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Thoughts, opinions, and ramblings about (broadly) children's literature from my perspectives as a writer, parent, and volunteer elementary school librarian. Oh yeah, and poetry of all sorts... with lots and lots of Fibs.
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Immigrant's Song: Coal Dust, Peppers, and Tomatoes by Nancy Bo Flood
I come from coal dust And hopes taken down, down, down Deep mine shaft down underground. Dig hard, spend lean, save, save, save, Leave Before the shaft fills and dreams drown. Homestead rich black fields. Truck-farm tall corn, fat round tomatoes, Finest sweet peppers, red, yellow, green. Sell a bushel, soul hopes, Fingers hold earth. Buy it. Buy all the acres you plow. Wed. Birth. Bury. Plant again, Corn grows from one yellow seed Into an immigrant’s dream.
It never ceases to amaze me the stories poetry can tell and the way poets can use words. Nancy Bo Flood paints a picture here with such economy, subtle rhythm, and fresh images that combine to create a powerful, sweeping story. Good stuff, I say, lacking that same ability right now!
You can find more "good stuff" in her latest collection, Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo. While the setting itself may not be familiar, the verses make it all real, tangible, alive.
And if you want more (and of course you do!) and something different, too... Nancy Bo Flood's No-Name Baby was recently named one of Bank Street's 100 Best Children's Books of 2012. She is definitely a wonderful weaver of words, and I'm thrilled to have Nancy Bo Flood here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.
Through the wonders of social media, I've been lucky enough to know Robert Schechter for awhile now. He has answered many a poetry query of mine and, as you can see, can just flat out write.
I love the way Mistaken Identity comes up with some knockout phrases ("the sun when it was tired"!!!!) that establish the voice of the poem... then gives that "voice" a whole story, too. We get the rise and fall of the sun and moon and the voice and his/her theory all while learning some science, too. This is what I call "the good stuff," indeed.
I highly recommend you read (and listen to) a couple of Bob's poems that have been in Highlights - Colors and My Nose - both of which have a similar voice that makes me wonder... hmmm... is it Bob who has this wonderful world view? If it is, well, that'd just add to the reasons I'm so happy to have Robert Schechter here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love April around these parts? I do! I get to share poems (and read them before anyone else!) and enjoy poems here and all around the blogosphere, too.
I'm particularly enjoying the comments left for the poets here (most of whom are active online, too) and on Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere. And I'm excited to see all sorts of new names hanging out, too.
There's all sorts of great poetry left to come this month - including, I should note, some older skewing ones, so if you're reading these to your 5 year old without reading 'em to yourself first, you might want to take a step back! And yes, you'll hear from me throughout the month, too.
And finally... another hat tip to Carter Higgins for this year's logo! It makes me happy wherever I see it. I encourage you to check out more of her work because I predict it'll make you happy, too.
Sing it loud. Sing it clear. National Poetry Month is here.
Sing it loud. Sing it clear. National Poetry Month is here.
Do not write a boring poem. Write about a front lawn gnome. Write about your Uncle Nick. Write about your favorite flick. Write about a your best friend’s burp. Write about the way you slurp. Write about a painful itch. Write about your left eye twitch.
Let your spirit swing and soar. Let your mind float out the door. Free your voice to laugh and seethe. Feel your poem begin to breathe.
Sing it loud. Sing it clear. National Poetry Month is here.
Yeah! What Jill Corcoran said! Go on... do all that. Or some of that. At least take heed of line five and do not write a boring poem. Yeah. That. But most of all... go on and write!
Longtime GottaBook readers probably know that I have a "thing" for poems about poetry and writing (and poems about Poetry Month, too), so I was quite happy to see Sing it Loud come my way. I love the playfulness... the permission it grants... the inspiration it gives... and the call to action, too. I read it, and I wanna write, and that is awesome.
I was also quite happy to see the anthology that Jill edited (and wrote a poem for) Dare to Dream... Change the Worldcome out last year and receive some great recognition. The book is full of poems about real people who inspire, written by fabulous poets, and it's sure to inspire kids who read it. Notice a theme? Jill's inspiring... and that's just one reason I'm excited to have her here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.
Oooh! Dessert! Yes, Tamera Will Wissinger's poem today makes me happy due to food-ness alone. Yet a bigger part of my glee is that good limericks make it look so easy, but the truth is it's a form that's hard to write well. I mean, you wouldn't know it from looking at The Judge of Fudge... and that's exactly why I was so happy, you see.
I first ran into Tamera via her blogging, not immediately aware that she was a poet, too. Then... kaboom! There was Gone Fishing, her novel in verse (with illustrations by Matthew Cordell), and it hits what I think is this really great middle grade sweet spot: telling a relatable story (with poems!), using different poetic forms within the text, and then explaining it all with back matter, too.
It's exciting to see her debut novel - just out last month! - and I know I'm looking forward to the next book from Tamera, too. In the meantime, I'm thrilled to have her here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.
Doug Cushman writes books and poems, AND he illustrates, too... and that just makes me pause. I mean, is it really fair when people have that many different and disparate skills? Like both sides of their brain are wired for creative goodness or something? Ah well. We're all better off for these multi-talents, even if we (okay, fine... I) have been known to be a tad jealous.
I'm a sucker, as many of you know, for food poetry and wordplay, so it was a happy day when Olympic Sprouts came over the email transom. And maybe it's because of Doug's illustration background, but I can just see what the voice of the poem sees, and I'm left wanting to toboggan down spaghetti, too.
The same sense of fun can be found in Doug's book, Pigmares, by the way - his first book of poetry... after having written or illustrated over 125 books for kids! That's a happy thing, indeed, as is having Doug Cushman here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.
How much to I love Sonya Sones' poem Hayfever? I love it more than spellchecker hates it, that's how much. Heck, I love it more than book banners love her What My Mother Doesn't Know (one of the top 100 most banned books of the decade)!
If you haven't read Sonya Sones' novels in verse... well... just go and do so. Oh, I suppose you can wait for her upcoming box set but you're only postponing what you know you should do. Her books are so vibrant and full of the type of detail that makes everything come alive for me... and yet she does it all with such economy. I read and enjoy. Then I read and try to learn. (But don't tell her!)
It's a good time to be a Sonya Sones fan, by the way. She's got a novel out in August with the fantastic title of To Be Perfectly Honest (A Novel Based on an Untrue Story). And she's got a picture book for high school grads coming out soon co-written with her daughter, Ava. Perhaps that will lead me to a future 30 Poets/30 Days participant... but for now, I'm thrilled to have Sonya Sones here at GottaBook. Achooooo!
Big boxes! Small boxes! Sturdy and tough. I love you space figures, I can’t have enough. Your bases and faces I truly adore. Big boxes! Small boxes! May I have one more?
Big boxes! Small boxes! Piled high in my room. You wobble, you bobble. You topple down— Boom! Your bases are strong. Space figures, you’re great! Big boxes! Small boxes! You’re cool! But, wait.
Pyramids, prisms, and cones, how you rock! Your faces and bases I like quite a lot! When I look at you I see 3D perfection. I want more figures— a bigger collection!
What is a Space Figure?
An object like a tissue box is 3-Dimensional. It may also be called a space figure. The sides and the top of the box are sides, or faces. The edge is where the base and face connect. A tissue box has six faces and twelve edges. Try counting them for yourself!
Yay, geometry! That's what I said when I saw that Heidi Bee Roemer sent me the above poem. Combine mathematical ideas and poetry together, and I start getting rather excited, ya see. And 3-D? Win!
Of course, it's not enough just to be a poem about a concept. No. It's still gotta be fun to read. The words and images have to speak and inform on their own, and if you read Heidi's poems, whether about math or seeds or whatever else, you'll find they always do.
He's also, as you can see from the above example, a wonderful weaver of words. Blackbird is such a soothing, lush poem and combined with the art that goes with it, from Catherine Hyde, it's got me wishing that the book it's from, Conjuring the Dusk, were out NOW. But, no. We have to wait. That's not right.
Still, in the interim, we can pick from Andrew's other books as poet, novelist, anthologist, and picture book author. Or we can hope to find him didgeridooing somewhere. In all cases, however, it's a real pleasure for me to have Andrew Fusek Peters here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.
You've lost your shoes – you don't know where. You do not have another pair. Your mother says they're in your room. You trod upstairs to face your doom. They aren't lying on the floor, Not on your desk, not in a drawer, Behind the chair, under the bed – They must be someplace else instead. You pull the door – it makes a creak – Into the closet's depths you peek. The hanging clothes are all unhung Mixed in a pile with things you flung. You sift and dig. You sort and toss. You start to become very cross. Then finally, inside a box, You find your shoes. Where are your socks?
When Kelly Ramsdell Fineman's poem, Where Are Your Shoes?, appeared in my inbox, I was gleeful and a bit surprised. One of my favorite parts of hosting 30/30 is that I never know what people are going to send me, and Kelly has the type of poetic range that made prediction impossible. Would I get laughs? A sonnet or some other form? Or....? What I knew, however, is that I'd get something wonderful.
If you've followed Writing and Ruminating, Kelly's blog (where her ruminating is not to be missed, by the way), or seen her picture book, At the Boardwalk, or run into her poetry anywhere else it's been published, you'd no doubt share my opinion. With a keen eye and a great ability to push her reader just a little farther (as in... to socks!), it's always a treat to read her poetry... just as it's a treat for me to have Kelly Ramsdell Fineman here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.
Yay! It's National Poetry Month and 30 Poets/30 Days, and Mary Lee Hahn's poem has flung open the doors for a month of poetic joy for us all.
It occurs to me that some of you may not know Mary Lee's poetry. Instead, you might know her as half of the A Year of Reading duo or as a teacher or the Poetry Friday organizing dynamo. In fact, I didn't know Mary Lee wrote poetry when I first got to cyber-know her years ago. But she does! Oh, indeed she does!
Now published in both the Poetry Friday Anthologies (for K-5 and middle school), I predict it won't be long before we're seeing Mary Lee Hahn authored collections. She has a way with phrasing and imagery that can often take my breath away and a startling ability to make me see the world through her eyes. And I find that I truly like the view, one reason I'm so happy to have here here today kicking off 30 Poets/30 Days.
Mary Lee's started us off with (a) spring in our steps, I dare say. Tomorrow... Kelly Fineman asks Where Are Your Shoes? For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.
How nice of J. Patrick Lewis to send a bit of rock 'n' roll poetry to share with the world, eh? Some might quibble with him, of course ("For those who say that rock is all/It's always John and Paul" for example), but who can deny our Poet Laureate's rhythm and way with words? Not I! As always, it's a pleasure to have Pat here at GottaBook.
And if you listen really closely, you can probably hear me singing and shouting with joy and glee.
There are so many folks to thank, of course, and that includes y'all. I know so many of you have been hanging around these parts since this book was not even a manuscript. Others of you have come by more recently. And all of you here are a big part of what's kept me writing during the good and bad times. That's why I look forward to celebrating a lot with you in the months ahead.
I feel awfully lucky right about now: National Poetry Month and 30 Poets/30 Days are coming up, I get to see my debut novel's cover soon (and will share it here, natch!), and did I mention... my book is coming out in October?
I'm thrilled to announce the 2013 edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, an April-long celebration of children's poetry that takes place here at GottaBook.
Each day of the month, I'll post a previously unpublished poem by a different poet. I've seen a lot of the poetry already, and I can safely say it's gonna be a great month. Here's an alphabetical list of who's work you'll be seeing here during National Poetry Month 2013:
You can also join my poetry list, and get all the poems emailed to you the day they hit my blog. To be on the list, enter your email address into the box and click subscribe:
That list runs year round, by the way, so whenever I post a poem here, whether it's my own or a poem from a visiting guest poet, you'll see it.
There are always a ton of people to thank with an event like this and other details to share, but today I'm simply going to wrap it up with a bit hat tip to the extra-talented Carter Higgins for designing this year's 30/30 logo. And, of course, thanks to all of you for reading! Now...
THE POETRY FRIDAY ROUNDUP!
Please leave a comment with a link to your Poetry Friday post, and I'll be adding things in as the day goes on....
It is rare that I focus on YA books here, probably because I am only 11 years old and don't yet read up. Or something like that. However, I did want to take a moment to talk about Bridget Zinn's debut novel, Poison.
I met Bridget at an early Kidlitcon. I think it was impossible not to like her, even via a brief encounter. She just exuded positivity and good humor and... you know... you just liked her.
So, it was exciting to see her on her path to publication, even though, unfortunately, she ended up on a simultaneous path of cancer, chemo and hospitals. Bridget passed away in 2011 at only 33. Nearly two years later, her book has finally arrived.
But really... what's going on here is a celebration of a debut novel that's garnering reader love. It's what all of us authors want. Are there deeper levels? Of course. So go kiss a loved one or rededicate yourself to your own manuscript or both!
And maybe, in celebration, you can spread the word about Poison, too!
My dog has it in for me badly. I swear he’s the worst cur on earth. I wish I could get away from the vendetta He’s had against me since my birth. Instead, he finds new ways to hound me. My days are spent shaking with fear! And he is why actually, truly and factually, None of my homework is here.
This was a poem written for this year's March Madness Poetry shebang... though it did not help me advance to the next round, as you can see. My task was to write a poem using the word vendetta, by the way. I believe it was the first time I'd done so, and I was pleased enough with the result to share it here.
If you want to get all the new poems here (and only the poems) emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!
Sweeeeeet! March Madness, poetry style, is back again thanks to Ed DeCaria at Think Kid, Think. And once again, I'm giving it a go along with 63 other poetry loving foo... errr... poets!
The way the Madness works is pretty simple: we "face off" against another poet, each of us having 36 hours to write a poem based on an assigned word. This year, I'm a 13th seed, and that means my words are gonna be challenging. But isn't that the fun of it all? Yes!
I hope you'll follow along with the whole bracket. I'm in action starting Tuesday the 12th, and others begin the 11th. Last year was a blast and a great way to lead into the fun of National Poetry Month in April, too.
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It's been a sparse blogging few weeks, and I've realized once again that for me, the joy of blogging is y'all. I miss the interactions and conversations and the idea that even when we're not in direct communication, you are out there reacting in some way to what I'm sending out.
I don't miss the act of blogging or the blogger interface or the joy of pressing "publish." Nope. It's you!
So thank you for being out there. Things'll be picking up here again soon. And then, just as now, I'll so happy you're here with me.
We’re locked in our classroom all day for a test Answering questions for hours with no rest. You want us to learn? Well, this isn’t the way. Sequester the tester and just let us play!
I wrote this poem almost a year ago during last year's March Madness (the fantastic event masterminded by Ed DeCaria). During the Madness, some poor poet had to write a poem in 36 hours using the word "sequester"... and I decided it was such a great word, I'd give it a try, too, just cuz.
Flash forward to a year later, and "sequester" is suddenly in the news (AND it's standardized testing time all over the place, too). So, I've decided to dust off this little ditty. (And, yes... I'm doing the Madness again! More on that soooooon.)