still freezing

– Kimmy Alan


The Play is On

All the world’s a stage, it’s said
And it’s clear the play is on
Noon turns night in a single thread
Mourning doves coo at dawn

Spiders weave their flimsy traps
The heron stalks the frog
Rivers wind through muddy flats
Downstream floats the log

Myriad flowers bloom each spring
Armies of bees partake
Hoot owls hoot and bluebirds sing
As sure as aspens quake

Some will laugh and love and work
And teach their children well
Some will lie and steal and shirk
Their mortal souls to sell

Thus each role on the stage of life
Be it hero, monster, or pawn
May bring joy or may bring strife
And the play just trucks along

– Karen Eastlund, April 2015



This early adolescent spring,
this theater of boys,
shows one grown tall, grabs one more fling
with his old friends, his toys.

He plays and plays, barooms around,
hoping no one hears the sound.
The only other life around
are buzzing bees, like thoughts he found
that reach into the boy’s ears.
He sits and listens to his fears
that all the future coming days
won’t be like all the grown ups praise.

He only wants his monster truck,
a track of dirt, a time to play,
the growing up, another day

– Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved


Feel of Childhood

Look at my new Hot Wheels go
Through fields of flowers
Or over the snow

There’s nothing that can slow me down
I’m a busy bee
Barely touch the ground

Remember that wonder, remember that thrill
Or go to the theatre
and experience it still

– Cara Eisenberg


And the winners are…by a completely impartial, totally random, utterly nondiscriminatory drawing…

Michelle and Karen!!

Congratulations to both of you! Just leave me a comment here or email me and let me know which of the two books you’d like to have, and I’ll send it on its way. (First come, first served – I only have one copy of Psychoetry.) Many thanks to everyone for their submissions – I was quite impressed – and I may do it again next month, with three new photos!


2015ProgressivePoemIrene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem is almost full-grown! Different writers have been adding new lines each day, adding to the epic journey our heroine is on, and today Amy at The Poem Farm will add the next-to-next-to-last line. Tomorrow, Donna at Mainely Write has her turn, then on April 30, Yours Truly will conclude the adventure with the final line. I’m still a bit nervous about that – but I’m very much looking forward to it!

You can see how the 2015 Progressive Poem has grown at the following blog spots:

1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

National-Poetry-Month-Logo (2015)Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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12 thoughts on “National Poetry Month: “Poetry…Cubed!” poems & winners!

  1. What a terrific array of theater-flower-truck poems! Amazing what people came up with given such constraints. I’m delighted to be one of your random and utterly, nondiscriminating winners (hmmm… not sure that came out right). I am thoroughly intrigued with the Psychoetry if Karen doesn’t already have dibs.


  2. What a beautiful group of poems, Matt. I’m glad to see the variety, the gloom and doom, along with hilarity. Great to see what others can do with 3 random pics. Thank you for the challenge & best wishes for that final line!


  3. Karen Eastlund

    Hi Matt: Thanks again for this fun challenge. I loved all the entries, and I’m so happy to have been chosen as a winner… however randomly it may have happened! I would love the Poetry Friday Anthology. And thanks very much! Sorry to be late in replying. My internet has been interrupted for a few days. Ugh. Perhaps a good seed for a poem.


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