Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pat Mora - Books & Me

Books & Me
Pat Mora

We belong
books and me,
like toast and jelly
o queso y tortillas.
Delicious! ¡Delicioso!

Like flowers and bees,
birds and trees,
books and me.

©2009 Pat Mora. All rights reserved.

Pat Mora has written oodles of picture books and poetry for kids (and teens), has published non-fiction and poetry for adults, and won a scad of awards along the way. Yet she still has time to be the driving force behind El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day), now celebrating its 13th anniversary. You can read more about Día by clicking that link or by checking out the Bookjoy! blog. I hope you'll be celebrating today!

Books & Me is such a wonderful conclusion to this month, at least to my eyes. The poem is a sweet, perfect capture of a feeling that I suspect is quite prevalent among readers of GottaBook. And I love, love, love how this poem illustrates language and cultural differences while still highlighting the universal. Good stuff, indeed, and just one of the many reasons why it really is a treat and a pleasure to have a Pat Mora poem to send us out on a celebratory note here at the conclusion of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, we kinda, sorta had a visit with Douglas Florian. Tomorrow, a final recap of 30 Poets/30 Days!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The 30th = triple the fun!

So, tomorrow could be a "sad" day around here with the end of National Poetry Month and all, but since I celebrate things poetic year round, I don't view it as anything beyond the completion of 30 Poets/30 Days. Besides, I think it's a happy day. You see...

April 30th is El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day) also known as Dia. Why not find out if there are celebrations going on anywhere near you?

Or if you're looking for something where you don't have to leave your seat, come join the Twitter poetry chat at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific. I'll be late to this chat, but it'll be going on nicely without me, I'm sure. The conversation every week has been fabulous and often spread out over four continents! I'd also note that two of the other participants in 30 Poets/30 Days have jumped in, as well as many other fabulous poets and poetry lovers.

AND... the 30th is the 2nd Annual Poem in Your Pocket Day. You can print out any poem from this month here at the blog to pull out and share with people all day long. You can nab Bobbi Katz's new More Pocket Poems for some perfect pocket fodder. You can write your own, tweet your own or find other poems you love... but I sure hope you do something to celebrate.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow, indeed, but now I gotta book. See you then!

Douglas Florian (kinda, sorta)

Things have been running so smoothly here in the inaugural year of 30 Poets/30 Days, and yet today, in the words of a rather famous poet, things have gone aglay! Due to scheduling and communications gaffes, I do not have a new Douglas Florian poem to share with you as I type this. But fear not! It will come anon. And right now? Welllllllll... there still must be poetry!

I'm a huge, huge, huge Douglas Florian fan and have been for a long time. And, in fact, years ago, he was nice enough to answer questions of mine sent to him from out of the blue, so I, of course, became an even bigger fan! But his work always tickles my funny bone, and his ability to find new ways to talk about things like bugs, planets and dinosaurs continues to amaze. Plus he actually led me to write one of my early attempts at a children's poem, something I'm sure he does not know. But I was reading his collection Bing Bang Boing and ran into...

Douglas Florian

I think I've never
Seen a poem
To praise a piece
of Styrofoam.
I've waited years -
I'm waiting still.
I guess I never

I was inspired. So I sat down and wrote the following:

Ode to a Piece of Styrofoam
(For Douglas Florian)
Gregory K.

Styrofoam's good -
There is no debate.
And Styrofoam won't

Now, I never thought I'd have a chance to actually ANSWER Douglas Florian, nor do I hold this up as a shining example of my work... but sometimes fate gives you an opportunity you just have to take. So, ha! We'll see if he rewrites his poem any time soon. By the way, Douglas Florian was the first ever guest-poet on GottaBook, way back in April, 2006, and I know he'll be here again soon. So stick around, as they say, and you'll get more Douglas Florian even if timing wise, it might not fit perfectly into 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday we had April Halprin Wayland's How to Read a Poem Aloud. Tomorrow, to help celebrate Dia and bring National Poetry Month to a close, Books & Me by Pat Mora!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April Halprin Wayland - How to Read a Poem Aloud

April Halprin Wayland

First, read the title of the poem

and the poet’s name.

Be clear.

Now completely


Let each line


Then read it

one more time.

When the poem

ends, sigh.

Think about the poet at her desk,
late at night, picking up her pen to write…

and why.

© 2009 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

April Halprin Wayland writes stand-alone poetry, novels-in-poems, and picture books (including a brand new one, New Year at the Pier, coming out in June!). She's a teacher as well, and she is now part of a collective of six fellow teaching authors who have just started blogging together at Oh, and she still has time to be one of the nicest folks I've met in the children's book world!

April is another poet who sent me a few poems to choose from, any of which, again, I would have been incredibly happy to post here. The poems were different as could be, but shared the same ability to connect with me... to make me see things from a new perspective (in one case, that would actually be from a dog's perspective!)... to make me ask myself fun questions. I always love reading April's work, so I'm especially glad to have gotten to read extras AND to be able to have a poem of hers here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, Kenn Nesbitt gave us My Chicken's On The Internet. Tomorrow... Douglas Florian!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kenn Nesbitt - My Chicken's On The Internet

My Chicken's On the Internet
Kenn Nesbitt

My chicken's on the Internet.
She surfs the web all day.
I've tried to stop her browsing
but, so far, there's just no way.

She jumps up on the mouse
and then she flaps around like mad
to click on every hyperlink
and every pop-up ad.

She plays all sorts of chicken games.
She messages her folks.
She watches chicken videos
and forwards chicken jokes.

She writes a blog for chickens
and she uploads chicken pics.
She visits chicken chat rooms
where she clucks about her chicks.

I wouldn't mind so much
except my keyboard's now a wreck.
She hasn't learned to type yet;
she can only hunt and peck.

© 2009 Kenn Nesbitt. All rights reserved.

Kenn Nesbitt writes funny, funny poetry and has a funny, funny website. Of course part of what makes Kenn funny, funny is that he's also a very good, good poet. Kenn can turn a phrase, build to a punchline, capture images, and make a point all while making it look easy. Plus, I think he knows and gets his audience like very few others.

Even as he's been busy with the launch of his new book, My Hippo has the Hiccups (which has been getting faboo reviews, by the way!), Kenn has been a big help to me here, and I want to thank him for that again. That was just a bonus, however, because I knew from the start that I wanted a poem from him as part of 30 Poets/30 Days. I'm happy to have his poem up and running today... but I think you all better go back up your data, because there's a chicken loose on the net!

Yesterday gave us Joan Bransfield Graham's I am the Poem. Tomorrow... How to Read a Poem Aloud by April Halrpin Wayland!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The week ahead....

Ack! It's the last week of National Poetry Month!!!! Luckily, there are still four more poems/poets here, and, of course, poetry doesn't stop when April does....

Still, as the month hurries to a close, I wanted to mention other things about the end of April -- April 30th is both El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day) AND the 2nd annual Poem in Your Pocket Day. You can combine them in any way you want, as they are both celebrations and meant to be great fun.

More on this as the week moves on, but I have to get ready to release Kenn Nesbitt's chicken onto the internet, so I gotta book!

Joan Bransfield Graham - I am the Poem

Joan Bransfield Graham

I am the poem
of reach
I make you
and leap and
and when you're
about to
off I twirl
in clever
but we are
far apart
I pirouette
your heart
and head and
with all the
I can employ:

it is the dance
that is the joy.

© 2009 Joan Bransfield Graham. All rights reserved.

Joan Bransfield Graham has written two of my favorite poetry books to pull out and read aloud from - Flicker Flash and Splish Splash. The poems in the books about light and water are not only wonderful to say aloud but, since they are all concrete poems, they are also wonderful to show. To see what I'm talking about, head on over to the Miss Rumphius Effect where Tricia has actually put up a few examples of those poems in her great Poetry Makers piece on Joan. Then try these poems out yourself and see their impact on kids.

But, of course, Joan Bransfield Graham's poetry isn't just about the shape on the page. In fact, I was lucky enough to see a few poems from Joan in putting this event together, all of which were great and none of which were concrete. Her food poems made me hungry (and I swear to you I could actually smell one), and another poem had me ready to go out and ride my bike. One could say I danced with her poems and, in fact, it was a joy... just as it's a joy to have a poem of hers here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday brought us Julie Larios's No Strings Attached. Tomorrow, My Chicken's on the Internet by Kenn Nesbitt!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Julie Larios - No Strings Attached

Julie Larios

If I were a kite
with no strings to hold me,
I 'd let the wind take me –
I'd let the crows scold me,
I'd float through the sky
with the sun on my shoulders.
The clouds would all bite
at my ears. I'd be bolder
than bold, I’d dance, I'd go soaring—
a life in the sky could never be boring.

I'd fly over houses then over the tops
of skyscraping buildings
but I wouldn't stop there, I'd sail over sailboats
and islands
and oceans.
I’d drive the world loco with my locomotion.

Diving and squawking,
The seagulls would show me the migrating whales
as they spouted below me.
Over Kansas and Kashmir,
the hot sands of Cairo,
Mt. Fuji, Mt. Everest –
higher and higher—
wheatfields would wave to me,
deserts would sigh.
Icebergs would stare as I rose in the sky.

The sun would be one friend,
the bright moon another.
And what would the stars be
but sisters and brothers?

I'd know all the secrets the sky's never told me
if I were a wild kite
with no strings to hold me.

©2009 Julie Larios. All rights reserved.

Julie Larios writes poetry for children and adults, teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and blogs, to boot! You really should be reading her blog, by the way, as she often tosses up her own poems there (and tosses out prompts and the like). Good stuff.

I love the way Julie Larios plays with words in her poems - sometimes funny wordplay, sure, but often just mixing words together to create something that makes me think or wonder in a new way. She has said she likes to create mystery in her poems, and that's certainly something else that I really enjoy when reading her work. But to make it really simple, anyone who can write I'd know all the secrets the sky's never told me is gonna have me as a reader! Indeed. I'm really looking forward to seeing her next book of poetry for kids, but in the meantime, I'm very happy to have a poem of hers here at 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday gave us J. Patrick Lewis's The Poet of the World. Tomorrow... I am the Poem by Joan Bransfield Graham!

Friday, April 24, 2009

J. Patrick Lewis - The Poet of the World

The Poet of the World
J. Patrick Lewis

"How ho-ho-hum has the planet become!"
      Cried the Poet of the World.
"I must sonnet the wind, sestina the sea."
      Then he dipped his pen and he swirled

Out a poem where braves become braver, and knaves
      Wander under a vinegar sky,
And a Duchess receives purely innocent thieves
      Who are normally camera-shy.

"The heroes are villains, the geniuses mad!"
      So he spun them a roundelay.
"All the people who live in the Ivory Land
      Would be happier villanelle gray."

Then he thought, "I must metaphor girls in gold
      And simile boys in blue."
He looked up from his Book, and he said, "I forgot,
      Which character are you?"

©2009 J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.
From A Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year – Little, Brown, Ethan Long, illustrator

J. Patrick Lewis, I humbly submit, would do a fantastic job as poet of the world. He's got a mastery of words, possesses an incredible ability to write poems about most any topic (like an underwear salesman!!!!), taught economics yet made the choice to switch to writing children's poetry thus is possessed with both knowledge and judgment that I trust, and he's an incredibly supportive and encouraging fellow, to boot.

It truly is astonishing to pick up a pile of J. Patrick Lewis's books and see the depth and breadth of forms he plays with and topics he tackles so successfully. He's also well published for adults in a variety of journals (in fact, I realize now that the first J. Patrick Lewis poetry I read was probably in Light Quarterly not in a children's book). Pat was the first person to send poems to me for 30 Poets/30 Days. I kept stalling in picking one because he kept sending more, and I was having the time of my life getting to read them before anyone else! The truth is they were all fantastic, and it's a treat and a pleasure to be able to have any one of them here at GottaBook.

Hey, hey, hey! It's Poetry Friday once again -- the last one this National Poetry Month, in fact. This week, you can find the roundup of posts over at Lisa Chellman's blog. Go on over and check it out!

Yesterday gave us Nikki Giovanni's My Sister and Me. Tomorrow... No Strings Attached by Julie Larios!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nikki Giovanni - My Sister and Me

My Sister and Me
Nikki Giovanni

Chocolate cookies
Chocolate cakes
Chocolate fudge
Chocolate lakes
Chocolate kisses
Chocolate hugs
Two little chocolate girls
In a chocolate rug

No one can find us
We're all alone
Two little chocolate girls
Running from home

Chocolate chickies
Chocolate bunnies
Chocolate smiles
From chocolate mommies
Chocolate rabbits
Chocolate snakes
Two little chocolate girls
Wide awake

What an adventure
My, what fun
My sister and me
Still on the run
Still on the run
My sister and me
On the run

©2009 Nikki Giovanni. All rights reserved.

Nikki Giovanni (or to approximate what I said when I heard that she'd be sending a poem this way, "Nikki Giovanni!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!") writes fabulous poetry for children and adults, is well known as an activist and educator, and, among her large number of awards and accolades, has a Grammy nomination for a spoken word collection of her poetry. Oh... and she's also had a species of bat named after her (Micronycteris giovanniae, for the record). I believe, though can't be certain, that she is the only poet on the list of 30 this year who can make that claim.

I find that Nikki Giovanni can take something personal and specific and run with it in a poem, creating an impact that's ultimately far more powerful to me than the individual observations and details within the piece. Beyond that, I just happen to think her poetry for children is incredibly engaging, and that the 2008 anthology she edited, Hip Hop Speaks to Children, is a "must have" poetry book for kids. I could easily fill pages here today, but I will stop right now and simply say that I'm incredibly honored and happy to have a poem by Nikki Giovanni here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday gave us Janet Wong's My Green Grandfather. Tomorrow... The Poet of the World by J. Patrick Lewis!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Janet Wong - My Green Grandfather

My Green Grandfather
Janet Wong

If you praised my grandfather
for being green,
he would check his favorite flannel shirt
and say, "You see paint?"

But he is as green
as the snow peas he grows in his garden.
Green as the old glass jars in his garage
that hold pins and nails and hinges.
Green as the avocados he buys
from the little store on the corner.

If I praised my grandfather
for his small carbon footprint,
he would check the bottom of his shoes for dirt,
then say, "Size 10 EEE."

I walk on my tiptoes beside him.

©2009 Janet Wong. All rights reserved.

Janet Wong has been an invited author at the Easter Egg Roll at the White House and has been on Oprah. I mention those things not because they have anything to do with poetry in specific, but, well, they're really cool anyway! Of course, she has also won fans and awards for her poetry, and I actually first came to be a big fan while judging on a Cybils poetry panel where her book Twist was under consideration. If you know any kids (or adults) who take yoga, you really should read Twist with or two them. The look of recognition on kids' faces, in particular, when they hear a poem about one of the poses they know is priceless.

While it's a great poem for Earth Day, I also love My Green Grandfather, in part because I read it and I firmly believe that this MUST be Janet Wong's grandfather she's talking about. Is it? I have no idea, nor does it ultimately matter. But, to me, that ability to suck me in to the poem's world... to make it seem so personal even if it's only been something personal that's a jumping off point (if that!)... is one of the many remarkable things about her writing. I'm very happy to have a day-appropriate poem today, but more than that, I'm really thrilled to have a poem from Janet Wong as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday was my contribution to the month, I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown. Tomorrow... My Sister and Me by Nikki Giovanni!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gregory K. - I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown

I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown
Gregory K.

I went to the farm where spaghetti is grown
In rows of long vines in a field of its own.
It grows in the shade of the great ziti trees,
Right next to the bushes that grow mac-and-cheese.
Lasagna plants bloom alongside manicotti,
And orchards of angel hair grow long and knotty.
I watched as a tractor plowed rows of linguini,
And cheered at the harvest of fresh tortellini.
I helped as the farmer cleared fields full of weeds
Then planted a crop using orzo as seeds.
We watered his land that was miles across
Then fertilized amply with meatballs and sauce.
When I left that farm where spaghetti is grown
In rows of long vines in a field of its own,
I thought it the greatest place under the sky...
'Til I saw the farm where they only grow pie!

©2009 Gregory K. Pincus. All rights reserved.

Gregory K. is the nom de blog of me, Greg Pincus (or Gregory K. Pincus, Dad, or Library Guy depending on where you run into me or who you are). It's also the name on the poems of mine you'll find here and many other places, too. I've been writing poetry since I can remember and while I won't try, as I've done with other poets this month, to explain what I like about the posted poem or a body of work (because, well, that'd be odd!), I will note that I've found that I have common subject areas that I've been playing with a long, long time: sports, food, school, and friends and family among them. I'm fascinated by words and images and love pushing and twisting them around to try them out in different settings, so to speak. And like Lee Bennett Hopkins, I love chocolate!

I can truly say that it's an honor for me to share the page here with 29 poets whose work I admire so much. It's been a wonderfully fun month for me so far, I'm happy to have my contribution up today, and I look forward to bringing you the rest of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday gave us My Teacher by Jane Yolen. Tomorrow on Earth Day... My Green Grandfather by Janet Wong!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hither and thither....

April just keeps on tick, tick, ticking by. There's poetry galore here (scroll down, in fact, and you'll likely see some or just click here to see a bunch), and all sorts of great stuff flying around the web. For example...

I wanted to take a moment to celebrate another book release: Thalia Chaltas' Because I am Furniture - a novel in poems. The book just came out last week to rave reviews, and as if that wasn't enough for one month, Thalia started blogging, too. I hope you go on off and check out the blog, site, and book....

Once you've done that, a trip to Elaine's Wild Rose Reader will get you tons of poetry resources, great poetry, reviews, and even a chance to win some poetry books. Good times, indeed. And finally, from the it's not poetry, but it's really funny category: Saints and Spinners is announcing the winners of the Unnecessary Children's Book Sequels Contest this week. So far, we know that Where the Wild Things Aren't didn't win (but made me laugh anyway).

There's not enough time to read or link to all the great stuff in the Kidlitosphere, and I really gotta book, so I'll just point to my blogroll over on the right (and down) and suggest a trip to 'em all. Enjoy!

Jane Yolen - My Teacher

My Teacher
Jane Yolen

My teacher's tall,
My teacher's small,
My teacher's white,
Black, tan.
My teacher is a woman,
My teacher is a man.

My teacher's thin,
My teacher's fat,
My teacher's in-between.
My teacher's always very nice.
Sometimes my teacher's mean.

My teacher has a quiet voice,
My teacher's voice is loud
And you can hear her speaking out
Above the wildest crowd.

My teacher is a riot.
My teacher never smiles.
My teacher lives right near the school.
My teacher travels miles.

My teacher's younger than my mom.
My teacher's very old.
My teacher's hands are nice and warm.
My teacher's hands are cold.

But when I'm feeling lonely, scared,
Or having a bad day
I take my teacher's hand and then
Those feelings go away.

©2009 Jane Yolen. All rights reserved.

Jane Yolen has written poetry, picture books, short stories and novels and has written for young children, teens, and adults. She's won awards and fans no matter what genre or age group she writes for... and, yes, she has around 300 books to her name. That. Is. A. Lot! Her secret, besides remarkable talent, is one all writers should heed - butt in chair. Truer words never were spoken, as if you don't write the book, you surely won't publish it.

Credits and awards aside, I just love Jane Yolen's poetry. Her poems are honest and clear and can be funny and touching and insightful and whimsical and a list far longer than this post has space to contain. She's never afraid to say what she wants to say and knows so well how to say it in a way that kids (and adults!) can relate to. I think My Teacher is a wonderful example of how she takes a simple idea and makes a poem that's so rich and full of things to think about... or just there to enjoy. Beyond all the writing skill, Jane Yolen is also mentor to so many and a strong advocate for children's writers everywhere, so it's truly and honor and pleasure for me to have a poem of hers here on 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday we had Arnold Adoff's n o   justice   n o p e a c e. Tomorrow... I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown by Greg Pincus.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Arnold Adoff - n o justice n o p e a c e

n o  justice   n o p e a c e

o f   course:
t r u e   change   is always   too   slow
and   o u r   b e s t   hopes   rest   with
s t e a d y
beyond   our   own   times

the   t r u e   revolutions    h a p p e n
within  the  covers  of our  best books
inside the noises of words with words
inside the movements of reading eyes

the  writers    are   the   engines
the  artists     are   the   engines
and   the    women    and    men
and   the   girls   and   the   boys
read ing    those    noisy    books
all  are   engines  of true change

the   words  contain  the  power
and the books  must  have  that
power  and  the  noise  of    that
story and the shout of that song
must always be  louder than the
silence  of the  bullets  and   the
silent   deaths  of  grim   despair

we   m o v e  forward  with   love

the   s t r u g g l e  c o n t I n u e s

©2009 arnold adoff. all rights reserved.

Arnold Adoff is a recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, recognizing his work both as poet and anthologist. I became a fan upon discovering his book Chocolate Dreams - a whole book of poems on chocolate! That, by itself, makes him a hero in these parts. But no matter what his subject matter, I love the way he works with rhythm and his ability to find the perfect word for the perfect place... to make his reader see something familiar in a new light.

On his web site Arnold Adoff says "... I can open a child's imagination, develop his appetite for poetry, and more importantly, show him that poetry is a natural part of everyday life. We all need someone to point out that the emperor is wearing no clothes. That's the poet's job." If so, I believe Arnold Adoff has fulfilled the poet's job quite well, indeed, and I'm thrilled to have him be a part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday we had Skeleton at Dinner by Kristine O'Connell George. Tomorrow... My Teacher by Jane Yolen!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kristine O'Connell George - Skeleton at Dinner

Skeleton at Dinner
Kristine O'Connell George

I heard you shout
              Soup's on!

I rattled in,
              sat, slurped.

Soup's in—
                        soup's out.

© 2009 Kristine O'Connell George. All rights reserved.

It seems to me that Kristine O'Connell George can capture any moment and turn it into a poem that makes me see that moment in a way I never would have on my own. It could be her observational skills and her ability to pick just the right detail to share that make the poems shine. But I think even more than that, it's how she uses language so well and keys into so many of the senses (including, above, the sense of humor). Her poems are so alive... even when she's writing about a skeleton!

As she showed in her books Little Dog Poems and Little Dog and Duncan, Kristine O'Connell George is a dog lover. Now at her website, she and Little Dog are welcoming the Obama's new dog Bo to the White House with a writing prompt AND an opportunity for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students to send in the poems they create in response and see them up on her site. I hope you go check it out... and I'm very glad you all came on by to see the incredibly talented Kristine O'Connell George here on 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday gave us Jon Scieszka and Emily Dickinson's first collaboration, 200 Typing Monkeys Almost Make It. Tomorrow... Arnold Adoff with n o justice     n o p e a c e

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jon Scieszka - 200 Typing Monkeys Almost Make It

            200 Typing Monkeys
                Almost Make It
Emily Dickinson and Jon Scieszka

I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were a whole bunch of giant deliciously ripe bananas.

© 2009 National Simian Scribe Project. Some rights reversed.

While 200 typing monkeys might one day recreate the work of Shakespeare or Dickinson, one has to wonder if they'd ever, ever, ever type out the work of the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jon Scieszka. I've always loved the odd angles and approaches he takes to material... and obviously, so do kids. On a more personal note, I also love the fact that I was not drinking anything when I first read 200 Typing Monkeys Almost Make It because I surely would've covered my monitor by doing a spit-take.

By the way, Jon Scieszka's mission as Ambassador is "to get kids excited about reading." Bravo, I say! Now, in my experience, his own books do that quite well, but beyond that, he's also the founder of GUYS READ, a remarkable resource that you really must check out (or use again!). And hey, you can follow him on Twitter as @GuysRead, too. I know how busy the Ambassador is jetting about and being so Ambassadorial, so I'm extra grateful to him for taking the time to commune with his good friend Emily D. and send a poem in to 30 Poets/30 Days.

And hey, hey, hey, it's Poetry Friday! Go on over to Becky's Book Reviews and check out the roundup of posts to see what else is rippling poetically through the Kidlitosphere today.

Yesterday we had Betsy Franco's Me and Joe Lining Up After Recess. Tomorrow... Skeleton at Dinner by Kristine O'Connell George!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Betsy Franco - Me and Joe Lining Up After Recess

Me and Joe Lining Up After Recess
Betsy Franco

We race
for the front

   bunch up
      and bump,

Then teacher gives the quiet sign.

"You two go to the end of the line!"

© 2009 Betsy Franco. All rights reserved.
from the upcoming Messing Around on the Monkey Bars, and other school poems for two voices

Betsy Franco writes poetry and picture books, has her first young adult novel coming out this fall, and has also edited collections of teenagers' poems (the most recent of which, Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers just got a great writeup in the New York Times). She shares my love of math and does amazing work combining it with poetry in books like Mathematickles.

And somehow while doing all that she had the time to come hang out and observe the same class I did one recent morning, as she captured perfectly exactly what I saw as the kids lined up! OK, Betsy Franco wasn't really there, but when I read this poem, I couldn't imagine an elementary school student (or teacher!) who wouldn't also smile with recognition... and maybe, without even realizing it, "get" that poetry is pretty darn good stuff, indeed. I'm very much looking forward to the entire Messing Around on the Monkey Bars collection, and I'm incredibly happy to have a sneak peak of it here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday brought us I Dreamt I Saw a Dinosaur by Mary Ann Hoberman. Tomorrow...

200 Typing Monkeys
Almost Make It

by Emily Dickinson and Jon Scieszka.

Would I make that up? Of course not!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Halfway! (or 15 Poets/15 Days)

Today is not only income tax day here in the U.S. It's not only the ides of April. It's also the halfway point in 30 Poets/30 Days. Shall we review what we've seen so far? Yes!

Jack Prelutsky - A Little Poem For Poetry Month
Rebecca Kai Dotlich - Midnight Stray
Charles Ghigna - A Poem Is...
X. J. Kennedy - Ladder to the Moon
Ann Whitford Paul - Owl
Jaime Adoff - Rock n Roll Dad
Marilyn Singer - In the Museum
Adam Rex - The Flight Before Christmas
Joyce Sidman - Spring is the Time
Bruce Lansky - Rules for Spot
Avis Harley - Perfect Pitch
Nikki Grimes - All Eyes
Lee Bennett Hopkins - SPRING
Linda Sue Park - Villanelle: Why I Love Libraries
Mary Ann Hoberman - I Dreamt I Saw a Dinosaur

I'm probably biased, but can I just say "Wow!"? What's just as amazing to me... we still have 15 more poems and poets to go, and I'm excited about each and every one of them. I thank you all for coming along on the ride and encourage you to keep on coming back, keep spreading the word, and keep letting us know what you think.

More soon, but now I gotta book.

Mary Ann Hoberman - I Dreamt I Saw a Dinosaur

I Dreamt I Saw a Dinosaur
Mary Ann Hoberman

I dreamt I saw a dinosaur
         Who stretched up very high.
I dreamt I saw a dinosaur
         Who towered to the sky.
I dreamt I saw a dinosaur
         Who told me with a sigh,
"I dreamt I saw a dinosaur
         Who dreamt he saw a dinosaur
Who dreamt he saw a dinosaur
         Who dreamt he saw a fly."

©2009 Mary Ann Hoberman. All rights reserved.

Mary Ann Hoberman is the Poetry Foundation's current Children's Poet Laureate and a recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. So I'm clearly not the first to recognize that she does wonders with words... but, well, she does! I can lose myself in her wordplay and often find my brain filling in more details of the pictures her poems create. And I've watched it happen to kids -- I've seen their eyes sparkle that certain sparkle when I'm reading one of her poems aloud to them.

I've actually been lucky enough to see Mary Ann Hoberman during a classroom visit. I knew the class she was going into... knew how fun they could be but how hard it would be for her to reach them. I think it took her 33 seconds. It was truly remarkable to watch -- they performed with her, laughed with her, listened intently, and were transported to a place we clearly all need to go more often. Luckily for all of us, she continues to spread that same poetic joy, and I'm thrilled to have her do some of that here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days!

Yesterday (during National Library Week!), we had Linda Sue Park's Villanelle: Why I Love Libraries. Tomorrow... "Me and Joe Lining Up After Recess" by Betsy Franco.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The second Twitter #poetry chat!

The first Twitter #poetry chat was great, and we're going for "round two" so to speak. This chat will take place at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific on Thursday evening, April 16th. I hope you can all join us! (If you want more info on the #poetry chat, just click here.)

Linda Sue Park - Villanelle: Why I Love Libraries

Villanelle: Why I Love Libraries
Linda Sue Park

I lose myself within the book-walled maze,
with no end to the promises in sight,
through passages to many worlds and ways.

The aisles meander pleasantly. A craze
of unread pages beckons, tempts, invites;
I lose myself. Within the book-walled maze

a googolplex of lexical arrays
for exploration flanks me left and right.
True passages to many; worlds and ways

that lead to corners sharp with turns of phrase,
and tales both commonplace and recondite
to lose myself within. The book-walled maze

reveals its pleasures slowly, but repays
the debt of time in thousandfold delight—
through passages to many worlds, in ways

mapped out by words. A sudden blink of light:
It's checkout time—they’re closing for the night.
I'd lost myself within the book-walled maze,
through passages to many worlds and ways.

©2009 Linda Sue Park. All rights reserved.

Linda Sue Park writes poems, picture books and novels, and won the Newbery Medal in 2002 for A Single Shard. She's also written wonderful stuff on her blog, and I've referred countless people there just to read her thoughts on "voice." And she doesn't know this, but it was a big day for me a couple years back when she visited GottaBook and let me know that she liked and was writing Fibs! Yes, I'm writer star-struck (and it's been a big month for that, lemme tell you!), and that was indeed a good day.

To me, her villanelle above simply falls in the category of "holy smokes!" Like Joyce Sidman's pantoum and Marilyn Singer's triolet and Avis Harley's acrostic, this is an example of taking a form and using it rather than being constrained by it. My official poetry tester here at home read this poem and said simply, "that's amazing." I concur, and I'm exceedingly happy to have it here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, we celebrated SPRING with Lee Bennett Hopkins. Tomorrow, Children's Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman's I Dreamt I Saw a Dinosaur!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Go, Bo!

That is my two word/two syllable contribution to poetry about the new White House dog, Bo. But luckily, Kristine O'Connell George, whose poem you'll read here later this month as part of 30 Poets/30 Days, has not only written a better poem and placed it on her website (and links to White House dog poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and J. Patrick Lewis) but also has given a poetry writing prompt for kids to use to help celebrate the arrival of a new First Pooch. AND she'll be posting poems kids send in, too.

So head on over and check out Welcome to the White House, Bo!


Lee Bennett Hopkins - SPRING

Lee Bennett Hopkins


cloud-bursting showers

April fools
fledglings on wing

no thing

From the forthcoming, SHARING THE SEASONS (McElderry Books).
©2009 Lee Bennett Hopkins. All rights reserved.
Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Lee Bennett Hopkins is this year's recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. He's a dynamic speaker, an incredible poet, a remarkable anthologist, and a tireless champion for children's poetry and poets. And he loves chocolate!

Like he has been to countless others, Lee has been generous to me with his knowledge and time and has been an inspiration with his enthusiasm and passion for what he does. 30 Poets/30 Days would not likely exist had I never met him and been so caught up in his love of "passing the poetry," so to speak. I'm incredibly happy to be able to publicly say "Thanks, Lee!" like I know many have before. And now that I'm done with my selfish part... I'm also incredibly happy to give you a sneak peak at a poem from his upcoming SHARING THE SEASONS (illustrated by David Diaz).

Oh, yeah... one more thing. I hope you'll all join me in wishing Lee a happy birthday!

Yesterday brought us All Eyes by Nikki Grimes. Tomorrow... Villanelle: Why I Love Libraries by Linda Sue Park (just in time for National Library Week!).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chatting, blogging, tweeting... it's all good!

One of the highlights for me this month has been in getting to know so many new folks via email, Twitter, and here at the blog. I want to especially thank everybody who's left a comment or sent feedback and encourage you all to keep on doing the same.

I also want to give big hat tip to everyone who showed up at the Twitter poetry chat on Friday (which included J. Patrick Lewis's first tweet ever!). It was a great hour of poetry talk, and we'll be doing it again this week (time to be determined, but it won't be Friday during the day this time around!).

There's much more, but I gotta book so I can get Lee Bennett Hopkins' poem up and running!

Nikki Grimes - All Eyes

All Eyes
Nikki Grimes

I stood at the altar
twitching in God's shadow
dizzy with
the scent of lilies,
fear a broom
that swept away
the Easter poem
I'd memorized.
I blinked back
at twenty rows
of eyes, wondered
How does it go, again?
Then, always reckless,
opened my mouth.
But all that came out
half sung,
half whispered was
"Christ the Lord
has risen today.

©2009 Nikki Grimes. All rights reserved.

Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, an NAACP Image Award winner, and a novelist, poet, and picture book author who writes wonderfully for children, teens, and adults. And really, that just starts the list, but I do try to keep this part short!

I have been a huge fan of Nikki Grimes' poetry from the moment I first read it, and All Eyes is a great example of why (and, of course, there are many reasons why, but I'll try to keep this part short, too!). Now honestly, I've never stood at an altar with a memorized Easter poem swept out of my mind... but while the poem captures a very specific moment in time, it speaks to a universal experience and emotion. So, yeah, I read this, and I'm at that altar, transported there by poetry. This happens to me a lot with Nikki Grimes' poems, and that's one reason I'm thrilled having her be a part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday we had Avis Hartley's Perfect Pitch (an acrostic). Tomorrow... Lee Bennett Hopkins with SPRING.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Avis Harley - Perfect Pitch

Perfect Pitch
Avis Harley

When you
Ache to make some music
Though you’re feeling all forlorn; you don’t
Even own a piano or
Recorder or a horn…why not

Measure out some water to eight glasses in a row
Until you hear a Do-Re-Mi, and a Fa-
So-La-Ti-Do. Then you take a tiny teaspoon—
It’s to tap a tinkly tune—and you practise for a
Concert you’ll perform at

Sunday noon. When your
Upbeat music’s over, don’t discard
It down the sink. Look around for
Thirsty flowers and then pitch
Each one a drink.

©2009 Avis Harley. All rights reserved.

Avis Harley plays with words... places them in all sorts of forms and styles... and makes them sing. Perfect Pitch is an acrostic, yes, but it's also so much more than just that - the rhythms, the rhymes, the imagery, the story, the title, and the acrostic itself work together to create something much different than any part alone. Also, I sense the fun she has writing whenever I read or hear her work... and I know kids do, too.

If you haven't read Tricia's Poetry Makers profile of Avis Harley, you really should go read it now. Not only will you get to know more about Avis, but you'll see other wonderful samples of her work (including LATER, a poem that truly hits me dead on). I'm truly looking forward to her new book, African Acrostics (with photographs by Deborah Noyes), and I'm incredibly happy to have a new poem (and an acrostic, to boot!) from Avis Harley here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday Bruce Lansky gave us Rules for Spot. Tomorrow... All Eyes by Nikki Grimes.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bruce Lansky - Rules for Spot

Rules for Spot
Bruce Lansky

Don't run after cars
when they drive down our street.
Don't leave doggy paw marks
on fresh-poured concrete.

Don't bark at the mail man;
the poor man will pout.
Don't bite bible salesmen;
they might cuss you out.

Don't drink from the toilet,
your breath won't smell great.
And mom won't be thrilled when
you eat off her plate.

Don't whine late at night
so I'll open the door.
If I'm sleeping, don't wake me;
Just "go" on the floor.

I wrote down these rules,
which I hoped would be followed.
Spot thought it was homework.
So, he chewed it and swallowed.

©2009 Bruce Lansky. All rights reserved.

Bruce Lansky knows funny. In fact, as the editor and publisher of Miles of Smiles and other books in the Kids Pick the Funniest Poems series, I doubt there's anyone with more hands on experience about what kids like when it comes to funny verse. But besides knowing funny, Bruce Lansky IS funny. He brings wit and fun and silliness and a keen eye to writing poems that tickle funnybones. And if you've never been to his Giggle Poetry website, you're missing a fantastic resource (as well as a lot of laughs). I love to laugh and love to have kids laugh when I read them a poem, so I am particularly pleased to have Bruce Lansky here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

It's Poetry Friday! Why not go visit the roundup of posts over at Carol's Corner so you can see what else is going on poetically in the Kidlitosphere. Last week there were over 80 posts on things poetic (poems, interviews, reviews, prompts, you name it). Good times. Goooood times.

Yesterday we saw Joyce Sidman's pantoum, Spring is the Time. Tomorrow... Avis Harley's Perfect Pitch.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Joyce Sidman - Spring is the Time

Spring is the Time
(a pantoum)
Joyce Sidman

Spring is the time for eggs:
soft air and sprigs of green.
Bright lemon sun,
wet nights singing.

Soft air and sprigs of green,
Snug nests and puddles.
Wet nights singing,
feathery days.

Snug nests and puddles--
new life, new hope.
Feathery days,
yellow as yolk.

New life, new hope!
Bright lemon sun,
yellow as yolk.
Spring is the time for eggs.

©2009 Joyce Sidman. All rights reserved.

Joyce Sidman won the first two Cybils for poetry... and it was as a judge on those panels that I fell deeply in the thrall of her poetry. I should note that in 2007, I thought "no way will the same person win the first two Cybils!" Then I read This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness (illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski). The book made me laugh... made me think... made me want to apologize to people... made me want to write poetry like the characters in the book... and made me want to read it over and over again. Now I dive into her work with glee, and was so thrilled to get a poem (let alone a pantoum, a form I love to read!) from her as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Joyce Sidman has a new book out now, again illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, called Red Sings from Treetops - a year in colors ... and over at the Miss Rumphius Effect, you have a chance to win a copy this month. Give that a try... but whatever you do, make sure you get a book of hers so you and the kids you share it with can join me in my thrall.

Yesterday we took The Flight Before Christmas with Adam Rex. Tomorrow... Rules for Spot by Bruce Lansky.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Adam Rex - The Flight Before Christmas

I've been trying to make this idea work off and on for years.
This is the closest I've come.
-Adam Rex

The Flight Before Christmas

'Tis the flight before Christmas. Our aircraft today
is a Boeing C-25 JingleBus sleigh.
At this time I would like to say "welcome aboard"
and please ask for all luggage and toys to be stored
in the space by your feet or the overhead sack.
Use caution untying the sack when you pack
as the toys may have shifted about during flight.
Santa gets a bit…dazed by the end of the night.
It's hardly surprising for someone who stares
for twelve hours at eight tiny reinderrières.
Plus the eggnog. Our point is, expect a rough ride,
but in two thousand years not one passenger’s died.
In the likely event of a freefall or dive
there’s an oxygen mask that will keep you alive.
We ask that you first find a mask for yourself–
put it on and pull tight before helping an elf.
Get your safety belt buckled, and keep it that way–
no standing or stretching at all in the sleigh.
Not a soul should be stirring, not even the mice.
Our pilot is quite the flotation device!
If we land in the water, hold onto him tight.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good flight.

©2009 Adam Rex. All rights reserved.

Adam Rex's Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich is always checked out at the elementary school library where I've been the volunteer librarian. In fact, when I want to read a poem aloud from it, I know I have to bring my own copy (then hold onto it tight!). The poems in Frankenstein and its sequel are hilarious and sly and connect with kids perfectly. And the art! Don't get me started on his fantastic illustrations in Frankenstein and its sequel, or his art in his picture book Pssst or Elvira Woodruff's Small Beauties or Amy Timberlake's The Dirty Cowboy or... no, no! I won't start.

Seriously, though, anyone who writes a poem about the Invisible Man going for a haircut or describes Santa looking at eight tiny reinderrières sees the world in a way that's different than most, yet Adam gets his vision across in poem after poem. I hope we'll be seeing more Adam Rex poetry collections... but I'm very happy to see at least one more poem from him here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday we were In the Museum with Marilyn Singer. Tomorrow brings us Spring is the Time by Joyce Sidman.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Twitter #poetry chat

Scroll right on down to see Marilyn Singer's wonderful In the Museum... or hang out here a minute to hear an invitation to Friday's Twitter #poetry chat!

Yes, at 2 Eastern/11 Pacific on Friday, we'll be talking poetry on Twitter. Using the #poetry tag on tweets so we can find each other, a group of... who knows who or how many ... will be hanging out for an hour talking about poets and poetry, sharing Twitter verse, resources, and, well, we have no idea what will happen! That's part of the poetry of it, seems to me.

You can read more about the idea of the #poetry chat right here. If there are topics you'd love to chat about (and this is not a children's poetry specific chat at all, by the way), feel free to leave a note in the comments or at the above link. Hope to see you there!

Marilyn Singer - In the Museum

In the Museum
Marilyn Singer

See those big bones?
Once, dinosaurs went walking
through dust, mud, and stones.
See those big bones?
Long, long ago, no computers, no phones,
no people, no talking.
See those big bones?
Once, dinosaurs went walking.

©2009 Marilyn Singer. All rights reserved.

Marilyn Singer's In the Museum, a triolet, makes me so happy. I love good dinosaur poems to start with, and I also love seeing different forms used well. And on top of that, I love the use of the title here to give this poem a setting and a context besides just being about dinos. I'm there in that museum looking at the skeleton, I tell ya, listening in to someone I can learn from. All that with one title, eight lines... with many of them repeated! It's not a surprise, of course, since Marilyn Singer is a gifted and accomplished poet who does things like this alllll the time. But still... it makes me happy.

By the way, Marilyn (along with Barbara Genco) has gathered up an amazing crew for the upcoming ALSC Poetry Blast 6: Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, David Harrison, Bobbi Katz, Laura Purdie Salas, Jon Scieszka, Joyce Sidman, Marilyn Singer, Hope Anita Smith, Susan Marie Swanson, Joyce Carol Thomas. Yowza. How can that not be a blast?

Rock n Roll Dad by Jaime Adoff set the beat yesterday. Tomorrow brings Adam Rex and The Flight Before Christmas.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rolling, rolling, rolling!

The poetry is rolling along (in fact, there's a poem right below this post, so either scroll down to see it, or click here to see Jaime Adoff's Rock n Roll Dad!), and I can safely say I'm having a blast. Tricia's Poetry Makers series and Sylvia's reviews are fantastic, and there's so much more going on in the Kidlitosphere, too (like Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast's great Douglas Florian post today).

Today was also the online launch party for Laura Purdie Salas' new book, Stampede: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School. Celebrating a new book of poetry is ALWAYS in style, April or not. The party's done, but stop by her blog and wish her well.

Not related to poetry, but well worth celebrating, is Fuse #8, Betsy Bird, doing her Happy Dance. Okay, and the reason WHY she dances -- she sold two picture books! She is brilliant, funny, and nice, to boot, and I'm thrilled for her (and for the kids who'll read her).

An overdue hat tip to School Library Journal and Rocco Staino for their 30 Poets/30 Days article in the Extra Helping newsletter that helped kick us off in style. And to all the other bloggers, librarians, and schools that are helping spread the word... thanks! (Extra applause for the largehearted boy blog for putting poetry for children right in there with Springsteen, U2, and a zombie book giveaway!)

Marilyn Singer's In the Museum is up soon... but now I gotta book!

Jaime Adoff - Rock n Roll Dad

Rock n Roll Dad
Jaime Adoff

Rock n Roll Dad cooks
in the kitchen
radio blasts
always on ten!!
    It's so LOUD, I have to shout,
Dad yells,
Dancing past me with his spoon.
Pots shake,
pans vibrate.
Mom screams:
    "It's an earthquake!"
    "What?" Dad yells back.
    I roll my eyes.
    Mom shakes her head.
Rock n Roll Dad is a little deaf.
    "A lot." Mom says.
    "Too many years playing drums." Rock n Roll Dad shouts, twirling his sticks and stirring the sauce.
    "Can I go to the club with you tonight?" I ask Dad.
    "You're not old enough yet." He answers back.
    "I want to go. I'm eight years old. I’m old enough to Rock n Roll."

    . . . One day I'm gonna play the drums too.
My hands will fly so fast
my sticks will break the speed of sound.
I'll be the best drummer in town.
     I play the plates with my carrot stick-sticks.
Splashing salsa cymbals with my rock n roll chips . . .

©2009 Jaime Adoff. All rights reserved.
Excerpt taken from "Rock n Roll Dad" to be published by Disney-Hyperion

Jaime Adoff rocks. Seriously - he fronted his own band for eight years. And the thing is, his writing rocks, too. In his award winning debut, the poetry collection The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth, and moving to his novel-in-verse Jimi & Me then to his upcoming picture book, Rock n Roll Dad, music is both a part of what he writes and how he writes it: to me, his poetry begs to be performed not just read. And that's true no matter his subject matter....

In his work for teens, Jaime's tackled a range of complex issues, never shying away, as he says, from the good stuff, the bad stuff, the fun stuff, or the tough stuff. He brings that same attitude and vibrancy to his work for younger kids, too, and 30 Poets/30 Days is mighty happy to be bouncing along to his beat today.

Yesterday gave us Owl by Ann Whitford Paul. Tomorrow... In the Museum by Marilyn Singer.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Ann Whitford Paul - Owl

Ann Whitford Paul

Who-oo, Who-oo.
Owl takes off,
whispering long,
low, hooting vowels.
Who-oo, Who-oo!
down they float,
soft as feathers,
but Mouse and Mole
are not fooled.
They hide, knowing
behind Owl's vowels lurks
the hard consonant crack
of his hooked beak.

©2009 Ann Whitford Paul. All rights reserved.

Ann Whitford Paul can write soft and lyrical or sharp and strong or, well, anything she wants, I suspect. The range of feelings and images created in just the 40 words of Owl knocks my socks off. We're all lucky that Ann has three books out this Spring, and they further show her range: Tortuga in Trouble (illustrated by Ethan Long) is a Little Red Riding Hood riff (with Spanish, too), Word Builder (illustrated by Kurt Cyrus) began life as a poem in a Lee Bennett Hopkins anthology and is now a picture book all about "building" a book, and Writing Picture Books allows everyone to sample her remarkable teaching abilities.

Now, if you have not been checking out the Poetry Makers series at the Miss Rumphius Effect, you've been missing great, great stuff... including a wonderful interview (and more!) with Ann Whitford Paul. It's really worth a read... as is any Ann Whitford Paul poem you can get your hands on!

X.J. Kennedy's Ladder to the Moon was yesterday's treat. Tomorrow brings us Jaime Adoff and Rock n Roll Dad.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

X. J. Kennedy - Ladder to the Moon

Ladder to the Moon
X. J. Kennedy

If I had a ladder that reached to the moon
Up its trillions of rungs I'd go,
Higher than ever the clouds can fly
Till the earth was a ball below.

I'd put on my warm wool winter coat
And my long scarlet scarf in case
While I climbed my ladder straight up to the moon
It started to snow in space.

I'd sidestep a couple of shooting stars
And stand on the steepest hill
At the top of my ladder to the moon
If only the moon stood still.

©2009 X. J. Kennedy. All rights reserved.

If you'll allow me to be a fan-boy for a second, I just have to repeat what I said when I looked in my inbox not terribly long ago -- "X.J. Kennedy sent a poem!!!!!!" That was before I opened the mail, mind you, but I couldn't believe I was gonna get to read something new from him. Then after I had opened it, I wanted to go out and read his poem to every child (and adult) I could find.

Ladder to the Moon is definitely not the first time I've felt that he had captured and given voice to how I viewed the world as a child (okay... fine... and still do). His poetry for children, from the light to darker verse like Brats, just plain old clicks with me... and since X.J. Kennedy has been awarded everything from a Guggenheim fellowship to the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children with many other awards and honors for his poetry (for adults and children both) along the way, I'm clearly not alone in my appreciation. But appreciate, I do, and I'm thrilled to have X. J. Kennedy as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday brought A Poem Is... by Charles Ghigna. Tomorrow brings Owl by Ann Whitford Paul.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Poetry, poetry, poetry!

First off, another big thanks to all of you who have been coming on by and reading... and extra thanks to those who've left comments, linked in, told friends, sent me email, and in general made the last three days a blast.

I want to urge you all again to go check out the Poetry Friday roundup hosted over at Amy Planchak Graves' I had said I'd be talking about other poetry fun going on in the Kidlitosphere, and I will... but that roundup post will keep you (and me!) busy all weekend! Yowza.

Outside of the children and teen poetry realm, there's also a ton going on, of course. I wanted to point out 30 in 30 - a collection of Canadian poets reading their work aloud. I really love the use of podcasting as another way of getting poems out there. So if you like poetry for adults, too, go on and check it out.

It's going to be a great, poetic weekend here, and I'll see you shortly with an X. J. Kennedy poem for your Saturday (and beyond!)

Charles Ghigna - A Poem Is...

    A Poem Is...
  -a poem cycle-
  Charles Ghigna

A Poem Is A Spider Web

A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

What's A Poem?

A whisper,
a shout,
thoughts turned
inside out.

A laugh,
a sigh,
an echo
passing by.

A rhythm,
a rhyme,
a moment
caught in time.

A moon,
a star,
a glimpse
of who you are.

A Poem Is A Little Path

A poem is a little path
That leads you through the trees.
It takes you to the cliffs and shores,
To anywhere you please.

Follow it and trust your way
With mind and heart as one,
And when the journey's over,
You'll find you’ve just begun.

©2009 Charles Ghigna. All rights reserved.

When Charles Ghigna, who's also known as Father Goose, sent me A Poem Is..., I started reading and just couldn't believe it. You see, that version of A Poem Is... contained 14 poems, each of which was wonderful and different and could stand alone like the three you see above, but all of which worked together perfectly in cumulatively describing what a poem “is.” Each time I read one, I thought "well, he can’t come up with another new way to describe a poem." Each time, I was wrong.

Once we decided the entire cycle was too long for a blog post, I played around and came up with, well, at least 18 different variations of three poems that I'd like to run. Luckily for me, he suggested the above three... which matched one of my choices exactly. Whew. Oh, and by the way… there are more than 14 poems in the whole work, and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest, believe me. I suspect it will be a standalone book some day. It sure should be….

Today is Poetry Friday! For folks new to the Kidlitosphere, Poetry Friday is perfect for exploring what's out there. Here's a link to the "roundup" of folks talking poetry today (hosted at Amy Planchak Graves' where there's also mighty fine reading to be done beyond the roundup). Go on and check it out!

Yesterday gave us Midnight Stray by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Coming up tomorrow, X. J. Kennedy - Ladder to the Moon.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Rebecca Kai Dotlich - Midnight Stray

Rebecca Kai Dotlich

She stared at me from where she sat,
one matted lump of fragile cat
who wore a grayish tattered ear --

she heard me whisper cat, come here.

A squint, a lick, a paw so small,
she did not move or purr at all --
just skin and bones and stars above her.

And that is how I came to love her.

©2009 Rebecca Kai Dotlich. All rights reserved.
Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich's poetry just flat out wows me. Maybe you've seen her poems in anthologies or in her own collections, but if you haven't... leave the computer now and go find them (or go to her website where you can peak inside some of her books). She packs so much oomph into her words… so much emotion… such a clear point of view. Suffice to say, I'm a huge fan… as are the many, many kids who've heard me read Rebecca’s work aloud to them or taken a book out of my hands and read it on their own.

Rebecca is the subject of today’s Poetry Makers post at the Miss Rumphius Effect. Head on over there and read a great Q+A, see another poem, and learn a lot about what makes this poet tick. Then take a peak at her picture book Bella & Bean (illustrated by Aileen Leijten) about a moody, obsessed poet mouse! And then go find her poems… and read.

Yesterday was "A Little Poem For Poetry Month" by Jack Prelutsky. Coming up tomorrow, “A Poem Is…” by Charles Ghigna.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Thanks! Day one of 30 Poets/30 Days was...

... a rousing success! Extra thanks to those who commented at the blog, sent email, linked in, and Twittered #poetry and #kidlit, and super extra thanks to all those who shared Jack Prelutsky's poem with a child! It's really such a thrill to see thousands of people come read poetry. So to all of you who have helped spread the word... I think I can speak on behalf of all the poets in 30 Poets/30 Days in saying "thanks!"

Did I mention how fun it is to see people talking poetry? It is! Whether it's at or at Elaine's always fabulous Wild Rose Reader, you can find links to so much information... and at Elaine's blog you can WIN POETRY BOOKS during April. I won a J. Patrick Lewis book last year from Elaine, and I hope to win again this year.

There is so much more going on in the Kidlitosphere, too, including one very different type of poetry project -- at Lynn Hazen's Imaginary Blog, they're talking bad poetry. Say what? Go check it out. I mean really... any poetry contest that has National Book Award Winner M. T. Anderson as one of the past winners and has Fuse #8 Betsy Bird in the hot seat now simply has to be worth a look.

I could link all night, but I gotta book. Coming up soon... Rebecca Kai Dotlich's Midnight Stray! See ya then.

Jack Prelutsky - A Little Poem For Poetry Month

A Little Poem For Poetry Month
Jack Prelutsky

I’m glad we have a Poetry Month,
But still, I wonder why
They chose a month with thirty days—
Were months in short supply?
I wish that they’d selected
A longer month, like May.
I’m certain I’d appreciate
That extra poetry day.

Of course, if they’d picked February,
I would be aghast,
For February’s very short
And passes far too fast.
But April’s not as short as that,
So I don’t hesitate
To say I’m glad it’s Poetry Month.
Hooray! Let’s celebrate.

Copyright ©2009 by Jack Prelutsky. All rights reserved.

Jack Prelutsky went from being a kid who couldn’t stand poetry to being named by the Poetry Foundation as their first Children’s Poet Laureate. I could give you biographical information galore, but you can find that at his website or at the Academy of American Poets’ site or many other places.

Instead, I want to encourage each of you to grab a Jack Prelutsky poetry book and a child (or 10!) and mix 'em together to see what happens. Pick a collection like A Pizza the Size of the Sun or this March’s The Swamps of Sleethe: Poems from Beyond the Solar System and read a few poems aloud. Watch the reaction of your "audience." See them delight in the rhythms, the words, the images. Depending on the poems you’ve chosen, you might get laughs or "ooohs" or both (and you might react the same way!). But once you’ve done this, I think you’ll understand exactly why Jack Prelutsky is beloved by so many kids -- and teachers and parents and librarians. Try it yourself and see!

I know I’m absolutely thrilled to have Jack Prelutsky kicking off 30 Poets/30 Days… and I’m looking forward to Midnight Stray by Rebecca Kai Dotlich tomorrow!