Poetry Friday: A pretty deep poem for a 7-year-old

As I’ve mentioned here before, we homeschooled our two young kids this past year due to the Covid shutdown, and although some days were better than others, it was, overall, a success. The kids learned everything they needed to learn – and more – and didn’t seem to loathe the process of homeschooling as much as they loathed not being around their friends.

I do have to say, there were extra-special days where they surprised me, either at how well they understood a lesson or how adroitly they completed it. One such day was back in March, when my daughter was tasked with a lesson from her English Language Arts program that required her to write a poem about light. Completely unbeknownst to me, she came up with this all on her own; I never saw it until she had finished it:

I know, I know, every parent thinks their kid is a genius or a protege or whatever…but seriously, this is pretty thoughtful for a 2nd-grader. I told her I was so proud of her that I’d make sure everyone I knew read it, if that was ok with her. “Sure!” she said. And so I present it to you here – better late than never.

Molly Hogan is celebrating summer while hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at Nix the Comfort Zone – so head on over for all of today’s poetry links and fun!

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I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

============================================================

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

============================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

===========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

============================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

============================================================

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!

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

NEW Picture Book Cover Reveal AND Summer Reading Lists!

If schools have not wrapped up where you are yet, they will be soon – and with summer, comes summer reading! I’m so proud that many of my books – and books with which I’m associated – are appearing on summer reading lists. I’ll share a few of them in just a minuet, but first…

Another picture book cover reveal!!

This will be the THIRD COVER REVEAL for a book of mine this year (wow, that’s never happened before!), and I am extra-excited because the reveal is taking place at agent/author Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez’ popular kidlit blog, Math Is Everywhere! Kaitlyn is a wonderful supporter of authors; she took some time to interview me about the book, titled I Am Today (POW! Kids Books), which comes out this Oct., and I’m thrilled that she gets to show it off to everyone.

(PS: there’s a giveaway that goes along with it, too – so be sure to check it out!)

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SUMMER READING LISTS

In other news, I’m very proud to see several of my books showing up on reading lists and blogs this time of year! A blog mention or review is always appreciated no matter the season, of course, but this time of year is special because more families are getting together, doing things, going places, and kids as well as adults are finding more time to read.

A few of the folks I’d like to thank:

Kansas NEA Reading Circle – Recommended Title (Flashlight Night)

Lighthouse Homeschool Solutions (Flashlight Night) *

Newton (MA) Free Library (Night Wishes)

Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School (MO) (Flashlight Night)

We Are Teachers (Flashlight Night)

Denver Public Library’s “Adventure Picture Books” (Flashlight Night)

Fairfax County (VA) Public Library “Picture Walks” (Flashlight Night)

School Library Journal “NCTE 2021 Notable Poetry Books(Construction People)

South Orange & Maplewood (NJ) elementary & public librarians (Construction People)

Advent Lutheran Church (NYC) (Once Upon Another Time)

The Spencer Library (United Seminary) (Once Upon Another Time)

Crafty Moms Share (Once Upon Another Time)

Book No Further “Recreation/Outdoor activities (Once Upon Another Time)

Book Nerd Mommy “Not-to-be-missed Picture Books” (Night Wishes)

Hello, Wild Things “Flashlight Book Basket” (Flashlight Night) (This was posted in 2020, but I just came across it today!)

* Let me just say that showing up on a list that includes Charles Dickens and E.B. White is pretty mind-blowing!

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I have to add that it’s quite an honor to see so many of my books – seven, as a matter of fact – available in the library system where I was born! Thank you, Baltimore County Public Library, for your support!

============================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

============================================================

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

============================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

===========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

============================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

============================================================

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!

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: New “Wit & Wordplay” videos on the way!

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but I just produced another “Wit & Wordplay” video, part of a continuing series of poetry videos I began last spring, shortly after Covid-19 hit the country and shut down the schools, the economy, and pretty much everything we were used to.

It’s been a busy year for me, too – I’ve sold three manuscripts, I have two new ones out to start off the new year, I’ve been invited to present at a big literary festival in the fall (more on that coming soon), I’m once again judging our state Poetry Out Loud competion this month, PLUS we’re homeschooling 2 young kids….yikes! I feel bad that I’ve not been able to read or comment on many of my fellow bloggers’ posts, but time is at a premium for me and I rarely have any that’s free.

In fact, as soon as I’m done writing this I need to go grade school papers. >sigh…<

But last week I shared some “nestlings” – aka, found poems inside a larger poem, courtesy of author/poet Irene Latham – and since I’d been wanting to do a video on found poetry anyway, I figured now was as good a time as any!

If you find this video or any of my videos helpful, please let me know! And don’t hesitate to share them with parents, educators, or others you think might gain some benefit. I produce these to help share my love of poetry and to help folks realize it’s not some confounding genre meant only for the most erudite academics – poetry is something anyone can enjoy reading or writing!

For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, please head over to my friend Ruth’s blog, where she’s hosting the complete roundup with a spotlight on a new book by poet/botanist Robin Wall Kimerer!

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Coming March 2, 2021!

Contrasting the past with the present, this picture book takes you through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark.

============================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

============================================================

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

============================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

===========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

============================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

FLASHLIGHT NIGHT:

DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR:

============================================================

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!

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Using friends’ children’s poetry books in the (home school) classroom

If I told you what a tough year it’s been for us…you’d probably have an even tougher story.

Things have been tough all over, as they say.

Our kitchen table – err, classroom

Here, our two kids started off the school year doing remote schooling, but between computer glitches, hard-to-find links, and an inordinate amount of unhealthy screen time (3 hours for school doesn’t allow for any TV or game time), it was just not working out.

So my wife and I decided to bite the bullet and go full-blown home school. Fortunately for us, here in New Hampshire, there are absolutely no requirements for people who home school their kids; as long as students know what they need to know at the end of the year, in order to move on to the next grade, what we do between now and then is completely up to us.

So we purchased two Saxon Math programs, two ELA courses, and an American history course, and figured we could fill in the rest. What was most important was that we had the “big” courses in hand, structured and focused, so nothing would slip through the cracks.

What has been fun, has been supplementing all this with poetry!

© 2019 Disney-Hyperion, all rights reserved

How lucky am I to have so many friends’ poetry collections?? Whether it’s Marilyn Singer’s Who Named Their Pony Macaroni? (Disney-Hyperion, 2019), Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Forest Has a Song (Clarion Books, 2013), or Leslie Bulion’s Hey There, Stink Bug! (Charlesbridge, 2008), we had plenty of subjects from which to choose. I created question-and-answer pages for each book (hand-written, as my printer was down) covering everything from science to reading comprehension – and the poems within these books served as the catalyst.

Joyce Sidman’s Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014) is next on the list, but there are myriad other poetry books out there from other friends, too – including collections by David Harrison, Jane Yolen, and Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, the dynamic duo behind Pomelo Books.

And of course, there’s this book:

(Sorry, just had to sneak in an extra plug!)

If you happen to be home schooling – or just looking to add a new angle to your students’ academics – consider poetry! These days, there’s a poetry book about darned near every subject you can imagine. Poems, by their very nature, describe their subjects in ways textbooks and web page entries cannot; they distill their subjects, elevate their subjects, and offer unusual, creative perspectives. There are poems about nature, science, math, relationships, music – pick a subject, and there’s likely a book of poetry about it somewhere.

(Many of the books I’ve contributed to, listed below, include “Construction People” and “School People” (Wordsong, 2020 & 2018), “Poems Are Teachers” (Heinemann, 2017), and the National Geographic anthologies)

And considering today is Poetry Friday, you have the opportunity to check out a wide range of poems in the kidlitosphere by visiting A Year of Reading, where Mary Lee is hosting the poetry roundup with a spotlight on Irene Latham’s next book, D-39: A Robodog’s Journey (Charlesbridge, 2021)!

===============================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Children's Book Subscription: Bookroo - Sincerely Stacie

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

===============================================================

Talkabook is setting out to inspire children by connecting them with authors and illustrators! Click here to view my profile and learn more!

================================================================

Coming January 26, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Children will love to follow along on a Goldilocks-like journey as Elliot searches for the perfect place to rest in this new board book! 

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

Contrasting the past with the present, this picture book takes you through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark.

===============================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

================================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

================================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

================================================================

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!

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Art & Poetry collide for a homeschooling project

Never in my widest dreams did I ever think I’d be homeschooling my children…yet, here we are.

Going to live classes in school wasn’t really an option, and remote learning was becoming increasingly frustrating for both kids. So my wife and I decided our only choice was to go the homeschooling route.

It’s not easy, and we’re doing as much research and prep work as we can, but fortunately our state has no requirements or standards for homeschooling; as long as the kids learn what the need to learn to be able to move up to the next grade next year, what we do and how we do it between now and then is completely up to us.

So we’ve ordered Saxon Math and a couple of other programs to make sure we cover the vital subjects, and the rest we’re doing ourselves. Take today, for example, where I combined an ELA lesson with Art to create a two-plus hour project the kids enjoyed so much, they didn’t want to stop:

Ah, yes, one of the many things you can do when homeschooling: hold art class at the local coffee house! After we shared a smoothie and a whoopie pie, I had them practice unguided line drawings, whereby you draw an object without looking at the paper. It’s great practice for budding artists to become familiar with their subjects and develop spatial awareness.

You probably can’t tell, but there’s a coffeehouse in there, a war monument, and a giant blue gnu figurine that stands near the coffeehouse lawn. (Yes, a gnu, aka wildebeest) The fact that the kids were free to draw without fear of getting something wrong or somehow making a mistake was liberating and exciting for them. I had anticipated them each doing a couple of drawings, but after about 4 or 5 each I told them we really needed to get going!

Back home, after lunch and some playtime, I had each child write a poem about one of the pictures drawn by the other. I described how to write a list poem and told them to just have at it and write whatever came to mind. My son, a very creative yet literal-minded fellow who is more at ease reading nonfiction than anything else, followed my guidance and came up with this:

(It took me a few minutes before I realized he spelled “gnu” incorrectly in the first line!)

I probably should have been more explicit in my instructions, as he took them to heart and literally created a bulleted list – but it was a worthy effort, nonetheless. His 7-year-old little sister, on the other hand – the artiste of the family and one of the most creative, inventive souls I’ve ever met – went the rhyming route. I can’t say she didn’t knock it out of the park:

You don’t need to be a homeschooling parent to offer this as an activity for kids – it hardly seemed like a lesson at all to these two! The secret is, in both exercises, perfection was not required – nor even considered. This was all about letting one’s mind open and be free to feel the art and words being created. There’s a time and place for proper sentence structure, grammar, and spelling…and my kids loved the fact that this was not one of those times.

NIGHT WISHES” Winner!

In celebration of the new children’s poetry anthology, Night Wishes, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers is allowing me to give away one free copy! A number of folks commented on the blog post or shared links to help spread the word, and everyone who did so earned an entry in the drawing. After plugging all the entries into the ol’ Random Number Generator, the winner is…

MARIA MARSHALL!

I’m so happy for Maria, because she went out of her way to publish a 7-poet interview on her blog to help promote the book! It’s by sheer coincidence

her name was chosen at random, and I’m very happy for her. (If you’d care to pick up a copy, just click on the cover, below!) For more poetry, head over to The Opposite of Indifference, where Tabatha Yeatts is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup with a guest post by Carole Boston Weatherford about Carole’s new YA verse novel about Marilyn Monroe, “Beauty Mark.”

===============================================================

I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

You can create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!

=========================================================

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

===============================================================

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

===============================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

================================================================

Coming March 2, 2021! Pre-orders are available!

================================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Click any of the following covers to order!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

================================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

================================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)

To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Word economy, career changes, and why poetry is so much darned fun: A podcast interview with Dr. Anthony L. Manna

I had a wonderful time a few days ago being interviewed by Dr. Anthony L. Manna for his podcast, WRITERS on Writing: Conversations with Authors. We chatted WRITERS on Writing: Conversations with Authorsabout poetry, picture books, radio commercials, and all sorts of stuff dealing with the craft of writing and storytelling.

You can listen to the podcast HERE. Hopefully you’ll enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed answering his questions! If you think discussions about poetic minutiae like internal rhyme, perspective, and the benefits of classic forms like the villanelle are riveting…this is the podcast for you, my friend.

Dr. Manna asked me to share a number of poems I’ve written for various anthologies like Construction People (Wordsong, 2020) and Poems Are Teachers (Heinemann, 2017), and one of them was “A Visit to the Forest,” an alliterative assortment of alphabetical acrobatics and assonance I wrote for Kenn Nesbitt’s anthology, One Minute Till Bedtime (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016). Since it’s been nearly four years since I’ve shared it here, I present it to you now, in case you hadn’t seen it when it came out:

Click to enlarge. (c) 2016 Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, all rights reserved

You can learn more about this unusual anthology in my original blog post from 2016 , and if you’re interested in picking up a copy of the book, just scroll down to the book cover graphic! Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is at Reading to the Core, where hostess Catherine Flynn is celebrating with a look at  Emily Winfield Martin’s new book, The Imaginaries (Random House, 2020) and an original poem inspired by the book!

Did you know that Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme is one of the TOP 20 children’s poetry blogs, according to FEEDSPOT? That’s right – I’m scratching my head, too! FEEDSPOT is an app that allows you to combine all your favorite news feeds, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. into ONE newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

=========================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

=========================================================

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

=========================================================

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them!

Coming Spring 2021! Pre-orders are available:
.
=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: An entire school + poetry + 250 years = a student anthology!

(click to enlarge)

It’s amazing what kids can do when given the chance.

Earlier this year – before Covid-19 wreaked havoc on our schedules, schools, and collective psyche – I had the pleasure of visiting Colebrook, New Hampshire to speak to the students of the Colebrook School District about poetry.

I had been invited by Melissa Hall, Youth Librarian at Colebrook Public Library. Melissa wanted to create a poetry collection written by Colebrook’s students as part of the town’s 250th Anniversary celebration, so she turned to a regional non-profit organization known as CLiF, the Children’s Literature Foundation, which provides author visits, free books, and other literacy programs to low-income, at-risk students throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

I’ve only been involved with CLiF for about a year, but when they contacted me about Melissa’s plans, I jumped at the chance! I love talking to students about writing, especially poetry – but I had no idea what kind of surprise I was in for, once they completed the project.

My view that morning. This was taken in Franconia Notch, halfway to my destination.

I drove up the day after a big snowstorm, glad that it I missed the snow because Colebrook is in the northernmost part of the state commonly referred to as the Great North Woods, and even though I’ve grown up here, driving in the mountains in a snowstorm is not something I envy. (If you’ve ever seen the Animal Planet TV show North Woods Law, you have a good idea as to what this part of the state is like.)

Still not there…but getting closer.

The area is rural – with a population of barely 2300, Colebrook is the 3rd or 4th-largest town in the county – and the lack of industry means a lack of economic prosperity for most. But the folks who live there are good people, and having grown up in the woods (literally), it actually felt like home. I spent the day sharing my poetry with the students, teaching them how to focus their thoughts and phrase their words, and they taught me how proud they were of their little town.

Melissa’s plan, in conjunction with the school’s teachers, was for the students to start working on poems they would eventually submit for inclusion in a book of poetry that would function as a sort of time capsule; a peek into the hearts and minds of Colebrook’s young people as the town celebrated 250 years.

The surprise to which I alluded? The thought, insight, and emotion their poems contained…

“The rhythm was always / too bright”
“Rivers hold / memories more than pictures”
“Most times, I say / I would want to leave, / see the world, / find adventure in someone / else’s air”

Now, stop for a moment and re-read those lines:  “The rhythm was always too bright.” “Rivers hold memories more than pictures.” “Find adventure in someone else’s air.” What an absolutely fantastic use of words! I was blown away when I read those words.

Keep in mind, these are kids, sharing their thoughts and emotions in ways they may not be used to – or in ways with which they may be familiar. Like this example of a poem fraught with angst, hope, insecurity, defiance, and strength:

Again, I just can’t believe these kids were able to get what was in their hearts and minds out onto the paper in such beautiful and arresting ways.

And not to leave the younger students out, here are a couple more:

I was particularly proud of Kaelyn’s poem because she utilized some of the guidance I provided her while I was there, and my suggestions can be used by anyone trying to improve their writing…

When she told me what she wanted to write about, she said, “my brother and I eat lunch at the Falls and then go play.” I told her that sounded like a good plan, but asked if she could be more specific:  what do you two like to eat for lunch? Where do you eat it? What type of things do you do when you play? The more specific one can be with details, the better – and Kaelyn knocked it out of the park.

To see more of these amazing students’ poetry, I invite you to check out the Google Slide Show that Melissa Hall created, featuring many of the students reciting their poems along with the text. This is something I hope the kids will come back to in later years, to see where they were in life and what was on their minds.

Again, my thanks to Melissa as well as the folks from CLiF who helped facilitate this – I’m so proud of these students! I hope the craziness of the world subsides soon, so I can resume visiting schools and helping spur young people’s creativity. I love writing, but I also love sharing what I know with others. (By the way, if you’d like to learn more about writing poetry, I hope you’ll check out my “Wit & Wordplay” videos  – details below!

Speaking of students, education, literacy, and poetry…Carol Varsalona is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup at her Beyond Literacy Link blog, with a celebration of Nature, Mary Oliver, and poetic “memos!”

=========================================================

Coming Aug. 18, 2020! Pre-orders are available!

=========================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

=========================================================

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

=========================================================

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them: books from folks like Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lori Degman, Michelle Schaub, nancy Castaldo, and many others. I’m very proud to be part of this group of dedicated, talented writers.

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Inside Out” with Marjorie Maddox

When Marjorie Maddox first approached me about spotlighting her new book, Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises (Kelsay Books), I told her I couldn’t possibly say no!

In fact, given that we already had so many interconnections, I had to yes:  we were both friends of the late Lee Bennett Hopkins and Paul Janeczko; she had recently been featured on the Poetry for Children blog of Sylvia Vardell, who along with Janet Wong have been publishing the Poetry Friday series of poetry anthologies; and she is also a friend of Charles Ghigna, with whom I co-authored Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books), coming out this August.

Add to all this the fact that Marjorie is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University in PA (right near where my ancestors settled back in the mid-1800’s!) and I simply could not deny this alignment of stars.

Inside Out is a collection of original poems, but it’s much more than that; it’s a learning tool that shines a light on everything and anything a poet would ever want to know, from how to write a villanelle, sonnet, or acrostic to how to effectively use metaphor, alliteration, and just about every other poetic device out there.

Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize, Marjorie has published 11 books of poetry and knows the craft…well, inside and out! Because her book is so rich with guidance, ideas, and suggestions – a perfect book for anyone who wants to learn more about the craft and art of poetry – I thought I would ask her ONE question – the most important question a writer needs to ask when writing a book – and let her take it from there as a guest post.

That question, of course, is…

“Why did this book need to be written?” (The all-important question!) Take it away, Marjorie!

Thanks, Matt. Why was this book written? Because of YOU, Dear Reader!

This is a book about playing with words—fun, pure and simple! Welcome to Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises! Just out from Kelsay Books, Inside Out is geared toward a YA and MG audience—plus their teachers and parents. But you’ll find no restrictions on age or experience here. If you gobble poems for breakfast or are a little hesitant about that first bite, this book is for you.

Inside Out grew out of my more than 30 years of teaching poetry at the college, high school, and elementary levels, of seeing kids of all ages fall in love with metaphors, puns, rhyme, and images. How? By actually stepping into the poem and playing around with metaphors, puns, rhyme, and images.

I begin by inviting readers to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and befriend a poem. No social distancing here when it comes to poetry! Take a listen:

(click to enlarge)

.
And for those a little nervous about even the words “poem,” or “poetry,” this book defuses the fear and opens up a safe space to experiment with ideas—as in the following:
.

Befriending a Poem

Invite him home for dinner,
but don’t insist on rhyme;

he may be as tired and as overworked
as his distant cousin Cliché.

Best to offer intriguing conversation
that’s light on analysis.

Allow for silences and spontaneity.
Most importantly, like any good friend,

be faithful and patient;
remember to listen.

Sometimes he’s shy
and just needs a little time and coaxing.

Much of what he has to say
lies between the lines.

In a series of poems on poetic techniques, I then welcome the reader to step inside a poem about that same technique. Similes, onomatopoeia, paradox, alliteration, eye rhymes. Get the picture? With such tools, you can become anyone from any place. During these times of restricted travel, here’s your free ticket to trekking through time or cruising new sites—right from your own room.

Dramatic Monologue

Step into the words and become
a prince, a pauper, a piece of popcorn,
a philosophical panda, a paranoid piano.
Slip forwards or backwards in time
as Cleopatra or the president of Mars.

No one will interrupt.
The podium is yours.
Go ahead and pontificate.

Inside Inside Out is also a great place to experiment with new forms of poetry. While you and your loved ones are staying home and safe, why not chat with personification, dance with iambic, fish for sestinas, and text with a triolet?

What’s more, there are poems here on penning villanelles (“How to Write a Villanelle”), on scribing English sonnets, (“How to Write an English Sonnet”), on drafting clerihews (“How to Write a Clerihew”), on impersonating personification (“The Frankenstein Poem”)—plus nine lively “magic trick” exercises (connected to the poems) to keep you thinking and creating. Here’s one to try:
.

How to Text a Triolet

If you all want to write a triolet,
it really is no secret what to do.
First concentrate on what you have to say
and if you want to write. A triolet,
says what you said before; it’s déjà vu
though you can always change a word or two
if you all want. To write a triolet,
it really is no secret what to do.
.

A great new way to communicate with friends, right?

Thanks, dear readers, for coming along on this poetic ride. I hope to see you again very soon, inside the poem!

.
Thanks so much, Marjorie! 

Wow, you can sense the enthusiasm, can’t you?? I hope you’ll check out Marjorie’s book – it really is a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration. I also hope you’ll check out Wondering and Wandering, where Christie Wyman is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup!

By the way, in addition to her 11 books of poetry, Marjorie Maddox has published 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. She’s the great-grandniece of Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who helped break the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball. The chair of the jury of judges for the 2020 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Book Award, she gives readings and workshops around the country. For more information, visit www.marjoriemaddox.com.

Coming Soon!

  A Crossing of Zebras

=========================================================

I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun doing so. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

=========================================================

The 2020 Progressive Poem continues…

The annual Progressive Poem, begun several years ago by poet/author/blogger Irene Latham, is a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem for National Poetry Month. One person writes one line, then another adds another line, until a completed poem appears on April 30. Here’s where you can follow along and find all the contributors:

.
1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, at deo writer
4 Liz Steinglass at Elizabeth Steinglass
6 Kay McGriff at A Journey Through The Pages
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Big at TBD
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan

=========================================================

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

=========================================================

Pre-orders are available now!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

=========================================================

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them, too! In addition to April’s two releases, there are new books out from folks like Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lori Degman, Michelle Schaub, and many others. I’m very proud to be part of this group of dedicated, talented writers.

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Score one for Poetry: A school project becomes fun!

I always feel vindicated when my 4th-grader realizes I was right, all along. Not that I’m vain or egotistical or anything – it’s just that it happens so rarely, it’s kind of a nice change of pace! So imagine how proud I was of him last week, after he groaned about a poetry project he had to do for his remote-learning schoolwork…and then realized it was fun.

It was an online “magnet poetry” sort of thing. On the right side of the computer screen, there were dozens of words on multiple pages from which he could choose to make a poem; he simply needed to pick words and put them into some semblance of a poem. He started off whining and complaining about not knowing how to do it, and then (as anyone with kids could guess) started whining about not knowing what to say.

So of course, I jumped in to help provide him some direction and guidance – “All my years of writing poetry have prepared me for this moment!” – and show him it wasn’t as difficult or as boring as he was thinking. Once he got the first couple of lines down, I told him he’d done a good job and might want to add one more line and he could be done.

But he wasn’t going to stop there. Oh, no.

He wrote another few lines, and I told him I really liked what he’d done. He could finally turn it in! But no.

He continued for at least an hour, putting words together and fine-tuning it until he got to this:

(click to enlarge)

 

Through the water
blue wings show dark rain
dinosaur ghosts roar
in the monster moonglow
storms sail to sea
cool black tigers see red summers
wild adventures begin wonder.
.

Dinosaur ghosts? Monster moonglow? Who is this kid?? Yep, what could have been a short, 3-line haiku turned into a 7-line opus. I’ll be honest: this is far better than the first poem I ever wrote! Moreover, he was so happy and excited about it he almost didn’t want to stop. I had told him not to look at it as work (even though, as a writer, I know it is) but to look at it more as a word puzzle and to have fun. Sure enough, he did!

Vindication!!!

The 2020 Progressive Poem continues all month…

The annual Progressive Poem, begun several years ago by poet/author/blogger Irene Latham, is a way for the Poetry Friday family and other kidlit bloggers to join together and create a crowd-sourced poem for National Poetry Month. One person writes one line, then another adds another line, until a completed poem appears on April 30. This year, Irene handed off the organizational duties to Margaret Simon, who has pulled everyone together once again. I added my line last week, and it continues to grow! Here’s where you can follow along and find all the contributors:

.
1 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, at deo writer
4 Liz Steinglass at Elizabeth Steinglass
6 Kay McGriff at A Journey Through The Pages
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Big at TBD
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan

.
Molly is hosting Poetry Friday today, so head on over to Nix the Comfort Zone for all of today’s links and poetry fun – and…can you smell it? Fresh bread, too!

=========================================================

I hope you’ll check out my “Wit & Wordplay” videos on my YouTube channel! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) and focus on how to write poetry, how to appreciate it, and offer tips on having fun with it. Be sure to subscribe or check back often, as more videos continue to be created. You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

What is Talkabook? Details coming soon!

=========================================================

Pre-orders are available now!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year – and there are a LOT of them, too! In addition to April’s two releases, there are new books out from folks like Diana Murray, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lori Degman, Michelle Schaub, and many others. I’m very proud to be part of this group of dedicated, talented writers.

=========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Spine poetry as a fun activity kids won’t realize is educational!

As I mentioned in this past Tuesday’s post, several children’s authors and illustrators are offering readalouds, drawing lessons, activity sheets, and other educational resources for kids, parents, and teachers who now find themselves “remote learning.”

For my part, I’m producing a series of short videos on poetry: how to write it, how to appreciate it while reading, and some tips on poetry-related activities. Since so many of my peers are doing video chats with students, I thought I would focus my “Wit & Wordplay” videos, as I call them, on parents and educators.

For some time now I’ve been wanting to help my educator and parent friends with some educational videos…but I’ll admit these have been hastily put together, as I am trying to assist my kids with this “new normal” of home-schooling while attempting to write and do my voiceover work. Moreover, I’m working with a video editing program I’ve never used before, as I had to reinstall Windows about a month ago and lost the program I had been using (MS Movie Maker), which is apparently no longer available!

Lake, the newest member of the family!

Oh, and did I mention we have a 10-week-old Great Dane puppy?

So, yeah…I’ve been a bit busy.

The fact I was able to create six videos in two days is still surprising to me, but I have plenty more I plan on producing over the weekend. For today, I wanted to share a couple of simple spine poetry examples I use in my most recent video. Spine poetry is a form of “found poetry,” whereby you search through books’ spines to find titles you think might go together to create a phrase, scene or thought:

There’s a cow in the road!
Deadly animals
wild in the streets…
choose your path.

Again, it doesn’t need to be long – a few titles are all you need! Even two books would suffice:

You get the idea! Silly, thoughtful, scary…doesn’t matter! The important thing is that kids are learning how to put disparate thoughts together (a book about deadly animals together with Star Wars®? Whoulda thunk??)

You can see more spine poetry examples on my YouTube channel. And if you think any of this information might be useful for someone you know or a school near you, I hope you’ll share.

In addition to these videos, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website. The list of all the authors & illustrators who are participating in this national effort is a long one, so here are a few lists you can use to find out who’s doing what:

Let’s Keep Reading!

#AuthorsHelpingKids

#KidLitQuarantine

Laura Shovan’s #WriteAnAuthor

And since today is Poetry Friday, you might want to find more poetry posts…so just head on over to MoreArt4All, where Michelle Kogan is hosting Poetry Friday and welcoming Spring with a variety of poems written by her and several others in the PF community!

=========================================================

Pre-orders are available now!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year! And there are a LOT of them, too – including SEVEN in March!

 =========================================================

Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


     

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)

=========================================================

Thank you to everyone for your support!

=========================================================

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!

SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!